What happened to Tom Barnaby on Midsomer Murders?

Midsomer Murders: Can you buy it on DVD?

Midsomer Murders' Tom Barnaby retired from the force, after the actor, John Nettles decided to quit the series after 14 years as the lead.

Midsomer Murders is considered one of the most popular English crime drama series staples. The series has been a hit since it premiered in 1997 on ITV and still remains one of the channel’s flagship shows.

Its early success is attributed to the lead character, DCI Tom Barnaby, who retired from the force during the season 13 finale.

Tom’s decision to retire from the force in the world of the story was fuelled by John Nettles’ decision to leave his longest-running and most memorable role.

Midsomer Murders: How many episodes did John Nettles play Tom Barnaby for?

As the first lead of Midsomer Murders, DCI Tom Barnaby appeared on every episode of the series until the point of his departure.

When it was confirmed that he would be leaving the role, one of the sentiments he shared following the success of the series was the fact that he had lost count of how many episodes he had shot during his 14 years as the character.

In fact, Nettles portrayed the character of Tom Barnaby for 81 episodes before leaving the show in 2011.

What happened to Tom Barnaby on Midsomer Murders?

Midsomer Murders’ DCI Tom Barnaby decided to retire and use his retirement to travel the world with his wife, Joyce Barnaby. He made the decision to do this during the season 13 finale in the episode titled “Fit for Murder”.

The episode’s sole focus was giving the actor a proper send-off, therefore, it focused solely on him and the details of his backstory which were never fully explored before. Specifically, the reason for his anxiety over his then impending birthday.

It was revealed that Tom was nearing the age at which his father died. Tom had anxiety about this because it was the day that his father passed.

This is as it was on his birthday and before his father had a massive stroke that took his life, Tom had exchanged words which were “not very nice” with him.

As such, it seemed like Tom was facing a mid-life crisis at this time, which resulted in him contemplating his future.

This results in his decision by the end of the season 13 finale and after his birthday to announce that he would retire from the force, marking the end of the journey for Tom in Midsomer.

With his retirement, his cousin, DCI John Barnaby took over the reins and remains the lead of the series currently.

John Nettles on leaving Midsomer Murders

Considering that John Nettles fronted Midsomer Murders since it first premiered and was still lauded 13 seasons and 14 years since starting with the classic crime drama series, it was a surprise for many when he confirmed that he was leaving the show.

However, Nettles asserted that he had created familial bonds with the cast and crew which would last a lifetime, and he asserted his decision to leave by sharing, “It's always wise to leave people wanting more, rather than be booed off the stage because you bored them”.

Tom Barnaby returns to Midsomer Murders

Well, this is not entirely true. It was John Nettles who returned to Midsomer Murders. In May 2022, the classic ITV flagship show celebrated the milestone of its twenty-fifth anniversary since it premiered in 1997.

As part of the celebration, the series created an anniversary special documentary which was titled Midsomer Murders: 25 Years of Mayhem.

In the documentary, which featured the cast and crew of the show reflecting on their experiences working on the show, one of the returnees was John Nettles reflecting on his experiences when portraying DCI Tom Barnaby on the series.

Did John Nettles retire after Midsomer Murders?

During this time on the series, John Nettles also acted in other projects including Heartbeat and The Hound of Baskerville.

While he had suggested that he left Midsomer Murders because of how long he had played the character, it does seem that life was reflecting art as his last acting project was in 2017, where he played Ray Penvenen in Poldark for the first three seasons of the historical period series.

Since then, the actor has not earned any new acting credits. However, it does not mean that he will not return to our screens if he finds a role that calls to him to play, as one the benefits of being an acclaimed actor is that you get the option to choose which roles to play.