Thomas Brackenreid is the rough and tumble Inspector of the Toronto Constabulary's Station House No. 4. His favourite catchphrases are "Bugalugs", "Me Ol' Mucker" and "Bloody Hell" followed by a swig of scotch in a tea cup (his one vice). The Inspector is known to refer to Murdoch as 'my best man'. A former army man and far more experienced with the ways of the world than Detective Murdoch and Constable Crabtree, he runs a tight ship bonded by steadfast loyalty. Crusty, he is quite quick to anger and can be very tenacious at times. Surprisingly, he enjoys the opera and theatre like city coroner Dr. Julia Ogden and can recite Shakespeare, having spent some time on the stage himself.
When the Inspector asks, "What's my motto, Murdoch?" The Detective replies, "You have several, sir. All gems". Brackenreid corrects him, "No, no, no. Those are aphorisms. I only have one motto, and that's follow the money" (ep.113).
Being a Yorkshire man, Thomas has a Sheffield Wednesday 1867 tattoo on his left arm. He's a football (soccer) man, not a rugby man. (ep.909)
As a ginger-haired constable, Thomas Brackenreid was stationed at St. Mary's. During this time he met and fell in love with Sarah Johnston, but she left him – ran away from him without a word. Thomas does not discover why until nearly twenty years later when his uncomplicated life in Toronto becomes anything but uncomplicated, (ep1209).
Constable Thomas Brackenreid was only on the force two weeks at Station House No. 4 in Toronto when he arrested Margaret; She had gotten into a tiff over the lunch special at Maisy’s, “…such a tart tongue, full of sass, even then”, (ep 807). Margaret's father asked him to join the family's plumbing business, but Thomas' heart was with the police force, (ep.304).
Originally, he strongly disagreed with most of Murdoch's methods and seems to have a very short temper when around Constable Crabtree although they do show some friendship in later episodes. He has throughout the series had to hide his drinking habits from his wife, Margaret, and relies particularly on the drink when in difficult situations. Thomas is particularly competitive especially with the other station houses, getting into many battles against them, for example a baseball game which they did win.
Brackenreid is a great admirer of theatre and opera. He reveres talented actors and himself once had ambitions to become an actor. He played Second Clown in a performance of Hamlet. He is a great admirer of Stella Smart in Body Double and opera diva Rosa Hamilton in Murdoch at the Opera.
Season 7 - 8
After being brutally attacked at the end of Season 7 Inspector Brackenreid spent three months in the hospital (being substituted by Hamish Slorach in the Station House), during which he became a very talented painter, perhaps because of his injury. At the beginning of Season 8, he is resolved not to return to police work (fearing for his family's safety), but his wife convinces him that enforcing the law was his life. He then begins a lone search for those responsible for this and other crimes, using decidedly ruthless methods (like beating men for information and breaking into places) and telling a worried Murdoch that he is now choosing the "law of the jungle"; however, when he finds the one responsible, despite being tempted to kill her, ultimately he abides by the law he has served for so many years. Right thereafter he returns to his job of Inspector of Station House No. 4.
Season 9 - 10
In Season 9, Inspector Brackenreid works to get Crabtree out of Don Jail (ep.901), tries to please Margaret by joining the Empire Club, and adds Mark Twain to his autograph book (ep.902). Once again, he struggles with Margaret's involvement in the Temperance Movement by curbing his drinking which involves their son John (ep.906). Being a football (soccer) man, Inspector Brackenreid has a Sheffield Wednesday 1867 tattoo (ep.909). By the end of the season, he and Murdoch are faced with a Chief Constable who is not only a racist (ep.913) but a corrupt copper. Their sting backfires landing Brackenreid in jail and demoted to the City Records (ep.916) where, ironically, he finds the evidence that vindicates him.
At the top of Season 10, Inspector Thomas Brackenreid is concerned that Dr. Ogden is not herself since the incident with Eva Pearce (ep.918). When the Board of Control denied her request for additional funding for the morgue, he expected to see her in his office all guns ablaze "..instead, not a dicky bird!" (yet another British idiom!). He knows that sometimes physical recovery is not enough (ep.1001). But, Toronto is ablaze with a sequential killer on the loose– over one hundred buildings burn, changing the face of the city forever. (ep.1002) Then, Higgins surrenders himself in his custody because he started the fire– with his cigar. He reassures Henry, "I'm afraid you won't be able to add "starting the Great Fire of Toronto" to the list of your accomplishments".
In Bend It Like Brackenreid, Inspector Brackenreid’s prowess on the soccer field is revealed and he invents "a wall of men" that he calls a barricade. He and son John share what it means to be a Brackenreid, "There's only one kind of Brackenreid - one that speaks his mind". When the two Brackenreid men return to Toronto as Olympic winners, it starts Thomas on a different path altogether and a new notion about what he may want out of life.
By the middle of Season 10, Brackenreid has been grabbed by wanderlust. No longer content, for the moment at least, being a copper, he goes off on an adventure with James Pendrick— who is once again exonerated of murder— in pursuit of Ashmi, who has stolen the inventor’s formula for the fountain of youth. Margaret tells him, "You've really lost your head this time, Thomas". While it does promise to be quite dangerous, Thomas explains, " If you only live once, why not make it forever?" and gives her a long farewell kiss at the end of Excitable Chap and returns in From Murdoch to Eternity.
In the Season 10's finale, it is revealed that twenty years earlier, Constable Brackenreid had arrested young Franklin Williams for robbery but his father made it go away, now Williams is running the Board of Controls and in cahoots with a ruthless developer who holds the secrets of almost every elected city official. The Inspector warns his Detective if he wants to go after the newly elected Councillor Williams and Robert Graham, Murdoch is going to need more than the words of a dance-hall girl and a socialist's wife. Williams has re-instated Chief Constable Davis appointing him to lead the manhunt for Murdoch now wanted for murder. When Crabtree is jailed for not arresting Murdoch at the church, the Inspector tells Davis to back off, "I've handled better than you with a hangover". Crabtree tells the Inspector that Murdoch wants him to look into Robert Graham, but the Inspector thinks he won't find anything. George believes there is not judge in the city who would believe William Murdoch murdered Lydia. Brackenreid predicts, "...he won't even stand trial. Murdoch will end up a Catholic wracked with guilt searching for salvation at the end of a noose". After the Detective is caught and jailed, the Inspector releases his "best man" and promises to find the kidnapped Dr. Ogden– costing him his own badge. He tells Crabtree, “It's up to us to make this right”. Brackenreid tracks down where Ogden is being held, only Davis is waiting for him – with a gun aimed point blank at his head. He tells Davis if he’s hurt her, “I’ll kill you”. Davis retorts, “I doubt that”. Moments later, the sound of the gun shot is heard from outside the house.
In the stand-alone holiday special Once Upon a Murdoch Christmas, Margaret discovers that Thomas has dived in their cookie jar again– but to her delighted surprise, he has spent it on Christmas gifts, "Why does everyone think I hate Christmas? I bloody love it!" The Inspector dons a Santa beard and suit to catch a thief.
In the premiere Up From Ashes, Brackenreid survived his encounter with Davis and meets George in a tavern owned by former Constable Hodge. After Hodge gives them a drink, and tells them when he got out of prison, Detective Watts arrives with Murdoch's solicitor, which is revealed to be Julia in disguise. Brackenreid tells them how he killed Davis and disposed of his body when he tried to find Julia, got Margaret and the kids out of town, then contacted Watts. With their new evidence, they proceed to the City Morgue, then to Windsor House Hotel that William and Julia call home to reunite with Murdoch who is under house arrest. Later, Watts and Penelope Marsh bring in Williams to obtain his finger marks in person. When Williams refuses, Brackenreid threatens to break off his finger for the prints, which scares him into giving up his finger marks, proving them to be a match to those on the garrote. Still short on evidence to lock Graham away, Brackenreid shows Murdoch his hidden 'evidence', revealing that he had kidnapped Davis and tortured him. As a result, Davis gives up the information needed to lock Graham away, and agrees to testify in court. At the end of the episode, Inspector Brackenreid hangs Jackson's portrait in the bullpen and gives a touching tribute to the fallen constable. Giving Henry and George a glass of whisky, they toast to Jackson. Then, in The Accident, the unlikely friends Inspector Brackenreid and Dilton Dilbert lift their glasses to enjoy one last whiskey together.
Season 12 reveals the most impactful revelation about Thomas Brackenreid's past, present and future. An old flame from his constable service at St. Marys calls upon him to help find her missing daughter – their daughter. This rattles and concerns both father and son John. Eventually, Margaret learns about Sarah Johnston (but not about Nomi) and promptly kicks Thomas out of their house, starting a prolonged separation. When the Brackenreids' critically wounded son is framed for murder (ep.1217), the Brackenreids come together again, along with the Station Four team, to prove Constable John Brackenreid's innocence (ep.1218).
At the end of the season finale, when John confesses to his father that he can not follow in his steps, Thomas replies, "You'll get to do what I never did but, when you're making your mark on the stage, you just remember one thing: once upon a time, you used to be a copper and a bloody good one at that".
Thomas Charles Brackenreid is as honest as the day is long, at least about the things Margaret needs to know; For his talks with their minister and his resolve to be honest with his wife to save his marriage, but he still has a secret (ep.1301) and he is in a mood. When Murdoch suggests that the Inspector is taking the stevedore case personally (ep.1302), Brackenreid responds, "I've been insulted, Murdoch. The competence of this police force has been called into question. You're damn right I'm taking this personally."
By mid Season 13, Inspector Brackenreid, unaware of Miss Hart's unethical clandestine dealings (ep.1217), asks a favor of the city coroner which gives her damning information against Julia and Murdoch – thus his own self (ep.1309). Troubling times are waiting around the corner...
Thomas Charles Brackenreid has ignored his daughter's letter and her request (ep.1314)...
The Chief Constable reprimands Inspector Brackenreid for hiring a Negro as a member of the Constabulary and threatens to fire him if he doesn't make it right – at a time when Margaret's sister is in dire straits and the Brackenreid's budget is stretched thin as well; He has no choice but to fire Robert Parker in Things Left Behind.
Thomas Charles Brackenreid faces challenges brought on by his now adult children and his own choices which impacts his reputation and position on the Toronto Constabulary.
In The Future
- As the retired Chief Constable of the Toronto Constabulary, Brackenreid is called to help with a case that he and the now Inspector Watts worked on in 1905, only to have the case resurface now as new clues are found. They team up with Morality Officer Mary Shaw and Private Detective Frankie Drake in solving the robbery that was believed to have involved Frankie's father.
- 2019 Sunday Post Interview: From Coronation Street to Canada
- Toronto Gazette Archival Footage
- A Frankie Drake Cold Case
|Murdoch Mysteries Stars and Characters|
|Yannick Bisson as William Murdoch • Hélène Joy as Julia Ogden • Thomas Craig as Thomas Brackenreid • Jonny Harris as George Crabtree|