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"The Thin Dead Line" is the fourteenth episode of the second season of Angel and the thirty-sixth episode in the series. Written by Jim Kouf with Shawn Ryan and directed by Scott McGinnis, it was originally broadcast on February 13, 2001, on The WB network.


WHEN DEAD COPS ATTACK — Unbeknownst to Gunn, Cordy and Wesley, Angel investigates a squad of zombie police officers who assault everyone in their path — a case also brought to the trio by Anne.[1]


Angel shoves a stack of papers off the desk next to the team's old meeting area in the Hyperion Hotel. When he attempts to get information on Wolfram & Hart from Merl, who is leaving town, he is reminded that he fired his pals and failed to follow up with them.

A friend of Virginia brings her daughter to the soon-to-be-renamed Angel Investigations, asking them to remove the eye that grew out of the back of her head after she was attacked by an unseen assailant. Wesley assures the mother that they will find a way to get rid of it.

At the East Hills Teen Center, two teens show up after curfew in search of safety, and their fear convinces Anne to make an exception to the rules. Kenny explains that he and Les were unfairly attacked by a policeman, which has been happening to other street kids as well. Anne takes the problem to Gunn at Angel Investigations. He accompanies her back to the shelter and questions the kids about the incidents with the police.

Angel, who has surreptitiously trailed Gunn, is attacked by a policeman while standing outside. Angel fights back, but each time he takes a knockdown, the cop gets back up. The police officer's head is completely kicked off by the vampire, but it continues to speak. Angel goes to Kate to look up the dead cop's badge, she finds that he's been dead for six months. More sleuthing reveals that someone is putting dead cops back on the streets as zombies. Angel and Kate go to the precinct that the cop worked for to see if they can find out more information. The policeman they speak with informs them that the area's problems have been resolved by the chief.

Cordelia rants about Gunn's risky choice to enlist members of his old crew to deal with the police by filming the officers assaulting them. She and Wesley decide to go back him up nonetheless. Wesley comes upon Gunn and his friends secretly filming their exchange with a police officer in order to prove the cops are reacting violently without just cause. Wesley tries to intervene, but the officer turns and shoots Wesley. A struggle takes place and George shoots the cop. The three men move Wesley to safety as the cop sits up, seemingly unaffected by the bullets.

Wesley is helped into an ambulance by Gunn and his pals, but other police cars obstruct their path as they attempt to leave. Gunn is forced to drive the ambulance when the driver is shot by the police. When he arrives at the shelter, he brings Wesley inside with the EMT, who insists that Wesley be taken to the hospital right away. The police officer who shot Wesley drives up as soon as they enter and phones the precinct to report that everyone is inside. In response, the chief tells him to hold off until they have backup so they can handle the entire section and clean house.

When Cordelia notices a teenager at the shelter wearing one of her shirts, she assumes it's a duplicate, despite the salesman telling her it was one of a kind. When Wesley starts taking a turn for the worst, Cordelia demands they take him to the hospital. Gunn agrees, but as soon as Cordelia opens the door, she discovers they are surrounded by police cars. As the mob of dead officers begin to enter the shelter, Cordelia and Anne assist the teenagers in barricading the area. The zombie cops force their way inside the shelter through the windows and doors, hurting several teens in the process.

Angel returns to the precinct where the zombie officers came from, but this time he doesn't bring Kate. The police captain confesses he has been using supernatural methods to bring back slain, honorable police officers to protect former violence-ridden neighborhoods. Angel attacks the chief and demands to know how he is resurrecting the slain cops. Suddenly the chief flees into a hidden room with an altar and photos of the dead officers. After discovering an Idol of Granath, Angel smashes it over the chief's head. All of the zombie police officers collapse to the ground as soon as it breaks, reverting to their previous lifeless, rotting forms.

Angel goes to visit Kate at her precinct to discuss the ambiguous ramifications of their victory; getting rid of the zombie cops will also lead to a resurgence of the neighborhood's murders, rapes, and robberies. Kate confides in Angel that the job is making her crazy, and he tells her he knows the feeling. After Kate informs him of Wesley's injuries, Angel goes to see Wesley in the hospital but Cordelia stops him. She tells him to stay away; he walked out on them and they don't need him anymore. After briefly looking into Wesley's room, Angel obliges.


  • Wesley is shot in the stomach. He will later suffer a fatal stab wound in the same location in "Not Fade Away."
  • The plotline of Stephanie Sharp's extra eye will continue in the next two episodes, "Reprise" and "Epiphany."
  • Anne seeks Angel after their first alliance in "Blood Money." She will meet Gunn again in "Not Fade Away."
  • Cordelia recognizes one of her shirts Angel donated to East Hills Teen Center in "Blood Money."
  • Kate tells Angel she's working on the cases of "two women killed in a clothing store" and "thirteen lawyers from Wolfram & Hart slaughtered in a wine cellar," referring to the deaths caused by Darla and Drusilla in "Reunion."



Organizations and titles[]




Death count[]

  • Peter Harkes, beheaded by Angel.
  • Ambulance driver, shot by a zombie cop.
  • Zombie cops, destroyed when Angel broke the Idol of Granath.

Behind the scenes[]


  • The episode title is a play on the "thin blue line," a phrase used figuratively for the position of law enforcement in society as a bulwark between criminals and the potential victims of crime. It's also a nod to the 1998 Terrence Malick film The Thin Red Line.
  • The plot is similar to the 1988 horror movie series Maniac Cop, in which a series of brutal murders are committed by a zombie police officer.


  • "The Thin Dead Line" had an audience of 3.0 million households upon its original airing.[2]

Pop culture references[]

  • When taunting Gunn for "moving up" in the world, one of his former crew mates quotes the theme song of The Jeffersons: "deluxe apartment in the sky."


  • Outkast — "Ms. Jackson"
  • Sucker Pump — "On A Mission"
  • Seldom Seen — "Who's Got My Back?"
  • Robert J. Kral — "Massive Assault"
  • Robert J. Kral — original score

International titles[]

  • Czech: "Tenká mrtvá linie" (Thin Dead Line)
  • Finnish: "Poliisi on ystäväsi" (Police Is Your Friend)
  • French: "L'ordre des morts-vivants" (The Order of the Living Dead)
  • German: "Die Nacht der Zombies" (The Night of the Zombies)
  • Hungarian: "Szolgálat közben elhunyt" (Died in Line of Duty)
  • Italian: "Il quartiere di Gunn" (The Neighborhood of Gunn)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): "Paixões" (Passions)
  • Russian: "Тонкая линия смерти" (Thin Line of Death)
  • Spanish (Latin America): "La delgada Línea de la muerte" (The Thin Line of Death)
  • Spanish (Spain): "La delgada Línea de la muerte" (The Thin Line of Death)
  • Turkish: "Seyrek Bitiş Çizgisi" (Rare Finish Line)


Cordy: "Oh, yes, Angel Investigations, home of the wicked high creep factor."
Anne: "Angel?"
Gunn: "Oh, our company. It's named after our former boss. We're planning, uh, on changing it to the Gunn Agency..."
Cordy and Wes: "No, we're not."
Gunn: "As soon as these two narcissists come to their senses."
Gunn: "All right, look, the plan is simple. I want you to roll the camcorder and wait for the cops to hassle us."
Anne: "How do you know they will?"
Gunn: "Because we'll be the ones walking while black. Come on."
Wesley: "What did he say?"
Cordy: "Just that in order to find out if the police have been brutalizing and killing people in Anne's neighborhood, he's going to videotape the cops trying to brutalize and kill him."
Wesley: "You can't be serious."
Cordy: "Nothing says 'Aha, I'm no to you' like being on the receiving end of a vicious police beating."
Wesley: "You couldn't stop him?"
Cordy: "Hello! Gunn, stubborn, synonyms."
Cordy: "Hey! That's my... Sorry. I have a shirt just like that. The crook at the store said it was one of a kind! Big fibber!"
Officer: "Can I help you folks?"
Kate: "Yeah. I'm investigating some complaints about the way some officers are handling things in this precinct."
Officer: "Isn't that more a job for internal affairs?"
Kate: "Well, I'm taking a personal interest."


  1. "EpisodeGuideSeason2." Geocities.ws. Retrieved on March 8, 2023.
  2. "Nielsen Ratings for Angel's Second Season." Nielsen Ratings for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, & Firefly. Archived from the original on July 19, 2008.