At the beginning of Season 6, In the Heat of the Night moved from NBC to CBS. Originally, CBS opted only to pick up the series for a set of six two-hour movies. However, it was eventually picked up for a full 22 episode order. The first two episodes of the season saw the affair between Gillespie and DeLong intensify only to be interrupted by a crack war waged on Sparta involving Eugene. Althea Tibbs saw new trauma this season as she witnessed the suicide of one of her students (played by Walton Goggins), causing a near mental breakdown. Only with the help of a tough psychologist (played by Allan Arbus) recommended by Dr. Day is Althea able to come out of her “funk” and return to teaching at Sparta High School. Ruda Gibson makes another appearance as she is diagnosed with cancer and Virgil does all he can to help her. Her recovery is implied in season seven when Etta mentions that, after Virgil and Althea left Sparta, she comes to visit and sometimes stays the whole week.

Also of interest this season, Bill Gillespie’s daughter, Lana returns for a three-episode stint to resolve the case started in “A Woman Much Admired.” She is testifying against the New Orleans thugs that her mother was involved with before her death. The case finally comes to a conclusion as the mob led by their main Sparta connection Lewis Alvin Epp orders Lana’s farm house burnt down after she refuses to be bought out giving them access to Sparta’s south side. The events in that storyline lead into Bill’s and Lana’s reconciling. In “Random’s Child,” this episode also becomes a musical feature performance for “Officer Randy Goode,” as Franks performs “The Sparta Impound Blues” with actor Thomas Byrd in a scene written specifically by O’Connor to feature Franks musically after letters flooded in from viewers.[citation needed]

Other highlights this season included the return of Luanne’s brother (played by Designing Women‘s Meshach Taylor), a faded country music singer who ends up committing murder, Bubba being stalked by an obsessed admirer, Sweet being falsely accused of accepting a bribe, and a two-part episode involving the “white supremacy” that still exists in the new South.

The season comes to a close when Eugene works hard to get his father’s death sentence stayed by the state of Mississippi, only to have his efforts stopped by a mad man who runs the prison pastor off the road. Harriet also makes a critical decision at this point: not to let Eugene influence her relationship with Bill anymore. He may disapprove, but as she tells him, “One of these days you’re going to walk away from me, and I’m just going to tell you to keep on going”.

After the season Howard Rollins, Anne-Marie Johnson and Geoffrey Thorne left the series. Rollins would return occasionally as a guest star, while Johnson took a starring role on Fox’s In Living Color. Thorne left to pursue a career as a novelist and screenwriter. Unlike the characters played by Rollins and Johnson, Thorne’s character simply vanished with no explanation for why he was absent from the show.

# Title Director Writer(s) Original airdate Production Code
97 “A Small War: Part 1” Harry Harris Joe Gannon October 28, 1992 5802
Big city crack dealers invade Sparta. Eugene witnesses the drive by shooting of a friend and his offer to help the police identify the shooters leaves Harriet frightened and angry at Bill.
98 “A Small War: Part 2” Harry Harris Joe Gannon November 4, 1992 5803
The police wage war against the big city drug dealers who have moved into Sparta. Eugene identifies the men who murdered his friend. And Bubba is teamed with and intrigued by a lady police lieutenant from Jackson.
99 “Brother’s Keeper” Winrich Kolbe William J. Royce November 11, 1992 5809
Luann’s ne’er-do-well brother returns home after being paroled.
100 “A Frenzied Affair” Winrich Kolbe Mitchell Schneider November 18, 1992 5814
Althea places herself in harms way trying to help one of her students, a disturbed and violent young man; after he is implicated in a murder case.
101 “Discovery” Paul Chavez Carroll O’Connor, Mitchell Schneider November 18, 1992 5817
Follow up to “A Frenzied Affair”. Althea has trouble dealing with the violent death of a student. Young Megan Fowler quickly finds herself yet another dangerous boyfriend and they are soon wanted by the police.
102 “Random’s Child” Leo Penn Carroll O’Connor November 25, 1992 5812
Lana Gillespie comes to Sparta to claim her inheritance, but is stalked by a mobster who dated her mother. Meanwhile Harriet encourages Bill to talk to his daughter, but Lana doesn’t seem to be interested. Officer Randy Goode helps keep the bad guys at bay by playing them a little tune on the guitar.
103 “An Occupational Hazard” Vincent McEveety Cynthia Deming December 2, 1992 5806
A secretary takes drastic measures to protect herself from sexual harassment.
104 “Last Rights” Vincent McEveety Mitchell Schneider December 9, 1992 5801
Virgil fears for his Aunt Ruda’s safety after several killings occur in the hospital where she is being treated.
105 “When the Music Stopped” Russ Mayberry Carroll O’Connor December 16, 1992 5808
Singer Eddie Larran returns to Sparta for a concert, but not everyone is a fan. An angry man insists that Eddie owes him money. And their dispute soon ends in violence.
106 “Flowers from a Lady” Russ Mayberry Denise Nicholas January 6, 1993 5810
A city councilwoman becomes dangerously obsessed with Bubba.
107 “Private Sessions” Russ Mayberry Cynthia Deming January 13, 1993 5813
One of Virgil’s classmates from law school is arrested following the death of his former girlfriend, but the man insists that her death was the result of her relationship with her psychiatrist.
108 “Judgment Day” Larry Hagman January 20, 1993 5818
A judge schemes to get rid of his wife after she tries to blackmail him into giving her a divorce and a generous settlement by revealing a secret from his past.
109 “Falsely Accused” Reza Badiyi Joe Gannon February 3, 1993 5820
Sweet is the target of false accusations by two corrupt and racist car salesmen.
110 “A Step Removed” Paul Chavez Mitchell Schneider February 10, 1993 5824
Parker’s stepfather Roy threatens his former employer after an altercation. When the boss is murdered Roy is arrested.
111 “A Deadly Affection” Vincent McEveety Joe Gannon February 17, 1993 5825
A woman asks Harriet to help her get an eviction order rescinded. The chief gives Parker a new radar gun – and soon comes to regret it. Sheriff McComb requests that Gillespie and Bubba help investigate a murder. Meanwhile Lonnie and Luann search for the boy who reported the murder.
112 “The Leftover Man: Part 1” Larry Hagman Carroll O’Connor March 3, 1993 5804
A white supremacist politician plans to have his wife’s lover murdered and blame it on black radicals.
113 “The Leftover Man: Part 2” Larry Hagman Carroll O’Connor March 3, 1993 5805
A white supremacist politician plans to have his wife’s lover murdered and blame it on black radicals.
114 “A Dish Best Served Cold” Reza Badiyi Cynthia Deming, William J. Royce March 17, 1993 5823
A swindlers homecoming upsets his wife and the families of his victims – especially Etta.
115 “Legacy” Paul Chavez Denise Nicholas March 24, 1993 5821
A wealthy man plans to grant a promise made to a black sharecropper many years ago by giving land to the man’s descendant. But his greedy son disapproves.
116 “Even Nice People” Carroll O’Connor Carroll O’Connor April 28, 1993 5822
Corrupt developers set their sights on Lana’s farm. When she refuses to sell they enlist the services of an arsonist to force her out.
117 “Lake Winahatchie” Harry Harris Cynthia Deming May 5, 1993 5819
Follow up to “Even Nice People”. Bill discovers the motivation behind a crime syndicates attempt to muscle in on Sparta and the reason they are determined to get Lana’s land.
118 “A Correct Settling” Harry Harris Carroll O’Connor May 12, 1993 5826
Eugene hopes a well known minister can save his father from Death Row. But someone runs the Reverend off the road on his way into town and the Sparta police try to protect him and track down his assailant. Meanwhile Harriet struggles with what her part in her ex-husbands appeal should be and is even more unsettled when Eugene demands that she break up with Bill.

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