Series: Blue Bloods

Think every family in the Crime And Punishment genre is on the bad guys side? What if we reversed the equation? The Reagan family is a cop family, not a robber family. A four-generational family within the New York City Police Department, with a retired Police Commissioner from Ye Goode Olde Days as the great-grandpa, current Police Commissioner Frank Reagan as The Patriarch, his sons who are all cops and his daughter who is a DA. And their children (two of which have declared they are seriously considering joining the NYPD). They live together, quarrel but stick by each other. Because the family that arrests together stays together.

They have different personalities. Grandpa Henry (Len Cariou) is a hardbitten Da Chief from the old days. Frank (Tom Selleck) is an incorruptible patriarch and responsible leader, who knows how to keep peace between his children and how to encourage them without giving undue favoritism. Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is a ruthless but competent homicide/major case detective who always catches the bad guys. Erin (Bridget Moynahan) is a stickler for points of law but she can also manipulate the law to advantage when seeking a conviction. And Jamie (Will Estes) is an idealist who feels a call to serve and protect. They are all loyal to each other and they all serve the cause of keeping order in the city of New York.

Blue Bloods is a CBS Cop Show with Family Drama elements that began airing in the Fall 2010 season. Its episodes typically interweave about three plot threads focusing on different parts of the family. The A-plot is almost always Danny and his current partner in a fairly standard Police Procedural Case of the Week, but the other threads vary widely by episode, from family drama around Erin's and Danny's children to Frank wrestling between his duties as police commissioner and his desire to do right by his family and city, to Jamie's growth and maturation from rookie academy graduate to experienced patrol officer, and eventually training officer in turn to a rookie.

Not to be confused with the aristocracy, whose article is named Blue Blood.

This program provides examples of:

  • 20% More Awesome: Rossellini promising Erin that he'll turn over a new leaf. "I'll change — fifty percent."
  • Aborted Arc: Possibly a case of Real Life Writes the Plot: the end of Season 3, involves Frank working with the NYC Public Advocate, a woman named Grace Newhouse who's thinking of running for Mayor. In fact, in the next episode Mayor Poole is shot, and Ms. Newhouse becomes Acting Mayor until Poole leaves the hospital. Although she's apparently going to run for Mayor, she suffers Chuck Cunningham Syndrome. In Real Life at the time, the NYC Council President Christine Quinn was running to become the first female Mayor of New York, which may have inspired the Grace Newhouse character; during the summer hiatus, she lost ground in the Democratic primary to Bill de Blasio, and lost the race. It's possible that this persuaded the writers to drop the character inspired by her, and/or because they'd realized that David Ramsey's Mayor Carter Poole had become an Ensemble Darkhorse who had an interesting relationship with Frank.
  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Noble Sanfino trying to push some new party drug on Jamie, only to OD himself. He gets revenge by giving his dealer a near-fatal dose of his own product.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Roland Gates outed as an undercover cop.
    Gates: I got two kids, man.
    Shooter: Too bad for 'em.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys:
    • Erin gets weak in the knees when she meets an art aficionado. And she gets even weaker when he turns out to be an art thief who is using a fake alias. Frank is less than thrilled, but Erin tells him to mind his business.
    • Averted with almost every other major female, however. Any woman drawn to Jamie (Sydney, Laura, Bianca) or Frank (Kelly, Melanie) is almost surely not looking for a bad boy, and although Danny might have shades of being a bad boy, Linda clearly appreciates his very real husband / parenting skills.
  • Alternate History: As far as the NYPD is concerned since 9/11 and the War On Terror still happened in the show's universe. The actual NYPD Police Commissioner during the first four seasons of the series was two time appointee Commissioner Raymond Walter Kelly. In 2014, during the show's fifth season, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed former NYPD Commissioner William Bratton to the positionnote . Henry Reagan's tenure of office, stated to have been sometime in the 1970s, would most likely have occurred during the tenure of Commissioner Patrick V. Murphy.
  • Always Gets His Man : Frank and Danny.
  • Amoral Attorney: DA Rossellini has his eyes on the Mayorship, and is happy to manipulate Erin in order to get it. And if the Mayor goes, Erin's father goes.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Frank's Fitz Special revolver, which was handed down from his Grandfather to Henry, and then to him. Danny also uses Henry's old not-quite-authorized / not-quite-legal slapper (essentially a small blackjack).
  • Arranged Marriage: Sammy Khan wasn't shot because of his anti-terror credentials, but because a traditionalist Muslim already had dibs on his wife.
  • Artistic License Law:
    • During the first two seasons, the police cars shown are replicas, bearing the obvious wrong font for the 'NYPD' lettering on the sidenote , and bear a modified NYPD emblem that's also worn on the shoulder patches of replica uniformsnote . This is more noticeable in some episodes where the replica cars appear alongside real-life NYPD police cars. Most of the time the precinct numbers on the real-life cars are not shown, since the NYPD does not allow real-life precinct numbers to be used in movies or TV showsnote . Averted beginning in the first episode of season 3, when the show got the approval to use replica cars with the correct patrol car font and emblems with the correct wording.
    • In several episodes, it is possible to see police cars with forward-facing blue lights. New York state law prohibits facing-forward blue lights on police vehicles.
    • The NYPD Major Case Squad is depicted as operating at precinct level. In reality, its detectives are stationed at One Police Plaza.
    • Danny Reagan's normal on-duty weapon is a Smith & Wesson 5946 pistol, which is within NYPD regulations. However, he has as a backup weapon a Kahr K9 9mm pistol. The Kahr K9 was an approved off-duty/backup weapon from 1998 to 2011. The NYPD had it pulled from service because it could not be modified to a 12-pound NY-2 trigger pull. Meaning, unless Danny got grandfathered in or Frank Reagan's policies differ from those of Raymond Kellynote , Danny would have to turn in his Kahr K9.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: In "Leap of Faith", Danny thinks some small-town detectives could have been more thorough with the investigation of the first late Mrs. Bines.
    Danny: And where was Mister Bines during all this?
    Detective: Oh, right, I forgot to tell you. He was at the arsenic store.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The son of a Russian mob boss is shot at his own engagement party. While cheating on his fiancee in the wine cellar. No great loss.
    • The victims in the above-mentioned "Old Wounds" are rapists.
    • The victim in "Mercy" is revealed to be a pedophile with a taste for Ukrainian hookers.
  • Attempted Rape: In "Justice Served", this almost happens to Jamie's partner, who's reluctant to press charges at first for fear of looking weak in front of the male officers, but he eventually convinces her.
  • Awesome McCool Name: Mobster Johnny Tesla.
  • Bad News, Irrelevant News: Danny and Jackie explain to a perp that the bad news is, they found his gun; he's headed for death row. The good news: they decided to drop the credit fraud charges.
  • Badass Family: Very much so. The best example of this is when Danny's wife is kidnapped by a drug lord: the family bands together and figures out where she is, allowing Danny and ESU to be Big Damn Heroes, and Erin finds the mole in the DA's office. Lampshaded when Danny's son asks fearfully if a burglar could target them.
    Grandpa Henry: Are you kiddin'? He'll get one look at this table and run the other way.
  • Badass Mustache: Probably goes without saying since Frank is played by Tom Selleck.

  • Band of Brothers: Naturally for a cop show. However this is deconstructed in a few episodes that highlight the blue code of silence - to never rat on another cop who is engaged in misconduct. One episode dealt with Jamie temporarily partnering up with such a cop because the rest of the department shunned her for being a "rat" (her partner killed a suspect in custody using an illegal chokehold and she admitted she saw him do it with a little prodding from Frank) and when they were caught up in a shoot out nobody came to be their back up, which results in Jamie giving his whole precinct a deserved What the Hell, Hero? speech. Disturbingly, Henry believes in such behavior saying "cops shouldn't go against other cops" and he was commissioner during the time of the Knapp Commission - aka when the department was it's most crooked (this is the period where renowned NYPD whistleblower Frank Serpico comes from).
  • Batman Gambit: In "Working Girls," Danny and Jackie are protecting a witness who's scheduled to testify against a Russian mobster who's had another witness killed. When a mole in the taskforce compromises their initial hiding place, they hide the witness at Jackie's apartment, without telling anybody this. Danny, unable to find the mole through background checks, decides to sniff out the mole. To do so, he gives the witness's address out to the task force, hoping that the mole will react accordingly by sending hitmen to kill the witness. Sure enough, two hitmen go to the apartment, break down the door, and promptly come face-to-face with an ESU team planted inside, who kill one and capture the other. Danny had deliberately fed the mole (who as it turns out is one of the DEA agents on the taskforce) a false address.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: invoked Danny's reaction to his son asking if he's "sweating" a perp "in the box."
    Jackie: You've been playing those video games again, haven't you?
  • Best Served Cold: The Phantom arriving in town to exact revenge on Task Force Apache, the cadre of cops and informants who sent him to jail.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed:
    • Sonny Malevski tries to take himself hostage. Frank lets him shoot himself.
    • The kidnapper in "My Little Valentine" leaps to his death rather than surrender to police.
    • Billy Flood attempts to draw a sniper's fire in "Critical Condition." Danny thwarts it by pushing him away.
    • The Phantom pulls the old "You Wouldn't Shoot Me" trick. He ends up pancaked on top of a car.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Ironically enough, not Danny, Jamie's actual brother; but Sergeant Renzulli, his training officer.
  • Big "NO!": Danny, when a fellow officer and family friend is shot. ("The Life We Chose")
  • Bittersweet Ending: Innocence. The wrong man was convicted of rape; while he's exonerated 18 years of his life are gone. Meanwhile the real rapist can't be prosecuted due to the 5-year statute of limitations, and has raped again...but this time, he's on Frank's radar.
    I'll be watching you. And so will the thirty five thousand police officers in this city.
  • Black Boss Lady: Danny's new supervisor in season 5.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The undercover cop in "The Life We Chose."
  • Blasting It out of Their Hands: Discussed and mocked after Jamie's first line-of-duty kill (it also turns out to be a Suicide by Cop case). A reporter at a press briefing asks Frank why Jamie shot to kill instead of trying to shoot the gun out of the man's hand. Frank just sort of gives him an exasperated look before explaining that Jamie followed department policy, which is to shoot at the torso and keep shooting until the threat is neutralized, even if the threat dies of his resulting injuries. Then, when the reporter keeps trying to press the issue, Frank shuts him up for good:
    Frank: There's a man in front of you waving a gun in your direction. You have a second to react. What do you do?
    Reporter: Well, first I'd-
    Frank: (interrupts) Too late. You're dead.
  • Bling of War : NYPD uniforms have a party salad of decorations on a plate that also includes their badge. In a small subversion, the most prominent decoration is a simple black bar, with the letters "WTC", awarded to 9/11 first responders.
  • Blood Spattered Innocents: In "Whistle Blower", the titular informant is shot in front of his wife.
    • Inverted when said wife is discovered to have known well in advance that her husband was about to be gunned down, having tipped off the man who hired the hit about her husband's work with the DA's office.
  • Blunt "Yes": A suburban detective, chafing at Danny's questions, receives this response from Danny.
  • Book Dumb: Renzulli. "'Rhetoric?' I'm not familiar with the vernacular."
  • Break the Cutie: Happening to Jamie more and more often.
    • His first kill in the line of duty turned out to be a case of Suicide by Cop.
    • In "The Bitter End," a gang lures him and his partner Vinny into a trap. Vinny is fatally shot and dies in Jamie's arms.
  • By-the-Book Cop:
    • The father, Frank Reagan.
    • Jamie is even more so.
  • California Doubling:
    • Averted. The show is set and filmed on-location in New York City.
    • The pilot had some interior scenes that were shot in Toronto, although exteriors used New York City proper.
  • Call Back: Frank and Jamie's conversation while fishing in Episode 1 of Season 2, a callback to the pilot.
  • The Cameo: Frank grudgingly attending a performance by Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood. (To promote Bennett's second duet album)
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • In "Hall of Mirrors," a woman with OCD is convinced that a prowler keeps nudging her furniture around. It turns out to be her brother, trying to gaslight her to get control of their parents' estate.
    • A literal one in "Leap of Faith," wherein God "speaks" to the sister of the murder victim.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Justified. At least some are after all. They're also Irish.
  • Citizenship Marriage: Reconstructed in "Exiles". Jamie and Eddie get called to deal with a domestic and encounter a Russian-American girl trying to overcome a Parental Marriage Veto from her father so she can marry her Syrian boyfriend. The father thinks it's a sham. In the end he relents, but it turns out he was Right for the Wrong Reasons. The boyfriend is actually gay and his life would be in danger if he returned to Syria (pictures of him partying with other men turned up on Facebook), so he married his platonic friend to get around ICE.
  • Clint Squint: How Danny sizes criminals up.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Jamie's new partner, Luisa Sosa. When facing a guy bigger than her, she doesn't engage in Good Old Fisticuffs like Jamie: she pulls out a collapsible steel baton and hits him. Hard.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Anyone from a civilian to city official who criticizes the police department usually finds there criticisms are unfounded or wrong thanks to Frank.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Jamie is asked by the FBI to spy on a secret society for them that might include Danny.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: In "Family Ties", a Russian gangster blows off a finger injury. "Slammed it in a door."
  • Da Chief:
    • Frank is constantly directing thousands of cops on city-wide manhunts making him a sort of Four-Star Badass Da Chief.
    • Newly promoted Chief Dino Arboghast jumps from OCCB Chief to Chief of Department. (The NYPD is so large -and has so many civilian personnel- that the Chief of Department is in charge of all sworn officers, but still answers to the Commissioner's office)
    • Sidney Gormley runs Danny's department, a job which harries him to no end.
  • Death Seeker: Sergeant Mabrey in "Unsung Heroes". It starts with an incident with a barricaded suspect; in said incident, Mabrey, rather than wait for the ESU team and hostage negotiator (as is NYPD protocol and what Jamie suggests), storms the house and inadvertently endangers the hostage in subduing the hostage-taker. It's quickly clear to Gormley that Mabrey broke protocol, but he becomes more suspicious when 1) he finds that Mabrey never had Jamie disciplined for disobeying a direct order and 2) uncovers evidence that Mabrey has had five similar incidents in the span of a year, like subduing a emotionally distressed person wielding a knife, jumping onto the subway tracks after an intoxicated passenger, and responding to an armed robbery outside of his precinct's service area. When confronted about this, Mabrey admits that he is dying from pancreatic cancer. He's trying to get himself killed in the line of duty (with only ten years on the job, his family won't get the health benefits if he dies of natural causes, but they'll collect on his life insurance if he dies in a line of duty incident).
  • Dinner and a Show: What the family meals sometimes turn into.
  • Dirty Cop: Danny discovers that one of the would-be bank robbers is an ex-cop, Billy Flood.
  • Dirty Harriet: One episode has Jackie going undercover to catch a killer with a predilection for webgirls.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: Danny gets competitive with another parent (a firefighter) at his son's school.
    Father: Cop, huh? I bet your dad likes donuts.
    Sean: He LOVES donuts!
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: When Jamie rescues a baby from a burning building, Renzulli is hailed as the hero to protect the undercover sting that Jamie is engaged in. Played with a little: Frank gives Jamie the medal he deserves privately later.
  • Engineered Public Confession: The killer in "Hall of Mirrors." One wiretap later, and he's toast.
  • Enlightened Self-Interest/Pragmatic Villainy: In "Officer Down" The Mafia helps out in hunting down the Cop Killers. Henry notes that when he was on the force the Five Families had explicit rules that cops were off limits because dead cops are even worse for business than live ones.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The theme of the episode Brothers.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: According to Henry, in the good old days even mobsters would help in the hunt for cop killers. For pragmatic reasons, though: Dead cops cause more problems for the Mafia than live ones ever will, since killing cops is a surefire way to set the entire police force on the warpath.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: While Reverend Potter may not be "evil" per se, he has a very sinister side and often works against the NYPD. In their meetings, it's quite obvious that Potter simply refuses to believe Frank truly puts the people of New York first and isn't a bigot who will always cover police corruption or undue force, thinking Frank must be playing politics when in truth he hates that trend to the core.
  • Evil Matriarch:
    • The murder in "Family Ties" was a coordinated hit by the bride-to-be's mother. Having married into the Mafiya, she wanted her daughter to have no part of it.
    • A gang banger's mom in "The Life We Chose."
    Ms. Hernandez: [to Danny] Some cops got shot? Too bad. What you call — "hazards of the occupation"?
  • External Combustion: The fate of a Russian florist who knew too much.
  • Fake Guest Star: Gregory Jbara as Garrett Moore. He's in pretty much every episode, and often gets more screen time than some of the main cast.
  • False Flag Operation: Reverend Potter had one of his friends call in a fake armed robbery at his church and had his men assault the two responding officers to make it look like the police were racist and attacking his church as revenge for his constant bashing of them.
  • Fanservice with a Smile: In her teens, Erin worked as a roller-bunny at a cocktail bar (specifically Roxy's). Frank was apparently aware of it (his mustache twitches in amusement at the memory) but he let it slide.
  • A Father to His Men : Do you have to ask?
    Frank: 271 line of duty deaths since I joined the force.
  • Fence Painting: In "The Uniform," Jamie is stuck doing this to pay for his student loans. Renzulli gamely grabs a brush to help him. "I don't see enough of your mug already?"
  • Food Slap: Danny gets a Caesar salad to the face while cornering a perp at his day job — a short order kitchen.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Danny once has a gangster he helped put away for a double homicide go free because his then-partner faked blood evidence. Danny scrambles to find new evidence to re-convict, culminating in the old partner scaring a witness into testifying after Danny can't talk him into it. Danny can't bring himself to use the coerced testimony, so the con goes free.
  • Friendly Enemy:
  • From the Mouths of Babes: What the Reagan children are for.
  • The Fundamentalist: The culprits in "Lonely Hearts Club", who are actually the mother and sibling of one of the victims, who were interviewed at the start.
    • Though from the way they acted, the son seemed have talked his mother into it, and he seemed to be in it For the Evulz.
  • Gentleman Thief: Jacob Krystal, though he claims to be liberating stolen art.
  • Get Out: Guilt-stricken Erin tries to pays a call to her informant's widow, and is sent packing. Rather than feel even guiltier, Erin zeroes in on the wife's total lack of interest in the case.
  • Giving Them the Strip: Chasing a suspect who dives into a waiting car, Danny gets his raincoat caught in the slamming car door. The suspect and accomplice start driving away, dragging Danny along with them; unable to keep up running for more than a few seconds, Danny struggles out of his coat just in time.
  • Going Commando: Linda in "Night on the Town", revealed when her dress hits the floor.
  • The Good Chancellor: Frank Reagan is this in spades, behaving like an idealized Roman magistrate. He is completely incorruptible, loyal to his position, and never plays favorites even when it comes to his own family.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Danny and Jackie lampshade this in "The Life We Chose".
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns: An Uzi-toting biker performing a drive-by in "Hall of Mirrors."
  • Groin Kick: Danny gets grouchy when he has to chase people.
    Joey Sava: What're you gonna do?
    Danny: What am I gonna do? This. [POW]
  • Guile Hero:
    • If Frank can't shoot them himself or put other cops in a position to shoot them, he's perfectly willing to outwit the bad guys instead. He even ran The Plan on a foreign ambassador whose son was a rapist in "Privilege".
    • Both Danny and Erin have a little bit of this in them too.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: A smug rapist who got off scot-free, and isn't shy about voicing his gender political views. After a heated meeting with Erin, he intones, "She lies. They all lie."
  • Hello, Attorney!: Erin Reagan-Boyle. And Charles Rossellini, to be honest (hey, it's Bobby Cannavale).
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Poor Henry is hit with one on Thanksgiving. You think that's going to stop Henry Reagan from having dinner with his family? Ha!
  • Hollywood Law:
    • In "To Tell the Truth", Danny and Erin have difficulty convincing an eyewitness to testify against a gangster. To remedy this, the cops leak his location to the underworld, then wait for the gangsters to strike before swooping in to "rescue" him.
    • In "Critical Condition", Jamie and his new partner, Sosa, stake out a park bench and wait for someone to take a bag of stolen goods left there as bait. Jamie squirms over what he views as "borderline entrapment." It would only qualify as borderline entrapment if they convinced someone to take the bag—just leaving it out there is completely legal. To be fair, this is Jamie's personal opinion that we're talking about: it's legal but it may or may not be strictly nice.
    • In "Old Wounds", Erin Reagan prosecutes a case where her ex-husband is the defense attorney, with no one raising any concern over just how much conflict of interest there is at hand. This also happens in other episodes, all without any comment.
    • In "Protest Too Much", a young couple rob a bank, accidentally shooting a man in the process. Detective Danny Reagan is on the case. As the FBI agents investigating this point out, it's a federal crime to rob a bank, which includes any crimes committed during the course of that, even when the shooting was done by an off-duty NYPD cop's gun (he was at the bank and got disarmed by the bank robbers), meaning it should be an exclusive FBI investigation. The NYPD might not even be on the case at all, but then, of course, there would be no story. note 
    • In "Unwritten Rules", police detective Danny gets upset with his prosecutor sister Erin when she won't press charges on a suspect identified as killing a police officer during an armed robbery because the eyewitness, an elderly woman, is shaky on it being him and she doesn't think she'll hold up. While it would still be enough to arrest him, she says to let him go. Later they tell the suspect there's another witness against him, and offer him a plea deal where he'd only do seven years in prison. Danny then "let's slip" the fact that this witness didn't identify him, and the suspect backs out at once, which is all part of their plan. He's then arrested due to the confession he signed to get the plea deal. While police and prosecutors can lie to a suspect, this does not apply to the terms of a plea bargain, and self-incriminating statements made on the promise of a deal cannot be used against them if it falls through. Very few people would make plea deals otherwise.
    • "Justice Served":
      • Its suspected that lawyer Angelo Gallo was shot because he dropped his client, a mob boss, who thought he would tell the police about killing a witness to make the case against him go away because supposedly "attorney-client privilege ends" when their business relationship does. Not even close—attorney-client privilege applies to all past criminal activity clients admitted to (unless the lawyer themselves was party to it). Later on it turns out that Gallo knows the details of the contract killing his client ordered, which he gives to police. It's not made clear whether he knew about this before or after the crime had occurred, however. Assuming the latter, none of this information could be used against his client.
      • In the same episode, Jamie's partner officer Edie Janko is almost date-raped in her apartment. She's reluctant to come forward out of fear she'll appear weak in front of fellow (particularly male) officers. Finally he convinces her to press charges. Rather than hand it off to the Special Victims Unit, whose detectives handle these sorts of crimes, Janko personally arrests the man who attacked her. This is a massive conflict of interest, as she's the one who's complaint they're arresting him on to begin with, a fact that any defense attorney would make hay out of (cue Rule of Drama for this: it's an awesome scene for a TV show but wouldn't happen in real life).
      • On a side note, it's very unlikely Danny, a homicide detective, would be allowed on the jury in a murder trial by the defense (though he ends up on their side).
    • In "Custody Battle" Frank is questioned over the fact that his daughter Erin, a prosecutor, was assigned to review the death of a suspect in the custody of his department. Frank is rightly asked if she can be objective, considering that a negative finding will reflect poorly on him as police commissioner. However, like the examples above with Erin prosecuting cases where her ex-husband is the defense attorney, it's a conflict of interest to investigate matters than even tangentially have to do with a close relative, and she'd have to recuse herself.
    • Danny Reagan is known to have hotheaded tendencies to the point that he's gotten in trouble for roughing up suspects. In real life, he would not be allowed to work with the public because of these tendencies. Even with his father being the active commissioner, Danny could easily become a liability for the NYPD if someone sues him for emotional distress/police brutality/whatever.
  • Honey Trap: The victim in "Family Ties" was supposed to be photographed kissing a hired blonde. The mother of the bride decided to cut out the middleman and shoot him instead.
  • Hostage Situation: A trio of Bank Robbers get more than they bargained for in "Critical Condition." Danny gets the obligatory reference to Dog Day Afternoon.
  • How Unscientific!: The "Leap of Faith" episode has both the identity of the murderer and an important bit of evidence revealed through the daughter of the Victim of the Week getting messages from God in an otherwise realistic Cop Show.
  • I Have Your Wife:
    • In "My Funny Valentine," a teenager fakes her kidnapping to spite her wealthy dad. The plan goes awry when a co-conspirator decides to ransom her for real.
    • "In the Life We Chose", The Phantom takes Barber's family hostage to get him to show himself.
    • A drug cartel kidnaps Linda to try to keep Danny from testifying. Big mistake.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Invoked. In "This Way Out" some gangbangers trick a mentally retarded kid from their housing project into shooting Mayor Poole by telling the kid it was a game.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Thief extraordinaire Jacob admits he's pursuing Erin because he "loves a challenge."
  • I Will Show You X: Frank on the city council's attempts to cut the NYPD's budget:
    "Hey, I got a good 'shared sacrifice.' How about we outsource 911 to Bangalore?"
  • Informed Attribute: In "Black and White", Frank blackmails the Mayor, insults an activist preacher to his face, and leaks a taped confession to the press. At the end, Frank's lawyer praises him for his political savvy (!) and urges to run for Mayor.
  • Internal Affairs: We've seen two recurring-role investigators so far. BOTH have been revealed to have been crooked. On the other hand we have Det. Kate Lansing, Danny's first interim partner between Jackie leaving and Baez coming in. She started in IA and then went back there after a few episodes.
  • Introduction by Hookup: Non-sex example. Erin loses a bet with Linda and has to take a speed-dating session. One of the guys at the session turns out to be her opposite number in the Case of the Week. End of the episode, he asks her out to dinner and she accepts.
  • It's Personal:
    • In "Officer Down", a cop dies in the line of duty. It becomes personal for every single cop in New York.
    • "Hall of Mirrors": an undercover cop is shot.
    • And of course, "Dedication", in which Frank is shot.
    • Frank considers the death of any cop a personal grievance ("The Life We Chose").
    • "Silver Star" is personal for both Frank and Danny, as both were Marine vets, and so was the victim.
    • The case of Raymond, the police dog accused of biting a boy in "Bad Blood", is personal for Frank, who was a canine handler in the '80s, but transferred out after his dog was shot and killed by a burglar.
  • It Runs in the Family: Nicky browbeating Erin into letting her stay out until 11:00 (Grandpa Henry: "I was out on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific at her age!"). Frank wryly observes that she "made a very convincing argument."
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Jamie is a Harvard boy. Deconstructed in that it's mentioned a couple times he's having money problems due to his student loans.
    • Erin is a Columbia graduate, and as of the end of Season 5, it seems that her daughter Nicky will follow in her footsteps.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: When Henry hires Erin's ex-husband on the sly to be an attorney for Danny when he was framed by a crooked Internal Affairs agent, he billed for it... totaling all of $1.
  • Joisey: Inspector General Kelly Peterson from Season 4 is originally from New Jersey (Newark, to be exact) and previously served as the Essex County Prosecutor before accepting the newly-created position of NYPD Inspector General.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The FBI/NYPD rivalry so often seen in New York City Cops series. "Protest Too Much" has Danny grumping that the FBI is involved in his latest case due to the murder happening in the course of a bank heist (in Real Life it would be FBI jurisdiction automatically, as banks are federally insured, including all crimes committed during a bank robbery; the NYPD though could liaise through their Central Robbery Division).
  • Just Train Wrong: The opening to "Samaritan" is supposed to take place on a 2 train on the IRT Nostrand Avenue Line, seeing how the crime scene investigation has the train stopped at Newkirk Avenue station on that line. However, the train shown is clearly comprised of R160 cars used on the subway's BMT and IND divisions, which are larger and wider than the R142 cars used by the 2 train. Furthermore, when the train doors are closing, the door chime is that used on subway cars built in the 1970s and 1980s as opposed to the electronic chime used on the R142 and R160 cars. Additionally, the station signs on the entrances designate the station as only being serviced by the 2 train when in reality the station is also serviced on weekdays by the 5 train (and is noted as such on the real station signs). The station where the gang leader is arrested also appears to be Broad Street station on the BMT Nassau Street Line being passed off for Third Avenue - 149th Street on the IRT White Plains Road Linenote .
  • Justified Criminal:
    • Billy Flood's motive for robbing the bank: paying for his 8-year old daughter's heart transplant.
    • "Frank Weller" claims that his motive for art theft is that he returns works stolen by the Nazis during World War II to their rightful owners or their heirs.
  • Law Enforcement, Inc.: A shady private security outfit has approached Henry with a job offer. So far, he's turned them down.
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: [insert Grandpa Henry moment of badassery here]
  • Loan Shark: Sgt. Renzulli gets in deep from betting on horses. Frank bails him out, with the explicit proviso that it's one-time only.
  • Look Both Ways: Happens twice to a Croatian gangster, who's fleeing after the police interrupt his attempt to trade a kidnapped girl for some fellow gang members. Not watching for traffic, he gets bounced off a taxi's fender as he steps off the curb, losing his gun. His pursuer, Danny, draws and demands his surrender, but he steps onto the road without looking again, sneering that Danny won't shoot him in the back ... and gets hit head-on by a delivery truck.
  • Loophole Abuse: In "The Job", Danny nails a suspect by casing his house until the garbage truck arrives, since, after all, trash left outside on the street is technically not on private property, and thus can be searched without a warrant.
  • Love Cannot Overcome:
    • Jamie's girlfriend left him because she couldn't stand loving a cop with Chronic Hero Syndrome.
    • Linda seems to have finally had enough when her son witnesses a shooting.
    "I'm tired of playing second fiddle to the NYPD."
  • The Mafia: Jamie going undercover to befriend a hotshot mafioso. In Season 2, he poses as a stockbroker to gain access to the mob's investment firm.
  • The Mafiya: "Family Ties" deals with the murder of the son of the head of the Russian mob in Brighton Beach at his own engagement party. The mother of the bride is the killer: she didn't want her daughter trapped in the mob the way she was.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Perp not talking, huh? Hey, let Danny have a look at that cool katana on the wall, would ya?
    Danny: Okay. Here's how my testimony's gonna go. The suspect grabbed a sword down the wall, I ordered him to drop the sword, he failed to comply, bladda bladda bladda, I feared for my life, so no had no choice but to fire my service weapon striking him several times in the chest and face."
  • Malcolm Xerox: Rev. Darnell Potter is a fairly transparent copy of the Rev. Al Sharpton. Not only is he a demagogue, an accessory to murder, a crook, a hatemonger and a liar, he's waging a motiveless war on the NYPD to boot. Later he gets ported to being a not-Black Lives Matter figurehead.
  • Manly Tears: Frank gets choked up while recounting 9/11 in "The Job."
  • Married to the Job: Danny, to Linda's resentment.
  • The Matchmaker: Nicky is interested in pairing her mom off with her boss, DA Rossalini. She also lobbied for Erin to date the art thief.
  • Mayor Pain:
    • Hand-wringing, mincing Frank Russo is a Type B. Fortunately, he seems to hold little to no authority over his Commissioner.
      Reagan: I have to take this call, Your Honor.
    • Subverted by his successor, Mayor Poole, who is shown to be genuinely concerned about the welfare of the public, it's just that he and Frank disagree on how to go about things.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Where were you on 9/11?" ("The Job")
  • Meaningful Name: Tom Selleck is known to be a staunch Republican in Real Life. Three guesses who the family's last name was inspired by.
  • The Mentor: Sergeant Renzulli, Jamie's training officer.
  • Miranda Rights: Used on occasion like in most cop shows, but also parodied once after Danny stops a fleeing suspect with a shopping cart and the guy faceplants.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Garrett interprets Frank's strange absences (at the psychiatrist's office) for hiding a new girlfriend. He even offers to help cover for him! See also Sure, Let's Go with That below.
    Garrett: Too young? Too old?
    Frank: More like the type that asks too many questions.
  • Most Writers Are Adults: The show's idea of a realistic message posted by a teenager on a Facebook-type networking site is "B-T-W homes that video made me L-M-A-O"
  • Mysterious Past : Both Danny and Grandpa Henry.
  • Myth Arc: Jamie and The Blue Templars during season 1. Started out as the main thrust of the series but was quickly shoved to the back burner, appearing mainly in Book Ends in the episodes where it's mentioned at all. Season 2 shifts it to Jamie going undercover in the Sanfino crime syndicate. Dropped in season 3.
  • Nepotism:
    • Zig-Zagged. The Reagan clan is encouraged by family tradition, and Frank tends to prefer using Danny and his current partner for major cases. However there is no string-pulling for them per se and they all become competent at their work.
    • In one episode Frank rejects an officer who's up for promotion because he's the son of one of the chiefs and he was recommended by Henry. He explains he's trying very hard to keep an old boys' club from developing again. Then he interviews the officer in question, who agrees with Frank that he most certainly should not be promoted because of personal connections. He wants to get there himself, and actually told his dad not to have Henry recommend him. Frank is impressed by this and promotes him after all, but he makes it clear he's doing it on the officer's own merits.
  • New Meat: Jamie. He's slowly leveling his badass and becoming street smart under Renzulli's mentoring.
  • New York City Cops: The obvious focus of the series.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Frank to an apologetic cleaning lady who broke a cup. Of course, it was a gift from the Mayor, so...
  • No Badge? No Problem!: In "The Uniform" Danny's Case of the Week involves an auxiliary officer, a part-time patrolman who is not issued a gun and is usually supposed to call in the real cops. The auxiliary in question brought along his own gun and fired on a suspect. It was eventually ruled a good shoot, and the auxiliary even got into police academy later.
  • Noodle Incident: The various times Jamie swallowed things. Also, the various times when Erin went out on a date as a teenager and Frank secretly had his off-duty buddies tail her and her date to make sure she was safe. Erin only learns about this when she herself (along with Frank and Henry) stay up late waiting for Nicky to get back from a date...and Frank reveals he's made similar arrangements for Nicky's protection.
  • Not So Different: Between Danny and the victim of the week in "Silver Star", as he sees it.
  • Off on a Technicality: Dick Reed at the start of "Re-Do", courtesy of an overworked crime lab guy making a mistake on the protocols for DNA testing.
  • Once an Episode: The Reagan family holds a conference over dinner.
    • A variation in "Thanksgiving": When Henry is in the hospital, the family brings the dinner to him. And the seating arrangement is the same. Another variation occurs in the Season 5 finale, after Linda is shot by a gangster and the family has still manages to have Sunday dinner together thanks to Skype (with Linda and Danny "joining" them from Linda's hospital room, and eating a meal there, while talking to the rest of the family, who are also eating at home).
  • Order Versus Chaos: A subtle theme throughout the series, with Frank and Jamie disagreeing with Cowboy Cop Danny.
  • Our Founder: Frank is a fan of President (and former NYC Police Commissioner) Theodore Roosevelt. A big picture of TR hangs in his office.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: Or perhaps Our Mayors Are Different. Season two's Carter Poole is a Mayor Personable/Mayor Minority twofer.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • In one episode Frank personally shoots a serial killer who is attempting to rape and kill Erin.
    • Henry certainly applies. When Frank was shot, the entire family was in the waiting room. After revealing that he has a gun, Henry sits in front and the show proceeds to time-skip a few hours. You don't think much of it, until you realize that Henry is the only one who's relatively alert. Meaning that he was guarding his family, as the only way to get to them was to go through him.
    • And then there was the time Henry pulled a gun on an EMT to save his son from meningitis.
    • It's also discussed earlier, as when Jamie is under an Internal Affairs investigation, Frank resists the temptation to tell IA to let him slide. Henry helps out by letting him know that the same thing happened to Frank when he was Commissioner, but he let IA go through because he knew Frank would be cleared. He was, and so was Jamie.
    • Henry causes a public stink when a recording of one of his old war stories goes viral: A cop was put under threat by a criminal gang and Henry ordered his men to lean on every crook in the city to get the word out that the cop was protected; it worked and the cop never knew. Frank calls Henry on this but Henry reveals that the cop was Frank.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Danny and Linda's marital strife spills over into a family dinner during grace. Danny compliments his wife's prayer, "especially that part about making good decisions."
    Linda: I was saying grace.
    Danny: Yeah, and Erin's spinach isn't soggy.
    [Erin glares at him]
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Grandpa Reagan in "The Job." He knows God has a plan.
  • Passed-Over Inheritance: An obsessive-compulsive woman is convinced there's a rapist creeping around her apartment. Turns out it's just her deadbeat brother, who is hoping to have her declared crazy so he can inherit her cash.
  • Playing Gertrude: Len Cariou plays Henry Reagan, who is supposed to be Frank Reagan's father. In real life, Cariou is only six years older than Tom Selleck. Cariou wore makeup to look even older.
  • The Patriarch: Frank.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Renzulli.
  • Perp Sweating: A literal example in one episode. An Argentinian diplomat's son is protected by diplomatic immunity, so he's invited to be questioned at the station. Danny deliberately has the A/C unit in the interrogation room shut off, so the guy starts to sweat. Then, after he leaves, the crime scene techs collect the guy's DNA, which is used to nail him (the guy's father is convinced to waive diplomatic immunity, as DNA evidence also proves he's guilty of a similar crime in Argentina, where immunity would not apply and prisons are much worse).
  • Police Brutality:
    • Danny has a somewhat shocking tendency toward this and sometimes the audience can't tell how far he will go. Given that it's usually towards quite despicable criminals, it comes off as Pay Evil unto Evil.
    • In "Whistle Blower", an incriminating video of a cop assaulting an old man goes viral. Actually a subversion: once they were able to subpoena the unedited version it was clear the old man had made a grab for the officer's pistol.
    Garrett: There's even a music video version now. Set to "Another One Bites the Dust." Wanna see it?
    • Maria questions a racist suspect/witness of a mosque bombing. Her response to him mouthing off to her is to knee him in the groin; this is played for laughs. Made worse due to the next scene involving a man punching a police officer in the face for harassing him, which everyone takes dead serious.
    • A criminal chased by Danny into an apartment building ends up jumping from a third-story window after Danny gives him the idea with an empty threat. He immediately starts screaming "police brutality." With no one able to back up Danny's claims, especially given his history, he becomes the target of Rev. Potter, an Al Sharpton like expy with political ambitions and a beef with the NYPD. Eventually, though, it's revealed that a young Hispanic boy saw the whole thing, but, since his family are illegal immigrants, his parents don't want him testifying. Furthermore, the reverend buys the family's silence by getting them a better apartment and offering to help with their visa problem. Once this is revealed, not only is Danny cleared, but the reverend is also arrested for his part in all this.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • A crooked developer rants about "union bloodsuckers."
    • In "The Job", a suburbanite father is waging a one-man war against "halfway house dirtbags."
    • A pair of junkies holding up an immigrant family ("Parenthood"). "I know you people don't use banks. Where's the money, chica?"
  • Pompous Political Pundit: The borderline white-supremacist radio host who tries to make a live broadcast from a New York theater.
  • Principles Zealot: Erin, the daughter is an assistant DA and always getting in arguments with the other members of the family about the tension between legal protection, and law enforcement efficiency. An old problem that will always remain and is well handled in the show.
  • Protect This House: A father shoots dead the burglar who attacked his family, which is good enough for Danny. Not so much for the law, however, because a) the suspect was shot outside of the home, and b) the shooter is an illegal immigrant. In the end Danny coaches him on his confession to paint the case in the best possible light for the D.A.
  • Promoted to Opening Titles: Jackie in mid-Season 1; Linda and Nicky in Season 2.
  • Pulled From Your Day Off: Poor Danny once catches a homicide right when he and Linda are about to go out to Long Island for the weekend. He ends up trying and failing to juggle both, with her letting him out of a play they had nonrefundable tickets to by calling a friend.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Billy Flood, one of the finest officers in Frank's unit.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away:
    • Reed tries on Frank, holding Erin's hostage. Frank's response is to just shoot him.
    • A perp in Season 2 gets the drop on Jackie and tries to invoke this on Danny, who acts as if he's going to play this straight... and then Jackie slips out of the perp's grasp, grabs her gun back, and Danny's gun is back on target.
  • Put on a Bus: Mayor Poole does not appear much in season 3, as his actor was a series regular on Arrow. He returns for the last two episodes.
  • Quote-to-Quote Combat:
    Frank: A true leader is not a seeker of consensus, but a molder of consensus. (walks out)
    (Potter looks confusedly at the mayor.)
    Mayor: (chuckles) Martin Luther King.
    • In "Sins of the Father" Danny Reagan's case of the week involves a father seeking vengeance for his daughter, dead of an apparent suicide after being fired from a porn studio (he was targeting the crew). During interrogation:
    Jerry Phillips: "For if there was harm, you shall appoint as penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth." Exodus 21:23.
    Danny: "Do not take vengeance against evil, but wait for the Lord and He will avenge you." Proverbs 20:22.
  • Reality Ensues: In the pilot, Danny beats the shit out of a child molester to find a kidnapped girl. The child molester slides because his lawyer successfully argues that his confession admitted under duress be thrown out, forcing Danny to find other evidence to put him away.
  • Ripped from the Headlines:
    • The second episode of season 1 involves a good Samaritan who shoots a criminal on the subway who was about to rape a woman, only for it to turn out that he got the gun illegally. It calls to mind Bernhard Goetz, the "Subway Vigilante" who shot and wounded four men who tried to mug him in December 1984, and was acquitted of all charges except for carrying an unlicensed firearm.
    • Some elements of "Forgive and Forget" and its lead-in "Custody Battle", specifically an officer using an unauthorized chokehold on a suspect that led to the suspect's death, invoke the controversy against the NYPD for the death of Eric Garner.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: The letter of the trope is averted rather thoroughly by leaving Jamie Reagan's first kill until the middle of season three and making it a Suicide by Cop. Jamie, already in the grips of These Hands Have Killed, is understandably horrified, and not once does anyone treat it as a rite of passage. During the same episode Frank recounts a statistic that less than five percent of cops ever have to fire their weapons outside the range, and less than five percent of those shootings are fatal. On the other hand, Jamie's first shooting, which was nonfatal, gets a passing treatment as this by the IA detective doing the routine shooting investigation, who tells him to enjoy the paperwork.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Like true Irish-Americans, the Reagans are good Catholics. However, in one season 3 episode Danny admits to only trying to set an example for his kids and that he lost his faith a long time ago.
    • Despite the above, Danny seems very open in one episode to the idea that God talked to a girl concerning the alleged murder of her mother—even when Erin and Jackie needle him for it. The episode ends with him in a cute moment of trying to recreate the girl's "vision" position for himself.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure : Frank Reagan would put Cincinnatus to shame:
    (to the mayor) "I serve at your pleasure... but I work for the people of New York."
  • Reformed Criminal: The barber from "The Life We Chose."
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Danny Reagan is red to his partner Jackie's (fairly subtle) blue. Good Cop/Bad Cop also applies, in reverse order.
    • Danny is also red to his sister Erin's blue. And to Jamie's blue, for that matter.
  • Retirony:
    • Frank's friend John was leaving for a vacation when the World Trade Center was hit.
    • Roland Gates is shot on the eve of his daughter's christening.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better:
    "I like carrying your gun, Pop."
    • In the Papa Wolf example above, Frank proved pretty conclusively he doesn't need a Glock. His .38 Special works just fine.
    • Dedication reveals that despite his earlier advice to Frank, Henry carries a .357 Magnum revolver.
  • Rogue Juror: Unusually done in the fourth season episode "Justice Done" when Danny Reagan, a detective, is the sole holdout for a "not guilty" verdict in a murder trial.
  • Roofhopping: Danny vs. a hood in "The Uniform."
  • Rule of Drama: It's unlikely that a guy who despises politics (and politicians, and publicity, and reporters) as much as Frank Reagan would be appointed NYPD Commissioner.
  • Salt and Pepper: Frank Reagan and Mayor Poole.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Danny locks horns with a power-mad nurse in "Leap of Faith."
  • The Scapegoat: After Danny's wife Linda chews him out over not mowing the lawn, the world becomes this trope. Culminates in a still-agitated Danny gunning down a fellow cop. ("Friendly Fire")
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!:
    • Inverted in "Parenthood," when the Mayor's daughter Ariel joins a protest and is caught up in the ensuring dragnet. Ariel doesn't demand special treatment, but her parents politely suggest, separately, that Frank had better let the matter drop.
    • Averted with Jamie, of course. With his family connections, he could have made Detective by now.
    • When Jamie is accused of undue force, a D.A. makes it clear she thinks he's guilty and his father must be covering for him. When video proves Jamie innocent, the woman continues to smark about his family always getting their way.
    Jamie: If my family really threw their weight around like you smart is it for you to be insulting us?
    • Played with when Jamie arrests the previous mayor's daughter for smoking pot. She tries to invoke this, but after a discussion with Erin her dad tells the judge:
      "I would like to tell the court that my daughter is a wonderful young woman ... (beat) ... who needs to learn to respect the law."
    • The bad guys don't have a monopoly on this. In "Warriors" the State Department refuses to grant political asylum to a Turkish cellist in danger of being the victim of an honor killing if she returns home (for having dated an American during the tour). Frank talks a contact into getting the New York Philharmonic to hire her, and his opposite number at State, the episode's Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist, expedites a work visa.
  • Seduction-Proof Marriage: "After Hours" provides the page quote. A key witness in Danny's Case of the Week, a hot nightclub owner named Sabrina, get the hots for Danny. He indulges her a little bit (one dance) to get her to open up, but firmly rejects her trying to take it further because he's Happily Married.
    Sabrina: Let me ask you a question. What does she got that I don't have?
    Danny: Me.
  • Semper Fi: Henry, Frank and Danny are all Marine veterans who've seen combat (Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, respectively).
  • Serial Killer: One of Danny and Jackie's Perps of the Week was a Serial Killer that preyed on call girls.
  • Serious Business: Danny recalls almost beating up another dad at a little league game.
  • Shame If Something Happened: As Jamie picks up his brother's old case, Sonny Malevski keeps reappearing to turn up the heat.
  • Shoot Him, He Has a Wallet!: Danny shoots a man who seems to be holding a gun. It turns out the guy was an off-duty police officer and was about to show them their badge. Danny is in serious trouble while Internal Affairs investigates whether it was an honest mistake or negligence.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: At the end of the episode "Re-Do", a serial rapist takes Erin hostage within sight of Frank, and tells him to put down his gun and step away. Or that was the plan, anyway: Frank puts a .38 round through his forehead before he can finish the sentence.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Erin delivers one to an Amoral Attorney in ''Innocence'.
    "How does it feel to be defending a rapist?"
    • She delivers another at the end of "Whistleblower," in one of her most powerful scenes of the season, if not the whole show.
    Wife of the Victim: I don't know what kinda fancy place you grew up in, but where I come from, there is nothing worse than a rat!
    Erin: That rat was the father of your children. And where I come from, nothing is more important than that.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Every now and then, Erin and Danny resort to acting like preteen siblings and have at each other.
  • Sickbed Slaying: Narrowly averted with a counter-terror agent who survived his shooting.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: So far, there is recurring tension between the Reagans who 'did good' and their friends who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. In a toss-up, the underprivileged tend to side with criminals.
  • So Happy Together: The victim of "Whistle Blower" is shot on his anniversary.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Dick Reed the serial rapist obsessively plays a vinyl record of "Ave Maria."
  • The Southpaw: Danny shoots left-handed.
  • Strawman Political: The show is very unsympathetic to the various social justice movements, exemplified by the Reverend Darnell Potter, a black Sinister Minister with a taste for the media spotlight and a habit of making false Police Brutality accusations on specious evidence (even deliberately manufacturing a confrontation that put Sgt. Renzulli in the hospital in his first appearance). Then there was the time Nicky's LGBT rights activist friend graffitied her own dorm wall with misogynistic slurs to draw attention, then attempted suicide after being found out. Once in a while the show will make a token effort to say the activists are raising a good point in an unpleasant way, but usually not.
  • Strawman U: Much to Niky's displeasure she finds out that Columbia falls under this this when radical left students protest Frank while he's giving speech, to the point he's driven off the stage after five minutes. Poor Nicky's in tears throughout the whole thing.
  • Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: In the Season One finale, Sonny Malevski, member of the Blue Templar and the guy who killed Joe, pulls this when Frank shows up to arrest the Blue Templar. Frank's response?
    "We all die, Sonny, it's just a question of when."
  • Strapped to a Bomb: In the season 3 premiere, an ex-con Danny put away takes his partner, Jackie, hostage and ties her to a bomb in order to draw Danny out.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: When Frank returns from his secret trip to the psychiatrist, Garrett tries to figure out where Frank's been, and after several vague answers to Garrett's questions, arrives at the conclusion that Frank is dating someone secretly. Frank sees no reason to correct him on this point, since "[Reagans] don't [go to psychiatrists]". See also Mistaken for Cheating above.
  • Suspicious Spending: In "The Poor Door," Frank gets word that the New York Daily News is about to run a spread about how a veteran Narcotics detective has been photographed with a brand-new red Ferrari that costs about the equivalent of three years' detective salary; a detective who happens to be a drinking buddy of Gormley's. Turns out the guy is doing shady real estate investments into buildings that he's done drug raids on.
  • Swallow the Key: Frank Reagan didn't raise no fools. When confronted by some mob brokers, Jamie gulps down the thumbdrive he used to hack their finances.
    • Jamie had a childhood habit of swallowing things. Amongst the list of things he swallowed was an actual key, which opened the Reagans' liquor cabinet.
  • Take a Third Option: Frank is really good at finding the third option in To Be Lawful or Good dilemmas in the last few minutes of the episode.
    • Faced with public outcry against a brutal dictator coming to New York for medical treatment, Frank has the police protect him before and during his surgery, then as soon as he's able to be moved he puts him on a plane back home, where a popular uprising has just deposed his government.
    • Faced with a white supremacist radio host making a live broadcast from a New York theater, Frank ensures the show can technically go on, but puts the man's police protection inside the theater and staffs it entirely with non-white officers led by a VERY large black sergeant.
    • See also the fourth bullet under Screw the Rules, I Have Connections! above.
    • When an off duty police officer, who has had a few drinks, stops a robbery at first he is an hero - then he is in trouble for pulling his gun after drinking. Frank is advised to stay out of it. Instead he calls a press conference and announces the man will be slightly punished, but he gets to keep his job. He also makes it clear he's punishing the officer only because the regulations require it and that he'd work the streets with him any day of the week.
    • Frank's not the only one. In one episode Nicky leads a demonstration against her schools policies regarding random, unannounced searches of lockers without consent from kids or parents, and Erin's caught between wanting to support Nicky against threats of suspensions for the protest and the fact that, legally, the school does have the right to do so. In the end Nicky inadvertently gives her the third option by holding the demonstration, key point, after hours and across the street from campus. The principal threatens to suspend the lot of them but Erin walks up and shuts her down by invoking the First Amendment.
  • Taking the Kids: Erin got Nicky after divorcing her husband, a defense attorney. To this day, Nicky is convinced on some deep level that defense lawyers are heroes and DAs are evil. Subverted in that Erin didn't take Nicky, her father didn't want custody at all and Erin had to insist that he take partial custody. Even then he's an absentee father.
  • Tap on the Head: Oh, right — Danny doesn't appreciate people pointing guns at Jackie, either.
    Perp: I give up.
    Danny: Too late. [punches his lights out]
  • That Was the Last Entry: While listening to Joe's old iPod, Jamie uncovers a recording of his late brother preparing to infiltrate the Blue Templar.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: More like "The Main Characters All Do the Same Thing". Generally speaking all the cases on the show are found by Jamie and his partner, investigated by Danny and his partner, and prosecuted by Erin and her party.
  • Therapy Is for the Weak: Frank sourly tells his shrink that Reagan men don't go for prescription drugs. Or shrinks, for that matter.
  • Three Successful Generations: Jamie, Danny and Frank embody this for different "generations" of police work: rookie patrol, experienced detective, and veteran brass. A fourth generation is added on with "retired brass".
  • Too Dumb to Live: More then one nemesis.
    • Unrepentant serial rapist Dick Reed attacks Erin, who is not only a DA but has four cops in her immediately family. Two of said cops being the police commissioner and one of the best detectives in the entire department. Why he thought this would end well for him is anyone's guess.
  • Toyota Tripwire:
    • A perp decides to rabbit and escapes on a scooter. He nearly mows down Danny, but doesn't quite clear Jackie's front bumper. Ouch.
    • Reused in "Occupational Hazard" when a motorcycle gangster and his girlfriend try to break out of an NYPD arrest, driving along the sidewalk and through traffic. Danny and Maria cut around the block and the gangsters run into the passenger side tire and go flying.
    • An actor doing a ride-along with Danny stops a fleeing suspect with the car door and nearly gets shot in the process. However, once he's in custody the suspect thinks it's cool he got stopped by a famous actor.
  • Tranquil Fury: Frank. ANY time Frank gets pissed, he doesn't really act any different, but all of a sudden, Danny isn't the scariest Reagan in the show anymore.
  • Vigilante Man: Episodes like "Samaritan" and "Old Wounds" have Well-Intentioned Extremists killing Karma Houdini criminals.
  • Vow of Celibacy: When the Reagans' deceased longtime minister comes up for canonization, Frank discovers that Father Bill had a long-term romantic relationship with a woman, but as far as anyone can tell it was never actually consummated in deference to priestly vows. Frank compares this favorably to a saint of a previous century who took part in what would be considered genocide in the present day, and concludes that "the Catholic church could do a lot worse than Saint Bill from Brooklyn."
  • The War on Straw: The show does not take a romanticized view of the NYPD Commissioner's office. Frank has butted heads with protesters and union reps. Zig-Zagged in "Leap of Faith", which seems to portray the archdiocese as a standard Corrupt Church shielding a anarchist priest. Though Frank initially opposes his nomination for sainthood, after performing his own investigation, he decides things weren't so black and white in the Vietnam days. He even comes to the Priest's defense when the archbishops show signs of buyer's remorse.
  • The War on Terror:
    • Mentioned from time to time. Frank was a 9/11 first responder and saw the towers go down; he suffers from Survivor's Guilt as a result. He also has a peeve about people exploiting the tragedy to further their careers. Danny was a Marine who fought in Fallujah.
    • In one early episode, the entire department goes on high alert for a bomb threat by homegrown Islamic terrorists.
    • In "Hall of Mirrors" an undercover cop who infiltrated a terrorist cell is shot in a drive-by.
    • In "Moonlighting", Frank broods over a quote from Donald Rumsfeld regarding the Iraq War ("the known unknowns").
  • We Used to Be Friends: Jackie and her high school friend, Anna, ended up on opposite sides of the law.
    Jackie: What happened to you?
    Anna: [icily] I grew up.
  • Wham Episode: The last two episodes of Season 3, featuring a plot revolving around the Bitterman Housing Projects definitely count as this trope, as they prove to be a game-changer for the series. Much later, the characters refer to the Bitterman Housing projects again in the context of continuing to make life better there.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: An in-universe example. One weekend, while watching Danny's sons, Henry and Frank have tickets to a Broadway play. It was about Christianity and bringing it to Africa, or so Henry heard. The name of the musical? The Book of Mormon.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Nicky pushes this trope hard.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: "Under the Gun"'s killer is a Crusading Widower who snapped after losing his wife to medical malpractice, and losing his resulting lawsuit by Miscarriage of Justice.
  • You Are Not Alone: Frank reminds Danny of this at the end of "Silver Star," when Danny muses on how he could have ended up just like the victim, a homeless vet.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: The wife of a slain informant discovers, that Erin was the one pulling his strings. "So because you suck at your job, I'm a widow, and my kids don't have a father." Of course, this is rendered moot when it turns out, the wife was cheating on her man with someone he was investigating, who was the actual killer, and that it was the wife who blew his cover, if unintentionally, not Erin.
  • Your Cheating Heart: In "Whistler Blower," Erin's informant is murdered, while spying on a white collar criminal — the same criminal who is sleeping with the informant's wife. So much for wearing a wire.
    Mrs. Milo: [To Erin] "I don't know what fancy place you come from, but from where I come from, there is nothing worse than a rat!"