Murderville: Every Time The Cast Breaks Character

Murderville: Every Time The Cast Breaks Character

Netflix’s Murderville combines murder mysteries with improvisational comedy from guest stars, and here’s every time the cast broke character.

Netflix’s Murderville relies on improvisational comedy rather than scripted dialogue, which can lead to unexpected moments and jokes capable of making the cast break character. Based on the British television series Murder in Successville, Murderville is a hybrid of a detective show and improv comedy series like Saturday Night Live. Each episode features a guest star attempting to solve a murder mystery as the rookie partner to Will Arnett’s lead detective character, Terry Seattle.

Murderville isn’t entirely improvised, with a basic storyline and key information given to the series regulars and guest actors who aren’t playing Seattle’s rookie partner. At the end of each episode, the visiting star attempts to solve the murder by piecing together clues given by the supporting cast over the course of the investigation. Arnett’s Terry Seattle is primarily there to distract and attempt to make the guest stars break character.


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Because the guest stars aren’t given a script, their reactions and responses are often unpredictable. This puts Will Arnett and other regular cast members at an advantage over the visiting stars, which they often use to attempt to make the guests laugh. This works both ways, however, and the visiting actors occasionally turn the tables by saying something to make the other actors break character. Here is a guide to the cast members breaking character in Murderville’s first season.

Episode 1: Conan O’Brien

Conan O’Brien does surprisingly well holding it together for the pilot episode, “The Magician’s Assistant,” despite being ridiculously dressed as a magician for the killer’s final reveal. Although O’Brien nearly laughs several times, it is guest actor Mary Hollis Inboden who completely breaks after an unexpected line. Inboden plays Kathy, the leader of an anti-magic group O’Brien investigates as the third suspect. In order to maintain his cover, O’Brien improvises a childhood story of being bullied and claims that all of his tormenters eventually became senators. When Kathy questions which senator bullied him, the comedian responds without hesitation, naming Senator Dianne Feinstein. This causes Inboden to crack, forced to look away as she laughs. Impressively, former late-night host Conan O’Brien hardly cracks a smile as he continues to provide details about the childhood trauma.

Episode 2: Marshawn Lynch

Although Marshawn Lynch isn’t an actor, the football player is no stranger to appearing as himself, beginning with a reoccurring appearance on the FX comedy, The League. When Lynch joins Arnett’s Detective Seattle in investigating the death of the owner of a popular children’s doll called Tommy Tuxedo, they interrogate the identical triplet sons of the victim (all played by Rob Huebel). The format of the show has the guest star questioning the third and final suspect without Detective Seattle, although Arnett often feeds the visiting actor lines through an earpiece. Lynch is sent in undercover as a blackjack dealer and must explain to the suspect why the regular dealer is missing. Prompted by Seattle, Lynch claims the usual dealer was cast in a movie musical in the role of Tommy Tune but loses it when prompted to say the tongue-twisting line: “Tommy Tune taps his way all over the canoe.” With his appearance on Murderville, Marshawn Lynch surpassed his cameo on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Episode 3: Kumail Nanjiani

Kumail Nanjiani on Murderville

In one of the funniest episodes of the season, Kumail Nanjiani guest stars for a murder investigation that takes place during Terry Seattle’s high school reunion. Nanjiani appears amused multiple times throughout the episode, especially during the casts’ relentless efforts to get Nanjiani to name his high school sweetheart, but it is near the beginning that he clearly breaks character. After being pulled into an argument between Seattle and his ex-wife boss, Chief Rhonda Jenkins-Seattle (Haneefah Wood), Kumail says his initial instincts are to agree with the chief based on the “cadence” of her voice. Seattle rejects this response, claiming that Eternals star Kumail Nanjiani is using words he doesn’t understand. When Nanjiani questions which word Seattle didn’t understand, Arnett nearly breaks as he replied “codence.” This failed attempt to repeat the word causes Nanjiani to laugh. While the actor laughs other times in the episode, he covers it as a reaction from his character to the absurdity of the situation.

Related: Marshawn Lynch’s Surprise Brooklyn Nine-Nine Cameo Explained

Episode 4: Annie Murphy

In investigating the death of a health inspector, Annie Murphy is often overwhelmed by the silly behavior of Arnett’s Detective Seattle. She briefly cracks when forced to whistle with Seattle, who blows air out of his mouth without making any noise and suggests it is Murphy’s fault, asking her, “What note are you taking?” The guest star breaks again when forced to put on a disguise to question a criminal suspect and struggles to maintain a fake voice. After her cover is blown the detectives are tied up. Annie Murphy improvised character details for Schitt’s Creek, but she is unable to hold it together upon discovering that Seattle’s hands have been untied the entire time.

Episode 5: Sharon Stone

Sharon Stone is the most serious-minded actor to guest star on Murderville, so it is probably no surprise that she is able to refrain from breaking character. In fact, in the episode “Heartless,” Stone may be the only one without a clear break from the cast. This is not for lack of trying, however, with one of the funniest scenes in the episode being a prolonged attempt to make a minor supporting actor laugh. When the pair of detectives visit the morgue to see the murder victim, both Stone and Arnett unsuccessfully try to make the uncredited actor playing the corpse break by playing with his nipples. This is a very different interrogation from Sharon Stone’s controversial scene in Basic Instinct, though both contain unexpected nudity. Though Stone doesn’t break from the improvisation of others, she does make herself laugh at one point. When referencing the initials on the nameplate, Detective Seattle asks Stone what initials she would have. The actress responds that she would choose B.A.E. – for “Badass extraordinaire” – and laughs while making finger guns at her co-star.

Episode 6: Ken Jeong

Nearly every episode features a memorable moment where a cast member breaks character and laughs at an improvised joke, with the possible exception of Ken Jeong, who avoids this by never being in character in the first place. While other actors attempt not to laugh, this is Jeong’s response to nearly every line from his co-stars, whether they are jokes or not. He laughs so often that at one point even Arnett tells him, “You’re out of control.” I Can See Your Voice host Ken Jeong likely would have broken anyway,  as he was put in more ridiculous situations than the other guest stars of Murderville, including pretending to be the President of Finland.

Next: Who Murderville Season 2’s Celebrity Guests Should Be



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About The Author

Ryan Izay
(27 Articles Published)

Ryan Izay is a Movie/TV Features Writer for Screen Rant, and has worked as a film critic and journalist for over 20 years. Starting as the Los Angeles representative for Real Movie News, Ryan was also a staff writer for the horror genre magazine, “Girls and Corpses.” Along with Screen Rant, he is a regular contributor to Total Nerd at Ranker and is currently working on an academic book on the horror genre.

As a third-generation actor, Ryan achieved some early success in independent film before he was cast as a series regular on Logo’s “DTLA.” Leaving performing behind for the field of education, Ryan is a film studies adjunct at a number of Southern California universities.

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