What is Cabot Cove Syndrome?


The term “Cabot Cove Syndrome” was used in an American crime drama series, “Murder, She Wrote.” “Cabot Cove Syndrome” is described as the constant emergence and appearance of dead bodies in small and large amounts in secluded spots and remote places, and it is a fictional syndrome. This term “Cabot Cove Syndrome” was named after the fictional town of “Cabot Cove” in Maine, the hometown of Jessica Fletcher, the protagonist of the series “Murder, She Wrote.”

Angela Lansbury, a British-American-Irish actress, played the role of Jessica Fletcher in this crime series.

The Reason behind the Origin of the Term “Cabot Cove Syndrome”

The fictional coastal community of Cabot Cove is said to have the highest rate of murders in the world. Luckily, Cabot Cove is not a real place because, according to BBC, the murder rate in the small sleepy town of Cabot Cove was 1490 murders per million. According to an estimate, it is also said that about two percent of the Cabot Cove residents were murdered. The high murder rate and the appearance of corpses in the series were the reasons why the term “Cabot Cove Syndrome” was coined in the show.

Most of the upper-class coastal towns in New England are not supposedly famous for the number of murders that occur there, but Cabot Cove, Maine, is indeed famous for its murder count.

Murder, She Wrote


The series revolves around the daily life of a retired English teacher named Jessica Fletcher. After her retirement, this teacher becomes a very successful mystery writer. Despite being a successful mystery writer and all the fame and fortuneshe received, Jessica decides to stay in her hometown,“Cabot Cove,” to stay in touch with her old friends. She never lets her fame to get on her head and make her act like a celebrity.

Almost all episodes of this series start with a preview with Jessica saying,“Tonight on Murder, She Wrote…” In the TV series, Jessica helps the investigation officers in solving murder cases and arresting the culprits. The investigators and police officers who are almost always ready to arrest the most likely suspect are proved wrong by Jessica, who, with her amazing investigation and mystery-solving skills, helps them reach the actual culprit.

She asks ingenious questions and places all the clues together to find out the murderer. The number of murders and the regularity of these incidents caused the formation of the term “Cabot Cove Syndrome,” which, as explained earlier, described the constant emergence of corpses in remote areas.

While watching this TV series, a viewer might think,“What if Cabot Cove was real?” thankfully, it is not real. If Cabot Cove existed in the real world, it would have topped the statistics of FBI national crime in several categories.

The relation Jessica has with the investigators and the investigation agencies changes from time to time as the show progresses. Some detectives do not like Jessica and don’t want her to come near the crime scenes until she proves those investigators wrong and traps the actual culprits with her accurate deductions, while some other investigators love to work with her because they are her fans and love her books.

Jessica Fletcher is one of the characters who deserve to be remembered right up with all the famous fictional detective characters like Sherlock Holmes. Angela Lansbury brought the character of Jessica to life with her outstanding acting skills for twelve seasons and proved that the career of a female actor does not end after she turns forty. Angela was 58 when the show premiered in September 1984.

For the next twelve years after the famous crime series aired, Angela Lansbury got nominated for an Emmy award every year, but unfortunately, Lansbury never got to take home any Emmy award. Although, in 1996,the Emmys Hall of fame inducted Angela Lansbury.

Some Facts about “Murder, She Wrote”

Murder, She Wrote is regarded as one of the most famous shows of the 80s and 90s. Here are some facts about this renowned series you might want to know as a fan:

1. The Controversial Fan Theory

There is a controversial fan theory according to which Jessica Fletcher was the actual murderer in the series. Some fans believe that the abnormal number of murders and the way Jessica always succeeded in trapping murderers was because Jessica herself was a serial killer and framed all the “culprits” with the help of her crime-writer’s genius.

Over the years, this fan theory gained a lot of attention. This theory is quite explainable because wherever Jessica went, murders followed her. Whether it be a trip out of town or a book tour, there was always some murderous act going on around Jessica. There is a possibility that Jessica was so obsessed with murder mysteries that she started creating her own. Many more questions like this arise when one starts thinking about the reason behind the “Cabot Cove Syndrome.”

It might be possible that Jessica herself was a “Cabot Cove Syndrome” carrier. This can be true but, we are in no position to state anything like this.

2. We Never Saw Jessica Drive a Car

In the whole series, Jessica Fletcher never drove a car. She was always seen riding her bicycle or getting a taxi. The reason behind this could be that after she arrived from Great Britain, Jessica never got a driving license.

3. The Meaning behind Jessica’s Middle Name

Jessica Fletcher’s middle name in the series was “Beatrice.” The name Beatrice was taken from Lansbury’s real-life friend “Beatrice Arthur.” One more character of the series, Jessica’s late husband Frank, was named after Beatrice Arthur’s birth name “Bernice Frankel.” Friendship goals, one must say.

4. Jessica’s Siblings

Although Jessica Fletcher had four siblings, we only got to see Dr. Marshall MacGill. Martin, another brother of Jessica, was mentioned in the series, but he never showed up onscreen.

5. The Setting of the TV Series

An actual harbor inlet was used to set the fictional town of “Cabot Cove.” This harbor is present in the town of Kennebunkport, Maine. The sleepy town of “Cabot Cove” was located on the main road that leads from the township. Several local motor-hotels and seafood shack restaurants are just a short leisurely walk away from the main village.

The town’s exterior for the pilot episode of this series was filmed in Mendocino, California. The main Victorian mansion was used as Jessica’s house, and the local rangers’ station was used as the exterior Sheriff’s station. The exteriors in the series were changed in 1992. While the interior of the Victorian-set was changed several times for different stories in the series.

6. The Double Role

Angela Lansbury not only played the role of Jessica in the show but also played the role of Emma MacGill, Jessica’s look-alike cousin. Emma was a performer on the London stage and only appeared in two episodes of Murder, She Wrote.

7. Angela Lansbury was already the third choice for the role of Jessica

Angela Lansbury wasn’t the first choice to play the role of Jessica Fletcher in the TV series “Murder, She Wrote.” In fact, she was the third choice after Doris Day, and Jean Stapleton turned down the role. Day had stepped away from the spotlight to focus on her charity work and animal rights activism, while Stapleton did not want to take on another lengthy character run after appearing in “All in the Family” for so long. However, Lansbury saw Jessica Fletcher as the ideal character for her after a career in film and theater.

Great white shark

8. The dark history of Cabot Cove’s lake

The lake in Cabot Cove, known for its idyllic scenery and peaceful residents, has a dark history as it was initially built for the theme park ride “Jaws” at Universal Studios Hollywood. The stunning harbor shots in the TV show are actually from “Jaws Lake,” home to animatronic sharks that would leap out of the water and swim towards boats sailing on it. The possibility of what may still be lurking under the surface adds to the mysterious and eerie history of Cabot Cove.

9. The feud between Angela Lansbury and Peter S. Fischer

Angela Lansbury’s relationship with producer Peter S. Fischer on the set of “Murder, She Wrote” was strained. Fischer and Lansbury disagreed because the actress felt her character was changing too much, and she was vocal about what she saw as unjust treatment. Lansbury wanted to break her contract and leave the show due to their disagreement, therefore the season five finale was written as her departure. However, after much deliberation, the studio was able to persuade Lansbury to return, and the show continued for an additional 12 seasons.

Logo for Magnum P.I. reboot series (2018 – )

10. The show had a crossover episode with Magnum P.I.

“Murder, She Wrote” and “Magnum P.I.” share the same universe with a crossover episode featuring Jessica Fletcher appearing alongside Tom Selleck’s character Thomas Sullivan Magnum III to solve a case in Miami. The appearance of Fletcher was a strategic move by CBS to boost “Magnum P.I.”‘s ratings, which did see an improvement for the rest of the season, but ultimately the show was canceled not long after.

“Cabot Cove Syndrome” – Coined From the Show “Murder, She Wrote”

The small coastal town of Cabot Cove remained the scene of the murder for 264 episodes and 12 seasons altogether. Despite the fan theories and rebooting, the show was a hit and the term “Cabot Cove Syndrome” gained much attention after the murderous mysteries were aired on TV. Even after so many years of being released, the show is still a must-watch for everyone who loves mystery and crime fiction.

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