Was an Episode of Hill Street Blues Re-Shot to Bring Officer Joe Coffey Back to Life?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: A Hill Street Blues episode was actually re-shot after airing to show a character who was killed surviving his attack so that they could bring him back.

The first season of Hill Street Blues was meant to only be thirteen episodes, but NBC asked for some more at the end, so Stephen Bochco and company put together two two-hour movies that worked basically like a mini-series within a series, with essentially a four-hour long episode of the show. In the episode, a few new characters debuted who would stick around, including some narcotics cops and Officer Joe Coffey, played by Ed Marinaro.

Coffey was paired with Officer Lucy Bates (played by the great Betty Thomas), and it was clear that he wanted to take their friendship to the next level.

In any event, as a sort of tragic bookend to the first season, the final part of the last episode involves Coffey and Bates pulling over a suspect and the man shooting Coffey when he approaches the driver’s side window.

Originally, as aired, the blast clearly kills Coffey, giving the season a very somber ending.

However, as you might imagine, as the episodes were added very last minute, the producers of Hill Street Blues really didn’t have much time to dwell upon various decisions, and after the season ended, they decided that they would prefer that Coffey remained a character on the show.
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