Citizens of San Francisco are stunned by the news that Robert Ironside, the city's hard-nosed, tough-talking chief of detectives, has been shot and left for dead while vacationing at his friend the Police Commissioner's rural retreat. Ironside survives the murder attempt, but the bullet has damaged nerves in his spine, leaving him a paraplegic. Unable to gain reinstatement as chief of detectives, Ironside gets permission to continue investigating criminal cases as a citizen volunteer. With the assistance of two former protegees, Det. Sgt. Ed Brown and Officer Eve Whitfield, and a newly-hired aide/driver, Mark Sanger, Ironside sets out to solve his first case as a civilian by finding the people responsible for the attempt on his life.