Without a Trace (2002–2009)


Without a Trace (TV Series 2002–2009)

As any detective can tell you, investigating missing property or deaths is comparatively easy compared to elusive missing people. However in New York City, there is a special unit of the FBI that is designed to find them. Using the vast resources of their bureau, the team, lead by Agent Jack Malone, race against time in the tight 72 hour window after a disappearance while hope for a recovery is still typically possible.
IMDb   6.9 /10
TheMovieDb    7.1 /10
TV.com  8.8 /10
FilmAffinity   6.0 /10
Creator Hank Steinberg
Release Date2002-09-25
GenreCrime, Drama, Mystery
Content RatingTV-14 (TV-14)
AwardsWon 2 Primetime Emmys21 wins & 47 nominations total
CompanyJerry Bruckheimer Television, CBS Paramount Network Television, CBS Productions
Jack Maloneas Jack Malone
Samantha Spadeas Samantha Spade
Danny Tayloras Danny Taylor
Martin Fitzgeraldas Martin Fitzgerald
Vivian Johnsonas Vivian Johnson
Elena Delgadoas Elena Delgado
Tech Agentas Tech Agent…
James Mackeroyas James Mackeroy
Eric Scott Gould
Eric Scott Gould
ND Agentas ND Agent…
ND Agentas ND Agent
Brian Donovanas Brian Donovan
Hanna Maloneas Hanna Malone
Anne Cassidyas Anne Cassidy
ND Agentas ND Agent…
Kate Maloneas Kate Malone
Alexander Olczykas Alexander Olczyk
Isaiah Cazares
Isaiah Cazares
ND Agentas ND Agent…

Without a Trace

Without a Trace is an American police procedural drama television series that originally aired on CBS from September 26, 2002 to May 19, 2009, following the cases of a Missing Persons Unit of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in New York City.

On May 19, 2009, CBS cancelled the series after seven seasons.


Each episode followed the search for one individual under tight time constraints. The stories also focused on the personal lives of the team members and illustrated how their experiences gave them insight into cases. The team consisted of Jack Malone (Anthony LaPaglia), Samantha Spade (Poppy Montgomery), Vivian Johnson (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), Danny Taylor (Enrique Murciano), Martin Fitzgerald (Eric Close) and Elena Delgado (Roselyn Sánchez), the last of whom joined the cast in the fourth season.

The real FBI does investigate missing persons; specifically, they have the authority to help in any "mysterious" disappearances of children abducted by nonfamily members. The groups that investigate these crimes are called Child Abduction Rapid Deployment teams. They get involved in other missing persons cases as needed but do not have a dedicated unit. One element that set the series apart from other TV police dramas was the display of information about real-life missing persons at the end of most episodes. This resulted in a kidnapped brother and sister being found on July 25, 2005. At least five people have been found as a result of those announcements. Occasionally, such information was replaced with other public-service announcements, such as an episode about an attempted suicide which presented information on a suicide help line. Showings outside the United States tend to omit missing persons information; however, Australia's Nine Network usually showed Australian cases, and in Hong Kong, the TVB Pearl showed information about local missing persons during the first two seasons. Without a Trace took place within Jerry Bruckheimer's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation universe. A crossover episode in 2007 featured characters Gil Grissom from CSI and Jack Malone from Without a Trace working together to solve the same case.


Without a Trace debuted as part of the CBS fall line-up in 2002, created by Hank Steinberg and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. It was the first show to achieve strong ratings opposite longtime NBC hit medical drama ER which, like Without a Trace, is produced by Warner Bros. Television. The first two showrunners were Steinberg and Ed Redlich. Between seasons two and three, Redlich moved away from active participation in the series, with staff writers Jan Nash and Greg Walker taking over. In the middle of season four, Steinberg left to produce the series The Nine, while remaining executive producer. The show is the only primetime U.S. drama to feature two Australians (LaPaglia and Montgomery) and a Briton (Jean-Baptiste) playing Americans in the regular cast. In 2003, the TNT Network acquired syndication rights to the series for US$1.4 million per episode. As of January 2018, Without a Trace can be seen on the basic cable channel POP and the digital TV channel ESCAPE. It apparently airs every day in large blocks, with episodes being shown in the order of their original air dates. Info as to when the show was added to the POP line-up is currently unavailable. Without a Trace ran on Thursdays at 10 pm until September 2006, when it was moved to Sundays. In the 2007–2008 season, it swapped timeslots with Shark, returning it to its old timeslot on Thursdays. However, this lasted only until the 2008–2009 season, when it moved to Tuesdays at 10pm. On May 19, 2009, the morning the series finale aired, the series didn't return for an eighth season, resulting in its cancellation.

Main cast

NamePortrayed byOccupationPositionMain castGuest cast
John "Jack" Michael MaloneAnthony LaPagliaSpecial Agent - Missing Persons Unit, FBISupervisory Agent, Head of MPUSeasons 1–7
Samantha "Sam" SpadePoppy MontgomerySpecial Agent - Missing Persons Unit, FBIField Agent, MPUSeasons 1–7
Vivian "Viv" JohnsonMarianne Jean-BaptisteSpecial Agent - Missing Persons Unit, FBISenior Field Agent, MPUSeasons 1–7
Danny Taylor, né AlvarezEnrique MurcianoSpecial Agent - Missing Persons Unit, FBIField Agent, MPUSeasons 1–7
Elena DelgadoRoselyn SánchezSpecial Agent - Missing Persons Unit, FBIField Agent, MPUSeasons 4–7Season 4 (prior to
joining the regular cast)
Martin FitzgeraldEric CloseSpecial Agent - Missing Persons Unit, FBIField Agent, MPUSeasons 1–7

Season synopsis

Season 1

The viewer is introduced to the missing persons unit, headed up by the driven but morally compromised Jack Malone, whose professional successes are marred by his complicated personal life-- he is in the midst of a messy breakup from his wife, precipitated by his own infidelity with his protege, Samantha "Sam" Spade. At the outset of the series, Jack struggles to balance his crumbling marriage with the arrival of Martin Fitzgerald, a rookie agent whose placement Jack sees as a sinecure due to Fitzgerald's father being a powerful figure in the FBI. The team ultimately find themselves forced to come together and personally reckon with the legacy of 9/11 when a powerful businesswoman whose company headquarters were destroyed in the Twin Tower attacks goes missing and her kidnapper-- a man whose wife was killed in the World Trade Center-- abducts Jack in order to forestall her rescue.

Season 2

As the team continues to track down missing people, Jack and his wife slide towards divorce, while Jack must also care for his father (Martin Landau) who has Alzheimer's disease. The team members' life histories are revealed, including the fact that Martin was practically raised by his aunt and uncle, and Danny is an orphan whose estranged brother Rafael (Alex Fernandez) is a convicted felon. Martin fatally shoots a child sex trafficker, and both Vivian and he must keep quiet to keep their jobs. Jack makes a last-ditch attempt to save his marriage by moving to Chicago with his family, giving Vivian a long-awaited promotion to his post, but at the last minute, his wife Maria (Talia Balsam) leaves without him, taking their daughters Hannah and Kate (Vanessa and Laura Marano) with her.

Following a campaign by the conservative group the Parents Television Council, CBS was fined a record $3.6 million for indecency for the sixth episode "Our Sons and Daughters", which centered around a teenaged orgy. CBS argued that the episode "featured an important and socially relevant storyline warning parents to exercise greater supervision of their teenaged children."

Season 3

Vivian loses her promotion when Jack returns to his job, causing some commotion among the team. She also experiences heart trouble that endangers her life and her career, and undergoes risky surgery. Martin and Samantha begin a secret office romance, and because of disagreements between them on whether or not to reveal it to the rest of the team, it ends badly. Jack undergoes a brutal custody battle with his ex-wife. Danny has to confront his traumatic past, and Rafael. The season ends with a cliffhanger as a hired mercenary opens fire on Martin and Danny's car while they transport a prisoner.

Season 4

After barely surviving the gun battle that ended season three, Martin must recover from near-fatal gunshot wounds while Danny battles post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Stretched for help, the team gets a new member, Elena Delgado, a former NYPD vice-squad officer with an aggressive, streetwise attitude. She has a past connection to Danny, the nature of which is unknown until season five. Martin develops an addiction to painkillers, and Jack begins a romance with Anne Cassidy (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), the widow of a former mentor killed in the line of duty.

Season 5

Anne miscarries and abruptly ends her relationship with Jack. Danny and Elena begin to date each other, while her ex-husband Carlos Aguilar (Jsu Garcia) sues for custody of their daughter Sofie (Ashlyn Sanchez), and later abducts her. More about Samantha's difficult past is revealed, including her strained relationships with her mother Patricia (Tess Harper) and older sister Emily (Molly Price). Jack is abducted and tortured by a psychotic woman, but initially appears to show few effects. At the end of the season, Carlos is freed, leaving the team worried about Elena's safety, and a serial kidnapper appears to be preying on young women.

Season 6

Vivian is put in charge of a task force to locate the serial kidnapper, who is part of a sex-trafficking ring. Samantha discovers that she is pregnant from a one-night stand with a bartender at the time, Brian Donovan (Adam Kaufman), and by the end of the season, he waives paternal rights because of what Jack digs up on him and Sam confronting him about it, and she gives birth to her son named Finn. Jack begins a pattern of roughing up suspects and intimidating people to make them talk, which appears to be related to PTSD. He also gets into a dangerous situation without backup and is nearly killed, and becomes overly involved in the life of a teenager he saved from the sex traffickers. In the season finale, he is demoted and put in mandatory therapy with Dr. Clare Bryson (Linda Hunt).

This season also contained a two-part crossover episode with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, as Jack and Gil Grissom (William Petersen) and their teams track down a serial killer responsible for the disappearance of a boy six years ago. Both episodes are included on the DVD collection for CSI's eighth season.

Without a Trace completed 12 episodes of season six before the 2007-2008 WGA strike. Because the show's writing staff all joined the strike, no more new episodes were made until the issue was settled. Once the strike ended, the show returned on April 3, 2008, with six episodes.

Season 7

This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (November 2015)


Crossover with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

In "Where and Why", Gil Grissom comes to New York to help the FBI track down a serial killer after Jack Malone comes to Las Vegas to help the CSIs with a murder victim in "Who and What".


The series received generally positive reviews during its original broadcast.

U.S. television ratings

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Without A Trace on CBS:

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.

SeasonTimeslotSeason premiereSeason finaleTV seasonRankingViewers
(in millions)
1Thursday 10:00pmSeptember 26, 2002May 15, 20032002–2003#1515.09
2September 25, 2003May 20, 20042003–2004#1116.74
3September 23, 2004May 19, 20052004–2005#818.68
4September 29, 2005May 18, 20062005–2006#718.7
5Sunday 10:00pm (1–23)
Thursday 10:00pm (24)
September 24, 2006May 10, 20072006–2007#1614.7
6Thursday 10:00pmSeptember 27, 2007May 15, 20082007–2008#2013.10
7Tuesday 10:00pmSeptember 23, 2008May 19, 20092008–2009#1812.86

Awards and Nominations

During the series' run, it received 1 Golden Globe award nomination, 5 Primetime Emmy award nomination, and 3 Screen Actors Guild award nominations.

2003Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Guest Actor in a Drama SeriesCharles S. DuttonWon
2003Creative Arts Emmy AwardOutstanding Art Direction for a Single Camera SeriesAaron Osborne

Jeannie Gunn

2003NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesMarianne Jean-BaptiseNominated
2003Satellite AwardsBest Television Series - DramaNominated
2003Young Artist AwardBest Performance in a TV Drama Series - Guest Starring Young ActorDavid HenrieNominated
2004Gold Derby AwardsBest Drama SeriesNominated
2004Gold Derby AwardsBest Lead ActorAnthony LaPagliaNominated
2004Gold Derby AwardsBest Supporting Actress in a SeriesMarianne Jean-BaptiseNominated
2004Gold Derby AwardsBest Guest Actor in a Drama SeriesMartin LandauNominated
2004Gold Derby AwardsBest Episode of the Year "Wannabe"David Barrett

Hank Steinberg

2004Golden Globe AwardBest Lead Actor in a Television Series - DramaAnthony LaPagliaWon
2004Gracie Allen AwardsOutstanding Entertainment Program - DramaWon
2004Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Lead Actor in a Drama SeriesAnthony LaPagliaNominated
2004Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Guest Actor in a Drama SeriesMartin LandauNominated
2004Satellite AwardsBest Lead Actor in a Series - DramaAnthony LaPagliaNominated
2004Young Artist AwardBest Performance in a TV Series - Guest Starring Young ActressAria Noelle CurzonNominated
2005Screen Actors Guild AwardOutstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama SeriesAnthony LaPagliaNominated
2005Screen Actors Guild AwardOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesEric Close

Marianne Jean-Baptise

Anthony LaPaglia

Poppy Montgomery

Enrique Murciano

2005Primetime Emmy AwardOutstanding Guest Actor in a Drama SeriesMartin LandauNominated
2005Satellite AwardsBest Lead Actor in a Series - DramaAnthony LaPaglia
2005Screen Actors Guild AwardOutstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama SeriesAnthony LaPagliaNominated
2005Young Artist AwardsBest Performance in a Television Series - Guest Starring Young ActorLoren BermanNominated
2006GLAAD Media AwardOutstanding Individual Episode "Transitions"Nominated
2006Gold Derby AwardsBest Supporting ActorMartin LandauNominated
2006Gold Derby AwardsBest Guest Actress in a Drama SeriesLaurie MetcalfNominated
2006NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Drama SeriesMarianne Jean-BaptiseNominated
2006Young Artist AwardBest Performance in a Television Series - Guest Starring Young ActorMasam HoldenNominated
2006Young Artist AwardBest Performance in a Television Series - Guest Starring Young ActressAshley RoseNominated
2007ALMA AwardOutstanding Supporting Actress - TV Series, Miniseries or Television MovieRoselyn SanchezNominated
2007NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Drama SeriesRoselyn SanchezNominated
2007NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesMarianne Jean-BaptiseNominated
2007Young Artist AwardBest Performance in a TV Series - Guest StarringYoung ActorDarian WeissWon
2008ALMA AwardOutstanding Actor in a Drama SeriesEnrique MurcianoNominated
2008ALMA AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Drama Television SeriesRoselyn SanchezWon
2008ALMA AwardsOutstanding Writing for a Television SeriesJose MolinaNominated
2008NAACP Image AwardsOutstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama SeriesMarianne Jean-BaptiseNominated
2008Young Artist AwardBest Performance in a TV Series - Guest Starring Young ActressAshley SanchezNominated
2009ALMA AwardsActor in a Television - DramaEnrique MurcianoNominated
2009ALMA AwardsOutstanding Actress in a Drama SeriesRoselyn SanchezNominated
2009AACTA AwardsBest ActorAnthony LaPagliaNominated
2009Young Artist AwardBest Performance in a TV Series - Recurring Young ActressHaley RammNominated

Home media

Season releases

DVD nameRegion 1Region 2Region 4
The Complete 1st SeasonSeptember 14, 2004January 10, 2005December 15, 2004
The Complete 2nd SeasonMarch 13, 2007January 16, 2006November 16, 2005
The Complete 3rd SeasonMay 15, 2012July 24, 2006May 2, 2007
The Complete 4th SeasonSeptember 11, 2012July 14, 2008July 1, 2009
The Complete 5th SeasonNovember 27, 2012February 22, 2010N/A
The Complete 6th SeasonMay 7, 2013July 5, 2010N/A
The Complete 7th and Final SeasonApril 29, 2014N/AN/A

Without A Trace Season 1 has been released on Region 1, Region 2 and Region 4 DVD. Season 2 (region 1 DVD) was released on March 13, 2007. Seasons 3 and 4 were released on Region 1 DVDs in 2012 under the Warner Archive "Manufactured On Demand" model. Season 5 was released in Region 1 on November 27, 2012. Season 6 was released in Regions 1 and 4 on May 7, 2013. Season 7 was released on April 29, 2014 on Region 1. All seven seasons are not available in Canada.

Seasons 1–6 have all been released under Region 2 encoding, while Seasons 1-4 have been released under Region 4 encoding.


From 2005 to 2009, after a long run of weekday back-to-back episodes on TNT, Without a Trace reruns were moved to a graveyard slot in early morning, then removed totally from TNT's lineup.

In August 2020, Paramount Network began airing reruns of the show on August 14, 2020, making a return of the series in syndication for the first time since TNT removed it from its lineup in 2009.