Without a Trace

Without a Trace Information

Without a Trace is an American police procedural television drama series that originally ran on CBS from September 26, 2002 to May 19, 2009. The series follows the ventures of a Missing Persons Unit (MPU) of the FBI in New York City.

On May 19, 2009, CBS announced the cancellation of the series after the series ran for seven seasons.


Each episode typically followed the search for one individual under tight time constraints. The stories also focused on the personal lives of the team members and illustrated how their experiences gave them insight into cases.

The team consisted of Jack Malone (Anthony LaPaglia), Samantha Spade (Poppy Montgomery), Vivian Johnson (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), Danny Taylor (Enrique Murciano), Martin Fitzgerald (Eric Close), and Elena Delgado (Roselyn Sánchez), who joined the cast starting in the fourth season.

The real FBI does investigate missing persons; specifically they have the authority to help in any "mysterious" disappearances of children abducted by non-family members. The groups that investigate these crimes are called CARD (Child Abduction Rapid Deployment) Teams. They get involved in other missing persons cases as needed but do not have a dedicated unit.

One element that set the series apart from other TV crime dramas was the display of information about real-life missing persons at the end of most episodes. Occasionally such information was replaced with other public service announcements, such as an episode about an attempted suicide which presented information on a suicide help line. Showings outside the United States tend to omit missing persons info; however, Australia's Nine Network usually showed Australian cases, and in Hong Kong the TVB Pearl showed information about local missing persons during the first two seasons.

Without a Trace took place within Jerry Bruckheimer's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation universe. A crossover episode featured characters Gil Grissom from CSI and Jack Malone from Without a Trace working together to solve the same case.


Without a Trace debuted as part of the CBS fall line-up in 2002, created by Hank Steinberg and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. The show was the first ever to score strong ratings opposite longtime NBC hit ER"?which, like Without a Trace, is produced by Warner Bros. Television. The first two showrunners were Steinberg and Ed Redlich. Between Seasons Two and Three, Redlich moved away from active participation in the series, with staff writers Jan Nash and Greg Walker taking over. In the middle of Season Four, Steinberg left to produce the series The Nine, while remaining executive producer. The show is the only prime-time U.S. drama to feature two Australians (Poppy Montgomery & Anthony LaPaglia) and a Briton (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) playing Americans in the regular cast.

In 2003, the TNT Network acquired syndication rights to the series for US$1.4 million per episode.

Without a Trace ran on Thursdays at 10 pm until September 2006, when it was moved to Sundays at 10 pm. In the 2007"2008 season it swapped timeslots with Shark, returning it to its old timeslot on Thursdays. However, this lasted only until the 2008"2009 season, when it moved to Tuesdays at 10 pm. On May 19, 2009, it was reported that the series would not be returning for an eighth season.

Main cast

Name Portrayed by Occupation Position Main cast Guest cast
John Michael "Jack" Malone Anthony LaPaglia Special Agent; Missing Persons Unit, FBI Supervisory Agent, Head of MPU Seasons 1"7
Samantha "Sam" Spade Poppy Montgomery Special Agent; Missing Persons Unit, FBI Field Agent, MPU Seasons 1"7
Vivian "Viv" Johnson Marianne Jean-Baptiste Special Agent; Missing Persons Unit, FBI Assistant Supervisory Agent, MPU Seasons 1-7
Danny Taylor, né Alvarez Enrique Murciano Special Agent; Missing Persons Unit, FBI Field Agent, MPU Seasons 1-7
Elena Delgado Roselyn Sánchez Special Agent; Missing Persons Unit, FBI Field Agent, MPU Seasons 4-7 Season 4 (prior to joining the regular cast)
Martin Fitzgerald Eric Close Special Agent; Missing Persons Unit, FBI Field Agent, MPU Seasons 1-7

Season synopsis

Season 1

Main article: Without a Trace (season 1)
In the first season, the team is introduced to the viewers.

Season 2

Main article: Without a Trace (season 2)
As the team continues to track down missing people, Jack and his wife slide towards divorce, while Jack must also care for his father (Martin Landau) who has Alzheimer's disease. We learn about the team members' life histories, including the fact that Martin was practically raised by his aunt and uncle, and Danny is an orphan whose brother (Alex Fernandez) is a convicted felon. Martin fatally shoots a child sex trafficker, and both he and Vivian must keep quiet in order to keep their jobs. Jack makes a last-ditch attempt to save his marriage by moving to Chicago with his family, giving Vivian a long-awaited promotion to his post, but at the last minute his wife leaves without him, taking their daughters with her.

Following a campaign by the conservative group the Parents Television Council, CBS was fined a record $3.6 million for indecency for the episode "Our Sons and Daughters", which centered around a teenage orgy. CBS argued that the episode "featured an important and socially relevant storyline warning parents to exercise greater supervision of their teenage children."

Season 3

Main article: Without a Trace (season 3)
Vivian loses her promotion when Jack returns to his job, causing some commotion among the group. She also experiences heart trouble that endangers her life and her career, and undergoes risky surgery. Martin and Samantha begin a secret office romance, and it ends badly. Jack undergoes a brutal custody battle with his ex-wife. Danny has to confront his traumatic past, and his estranged brother. The season ends with a cliffhanger as a hired mercenary opens fire on Martin and Danny's car while they transport a prisoner. Guest star Bradley Steven Perry.

Season 4

Main article: Without a Trace (season 4)
After barely surviving the gun battle that ended Season Three, Martin must recover from near-fatal gunshot wounds while Danny battles PTSD. Stretched for help, the team gets a new member, Elena Delgado, a former NYPD vice squad officer with an aggressive, streetwise attitude. She has a past connection to Danny, the nature of which is unknown until Season Five. Martin develops an addiction to painkillers, and Jack begins a romance with the widow of a former mentor killed in the line of duty.

Season 5

Main article: Without a Trace (season 5)
Jack's girlfriend miscarries and abruptly ends their relationship. Danny and Elena begin to date each other, while her ex-husband, Carlos, sues for custody of their daughter, Sofie, and later abducts the child. More about Samantha's difficult past is revealed, including her strained relationships with her mother and sister. Jack is abducted and tortured by a psychotic woman, but initially appears to show few effects. At the end of the season, Carlos is freed, leaving the team worried about Elena's safety, and a serial kidnapper appears to be preying on young women.

Season 6

Main article: Without a Trace (season 6)
Vivian is put in charge of a task force to locate the serial kidnapper, who is part of a sex trafficking ring. Samantha reveals that she is pregnant from a one-night stand with a bartender, Brian; by the end of the season, he waives paternal rights and she gives birth to a son. Jack begins a pattern of roughing up suspects to make them talk, which appears to be related to PTSD. He also gets into a dangerous situation without backup and is nearly killed, and becomes over-involved in the life of a teenager he saved from the sex traffickers. In the season finale he is demoted and put in mandatory therapy with Dr. Clare Bryson (Linda Hunt).

This season also contained a two-part crossover episode with CSI, as Jack and Gil Grissom and their teams track down a serial killer responsible for the disappearance of a boy six years ago. Both episodes are included on the DVD collection for CSI's eighth season.

Without a Trace completed twelve episodes of Season Six before the Writers Guild of America strike. Because the show's writing staff all joined the strike, there were no more new episodes until the issue was settled. Once the strike ended, the show returned April 3, 2008, with six episodes.

Season 7

Main article: Without a Trace (season 7)
The series' seventh season began airing September 23, 2008, on a new 10:00 pm (EST) Tuesday timeslot. Steven Weber joined the cast for the first five episodes of the season as Special Agent Clark Medina, Jack's temporary replacement as unit supervisor. The episodes focus just as much on missing persons cases as on Medina's war against Jack as he reveals that not only had he been sent to replace Jack, but also to convince Jack to leave the Bureau. Medina ultimately realizes that he cannot get Jack to resign and uses him in a power play to get himself promoted; in return, he arranges for Jack to get his old position back. Following Jack's return as Unit Supervisor, he sets about trying to repair his relationship with Sam and takes custody of his elder daughter, Hanna. The season ends with Jack putting a permanent end to his on-again-off-again relationship with Sam and reaching a point of reconciliation with Hanna. Sam and Brian decide to live together to raise their son and the team attends the wedding of Danny and Elena.


Main article: List of Without a Trace episodes

U.S. television ratings

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Without A Trace on CBS.

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.

Season Timeslot Season Premiere Season Finale TV Season Ranking Viewers
(in millions)
1st Thursday 10:00 pm / 9 c September 26, 2002 May 15, 2003 2002"2003 #15 15.09
2nd September 25, 2003 May 20, 2004 2003"2004 #11 16.74
3rd September 23, 2004 May 19, 2005 2004"2005 #8 18.68
4th September 29, 2005 May 18, 2006 2005"2006 #7 18.7
5th Sunday 10:00 pm / 9 c September 24, 2006 May 10, 2007 2006"2007 #16 14.7
6th Thursday 10:00 pm / 9 c September 27, 2007 May 15, 2008 2007"2008 #20 13.10
7th Tuesday 10:00 pm / 9 c September 23, 2008 May 19, 2009 2008"2009 #18 12.86

DVD releases

Season releases

DVD Name Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete 1st Season September 14, 2004 January 10, 2005 December 15, 2004
The Complete 2nd Season March 13, 2007 January 16, 2006 November 16, 2005
The Complete 3rd Season May 15, 2012 July 24, 2006 May 2, 2007
The Complete 4th Season September 11, 2012 July 14, 2008 July 1, 2009
The Complete 5th Season November 27, 2012 February 22, 2010
The Complete 6th Season July 5, 2010
The Complete 7th Season
Without A Trace Season 1 has been released on Region 1, Region 2 and Region 4 DVD. Season 2 (region 1 DVD), which was thought to be indefinitely scrapped, was released on March 13, 2007. Seasons 3 and 4 were finally released on Region 1 DVDs in 2012 under the Warner Archive "Manufactured On Demand" model. Season 5 was released in Region 1 on November 27, 2012.

Seasons 1"6 have all been released under region 2 encoding, while Seasons 1-5 have been released under region 4 encoding.

See also

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Without_a_Trace" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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