Series / Law & Order: Criminal Intent

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"In New York City's war on crime, the worst criminal offenders are pursued by the detectives of the Major Case Squad. These are their stories." DONG DONG

Second Spin-Off from the popular Law & Order series, Criminal Intent 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), a twitchy, anti-social 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.

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Provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: An abundance of them, most of them seen to be something other than physically abusive and who usually end up being a Karma Houdini:
  • Accidental Murder: "Albatross" had the set-up that the obnoxious lout of a husband arranged to be shot in a duel, only for his partner to be killed instead.
  • All There in the Manual: Although some fans believe it to be of the Ass Pull variety, Kathryn Erbe revealed in an interview from 2001 that Eames had a husband who was killed in the line of duty and even she believed that it would never be brought up in the series.
  • All Women Love Shoes: From "Ex Stasis":
    Eames: "No woman with a 40-slot shoe rack willingly walks around in a pair of crappy shoes."
  • Always Murder: Even though the real Major Case Squad does not handle murders. (At least not directly; it does handle bank robberies and kidnappings, both of which can certainly end in murder.)
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Goren is all sorts of crazy, with multiple quirks and ticks, but avoids any specific disorder or symptom set.
  • And Another Thing...
  • And I Must Scream: Several times, there's someone who is in a dire medical situation to which there is no hope of recovering. "Phantom" (suspect strangled and left in a coma), "Conscience" (a woman suffers cardiac arrest and is left in a coma for several years), "Acts of Contrition" (a man viciously beaten by three thugs and left with permanent brain damage.)
  • And Starring: Courtney B. Vance as ADA Carver.
  • And the Adventure Continues: How it all ends.
  • 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.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Used all the time to break perps.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: The main suspect in "Sound Bodies" did not appreciate being confronted by Goren with his criminal acts or his Missing Mom, who ran out on him when he was a child.
  • 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.
    • The manipulative hustler from "Collective" who caused the main victim to be accidentally killed by the police ended up being asphyxiated halfway through the episode.
  • The Atoner: A suspect from "Acts of Contrition", a nun who saves prostitutes from their pimps, is atoning for her youth for being a delinquent who slept around and hung out with racists.
  • Awful Wedded Life: This was the relationship between the Police Commissioner and his wife in "The War at Home". Sadly, they were so distracted by their marital woes that they weren't there for their daughter, who went missing.
  • The Baby Trap: Both the killer and her sister in Dollhouse.
    • The wife in "Ill-Bred", whose husband was having an affair with his wealthy boss's wife, had set him up to get her pregnant by unknowingly poking holes in his condoms so they could blackmail her over the child's paternity so they could own their own horse ranch.
  • 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.
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: What allowed Jojo Rios, the main suspect in "Legion", to manipulate his young followers into doing his bidding: he told them that he was the lone survivor of a group of people sailing for America on a tiny, ramshackle boat from Cuba. In reality, he came to the country after he had aged out of foster care, where he had been placed years earlier after his father went to prison.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: The one suspect from "Depths" was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed bombshell that was able to use her looks into misleading the investigation into thinking that her ex-husband and Middle Eastern colleagues were the real criminals.
  • Because I'm Good at It: From "Rock Star":
    Zach Nichols: "I like it, and I'm good at it... and that kid's a killer."
  • Best Friend Manual: Eames for Goren.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Never, ever, ever threaten or harm Eames. Goren will hunt you to the ends of the earth.
    • Word of advice: Do not mess with Goren's mother or he will rip your head off.
    • Don't disrespect your own mother in Goren's presence, either.
    • And though it's not seen nearly as often, hurting Goren where Eames can get so much as a whiff of it is not a safe place to stand.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Goren is probably the sanest member of his family. That should tell you a lot.
  • Blackface: Attempted but ultimately averted in "Gemini". While the suspect would have framed his mentally ill brother as both a White supremacist and a killer, he would fly off to the Carribbean and disguise himself as such using food coloring and cold cream.
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: Inverted in "Mad Hops", as the White coach had romantic feelings for his one player's Black mother, only for her to reject him and want only for her son's future.
  • Blackmail: The driving force behind the actions of the killer of "Tuxedo Hill".
  • Boring, but Practical: Thrill at the wonders of Forensic Accounting!
    • Goren often states that his most deadly weapon as an investigator is his library card.
  • The Boxing Episode: "Ten Count."
  • 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.
  • British Brevity: The eight-episode tenth season is highly unusual by American TV standards, but greatly resembles the seasonal offerings of shows created across the pond.
  • Broken Bird: Alex's husband was a cop killed in the line of duty.
  • Broken Pedestal: What Goren eventually comes to think of his mentor, Declan Gage, and with damn good reason: not only did his cold, unloving behavior towards his daughter, Jo, and early exposure to his violent casefiles turn her into a Serial Killer who kidnapped and tried to kill Eames, but also he himself murdered both his brother, Frank, and Nicole Wallace in an effort to "improve" his life.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Usually downplayed with Goren, but he'll sometimes adopt an exaggerated Brooklyn accent if he thinks it'll help with his Perp Sweating.
  • The Cast Show Off: In "Rock Star," Jeff Goldblum's first episode, he has a scene where he gets to demonstrate his skill as a pianist.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Actually, Chekhov's brick in "Untethered", as part of Goren's plan to get into Tates.
  • Christmas Cake: The main suspect in "Betrayed".
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Carver and Barek both left the series after season 5 without explanation, and each were mentioned exactly once afterwards.
  • Church of Happyology: The villain of "Con-Text" runs one of these, which he calls GraceNote.
  • Clear My Name: The season 7 finale has Det. Goren being framed for the murder of his brother by his Arch-Enemy Nicole Wallace and mentor Declan Gage.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Goren's mannerisms really give this impression (especially when he tilts his head).
    • Nichols is Jeff Goldblum doing his Jeff Goldblum thing, so he counts too.
  • Cold Opening
  • Comatose Canary: Subverted in the episode based on the Terry Schiavo case.
  • 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.
    • It's revealed, however, that the killer was really the significant other of the victim's brother and Goren's Arch-Enemy, Nicole Wallace.
  • Continuity Snarl: This was a common complaint of the later seasons given the Genre Shift and rotating characters/blurry character motivations, but a prime example would be the season 8 episode "All In." To follow, it was an ostensible continuation of the season 5 episode "Cruise To Nowhere," but unless the slight similarities were pointed out, most fans missed the connection. This was because the character's name was unnecessarily changed from Joey Frost to Josh Snow; additionally, characters, plot lines and personality between both episodes were either left murky or forgotten all together (like Joey/Josh becoming more methodical and aware instead of just street smart with little to no skills at being an adult and no mention of the mother from before), and the character went from being in his early 20s initially to being in his late 20s to early 30s in the later episode.
  • Cop Killer: Occasionally dealt with. In particular, Alex's first husband was a police officer killed in the line of duty.
    • The couple from "Stray" who murdered two undercover cops also killed around seven other people.
  • Courtroom Antics: Strongly averted, as the series rarely focused on this aspect and Carver himself was more so into seeking confessions and plea bargains versus taking defendants to trial.
  • Creepy Souvenir: The one suspect from "Semi-Detached" was able to give her ex a keychain with his initials. What was believed to be "shiny black thread" was in actuality the hair of his favorite DJ, who she had killed because he censored his calls and took his hair when he,was a patient at the hospital that she worked at.
  • Crime Time Soap: Though perhaps not as much as Special Victims Unit, although many would agree that it became this since Rene Balcer left after season 5.
  • Crocodile Tears: Lampshaded in "The Unblinking Eye", by a suspect who held a press conference to show the world that he was "grieving" his slain fiancée.
    Eames: There's nothing like watching a crocodile cry.
  • Crossover: 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.
  • Crazy People Play Chess: The villain in the season 4 episode "Gone" was this.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: "The Healer" (two women asphyxiated in plastic, life-sized cocoons), "Faith" (man set on fire with the accelerant being nail polish remover), "The View From Here" (man attacked with a circular saw), "Shibboleth" (women are hog-tied and if they attempt to free themselves or leave their intricate position, they strangle themselves), "Blasters" (a man is systematically hanged by a group of mafiosos and then left to rot in a park), "Beast" (the victims poisoned with dioxin, which is difficult to come by and make), "Great Barrier" (a suspect has their trachea crushed then drowned), amongst others.
  • Da Chief: Captain Ross is rather obviously outclassed by Goren, though he isn't shy to call Goren out on more blatant shenanigans.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Detective Eames is made of this trope.
    • Goren has his moments.
    • And Wheeler gets her moments as well.
    Detective Nichols: "How's the, uh...how's the body?"
    Detective Wheeler: "Dead."
  • Death by Despair: Discussed by the missing little girl's great-Aunt in "Folie a Deux". She said that the little girl was the only thing keeping her alive and she knew that she was dead and that her nephew and his wife had killed her.
  • Deer in the Headlights: Lorelai Mailer in the episode "Bombshell."
  • Defective Detective: Goren, although Logan has his issues as well.
    • Again, Goren has degenerated since creator Rene Balcer left.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Nicole Wallace. To be fair to the show, her bisexuality isn't actually portrayed as a negative, and they make it clear she's just plain messed up, period. Also, it appears her only confirmed lesbian relationship may have been simply a means to an end rather than due to any actual desire.
    • 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.
  • Detective Drama
  • Determinator: "Consumed" is about two married Determinators going head-to-head during their divorce. The husband has hidden fifteen million dollars in an offshore account. In order to avoid giving any of it to his wife, he spends six years in jail for contempt of court, which Goren says is a record for New York. The wife, meanwhile, has a secret life as a private investigator trying to track down the money. Goren and Eames find a storage unit (which Goren calls her "Batcave") filled with disguises, photography equipment, and even adult diapers that she uses on stakeouts because she can't risk missing anything. The detectives are stunned at the lengths to which these two will go to get the better of the other. (And it turns out the wife, by committing the murders that open the episode, had gotten access to the money, but she burns the notebook with the bank account numbers because she doesn't care about the money; beating her husband was all that mattered anymore.)
  • Deus Angst Machina: Goren qualifies, if anyone does. Let's see... his schizophrenic mother hates him, even though he's the only one who takes care of her; his drug-addicted brother gets all the love from their mother; his father - who treated him like shit anyway - turns out not to be his real father; and his biological father turns out to be a murderer, who then gets executed, which on the show NEVER HAPPENS. He gets persecuted by the FBI, ends up in a mental hospital, and gets (temporarily) fired, not to mention his health and good looks go to shit, too. This is only a partial list of all the shit that goes down. If anyone can be accused of provoking the wrath of the writer-deities, this character would be definitely be it. The unrelenting, unceasing suffering that occurs was enough to make many fans stop watching the show, out of sheer disgust. Quite literally, Goren's relationship with his partner (however you choose to interpret it) is the only thing he has going for him — no wonder she's his Berserk Button! If anyone earned a happy ending they never got, it's Goren. Shoot the Shaggy Dog, already.
    • Even his relationship with Eames was messed with. When Goren goes undercover in season 7 (without her knowing beforehand), Eames almost shoots him in the face when the police raid the apartment. The resulting shouting match puts a strain on their partnership for a long time, though they eventually recover.
  • Did You Actually Believe...?: Used in "Eosphoros" when the lone survivor of a killing spree confronted the killer who used her for grandmother's money and said he'd never be with her because she was obese.
  • Dies Wide Open: The victims from "Con-Text" were found to be this. Naturally, Goren, while investigating their murders, began to poke at their open eyes...which ended up being a clue to how and when they died.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: This is what got the victim in "Blasters" killed. He sold bootleg DVDs of not yet released movies, which horned in on a similar racket that a foreign mafia was working on, resulting in his murder.
  • Dirty Cop: Aplenty: "Badge", "Monster", "Untethered" and "Purgatory" has their fair share.
  • Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery: Most of the deaf people in "Silencer." Not only did they consider themselves superior to hearing people, but one man, considered a "hero" by his deaf students, was nothing more than a bitter, antagonistic asshole who hated when one of "his" people associated with those who could hear.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Carolyn Barek was a female version of Goren.
  • 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.
  • Downer Ending: From time to time, but "Untethered" is a good example. After going undercover without authorization to rescue his nephew, Donny, from a corrupt prison after being manipulated into doing it by Frank, Goren not only almost starves himself to death by the guards, but ends up being suspended from the force and gets Eames and Ross in trouble in the aftermath. Then after learning that Donny managed to escape from prison himself by faking a burst appendix, Goren angrily confronts his brother, who not only couldn't care less about his brother's suspension or his missing son, but also suggests that he should sleep with Eames to get out his aggressions. And to top it off, he never did locate his nephew.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Several in-universe examples in "Seizure."
    Eames: Serial killer groupies... And I thought I was pathetic with my ABBA fan club card.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Captain Ross.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Seen a lot, but especially in the case of Frank Goren. Had he not been busy getting high, he would have noticed Declan Gage and Nicole Wallace stalking and then killing him by throwing him out a window.
  • Empty Cop Threat: Carried out. A killer Goren interviews (who is later proven to have been his biological dad) is later executed. However, the execution takes place in Pennsylvania, where it was still legal.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Often used to get one suspect to turn on another. Mostly accomplished by use of the one-way mirror in the interrogation room.
  • Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: Quite the specialty of Goren when talking to suspects.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: One suspect from "Badge" may have savagely murdered a family of four, including two children, but she genuinely loved her daughters and elderly mother.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In "Delicate," bitchy ballerina Alona may have had a fierce rivalry with Jessalyn, but even she was disgusted with how Paulette put glass in Jessalyn's shoes to give her (Alona) the edge.
    • In "Frame," Goren's old mentor Declan Gage commits a murder and sends Goren on a wild goose chase meant to "free" him of the negative people in his life. He is, however, appalled by Goren's suggestion that he might have killed Goren's newphew Danny and insists that he wouldn't have touched him even if he'd been able to find him.
    • In "Homo Homini Lupis", a Loan Shark willingly turns over information to the detectives after he finds out the guy he hired to collect money owed to him raped the daughter of the man who owed him money.
    • Ella Miyazaki, Nicole Wallace's one-time girlfriend, from "Great Barrier" had no problem robbing jewelry stores disguised as different Asian ethnicities and helping to dispose of her male accomplice, but turned on Nicole once she learned that she murdered her own toddler daughter years earlier because she viewed the girl as competition.
  • Evil Former Friend: Deakins encounters one in "On Fire", which culminated in him resigning from the force.
  • Evil Matriarch: The mother from "To The Bone," who was also a Manipulative Bitch as well, to the point of manipulating one of her sons to commit suicide at the end of the episode to prove his "loyalty" to her.
  • 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.
  • Explosive Leash: "Pas de Deux."
  • Fair Cop: Eames, all of Logan's partners, arguably, Stevens and Capt. Deakins.
  • False Flag Operation
  • Fat and Skinny: The murderers from "Yesterday" by chance; one a skinny, self-made millionaire, the other a fat, aimless addict.
  • Finally Found the Body: "Yesterday" had the victim's remains discovered buried underneath a house after being missing for twenty years.
    • "Folie a Deux" had the victim's body found in a field months after they died and in even less time after the "disappearance" was reported.
  • 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.
  • Flanderization: Both Goren and Logan went through this is different ways. Whereas the former was initially seen as an intelligent and quirky detective who could read people who devolved into someone with an Ambiguous Disorder with inconsistent social skills the latter, who was seen as Cowboy Cop who lost his cool from time to time in the first series, denigrated years and a division change later into a regular hothead and troublemaker.
  • Flaw Exploitation: In "The Saint," this is the criminal's motivation. He believes the church is taking advantage of his mentally ill mother, who insists on donating everything she can to their cause - to the point of completely cleaning out their bank account because she thinks the church needs 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.
  • Former Child Star: The victim and his friend in "Blasters" both starred in a teenage sitcom when they were younger. Neither live a particularly happy existence; the victim is living hand-to-mouth in a decommissioned ice cream truck and has done nothing of relevance in the years since. His friend himself has delusions of grandeur and is stuck living in the past.
  • Freudian Excuse: The killer from "The Posthumous Collection" kills women and poses them in elaborate, grotesque poses as a revenge fantasy towards his abusive mother, grandmother and three older sisters.
  • Friendly Local Chinatown: "Chinoiserie."
  • From Bad to Worse: Goren's mentor kills nearly everyone he knows and loves 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.
  • Funny Background Event: During the questioning of a witness in "Suite Sorrow," Goren casually snaps a picture of himself and Eames. As they're leaving, he slips the picture into his pocket.
  • Gaslighting: Done to Goren in "Frame", which Eames lampshades.
  • Gilligan Cut: In the episode "Weeping Willow." "Who's going on camera?"
  • Gold Digger: "Phantom" and "Wrongful Life" had two women who ended up being this.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: In the episode "Untethered," Goren experiences isolation while undercover. He's strapped to a metal table and deprived of food and water. However, it is unclear whether he truly broke or if some of it was part of his undercover persona.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Goren and Eames love to play this, switching roles as needed. You can tell that Goren is winding up to be the bad cop when he adopts a really exaggerated Brooklyn accent. Eames, meanwhile, is liable to take on a Straw Feminist persona.
  • Greed: The one suspected killed his cohorts in crime one by one, just so the large amount of ransom money wouldn't have to be split up between them.
  • 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.
  • Handy Cuffs: Used at least twice:
    • A former military suspect asks to be cuffed in front out of respect for his family. He then grabs a gun off one of the officers and kills himself. This is 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.
  • Has a Type: The killer in "Jones" is attracted to small, petite women, namely because he himself is of average height and build. Naturally, he flirts with petite Eames, and tall, strapping Goren had fun interrogating him, even bragging about his own size-13 shoe size.
    • Bernard Fremont from "Slither" has a thing for beautiful and fit younger blondes and if they weren't already blonde, he would arrange for her hair to be dyed as such.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Poor Goren suffered from this throughout season seven, eventually coming to a head in the season finale "Frame".
  • Hide Your Lesbians: "The Glory That Was..." was pulled from rotation after its original airing due to the Cold Open featuring a scene with two women in bed together. Unfortunately, the episode is also missing from the season 8 DVD set.
  • Hollywood Atheist: A suspect in "Brother's Keeper" was seen as this. He had long since given up his faith in God and turned virulently against religion because his son was born mentally disabled. Turns out, he had killed the victim because she had told her televangelist husband about this and he used this as a platform to explain God's "ultimate plan".
  • Hollywood Game Design
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The killer from "Slither" is the one who taught Nicole Wallace about the art of succinylcholine poisoning. At the end of the episode, she ends up poisoning him when it looks like he's going to get away scot-free for the murders he and his "family" committed.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: The 6'4" Goren is much, much taller and brawnier than the petite and slender Eames.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison
  • Insane Troll Logic: The killer from "A Murderer Among Us" had this, believing that not only that his mother being "raped" by her Jewish boss when he was a kid had destroyed his family and caused his father to become abusive towards them note , but that her ovarian cancer was the boss' fault, too, due to the affair.
  • Insufferable Genius: "Folie a Deux" (a successful author), "Inert Dwarf" (a college professor) and "The Good Doctor" (a plastic surgeon).
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Invoked in "Great Barrier" as the Chinese-American jewelry thief disguised herself as a Japanese woman and a Singaporean woman to avoid detection. Goren picked up on the atypical mannerisms in the surveillance system an was able to discover the suspect's true identity.
  • In the Blood: Eames comes from a family of cops.
    • More disturbingly, Goren's real biological father turns out to have been a serial killer.
  • It's Pronounced "Tro-PAY" Ms. Nobile insists it is pronounced "no-bee-lay", not "no-beel". It's seldom pronounced right except to her face.
  • It's All About Me: Many suspects, but "The Unblinking Eye" in particular has the suspect kill his so-called fiancée because she was getting more acting gigs than he was, try to pin the blame on a "jealous" ex-girlfriend (on whom he cheated with the victim) and both sabotage his best friend's chance to be famous and manipulate him into doing the actual murder, all so he can be famous.
    • The suspect from "Blink" is a professional gambler and thrill-seeker who constantly risks his own life to the point that it shocks his heartbroken wife into thinking that he could be killed any day ultimately decides that it would be best to get police protection from the dangerous people he has been involved with, not for his wife and their son, but for himself.
  • It's Personal: The episode where they finally solved Joe Dutton'snote  murder.
  • I Warned You: Subverted in "Betrayed":
    Goren: Captain...?
    Ross: Not a word, detective. Not one word.
  • Joggers Find Death: Happens from time to time. A subversion happened in "Want"; a couple was out walking their dog, only for said dog to run off and find the victim's body.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Goren, Nichols, and Eames vs. the FBI during the investigation of Captain Ross' murder.
  • Karma Houdini: Since one of the sons in "To The Bone" ended up killing himself after being tricked into doing it by a criminal mastermind of an adopted mother, she ends up walking on at least eight different murders due to lack of evidence.
    • Nicole Wallace. Repeatedly. And loving to brag about it to Goren. The day her Karma Houdini Warranty (apparently) expired would have been cheered more if not for the fact that Declan Cage (the guy who did it) was acting out of some really twisted version of "They Were Holding You Back" aimed towards Goren... and that this meant Frank also had to go.
  • Last Name Basis: Goren and Eames. Usually.
    • Actually, Eames calls her partner "Goren" and "Bobby" pretty much with the same frequency. He, on the other hand, almost never calls her Alex, to the point where it's noticeable on the rare occasion he does.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: A particularly prominent example. After the original showrunner, Rene Balcer, stepped down after season five, the series went from being "a series that showcases crimes from the criminals' perspectives and was solved by a brilliant detective that had the ability to read people" to something between a composite of CSI, SVU and your average Police Procedural.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "Purgatory" during an argument with Goren, Eames screams at him, "No, you're the great detective and I'm just supposed to carry your water!" While some fans loved her for calling him out on this, others were thinking "Well duh, Eames! What else did you think your role on this show was supposed to be?"
  • Lighter and Softer: As far as the Law & Order universe goes; while the crimes are no less shocking, it gives perspectives on who the criminals are and what makes them tick and why they resorted to the actions they did. Also, many a criminal end up with a Villainous Breakdown or tearful confession and true monsters are rare (but still exist).
  • 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.
  • Littlest Cancer Patient: In "Faith"... except she's not actually real. (It's based on the story of Anthony Godby Johnson.)
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: A serial killer binds and gags Eames and locks her in a basement with an electronic door lock. She escapes using wire, nails, electricity, and a giant hook left laying around the place.
  • Long Title: The season seven episode, "Please Note We Are No Longer Accepting Letters of Recommendation from Henry Kissinger." In syndication, the episode is either simply titled as "Please Note..." or "Kissinger."
  • Mad Artist: The killer from "The Posthumous Collection."
  • Mafia Princess: In "Maledictus."
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: "Proud Flesh" has a wealthy, middle-aged white media mogul marry a younger Chinese woman and have a daughter with her. Everyone around her, from her stepchildren to their families to even the husband himself disapprove of the wife and their daughter.
  • Manchild: One suspect from "Cruise To Nowhere" is this. Unfortunately, it's seen that he was intentionally kept this way; after his father was murdered as a child, his mother slipped into alcoholism and was paid to give him up to her bookie husband's partner, who trained him to be a talented bookie instead of properly raising him to be an adult.
  • Man Bites Man: A suspect ended up painfully biting Goren in the arm before he was taken out by a sniper.
  • Manipulative Bastard: The husband from "Magnificat". He ignored his wife's post-partum depression and refused to allow her to seek professional help or medication to the point of thinking that if she did, she would be weak and felt that the only "therapy" she required was being a good parent who was cut off from the rest of the world. After she killed three of their four sons, he still saw that as a sign that she was a bad parent. In the end, while he hadn't done anything illegal, he is likely to lose custody of his surviving son.
  • Manipulative Bitch: The therapist from "Scared Crazy". She methodically drove a patient of hers crazy by forcing him to stay up all night in the dark while listening to techno music as a part of her medical studies, which led him to kill someone. After tricking her into thinking they were torturing him the same way she did interrogation, the detectives got her to confess and then arrested her for obstruction and accessory after the fact.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: The murderer from "Slither," who is a well-read, well-dressed, well-off Silver Fox British man who manipulates beautiful women half his age to kill.
  • Marilyn Maneuver: Lorelai Mailer is briefly seen performing a Marilyn Maneuver in "Bombshell," complete with the famous ballooning white dress.
  • Meaningful Name: Mr. Devildis, the insane fundamentalist Christian, crosses the Despair Event Horizon and tries to save his family and friends by murdering them. Hilariously, no one comments on his name.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Doubled. Murder is hardly a minor crime, but the reasons behind it always end up being far more complicated than was hinted at in the opening sequence.
  • Missing White Woman Syndrome: Lampshaded. In one episode, the media doesn't become interested in a series of murders until a white girl is killed. The mother of one of the other victims coldly tells a journalist that she is aware of this trope, and she'll still accept their help, but they are not to mistake her desperation for any kind of gratitude.
  • Monochrome Casting: An unintentional example. After ADA Carver was written out in 2006, the remaining five years of the show became this, unlike the other series in the Law & Order universe (or at least, the English-speaking ones, and no, Jeff Goldblum does not counter this trope).
  • Monster Fangirl: From "Seizure":
    Eames: "Serial killer groupies... And I thought I was pathetic with my ABBA fan club card."
  • Morality Pet: We learn that Nicole Wallace actually had one in "Grow," in the form of a teenage girl named Gwen Chapel, the daughter of a man that she was seeing. She was the one person with whom Nicole was in contact that she didn’t kill, try to kill, send to prison, or otherwise ruin. Instead, she allowed her to be sent off to live with relatives out of state to protect her from both herself and her murderous father.
  • More Than Mind Control: This is the M.O. of two different villains, Randall Fuller in "Con-Text" and Bernard Fremont in "Slither." (Scarily, both are at least partially based on real people.)
  • Motive Rant: Inducing these are Goren's specialty.
    • Averted on occasion, when he breaks a suspect who then confesses to a crime they haven't committed.
    • Deconstructed in one episode where the overbearing nature of her husband causes a woman to kill three of her four children in a failed mass-suicide attempt. Goren successfully causes the husband to break into a motive rant, but it ends up being all for naught, because although the husband is a world-class Jerk Ass, nothing that he did was technically illegal.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Both victims from "Beast" were very beautiful women both involved with the same man. Even a happily married friend of one of the victims, Lisa, said that she was a "level 10 stud magnet."
  • Multipart Episode: "Zoonotic"/"A Person of Interest", "In The Wee Small Hours", "Loyalty".
  • Murder.com: The episode "Weeping Willow," although here the crime is kidnapping, not murder.
  • My Beloved Smother: This being Law and Order, it's played every way imaginable. One example is "Shandeh," where the mother had her daughter-in-law murdered - both for knowing her secrets and because she feared that she would divorce her son for his cheating ways and have their children no longer practice Judaism.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: How the killer from "Identity Crisis" ended up feeling. He had killed his younger brother, who had just been released from prison for killing their mother twenty years prior when they were children and him fearing that he would screw up his new life and have him sent to prison, since he was older and more culpable in her death. Turns out, the brother was reaching out to him because he missed him and he was terminally ill. Furthermore, the brother never wanted to implicate him in their mother's death. When Goren explained this to him, it reduced him to tears.
  • My Greatest Failure: The killer in "Maledictus" had this: as a child, he accidentally killed his own pregnant mother by poisoning her, in the hope that she would just miscarry his younger half-sibling. He did this out of jealousy of the child and worry that he and his sister would be forgotten. In the show, he killed the victim out of fear that she would have revealed this in her new book.
  • Never Found the Body: Nicole Wallace, though what is believed to be her heart is found. Interesting case, as Goren refuses to believe that she's dead despite proof.
    • The bodies of the husband and his mistress from "Betrayed" are never located in part to Captain Ross' personal feelings and interference with the investigation.
    • The philandering wife from "The Good Doctor" was never found, in spite of a ploy by the police that she was at one point.
    • The son-in-law from "Death Roe" is a subversion. He was murdered and butchered by his father-in-law and had his remains disposed of through cooking utensils, including a meat grinder, which were then thrown away and replaced. All that remained were some surgical screws from his leg.
  • Never My Fault: As seen in "Playing Dead" where the Corrupt Politician tries to blame his stepdaughter for "seducing" him (at the age of twelve) into raping her and impregnating her with her younger sister/daughter.
  • New York City Cops
  • 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.
    • TV reporter "Faith Yancy" bears a striking similarity to Nancy Grace.
    • Lorelei Mailer in "Bombshell" is Anna Nicole Smith in all but name (and in-universe is compared to Marilyn Monroe, as Smith often was).
  • 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.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Logan, Wheeler and other police officers end up being involved in one with the FDNY in "Maltese Cross".
  • Obfuscating Disability: "Inert Dwarf" had a Stephen Hawking expy who still had more mobility than he let on.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Goren has a tendency to do this at times.
  • Odd Friendship: Milton Winters and Dempsey Powers in "Cuba Libre." An Ambiguously Jewish clothing store magnate and a Malcolm Xerox drug kingpin.
  • Off with His Head!: "Maledictus", "Slither" and "Neighborhood Watch".
  • 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."
  • One-Person Birthday Party: The daughter from "Shrink-Wrapped" had one as a child where no one, not even her own parents, attended. She was so alone that a waiter at the restaurant had to take her picture as she blew out her birthday candles.
  • Opening Narration: As per usual on a Law & Order series.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Eames is without question the best detective not named Robert Goren that Major Case has, but she is frequently overshadowed by the supernova brilliance of her partner. Perhaps not surprisingly, she often uses this to her (and his) advantage.
  • The Plan/Evil Plan: Each criminal has one and it frames the episode's plot.
  • Parental Favoritism: "Beast" has a woman with two daughters, one being very pretty and talented, who got all the glory in life and is now worshiped by the mother years after her death; the other is rather plain, lived in her sister's shadow, and was and is constantly put down by their mother. This treatment led her to be involved with two murders years later, including that of her own sister.
  • Pædo Hunt: Used in "Neighborhood Watch", where the victim ends up being labeled as such for being with a fifteen-year-old when he was nineteen, he spends a few years in prison, has to register as a sex offender only to then be harassed and vilified by his neighbors after getting out and then brutally murdered.
  • Platonic Life Partners: Goren and Eames have a lot of the trope's defining characteristics.
  • Playing Gertrude: Tony Goldwyn played Vincent D'Onofrio's older brother. Goldwyn is a year younger than D'Onofrio.
  • Poison Is Evil: Used in "Poison", obviously, but also used in "Smile", "Inert Dwarf", "30" and "Conscience", to name a few.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The perpetrators from "Acts of Contrition" beat a black man for dating a white woman who used to date one of them. Also, the killer from "A Murderer Among Us" killed Jewish men because his mother had an affair with one and, in his mind, ruined his family.
  • Pretty in Mink: Some of the guest characters, including a witness being identified by her Russian sable coat.
  • The Profiler: Goren.
  • Put on a Bus: All of the detectives who have exited the series over the years.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: In "Loyalty," Ross's killer walks despite concrete proof against him, as the U.S. government needs him in order to catch a bunch of international Greater Scope Villains. However, he now has to live in paranoid fear of himself being betrayed and murdered in the same fashion as his victims.
    • Also in "Death Roe". The killer is arrested in the end, but at the same time his daughter now has a tainted name and most likely will have the restaurant shut down by the Department of Health and can't find work elsewhere, is left an emotionally damaged widow and he bursts out that no one will ever want her once the truth comes out.
  • Quip to Black: During the Rene Balcer-era of the show, either Goren, Eames or Carver would end the episode with one of these.
  • Quizzical Tilt: Goren likes to tilt his entire upper body during interrogations, leaving his head nearly sideways. This is probably less to express confusion and more to unnerve the person being interrogated.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Leslie Lezard 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.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The detectives have used this with getting suspects to confess. In "Conscience" they used flash cards from the long-standing semi-comatose wife to trick the suspect into confessing and in "Legion", they used a picture of a now-dead accomplice taken while he was in a coma and claiming that he had survived to get his boss to admit to his crimes.
  • Required Spinoff Crossover: With the mothership of course, but unfortunately never with SVU, at least while it was still in production. Eames eventually made appearances on the show by herself in recent years, however. Not that many fans of the Major Case Squad cared.
  • 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 original L&O) being added and alternating every other episode with Goren and Eames. Things then stayed this way, though with Noth being replaced by Jeff Goldblum in season 8.
  • Reverse Whodunnit: Each episode begins with the foul deed being done, and then goes back and forth between the perps' perspective(s) and the cops'.
    • This is true of the early episodes, at any rate. As the series went on, more and more episodes would just be straight whodunnits.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Subverted in "Weeping Willow"; Willow, unlike Bree, turns out to be an actual girl. Double Subverted when it turns out the kidnapping was a fake that had simply spiraled out of control.
    • One noteworthy episode ("Want") is based on Jeffrey Dahmer, and includes 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 looks frighteningly similar to Dahmer in the episode.
    • "Smothered" is based on the murder of Pati Margello.
    • The killer from "Gone" is a murderous version of Bobby Fischer.
    • In the episode "D.A.W.," the killer is an American version of Dr. Harold Shipman.
    • The first character played by Jay O. Sanders was obviously based on famous mob hitman Richard "The Iceman" Kuklinski.
    • The last two episodes are based on Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and the Zuckerberg-Winkelvoss controversy, respectively.
    • The murderous group from "Slither" are based off the the Manson family. The episode even lampshades this.
    • "The Good Doctor" is based off of Dr. Robert Birenbaum.
    • The first season episode "Poison" is strongly inspired by the Stella Nickell case, commonly known as "the Tylenol murders."
    • "The Saint" is based on Mark Hofmann, who sold forgeries to the Mormon church. Said forger is played by Stephen Colbert.
    • "Happy Family" is based on the murder of Ted Ammon.
    • "Baggage" is based on the still-unsolved 1992 murder of Susan "Su" Taraskiewicz.
    • "Monster" is based on both the so-called "Preppie Murder" case of Robert Chambers which coincided with his release for manslaughter in 2003 note  and the Central Park Jogger rape case.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: "Delicate," which is also an homage to Heavenly Creatures (itself based on a true story). The two girls' names begin with the same letters, and the nuttier of the two even has the Portmanteau Couple Name of Paulette (Pauline/Juliette).
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: In "Loyalty."
  • 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.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money! /Connections/I Make Them: Used by the suspect and his father in "In The Wee Small Hours", being able to continously impede the investigation because of these tropes. Unfortunately, it comes out in spite of what total assholes they both are, it was the mother and wife who did the killing.
  • Self-Harm: The daughter from "Playing Dead" cut and tried to kill herself on a routine basis. Considering what she's been through, you can't blame her from wanting to escape through this and drug usage.
  • Self-Made Orphan: "Maledictus" and "Suite Sorrow", though the former is subverted as it was a case of Accidental Murder.
  • Sensual Slavs: Mira from "Blasters", a hired slut working with The Mafiya who had attracted the victim, his friend and the her bodses, amongst others.
  • Serial Killer: "A Murderer Among Us", "Stray", "Poison", "Legion", "Dead", "Shibboleth", "To The Bone", "Loyalty", "Probability", "In The Dark", "The Posthumous Collection", Nicole Wallace.
  • 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.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Goren's mother doesn't understand that Eames is her son's partner, and demands to meet his new girlfriend. (Goren's reaction is adorably bashful.)
    • Goren's mother got the wrong impression from his brother Frank, who assumed partner means domestic partner; Bobby weakly tries to correct him, but it doesn't sink in for a while. He gets it eventually, but he still has his suspicions - see Unresolved Sexual Tension, below.
  • Ship Tease: Man, Goren and Eames have a lot of fun posing as a married couple, don't they? There's also an episode where they pretend to be strangers, and he walks up as she's having her portrait drawn by the murder suspect and talks about how pretty she is. Her reaction seems like she's genuinely charmed by the compliment.
  • Slashed Throat: The fate of the victims from "Legion".
  • Sleepwalking
  • Small Name, Big Ego: The killer from Unrequited, who had starred in a play as a young girl and still had delusions of grandeur over fifty years later and manipulated her toady into killing her husband.
  • Sore Loser: Plenty of examples, but the killer from "Smile" particularly stands out. Being motivated by greed and not having any remorse for poisoning the victims (who were not only children, but were even called stupid as well - "It was mouthwash; they should have known to spit it out!") is bad enough. But after being arrested, she blurts out about knowing the detectives' secrets and that because of Goren's issues, he'll never make Senior Detective and Eames will never make Lieutenant.
  • Spin-Off: From Law & Order.
  • Straight Gay/Manly Gay: Both the victim and the killer from "Maltese Cross."
  • Straw Conservative: The killer from "Family Values" is a religious man whose beliefs drive him to kill a lesbian drama teacher, and later to try to kill his daughter because she had a part in a school play where she had a less than wholesome outfit.
  • Stripperific: Lampshaded in "Shandeh." Goren and Eames are talking with a suburban mother of two about her involvement with a strip club. She says she helped with the decor and with hiring the staff. Goren asks if she means the strippers, and guesses she has had some experience in that area. She just glares at him, but Eames points out that her (rather revealing) clothing doesn't really fit the "Westchester soccer mom" image she's trying to present.
  • Suicide, Not Murder: A horrifying case appears in "No Exit". Although four people where in the car parked on the train tracks, only three knew what was coming.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Logan's multiple partners. One was more or less a female version of Goren.
    • There was also a period when Goren got a new partner who acted exactly like Eames.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Goren feels this way for the killer in "Want" who not only murdered but also ate his victims' calf muscles The fact that he both was truly horrified by his crimes and tearfully confessed to them, stating that he only wanted someone to love, resulted in him receiving a life sentence, to Eames and Carver's chagrin. [[spoiler: Some time later, as the detectives, Carver and Deakins are all working on another case, Carver receives notice that he was killed by another inmate in prison. While the men express looks of disappointment and somewhat shock, Eames just quips that now everyone got what they wanted.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: All over the place.
  • Talking Down the Suicidal: Heartbreakingly subverted in "Siren Call". After Goren convinces a fellow officer not to kill himself out of shame due to killing his manipulating parties of a daughter, he is cuffed and taken outside, only for him to shoot himself as he's being led away in front of his dying wife and their younger daughter.
  • Take That!: The "Blasters" episode does this towards Saved by the Bell with the show that the victim starred in as an Expy called Goofin' Around and he being based off of Screech/Dustin Diamond and his costar/friend being a composite of Zack/Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Slater/Mario Lopez.
    • "Albatross" was based off of Geraldine Ferraro, the politician who ran for Vice President in 1984 with Walter Mondale, and her husband, John Zaccaro.
  • Team Dad: Captain Deakins.
  • Teens Are Monsters: "Sound Bodies" and "Legacy".
  • That Thing Is Not My Child!: The one suspect's mother from "Fico di Capo" deduced that her son was bad at birth and decided to give her son up for adoption. Why? Because he was born with teeth.
  • There Are No Therapists
    • And if there are therapists, watch out. One episode had two married therapists, but they used their job skills to emotionally abuse and manipulate each other.
    • 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 bizarre twist on this, Declan Gage intends 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 makes repeated death threats against Logan when the police show up to arrest him, ruining what little chance he had to get acquitted.
  • Transplant: Logan, from Law & Order.
  • Trophy Wife: As seen in "Cuba Libre" and "Enemy Within".
  • Trying Not to Cry: Eames barely manages to hold it together in court when a lawyer springs an unpleasant surprise on her, dredging up an old request for another partner. She's even closer to tears when she apologizes to Goren afterward.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Goren gets hit with this several times, most notably when he goes undercover in a prison without permission.
  • 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".
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Goren's family in "Untethered" was very much this. Come "Frame", it appears that Donny's mother has shades of this as well.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Finally acknowledged in one episode by Goren's brother Frank, who irritably tells his brother to "take Eames to a motel and get it out of your system." Bobby's reaction is... not pretty.
  • Unusual Euphemism: The female accomplice in "Blasters" discussed having "showers" with most of the men in her life and even suggested having one with Logan, as well.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Once an Episode. Inducing these is Goren's shtick.
  • 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.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: An explosive example (albeit shot from a distance away) from a realtor in "To the Bone."
  • Waif-Fu: Eames is five feet two inches of pure badass. And she's the senior detective in her partnership with Goren.
  • Watching the Reflection Undress: One killer is a voyeuristic doctor who strategically placed a stainless steel cabinet door in his office so he could watch his patients changing 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.
  • Wham Episode: There were a few:
    • "Anti-Thesis:" the first appearance of Nicole Wallace, the series' main villain.
    • "Stress Position:" Mike Logan returns after ten years and thus begins the (indirect) cause of Captain Deakins being forced to resign.
    • "Untethered:" Goren goes undercover at the prison where his nephew is currently located without authorization, and while many felt he was beginning to show signs of Sanity Slippage, this episode put it on full display. He eventually was sent to mandatory visits to a psychiatrist.
    • "Loyalty:" Captain Ross is murdered and Goren and Eames resign from the force.
  • Wham Shot: Interestingly, this often happens in the middle of an episode, a scene that changes everything viewers thought they knew about the story.
    • In "Phantom," Gerry Rankin (Michael Emerson) is shown as an economist working for the United Nations who's romancing Charlotte. She talks to him frantic about the detectives asking her about a recent murder. In his car, Gerry tells her that he's coming up to the airport and will talk to her later. He then pulls in to a suburban house where his wife and children greet him warmly from his business trip.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: ADA Ron Carver left without explanation.
  • 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.
  • Where's the Fun in That?: In the episode "The Unblinking Eye."
    Detective Alexandra Eames: [while observing a suspect in the interrogation room] She could confess, but where's the fun in that?
  • Whodunnit to Me?: "30."
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "Maltese Cross".
  • 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.
    • Of course, then The Bus Came Back and proved that they did not become a couple.
      • 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 (and the whole head-tilting thing he does).
  • Women's Mysteries: In "Cold Comfort", Eames informs Goren that the female murder victim found in a public bathroom would have hung her purse on the stall door. Goren eventually agrees with Eames, calling it "a girl thing."
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The show's very last perp.
  • World of Ham: "The Unblinking Eye". Despite it revolving around a murdered aspiring actress and those in her life being aspiring actors trying to become famous, all of the would-be actors' talents (In-Universe!) range from unseen, cheesy, or, in the case of the murderer and fiancé of the murder victim, just plain terrible.
  • Written-In Absence: Both Eames and Wheeler had absences from the series due to their actresses' respective pregnancies.
  • Yandere: The killer in "Semi-Detached" is obsessed with her former husband, to the point where she still cleans his house and makes his meals while maintaining a “friendship” with him. He even asks after her arrest, “Why couldn’t you just leave me alone?”
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Eames occasionally addresses Goren as "Bobby," but he very rarely calls her "Alex." When he does, it gets her attention fast.
    • Also worth mentioning that they call each other "Detective" when they're really miffed.
  • You Got Murder
  • You Have Failed Me: One of Bernard Fremont's mooks from "Slither" ends up receiving this fate. His drink ends up being poisoned, which renders him completely paralyzed as he then strangled with a chain.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The killer from "Eosphoros" killed his cohorts in the crime not only to cover his tracks, but so he wouldn't have to split the ransom money three ways.
    • Also, after he uses him and his money to get her off from various murders, Nicole Wallace both divorces and tries to suffocate her husband, Gavin, in "Great Barrier" (by switching his full asthma inhaler with an empty one so that he would suffocate while stuck in an elevator... long story). He isn't the first one though, as many people, especially lovers, ended up dead after she got what she needed from them.
    • Nicole herself was given this treatment from Declan Gage after he set up her, Frank Goren and himself in an elaborate plan to be out of Goren's life.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Many times have shown people of all walks of life to do this, but a notable example is from "Rocket Man" where the victim's boyfriend, a renowned astronaut, cheats on his loving wife with her and another woman. Although the other girlfriend was the one who killed the girlfriend, it was the wife that machinated the murder of one by the other and for her to take the fall, all to get them out of her husband's life.
  • You're Insane!: Averted in the episode "Gemini", where the perp manipulated his schizophrenic brother into murdering people. The final interrogation included this memorable exchange:
    Spencer Anderson: "None of this is true. You said so yourself. He's crazy."
    Detective Goren: "Yeah, he may be crazy, but you're evil."
  • You Remind Me of X: When Eames is temporarily partnered with Nichols, she quickly finds herself in familiar territory.
    Nichols: It could be a native Spanish speaker or a German. Some language where the present perfect is the same as the simple past.
    Eames: You're starting to remind me of someone.
    Ross: This one's taller.
  • You Won't Feel a Thing: In the episode "Death Roe":
    Beatrice Mailer: This won't hurt a bit. [Holding her father's bleeding hand, she squeezes lemon juice onto an open knife cut as he silently flinches] Remember the first time you said that to me?
  • Zipping Up The Body Bag: This happens to Frank Goren in "Frame" soon after being discovered by Goren after he was shoved out of a window.

Alternative Title(s): Law And Order Criminal Intent

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/LawAndOrderCriminalIntent