Robert McCall

Created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim

Sort of an update of Have Gun, Will Travel. Need justice? Wire McCall, Manhattan.

A cynical, guilt-ridden former secret agent, ROBERT McCALL took an early retirement, disgusted by the treachery and hypocrisy of the profession. Not hurting for money, he decides to set himself up as a private detective and one-man "equalizer", dedicating himself to helping people who really need it, as penance for his previous life. He works out of his swanky Manhattan apartment, and solicits clients through the classified section of local papers. His background in espionage, detective and bodyguard work stands him in good stead. He sometimes enlists the aid of his former Agency boss, known only as Control. Also occasionally lending a hand, or getting in the way, are Mayer, his sometime assistant; Scott, his impulsive son, Pete O'Phelan, a former female colleague and current owner of a small cafe, and a slew of police contacts.

Basically, it was a revenge fantasy. McCall could be cold-bloodedly efficient, as relentless and single-minded as a shark. And often, just as deadly. More often than not, the real equalizer was his gun. Still, perhaps in response to the criticism levelled at the TV show's violence, McCall often displayed some surprising bouts of compassion. And, despite some uneven writing, Edward Woodward, as McCall, was always compelling to watch; an icy blend of sang froid effectiveness and frosty pragmatism.

The idea of someone running a vengeance-for-hire business, catering to those who have nowhere else to turn, has been attempted several times since on television, most notably with the exceedingly lame Dellaventura and the far superior, blackly humorous Vengeance Unlimited, which featured a McCall-like figure who enjoyed his work just a bit too much. But none ever matched the level of cold-blooded efficiency that The Equalizer occasionally reached.

It was announced in early 2007 that real deal crime writers Terrill Lee Lankford and Michael Connelly were writing a screenplay for a big budget update of the series. The Weinstein Company and Mace Newfeld Productions were set to produce. That version, though, seems to have been scrapped, because by December 2013 it had been replaced by a new production, written by Richard Wenk, with Alex Siskind and Escape Artists producing, and Denzel Washington to star as the guilt-ridden British secret agent trying to atone for past sins.

Uh, Denzel?

But apparently it was no joke. It made its bloody and violent debut in September 2014, with TV's classy Brit ex-spy turned avenger-for-hire replaced by an ex-CIA agent turned Home Depot worker and Pip impersonator played by Washington.


  • Just a question. Where can I find out what kind of gun Robert McCall used on The Equalizer? Was it a Beretta? A Walther PPK?

From Terrell Manasco


    (1985-89, CBS)
    88 60-minute episodes
    Created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim
    Writers: Michael Sloan, Robert Crais, Grenville Casey, Donna Powers, Wayne Powers
    Directors: Richard A. Colla, Richard Compton, James A. Contner, Mario DiLeo, Gordon Hessler, Rod Holcomb, Tobe Hooper, Leon Ichaso, David Jackson, Jim Johnston, Paul Krasny, Marc Laub, Aaron Lipstadt, Bradford May, Russ Mayberry, Alan Metzger, Michael O'Herlihy, Jonathan Perry, Donald Petrie, James Sheldon, Mark Sobel, Luis Soto, Tony Wharmby
    Producer: Alan Barnette
    Executive Producer: James McAdams
    A Universal Television Production
    Theme by Stewart Copeland
    Starring Edward Woodward as ROBERT McCALL
    Also starring Robert Lansing as Control
    William Zabka as Scott McCall
    Maureen Anderman as Pete O'Phelan (1987-1989)
    Melissa Sue Anderson as Yvette Marcel (1987-1988)
    Eddie Jones as Lieutenant Brannigan (1989)
    Richard Jordan as Harley Gage (1987-1988)
    Ron O'Neal as Lieutenant Isadore Smalls (1986-1987)
    Chad Redding as Sergeant Alice Shepard (1987-1989)
    Keith Szarabajka as Mickey Kostmayer (1986-1989)
    Steven Williams as Lieutenant Jefferson Burnett (1985)
    Mark Margolis as Jimmy
    and Irving Metzman as Sterno
    Guest stars: Robert Mitchum, Paul Jabara, Jerry Stiller, Melissa Leo, Adam Ant, Lori Petty, J.T. Walsh, Esai Morales, Will Patton, Burt Young, Ed O'Neill, Bill Cobbs, Adam Horovitz, Charles Dutton, Tovah Feldshuh, Ray Sharkey, Fred Williamson, Marisa Berenson, Sandy Dennis, Sylvia Miles, James Murtaugh, Melissa Joan Hart, Gwen Verdon, Tony Shalhoub, Laurie Metcalf, D.W. Moffett, Jon Polito, Kathleen Lloyd, Tony Musante, Jennifer Grey, Christian Slater, William Sadler, Charles Cioffi, James Remar, Anthony Zerbe, Lindsay Crouse, Kevin Spacey, Ed Lauter , Chris Elliott, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Stewart Copeland, John Goodman, David Johansen, Telly Savalas, Oliver Platt, Michael Moriarty, Amanda Plummer, Macaulay Culkin, Lisa Eichhorn, Michael Lerner, Michael Rooker, E.G. Marshall, Stanley Tucci, Keith David, David Strathairn, Hector Elizondo, George Plimpton, Pat Hingle, Laura San Giacomo, Maureen Stapleton , Ving Rhames

  • Season One... Buy this season on DVD
  • "The Equalizer" (September 18, 1985)
  • "China Rain" (September 25, 1985)
  • "The Defector" (October 2, 1985)
  • "The Lock Box" (October 9, 1985)
  • "Lady Cop" (October 16, 1985)
  • "The Confirmation Day" (October 23, 1985)
  • "The Children's Song" (October 30, 1985)
  • "The Distant Fire" (November , 1985)
  • "Mama's Boy" (November 13, 1985)
  • "Bump and Run" (November 20, 1985)
  • "Desperately" (December 4, 1985)
  • "Reign of Terror" (December 11, 1985)
  • "Back Home" (December 18, 1985)
  • "Out of the Past" (January 15, 1986)
  • "Dead Drop" (January 22, 1986)
  • "Wash Up" (January 29, 1986)
  • "Torn" (February 5, 1986)
  • "Unnatural Causes" (February 12, 1986)
  • "Breakpoint" (February 19, 1986)
  • "No Conscience" (March 5, 1986)
  • "Unpunished Crimes" (April 1, 1986)
  • "Pretenders" (April 8, 1986)

  • Season Two... Buy this season on DVD
  • "Prelude" (October 8, 1986)
  • "Nocturne" (October 15, 1986)
  • "A Community of Civilized Men" (October 22, 1986)
  • "Joyride" (October 29, 1986)
  • "Shades of Darkness" (November 5, 1986)
  • "Nightscape" (November 12, 1986)
  • "Counterfire" (November 19, 1986)
  • "The Line" (November 26, 1986)
  • "Tip On a Sure Thing" (December 3, 1986)
  • "The Cup" (December 10, 1986)
  • "Heartstrings" (December 17, 1986)
  • "High Performance" (January 7, 1987)
  • "Beyond Control" (January 14, 1987)
  • "Carnal Persuasion" (January 21, 1987)
  • "Memories of Manon, Part1" (February 4, 1987)
  • "Memories of Manon, Part 2" (February 11, 1987)
  • "Solo" (February 18, 1987)
  • "A Place To Stay" (February 25, 1987)
  • "Coal Black Soul" (May 6, 1987)
  • "First Light" (May 13, 1987)
  • "Hand and Glove" (May 20, 1987)
  • "Re-Entry" (May 27,1987)

  • Season Three.. Buy this season on DVD
  • "Blood & Wine, Part 1" (September 23, 1987)
  • "Blood & Wine, Part 2" (September 23, 1987)
  • "Suspicion of Innocence" (September 30, 1987)
  • "In the Money" (October 7, 1987)
  • "Encounter in a Closed Room" (October , 1987)
  • "Mission: McCall, Part 1" (October 28, 1987)
  • "Mission: McCall, Part 2" (November 4, 1987)
  • "Shadow Play" (November 11, 1987)
  • "Inner View" (November 18, 1987)
  • "The Rehearsal" (December 2, 1987)
  • "Christmas Presence" (December 16, 1987)
  • "A Dance on the Dark Side" (January 13, 1988)
  • "The Child Broker" (January 20, 1988)
  • "Video Games" (January 27, 1988)
  • "Something Green" (February 10, 1988)
  • "The Mystery of Manon, Part 1" (February 17, 1988)
  • "The Mystery of Manon, Part 2" (February 24, 1988)
  • "No Place Like Home" (March 16, 1988)
  • "Last Call" (March 23, 1988)
  • "Regrets Only" (March 30, 1988; AKA "A Family Obsession")
  • "Target of Choice" (April 6, 1988)
  • "Always a Lady" (May 4, 1988)

  • Season Four
  • "The Last Campaign" (October 26, 1988)
  • "Sea of Fire" (November 2, 1988)
  • "Riding the Elephant" (November 9, 1988)
  • "Eighteen With a Bullet" (November 16, 1988)
  • "The Day of the Covenant" (December 7, 1988)
  • "Splinters" (December 14, 1988)
  • "The Making of a Martyr" (January 11, 1989)
  • "The Sins of the Father" (January 18, 1989)
  • "The Visitation" (February 1, 1989)
  • "Past Imperfect" (February 15, 1989)
  • "Trial By Ordeal" (March 1, 1989)
  • "Silent Fury" (March 8, 1989)
  • "Lullaby of Darkness" (March 30, 1989)
  • "17 Zebra" (April 6, 1989)
  • "Starfire" (April 13, 1989)
  • "Time Present, Time Past" (April 20, 1989)
  • "Prisoners of Conscience" (April 27, 1989)
  • "The Caper" (May 4,1989)
  • "Heart of Justice" (May ,1989)
  • "Race Traitors" (June 11, 1989)
  • "Endgame" (August 10, 1989)
  • "Suicide Squad" (August 24, 1989)


  • THE EQUALIZER...Buy on DVD...Buy on Blu-Ray...Watch it now!
    (2014, Columbia)
    Based on characters created by Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim
    Written by Richard Wenk, Michael Sloan and Richard Lindheim
    Directed by Antoine Fuqua
    Starring Denzel Washington as ROBERT McCALL
    Also starring Marton Csokas,Chloe Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Haley Bennett,†Bill Pullman, Melissa Leo, David Meunier, Johnny Skourtis, Alex Veadov, Vladimir Kulich, E. Roger Mitchell, James Wilcox, Mike O'Dea, Anastasia Sanidopoulos Mousis, Allen Maldonado, Rhet Kidd, Mike Morrell

TV's classy Brit ex-spy turned avenger-for-hire, played with grim, chilly perfection by Edward Woodward, becomes a shucking-and-jiving ex-CIA agent turned Home Depot worker and Pip impersonator played by Denzel Washington. The whole things directed by Antoine Fuqua, who previously teamed up with Washington in the Oscar-winning Training Day, but this blood-soaked snot rag is so excessively and gratuitously violent you have to wonder what they were thinking.


  • Equalizer (1987, by David Deutsch)
  • Equalizer #2: To Even the Odds (1987, by David Deutsch)
  • Equalizer #3: Blood and Wine (1988, by David Deutsch)


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks, Belinda.

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