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Magnum, P.I. is an American crime drama television series created by Donald P. Bellisario starring Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, a private investigator (P.I.) living on Oahu, Hawaii. The series ran for its first-run broadcast on CBS in the United States and various other networks abroad from December 11, 1980 to May 8, 1988 for total of eight seasons and 162 episodes. According to the Nielsen ratings, Magnum, P.I. consistently ranked in the top twenty U.S. television programs during the first five years of its original run in the United States. The series was produced by Bellisarius Productions and Glen A. Larson Productions and it was distributed by NBCUniversal Television Distribution.

A reboot series of the same name was ordered on May 11, 2018 and premiered on September 24, 2018 from CBS, which today owns the rights to the series through its acquisition of the original Universal Television.


Thomas Sullivan Magnum IV is a private investigator played by Tom Selleck. He resides in the guest house of a 200-acre (81 ha) beachfront estate called Robin's Nest, in Hawaii, at the invitation of its owner, Robin Masters, the celebrated, but never-seen, author of several dozen lurid novels. Ostensibly this is quid pro quo for Magnum's services based upon his expertise in security; the pilot and several early episodes suggest Magnum had done Masters a favor of some kind, possibly when Masters hired him for a case. The voice of Robin Masters, heard only a few times per season, was provided by Orson Welles (one last "appearance" was provided by a different actor, Reid Crandell).

Magnum lives a luxurious life on the estate and operates as a P.I. on cases that suit him. The only thorn in the side of his near-perfect lifestyle is Jonathan Quayle Higgins III, played by John Hillerman. An ex–British Army Sergeant Major, he is on the surface a stern, "by-the-book" caretaker of Robin's Nest, whose strict ways often conflict with Magnum's more easy-going methods. He patrols Robin's Nest with his two highly trained "lads", Doberman Pinschers named Zeus and Apollo. Magnum has free use of the guest house and the car, a Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole, but as a humorous aside in various episodes, often has to bargain with Higgins for use of estate amenities such as the tennis courts, wine cellar and expensive cameras.

The relationship between Magnum and Higgins is initially cool, but as the series progressed, an unspoken respect and fondness of sorts grew between the pair. Many episodes dedicated more screen time to this "odd couple" pairing after the relationship proved popular with fans. A recurrent theme throughout the last two seasons, starting in the episode "Paper War", involves Magnum's sneaking suspicion that Higgins is actually Robin Masters since he opens Robin's mail, calls Robin's Ferrari "his car" etc. This suspicion is neither proved nor disproved, although in at least one episode Higgins is shown alone in a room, picking up a ringing phone and talking to Robin Masters, indicating they are two different persons.

Aside from Higgins, Magnum's two main companions on the islands are Theodore "T.C." Calvin (Roger E. Mosley), who runs a local helicopter charter service called "Island Hoppers", and often finds himself persuaded by Magnum to fly him during various cases, and Orville Wilbur Richard "Rick" Wright (Larry Manetti), who refuses to use his given name Orville and owns a local bar. In the pilot episode, this was "Rick's Place" in town, inspired by Casablanca, with Rick appearing in suitable 1930s attire. After completing the pilot, though, executives felt that audiences would be unable to fully connect with this element. Instead, Rick moved to running the plush, beachside King Kamehameha Club, which has exclusive membership and Higgins on the board of directors. Magnum often strolls around the club, using its facilities and running up an ever-unpaid tab, further fueling the Magnum-Higgins feud.

T.C. and Rick are both former Marines from VMO-2 with whom Magnum, a former Navy SEAL and Naval Intelligence agent, served in the Vietnam War. The series was one of the first to deal with Vietnam veterans as "human beings" and not as shell-shocked killers, and was praised by many ex-servicemen groups for doing so. Magnum often dupes or bribes T.C. and Rick into aiding him on his cases, much to their frustration, though the deep friendship between the group, including Higgins, proved to be one of the key elements of the program over its eight-season run.

Magnum comes and goes as he pleases, works only when he wants, and has the almost unlimited use of the Ferrari and many other luxuries of the estate. He keeps a mini-refrigerator with a seemingly endless supply of beer ("Old Düsseldorf in a long neck"), wears his father's treasured Rolex GMT Master wristwatch and is surrounded by countless beautiful women, who are often victims of crime, his clients, or are connected in various other ways to the cases he solves.

Other characteristics specific to Magnum are his thick moustache, baseball caps (usually a Detroit Tigers or VMO-2 one), a rubber chicken, and a variety of colorful Aloha shirts. Nearly every episode is narrated, in voice-over, by Magnum at various points. At the end of the seventh season, Magnum was to be killed off, to end the series. Following an outcry from fans who demanded a more satisfactory conclusion, an eighth season was produced to bring Magnum "back to life" and to round off the series.




  • Kwan Hi Lim as Lt. Yoshi Tanaka
  • Gillian Dobb as Agatha Chumley
  • Lance LeGault as Buck Greene
  • Jeff MacKay as Lt. MacReynolds/Jim Bonnick
  • Elisha Cook Jr. as Francis "Icepick" Hofstetler
  • Glenn Cannon as Dr. "Doc Ibold" Ibold, M.D.
  • Kathleen Lloyd as Carol Baldwin
  • Marta DuBois as Michelle Hue
  • Jean Bruce Scott as Lieutenant (later Lt. Commander) Maggie Poole
  • Eugene Roche as Luther H. Gillis
  • Joe Santos as Lt. Nolan Page


Main article: Episode Guide (1980)
Season Episodes Originally aired (U.S. dates)
Season premiere Season finale
1 18 December 11, 1980 April 16, 1981
2 21 October 8, 1981 April 1, 1982
3 23 September 30, 1982 April 28, 1983
4 21 September 29, 1983 May 3, 1984
5 22 September 27, 1984 April 4, 1985
6 21 September 26, 1985 April 10, 1986
7 22 October 1, 1986 April 15, 1987
8 13 October 7, 1987 May 8, 1988



Selleck's contract commitment to the Magnum, P.I. series famously cost him the role of Indiana Jones in the first Indiana Jones film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, which went to Harrison Ford. Selleck was unable to take the part of Jones as Magnum was due to start filming in March 1980. Owing to the 1980 AFTRA/Screen Actors Guild strike, production of Magnum was delayed until December 1980, which would have allowed Selleck to play Jones.


Robin's Nest is the fictional beachfront estate on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, which serves as the residence of the main characters. In the series, it is owned by renowned novelist Robin Masters, who employs Jonathan Higgins as the estate's caretaker and Thomas Magnum as its security expert. Higgins resides in the estate's main house while Magnum occupies the guest house.

In reality located in Waimānalo, the 3-acre (1.2 ha) beachfront property is located on the east shore of Oahu at 41-505 Kalanianaole Highway (Route 72) near Waimanalo Beach (21°19′30″N 157°40′48″W). Called "Pahonu" ("turtle enclosure" in Hawaiian), it is also known locally as "The Anderson Estate". The property was used for hundreds of years for raising green sea turtles for the Hawaiian royal family and includes a 500 by 50 foot stone wall that surrounds the former turtle raising pond. Since 1978, it has been on the National Register of Historic Places listings in Hawaii. Developed as a residential estate in the early 1930s, the estate comprises an 11,000-square-foot (1,000 m2) main house, a boathouse (which in the series appears as the guest house that Magnum occupies), a gatehouse, a private tennis court, a beach front and the registered tidal pool.[5]

Originally owned by Cox Communications heiress Barbara Cox Anthony, it was placed on the market with Sotheby's International Realty for $15.750M in January 2014, it was sold for $8.7M in March 2015 to Seth Madorsky, a Chicago lawyer with close ties to then-President Barack Obama, and later transferred to an LLC registered in Colorado.

Theme music[]

The original theme music for the opening credits of the pilot episode was a mid-tempo jazzy piece by Ian Freebairn-Smith. This music was also used for the next nine regular episodes.

Beginning in Episode 12, it was replaced by a more up-tempo theme typical of 1980s action series by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter with guitar by Larry Carlton. This theme had been used during the show and over the closing credits from Episode 8. A longer version of this second theme ("Theme from Magnum P.I.", clocking in at 3:25) credited to Post was released as a 7-inch single by Elektra Records in 1982 and featured on the Billboard Hot 100 chart that same year, peaking at No. 25 on 8 May 1982. This version also appeared on Post's 1982 album Television Theme Songs.


Awards and nominations[]

Selleck won an Emmy in 1984 for his portrayal of the title character. Three years later, co-star John Hillerman also won an Emmy. In 1981, series creators and writers Glen A. Larson and Donald P. Bellisario received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Episode in a TV Series.

DVD Releases[]

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has released all 8 Seasons of Magnum, P.I. on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time. They have also released Seasons 1 to 4 in Region 2.

Cover Art DVD Name Release Date Ep #
Magnum PI (1980, Season 1) DVD.jpg Magnum, P.I.: Season 1 September 7, 2004 18
Magnum PI (1980, Season 2).jpg Magnum, P.I.: Season 2 April 12, 2005 21
Magnum PI (1980, Season 3) DVD.jpg Magnum, P.I.: Season 3 January 31, 2006 22
Magnum PI (1980, Season 4).jpg Magnum, P.I.: Season 4 April 4, 2006 21
Magnum PI (1980, Season 5) (1).jpg Magnum, P.I.: Season 5 October 10, 2006 22
Magnum PI (1980, Season 6) DVD.jpg Magnum, P.I.: Season 6 February 27, 2007 21
Magnum PI (1980, Season 7) DVD.jpg Magnum, P.I.: Season 7 October 30, 2007 22
Magnum PI (1980, Season 8) DVD.jpg Magnum, P.I.: Season 8 March 4, 2008 13
File:Magnum PI (1980) The Complete Series.jpg Magnum, P.I.: The Complete Series October 1, 2013 162


  • On February 20, 2018, the series is rebooted, with Jay Hernandez starring as a title character.

See also[]


Main article: Magnum, P.I. (2018)

In October 2017, CBS announced they had issued a pilot commitment for a reboot of the series, to be developed by Peter M. Lenkov, who had helped reboot other series like Hawaii Five-0 and MacGyver for the network. CBS officially ordered the pilot three months later, along with one for a reboot of another hit 1980s television series for the network, Cagney & Lacey, including the revival series of Murphy Brown.

External links[]