Miami Vice

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Name: Miami Vice
Abbreviation(s): MV
Creator: Michael Mann
Date(s): 1984-1990
Medium: television series
Country of Origin: US
External Links: IMDB
Miami Vice Chronicles (offline, archived)
Wikipedia:Miami Vice
Wikipedia:Miami Vice (film)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Canon Overview

The adventures of the Miami Police Department Vice Squad involve flashy cars, designer clothing, beautiful women, drugs, and lots and lots and lots of emoporn. Primarily a buddy cop show, the fandom got a boost when the 2006 (remake) movie came out. The buddy cop partners were Detectives James "Sonny" Crockett and Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs, commanded by their superior officer Lieutenant Martin Castillo.


Crockett (left) and Tubbs (right) on the cover of Gold Coast #3.

The main cast of characters included:

The protagonists:

  • James "Sonny" Crockett, who spent most of his time undercover as Sonny Burnett, a lowlife drug-runner who lived on a sailboat with his pet alligator. His 24-7 undercover lifestyle, long string of tragic romances, and the vast number of characters he failed to save made Crockett an impressive well of manpain. He was prone to driving around at night in his awesome car while Phil Collins, other shamelessly 80s music, or the iconic anthem of manpain, Crockett's Theme, played in the background. (Played by actor Don Johnson.)
  • Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs, a street cop from NYC who came to Miami looking for revenge and stayed to ogle all the ladies in bikinis (or Crockett depending on which fans you ask). Rico's love interests also tended to die or turn evil, but he was given to anger and suicidal undercover missions rather than brooding. (Played by actor Philip Michael Thomas.)

The boss: Martin Castillo, a man of few words and a shadowy past fighting opium trafficking in Southeast Asia. Unlike many boss characters on cop shows, Castillo racked up quite a body count, including (among many others) machine gun-wielding KGB agents he killed with a katana. (No, really.) Castillo had many old friends who appeared over the course of the series, most of whom were either presumed dead, out to get him, or secretly Communist spies. Strangely, despite his equally tragic backstory and personal life, Castillo didn't produce nearly as much manpain as Crockett, perhaps due to a lack of personal theme music. (Played by actor Edward James Olmos.)

Crockett (left) and Castillo (right) on the cover of Dyad #18

The comic relief: Stan Switek and Larry Zito.

The babes: Gina Navarro Calabrese and Trudy Joplin, like most female vice cops, at least on tv, spent most of the series dressed as hookers. Hookers with guns.

MV had many recurring characters and a number of characters who only appeared once but who are featured in numerous fanworks. Some of these include:

  • Castillo's old friend CIA agent Jack Gretsky, his wife, and his son Marty
  • snitches Izzy Moreno and Noogie Lamont
  • Castillo's ex-wife, May Ying, and her current husband
  • Internal Affairs officer Ben Schroeder
  • Crockett's herds of canonical love interests: Caroline, Theresa, Caitlin, etc.
  • police officers Evan Freed and Mike Orgell
  • Crockett's pet alligator Elvis (yes, really)

I Can't Believe It's Not Fanon

This would be fanon... if it weren't Miami Vice. Like all shows featuring undercover cops, Vice had a lot of subtexty, over-the-top episodes with characters undercover as all manner of lowlife scum in locations ranging from prisons to tropical islands. Many parts of canon so closely resemble fanfic (frequently even or perhaps especially slash badfic) that new fans are surprised to discover they aren't fanon. Examples of I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Fanon parts of Miami Vice include:

  • Evan: This episode deals with homophobia and closeted officers. It's so full of slashy subtext that even straight fanboys have been known to comment on the hoyay.
  • Golden Triangle Parts 1&2, Bushido, Duty & Honor/The Savage, The Rising Sun of Death, Heart of Night: These episodes contain most of what we know about Castillo's backstory.'s review refers to them as the "Super Ninja Castillo" episodes.[1] Castillo speaks four or five languages[2] and can kick the asses of Thai assassins barehanded. Machine guns are no match for his skills with a katana. Like Thomas Magnum and everyone else on tv in the 80's, he has a presumed-dead Asian wife. Also a presumed dead best friend.
  • The Burnett Saga: The Burnett saga[3] takes every amnesia trope dear to fanfiction and soap opera writers alike and makes them all more over the top (and slashier!). On top of the amnesia, this arc comes with a hearty dose of MPDJK and Partner Betrayal. There's also an assassination in a gay bathhouse. And then there's the panther...

Cooling Effect: Actions of Fans and TPTB

A letterzine in this fandom, Vice Line, was shut down after one issue, and some fans believe that the actions of fellow fans regarding contact with TPTB had a cooling effect on quantity of fanworks:

It happened in Miami Vice and not about slash. Jealous fans sent letterzines to Michael Mann who promptly threatened to sue them. In the world I live in a letterzine, which is a discussion of a show, is protected by the first amendment but not in Michael Mann's world. He came down so hard on the fans it had a chilling affect on all Vice publishing and it is the main reason there never was that much published in Miami Vice fic when it was such a popular show. [4]

For more about this topic, see Violating the Fourth Wall.

Crossovers, AUs, and Fandom Connections

Fans sometimes did crossovers between MV and other shows of the same era, particularly ones like Wiseguy or Quantum Leap that had actors in common.

Nash Bridges

From 1996-2000, Don Johnson (who played Crockett) starred in Nash Bridges. Johnson himself described the character of Nash as being, "The same guy [as Sonny], just... ten years older".[5] The show contained some references to Miami Vice and Philip Michael Thomas (who played Tubbs) guest starred leading to the fanon idea that Nash and Sonny were one and the same.



ink drawing of Sonny Crockett by KOZ

During the original run of the show, there was a gen and het fandom for Miami Vice. At some point after the show went off the air, MV shifted to being primarily a slash fandom. The main pairing often preferred by new fans and more commonly found in online archives is Crockett/Tubbs, while zines primarily featured Crockett/Castillo, with some Crockett/Tubbs and other secondary pairings, especially Castillo/Gretsky.

from Wild Cards #1 (1992), artist is KOZ, portrays the extremely rare pair of Gina and Trudy

Miami Vice has not been subject to shipwars, at least not that are documented online, but the two most popular slash ships have been a point of contention. It has been widely speculated that race played a large part in Tubbs' lack of popularity, and there are reports of fans being told they could never be published in zines unless they wrote the "correct" pairing, Crockett/Castillo. On the other hand, some Crockett/Castillo shippers feel that online venues are unfriendly to their pairing, and some of the early Crockett/Castillo zine publishers have commented that they were forced to publish their own because Crockett/Tubbs was all that was available at the time.

A fan in 1996 wrote:

[D] said her boyfriend referred to the possible pairing of Crockett/Castillo as Beauty and the Beast. I am the first one to say

that Edward James Olmos is not a good looking man. Between the pock marks and the buck teeth, it would be awfully difficult to say that. However, as Castillo, he is possibly the sexiest man I've ever seen. It's an odd thing, I know, but it's true. It's the presence he has and the genuine magnetism. I think he's sexy by sheer will sometimes. All this is intensified in MV by the fact that he and Don Johnson had some absolutely fantastic chemistry. Those searing stares between the two of them were enough to send by blood pressure through the roof at times. [6]


Common pieces of fanon include:


  • Crockett's undercover persona Burnett isn't just an alias: he's a whole alternate personality.[7]
  • Crockett moved to San Francisco after the series and became Nash Bridges.
  • Evan Freed is a giant closet case. If nobody out of Evan, Mike Orgell, and Crockett had a secret relationship, then they at least had masses of UST.


  • Castillo had a relationship with Jack Gretsky when they worked together in Southeast Asia.
  • Jack Gretsky is the same guy Castillo mentions in Golden Triangle.
  • Castillo/Trudy - The writers were rumored to be planning this for season 4, but it never came to be.
  • Castillo has massive issues being on the bottom. (See: Fandom, inability to distinguish between receiving anal sex, BDSM relationships, ukes)
  • Castillo dislikes Tubbs or thinks he's incompetent in comparison to Crockett.


  • Tubbs is an unlikable pratfalling idiot. (As with many character interpretations, YMMV, but Tubbs isn't primarily used as comic relief in canon.)


Crockett is the woobie, often falls prey to the Height Rule, and may even be a Weepy Uke. He's in frequent need of some magical healing cock. He also needs the help of Tubbs the yenta to hook him up with Castillo.

The crossover fannish trope rarely made an appearance in Miami Vice fandom, and when it did, it was generally limited to other police procedural shows. However, in this drawing Castillo and his samurai sword have an extra-terrestrial encounter with Doctor Who and his Tardis. The text reads: ""Gee, Doc--I warned you Miami was tough on illegal aliens...!" The cartoon dates to the 1980s and is sized 4.5"x 6.5. The artist may be Gail Bennett.

Pretty much everything about the "Super Ninja Castillo" episodes and the Burnett Saga (see above) is a fanfic trope in its own right. Many of these make frequent appearances in fic related to these episodes.

Surprisingly, given the rest of the show, none of the male cast ever had to go undercover in a gay bar or undercover as a prostitute. Unsurprisingly, fic makes up for this lack. (The female cast members went undercover as prostitutes in basically every episode, so while this is referenced in fic, it's not usually as much of a set trope.)

In MV slash, like in a lot of other slash, there's always someone improbably well-hung (usually Castillo) and much drama over who's going to be on the bottom and whether they're ok with that (pretty much everyone, but especially Jack Gretsky).

Notable Fanworks



Additional lists of vids can be found at List of Miami Vice Early Songvids

Communities and Sites

Mailing Lists

As in many fandoms, there were a number of mailing lists that either started on or were subsumed by yahoo groups. These were most active in the early 2000s.

  • ViceSlash ViceSlash "viceslash is a mailing list for erotic slash fan fiction based on the TV series, Miami Vice. Some content on this list may be of adult nature due to violence and/or sexuality, and membership is restricted to those 18 and over. Fan fiction and postings are welcomed as long as it relates to slash and Miami Vice. Stories posted can be gen, smarm, het, slash, or erotica. NO FLAMING ALLOWED!" (founded: Aug 12, 1999)
  • MiamiViceFanFiction MiamiViceFanFiction "I've noticed a severe lack in Miami Vice Groups. So I created one. I hope that there are more people out there like myself that want to keep the spirit of the show and the characters, Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs alive through fan fiction and discussion. My only rule is that this will be a Gen AND Slash friendly list, so please label appropriately and of course, no flaming other members. Other then that, come on in, discuss, write, read and most importantly ENJOY!!" (founded: Aug 15, 2001)


MV had a few dedicated anthology zines and was reasonably common in multi-media anthology zines in the late 1980's and the 1990's. Zinefic is less common today and is usually only in the form of novels (that is, zines containing a single novel-length fanfic).

See List of Miami Vice Fanzines and Category:Miami Vice, as well as Proposed Zines.

Remake Movie

Like many remake movies of the 00s, this one did not go over well with many fans of the original series. Common complaints include that Castillo was turned into a much more generic cop show boss and that the aesthetic and music (some of the most central aspects of the tv show) were completely changed. While some fans do like both, there are few movie canon-based fanworks, and their creators tend to clearly distinguish them from show-based ones.

Notes & References

  1. ^ Cracked's Miami Vice article; accessed July 31, 2010.
  2. ^ In canon, we definitely see him having a strong command of English, Spanish, Thai, and Japanese. He also worked in Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia, so who knows what else he speaks.
  3. ^ The Burnett Saga includes at least the episodes Mirror Image, Hostile Takeover, and Redemption In Blood, which are the fourth season finale and fifth season premiere. The Miami Vice Wiki also lists it as including the episodes on either side of those three: A Bullet For Crockett, Deliver Us From Evil, and Bad Timing.
  4. ^ comments by Flamingo, June 27, 2002, VenicePlace, quoted on Fanlore with Flamingo's permission
  5. ^ Quoted on the Wikipedia Nash Bridges page. Accessed July 9th, 2010.
  6. ^ comments by Michelle Christian, at Virgule-L, quoted with permission (March 23, 1996)
  7. ^ In canon, Crockett has amnesia and believes himself to be his undercover identity. During this time, he acts in an OOC manner; he eventually remembers his previous life but claims not to remember his time as Burnett clearly. At various points in the series, Crockett mentions not really knowing who he is, but the idea of actual multiple personality disorder with those types of blackouts is never mentioned in canon.