[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/streetlamp_9696.gif]]
[[caption-width-right:300:[[ImageBoard 4Chan]] had a field day.]]

->''Hi there. Take a seat...''what'' are you doing?''
-->-'''Chris Hansen''', [[OnceAnEpisode every time they "catch a predator".]]

->''When a show makes you feel sorry for potential child rapists, you know it's doing the wrong thing.''
-->-'''Charlie Brooker''', ''[[BritishNewspapers The Guardian]]''

''Dateline'', also known as ''Dateline NBC'', is a PrimeTimeNews show and one of the largest, most popular, and most infamous news programs ever. It started airing in 1992 and has never entirely gone away.

The series was conceived in 1992 mainly as a cheap schedule filler and about the 73rd attempt to unseat ''Series/SixtyMinutes''. It was hosted by Jane Pauley and Stone Phillips. Stone Phillips would become the face of the main ''Dateline.'' The series existed mainly to fill holes in the programming schedule; during the bulk of the 1990s, ''Dateline'' was on more nights than not. Archived (rerun) ''Dateline'' crime stories are used for this same purpose on MSNBC, Investigation Discovery, and TLC during dead periods.

The series drew infamy with its constant stream of fluff stories, YouCanPanicNow stories, and screw-ups -- most notably, an early 1992 episode of the show got into hot water when it falsely claimed that 1973-1987 GM pickup trucks have leaky and explosive gas tanks (when in reality, the only reason they exploded for the cameras is the remote controlled explosives the Creator/{{NBC}} crew put there).

Recurring segments include ''The Dirty Dozen'' (in which it takes a critical eye to health inspection scores of various fast-food restaurants), CouldThisHappenToYou stories, as well as full length episodes dealing with TrueCrime mysteries (the show has done so many episodes about murder cases involving well-to-do, adulterous suburban types, it was nicknamed "If You Marry a Doctor, You Will Die"). Many of the episodes are narrated by Keith Morrison, whose voice can be described as "[[MisterRogersNeighborhood Mr. Rogers]] as-a-creepy-old-man".

The series began to fade by the late 1990s when NBC began shoring up its late night line-up, which meant fewer nights of ''Dateline.'' Stone Phillips left the series (Jane Pauly left several years earlier) and Anne Curry and Chris Hansen took over as main anchors for the series.

The series would returned to the spotlight in 2004, when a segment Chris Hansen did with the group Perverted Justice catching men attempting to arrange sexual encounters with underage teenagers, "To Catch A Predator," garnered a huge amount of publicity. This led to a whole series of ''Dateline'' "To Catch A Predator" specials and a spin-off, "To Catch A Predator: The Raw Tapes", which shows longer versions of the confrontations between Chris Hansen and the predators. Controversy was sparked, mostly by accusations of entrapment by lawyers for the accused predators and a high profile suicide of one man caught in the sting (but who did not appear on the show, having discovered prior to his death that he had been nailed in a sting operation). The show and Chris Hansen ultimately achieved MemeticMutation, with parodies appearing on different shows like WesternAnimation/SouthPark, Series/ItsAlwaysSunnyInPhiladelphia, Series/ArrestedDevelopment, TheBoondocks, {{Squidbillies}}, etc. Whether because of the legal controversy, the increased popularity making it harder[[note]](the last sting only caught 7 men, where earlier ones had ensnared dozens)[[/note]] to lure men to the houses, or because the "demographics" of the alleged predators had declined,[[note]](earlier stings caught doctors, teachers, programmers, a rabbi, etc., but later ones nabbed unemployed or menial laborers)[[/note]] no new TCAP segments were produced after 2007. According to a Facebook comment in 2009, it might return someday. If so, it will likely be without Chris Hansen, who recently had [[http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/07/chris-hansen-sexts-cheating_n_892597.html his own embarrassing scandal.]]

''Dateline'' is still on the air in a FridayNightDeathSlot (right before the local news), and also airs on Sundays opposite ''Series/SixtyMinutes'' between season of NFL [[AmericanFootball football]]. It has some internal infamy, as CNBC airs ''Series/SixtyMinutes on CNBC'' rather than ''Dateline: Business Edition'' because of the show's lack of any non-tabloid coverage... Though there ''being'' a ''Dateline: Business Edition'' says something.

The launch of ''RockCenter [[AwesomeMcCoolname with Brian Williams]]'' in November 2011 suggests that NBC knows that ''Dateline'' should never be omnipresent on the main network schedule again.

Not to be confused with {{Dateline}}, where it took the name from.
----
!!Why don't you use these tropes over there?

* AffectionateParody: The program is very subject to this.
* AwesomeMcCoolName: '''''STONE.'''''
* BadassBaritone: Stone Phillips.
* BigNo: A few of the "predators" have let one out when they were apprehended by the police.
* BlatantLies: The potential predators, when they try to talk their way out. Chris always has a field day with them, especially when they say they were invited in by hot older women.
* {{Catchphrase}}: [[PreAssKickingOneLiner Why don't you have a seat over there...]]
** ([[ScrewThisImOuttaHere whenever someone tries to make a run for it]]) "But he won't get very far..."
* DeadpanSnarker - Chris Hansen whenever predators attempt to justify themselves when the chat logs say otherwise.
* DepravedHomosexual: Sometimes, the subjects of the show are gay.
* DirtyOldMan: Some of the predators.
* DrivenToSuicide: One of the men they captured with To Catch a Predator killed himself when he realized the cops were closing in. [[http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2008/06/nbc-resolves-la.html NBC "amicably resolved" his sister's lawsuit.]].
** Another arrested man (this one from Turkey), kept threatening "[if] You show this, I [will] kill myself". It remains to be seen as to whether he knows that regardless of what actually appeared in the broadcast (if any of it made the cut), his whole affair is on Youtube uncut.
** This was parodied ruthlessly on the ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' episode "La Petite Tourette," where Hansen is a corrupt sadist who threatens Cartman with the ultimatum he may have "shot himself" if he doesn't co operate with his show. He escapes this after several paedophiles are tricked into entering the studio, and, realizing this, kill themselves en masse (an irate Hansen moans "Aww, not again!").
** On Chris Hansen's first such investigation in Long Island (before police were involved), a depressed man with a history of self-harm has his identity hidden and face blurred out specifically to prevent this.
* EveryCarIsAPinto: They claimed that GM's trucks were playing this trope straight, but in reality, they [[AvertedTrope averted it]].
* EvilCripple: One pedophile suffered from Cerebral Palsy.
* FalseReassurance: When confronting pedophiles, Chris Hansen often tells them "I'm not going to arrest you". Then, as soon as they leave the house, they get arrested by the police. [[ExactWords After all, he's not the one doing the arresting.]]
* GenreSavvy: Some pedophiles look around for TV crews, and try to run away if they spot them.
* HarmfulToMinors: Of all the utterly bizarre cases, the most horrific of them was when the predator brought his two-year-old son with him to the decoy's house. Everyone was taken aback by this, and special measures had to be taken to arrest the predator as swiftly as possible, while not scaring the child.
* HopeSpot: For some folks caught in the sting who are unfamiliar with the show, they feel very relieved when Chris Hansen says they're free to go, some of them almost bordering on jubilant. [[CatchPhrase But they won't get very far...]]
* {{Hypocrite}}: On report #3 in Riverside, California, one predator talked about being upset at his step daughter getting with someone who was way older than her for sex. Yet, he's on dateline...
* ImplausibleDeniability: "I wasn't gonna do nothin'!" "Well, I have the transcript right here..."
* {{Irony}}: Chris has gotta be feeling pretty foolish after [[http://purplejesus.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/pedobearwin.jpg this]]
** [[http://nation.foxnews.com/cheating/2011/06/29/catch-predators-chris-hansen-caught-video-cheating-his-wife This is even better.]]
*** Considering the [[TabloidMelodrama source]] of that story, its authenticity is questionable. What's more, considering we haven't heard any more developments after Chris's denial, it's shaping up to be false.
* KarmaHoudini: Most of the predators on the show before Dateline began working with law enforcement - even though some of them ended up getting arrested later anyway, some even returning a repeat time.
* LanternJawOfJustice: It is hard to fathom that a person who looks and [[BadassBaritone sounds]] like Stone Phillips -- and is named ''Stone Phillips'' -- actually exists outside of a comic book.
* LogicalFallacies: The predators are full of excuses. Most of which don't hold much water.
* LongRunners: Has aired since 1992. Furthermore, it was also NBC's first successful news magazine after failed attempts such as Prime Time Saturday/Sunday[[note]]not to be confused with the long-running ABC news magazine PrimeTime Live[[/note]]; NBC Magazine[[note]]best known for being the final NBC series for iconic anchor David Brinkley before his departure for ABC[[/note]] and Monitor[[note]]named after a long-running NBC radio news and variety show[[/note]].
* MissingWhiteWomanSyndrome: Unfortunately, in a lot of their missing person cases, this is true.
** Even in cases where the predators were arrested, many of them got OffOnATechnicality. The technicality being that Perverted Justice [[WhatTheHellHero would not disclose their entire chat transcripts to law enforcement]].
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: Perverted Justice's actions have resulted in many of the people arrested getting OffOnATechnicality. The bulk of them would wind up released when the group refused to show law enforcement complete chat transcripts.
** It should be pointed out that [=PeeJ=] vehemently denies that they "refused to cooperate" with authorities, and since they work daily with law enforcement in many jurisdictions successfully, the ''one'' "authority" who claimed that [=PeeJ=] wouldn't cooperate (District attorney [[MeaningfulName John Roach]] of Collin County, Texas -- the ''only'' jurisdiction where the suspects' charges were dropped) is not to be taken seriously.
* OhCrap: Pretty much every guy when Chris Hansen steps in.
* OlderThanTheyLook: The decoys.
* PaedoHunt: What do you expect from a show centered around catching child molesters?
* ParallelPornTitles: I'm Chris [[PunnyName Mansen]] from [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUn6X4SWWUk To Catch a Predator XXX.]]
* PedophilePriest: A number of predators caught have been religious figures, such as ministers, rabbis, etc. No literal priest though.
* ProductPlacement: Somewhat unintentional since these are not dramatizations. It's somewhat disturbing how many predators enter the house with a case of Mike's Hard Lemonade. Is this the official drink of pedophiles?
** Similarly, [[UsefulNotes/{{McDonalds}} McDonald's]] must be dismayed at how often potential pedos show up with their bags of food in hand.
* SchmuckBait: When predators are on the brink of wanting to get the hell out of there, they'll ask Hansen if they're in any serious trouble. When Hansen says they're free to walk out that door at any time, that's usually the cue for the men to run out the door...and straight into the handcuffs of the police.
* ScrewThisImOuttaHere: Many folks on ''Predator'' try to make a run for it when confronted by Hansen...[[CatchPhrase but they won't get very far.]]
* SkewedPriorities: One mentally disabled predator was more distressed about his mom taking his computer away than being arrested.
* SophisticatedAsHell: Some predators, like [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlOB2Xts8ak this one]], get almost poetic in their chats.
* SpotlightStealingSquad: ''To Catch A Predator''.
* TheStoic: Chris Hansen keeps a straight face at all times.
* StupidStatementDanceMix: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Hfm4kvVB0g An affectionate remix of some Dateline clips has become very popular on Youtube.]]
** And after that, a Stupid Statement ''Dubstep'' (of course) Mix was made by Sadhu, simply entitled, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dq4powSXNc "Chris Hansen".]]
* SyndicationTitle: Many of the hourlong true-crime documentaries are rebroadcast on {{MSNBC}} under individual titles without the ''Dateline'' branding.
* TheBlindLeadingTheBlind: The majority of these predators fall victim to the widespread myths concerning entrapment and the perceived requirement that undercover police must answer truthfully if asked "Are you a cop?". Most of these myths originate in television police dramas. One memorable individual even claimed that his druggie friends advised him on this issue.
* ThisIsGonnaSuck: See OhCrap - especially the guys who have seen the show before and know that as soon as Chris Hansen appears, their life is pretty much over.
* TooDumbToLive: Guess who?
* TwoWordsObviousTrope: "Two words for you: Roleplaying chatroom, [[VerbalTic dude]]!"
* VillainousBreakdown: More than one predator completely loses it.
** VillainousBSOD: One predator went still and literally fell out of his chair to faceplant into the kitchen cabinet, after learning that he was being recorded.

----