Between 1985 and 1989, the networks ARD from Germany and ORF from Austria co-produced thirteen episodes, which were only aired in Austria (see Tatort (1985)).

The introduction of the character Horst Schimanski (Götz George) marked a strong change regarding the depiction of cops in German television. He became notorious for his rebellious attitude, his frequent drinking, foul language and occasional brawls. As those traits were unprecedented in the 1980's, it gained the character a cult-status. Schimanski is also credited for making the word "shit" more socially acceptable, and in 1991, the German newspaper Bild even counted the number of times he used it. In many polls, Schimanski topped the list of the most popular Tatort characters.