Series: Blue Bloods

Think every family in the Crime And Punishment genre is on the bad guys side? This family is different. The Reagan family is a cop family, not a robber family. A four-generational family 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 is a hardbitten Da Chief from the old days. Frank 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 is a ruthless but competent homicide/major case detective who always catches the bad guys. Erin is a stickler for points of law but she can also manipulate the law to advantage when seeking a conviction. And Jamie 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 episodes typically interweave about three plot threads focusing on different parts of the family. The A-plot is 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.

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."
  • 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 art aficionado "Frank Weller." 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 McCoolname: Mobster Johnny Tesla.
  • Bad News, Irrelevant News: Danny and Jackie explain to a perp that they found his gun; he's headed for death row. The good news? "We 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.
  • 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 Dude Dies First: The undercover cop in "The Life We Chose."
  • Blasting It out of Their Hands: Discussed and mocked after Jamie kills a man for the first time. 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 until the threat is neutralized. 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.
  • Blunt "Yes": A suburban detective, chafing at Danny's questions.
  • Blood Spattered Innocents: In "Whistle Blower", the titular informant in shot in front of his wife.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Jamie is asked by the FBI to spy on a secret society for them that might include Danny.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Frank and his old squadmate, John McKenna, just as he's taken off of life support.
  • Cop Killer:
    • In "Officer Down" a patrol officer is mortally wounded when she blunders into the path of mafia-affiliated diamond thieves while coming back from lunch. The Mafia itself joins in hunting them down, because cop killers put the whole department on edge and make life difficult. Grandpa Henry Reagan remarks that when he was on the force the mafia even had explicit rules that, outside of certain circumstances, cops were off-limits. The killer gets cornered, tries to shoot his way out, and is hosed down with lead by several detectives and an ESU team.
    • In "The Bitter End" Jamie Reagan and his partner Vinny Cruz are lured into a housing project by a Latino gang with a beef against the NYPD. It's an ambush, and Vinny is fatally shot. End of the next episode, what seems like half the NYPD storms the place and makes over 40 arrests on various charges, including Vinny's murder.
  • Cool Shades: Frank Reagan sports these.
  • Cowboy Cop:
    • Danny Reagan is only too happy to bend the rules in the pursuit of justice.
    • Great-Grandpa Henry seems to indicate that he was a Cowboy Cop in his time. Of course back then there was more "flexibility" in what was allowed anyway.
    • Surprisingly, Frank led a unit of cowboy cops some 15 years ago. One of them, Billy Flood, snapped under the stress and was sent off to the loony bin, later resurfacing as a criminal.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: When Bianca hits on Jamie, he suddenly finds himself afoul of her jealous ex and her mobster brother.
  • 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 gigantic -and has so many civilian personnel- that the Chief of Department in charge of all sworn officers, but still answers to the Commish)
    • Sarge Gormley runs Danny's department, a job which harries him to no end..
  • 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: 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. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. Jamie squirms over what he views as "borderline entrapment." In reality it would only qualify if they convinced someone to take the bag-just leaving it out there is completely legal.
    • In "Old Wounds", Erin Reagan prosecutes a case where her ex-husband is the defense attorney, when in reality that would never happen, because such would be a conflict of interests. 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).
    • 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-it 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 Edit "Eddie" 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 detectives who handle such crimes, however, 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).
      • 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 the 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 RealLife it would be FBI jurisdiction automatically, as banks are federally insured, including all crimes committed during a bank robbery).
  • 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. Trash doesn't require 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.
  • 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 strawman 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.
  • 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 people of New York, 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 / Four-Star Badass:
    • 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 has a gun, Henry sits in front and the show proceeds to time skip a few hour. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 torture be thrown out, forcing Danny to find other evidence to put him away.
  • 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 his 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.
    • 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?"
  • 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: The serial rapist obsessively plays a vinyl record of "Ave Maria."
  • The Southpaw: Danny shoots left-handed.
  • 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 one episode, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 his 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.
  • Too Dumb to Live: More then one nemesis.
    • Unrepentant serial rapist Dick Reed attacks Erin, who is not only a DA but a woman who has not one, not two, not three, but four cops in the immediate family. 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.
  • 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 Survivors 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!