The head of NBC's Entertainment Division, Brandon Tartikoff, wrote a brainstorming memo that simply read "MTV cops", and later presented it to series creator Anthony Yerkovich, formerly a writer and producer for Hill Street Blues. Yerkovich, however, indicates that he devised the concept after learning about asset forfeiture statutes that allowed law enforcement agencies to confiscate the property of alleged drug dealers for official use. The initial idea was for a movie about a pair of vice cops in Miami. Yerkovich then turned out a script for a two-hour pilot, titled Gold Coast, but later renamed Miami Vice. Yerkovich was immediately drawn to South Florida as a setting for his new-style police show. Miami Vice was one of the first American network television programs to be broadcast in stereophonic sound. It was mixed in stereo for its entire run, but not actually broadcast in stereo until 1985.
In keeping with the show's namesake, most episodes focused on combating drug trafficking and prostitution. Episodes often ended in an intense gun battle, claiming the lives of several criminals before they could be apprehended. An undercurrent of cynicism and futility underlies the entire series. The detectives repeatedly reference the "Whac-A-Mole" nature of drug interdiction, with its parade of drug cartels quickly replacing those that are apprehended. Co-executive producer Yerkovich explained:
Even when I was on Hill Street Blues, I was collecting information on Miami, I thought of it as a sort of a modern-day American Casablanca. It seemed to be an interesting socio-economic tide pool: the incredible number of refugees from Central America and Cuba, the already extensive Cuban-American community, and on top of all that the drug trade. There is a fascinating amount of service industries that revolve around the drug trade--money laundering, bail bondsmen, attorneys who service drug smugglers. Miami has become a sort of Barbary Coast of free enterprise gone berserk.
The choice of music and cinematography borrowed heavily from the emerging New Wave culture of the 1980s. As such, segments of Miami Vice would sometimes use music-based stanzas, a technique later featured in Baywatch. As Lee H. Katzin, one of the show's directors, remarked, "The show is written for an MTV audience, which is more interested in images, emotions and energy than plot and character and words." These elements made the series into an instant hit, and in its first season saw an unprecedented fifteen Emmy Award nominations. While the first few episodes contained elements of a standard police procedural, the producers soon abandoned them in favor of a more distinctive style. Influenced by an Art Deco revival, no "earth tones" were allowed to be used in the production. A director of Miami Vice, Bobby Roth, recalled:
There are certain colors you are not allowed to shoot, such as red and brown. If the script says 'A Mercedes pulls up here,' the car people will show you three or four different Mercedes. One will be white, one will be black, one will be silver. You will not get a red or brown one. Michael knows how things are going to look on camera.
Nick Nolte and Jeff Bridges were considered for the role of Sonny Crockett, but since it was not lucrative for film stars to venture into television at the time, other candidates were considered. Mickey Rourke was also considered for the role, but he turned down the offer. Larry Wilcox, of CHiPs, was also a candidate for the role of Crockett, but the producers felt that going from one police officer role to another would not be a good fit. After dozens of candidates and a twice-delayed pilot shooting, Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas were chosen as the vice cops. For Johnson, who was by then 34 years old, NBC had particular doubts about the several earlier unsuccessful pilots in which he had starred. After two seasons, Johnson threatened to walk from the series as part of a highly publicized contract dispute. The network was ready to replace him with Mark Harmon, who had recently departed St. Elsewhere, but the network and Johnson were able to resolve their differences and he continued with the series until its end. Actor Jimmy Smits played Eddie Rivera, Crockett's partner who is killed early in the pilot episode.
Before production started, the idea was to do all or most of the exterior filming in Los Angeles, and pass it off to viewers as urban Miami—an approach put into practice two decades later during the filming of CSI Miami. But instead, nearly all filming, both exterior and interior, was done in Miami and Florida. Many episodes of Miami Vice were filmed in the South Beach section of Miami Beach, an area which, at the time, was blighted by poverty and crime, with its demographic so deteriorated that there "simply weren’t many people on the street. Ocean Drive’s hotels were filled with elderly, mostly Jewish retirees, many of them frail, subsisting on meager Social Security payments. [...] They were filming all over Miami Beach. [...] They could film in the middle of the street. There was literally nobody there. There were no cars parked in the street".
Some street corners of South Beach were so run down that the production crew actually decided to repaint the exterior walls of some buildings before filming. The crew went to great lengths to find the correct settings and props. Bobby Roth recalled, "I found this house that was really perfect, but the color was sort of beige. The art department instantly painted the house gray for me. Even on feature films people try to deliver what is necessary but no more. At Miami Vice they start with what's necessary and go beyond it."
Miami Vice is to some degree credited with causing a wave of support for the preservation of Miami's famous Art Deco architecture in the mid-1980s to early 1990s; and quite a few of those buildings, among them many beachfront hotels, have been renovated since filming, making that part of South Beach one of South Florida's most popular places for tourists and celebrities.
Other places commonly filmed in the series included scenes around Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Interior scenes were initially supposed to be filmed at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, but to simplify cross-country logistics, the decision was made to use the facilities of Greenwich Studios in North Miami instead, and only carry out post-production in L.A. In a few scenes particularly in earlier episodes, Greenwich Studios' rear loading dock is repeatedly portrayed as the back room of the Gold Coast Shipping building, where the offices of the vice squad are located.
Miami Vice is noted for its innovative use of stereo broadcast music, particularly countless pop and rock hits of the 1980s and the distinctive, synthesized instrumental music of Jan Hammer. While other television shows used made-for-TV music, Miami Vice would spend $10,000 or more per episode to buy the rights to original recordings. Getting a song played on Miami Vice was a boost to record labels and artists. In fact, some newspapers, such as USA Today, would let readers know the songs that would be featured each week. Among the many well-known bands and artists who contributed their music to the show were Roger Daltrey, El Debarge, Devo, Sinéad O'Connor, Russ Ballard, Black Uhuru, Jackson Browne, Kate Bush, Meat Loaf, Phil Collins, Bryan Adams, Tina Turner, Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, ZZ Top, The Tubes, Dire Straits, Depeche Mode, The Hooters, Iron Maiden, The Alan Parsons Project, The Ward Brothers, Godley & Creme, Corey Hart, Glenn Frey, U2, Underworld, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Propaganda, Foreigner, The Police, Red 7, Ted Nugent, Suicidal Tendencies, The Damned and Billy Idol. Several artists even guest-starred in episodes, including Collins, Miles Davis, Power Station, Frey, Suicidal Tendencies, Willie Nelson, Nugent, Frank Zappa, The Fat Boys, Sheena Easton, and Gene Simmons. An iconic scene from the Miami Vice oeuvre involves Crockett and Tubbs driving through Miami at night to Phil Collins's song "In the Air Tonight".
Jan Hammer credits executive producer Michael Mann for allowing him great creative freedom in scoring Miami Vice. The collaboration resulted in memorable instrumental pieces, including the show's title theme, which climbed to the top of the Billboard charts in November 1985. The Miami Vice original soundtrack, featuring the theme song and Glenn Frey's "Smuggler's Blues" and "You Belong to the City" (a No. 2 hit), stayed on the top of the U.S. album chart for 11 weeks in 1985, making it the most successful TV soundtrack at the time. The theme song was so popular that it also garnered two Grammy Awards in 1986. It was also voted No. 1 theme song of all time by TV Guide readers. "Crockett's Theme", another recurring tune from the show, became a No. 1 hit in several European countries in 1987.
During the show's run, three official soundtrack albums with original music from the episodes were released. Hammer has released several albums with music from the series; among them are Escape from Television (1987), Snapshots (1989), and after many requests from fans, Miami Vice: The Complete Collection (2002).
The clothes worn on Miami Vice had a significant influence on men's fashion. They popularized, if not invented, the "T-shirt under Armani jacket"–style, and popularized Italian men's fashion in the United States. Don Johnson's typical attire of Italian sport coat, T-shirt, white linen pants, and slip-on sockless loafers became a hit. Even fine timepiece manufacturers got in on the action. Crockett initially wore an 18k Rolex Day-Date "President" model in the first season, until Ebel won the contract for the remaining seasons. Similarly, Crockett's perpetually unshaven appearance sparked a minor fashion trend, inspiring men to wear a small amount of beard stubble, also known as a five o'clock shadow (or "designer stubble") at all times. In an average episode, Crockett and Tubbs wore five to eight outfits, appearing in shades of pink, blue, green, peach, fuchsia, and the show's other "approved" colors. Designers such as Vittorio Ricci, Gianni Versace, and Hugo Boss were consulted in keeping the male leads looking trendy. Costume designer Bambi Breakstone, who traveled to Milan, Paris, and London in search of new clothes, said that, "The concept of the show is to be on top of all the latest fashion trends in Europe." Jodi Tillen, the costume designer for the first season, along with Michael Mann, set the style. The abundance of pastel colors on the show reflected Miami's Art-deco architecture.
During its five-year run, consumer demand for unstructured blazers, shiny fabric jackets, and lighter pastels increased. After Six formal wear even created a line of Miami Vice dinner jackets, Kenneth Cole introduced Crockett and Tubbs shoes, and Macy's opened a Miami Vice section in its young men's department. Crockett also boosted Ray Ban's popularity by wearing a pair of Ray-Ban Wayfarer (Model L2052, Mock Tortoise), which increased sales of Ray Bans to 720,000 units in 1984. In the spring of 1986, an electric razor became available called the Stubble Device, that allowed users to have a beard like Don Johnson's character. It was initially named the "Miami Device" by Wahl, but in the end the company wanted to avoid a trademark infringement lawsuit. Many of the styles popularized by the TV show, such as the T-shirt under pastel suits, no socks, rolled up sleeves, and Ray-Ban sunglasses, have today become the standard image of 1980s culture. The influence of Miami Vice's fashions continued into the early 1990s, and to some extent still persists today.
Miami Vice also popularized certain brands of firearms and accessories. After Johnson became dissatisfied with his gun holster, the Jackass Leather Company (later renamed Galco International) sent their president, Rick Gallagher, to personally fit Don Johnson with an "Original Jackass Rig", later renamed the Galco "Miami Classic".
The Bren Ten, manufactured by Dornaus & Dixon, was a stainless-steel handgun used by Don Johnson during Miami Vice's first two seasons. Dornaus & Dixon went out of business in 1986, and Smith & Wesson was offered a contract to outfit Johnson's character with a S&W Model 645 during season three.
Several firearms never before seen on TV were featured prominently for the first time in the show including the Glock 17 pistol. In addition firearms not well known to the public including the Steyr AUG and the Desert Eagle were showcased to a wide audience on this show.
Two automobiles drew a lot of attention in Miami Vice, the Ferrari Daytona and Testarossa. During the first two seasons and two episodes of the third season, Detective Sonny Crockett drove a (pair of) black 1972 Ferrari Daytona Spyder 365 GTS/4, kit replica built on a pair of Chevrolet Corvette C3 chassis. The car was fitted with Ferrari-shaped body panels by specialty car manufacturer McBurnie Coachcraft. Once the car gained notoriety, Ferrari Automobili filed suit demanding that McBurnie and any others cease and desist producing and selling Ferrari replicas, and infringing upon the Ferrari name and styling. As a result, the Daytona lasted until season 2, at which point it was 'blown-up' in the season three premiere episode, "When Irish Eyes Are Crying". Neither kit car was actually destroyed, as the production company simply blew up an empty body shell for both cost and safety reasons. The fake Ferraris were removed from the show, with Ferrari donating two brand new 1986 Testarossas as replacements. The Ferrari Daytona is the subject of a huge continuity goof on the show, when it suddenly reappears in "El Viejo", six episodes after its destruction, without explanation. Originally "El Viejo" was set to be the third-season premiere, but studio executives found the Daytona's destruction would serve as a more dramatic opening to the season. Don Johnson's contract-holdout at the start of the season also played a part, delaying filming to the point where "El Viejo" could not be finished in time for the season premiere.
The series' crew also used a third Testarossa look-alike, which was the stunt car. Carl Roberts, who had worked on the Daytona kitcars, offered to build the stunt car. Roberts decided to use a 1972 De Tomaso Pantera, which had the same wheelbase as the Testarossa and thus was perfect for the body pieces. The vehicle was modified to withstand daily usage on-set, and continued to be driven until the series ended.
Crockett was also seen driving a black 1978 Porsche 911 SC Targa in a flashback to 1980 in the Season 3 episode "Forgive Us Our Debts."
Crockett's partner, Ricardo Tubbs, drove a 1964 Cadillac Coupe de Ville Convertible. Stan Switek drove a turquoise 1961 Ford Thunderbird. Gina Calabrese drove an 1971 Mercury Cougar XR-7 convertible. When Stan and Larry were undercover, they drove a Dodge Ram Van. Other notable vehicles that appeared in Miami Vice included, brands such as Lamborghini, AMG Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Maserati, Lotus, DeLorean, Porsche, and Corvettes. American muscle cars, such as the Pontiac GTO and Firebird Trans Am, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, Plymouth GTX and Barracuda, Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, and the Buick Grand National also made appearances.
Throughout the series, Sonny Crockett lived on an Endeavour sailboat named the St. Vitus' Dance, while in the pilot episode, Crockett is seen on a 38-foot Cabo Rico sailboat. In season 1, he is seen living on an Endeavour 40 sailboat while in the rest of the series (seasons 2 to 5), he is seen living on an Endeavour 42 sailboat (priced at $120,000 in 1986). The allure of the sailboats was such that the Endeavour 42 used for the 1986 season of Miami Vice was sold to a midwest couple, while the Endeavour 40, was sold to a chartering service in Fort Lauderdale. At the same time, Endeavour was building a new 42 for the 1987 season of Miami Vice.
In the pilot episode, and for the first season, Crockett pilots a Chris Craft Stinger 390 X - a 39-foot deep-v offshore racing boat. According to T. Rafael Cimino, marine director for Miami Vice, a total of five Stinger 390 Xs were used on the show. A white 390 X was selected for the pilot episode as it would show up better for the night scenes. For the other four Stingers, Chris-Craft showed the production crew a colour scheme that included the red - however, since Michael Mann decided that the colour red was to never show up on the show so a blue colour scheme was instead chosen. The Stingers used on the show were not free from Chris-Craft. In fact, the boats had some serious warranty issues. These issues caused the production team to switch to using Wellcraft 38 Scarab KVs for the remainder of the show. The Scarab 38 KVs were a 28-hued, twin 440-hp boat that sold for $130,000 in 1986.
As a result of the attention the Scarab 38 KV garnered on Miami Vice, Wellcraft received "an onslaught of orders", increasing sales by twenty-one percent in one year. In appreciation, Wellcraft gave Don Johnson an exact duplicate of the boat. Afterward, Johnson was frequently seen arriving to work in it. Altogether, one hundred copies of the boat (dubbed the "Scarab 38KV Miami Vice Edition") were built by Wellcraft. The Miami Vice graphics and color scheme, which included turquoise, aqua, and orchid, was available by special order on any model Scarab from 20–38 feet.
Don Johnson also designed the Scarab Excel 43 ft, Don Johnson Signature Series (DJSS), and raced a similar one. The Don Johnson Signature Series was powered by twin 650-hp Lamborghini V-12's, which caused some problems to the design of the boat due to their size. Overall the boat cost $300,000 with each engine amounting to between $60–$70,000. His interest in boat racing eventually led Johnson to start his own offshore powerboat racing team, called Team USA. Joining him were Hollywood stars including Kurt Russell and Chuck Norris. Johnson won the Offshore World Cup in 1988 and continued racing into the 1990s.
Scripts were loosely based on actual crimes that occurred in Miami over the years. This included both local and international and global organized crime. Many episodes focused on drug trafficking (for which real-life Miami was a main hub and entrance point into North America in the early 1980s). Other episodes were based on crimes such as firearms trafficking, for which Miami was equally a gateway for sales to Latin America, as well as the Miami River Cops scandal (a real police corruption ring that involved narcotic thefts, drug dealing and murders), street prostitution, serial home burglaries, crimes committed by Cuban immigrants to Miami following the Mariel Boatlift, and Yakuza and Mafia activity in Miami, The series also took a look at political issues such as the Northern Ireland conflict, the drug war in South America (e.g. "Prodigal Son"), U.S. support of anti-communist generals and dictators in Southeast Asia and South America, and the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Social issues like child abuse, homophobia, and the AIDS crisis were also covered.
Personal issues also arose: Crockett is separated from his wife Caroline (Belinda Montgomery) in the pilot and divorced in the fourth episode, and later his second wife Caitlin Davies (Sheena Easton) is killed by one of his enemies. In the three episodes "Mirror Image", "Hostile Takeover", and "Redemption in Blood", a concussion caused by an explosion caused Crockett to believe he was his undercover alter ego Sonny Burnett, a drug dealer. Tubbs had a running, partly personal vendetta with the Calderone family, a member of which had ordered the death of his brother Rafael, a New York City police detective. Lieutenant Martin Castillo is also frequently haunted by his past in Southeast Asia, which he had spent as a DEA agent in the Golden Triangle.
In the first seasons the tone was often very light, especially when comical characters such as police informants Noogie Lamont (Charlie Barnett) and Izzy Moreno (Martin Ferrero) appeared. Later the content was usually dark and cynical, often bordering on the existential, with Crockett and Tubbs fighting corruption, and storylines emphasizing the aspect of human tragedy behind a crime. Typically, the darker episodes had no denouement, each episode ending abruptly after a climax involving violence and death, often giving the episodes (especially in later seasons) a despairing and sometimes nihilistic feel, despite the trademark glamor and conspicuous wealth. Given its idiosyncratic "dark" feel and touch, Miami Vice is frequently cited as an example of made-for-TV Neo-noir. Michael Mann, who served as executive producer for the majority of the show's five-year run, is often credited with being one of the most influential Neo-noir directors. In 1997, the second-season episode "Out Where the Buses Don't Run" was ranked #90 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time list.
During its five-year run, Miami Vice underwent repeated very noticeable changes in its formula and content. Between seasons one and two, however, these changes were mostly subtle and involved details such as the degree of perfection with which color shades of scene backdrops, props and clothing were matched to each other.
For its third season in 1986-87, the show moved from its traditional time slot of 10PM on Friday nights to 9PM, which now put it up against perennial Top 10 show Dallas. This began the show's decline, and in March, 1987, TV Guide ran a cover story entitled, "Dallas Drubs the Cops: Why Miami Vice Seems to be Slipping." Miami Vice's season ratings slipped from #9 in Season 2 down to #27 by the end of Season 3.
Before leaving the series to work on his new television series, Crime Story, Michael Mann handed the role of executive producer to future Law & Order creator Dick Wolf prior to the third season (1986–1987). Wolf had the show focus on contemporary issues like the Troubles in Northern Ireland and capital punishment.
More significant than the losing battle against new timeslot rival Dallas was the fact that the general tone of season 3 episodes started to become more serious and less lighthearted than in previous seasons. Comedic scenes and subplots became distinctly rare. True to Dick Wolf's "grabbed from the headlines" approach which he later perfected in TV series like Law & Order, storylines focused more on the serious human aspect of crime than on glamorizing the tropical lifestyles of drug dealers and other high-profile criminals. This shift in tone was also reflected in the series' fashions, color schemes, and its choice of music. The cast started wearing pronouncedly dark clothing and even earthtones, which had famously been avoided by executive producer Michael Mann in seasons one and two. Color palettes of scene backdrops started becoming much darker as well, with pastels replaced by harsher-appearing shades of neon. Whereas seasons one and two had always featured a diverse selection of contemporary, mostly "upbeat" chart music and classic rock and pop, the third season's music lineup became much more somber, with songs like "In Dulce Decorum" by The Damned, "Lives in the Balance" by Jackson Browne, "Mercy" by Steve Jones, and "Never Let Me Down Again (Aggro Mix)" by Depeche Mode. All these changes were decidedly unwelcomed both by critics and by many viewers who had become fans of the TV series due to the package that the first two seasons had delivered. It caused the producers to retool their approach to Miami Vice for the following fourth season.
By Season 4, most of the original writers had left the series. Stories and story arcs included a courtship and marriage between Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) and Caitlin Davies (Sheena Easton), and a plot in which Crockett developed amnesia (during which he mistakes himself for his drug dealer alter ego, and becomes a hitman). Moreover, Caroline Crockett, Sonny's first wife, as well as his son Billy reappear briefly.
Jan Hammer departed from the series at the end of the fourth season, having already handed much of the weekly scoring workload during the season over to John Petersen. The tone of many season 4 episodes grew lighter again, albeit sometimes veering off into the bizarre, e.g. episodes like "The Big Thaw", "Missing Hours", and "The Cows of October". Fashions and scene backdrops largely reassumed the pastel hues of seasons 1 and 2, and the choice of music became more varied again. Hopes by the producers of propitiating former and remaining fans this way only materialized very mutedly and reception was lukewarm, as evidenced by the show's still declining ratings during season four.
The fifth season (1988–1989) saw the show return to its original timeslot, 10PM on Friday nights and took the show on a yet more serious tone, with storylines becoming dark and gritty – enough so that even some of the most loyal fans were left perplexed. Tim Truman took over scoring the episodes for the remainder of the series' run and brought with him a style of instrumental synthesizer music that was markedly different from Jan Hammer's.
After still-deteriorating ratings during Miami Vice's fourth season, NBC had originally planned to order just a shortened fifth season of only 13 episodes, but eventually settled for another full run, which was either way going to be the final season. At the beginning of season five, Olivia Brown recalled, "The show was trying to reinvent itself." Dick Wolf said in an interview for E! True Hollywood Story, after the fifth season, it was all just "...kind of over", and that the show had "run its course".
In May 1989, NBC aired the two-hour series finale, "Freefall". Despite its status as the "series finale", there were three episodes that did not air ("World of Trouble", "Miracle Man", and "Leap of Faith"), which appeared during the June re-runs as "Lost Episodes". A fourth, previously unbroadcast episode, "Too Much Too Late", was aired for the first time in 1990, on the USA Network. It has since been run by other networks in syndication with the fifth-season episodes.
In 1984, the show was also aired on GMA Network every Wednesday night at 7:00 PM after News at Seven replacing GMA Balita in 1986. Reruns of the series later aired on the FX from 1996–1999. Then in 2006 the cable network TV Land aired episodes for about a year. The same year the series began airing on the Sleuth network in the United States until 2008 as well as Centric. As of 2015, reruns air on El Rey Network and Esquire Network.
Internationally, the show airs on MBC Action in the Arab World, TRT 1 and Star in Turkey, Iris in Italy, Viasat TV6 in Sweden, Viasat 3+ in Denmark, TV7 in Bulgaria, TV3 in Estonia, ARD in Germany, and Nine Network in Australia. Philippines - GMA Network
Turkey - TRT 1 (1986-1990), Star (1990-1999)
Israel - Channel 1 (Israel)
United Kingdom - BBC
Pakistan - Network Television Marketing
Sri Lanka - Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation
Indonesia - RCTI
Italy - Rai 2 (1980s, 1990s), Iris (2000s), Rete 4 (2010s)
Netherlands - Veronica (1984-1990)
Don Johnson as Detective James "Sonny" Crockett: An undercover detective of the Metro-Dade Police Department. A former University of Florida Gators football star, he sustained a knee fracture which put an end to his sports career. He was subsequently drafted by the US Army, and served in the 1st Cavalry Division and in the Special Forces. He served two tours in Vietnam – or as he calls it, the "Southeast Asia Conference". In 1975 he became a Metro-Dade uniformed patrol officer and later an undercover detective of the vice unit. Crockett's alias is Sonny Burnett, a drug runner and middleman. His vehicles include a Ferrari Daytona Spyder (later a Ferrari Testarossa), a "Scarab" offshore power-boat, and a sailboat on which he lives with his pet alligator Elvis (also a veteran of the Florida Gators). The name "Sonny Crockett" had previously been used for a criminal played by actor Dennis Burkley on Hill Street Blues in 1983, where creator Anthony Yerkovich was a writer. Coincidentally, Gregory Sierra who later played Crockett's boss on "Vice" appeared in the same episodes.
Philip Michael Thomas as Detective Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs: A former New York police detective who travels to Miami as part of a personal vendetta against Calderone, the man who murdered his brother Rafael. After temporarily teaming up with Crockett, Tubbs follows his friend's advice and transfers to "a career in Southern law enforcement", fearing that after his serious violations of NYPD codes of conduct in the pilot episode, he would not be able to resume his job in New York. He joins the Miami department and becomes Crockett's permanent partner. He often poses as Rico Cooper, a wealthy buyer from out of town.
Edward James Olmos as Lieutenant Martin "Marty" Castillo: He replaces the slain Rodriguez as head of the OCB. A very taciturn man, Castillo lives a reclusive life outside of work. He was formerly a DEA agent in the Golden Triangle of Southeast Asia during the late 1970s. During his time as an agent, he opposed the CIA in endorsing the trafficking of heroin to finance their overseas operations. Some of Castillo's habits, such as his desk always being free of paperwork and his request that anyone entering his office should knock first, were suggested by Edward James Olmos during filming.
Saundra Santiago as Detective Gina Navarro Calabrese: A fearless female detective, who after Crockett's divorce, held a brief romance with him. Even after their relationship did not progress, they still have a strong friendship.
Olivia Brown as Detective Trudy Joplin: Gina's patrol partner. Though tough, "Big Booty Trudy" sometimes struggles to face consequences of her job, such as when she shot and killed a man. Later in the series she has an encounter with a UFO and an alien portrayed by James Brown.
Michael Talbott as Detective Stanley "Stan" Switek: A fellow police detective and good friend to Larry. Although a good policeman, later on in the series he falls prey to a gambling addiction. He is also a big fan of Elvis Presley.
John Diehl (1984–1987) as Detective Lawrence "Larry" Zito: A detective and Switek's surveillance partner. He was killed in the line of duty when a drug dealer gave him a fatal overdose. Diehl enjoyed being on Vice but wanted to leave the show, opting for a more creative opportunity in theater.
Gregory Sierra (1984) as Lieutenant Lou Rodriguez: A police lieutenant who serves as commander of the Vice Unit. He is killed in the fourth episode by an assassin hired to kill Crockett.
Charlie Barnett (1984–1987) as Nugart Neville "Noogie" Lamont: A friend of Izzy's and informant for Crockett and Tubbs.
Sheena Easton (1987–1988) as Caitlin Davies-Crockett: A pop singer who is assigned a police bodyguard, Crockett, for her testimony in a racketeering case. While protecting Caitlin, Sonny falls in love with her and they get married. Months after their marriage, Caitlin is killed by one of Crockett's former nemeses. Sonny later learns she was seven weeks pregnant, causing him further emotional turmoil.
Martin Ferrero (1984–1989) as Isidore "Izzy" Moreno: A petty criminal and fast talker, Izzy is always known for getting into quick money schemes and giving Crockett and Tubbs the latest information from the street.
Pam Grier (1985, 1989) as Valerie Gordon: A New York Police Department Officer and on-and-off love interest of Tubbs.
Belinda Montgomery (1984–1989) as Caroline Crockett/Ballard: Crockett's former wife who moves to Ocala, Florida to remarry and raise their child, Billy. Caroline was having a baby with her second husband in her last appearance.
Many actors, actresses, musicians, comedians, athletes, celebrities, appeared throughout the show's five-season run. They played many different roles from drug dealers to undercover cops to madams. The full list can be seen at the link above, as this is just a partial list. Musicians include Sheena Easton, Willie Nelson, Gene Simmons, and Ted Nugent Additionally Glenn Frey, Frank Zappa, Phil Collins, Miles Davis, Frankie Valli, Little Richard, James Brown, Leonard Cohen, the band Power Station, Coati Mundi, and Eartha Kitt.
Other personalities included auto executive Lee Iacocca and Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy. Athletes included Boston Celtics center Bill Russell, Bernard King, racecar driver Danny Sullivan, and boxers Roberto Durán, and Randall "Tex" Cobb.
Notable actors of that time included Dean Stockwell, Pam Grier, Clarence Williams III, and Brian Dennehy.
The show frequently featured guest appearances from up-and-coming actors and actresses, including: Laurence Fishburne, Viggo Mortensen, Dennis Farina, Stanley Tucci, Jimmy Smits, Bruce McGill, David Strathairn, Ving Rhames, Liam Neeson, Lou Diamond Phillips, Bruce Willis, Ed O'Neill, and Julia Roberts. Additionally Michael Madsen, Ian McShane, Bill Paxton, Luis Guzmán, Kyra Sedgwick, Esai Morales, Terry O'Quinn, Joaquim de Almeida, Wesley Snipes, John Turturro, Melanie Griffith and Annie Golden to name a few.
Future notable comedians included: John Leguizamo, David Rasche, Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Tommy Chong, Richard Belzer, and Penn Jillette.
Series Finale: 22 million viewers & a 14.7 rating on May 21, 1989 from 9-11pm. Competition: Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure (22.9 rating) & Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer: Murder Takes All (12.8 rating)
Final Airing on NBC: 16.1 million viewers/11.1 rating (June 28, 1989) China Beach drew 10.8 million viewers/8 rating.
Critics have objected to the show's usage of violence by dressing it with pretty photography. Others complained that the show relied more on visual aspects and music than on coherent stories and fully drawn characters. Civic leaders in Miami have also objected to the show's airing of the city's crime problems all across America. Most civic leaders, however, have been placated due to the show's estimated contribution of $1 million per episode to the city's economy and boosting tourism to Miami. Gerald S. Arenberg of the National Association of Chiefs of Police criticized the show's glamorous depiction of vice squads, saying "no real vice cops chase drug dealers in a Ferrari while wearing $600 suits. More often than not, they're holed up in a crummy room somewhere, wearing jeans with holes in them, watching some beat-up warehouse in a godforsaken part of town through a pair of dented binoculars".
At the 1985 Emmy Awards Miami Vice was nominated for 15 Emmy Awards, including "Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series", "Outstanding Film Editing", "Outstanding Achievement for Music Composition for a series (dramatic underscore)", and "Outstanding Directing". At the end of the night, Miami Vice only won four Emmys. The following day, the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner could only conclude that the conservative Emmy voters (at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences) simply refused to recognize an innovative new series that celebrated hedonism, violence, sex, and drugs.
Television critics Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz ranked Miami Vice as the 51st greatest American television series of all time in their 2016 book titled TV (The Book), with Seitz stating how the show was more influenced by 1960s art house cinema from Europe than by any other contemporary television drama: "Miami Vice superimposed 'ripped-from-the-headlines' details about drug smuggling, arms dealing, and covert war onto a pastel noir dreamscape. It gave American TV its first visionary existential drama".
Miami Vice was a groundbreaking police program of the 1980s. It had a notable impact on the decade's popular fashions and set the tone for the evolution of police drama. Series such as Homicide: Life on the Street, NYPD Blue, and the Law & Order franchise, though being markedly different in style and theme from Miami Vice, followed its lead in breaking the genre's mold; Dick Wolf, creator and executive producer of the Law & Order franchise, was a writer and later executive producer of Miami Vice. Parodies and pastiches of it have continued decades after it aired, such as the Moonbeam City (2015).
The show has been so influential that the style of Miami Vice has often been borrowed or alluded to by much of contemporary pop culture in order to indicate or emphasize the 1980s decade. Its influence as a popular culture icon is still seen today, more than 20 years after appearing. Examples of this includes the episode "The One With All The Thanksgivings" from the American sitcom Friends. Flashback scenes from the 1980s in this episode shows the characters Ross and Chandler in pastel colored suits with rolled up sleeves like that of Sonny Crockett. Another example would be the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which was published by Rockstar Games in 2002 and is set in a stylized 1980s Miami inspired fictional city. Two undercover police officers appear in a police sports car within the game when the player obtains a three-star wanted level. The two officers, one white and one black, resemble the two leading characters of Miami Vice. One of the main characters, Lance Vance, was actually voiced by Philip Michael Thomas. In the prequel, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, there are two officers in the multiplayer mode named Cracker and Butts, a parody of Crockett and Tubbs; these characters share the same role as the undercover cops in Vice City. In the film Boogie Nights, the movie takes place in the 1970s. The movie progresses into the 1980s and closes with Mark Wahlberg wearing a white linen jacket, sleeves rolled up, and a bright pink shirt tucked into white linen pants. This informs the audience the year is now somewhere in the mid-1980s due to the massive popularity of Miami Vice from 1984–1986.
Many of the fads and trends popularized by the TV show, such as fast cars and speed boats, unshaven beard stubble, a T-shirt under pastel suits, no socks, rolled up sleeves, boat shoes and Ray Ban sunglasses symbolize the stereotypical image of 1980s fashion and culture. In reality, however, these fashion styles were only popular relatively briefly in the 1980s and coincide roughly with the showing of the first two seasons of Miami Vice which spawned them. Due to delayed international broadcasts, they were sometimes popular a few years longer in other countries than in the U.S.
The show also had a lasting impact on Miami itself. It sparked a revitalization of the South Beach district of Miami Beach, as well as other portions of the Miami area, and increased tourism and investment. Even 30 years after Miami Vice first aired, it is still responsible for its share of tourist visits to the city. The fact that Crockett and Tubbs were Dade County officers and not City of Miami police represented the growing notion of metro government in Miami. In 1997, a county referendum changed the name from Dade County to Miami-Dade County. This allowed people to relate the county government to recognized notions and images of Miami, many of which were first popularized by Miami Vice. The Dade County Sheriff's Office now became the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released all Miami Vice seasons on DVD for regions 1, 2, and 4. Seasons 1 & 2 were released in 2005, and seasons 3 through 5 were released in 2007. The DVD release of the series had been significantly slow due to one of the signature features of the show: the heavy integration of 1980s pop and rock music. The music was difficult to source the rights to and acquire permission to use. In the November 2004 announcement for the DVD release of the series, Universal promised that all original music in the series would be intact. On August 21, 2007 Universal announced the November 13, 2007 release of the complete series, with all five seasons on 27 single-sided DVDs. The seasons are in their own Digipak-style cases, and the set is housed in a faux alligator-skin package. Seasons 1 & 2 contained six single-sided discs, rather than the three double-sided discs in the initial release. The Region 2 version has different packaging, does not use double-sided discs, and although there are no special features stated on the packaging they are contained within the season 1 discs.
On March 8, 2016, it was announced that Mill Creek Entertainment had acquired the rights to the series in Region 1; they subsequently re-released the first two seasons on DVD on May 3, 2016.
On October 4, 2016, Mill Creek re-released Miami Vice - The Complete Series on DVD and also released the complete series on Blu-ray for the first time.