Detective Goren's style is definitely unique and an acquired taste.
Second Spin-Off from the popular Law & Order series, Criminal Intent basically shows the viewer what is happening from the criminal's perspective as well as the ongoing police investigation. Basically, what happens when Columbo is brought into the Law & Order universe, complete with a quirky genius detective - Robert Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio), an anti-social, twitchy detective in the NYPD Major Case Squad who has a very sharp mind for piecing together details and lateral thinking. Together with dryly sardonic partner Alex Eames (Kathryn Erbe), they investigate the most serious crimes that occur in New York (most of which seem to be murders or end up in murders), whilst the show also gives us the perspective of the people responsible for it (or at least people who are connected to the people responsible for it).In 2005, Mike Logan (Chris Noth) - formerly of the original series - joined the cast when D'Onofrio began to suffer from exhaustion. The episodes alternated between Goren and Eames one week, and Logan and his partner the other from that point. In 2009, Logan was replaced by Zach Nichols (Jeff Goldblum), though Megan Wheeler (Julianne Nicholson) has stayed. In 2010, Goren and Eames left the show at the conclusion of the second half of season 9's two-part premiere. Eric Bogosian also left the show and was replaced as the Major Case captain by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. Nicholson's character, too, has left the show and was replaced by Saffron Burrows as new detective Serena Stevens.The show was renewed for a tenth season that brought back D'Onofrio and Erbe for eight final episodes. Criminal Intent aired its finale on June 26, 2011, ending its run after ten years and 195 episodes.
Anywhere but Their Lips: In the season 9 opener, after Goren is fired, he and Eames are saying goodbye as partners for the last time. They full-on embrace for the first time in the series, and Goren presses a rather intense kiss to her cheek for several seconds.
May be justified. Despite his excellent skill at understanding homicidal maniacs, Goren is seemingly awkward in interpersonal relationships. Something as personal and intimate as kissing her on the lips would be difficult for him.
It had all the intensity of a more obvious kiss, but without the non-shippers' outrage.
Asshole Victim: Subverted in "Contract", where the victim is a gossip columist who was blackmailing a Bill O'Reilly-esque newsman when he was killed. After the credits, we learn that he only turned to blackmail to provide for his kid sister. It eventually turns out that he was murdered for trying to expose the man who raped her.
Badass Adorable: Eames is five-foot-two, adorable, and blonde. And she is just as terrifying as Goren when she gets going, if not more so.
Brains and Brawn: Funnily enough, Eames is the muscle in her partnership with Goren. She's no slouch in the intellect department - she's shown to be much more computer-savvy than her partner - but she's physically very tough despite her size.
Though it must be said that Goren himself, being both a police officer and a former military man, has proven to be more than capable of handling himself in a fight.
Break Them by Talking: a favorite tactic of Goren's is to either play psychological mind games or confront the perp of the week with evidence of what a truly pathetic and inadequate person they really are until they crack.
Broken Bird: Alex's husband was a cop killed in the line of duty.
Complexity Addiction: Several of the perps seem to suffer from this. For example, in the episode "Grow," a killer sets up a fake mugging to murder his brother, but kills him with an injection of poison under his tongue (to fake a heart attack), rather than just shooting or stabbing him like a mugger would do.
Actually, the killer was the significant other of the victim's brother and Goren's Arch-Enemy Nicole Wallace.
Cop Killer: Occasionally dealt with. In particular, Alex's first husband was a police officer killed in the line of duty.
Cross Over: With the original series, three times in the first season.
One episode had a brief cameo by the lead character from In Plain Sight. Strangely enough, a criminal later taunts that said character's expectation that he'll break down and confess was a product of her having watched too much CSI. Such confessions are more or less Criminal Intent's trademark.
Karl Atwood, the bad guy in the very first episode ("One"), had a girlfriend and an old prison buddy with whom he was intimate. Goren theorizes that he uses anal sex as a means of dominating others, but the girlfriend refuses to comment.
Donut Mess with a Cop: Terrorists wire a car door to high explosives with a box of donuts in clear view inside the car. Nichols breaks the glass, confirms his suspicions, and tells a cop on-scene to call the bomb squad.
Empty Cop Threat: Carried out. A killer Goren interviewed (who was later proven to have been his biological dad) was executed. In Pennsylvania, where it was still legal.
Executive Meddling: In-universe example in "Faith," in which an autobiography written by a Littlest Cancer Patient had to be tightened up a bit by an editor for publication. It's eventually revealed the editor did more to improve the story than even she realizes, which gives Goren the psychological tools he needs to manipulate her into confessing to the episode's murder.
Finger in the Mail: Inverted/subverted in a season finale episode when Goren receives a human heart while investigating the death of his brother Frank and possible kidnapping of his nephew. Turns out it actually belongs to serial killer Nicole Wallace, who had killed Frank and was subsequently killed by Goren's unhinged mentor, who wanted to remove himself, Nicole and Frank from Goren's life in one fell swoop.
Flaw Exploitation: In "The Saint", this is the criminal's motivation: he believes the church was taking advantage of his mentally ill mother, who insisted on donating everything she could to their cause, to the point of completely cleaning out their bank account because she thought the church needed the money more.
Focus Group Ending: A blatant and unashamed example in the episode "Great Barrier." Viewers were asked to vote on which would be the true ending on NBC's website. The losing non-canon ending had Goren shooting his nemesis Nicole Wallace.
Guile Hero: Arguably the entire premise of the show. The criminals are the most extraordinary collection of magnificent bastards and Chessmasters you can imagine. But when Goren's on the case, they don't stand a chance.
A former military suspect asks to be cuffed in front out of respect for his family. He grabs a gun off one of the officers and kills himself. This immediately after attempting to kill himself and being stopped by the officers who arrested him. One wonders why they thought that was a good idea.
Justified when the police handcuff a deaf man with his hands in front, since handcuffing him with his hands behind his back would be akin to gagging him.
Leslie Lezard when she lectures Goren about his self-destructive behavior ruining his and Eames' careers.
Zigzagged by Nicole and Goren as they tear into each other over the years.
Harpo Does Something Funny: In the special features of the Season 1 DVD, the producers say that after hiring Vincent D'Onofrio they basically allowed him to do whatever he wanted, leading to many Funny Moments and one of the most distinctive characters in the crime genre.
More disturbingly, Goren's real biological father turned out to have been a serial killer.
It Got Worse: Goren's mentor killed everyone he knew and loved because he thought Goren would have fun trying to find out who did it. It was also done so Goren would be "free" of the two biggest burdens in his life: his druggie brother Frank and Nicole Wallace.
It Is Pronounced Tro PAY Ms. Nobile insists it is pronounced "no-bee-lay", not "no-beel". It's seldom pronounced right except to her face.
Like Brother and Sister: Goren tells his season 10 therapist that this is his relationship with Eames (the therapist doesn't seem convinced).
Vincent D'Onofrio has also stated that this is the real life relationship between himself and Kathryn Erbe.
Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: A serial killer binds, gags and locks Eames in a basement with an electronic door lock. She escapes using wire, nails, electricity and a giant hook left laying around the place.
Mad Artist: The killer from "The Posthumous Collection".
Meaningful Name: Mr. Devildis, the insane fundamentalist Christian, crossed the Despair Event Horizon and tries to save his family and friends by murdering them. Hilariously, his name isn't commented on.
Averted on occasion, when he breaks a suspect who then confesses to a crime they haven't committed.
Deconstructed another episode (where the overbearing nature of her husband causes a woman to kill two her children in a failed mass-suicide attempt) where Goren sucessfully caused the husband to break into a motive rant, but it ends up being all for naught because despite the husband being a world-class Jerk Ass, nothing that he did was technically illegal.
Murder.com: The episode "Weeping Willow," although here the crime is kidnapping, not murder.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: The episode "Collective" centers around the fandom of an author named Carlotta Francis, whose works are quite clearly inspired by those of Anne Rice.
No Ending: Criminal Intent doesn't indulge in this as much as SVU, but there are several episodes that end this way, one of the most notable being "Flipped". Logan and Wheeler get the perp, a cop killer, but he is murdered by an undercover cop while the guards at Rikers turn the other way. The episode ends with the cop walking away.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In "Chinoiserie", Goren and Eames immediately identify a supposed British lord as a fake by his atrocious accent which keeps jumping around the UK. The outraged impostor, an actor unknowingly hired to play the role as part of a con, keeps insisting that it is "a perfectly valid British musical hall accent".
Real Life Writes the Plot: When Kathryn Erbe became pregnant with her second child, a pregnancy arc was written out for Eames in which she acted as the surrogate mother for her sister's child. This of course resulted in an Obvious Pregnancy later that season.
Also the case with Julianne Nicholson; her first pregnancy was avoided by having the character Put on a Bus for the first half of Season Seven, but the second time they wrote it in.
When Jamey Sheridan was affected with Bell's Palsy, so was Deakins (who donned an Eyepatch of Power). At times it was obvious the poor guy was visibly struggling with it and was having a hard time saying his lines.
Retool: Started out focused entirely on the exploits of Goren and Eames until Vincent D'Onforio began suffering exhaustion. After this the show was retooled with Mike Logan (Chris Noth's character from the orignal L&O) being added in and alternating every other episode with Goren and Eames. Things stayed this way (though with Noth being replaced by Jeff Goldblum in season 8.
One noteworthy episode ("Want") was based on Jeffrey Dahmer, and included things like the killer being employed in a candy-related job, his longing for a permanent companion, cannibalism of body parts, boiling water being poured into holes drilled in the victim's head, and the killer being murdered in prison while on work detail. Neil Patrick Harris even looked scarily similar to Dahmer in the episode.
Sadistic Choice: Holy hell, "Able & Willing." The one forcing the choice is the son of a Holocaust survivor whose own father and grandparents had to choose (father and grandfather survived), who's also a therapist.
Serial Killings, Specific Target: In "Poison", Trudy Pomeranski uses poisoned OTC painkillers to murder her husband and slips the extras onto store shelves to allay suspicion and set up a lucrative class action lawsuit.
Finally averted in Season 10, with mandatory therapy sessions being a condition of Goren's reinstatement.
Back in Season 6, Eames also had to attend therapy sessions after being kidnapped by Jo Gage.
They Fight Crime: He's a quirky detective with an uncanny ability to read human behavior. She's a normal, well-adjusted human being. They fight crime.
They Were Holding You Back: In a rather bizzare twist on this, Declan Gage intended to get rid of himself for this reason, along with Frank Goren and Nicole Wallace.
Too Dumb to Live: The perp in "Contract". He assumes that Logan isn't lying about his willingness to drop his investigation for a bribe, brags about the details of his "amazing" plan to Logan, tries to claim his rape of the victim's sister was consensual (even though she was a minor) and the perp makes repeated death threats against Logan when the police show up to arrest him, ruining what little chance he had to get acquitted.
Undying Loyalty: In the Season 9 opener, not only does Eames fight with Nichols about investigating Goren over the murders, but she accepts the captain's post only long enough to ensure that she's the one who fires Goren (so she knows he will be treated well in the exit interview). Once he leaves, she resigns rather than stay without her beloved partner. The episode is even called "Loyalty," a reference both to the MCS detectives' loyalty to their captain and the partners' loyalty to each other.
The Unfavourite: Despite Bobby being the only one of her two sons who takes care of her and is always there for her, Frances Goren makes it clear that his brother Frank is the one she really loves. This causes a lot of issues for Goren. This might stem from Bobby's true parentage. Mrs. Goren told him that "she just never knew for sure".
Unresolved Sexual Tension: Finally acknowledged in one episode by Goren's brother Frank, who irritably told his brother to "take Eames to a motel and get it out of your system." Bobby's reaction was... not pretty.
Vomiting Cop: A twist on the trope in this series; in one episode, Wheeler has been pregnant for a while and has been throwing up every day. The crime scene she visits is one of the less disturbing ones she's seen, but in her condition it's enough to bring her breakfast back up.
Well, to be fair, she didn't get sick until she realized that the victim had been scrubbed inside and out with bleach. That's pretty disturbing.
Waif-Fu: Eames is five feet and two inches of pure badass. And she's the senior detective in her partnership with Goren.
Watching the Reflection Undress: One killer was a voyeuristic doctor who strategically placed a stainless steel cabinet door in his office so he could watch his patients change in the reflection.
The Watson: Eames seems to be an interface between Goren and the rest of the world, much as the Trope Namer is for his partner-in-crimesolving. Her main function is to help him interact with the rest of humanity, and to maneuver the suspect into a position where Goren can let loose with his Goren brilliance.
What the Hell, Hero?: For the entire unit; a black drug dealer suspect points out that the crime they're investigating wouldn't be "high priority" if a white tourist hadn't gotten caught in the crossfire.
Will They or Won't They?: The season 9 opener, where Goren and Eames both left the show, was left a bit open-ended in this regard, making this a case of No Romantic Resolution. It was definitely stated that they would see each other outside of the workplace, but the exact direction the relationship would take was not clarified. This was done so that those who ship them can believe that they will, and those who don't want them together romantically can believe that they won't.
And then season 10 (and the series) ended with an equally open-ended possibility of them eventually getting together. Eames later guest-starred on SVU, where it was implied that they weren't together, although she did take on some of Goren's personality traits.