Roger Allam as Thursday and Shawn Evans as Morse in 'Endeavour'

One of the Best British Detective Shows Is Ending—and We Finally Get To Watch

Fans of British detective shows have an abundance of riches to choose from. Not only is there a back catalogue spanning decades, but it seems like a new, flashy series is always popping up. Yet there’s one show that’s been proving itself again and again since 2012, amassing a staggering nine seasons and a fanatical fanbase. And now, at long last, the final season is making its way stateside. Yes, I’m looking at you, Endeavour.

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While our friends abroad got to see the conclusion of Endeavour when it aired in the UK in March 2023, it’s been a considerable wait for the rest of us. Now that Endeavour Eve is here, there’s wall-to-wall coverage across many US media outlets, which speaks to the mark the show has made and the dedication it has commanded worldwide. Somehow I’ve managed to avoid most spoilers, though at least I can be confident that our protagonist, Detective Sergeant Endeavour Morse, survives the finale. (Yes, his first name is really “Endeavour.” No, don’t ask him about it.)

You see, Endeavour is a prequel series to one of the most famous British mystery series ever, Inspector Morse, which starred John Thaw and kicked off an 8-season run in the 1980s. So we know that our current Morse (from the past) has to live to become another Morse (the older, original Morse). Still with me? Endeavour stars the always-excellent Shawn Evans and his cheekbones as a youthful version of Morse in ‘60s and ’70s Oxford. The show is a sort of antihero origin story for the lonely, cranky, brilliant, hard-drinking policeman. Oxford itself is also a character, with the historic city and famous university setting the stage for most scenes. The picturesque backdrops of privilege contrast with the crime and social change roiling beneath the surface, and Morse, once a scholarship lad at Oxford who left without a degree, is an uneasy go-between.

Shawn Evans as Morse in 'Endeavour'
Shawn Evans; his cheekbones

Morse has a penchant for classics, opera, and melodrama, a way with the ladies (not always a great way), a too-close relationship with pints and bottles, a mind for details everyone else misses, and a relentless drive to solve mysteries. Those mysteries get more outlandish and complicated as the series progresses, for better and worse. Endeavour takes many of its visual, auditory, and thematic vibes from the original series and the novels by Colin Dexter, while also proving to be its own unique and vibrant entry into what the New York Times recently dubbed “the Morse Cinematic Universe.” 

Overall, Endeavour is a stylish, smart, and well-made show, well worth your time if you’re considering a first watch. Its greatest strength is having one of the most talented ensemble casts in the business, including veterans Roger Allam as Morse’s mentor—one could argue that the show could also be called Thursday, so much is the glory mutually his—and the impeccable Anton Lesser. The costumes are perfection, the set dressings are lush, and the musical choices and cues are unequalled. Like any series with many seasons under its belt, some episodes are misfires (Morse challenges a murderous tiger) while others feel like works of art (Morse is the intoxicated, unknowing witness to a murder). Some episodes are intentionally jump-scary and hard to watch alone. There are seasons that left me dazzled (I have a friend who will cry instantly if you say the words “Pelican Man” to her, and I concur), and there is a season that I have struck from my memory and would like struck from the official record (season 7). 

Anton Lesser and Roger Allam pose as policeman in 'Endeavour'
The best in the biz: Anton Lesser as Bright and Roger Allam as Thursday

Thankfully, Endeavour got back on course with a strong season 8, and I can’t wait to see what season 9 has in store for Morse, Thursday, Strange, Joan, Dr. DeBryn, Bright, Dorothea, and the rest of our Oxonian circle. The final three episodes that encompass season 9 will begin airing on Masterpiece on PBS on Sunday, June 18th, 2023 at 9/8c. Subsequent episodes will follow each Sunday, with the series finale wrapping things up on July 2nd, 2023. The show will also air on Amazon’s PBS channel, and it’s likely the whole 9th season will be made available to Amazon Prime Video subscribers in the not-so-distant future. If you subscribe to Prime, you can start watching the first eight seasons there now. If you’re looking for more series in this genre, check out our 10 Best British Detective Series run-down. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go put on some opera and contemplate the follies of man.

(images: ITV/PBS Masterpiece)  


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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.