Jake: I'm telling my friend how you killed that guy. Suspect: It was for love! Jake: Cool motive. Still murder.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a single-camera sitcom that premiered on Fox in 2013, starring Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher and set in the 99th Precinct of the New York Police Department, based out of Brooklyn (hence the title). In particular, it focusses on a unit of detectives that includes Jake Peralta (Samberg), a smart but rebellious and immature cop who's relaxed attitude towards his job comes under challenge when the precinct comes under the command of hardass new captain Ray Holt (Braugher). Holt, a stoic and no-nonsense man, is less-than-impressed with Peralta's flippant nature, creating immediate tension between the two.Although the tension and developing working relationship between Peralta and Holt is a central driving element, ultimately the series is more of an ensemble piece, focussing heavily on the other members of Peralta's unit as well. This includes Detective Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero), Peralta's strait-laced, insecure and neurotic partner with whom he shares a spiky and competitive friendship with romantic undertones, and who desperately wants Holt to act as her mentor; Sgt. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews), the unit sergeant, who is initially wary of reentering the field after the birth of his twin daughters; Detective Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz), a surly and intimidating detective with a highly secret personal life and a very short fuse; and Detective Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio), a bumbling and clumsy but extremely loyal and enthusiastic officer with a deep passion for food and, at least initially, a decidedly unrequited crush on Diaz. Rounding out the cast is Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti), the flighty and narcissistic civilian administrator, and Detectives Norm Scully and Michael Hitchcock (Joel McKinnon Miller and Dirk Blocker), two extremely dim-witted and incompetent veteran detectives.The series won two Golden Globes in its first season, one for Best Series and one for Andy Samberg for Best Comedy Actor.
Tropes used in this series include:
Action Girl: Both Santiago and Diaz easily drop perps who are bigger than them.
Actually, I Am Him: The Reveal in "The Pontiac Bandit" is that Doug Judy, who'd claimed to be a reformed ex-cahoot of the titular car thief, actually was the Bandit the whole time. Peralta and the rest of the 99 don't realize this until it's too late.
Actually That's My Assistant: To rub salt in the wound re: the above trope, the man Judy claimed was the Pontiac Bandit was actually his hairdresser.
Adults Dressed as Children: A variation: as part of Peralta's ritual humiliation of Santiago in "The Bet", he admits that he based the dress he makes her wear on the dresses that the girls he had a crush on as a kid would wear to Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs.
The Alleged Car: Jake admits he has a terrible car, but he loves it because he associates it with the first arrest he made after graduating from the academy. The sentimental value is (partly) why he takes his bet with Santiago so seriously.
Analogy Backfire: Jeffords is so proud of his team, he tells Holt that he feels like a mama hen watching her chicks take flight for the first time. Holt points out it's interesting that he used chickens, a species of bird infamous for its inability to fly.
Anguished Declaration of Love: Played with in "Charges and Specs." Before Jake takes off for his undercover assignment, he confesses his feelings for Amy. It's not anguished, but it's regretful.
Jake: Look, um, I don't wanna be a jerk. I know you're dating Teddy, and it's going really well, it's just... Amy: (curiously) What's going on? Jake: I don't know what's gonna happen on this assignment, and if something bad goes down I think I'd be pissed at myself if I didn't say this: I kinda wish something... could happen, between us, romantic-stylez. And I know it can't, 'cuz you're with Teddy, and I'm going undercover, and... it's... just how it is, but... (a cop walks by, an appropriately understated Moment Killer for an understated moment)
Jake: Freddy's like the worst out of all those guys! Extortion, terrible breath, murder... I put terrible breath too high on that list.
Awesomeness by Analysis: Holt and Jeffords in "Operation: Broken Feather." In order to make the office more efficient, they've analyzed their employees and problem spots and uses those flaws to actually make the precinct more efficient.
Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The precinct thinks that Holt's husband invited them to Holt's birthday party. It eventually gets revealed that Holt had them invited against his husband's wishes, and Holt goes so far as to say that he likes them.
Bad Ass: To be expected of a cast full of police officers.
Captain Holt. He's shown to have personally arrested at least two serial killers (both apparently without backup), and in "Christmas" when Peralta is trying to keep him in a safehouse he says, "The only way you're going to keep me here is if you physically stop me. Can you do that, Peralta?" Peralta, who isn't half bad in a fight, just mumbles in a subdued fashion. Although this particular example is slightly undercut when Holt overconfidently begins to step past Peralta only for Peralta to suddenly grab his wrist and handcuff himself to Holt — no one said "physical" had to mean "beat-down".
Peralta, Diaz and Terry all qualified in their own way, all of them being very capable officers.
She's had less opportunities to show it off, but Santiago also has shades of this, given how she handled a big, intimidating perp with a night-stick quite well in the pilot episode.
Santiago also gets a really nice take-down in "Old School", though Peralta is the one that gets into more straight-up fist fights. For a comedy, they don't skimp on action scenes.
Peralta tries to invoke "The Worst Date Of Your Life" to humiliate Santiago after he wins their bet and she has to go on a date with him. When it's interrupted by Holt sending them on a stakeout, they end up genuinely bonding and having a pleasant time instead.
Pretty much any time we've seen Santiago's personal life, she's been on one of these.
The first door that Peralta and Santiago knock on in the pilot when canvassing for witnesses results in this exchange:
Santiago: Hello, sir. May we ask you a few questions? Stoner: Definitely, yeah. I'm actually-I'm super-glad you guys are here right now. Are you smelling that weed smell? Peralta and Santiago:[In unison] Yep./Yeah. Stoner: 'Cause a dude broke in, smoked weed, and bolted. That's... Peralta:Do you think it's the same dude who left that bong there on the floor? Stoner: ... Yes?
The opener for "The Apartment:"
Peralta: So, again, your alibi is: a mysterious stranger handed you the gun, made you put your prints on it, robbed the store, and then hid the gun in your underpants? Robber: Well, yeah, if you say it like that, it don't sound believable.
Bald Black Leader Guy: Played with; Captain Holt is not quite bald, but he has a very short-buzz cut and possesses the standard personality of this character (authoritative, serious, commanding, etc.). On the other hand, Sgt. Jeffords actually is bald and very powerfully-built physically, but is less imposing and authoritative personality-wise and is a bit more neurotic than the standard example of the trope.
Batman Gambit: How Peralta wins his bet with Holt that he could steal his Medal of Valor from his office - Peralta gets the rest of the team to help by volunteering to do their paperwork if they do so, knowing that Holt will have to do it as he's doing Peralta's paperwork if he steals the medal. Subsequently, every time Holt catches him, he fails to catch the other cops working on getting the medal.
In season 2, Holt has Terry prepare a funding request for the Grammar Nazi Deputy Chief, knowing she'll reject it for a trivial punctuation mistake, giving him an excuse to go over her head.
The Bet: Santiago and Peralta's contest over who can make the most busts. In an episode appropriately titled "The Bet", Peralta wins, and forces Santiago to go on "the worst date ever". Said date reveals (via a drug-addled Boyle "dropping truth bombs") that he may have feelings for her.
This is a recurring trope beyond this; the detectives like making bets with each other and every other episode has some kind of wager going on. Most obviously in the "Halloween" episodes, which involve some kind of wager between Peralta and Holt over whether the former can steal something belonging to the latter before midnight on Halloween.
Peralta falls victim to this trope while helping Boyle to taste test wedding cakes, of all things. He doesn't know that Boyle has chosen a habanero-infused frosting until Boyle helpfully tells him after the fact. This becomes a Brick Joke later in the episode when, after a bit of a falling out, the two friends reconcile over a bottle of unexpectedly spicy booze.
Early in "Unsolvable", to celebrate closing another case, Boyle asks Jake to dance with him to the song "Whatta Man" by Salt N Pepa, and Jake replies that he will never dance to that song. At the very end of the episode, Jake (drunk) is singing and dancing to the same song with Terry and Boyle.
Jake: I hate myself right now!
When trying to dissolve an argument between Terry and his wife, Holt makes the fatal mistake of taking lame-excuse tips from a drugged-up Boyle.
Peralta, who's described in-show as being an Adult Child.
Boyle being an actually successful detective might actually be even more improbable. It is explained; the other members of the squad note that while Boyle is undeniably clumsy, he's a 'grinder' who works very hard to overcome his shortcomings rather than it just coming naturally. Unlike Peralta and the other detectives, Boyle doesn't have a slump because he just keeps working until he's done.
Charles Boyle, who, though quite competent, is extremely unlucky. Dude can't even eat a muffin without it spiraling into an implausible disaster. Or pursue a murderer without having his face and upper body shoved into several trays of gelato.
Sgt. Jeffords:[Discussing Boyle] He's not physically... gifted.
Scully and Hitchcock to an even greater degree. Boyle is at the very least effective at his job, whereas the two of them are mostly there to contrast to the relative competency of the main cast. Hitchcock got kicked in the balls (twice!) and robbed by a hooker. The rest of the 99 call the dash-cam footage of the incident "the best cop movie ever."
California Doubling: Set in Brooklyn, New York, but primarily shot in Universal Studios, California. Some exterior shots are very obviously done on the Universal backlot.
Call Back: In "The Slump" (Ep.1.03) Terry refers to the French film “Breathless” as writer François Truffaut’s film. Thirteen episodes later in "The Party" he again asserts "Breathless" is Truffaut's film (and that movies are a writer's medium) while one of Kevin's colleagues argues Terry should credit the director, Jean-Luc Godard, as the primary creative force behind the movie.
In "The Bet", Peralta forces Santiago to wear a horrible dress on their date. He says it reminds him of every girl at every Bat Mitzvah he ever had a crush on. In "Charges and Specs", he flashes back to when he was thirteen years old and his then-girlfriend broke up with him at his Bar Mitzvah. She was wearing the same dress.
Casting Gag: This isn't the first time that Andre Braugher has played an uber-serious and imposing police officer. But unlike the grim and gritty environment of urban realism that Detective Frank Pembleton starred in, Captain Ray Holt operates in a comedic setting populated by goofy eccentrics. On top of that, Frank Pembleton was the brilliant-but-arrogant lone-wolf cop who refused to play with others and had to be pressured into doing so by his commanding officer. In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Ray Holt is the commanding officer who has to deal with an arrogant lone-wolf detective who refuses to play with others and has to be pressured into doing so (Peralta). And to finish the gag off, on the earlier show Braugher played the partner of a detective who eventually came out as bisexual, while in this show he plays an openly gay police officer.
Centipede's Dilemma: Terry's alleged PTSD prevents him from using a gun properly, but he ends up pulling a perfect score on the same target when being annoyed by Gina.
Chained Heat: In "Christmas", Peralta handcuffs himself to Holt and throws the key down a grate to keep him from leaving the safe house. Holt calls Boyle to fetch him, but when Boyle can't decide whether to remove the cuffs or not, he panics and cuffs himself to Holt as well.
Chase Scene: Subverted in "Thanksgiving"; Peralta discusses a cocaine bust he performed which looked like it was building to one of these, completely with the perp hijacking someone's flashy looking sports car to get away... except that as soon as the perp pulls into traffic, he immediately finds himself trapped behind a huge garbage truck which is itself part of a gridlocked traffic jam down a one-way single lane street. Peralta, naturally, is equal parts smug and amused.
Peralta: Hey, criminal. It's me, Johnny Law.
Childhood Friends: Jake and Gina have been friends since they were very young, as revealed in "The Apartment."
The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Peralta is a very good detective but he tends to miss key facts about his coworkers. He completely fails to realize that Holt is gay even though it is public knowledge and Holt even has a framed newspaper article about it hanging in his office.
One episode has the team resorting to their bomb disposal gear to get Scully's shoes to get rid of the stench. Turns into a Brick Joke eventually when they do the same thing with the Jimmy Brogan book.
Comically Missing the Point: In "The Bet", Peralta and Santiago act as a couple getting into an argument in front of the perps in order to take them down.
The painting Terry painted of Captain Holt is in his husband Kevin's office in "The Party."
The dollhouse that became a dollprison can be seen in Terry's house in "The Ebony Falcon".
In "The Bet," Jake notes the tacky dress he makes Amy wear makes her look "just like Jenny Gildenhorn" before asking, "Why do I wish you had braces?" A flashback to Jake's bar mitzvah in the season finale, "Charges and Specs," features Jenny wearing the same tacky dress and braces.
Courtroom Antic: Not quite a courtroom, but at Peralta's suspension hearing Jeffords has the other members of the squad stall the proceedings in order to buy time for Peralta, Santiago and Holt to find the evidence that will clear Peralta. This leads to Boyle engaging in extended Wangsting over his recent break-up with his fiancée, Diaz spacing out her syllables by several seconds, and Gina bombarding the panel with Emoji-speak.
Crazy-Prepared: As described in "The Bet" above, Peralta goes to great lengths pre-planning his Halloween heist. He takes it up a notch the following year in "Halloween II", but finds out the hard way that Holt has been plotting his revenge for the entire year. Then the trope gets stretched to the point of ridiculousness when Peralta, after losing the second bet, says that he's already planning for next year, to which Holt replies that Peralta is only three months behind him.
Cutaway Gag: A surprisingly large number of these for a live action show.
Diet Episode: In the B-plot for "Fancy Brudgrom," Terry signs up for a diet for his wife's sake and manages to recruit Amy and Gina. When the diet's ridiculous provided meals (such as an extremely thin slice of cantaloupe for lunch) prove too much for the girls, they quit.
Distress Ball: Despite being ostensibly one of the most capable people in the Nine-Nine, Rosa is tricked by the Freestyle killer without much difficulty. This allows for Boyle to take the bullet for her.
Dropped After the Pilot: The Pilot introduces Scully and Hitchcock as part of a trio of incompetent detectives who happen to make great coffee, with the third being a female detective called Daniels, who has never been seen since.
Dysfunction Junction: A mild example, given that the show is a sitcom version of the Cop Show, but most of the detectives have some sort of family issue, are overworkers, are neurotic, or any combo of the above.
Our first glimpse of Peralta is him goofing around childishly in an electronic store that has been robbed. He seems to be just a typical comedy incompetent bumbling cop... and then he reveals that he got there before his partner, found a security 'nanny cam' concealed in a teddy bear and used it to ID the robbers. He's good at his job, he's just really immature about it.
We get a sense of Holt's character immediately with his first interaction with Peralta; less than impressed by Peralta's dismissive impression of him, rather than chewing him out he instead turns it back on Peralta by forcing him to repeat it to his face in front of everyone, before ordering him to wear a tie and delivering a very to-the-point introduction speech:
Holt: I'm Captain Ray Holt. I'm your new commanding officer. Santiago: Speech! Holt: That was my speech.
"The Vulture" has the team combing the crime scene for the murder weapon, stopping short of learning it was a corkscrew, but failing to find it before the Major Crimes guy swoops in to claim jurisdiction and credit. The team gets drunk and sneaks back in, and get the idea to reenact the murder by going into the victim's apartment - whereupon Amy spots the refrigerator magnets and realises the corkscrew could be one of those fridge-magnet types and be stuck in the trash chute when the murderer tried to junk it. She's right.
Santiago: [Holt] and I are exactly the same. Except I'm younger, Cuban, female, single and straight. Scully:[Laughing] Captain Holt's not gay! [Santiago and Jeffords stare at him incredulously] Scully: ...Captain Holt's gay? Santiago: Seriously, man — just retire.
Fire-Forged Friends: Holt and Peralta begin the series barely able to tolerate each other, but gradually develop a deep respect for each other, if not an actual friendship. This comes to a head in the first season finale, when Peralta puts his entire career on the line and gets himself fired solely because Holt asked him to trust him.
Fish out of Water: "The Party" involves the unit being invited to Captain Holt's birthday party by his husband, a classics professor at Columbia University, and much of the comedy comes from the rather low-brow, socially inept detectives dealing with the high culture types they're mingling with. It initially appears that Holt's husband looks down on the cops for precisely this reason until Peralta deduces that his disdain actually comes from his resentment at the way the NYPD has often treated Holt due to his homosexuality.
555: The number featured in the sleazy PI's commercial in "The Ebony Falcon".
Foreshadowing: In "Halloween", whenever Holt catches Peralta in an obvious attempt to break into his office or distract him so that Peralta can steal his Medal of Valor, Peralta protests that the plan was designed to fail. At the time, it seems just like Peralta trying to soothe his ego. The ending reveals that they were, in fact, designed to fail — so that Holt would be distracted from noticing that the other detectives in the squad were breaking into his office and helping Peralta steal the medal.
Fridge Brilliance: In-universe, it takes Peralta most of the first episode to figure out why Holt is so intent on his detectives wearing neckties, leading to him gleefully experiencing an epiphany while the team are in the middle of arresting a murder suspect.
Funny Background Event: During the NYPD-FDNY brawl, we see a cop in the background lift a firefighter upside down.
The one with Gina's house broken into, where Gina becomes so fearful and insecure that she threatens Amy and Rosa with a civilian complaint for what appears to be them slacking off (despite clearly being a red tape thing). They scoff at the idea - cut to Holt yelling at them for getting a civilian complaint.
Golden Snitch: How Peralta wins in "The Bet" - a vice bust nets him ten in one go. And those are just the convictions that will stick.
Scully opens with this in "48 Hours," even though both the bits of news he delivers turn out to be bad.
Shows up again in "Operation: Broken Feather." In this case, the good news is that they made a ton of busts... the bad news is that they have to process a mountain of paperwork by the next day.
Halloween Episode: With the twist that all the cops are working in and Halloween is supposedly the busiest night of the year for them, so it's more of a dark-shady-backside-of-Halloween episode, really. They do get into costumes in the end.
Played a bit straighter in the second season's Halloween episode, in which several characters are seen in costume, though the audience can't tell it's them at first.
Hands-On Approach: While at the shooting range with Jeffords and Holt, Gina encourages Jeffords to do this, saying "Show me! Like put your thick, muscular arms and...", it's one-way, as Jeffords is happily married, but that doesn't stop Gina from enjoying it.
Happy Place: Boyle recommends it when you're nervous. His is slurping an infinitely long piece of linguine... and every 20 feet? A sauce change. Rosa takes his advice while she's on the stand and imagines herself, in a cabin, beating the defense attorney examining her to death and ripping his arms off.
Despite Diaz's surly attitude and the fact that her taste in guys is apparently "anyone but [Boyle]", she is surprisingly willing to go out on a date to a movie with him. Even though he completely blows his chances with her at the end she admits that she still enjoys his company and finds him 'sweet'. She was a model student at her Catholic high school and for a time attended the American Ballet Academy.
It's parodied in "Halloween" when Peralta reveals the rest of the team's involvement in his plan, as both he & Holt note that it's not surprising that Diaz can pick locks.
Lampshaded in "Old School," when it turns out that the reason she's so bad on the witness stand is because she's nervous, not just naturally angry.
Diaz: Of course I'm nervous! What did you think was the problem? Jeffords: We just assumed you were a terrifying human being with a short fuse!
At first glance, you might think that Sgt. Terry Jeffords was simply the cop version of the Scary Black Man... except he's hyper-cautious and terrified of going into the field, has twin baby daughters whom he clearly utterly dotes on, loves yoghurt, French arthouse movies and going to the farmer's market, and personality-wise is basically the complete opposite of the stereotype. He is also a gifted painter and sketch artist.
Those TwoButt Monkeys Scully and Hitchcock were apparently heavily addicted to cocaine "for most of 1986".
Scully's usefulness as a member of the NYPD is questionable but he does have a lovely operatic singing voice.
Peralta apparently took tap for three years and is proficient at ballroom dancing.
Hitchcock's complete lack of Hidden Depths is lampshaded in "The Party," when Jeffords assigns everyone a task or topic... except Hitchcock, whom he tells to do and say nothing.
Captain Holt is apparently one of the funniest people ever around people he doesn't work with, is an expert ballroom dancer and takes hula-hoop lessons with his husband. He's also incredibly adept at flirting with women, despite not being attracted to them at all.
Gina, despite being a Cloud Cuckoo Lander, has saved up enough money to buy a piece of New York real estate.
How We Got Here: In the beginning of "Charges and Specs", Peralta is alone at a bar, comically drunk. He buys everyone a round and the guy next to him asks what the occasion. He replies that he's celebrating because he just got fired. Then the episode flashbacks to a week earlier to explain why.
Santiago: Will your first dance be to "You Give Me Fever"? Jeffords: Will you be serving crabs at the reception? Gina:Do you have herpes? Boyle: Guys, this is my wedding. This is important to me, no more jokes. Peralta: You're right, and we're sorry. We love you, buddy. Warts and all! Sorry, I made a rash decision. I was itching to say it. Okay, I'm done.
Subverted with Boyle's gunshot wounds, when Peralta just defaults to "butt" after the first two tries.
At one point, Holt busts Santiago for talking to Peralta during one of his briefings, prompting Santiago to protest (not without reason) that Peralta was the one who was talking and she was merely trying to extract herself from the conversation. Peralta accuses her of being "the worst fourth-grader ever" by trying to throw the blame on him. The hypocrisy comes through in that in almost every episode up to this point, whenever Peralta's gotten into trouble at some point he's childishly tried to throw the blame onto Santiago somehow.
After Gina's apartment gets burgled and the detectives investigate, this exchange happens:
Diaz: You don't have locks on your windows. Gina: Way to blame the victim! Sorry I'm not rich like you, Miss One-Percent. Diaz:[Annoyed] They cost eight dollars. You have a fur bed-spread.
Diaz frequently doesn't seem entirely aware of just how awful her temper is:
Diaz:[To Jeffords and Holt] You think I have an anger problem? I don't. You are both dead to me.
I Love the Dead: The coroner Peralta dated in "M.E. Time" was turned on by having him be as cold and still as possible. They also engaged in roleplay where he plays a dead body that she finds and... you know. It's not explicitly said that she does anything with the dead bodies, but she's definitely into them.
Detective Pembroke of the Major Crimes Squad, an obnoxious and smarmy jerk known as "the Vulture" (in the episode of the same name), waits until the local detectives have almost completed an investigation before swooping in to claim jurisdiction, thus managing to take all the credit without having to do any of the work. He also seems curiously fixated on Detective Peralta's "big white ass".
The rivalry between the NYPD and the FDNY rears its ugly head during an arson case in "Sal's Pizza."
And both of these rivalries (professionally for the former, but not the latter) are referenced again in "Operation: Broken Feather."
Santiago: Going to be hard to win our bet when you're on the bench, Peralta. Although, I did start a new category: Murderers we let go. And look at that! You're winning! (Leaving) Have fun with your files. Peralta: Yeah, you know what? I will have fun with my files! Have fun with... your face! (Attempts to slam door, which rebounds off some boxes)SLAM! That was a slam!.
The various members of the fire department who get into slanging matches with Peralta and Boyle in "Sal's Pizza" tend to come up with these — although oddly, they seem to view them as being the height of wit:
Peralta: What are you two doing here? Firefighter 1: You're a detective; you detect it out! Firefighter 2: Good one, bro! Firefighter 1: I know, bro! Firefighter 2: Yeah, bro! Peralta:Wow, it's like watchingMeet the Press.
Laser-Guided Karma: In "Full Boyle", Santiago and Diaz get a lot of snide pleasure out of mocking an incredibly dorky guy who dresses up as a superhero and tries to report a crime to them... only to discover afterwards that he actually had a lot of valuable information on a major drugs ring they've been investigating. Sgt. Jeffords takes them off this case partly to punish them for their Jerkass behaviour and partly because the superhero refused to give the information to them after they dismissed him. In addition to this, Diaz shows little remorse for her cruelty even after this... so at the end, when they've made it up to the superhero, she's the one who has to take his statement and feign enthusiasm for his rambling.
Late-Arrival Spoiler: The fact that Captain Holt is homosexual is treated as a surprise reveal for both the characters and the audience in the pilot. As it's often referred to in later episodes, it becomes this for anyone who missed the pilot.
Lethal Chef: Amy is an awful cook and thinks nothing of substituting baking soda for salt. She originally had no idea that her food is not fit for human consumption. Normally her coworkers would just discretely dispose of anything she made, but finally had to admit what they did on Thanksgiving.
Amy: But I'm a good cook! You all ate those brownies I brought in last week.
Gina: I thought they were erasers.
Let's Get Dangerous: After an episode of goofy antics and neurotic behaviour, the team work as an efficient, well-oiled unit to bring down the fugitive murderer at the end of the pilot episode.
Like an Old Married Couple: In addition to the frequent bickering and competitiveness between then, Peralta and Santiago frequently give the impression of two people who have been around each other for so long they've gotten incredibly comfortable with each other's habits and foibles over time and have picked up numerous odd little personal things about each other in the process (Peralta, for example, knows about Santiago's dedication to and special technique for brushing her teeth). Invoked when they actually act as a bickering couple in order to bust a couple of perps.... who, even when they drop the act and bust them, remain incredibly convinced by it:
Perp: I'm sad y'all arresting me, but I gotta say — I'm glad you're back together.
More clearly, a Type 4 Triang Relations. Jake realizes his feelings a little too late, Amy's already with Teddy and Jake funnels his emotions into drinking, brooding, and working overtime. Until he gets called into a dangerous undercover mission, that is.
Meaningful Background Event/Right Behind Me: During Peralta's dismissive robot impression of what he expects the new precinct captain to be like, you can see Holt — the new precinct captain in question — walk up behind him.
In the Season 1 finale, you can see Captain Holt getting a phone call as he, Peralta and Santiago are walking down the hallway. This is when the FBI told Holt that Peralta would have to deny having evidence so as not to ruin a deep undercover case.
Mentor Archetype: Holt is gradually becoming this for Peralta. Santiago desperately wishes Holt was becoming this for her.
Mood Whiplash: The stakeout in the pilot episode is fairly comedic and lighthearted until Captain Holt reveals that the reason his career stalled out for so long is because of the institutional discrimination he faced as a gay man. Peralta even (briefly) drops his clownish demeanor and apologizes for his earlier antics.
Murder, Arson, and Jaywalking: The Vulture steals an arrest from Rosa just as she's about to break down a door, poaches a perp from Amy while she's reading him his rights, and swipes Charles' coffee just as he's about to take it from the barista.
Her over-competitive nature is introduced in a flashback in the pilot when a colleague warns her that the sauce she's applying to her sandwich is incredibly hot. He's not even challenging her, he's merely pointing this out to her. Her response is to snarl "Oh, is it?!", pop off the cap, and defiantly drench the sandwich in hot sauce. One bite later, she's instantly regretting it.
Explained by Jeffords:
Jeffords: She's got seven brothers, so she's always trying to prove she's tough.
Noodle Incident: Wuntch and Holt being embarrassed in front of Derek Jeter.
Nostalgia Ain't Like It Used To Be: In "Old School", Peralta's hero — a journalist who wrote a true-crime novel about a tough gang of 1970s New York cops — shows up, prompting Peralta to idealize the old 1970s cops. Holt, an openly gay African American who was actually there, takes a far less rosy-eyed view of the past:
Holt:The Seventies were not a good time for the city or for the department. Corruption, brutality, sexism... Diaz or Santiago never would have made detective, and an openly gay man like me? I never would have been given my own command.
Not So Different: In the episode "Christmas", we start to see shades of Holt and Peralta, acting like each other. It's made even clearer when flashbacks show that young Holt was more brash and cocky than he is now-much like Peralta.
In terms of the being the main characters of the series, the serious, imposing and stern Holt and the irreverent, mischievous Peralta have this dynamic.
Peralta also has this with Santiago and Boyle whenever they're seen working together on cases; Santiago is the strait-laced, uptight Foil to Peralta, and takes her job seriously while he's always goofing off. Boyle, meanwhile, is dorky, clumsy and slightly wimpy where Peralta is cool and laid back.
Oblivious Guilt Slinging: In the B-plot to "The Apartment", Diaz and Boyle get back on Det. Lohank shaving on her keyboard by filling his locker full of loose hair and shaving cream. However, when they talk to him and ask him if he's going to hit his locker before going to the gym, he tells them that he hasn't gone to the gym in a while because he's been having marital problems, his wife's become addicted to painkillers, and his dog accidentally got out and was hit by a drunk driver, and says his vet told him that the dog's suffering was "unending and terrible."
Lohank: ...I'm sorry, I'm just venting a little. I appreciate it. Diaz: O-of course, anything for a friend like you. Charles, can I see you for a minute? Boyle: Yep. (both hastily leave for the locker room)
When he catches them cleaning up the mess, Holt angrily points out that Lohank has been diagnosed with cancer, thus unwittingly adding to the carpet-bombing of guilt that Boyle and Diaz have already experienced:
Diaz: Of course he has...
One Dialogue, Two Conversations: After Peralta arrests an 86 year old & notes it was his oldest arrest, Diaz & Santiago compare their oldest collars. Boyle then walks in & mentions the 68 year old that he had bagged, before Diaz realises that Boyle's not talking about his oldest arrest.
Only a Flesh Wound: Surprisingly averted by a show this comedic. They mine as much humor possible out of Boyle getting shot in the ass for a few episodes before seeming to forget about it, only to reveal he's still feeling pain months later. It's Played for Laughs, but it's still acknowledgement of the long term trauma that can be caused by bullet wounds.
Only Sane Employee: Holt and Jeffords both. As the two highest ranking officers in the Nine-Nine, one or both of them is invariably tasked with keeping them in line.
Boyle has quite a few of these, having something of a wimpy demeanor in general. Most of them are prompted by Detective Diaz, whom he clearly has a crush on, saying something that contradicts him and his desperate attempts to try and impress her.
Pizza Boy Special Delivery: At the end of "The Bet". Just as Peralta's "bad date" had tanked and he'd been getting a little closer to Santiago, the stripper he hired early on to cap things off finally shows up.
Police Are Useless: Played with. The main characters are quirky but competent police officers. However, the other detectives in the squad are described by Jeffords as completely useless. Later, Gina tells Holt that she wants to learn how to shoot because the local cops are useless. She lives in the area policed by Precinct 99. Although in Gina's case, she does have a habit of outright trolling Holt and the other cops, and the real reason she was there was as an official witness to get Jeffords re-certified to go into the field, so her statement was definitely not the truth.
Power Walk: Done by the main cast in the opening credits.
Precious Puppy: One B-plot has Holt somehow winding up with two of these that he tries to pass to someone in the team. Anyone.
Pulled From Your Day Off: Peralta once causes everyone at the precinct to have to abandon the rest of their day off and work a case all night long and the next morning, all because he screwed up. Everyone hates him for it.
Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: In the pilot, when Terry is giving the run-down on the other officers, he give a nice well-prepared blurb about all of them, especially Peralta finishing with a tag-line esque "The only puzzle Jake never learned to solve is growing up." Holt lampshades this by saying it was very well put, and Terry justifies the trope by saying he's talked a lot about Jake at his department-ordered therapy.
Reality Ensues: One of the cutaways shows Jake pursuing a thief, who then tries to flee in a car. The car gets a few feet out of its parking space before becoming stuck in the usual New York traffic, thus ruining the potential Hollywood car chase.
Rousing Speech: Parodied in "Halloween", Peralta claims to Holt that in order to get everyone else to help him win his bet to steal Holt's Medal of Valor, he delivered "a rousing speech that would put Shakespeare to shame"... that failed to convince anyone. His offer to do their paperwork for them, on the other hand...
One episode has one Cutaway Gag after another when different members of the team mention how Holt simply cannot emote. The fourth one is when Hitchcock comes in with his own Cutaway Gag, where he claims he can't read Holt either even when Holt was clearly on his last nerve and yelling at him at the time.
Flashbacks to the tenure of Holt's predecessor, Captain Milligan, where he leaves his office to find the rest of the station goofing off, asks what they're doing and being given a matter-of-fact answer, before simply responding "Okay." and walking back into his office.
Flashbacks to Holt's past career in the 1970s and 1980s — which provide an excellent excuse to dress Andre Braugher up in an afro-wig and a collection of extremely tasteless suits — also tend to pop up quite frequently.
Peralta taking things Santiago says out of context and claiming they'd be good titles for her sex tape.
Scully nonchalantly discussing his various disgusting medical ailments, which frequently centre around his feet.
Peralta will latch on to any excuse to develop an overly elaborate undercover/role-play identity for his current assignment, even when it's something as simple as running a sting to catch a graffiti artist or chasing down a perp by getting the suspects to sign a document.
Captain Holt being found hilarious by everyone but his actual coworkers.
The criminals the squad deal with have a tendency to get sucked into the petty personal dramas of the detectives, to the point where they often end up nonchalantly confessing to their crimes. They also tend not to be incredibly bright and terrible liars.
Adam Sandler: I collect antiquities, I'm a serious person. I'm writing a movie right now about the Russian Revolution. Peralta: Oh, really? Who does Kevin James play? Adam Sandler: Ha ha, it's a serious movie. [Beat] Adam Sandler: ... Trotsky. But he's got a wife who never wears a bra, I think you're gonna like it.
After Holt apologises for Peralta starting a brawl between the Fire Department & Police Department, Peralta points out he was the only saying they should stop hitting each other. Jump Cut to back to the fight, and...
Peralta: Stop hitting! Kicking hurts more!
Although Fire Marshall Boone isn't that much better; after the fight, he angrily demands that Holt fire Peralta for overstepping his boundaries and starting the fight — conveniently leaving out the fact that, while Peralta did overstep the mark, it was in fact Boone who threw the first punch (without provocation at that, since he didn't even wait for Peralta to finish speaking).
Sexy Coat Flashing: In a flashback, Wuntch does this to Holt. Holt's reaction is a No Sell, between his stoicism and homosexuality.
Boyle, during a painkiller-induced truth bombing spree, gives Jake a pep talk about how Jake is too immature to properly admit his feelings for Amy.
Terry is rather gleeful upon finding out that Jake has feelings for Amy and suggests they get drunk so that Jake can at least temporarily forget about how Amy is dating Teddy.
Ship Tease: Although it's become less overt since the pilot, the show still teases Peralta/Santiago from time to time. There's the terms of their bet (where, if Peralta wins, Santiago goes on a date with him which may or may not end in sex or, at minimum, heavy making out), they've shared several warm-and-fuzzy Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments throughout the show, Peralta drunk-texted Santiago constantly while hanging out with Jimmy Brogan in "Old School", and then there's this conversation after Peralta sits on a chair recently vacated by Santiago:
Peralta: Wow, your butt's really warm. Santiago:[Defensive] My butt's normal! Your butt's the weird one! Peralta: Don't get mad; it's nice.
The above is discussed in "The Bet", where Boyle points out to Peralta that his childish pranking and teasing of Santiago is basically him acting like a fourth grader pulling the pigtails of the girl he's got a crush on because he doesn't know how else to get her attention. Upon seeing Santiago in the ridiculous dress he got for her for the date, Peralta also notes (apparently without noticing the subtext) that it reminds him of "every girl at every Bat Mitzvah I ever had a crush on".
The show also occasionally hints that Diaz, despite her attitude, might be more fond of Boyle than she lets on.
In "Tactical Village" the ship teasing subtext is bought right out in the open into merely 'text'. Boyle tells Jake that the reason why Santiago went out with her ex-boyfriend again is because he asked her, and then Peralta follows through on that, only to have Amy tell her she was going on a date with another guy already, forcing Peralta to not actually end up asking her.
Comes to a head in the season one closer, "Charges and Specs". Jake admits to Amy that he wishes something 'could happen between [them]...romantic stylez' just before he goes undercover for 6 months. Amy is too shocked to reply before Jake leaves.
The first episode of Season Two begins teasing Boyle and Gina.
Also from the same episode, the black leather-goth ensemble Boyle wears when he's "embracing the Void" makes him look like he's just stepped out of The Matrix (as pointed out by some of the precinct members).
Spiritual Successor: It's basically a twenty-first century equivalent to Barney Miller, a 1970s Work Com which also revolved around a straight-laced police captain in charge of a unit of eccentric detectives based out of a New York city police station.
It's pretty similar to The Unusuals, or at least the more comedic parts of that show.
Springtime for Hitler: In "Christmas", upon receiving a death threat Holt appoints Peralta as his bodyguard. Holt dismisses the threat as a hoax and appoints Peralta because he figures that Peralta will goof off as normal and thus leave him alone to carry on as normal. Unfortunately, not only does Peralta take the death threat a mite more seriously than Holt expects, but the position of Holt's bodyguard comes with numerous ways of asserting authority over Holt that Peralta is unable to pass up, thus providing more of an imposition on Holt. It's later revealed that Holt in fact knew the threat was real, but the trope plays out the same since Holt was actually hoping Peralta would leave him alone so that Holt could investigate the threat by himself.
Straight Gay: Holt. Also his husband Kevin, head of the classics department at Columbia.
Strange Minds Think Alike: Both Boyle and Captain Holt consider 'mouth-feel' an essential quality to consider when judging a really good pizza.
Stupid Crooks: Discussed in "Halloween" after Peralta arrests a criminal who tried robbing a bank wearing a banana costume. During his getaway the crook managed to get himself trapped in a revolving door and then a dye pack exploded in his face. Peralta then claims that he would be a much better criminal and none of the other detectives could catch him. Holt disagrees and they end up making a bet whether Peralta can outsmart Holt and steal Holt's Medal of Valor before midnight.
Often played for laughs; in general, most of the crooks who show up on the show aren't exactly the brightest sparks out there.
If a team gets door duty, we seem to get treated to this. So far this has occurred in the Pilot and "The Vulture."
Played with in "Sal's Pizza," in which Gina uses her Cloud Cuckoolander tendencies to freak out the interviewees. Later she explains why each interviewee was unsuited for the job.
"The Apartment" has Jake and Gina searching for an apartment to replace the eponymous one he's going to lose, and each one is horrible.
The team invokes this in "Charges and Specs" when asked to stall for Jake at the titular hearing (see Courtroom Antic above).
Thanksgiving Episode: Played surprisingly straight here. There's the overeager family member trying to make it all perfect (Double Subverted: looks to be Boyle, turns out to be Santiago) and bonding in the B-plot (Peralta and Holt).
Token Minority: Averted. Of the seven members of the main cast, three are female, four are ethnic minorities, and one is openly homosexual.
Twofer Token Minority: Diaz and Santiago, both Latina women, would fit, except that they're, again, both well-developed characters with non-stereotypical personalities.
Holt is this in-universe; he's a good cop who got sidelined because he was openly gay, until times changed and the brass wanted to make a big deal about having a gay officer, which instead resulted in him being shunted into a primarily PR position with no actual case load. The fact that he's black probably helped.
Tomboy and Girly Girl: Diaz and Santiago respectively (for a given value of 'Girly Girl' at least given that they're both police officers, not a typically 'Girly Girl' profession).
Often, this is the dynamic between both Diaz and Santiago vs. extremely high-maintenance Gina.
Holt: "One of these pictures is of your locker, and the other one is a garbage dump in the Philippines. Can you tell which is which?" Peralta: (pointing at the right side one) "That one." Holt: "They're both your locker!"
Truth in Television: Holt points out that the 1970s was a lot harder on ethnic and sexual minorities than the present day.
Turn in Your Badge: Invoked then subverted. Jake tries to do this in anger, only to be told by Holt that he's only on administrative leave and thus doesn't have to.
Jake: YOU NEVER LET ME DO ANYTHING COOL!
Played with at the end of "Charges and Specs," the season one finale, when Jake's antics actually do get him fired... at least, for appearance's sake. He's actually going undercover with the FBI, and only Holt and the other members of his squad know about it.
Unfolding Plan Montage: At the end of "Halloween", Peralta explains to Captain Holt his plan to steal Holt's medal of valor, while in flashback we see the other members of the squad executing the plan.
Santiago: Hello. Mlepnos: Hello. Santiago: What's your name? Mlepnos: My name? Mlepnos. Santiago: Can you spell that please? Mlepnos: M... L... E... P... Clay... Santiago: Did you say 'clay'? Mlepnos: Yes, de 'clay' is silent.
Unspoken Plan Guarantee: When Peralta reveals his heist plan merely a few minutes into "Halloween II", you just know something's gonna go wrong.
UST: Peralta and Santiago seem to be developing this, as observed by a perp whom they arrest after posing as a bickering couple to get close enough without suspicion:
Criminal: I'm sad y'all arrestin' me, but I gotta say; I'm glad y'all back together.
Wangst: Invoked by Peralta, for Fuzzy Cuddlebear, the nanny-cam that caught the electronics store robbers.
Played for laughs in the very first shot, when Peralta delivers a grim monologue to camera about how every passing day on the streets, he's becoming more and more like the animals he puts behind bars... except it turns out he's just quoting Donnie Brasco into the camera display of an electronics store that's been burgled.
Welcome Episode: Sgt. Jeffords introduces Holt, the new captain, to the squad. Jeffords gives the standard Info Dump that often happens in this scenario.
Wham Line: In "Halloween", when Peralta is explaining his gambit to the skeptical Holt.
Diaz: Hey, thanks for shooting that guy. Boyle:(chuckles) Hey, my pleasure. Perp: Your pleasure? This was a human being you just killed. Bill Perp had a family! [after a beat, both Boyle and Diaz decide to shoot the Perp again]
With Due Respect: Peralta in the pilot, when he asks Holt why it took so long for Holt to receive his first command in light of Holt bringing down 'the Disco Strangler'. Played with, in that Peralta actually is showing Holt respect for the first time in the episode.
What the Hell, Hero?: In "Pontiac Bandit", when he learns that everyone has escaped to an upstairs evidence room in order to avoid having to help out Boyle, Captain Holt storms in and angrily gives everyone a piece of his mind about how Boyle is not only a cop who was wounded in the line of duty to protect another cop, but he's also a well-meaning man who only wants affection from people and so deserves better from them. It's parodied as well; while everyone is suitably abashed and ashamed of themselves, they also point out that Holt for various reasons happens to be holding a pair of adorable puppies, which tends to undercut the anger he is trying to convey.
When She Smiles: Diaz is normally scowling or smirking sarcastically. But when she genuinely smiles it's like she's another person entirely. Trying to get her to smile for a Christmas photo takes up an entire subplot of one episode.
Santiago is impressed by Holt and has adopted him as her 'rabbi'. So far, this appears to involve copious amounts of unprompted sucking up on her part.
Boyle also has a tendency to act like this to everyone, especially Peralta and Rosa. It's lampshaded in "Halloween" when, faced with his team's skepticism about whether he'll be able to win his bet with Holt, Peralta protests that they're normally telling him he's the best. After a moment's thought, he realizes that it actually only ever seems to be Boyle who keeps telling him this. In "Thanksgiving", Boyle admits that he's a chronic people-pleaser and that "it's a serious problem."