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Played by: James Roday (Adult) Liam James and Skyler Gisondo (Child))The main character, a Brilliant, but Lazy Phony Psychic running the eponymous detective agency.
"The best way to convince people you're not lying to them is to tell them you are."
- Agent Scully: He doesn't believe in the supernatural and always goes for the logical explanation when he and Gus encounter what seem to be supernatural cases. He does seem to genuinely believe in aliens though.
- Alliterative Name: Shawn Spencer.
- Ambiguously Bi: Frequently quite flirty with ... pretty much everyone. Plus many (many, many) other behaviors.Shawn: Hey, this guy has a ticket to a Michael Damian concert!Gus: Why would you take that?Shawn: Because it has a picture of Michael Damian on it.
- He once unironically told Lassiter "you are so sexy right now!" when the latter decided to buck protocol to help out Gus.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: In Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark, he says his inability to concentrate may be due to his ADD, although it might also be because one of them is pointing a gun in his face.
- Attention Whore: Shawn is not exactly shy and retiring from the spotlight.
- Awesome by Analysis: With its own special effect!
- The Barnum: Quite good at fooling people into doing what he wants. Usually for the greater good, but frequently he does this selfishly too.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Frequently gets access to things that he wants/needs by fast-talking a witness or a low-level employee. It usually works.
- Beware the Silly Ones: In Santabarbaratown 2, Shawn's hyper-awareness suddenly becomes incredibly impressive when he's in a rage. His antics are quite a bit more terrifying than usual too. Overall, he might be goofy and not serious often, but he is still a very competant detective and has put away many dangerous people and solved seemingly foolproof crimes.
- Book Dumb
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Spelled out pretty well by Declan Rand, who profiles him as highly intelligent but shameful of that fact, so he plays it down using immature behavior.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Loud, dramatic, snarky and outright childish on every case. Expertly solves each one.
- Catch-Phrase: Has several.
- "I've heard it both ways."
- "Wait for iiiiiiiiiit."
- "Gus, don't be a _____________."
- "Suck it!"
- "You know that's right."
- "My name is Shawn Spencer and this is my partner [ridiculous name for Gus]."
- Characterization Marches On: His earliest appearances had him much more of an Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist and his relationship with Gus a lot more vitriolic. Later episodes took note of his nicer traits and flaws.
- It should be noted that the pilot shows shades of his nicer traits such as: using his ability to figure out the positive Character Depth of the girl he has a crush on, feeling guilty when he thinks his psychic act may have led to murder, trying to stop a police officer from listening to another fake psychic, and both young and adult Shawn referring to older women and authority figures as "ma'am."
- In earlier episodes he would immediately rule out any supernatural phenomena usually dragging Gus back down to earth, yet later on, most notably in "This Episode Sucks", he is perfectly accepting of the culprit being a vampire.
- The Charmer: Shawn's greatest asset (excepting his attention to detail) is his ability to charm people, which is odd since he also has a singular talent for being tactless and irritating.
- Childhood Friends: He and Gus have been best friends together since elementary school and Henry himself mentions Gus has been one of the few consistent things n Shawn's life.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Distressed Dude: In Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark, and in any situation where he confronts the murderer or gets caught without backup. It's usually Jules bailing him out.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: In season 7, thanks to a clue in the jacket he lent her, Juliet finally figures out Shawn is a fake psychic. After an episode of mulling it over, Shawn says that "if I just hadn't given you my jacket, it would all be okay." Shawn believes that it's the way Juliet found out that made her upset, not grasping that the reason she's mad is because he's been lying to her all the time.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Shawn's unorthodox methods have been the deciding factor in arresting murderers, thieves, con artists, and even serial killers. Many times over the course of the series the Santa Barbara police would have imprisoned the wrong person, and many people would be dead, without Shawn's help. Despite this, every week the cops (mostly Lassiter, really) say they don't have time for his "hunches," his help is not needed, and please get out of the way so the "real" cops can do their jobs.
- Expansion Pack Past: Shawn, in partial rebellion to his father, has had fifty-seven prior jobs and has spent time in Argentina and Thailand among many other places.
- Genius Ditz: He's an eccentric, manchild whose behavior wavers between that of a 7-year old and a 20 something, but he's a brilliant amateur detective.
- Guile Hero: Solves cases, apprehends criminals, gets out of prickly situations using only his fast thinking and his wits.
- The Hero
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Gus. It has been lampshaded plenty of times.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Usually seen via flashback.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: In the pilot, he quickly fires five rounds that hit so close to Detective Barry's that she thinks that he missed entirely.
- It's All About Me: Not even his inner ego manages to change his delusion that he is the greatest gift to everyone around him except Lassiter. Granted he may be playing this up just for comical value.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Downplayed in regards to the jerk part. He may act erratic, impulsive and selfish, but he cares deeply about all of his friends and genuinely loves using his talents to help people. His entire reason for having become a detective in the first place is because he loves to help others out and doing good.
- He tends to be more silly or annoying with people in general, his jerk moments usually being with Lassie and that's just more with the vitriol in their friendship.
- Karma Houdini: Played With. While he often does many unscrupulous things, they are either for the sake of the case or he does pay for them in some form later.
- Large Ham: He is quite possibly the most hammy Phony Psychic in all of network television.
- Loveable Rogue: Is still somewhat popular despite the amount of people he's annoyed or even jobs and cases he's been fired from.
- Magician Detective
- Manchild: Silly, goofy and often flighty. He also loves to indulge in snacking and watching cartoons.
- Malaproper: He's heard it both ways.
- Missing Mom: His parents were divorced when he was younger, and his father had custody.
- Narcissist: To where that may be the closest psychological condition he may have (though to what extent depends)Dr. Elliot: Your departmental profile suggests that the closest psychological identification for you would be narcissistic personality disorder.Shawn: That's handsome disease.
- Nice to the Waiter: One of the reasons Shawn gets away with so many shenanigans is his tendency to befriend people in the lower echelons of whatever organization he's looking into.
- The Nick Namer: Once per episode Gus is saddled with a ridiculous nickname by Shawn. Jules and Lassie are nicknames Shawn actually gives and sticks with.
- Not So Different: Lassiter has stated that he and Henry are "the same person."
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Underneath the exterior of a clownish and somewhat clueless fun guy is a very well trained sharp mind and people often underestimate him.
- Out-of-Character Moment: In-universe example, Shawn accidentally breaks his psychic shtick by admitting he scored 100% on the detective's exam when he was 15. Lassiter and Juliet are too taken aback to notice.
- Phony Psychic: Cannot reveal the 'phony' part without serious legal consequences.
- Photographic Memory: He was able to look back on something that happened while he was in elementary school and remember a new detail that he'd missed before. This is standard procedure for him gaining evidence and was inherited from his mother.
- Popcultured Badass: Always sprinkles references to movies, TV shows and music, to the annoyance of others (besides Gus).
- Private Detective: Currently the main private detective of his business.
- Pstandard Psychic Pstance: Puts his hand to his head even when he's alone with people who know better. Both Gus and Henry get very annoyed when he does this around them.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Usually the Red Oni to Gus' or Juliet's Blue Oni.
- Refuge in Audacity: How he gets away with anything: make every scheme ballsy and over-the-top and act with utter conviction. It works.
- Sad Clown: A lot of his antics stem from his unique childhood and his off-beat humor, especially during cases, serves as a coping mechanism. Shawn actually mentions that he needs to do this to function and keep his cool, best exemplified in the first part of the Yin-Yang trilogy.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Partly why he goes above and beyond police protocol when he thinks the wrong person is being prosecuted. While Shawn is naturally rebellious, he does also take cases that the police won't because he wants to do right.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Usually done at the same time with Gus, when faced with the baddie of the week or horror-movie situation.
- Sherlock Scan: His way of gaining information.
- The Slacker: Somewhat; he doesn't have a traditional job and may act like one, but he's a highly competent detective with an impressive record.
- Took a Level in Dumbass: Makes some really stupid mistakes in later seasons. Henry notes this as him not being challenged enough by the work that he does and getting sloppy. Shawn does realizes this and proceeds to get himself back up.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Occurred in the later seasons before evening out and going back to his nicer one.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Pineapples.
- Training from Hell: A watered down version to be sure, but Shawn's father Henry relentlessly drilled Shawn from very early in his childhood (to the exclusion of a normal childhood, save Gus — which isn't saying much) to be hyper aware of his surroundings with a powerful eye for detail and supreme deductive reasoning, combined with his natural eidetic memory (inherited from his mom.)
- The Trickster
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Depending on the writer, Shawn's antics can easily qualify.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: He and Lassiter may snipe at each other a lot, but when push comes to shove they do respect each other and are willing to rely on each other if they're forced to. It helps that Shawn is more willing to acknowledge they are friends and help him out (in the first season, he took on a case for free and without credit all to help build Lassiter's confidence back up).
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Henry isn't the easiest guy to impress and doesn't exactly conceal when he's disappointed, meaning that Shawn has spent most of his life either trying to impress his father or actively rebelling against him. Combine this with how alike they are and a lot of Shawn's problems are seen.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: He doesn't really have to hit anyone most of the time, but whenever the culprit is female and he's pushed to it, he makes specific mention of this.
- Worthy Opponent: To many criminals, but Desperaux calls him this. Yin calls him his "most admirable foe."
Burton "Gus" Guster
Played by: Dule Hill (Adult) and Carlos McCullers II (Child)
"I'm nobody’s pawn, Shawn. I'm a queen."
- Agent Mulder: Whenever he and Shawn encounter what seem to be supernatural cases, Gus is the one who believes in the supernatural explanation and has to be proven wrong by Shawn.
- Badass Driver: He and Shawn get around with Gus' car (it's a company car) and thus Gus always drives it for all the cases need be.
- Beleaguered Assistant: Frequently exasperated with the things that Shawn makes him go along with.
- Big Eater: Reaching Flanderization levels in season six.
- Black Best Friend: Subverted; although he is technically this trope (being African-American and Shawn's life-long best friend), Gus is decidedly less "hip" than Shawn.
- Black and Nerdy: Gus is a pharmaceutical sales rep who has a passion for spelling bees, comic books and tap dancing.
- Casanova Wannabe: This is arguably one of Gus' biggest flaws. He has been known to hit on women pretty often. The real problem is that it impairs his judgment and decision-making. The first major example was with his former wife Mira (whom he met and married during Spring Break as a college student). This has also been exploited as seen in "Last Night Gus." This is the usual time where Shawn must play straight man and explains why Shawn is cautious when it comes to Gus and woman related to cases; the behavior seems to have stopped since Guster got his first real girlfriend.
- In "High Top Fade Out," Gus' former bandmates comment that he 'would always sell out his boys for some woman.'
- Ironically, Gus was once a Girls Have Cooties sort of kid (Henry commenting that Gus cried when a girl touched his elbow at 12.)
- Catch-Phrase: Like Shawn, Gus also has a few.
- "You hear about Pluto? That's messed up, right?"
- "You must be out of your damn mind!"
- "I hear that."
- "Suck it!"
- "You know that's right."
- Childhood Friends: With Shawn. They've been best friends since childhood.
- Cowardly Sidekick: He usually screams and runs away when he and Shawn find a corpse.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Related to his Casanova Wannabe status, this was exploited in "Last Night Gus" and it's this flaw that forces Shawn to play straight man several times.
- Distressed Dude: Alongside Shawn in some of the case wrap ups, though Shawn's had to pull him out of the fire a couple of times.
- The Drag-Along: Reluctantly goes along with Shawn's wild plans, but will make sarcastic comments about how dangerous or stupid Shawn's ideas is.
- Genre Savvy: Usually Lampshaded by his catchphrase "You must be outta your damn mind".
- Grammar Nazi: In "Disco Didn't Die. It Was Murdered!", Gus says "Now, that's the one that bothers me. Why do people say, 'I could care less' when they really mean, 'I couldn't care less?" This characteristic is also displayed in other instances throughout the series.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Very much so with Shawn.
- Inelegant Blubbering: When provoked to tears, he is not a graceful weeper.
- Interdisciplinary Sleuth: Gus's day job as a pharmaceutical rep occasionally helps solve the Mystery of the Week. He also has various dorky and esoteric interests (such as, in "Speak Now And Forever Hold Your Piece", his interest in safes) that at times come in handy.
- Last-Name Basis: The nickname "Gus" is derivative of his last name, and those that don't use it refer to him as Guster.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: A sentiment shared with his family.
- The Nose Knows: He has a very keen sense of smell. He calls his nose the Super Sniffer
- Not Good with People: In contrast to Shawn, he makes people uncomfortable while going undercover. Ironically, he's a Pharmaceutical sales representative where he has exceptional people skills.
- That said, it's been shown that he has made a lot of friends other than Shawn and is part of a few social communities. While Shawn is better at sweet-talking his way in and out of a situation, he's hardly ever shown with other friends.
- Only Sane Man: At least when compared to Shawn, though there are times it has switched, usually when Gus is distracted by a woman or swept up in a seeming supernatural case.
- Pluto Is Expendable: His standard pick-up line is "Have you heard about Pluto? That's messed up right?" referencing Pluto being declassified as a planet.
- Private Detective: Usually juggles this job with his other job as a pharmaceutical rep.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Blue Oni to Shawn's Red Oni, being smarter and coherent and (occasionally) less childish.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: whenever faced with the killer of the week.
- Secret Keeper: To Shawn.
- The Smart Guy: Provides much of the book smart knowledge that Shawn needs, particularly in regards to pharmaceuticals, law, the business world, and spelling.
- The Straight Man: Played straight in most episodes. However, the title goes to Shawn when Gus is under the belief of supernatural cases or distracted by women.
- Took a Level in Badass: Well not "badass," but Gus manages to pull off a Shawn style "cover" on his own in the season 5 opener.
- Vomiting Cop: Usually mentioned at a crime scene or at the autopsy.
- The Watson: Rarely takes lead in a case.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He scares easily but he does not want to be near corpses. Mummies and ghosts are even worse.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl
- Wrestler in All of Us: Uses a camel clutch and a fail tombstone on Shawn at one point.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: His train of thought has him think he's the cool and calm-headed lead of a show where he is dragged into antics by his zany best friend, not grasping he's actually the sidekick/partner to Shawn.
Played by: Corbin Bernsen
- Amicable Exes: With Shawn's mother.
- Control Freak: Not just with Shawn, he once drove Lassiter to frustration critiquing his fishing technique. A psychologist who was sent to talk to Shawn actually said he was there for Henry for his control issues.
- Crazy-Prepared: What drove him to prepare Shawn for police work.
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: He starts out the series retired and it's implied that he becomes more and more bored during that time. Best seen in the episode with Father Westley, where he actually gets hooked into playing a cop game on Shawn's Xbox to deal with his ennui. It's implied this is a reason why he joins back as a consulting manager (while also to keep an eye on Shawn and Gus.)
- Expy: While Shawn can be seen as an expy of Sherlock Holmes, his father can be scene as one of Holmes' older brother, Mycroft Holmes.
- Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Has hair in all the flashbacks. Doesn't in the present.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He does genuinely love Shawn and is committed to doing the right thing, but he can be cold, distant, unyielding and very hard to please. Between that and his Sink-or-Swim Mentor tendencies, it's not hard to see why Shawn grew up equally resenting and trying to please him. The divorce between him and his wife was just what finally caused all the issues to boil out.
- The Mentor: To Shawn, both as he was growing up and in his career as a "psychic" detective. He even gave advice to Gus on several occasions.
- Not So Different: Lassiter for one thinks the Spencers, father and son, are pretty much one and the same person.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: When put in charge of hiring consultants for the SBPD, though this is downplayed.
- Papa Wolf: Played with, he cares for Shawn deeply when Shawn isn't costing Henry too much money. However, when the matter is personal, this trope comes into full effect. The most well-known example was during the Yin-Yang trilogy when he was against Shawn facing Mr. Yang and then coming to assist with Mr. Yin.
- Also in "Shawn Takes a Shot" - Henry easily showed more fear and concern than any of the other characters, including Gus. "If Shawn has been shot, there's no room I won't bust open to find my son!"
- Real Men Wear Pink: Believes he qualifies for this, such as when Shawn gives him crap about taking a bubble bath and trying to take care of his hygiene. He claims that John Wayne took baths as a defense.
- Retired Badass: Starts out as such in the series before becoming hired by the SBPD once more. He was offered to go back ito full-time duty, but given the case saw him learn his team was corrupt, it sucked the wind out of his sails.
- Retirony: As of the season six finale, as he retires once more out of police life when working on a last case. Subverted, he survives it.
- The Scapegoat: Henry took the blame for his divorce so Shawn wouldn't resent his mother. This did cause Shawn's bottled up resentment of his dad to spill into the open and have him openly rebel against the path his dad was guiding him in life.
- Secret Keeper: The only person other than Gus to know Shawn's secret.
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: To teach his son to escape a locked trunk, he actually locked him in a trunk. Somewhat justified as Henry's police work made him Properly Paranoid about the dangers a young boy could get into.
- Tough Love: He was pretty rough on Shawn, bur everything he did
Detective Carlton Lassiter
- "Unlike everyone else around here, I'm not fooled by the fact that you wear grownup clothes, have mastered the rudimentary levels of communication, and somehow manage to feed yourselves. I see you for what you are: children. So do me a favor and let the grownups do their work."
Played by: Timothy Omundson
- Adorkable: He had some moments that could be called this before, but any moment he's on screen with Marlowe makes it unquestionable.
- Amazon Chaser: In a way. He and Marlowe originally connected over their shared loneliness, protectiveness of others, and love of Clint Eastwood. Then, Marlowe punched him to help him out with a case, and he was so adorably grateful. In a later episode, she escaped from some men who kidnapped her, and thinking he might be one of the kidnappers, punched him again when he showed up to rescue her. He happily bragged their children would be SEAL Team 6 members.
- Agent Scully: Initially the most vocal opponent of using a psychic in policework, as he (rightly) believes Shawn is a phony.
- The Big Guy: When compared to the rest of the main cast.
- Butt-Monkey: Shawn, and occasionally other officers, enjoy teasing him. For example, one Christmas, everyone gifted him snow globes, being aware he has a hate and fear of them.
- The Comically Serious: Part of what makes him so lovable is that his stoicism, grumpiness and humourlessness is often played for laughs (or at least is often used to make him the butt of the joke).
- Control Freak: This is connected to his ego.
- Crazy-Prepared: He keeps guns everywhere in his house, including in a bowl of almonds. And that's just the start.
- Flanderization: Definitely a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, but he does go through this over time.
- Foot-Dragging Divorcee: Lassiter was in denial about his separation from his wife, and thought they were getting back together when she asked for dinner at their first-date restaurant. She confronted him with divorce papers and he gave a long, foot-dragging speech, but eventually admits he was aware he'd never been good for her. Having gotten that off his chest, he immediately signs the papers.
- Foil: To Shawn.
- Grumpy Bear: In the (usually) light-hearted show about a flippant and immature guy who takes almost nothing seriously pretending to be a psychic, with everyone around him either falling for it or implicitly just deciding to shrug their shoulders and go along with it, Lassiter can usually be counted on to grumpily complain about the flippant and immature guy who takes almost nothing seriously pretending to be a psychic and how everyone either falls for it or just implicitly decides to shrug their shoulders and go along with it.
- Has Two Mommies: Both parents walk him down the aisle.
- Happily Married: As of season seven's "Deez Nups".
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Threatens Shawn concerning him dating Juliet and to prove his point he revealed that he connected himself to the polygraph machine.
- Inspector Lestrade: Played With. He is actually a very competent and skilled detective, deserving of his title as Head Detective and usually can keep up with Shawn. However, his deductive reasoning and investigation skills are impeded due to his attitude, personality and approach:
- He has a rigid and inflexible perspective. He's admitted on not being able to function without the facts. He usually refuses to go on hunches or instinct, unlike Henry and Shawn. A good example is in the episode "Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Episode," where he had a hunch telling him the shark was set up. However, public pressure and his ego made him retract the statement, despite ultimately being right (Shawn lampshades this near the end when he and Gus solve the case.) The comparison of this to the Spencers was seen in "Nip and Suck It," where he bashes Henry and Shawn's feeling on the suspect's innocence (of course they end up being right). Interestingly enough, in the Season 1 episode, "From the Earth to the Starbucks," his hunch on the suspect being murdered is right (although Shawn had to secretly help him get the evidence he needs, in order to build up his confidence.)
- Furthermore, he tends to go toward the simplest solution and not consider alternate possibilities. When his younger sister came to visit, she pointed out that Lassiter tends to ignore ideas or hunches that aren't his. His ego in his competency means that he refuses to look foolish, which is why he goes with the simplest solutions and why he doesn't go on his hunches or whims a lot (or those of his colleagues for that matter).
- Lastly, his mild misanthropy makes him suspect the wrong people and his tendencies as a jerk influence his reasoning decisions quite a bit. Juliet points that she was disturbed by him and his theory (and him again) in regards that an older woman killed off her rich husband to date a younger man and killed him too when he supposedly realized this. He was of course wrong and serves as an example of his negative attitude and perspective hindering him several times.
- Jerkass:Has a large ego and few social skills, coupled with his mild misanthropic moments and serious demeanor along with being ungrateful, especially to Shawn and Gus.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's hard on everyone, including himself. However, he's pretty nice when he wants to be and when the chips are down, he shows he cares about his friends and loved ones.
- Jerkass Has a Point: In fairness, while he's not exactly tactful about it he's not wrong that Shawn is both (a) not a psychic and (b) very immature and flippant.
- Last-Name Basis: Usually called 'Lassie'.
- He also usually refers to everyone by their last name. Which causes some confusion when he's around both Shawn and Henry seeing as the two are father and son.
- Let's Get Dangerous!:: While he is usually inept and awkward with social interactions, he jumps at the chance to do field work, and is frequently successful at it.
- Noodle Incident: The specific circumstances behind the Great Secret Santa Debacle of 2005 that Chief Vick tries to use to convince Juliet not to try and throw a birthday surprise for him.
- No Social Skills: He once gave Jules a friendly speech about how other people were only sources of misery to be avoided at all costs-and he meant every word of it, thinking it would actually help her.
- The Rival: To Shawn.
- Supporting Leader: Sometimes. Being Head Detective makes him the highest ranking member of the team (excluding Chief Vick). This means he technically should be in charge and everyone should be reporting to him. But more often than not, everyone disobeys him, goes behind his back, and then just go over his head to Chief Vick so he can't really enforce his authority.
- Took a Level in Badass: In season 1, Shawn needed to set up Lassiter solving a case to boost his confidence. By season 5, he's had many notable moments of awesome and can outpace Shawn for the majority of an episode. Possibled Justified in that his issues (mainly his divorce from his ex-wife) were impeding him; especially in the Season 1 episode, where it's outright stated that Lassiter's confidence has been badly damaged due to his personal issues.
- Trigger Happy: So much so that the department eventually had to send him to a psychiatrist (Shawn's mother). Internal Affairs also has quite the file on him.
- Unknown Rival: He spent years using his free time hunting down Pierre Despereaux, convinced they were in a grand cat-and-mouse game and considered Pierre his top rival. Naturally, he was stunned when, upon meeting, Pierre revealed he had no idea who Lassiter was.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: He and Shawn may snipe at each other a lot, but when push comes to shove they do respect each other and are willing to rely on each other if they're forced to.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He is afraid of snowglobes, related to nightmares of being trapped in a dome with burning snow melting his flesh. Shawn doesn't hesitate to exploit this during "Gus' Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy".
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Tries too often to play cases either as simple affairs that aren't or massive conspiracies when they really are as open and shut as they seem. It's a big part in why he's an Inspector Lestrade.
Detective Juliet O'Hara
"Honesty is everything to me, Shawn. It's the only thing."
Played by: Maggie Lawson
- Action Girl: She doesn't always get to show her chops, because Lassiter is so action-happy, but when she does she kicks ass.
- Adorkable: Whenever she has a nice moment with Shawn, she is pure this.
- Bad "Bad Acting": When Lassiter's sister was filming a case, Juliet hit this hard.
- Badass Adorable: People can't hate her; she claims to get Christmas cards from people she arrests. She can also hold her own in the notoriously harsh sport of the Roller Derby.
- Becoming the Mask: Juliet runs into this problem when going undercover. Played for Laughs when she gets into too much character when helping Shawn and Gus on how to dance.
- Berserk Button: Her main one is lying to her, due to her father being a bit of a con man. She was also furious when Shawn accused her brother even though he was ultimately proven to be right, much to the sorrow of both Shawn and Juliet
- Character Development: In the first few seasons, she develops from a wide-eyed, perky and almost Girl Friday-esque attache to Lassiter to a sharp and levelheaded (if not the Only Sane Man) officer in her own right as she gains more experience.
- The Chick: She's pretty darn girly, but see Action Girl above and Cute Bruiser below.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: A mild example, she never seems comfortable when another girl is interested in Shawn by season 3 (though Shawn also acts the same).
- Cute Bruiser: She's the tiniest of the main cast, but must know muay thai or krav maga or something.
- Declaration of Protection: To Shawn during the season 5 finale.
- Dirty Cop: While she is a fundamentally good, honest person, "Psych: The Movie" reveals that she has occasionally Framed The Guilty Party and broken protocol to catch the bad guys. The manifesto spelling out her crimes (the truth of which she confirms to Shaun) include things like "Illegal search" and "Planted weapon."
- Disappeared Dad: As her father was a con man. When we see him (played by William Shatner no less), he points out several of her childhood moments in vivid details. He confesses that he was there, but did not reveal himself after seeing her step-dad make a good home for him and out of fear she was ashamed of him.
- Face Death with Dignity: When Yin was going to have her fall off a clock tower, instead of freaking out. She just keeps quiet and closes her eyes. Luckily Gus and Lassiter save her
- Facial Dialogue: Displays this on many occasions, usually in the form of funny expressions whenever Shawn or Gus make asinine comments.
- Fair Cop: And without being stripperific! There's a reason Lawson and Roday have been going out since day one. Well, probably like a dozen reasons, but this is one of them.
- Hypocrite: When she discovered that Shawn wasn't psychic, she told him that "honesty is the only thing that matters," and briefly ended their relationship. The Movie later reveals that she's been engaging in unethical behavior on the job to close difficult cases, the very thing she condemned Shawn for.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: In the Tuesday the Seventeenth episode. She shoots the bad guy in the hand, disarming him.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: A non-romantic example, in 1967: A Psych Odyssey. She decides to join Karen in San Francisco so Lassiter will take the chief job
- Master of the Mixed Message: She, herself lampshades this in the season 3 finale.
- Mistaken for Gay: She tried to be nice to a new girl on the force. It ended with said girl suing Juliet for sexual harassment.
- More Hero Than Thou: When Yin has kidnapped both her and Abigail and forces Shawn to choice between the two of them. Juliet tells Shawn to rescue Abigail before the loss of connection.
- Naďve Newcomer: When we met her in the second episode, Shawn noticed she had trouble drawing her gun. She grew out of it.
- Nice Girl: She is kind, polite and sensitive.
- Official Couple: She and Shawn get engaged in the last episode
- Only Sane Man: Sometimes, but notably in "This Episode Sucks:" While the rest of the cast is convinced that they are hunting a vampire, she doesn't buy it. The subversion would be that she may be the only member of the main cast to genuinely buy into Shawn's psychic powers. Though Shawn eventually tells her the truth.
- Platonic Life-Partners: She and Lassiter become this.
- Plucky Girl: Although the first meeting with Yin traumatized her for a while. She picked herself up.
- Scotireland: Despite the Irish last name she's actually Scottish, with the family hailing from Inverness.
- Second Episode Introduction: Is brought in when Lassie's old partner is relocated because Shawn outed their affair.
- Secret Keeper: As of Season 7.
- Took a Level in Badass: When she started she was new. As we know, she is pretty badass.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: When her father started missing her birthdays all the time, she eventually stopped waiting for him to come.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: SO much between her and Shawn.
Chief Karen Vick
Played by: Kirsten Nelson
- Da Chief: Until season 7, and the end of season 8
- Reasonable Authority Figure: She'd have to be to deal with Shawn and Gus. She's not only very accepting of their eccentricities, she's also totally fine with following up on seemingly vague hunches and wild tangents if it
- Not So Above It All: Constantly. Especially in the earlier seasons, the show had her appear just as much as a friendly, human character with her own quirks as she did as the hardlined chief.
- Pregnant Badass: Early in season 1, she entered a hostage situation, and held a perp at gunpoint, while pregnant.
- Screaming Birth: Averted, when she gives birth over the course of several hours, without screaming, on a properly angled table.
- Secret Secret-Keeper: It's been implied a few times she may know more than she lets on, and just doesn't say anything so Shawn's cases won't get thrown out.
- Sibling Rivalry: Has this with her sister, a member of the Coast Guard. They even fight over Shawn in her debut episode though they do patch things up.
Santa Barbara Police Department
Officer/ Junior Detective Buzz McNab
Played by: Sage Brocklebank
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He has an extraordinarily happy attitude to his work, and has remained a loyal officer throughout the series.
- Fair Cop: In "Deez Nups", it was revealed that McNab is working as a stripper at a hotel so he can have extra money to buy himself and his wife a new condo. In No Trout About It, interim SBPD Chief Harris Trout fired McNab after he heard about his job as a stripper. When Trout is ousted out and Lassiter is restored to head detective, one of the first things he does is rehire McNab.
- Happily Married
- Meaningful Name: Debatable whether he’s lived up to it or not, but one has to wonder about a cop named McNab
- Nice Guy: To paraphrase:McNab: “I’m sorry Shawn, here I am going on about being blown up and here you are dying of thirst.”
Dr. Woodrow Strode
Played by: Kurt Fuller
- Ambiguously Bi
- Autopsy Snack Time: Probably more due to being a Cloudcuckoolander than being jaded.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Despite being more than a little crazy, he is good at his job.
- Cannot Keep a Secret: By his own admission in "Office Space"
- Cloudcuckoolander: He does things most coroners wouldn't dare to do, such as eating during an autopsy and being somewhat irresponsible with the bodies, but is good enough at his job to keep his bosses happy.
- Creepy Mortician(To Shawn): "I'd be honored to saw through your chest and remove your good-natured heart from its cavity."
- Fake Guest Star: He appeared in far more episodes in the final season than Chief Vick or Juliet, but was still billed as a guest star while they were in the main credits.
- Furry Fandom: At least according to his choice of websites and the furry head he left in the morgue.
- Genius Ditz: His status as a Cloudcuckoolander is undeniable... but he is a mortician, which requires some intelligence.
- Kavorka Man: Apparently he is a demon in the sack and has seduced any number of wildly differing women.
- Noodle Incident: When Lassie's sister starts recording the police procedure for a case, Woody expresses some concern that it might air in the Philippines. And then starts trying to distort his voice for legal reasons.
- In the episode "Last Night Gus," he awoke to white powder on his mouth (assuming it to be cocaine when it was actually powdered sugar), he asked if there was a small Colombian with a hook for a hand.
- In the same episode where he, Lassiter, Shawn and Gus tested their urine for drugs, Woody first points out that he didn't know peyote (a cactus native to southwest Texas and Mexico with hallucinogenic properties) remained in the system for that long (implying he may have been a teenager or near the age when took it), blaming himself and his "then-girlfriend, Lollipop."
Head Detective Betsy Brannigan
Played by: Mira Sorvino
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: She is very competant as her job, being able to keep up with Shawn, but she is also very bubbly and loves crafting. Her second episode even had her knitting on the job (something for her young nephew specifically.) She also likes to roll with Shawn and Gus' antics.
- 11th-Hour Ranger: Besty is forcibly hired by Lassiter as the new Head Detective in the final season and only shown in the last three episodes.
- Girly Bruiser: Downplayed exmaple and one all grown up no less. While she does display a very bubbly personality and indulges in things like scrapbooking, making crafts and knitting, she is also as ruthless, persistant and threatening as Lassiter can be and once even nabbed the perp before Shawn (though Shawn was distracted by Gus' recent issues.)
- I Work Alone: A variation. She is perfectly all right with working with Gus and Shawn and treats them amicably, but she insists on working without a partner. Ironically enough, Lassiter of all people is the one to convince her to get a partner, showing the Character Development he has gotten with Jules. She decides to do so... choosing Mc Nab much to everyone's surprise.
- Not So Different: To Lassiter. While her initially bubbly and adorable personality is surprising, turns out she is also as ruthless and capable as Lassiter is, with Shawn even commenting on her being a female Lassiter. They even prefer the same sort of handgun.
- Also to Mc Nab in that they are both very friendly and happy attitudes in ther work, making them standout. Might explain why she chose him to be her partner.
Played by: Kristy Swanson
- Commuting on a Bus: In her first episode, she was sent to prison and afterwards was only shown when Lassiter visited her.
- Femme Fatale: Appears to be one to Lassiter at first, acting mysterious and flirty with a hint of danger and implied connection to a murder. Then he tracks her down at her house to make sure she's not a criminal and the facade breaks down.
- Happily Married: to Carlton Lassiter.
- Screaming Birth: Played straight, in the back of a food truck of all places.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: With Lassiter.
Played by: Ally Sheedy
- Affably Evil: Genuinely likes Shawn and later tells him not to feel bad for Mary's death.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Gives off this vibe in brighter moments, especially when it's revealed she's not quite as Ax Crazy as initially believed.
- Criminal Mind Games: Deeply enjoys challenging opponents with long strings of riddles and clues - the price for failure being the death of whichever victim held hostage. This seems to extend even to being a personal obsession as she prefer to speak to Shawn in riddles and obscure clues for fun even when genuinely trying to help him save someone she was relatively close to in "Psych: The Musical," and in situations where being clear would be more helpful to her in general.
- Depraved Bisexual: Implied, hitting on both men and women. Though she's not quite depraved so much as severely troubled.
- Daddy's Little Villain: But ultimately subverted. Not only does she save Shawn and Gus from her father, but it's also implied some, if not all the murders attributed to her were done by Yin. Nevertheless she still believes that she could have done more to stop her father.
- Evil Counterpart: To Shawn. Both have a tendency to snark, flirt, and act childishly, and both have a complicated relationship with their fathers who raised them to follow in their footsteps.Shawn: He raised you. You never had a chance.
- Freudian Excuse: Was raised by a murderous sociopath.
- Heel–Face Turn: Saves Shawn and Gus from her father in her third appearance.
- Killed Off for Real: Dies from a knife wound in "Psych: The Musical". As per her request, her ashes are released over her Chief Psychiatrist's car.
- Knight of Cerebus: Every appearance is marked by a massive shift in tone towards the darker side.
- Self-Made Orphan: Ended up killing said sociopath.
- Trickster Mentor: An interpretation of her actions post-Heel–Face Turn. It's more of a hassle for everyone and generally portrayed as another part of her instabilities.
Played by: Christopher Turner and Peter Weller
- Abusive Parent: He's Yang's father.
- Contractual Genre Blindness: Is able to be stalled after his prize victim insists on a Just Between You and Me speech, pointing out that it's in his nature to do so, otherwise he wouldn't be satisfied.
- Criminal Mind Games: Same as Yang, though his methods are different (despite being implied to have actually done all of Yang's crimes) - he prefers to fool adversaries into walking into deadly traps and sadistic choices, rather than focus primarily on the chains of clues themselves.
- Evil Counterpart: To Henry.
- Evil Is Petty: Hates Shawn for turning Yang against him, even though by his own admission he never cared for them (it's more "how dare you take my tool away from me".)
- Evil Old Folks: Fairly odd and pretty evil.
- Faux Affably Evil: When he and Shawn come face to face in their final confrontation. Hes pretty polite but thats a facade for the psycho he is.
- Final Boss: Of Season 4 and Season 5 (Season 4 technically ends in a draw)
- For the Evulz: He admitts that there's no reason that he kills people other he wants to and could could been perfectly normal if he wanted to.
- It's All About Me: Utterly selfish to the point of even raising his won daughter to be a tool in his murder spree.
- Killed Off for Real: Rather than being taken in alive like Yang.
- Knight of Cerebus: Like Mr. Yang, the show gets much darker when he makes appearances. Also one of the few villains Shawn is genuinely scared of.
- The Sociopath: Doesnt even care about his own daughter.
Played by: Cary Elwes
- The Ace: Makes himself appear to be a master thief who can pull of any heist, do anything and get anywhere he wants to whenever, wherever. In his first appearance, it's an act. In his later appearances, it's genuine.
- Affably Evil: Pleasant, friendly, polite and an actually fairly nice guy when he's not playing you for a fool or robbing you blind. Most of the time, he even treats our heroes like friends - even when they're supposed to be hunting him down.
- Becoming the Mask: The last episode he was in revealed that he is actually a government agent who once held a desk job. However, he was chosen to go undercover as a criminal to be able to catch the bad guys easier. While he has proven very effective, it's implied that he may have committed legitimate crimes during his time as Pierre.
- The ending of the episode, however, leaves it ambiguous as to whether he was ever really an agent or if this too was simply a very elaborate ruse.
- Broken Pedestal: After Shawn deduces that he's a fraudster rather than a thief, he's very disappointed. Surprisingly enough, this actually inspires him to become a real thief.
- Even Evil Has Standards: He hates killing, and even mentions to Gus that if he were to attack him or Shawn he would so as painlessly as possible with minimal lasting damage. As it is, he tends to limit dealing with his enemies to merely humiliating them.
- Evil Is Cool: In universe - Shawn thinks Despereaux, as a real life gentleman thief, is one of the coolest people he's ever met. Despereaux is surprisingly appreciative of that.
- Friendly Enemy: He and Shawn are very close, much to Gus' chagrin. They even send each other birthday presents.
- Gentleman Thief: Though in his first appearance it's mostly an act, he does become a more traditional one in his subsequent appearances.
- Manipulative Bastard: Easily uses Shawn and Gus as patsies in some way or another in every appearance he has, and tends to do so with his enemies in general. When the tables gets turned on him, he's remarkably surprised."I'm the pawn? I can't be the pawn!"
- Smug Snake: Never loses the smug smile and the vaguely condescending friendliness. See Affably Evil.
- Worthy Opponent: Considers Shawn to be one, and actually invites Shawn to try and solve his crimes because of it.
- Played with in how Lassiter is convinced he's Pierre's arch-rival as he's been hunting the man down for years. However, when they finally meet, Pierre reveals he has no idea who Lassiter is.
Played by: Jimmi Simpson
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Despite being pretty creepy and strange, he was quite useful in the episodes he appeared and Juliet even called him a genius.
- Creepy Good: No doubt one of the good guys, but has plenty of bizarre habits and strange mannerisms that creep people out.
- Friendless Background: When Shawn and Gus attend his funeral, his mother is the only other person to show up.
- Gender-Blender Name: Like his father and grandfather before him.
- Killed Off for Real: By Mr Yin.
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: He's one of the good guys, but his utter lack of social skills and very intense personality make the other characters very suspicious of him. He even has the dark, creepy, poorly-kept house to go along with the trope. Unfortunately, by the time his heart of gold is discovered, it's too late.
- Psychopomp: After Yang's death, Mary appears as an angel to escort her to the afterlife. Which afterlife this is isn't entirely clear.
- Red Herring: Shawn suspects on two events Mary is the killer. With Mr. Yang, it was Played for Laughs while he was serious with Mr. Yin, especially when Shawn and Gus investigate his house. He was actually tracing the killer on his own and ended up dying trying to confront Mr. Yin
- Trademark Favorite Food: Canned sardines with olive oil. When Shawn and Gus enter his house, his sink has a lot of opened cans along with some unopened ones.
Father Peter Westley
Played by: Ray WiseA Catholic priest that Shawn and Gus knew since when they were young. Became involved in their lives again when he returns to Santa Barbara just in time to get involved in a murder / exorcism case.
- Badass Preacher: Was well-known before his return for performing exorcisms. In his second appearance he saves both Shawn and Gus from a burning building. Made more awesome because Shawn and Gus were in another town and the only reason Wesley knows to look for them is the hint of a two-rider bike.
- Confess in Confidence: Shawn has his first confession in over fifteen years and uses it to promote a jingle he's working on. Father Westley takes it in relative stride.
- Hollywood Exorcism: Performs one on a girl he believes to be possessed She's covering up her accidental murder of a fellow Catholic schoolgirl.
Played by: Nestor CarbonellA criminal profiler who uses psychology to solve cases. He made investments after the housing crisis which made him a multi-millionaire. He's developed his skills by studying and reading but lies about his credentials because he was bored and thought profiling looked fun.
- Foil: To Shawn. Is lying about his abilities but uses profiling instead of psychic visions. Is more than a little narcissistic, if the giant painting of himself over his fireplace is any indication. Also becomes romantically interested in Juliet but unlike Shawn, comes clean about his past.
- Non-Idle Rich: He does criminal profiling for fun.
- Spoiled Sweet: He's rich and more than a little self-absorbed but is perfectly willing to help Shawn and Gus investigate and use his resources to solve a case.
- Put on a Bus: Doesn't last very long and last the show mentions, he was going to take Juliet to Barcelona for a vacation.
- Whole Plot Reference: A profiler who works with the police department and is lying about his abilities and is kind of a jerk. Yes, it's basically the main character and Take That! of The Mentalist.
Played by: Curt SmithOne of the members of Tears for Fears, hired on by Declan Rand for private entertainment. And then randomly appears again in later episodes.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: And is an angry morose drunk at that.
- The Chew Toy Gets browbeaten by Declan in his first episode. In his next appearance he's shot and attacked by a wild panther. His third involves him turning into a zombie.
- Character as Himself
Played by: Parminder NagraGus's one and only long-term girlfriend throughout the show starting in Season 6. She turns out to also have a son named Max.
- Genre Savvy: Almost as much as Shawn.
- Love Interest: For Gus.
- Put on a Bus: Needed to go to England for six months. While she's briefly mentioned afterwards, she never comes back. It's implied that she got back together with her ex-husband, Max's father.