Without a Trace - disappeared without a trace

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Television series
German title Without a Trace - disappeared without a trace
Original title Without a trace
Without a Trace.svg
Country of production United States
original language English
Year (s) 2002-2009
length 42 minutes
Episodes 160 in 7 seasons ( list )
genre Drama , crime thriller
idea Hank Steinberg
music Peter Manning Robinson , Reinhold Heil , Johnny Klimek
First broadcast September 26, 2002 (USA) on CBS
first broadcast
September 3, 2003 on ProSieben

Without a Trace (from English: without a trace ) is an American television series . The series is about the cases of the Missing Persons Unit , a fictional special department of the FBI based in New York , whose task it is to solve current missing persons cases as soon as possible. Because the longer someone is missing, the statistically lower the probability of finding the person alive.

The series was produced from 2002 and ran in the USA at CBS . The German station ProSieben broadcast the first broadcast .

The series was discontinued by CBS on May 19, 2009.


Under the leadership of producer Jerry Bruckheimer , the concept of a special unit of the American federal agency FBI operating from New York was developed, which takes action when a person is reported missing.

In contrast to most crime series, it doesn't start with a crime, but with the disappearance of a person. The cases dealt with cover the entire spectrum of disappearances: In addition to the classic kidnapping with a ransom demand , other types of crimes (especially murder ) also occur, such as disappearances as a result of an accident or as an escape.

The focus of the series is a team of five, later six special agents under the leadership of Jack Malone , whose assignments mostly take place in New York and the surrounding area. Sometimes they need to investigate in other areas of the United States . One case also took them to Mexico , another to Iraq, and yet another to Japan.

In the US, information about actual missing persons is given at the end of many episodes.

Stylistic devices

The focus of the individual episodes is on the disappearance of a person and the clarification of the relevant history and consequences. Consequently, an episode usually begins with a description of the missing person's disappearance as presented to the team. The team then follows the various traces and hypotheses that could explain the disappearance and mostly discovers the small and large secrets of the disappeared and his surroundings through various testimonies . These statements, as well as the initial presentation of the case, are mostly staged as flashbacks and commented on by one of the agents in the voiceover - similar to the series Cold Case - No victim is ever forgotten .

Scenes are often introduced with aerial photographs, which gives a good impression of the missing person's being lost on the one hand and documents the difficulty of the task of finding them on the other .

In addition to a calm score , haunting pop music is often used in emotional scenes to underline the emotionality of the scenes. In particular, the resolution of the case at the end of each episode is a moment of great emotionality for those involved when the hope of a healthy return of the missing person is fulfilled or shattered.

The individual episodes of the plot are largely completed in terms of content. Certain arcs of the story - mainly concerning the life of the five agents under consideration - flow in again and again without being finally resolved. The private life of the agents therefore forms a certain framework, but only to the extent that it is discussed in everyday professional life. For example, family problems due to long and irregular working hours, understanding of the actions of the various people involved in the cases based on their own life experience, career planning, romances in the workplace as well as the trauma as a result of an injury on the job. One of the characters suffered from heart disease for a while and was therefore not allowed to work during that time.


main characters

Jack Malone

He's the head of the Missing Person Squad . He has a strong character and therefore often does not act according to the rules. However, he always keeps the goal of finding the missing person in mind. In addition, he usually makes intuitive decisions, which his superiors often do not approve. Nevertheless, he has great respect and esteem within the FBI and the department, even if he sometimes has to give the boss. His private life is often very turbulent. During his marriage, Malone had an affair with Samantha Spade . However, he returned to his wife and quit the job to follow his family to Chicago - he has two children. During this time Viviane Johnson took over his position. Malone's return therefore led to a brief resentment between them. In the third season, his wife divorced him and received custody of the two daughters.
As a child, Jack found his mother after she committed suicide, leaving him with constant guilt. The relationship with his father, a soldier, was strained for a long time. However, when he got Alzheimer's and his son had to take care of him, they got closer again before his death.

Samantha Spade

She comes from a rather poor background and grew up in a trailer park . She is an emotional person but tries to show strength on the outside. She is particularly concerned about cases in which children are involved. She had an affair with Jack Malone that ended before the first episode. At the beginning of the third season, she begins a relationship with Martin, but it fails because of her relationship anxiety. In the season finale of the first season, she was taken hostage and shot. After that, she had to undergo therapy.

Vivian Johnson

She is the calming pole in Malone's team. She is the only one married and has one son. For a short time, she also became the head of the department at the beginning of the third season when Jack was transferred to his family in Chicago. As a mother, Vivian has a special empathy and is the only one who can speak openly to Jack about mistakes. She is also extremely talented at negotiating and stays cool in the right situations. She has a heart condition, the treatment of which went through the third season. Vivian was no longer allowed to work and received calls from her colleagues at home to help them assess difficult situations.

Danny Taylor

Just like the rest of the team, he has a strong character. His family emigrated from Cuba to the USA. In his childhood he was exposed to crime and gangs. His brother was in prison for several years, which caused Danny to break off all contact with him and change his name. They later reconciled, but the brother, meanwhile dismissed, married and father, got back on the wrong track. Due to his personal background, Danny shows great emotion, especially in conversations with destitute people and youth criminals. A completed law degree failed because he was picked up drunk by the police on the day of the final exam after he had caused a traffic accident and was never able to take the exam. Danny was an alcoholic at the time, but has long since left that behind.

Martin Fitzgerald

He is new to the team at the beginning of the series. His father Victor Fitzgerald is Vice Director of the FBI, which makes Martin believe that he has to prove himself particularly. At first there is strong competition between him and Danny, but soon it becomes an intimate friendship. It can be seen early on that Martin feels drawn to Samantha . From the third season, the two begin a relationship that fails due to Samantha's attachment problems . Martin is later shot and can only relieve the pain with regular use of medication. This results in a dependency. This is discovered by his colleagues Danny Taylor and Samantha Spade and he begins to overcome it.

Elena Delgado

She joined the team at the beginning of the fourth season. At first she had problems understanding that the FBI is not as “violent” as the New York police patrol duty. Elena has a six-year-old daughter Sofie, whose father lives separately from Sofie and Elena and repeatedly fights for custody with Elena. Sofia's father also works (in an unspecified department) at the FBI and has been friends with Elena's colleague Danny since he was a teenager. This leads to the fact that both parents try to use Danny as a witness for their own qualities and the inadequate suitability of the other as a parenting person for Sofia. The dirty battle for Sofia comes to a head until a released convict - initially on behalf of Sofia's father - kidnaps the child and hides it, so that Elena's private life now occupies half of the department in an official capacity. Through Elena's ex-partner and her daughter's father, Danny and Elena met and appreciated each other many years before they joined the FBI. In the course of the collaboration, a deep love develops between Elena and Danny.

Guest actor

Since the series is very laboriously produced, actors known from other series can very often be hired as guest stars, mostly in the role of the missing person, e.g. B. Paul Butcher , also known from the youth series Zoey 101 .

The exception to this rule is Martin Landau in the role of Jack Malone 's father . The Oscar winner had several impressive appearances, as the character he embodied fell ill with Alzheimer's and the course of the disease was shown over several episodes until his death.


role actor Voice actor Main role
Supporting role
Special Agent Jack Malone Anthony LaPaglia Klaus-Dieter Klebsch 1x01-7x24
Special Agent Samantha Spade Poppy Montgomery Silvia Missbach 1x01-7x24
Special Agent Vivian Johnson Marianne Jean-Baptiste Joseline Gassen 1x01-7x24
Special Agent Danny Taylor Enrique Murciano Dennis Schmidt-Foss 1x01-7x24
Special Agent Martin Fitzgerald Eric Close Johannes Berenz 1x01-7x24
Special Agent Elena Delgado Roselyn Sánchez Silke Matthias 4x09-7x24 4x02-4x08


United States

In the United States between September 26, 2002 and May 19, 2009, a total of 160 episodes were broadcast in seven seasons on CBS .


In Germany it was initially broadcast by ProSieben , but passed on to kabel eins due to the low viewership . After it ran there successfully and the acceptance of American series among German television viewers had increased again in 2005/06, the series was broadcast on Sat.1 on January 4, 2007 . From January 7, 2008, the series was broadcast on Kabel Eins again on Mondays . On May 6, 2008, kabel eins announced that it would be sending Without A Trace into an early summer break and looking for a new slot. From September 4, 2008, the feature film channel Tele 5 broadcast the series on Thursdays at 11 p.m. From June 27, 2009 to January 30, 2010, Kabel Eins broadcast the sixth as well as the seventh and last season of the series on Saturdays at 8:15 pm.


The series won two Emmys in 2003 (“Outstanding Art Direction for a Single Camera Series” and “Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series”), and in 2004 Anthony LaPaglia won a Golden Globe (for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama ").

The film music composers Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil (former keyboard player with the band Spliff ) won an " ASCAP " award ("American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers") in the "Top Television Series" category in 2005 for the theme song.

The series has also been nominated for numerous awards.


The first six seasons of the series were released on DVD in German. In addition, a DVD box with the first four seasons on 16 DVDs was released on December 12, 2008.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. http://www.serienjunkies.de/news/cbs-2009-21917-5.html CBS discontinues Without a Trace
  2. http://www.quotenmeter.de/cms/?p1=n&p2=35024&p3= CBS separates from Without a Trace
  3. http://www.cinefacts.de/dvd/45954/without-a-trace-spurlos-verschwunden-season-1-4-box-dvd.html DVD-Box Season 1-4