I know, you know, that I'm not telling the truth! I know, you know, they just don't have any proof!
Shawn Spencer was drilled from childhood
by his father, a police officer, to have a strict attention to detail and other detective skills. As a result, Shawn effectively possesses a Photographic Memory
and the ability to observe and put together clues
too subtle for the average person to pick up.
Unfortunately, as an adult Shawn is equal parts prankster
with no real desire to apply himself in any normal occupation. So, he employs his skills to identify criminals and their methods in the news and calls crime tip lines for the reward. This backfires on him when he is arrested as an accomplice. The police don't believe that he could have solved the crime from a two-minute blurb on the news, so therefore he must be involved in the crime (even though an accomplice wouldn't be likely to feed the police clues)
In order to avoid jail time and continue his lucrative-but-lazy crimebusting, Shawn tells the police he's a psychic. After a demonstration on several of the officers in the Santa Barbara Police Department, he is allowed on a case. After solving it, he opens up a detective agency and, to the perturbation of certain members of the Santa Barbara Police Department, Shawn and his best friend Burton "Gus" Guster help the police solve crimes assigned to them by Chief Karen Vick.
The two frequently collaborate with the real detectives Carlton "Lassie" Lassiter and Juliet "Jules" O'Hara. Lassiter finds Shawn unbearably annoying, though he eventually grows to respect him, while Juliet is more civil to them, and eventually becomes Shawn's Romantic Interest
Shawn's retired father Henry usually makes at least one appearance an episode, sometimes just in the Flashback
opening. Being that Henry taught
him his skills, he is one of the few in on the con.Psych
is a show that doesn't take itself too seriously. Shawn and Gus frequently talk about their childhood, which includes numerous references to The Eighties
and (increasingly) The Nineties
. With Shawn attempting to appear as a psychic whenever giving The Summation
, he ends up doing comically-inappropriate things when identifying a killer.
Not to be confused with The Mentalist
, a show with a similar premise that has been the frequent target of Take Thats
and lampshading within the series.
Especially not to be confused with Monk
, which featured an obsessive/compulsive who effectively possesses a Photographic Memory
and the ability to observe and put together clues
too subtle for the average person to pick up, and which was a USA Network original series, just as Psych
was. Because we all know a television network would never
stoop so low as to copy one of its own hits.
After eight seasons, Psych
ended with a series finale in 2014.
Psych provides examples of the following tropes:
open/close all folders
- AB Negative: The culprit in "This Episode Sucks" was targeting people with O- blood because he suffered from a rare blood disorder and could no longer afford the frequent blood transfusions he needed. In the same episode, O- was referred to as "a rare blood type".
- Absence of Evidence: Despereaux was able to do this was because he never actually stole anything; he just made deals with museum owners so they could collect the insurance money.
- Abusive Parents: Although it's made very clear throughout the series that Henry loves Shawn dearly, some of the flashbacks (or real-time references to Shawn's past) are rather worrying. For instance, Henry taught young Shawn how to escape a locked car trunk... by locking him in a car trunk. Adult Shawn is also upset by the fact that, when he was eight, Henry hid Shawn's Easter eggs by burying them five feet underground. Henry claims that he left loose dirt to indicate a fresh dig to make it easier. Shawn points out that this fresh dig was hidden under a camouflage tarp covered with bricks and broken glass.
- Accidental Aesop: Invoked during the second-season episode "Zero to Murder in Sixty Seconds", where Henry gives Shawn a piece of advice, which Shawn uses to solve the case. As Shawn is getting increasingly excited while putting it all together, Henry tries to stop him.
Henry: Shawn, don't you learn a wrong lesson while I'm trying to teach you a right one.
- Accidental Pun: "You Daft Punk". Note: This was said by a Simon Cowell parody.
- Action Girl: Juliet O'Hara. Especially as the show went on.
- Affectionate Parody: Many episodes. Particularly glaring is "Dual Spires", parodying the quirky and bizarre characters and melodrama of the original series.
- The last scene in particular was basically an attempt to fit as many references into one minute as they could manage.
- "Lassie Jerky" is another one, parodying found-footage films set in scary woodland forests such as The Blair Witch Project. There's even a scene of Lassiter making a tearful apology speech just like the one in the movie.
- "100 Clues" is a parody of classical murder mysteries—specifically Clue, going so far as to open the episode with the characters on Psych playing cards.
- Affectionate Pickpocket: At the end of a Christmas Episode, a little girl/con artist thanks Shawn for helping her dad, and hugs him...and Shawn immediately asks for his wallet back.
- Shawn then gives the girl's father some parenting advice. The father tried hugging Shawn, Shawn protested, and then asked for his wallet back. Again.
- All Just a Dream: Played with in "Right Turn or Left For Dead". After the events of the previous episode, Shawn begins to obsessively replay Lassiter's wedding back in his head, where the viewers get to see how things could have played out had Shawn not given Juliet his jacket. While both decisions lead to them working on the same case, there are some differences as to how the case is eventually solved. Additionally, not giving Juliet his jacket leads Shawn to propose to her at one of the crime scenes they visit to search for clues while giving her his jacket leads them to resolve their problems and get back together once the case is solved. However, what actually happens is that Juliet is still hurt by Shawn not being honest with her and tells him to move out.
- Always Murder: There have been a few exceptions. Not every episode involves a murder. There are even episodes with an actual death that don't involve murder. And then there are episodes that do involve murder, but the murder only happens halfway into the case.
- No one was murdered in the episodes "Gus Walks into a Bank", "Daredevils", or "American Duos" (though in that episode there were multiple attempted murders).
- In "Death is in the Air", one could argue that this trope is averted. He just wanted to scare people, not kill anyone...
- In season 4, there were many episodes that did not revolve around solving a murder, though most did involve murder at some point. Still, not always murder.
- The murder is now always on Wednesday.
- Heck, even a sea lion was murdered.
- Amateur Sleuth: Subverted in the first episode. Shawn is suspected of complicity and has to come up with the psychic shtick to avoid jail because no one will believe he's just that observant naturally.
- Amazon Chaser: Lassie, apparently. He looks EXTREMELY proud when he finds out his fiancée Marlowe used Muay Thai to beat up the thugs holding her and then jumped out of a window to escape. When he later thinks she climbed out of a very high window and shimmied along a very small window ledge to the fire escape, he proudly announces "Our children are going to be Seal Team Six members!" Then, when Lassiter rushes in to save her and she hits him, he says "Was that a spinning back fist? God, I love you" and gives her a Big Damn Kiss.
- Ambiguously Bi: Lassiter and the Coroner Woody in "Late Night Gus" was played for laughs.
- Anachronic Order: Episodes begin with a flashback to Shawn's youth, wherein he's being trained by his father (or his grandfather is trying to help Shawn out from under the strict Henry's rules).
- And That's Terrible: Every character shows great contempt at the mention of a drug dealer who sold a teenage athlete the drugs he overdosed on. The characters never show this much contempt, even at people who have attempted to kill them.
- And the Adventure Continues: After spending the whole finale episode making it seem as though he's going to be getting out of the fake psychic routine and leave Gus behind to be with Jules, the final episode has Shawn move to San Francisco, be chased by Gus, who quit his job to be with his best friend, and moving the whole operation to a new city. It's clear that he'll get up to the same antics, with the only difference being that he'll be in a new city, and that he'll be married to Jules.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: For some reason, the guy that openly claims to be a psychic is a nut after he is quoted as believing a UFO sighting. Justified by the fact that Shawn regularly "proves" his psychic credentials with close to a 100% success, and, even then, Lassiter is still skeptical.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The new interim chief announces he is changing things up by refusing to hire Psych, demoting Lassiter, and...painting the walls.
- Artistic License – Biology: In Santabarbaratown, Shawn claims that colour blindness is usually passed down from father to daughter, and Gus, who would certainly know better, agreed with him. However, colour blindness is linked to the x chromosome, meaning that while it can be fairly common in males, it is fairly rare in females.
- Artistic License – Law: In one episode, Shawn is able to solve the case because he was able to view somebody's psychiatric records, saying that doctor-patient confidentiality is void if the patient is accused of murder. This isn't even remotely true, and, even if it was, the records wouldn't be handed over to someone who isn't even a cop or DA.
- Shawn is well aware of this. he just knows the doctor isn't.
- Artistic License – Religion: Father Westly in the The Exorcist parody episode violates the actual procedure of a Catholic exorcism pretty severely. For instance, he not only failed to have any medical or psychiatric experts examine the girl (which is a required step for all suspected possessions), but he apparently never even examined her himself (beyond noting her odd behavior) before deciding to conduct an exorcism.
- Ascended Meme: Shawn hits Gus with Ed Lover's "C'mon, Son!" in an episode.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Shawn, in "Ferry Tale", vehemently objects to going with Gus on an environmental trip. As they board the ferry, Gus points out that Shawn did agree to go, but that he apparently wasn't paying close attention when he did. Shawn, offended, begins ranting about how he has keen, well-developed mental abilities and an infallible sense of attention. He forgets his complaints mid-rant when Gus gives him a Snickers bar (in a shiny wrapper, no less, making this trope count even more) and goes "Ooh!". This works at least twice.
- Also worth mentioning is the time he accidentally ingests speed during "Dead Man's Curveball". In the middle of a conversation he becomes distracted by Gus's ear.
- Autopsy Snack Time: Woody the coroner is constantly eating during autopsies. The only people this doesn't seem to bother is Shawn and Gus, who like that he shares the snacks with them.
- Awesome by Analysis: Shawn can remember even minute details thanks to his father's "training". In "Nip and Suck It", we're treated to a short scene where Henry does the same thing, complete with the same sort of effects usually given to Shawn.
- Awesome Mc Cool Name: Pretty much every time that Shawn introduces Gus. Gus does it himself once or twice.
Gus: My name is Gus, but you can call me...John Slade.
- Back for the Dead: Played straight with Despereaux in "Indiana Shawn", but then subverted.
- Bait and Switch: In the first episode of season 8 when Shawn asks for Lassiter's help on a case, Lassiter acts annoyed and like he won't do it at first, telling Shawn that he actually has work to do, but gets excited by the chance to be able to do some detective work.
- The Barnum: Shawn. Given his circumstances, can you blame him?
- Bathos: All the time. Shawn jokes while in mortal peril.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Practically every episode.
- Becoming the Mask: Juliet often has this problem undercover.
- Shawn gets sucked up in the street racing culture in "Shawn and Gus in Drag (Racing)".
- This happens to Gus in the episode "Black and Tan". It's justified, since it's more for a girl than anything, but he still acts like a model even when it's just him and Shawn.
- We find out in "Shawn and Gus in Drag (Racing)" that he's still using the head oil years later.
- In later seasons, Shawn does his psychic routine even when there's no one around but Gus and/or Henry, who are both in on the secret. When called on it, Shawn just says it's "force of habit." It's gotten to the point where they don't even call him on it any more.
- Berserk Button: Implied on Lassiter's Twitter page that puppy mill owners did something to piss him off enough for him to commit uncharacteristic police brutality (although, knowing Psych, it could really have been an accident).
- Lassie might also just be a huge animal lover.
- He's also pretty defensive about Ronald Reagan's presidency.
Punch me in the face! Lassiter: I'm not going to
Ronald Reagan was a horrible President. Lassiter: [without thinking]
You son of a bitch! [BAM!]
- Better Than a Bare Bulb: The amount of Lampshade Hanging and Affectionate Parody in the show is ridiculous.
- Big Damn Heroes: Lassiter and Juliet pull one of these to catch the perp or to spring Shawn and Gus out of danger in practically every other episode.
- Big Eater: Shawn and Gus both exhibit traits of this, regularly eating on the job, stopping for snacks, and even in their contract for taking private jobs, a food allowance is included (all snacks must be paid for by the person who hired them). As Flanderization set in, Gus kept getting worse and worse at it, attempting to take a Yoohoo from a dead friend's fridge, spending a whole case eating enough candy to sugar crash several times, and the like.
- Bittersweet Ending: "Mr. Yin Presents", the season 4 finale, could definitely qualify. Juliet and Abigail barely saved from death, Shawn officially breaking up with Abigail, and Juliet suffering psychological trauma...yet they survived. Oh, and they didn't catch Yin, Mary died, and Yang's still insane.
- Not to mention the voiceover from Yang along with that very strange picture.
- Black Best Friend: Gus is a subversion. He's the Straight Man, not "hipper" than Shawn, and frequently objects to Shawn's schemes, but gets drawn inexorably into them anyway. A big reason why the show works.
- Bling-Bling-BANG!: A two-bit gangster in "We'd Like to Thank the Academy" uses a gold-plated pistol.
- Book Dumb: Shawn, who is extremely clever and observant but doesn't apply those principles to his work-habits outside of the fake-psychic business. As a contrast, Gus is less gifted but a better student with some TV Genius tendencies.
- Boring Invincible Hero: Averted. Shawn is frequently right, but he's wrong pretty often, too. He also has to consult with Gus or his father about what something actually means, either because he knows something is off but doesn't know what, or just has no idea where to go.
- Breather Episode: Following a string of atypically serious episodes dealing with Shawn and Jules' break-up, "Office Space" is a lighthearted and highly-comedic return to form.
- Brilliant but Lazy: Shawn.
- Broken Pedestal: This was Shawn's fear with his father when the department found out that some of their cops back in the day were Dirty Cops. Thankfully subverted, as one of the cops calls Henry "honest". Though it's still played straight with another cop since he was so close to the Spencers that young Shawn called him "uncle".
- Though, it should be noted that Shawn wasn't doubting whether his father was an honest cop, but doubting his abilities as one, thinking that if he really was as good a detective as Shawn thought he was, he would have figured out that some of his partners were dirty cops. This gets rebuild when it's realized that Henry was misdirected by both of his former friends and that it was really difficult to shake him off.
- Henry also experienced a broken pedestal with his friends as we discovered that his three close friends were all dirty cops (with the last one shooting him and involved in something worse).
- Buddy Cop Show: Shawn and Gus are not really cops, but O'Hara and Lassiter also fit the bill.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Everyone.
- (Except maybe Juliet and Chief Vick). Even then, they're susceptible, as Juliet gets into it too much when she goes undercover.
- The two most notable, however, are Shawn and Lassie. Shawn is a goof and doesn't take important matters seriously, and Lassie is extremely awkward and difficult to get along with. Still, both are respected for their abilities, and have continued to be be employed by the SBPD.
- Woody The Coroner also bears special mention. He eats food around dead bodies, has an unbelievably odd personality, and wouldn't know traditional professionalism if it smacked him upside the head. However, he's (usually) good at his job and a well respected coroner (even having graduated at the top of his class).
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Subverted. It was actually Thursday. Shawn and Gus accidentally tamper with a crime scene and everything spirals rapidly out of control. Juliet lampshades it and they say this trope pretty much word for word. Except it's Thursday.
- But He Sounds Handsome: Mary in "Mr. Yin Presents" comments that Yin had a "very stylish fedora". Subverted because he ends up not being the criminal.
- The Butler Did It: An enforced example from the viewers on the East Coast, as they voted for the butler to be the killer in the 100th episode. In contrast, the West Coast viewers chose a different suspect to be the murderer.
- Butt Monkey: Lassiter, frequently. Gus and McNab sometimes also.
- By Wall That Is Holey: Happens to Shawn and Gus in "High Noon-ish".
- California Doubling: Strangely enough, the Vancouver Doubling variant for a California town. Overall, they do a good job of making rainy, mountainous, heavily-forested British Columbia pass for dry, low-lying Southern California; but from time to time you can see the Mountains of Santa Barbara in the background.
- The episode "Dual Spires" was a parody of Twin Peaks, and it took place in a town that strongly resembled that series' Pacific Northwest setting. Given that the episode still took place in Southern California, this made little sense, but it worked for the parody.
- Anytime you see railroad tracks on the beach, it's filmed in White Rock, BC. The tracks in Santa Barbara are further back and far too heavily used to provide such a nice vista.
- An early establishing shot of a sports arena was of the Rose Garden in Portland, OR, from a show filmed in Vancouver but set in California. Oh, my.
- Cassandra Did It: The pilot.
- Cassandra Truth: In "In Plain Fright", Shawn sees a murder...in a haunted house.
- Casting Gag: Keisha Knight Pulliam, also known as Rudy from The Cosby Show, plays Gus's wife in a dream of Shawn's. See Celebrity Resemblance.
- Deon Richmond (Bud from The Cosby Show) is cast as Gus's new boss in the finale.
- The Cast Showoff: Gus seems to have a lot of episodes where he is singing or, most recently, tap-dancing.
- Catch Phrase:
- "I've heard it both ways." "No you have not, Shawn!"
- Lassie gets in on the act where he goes to question a suspect called "Paget", which Shawn says is pronounced "Pah-zhay". Paget affirms what Shawn says, and Lassie steals the catchphrase.
- To say nothing of a guest star in "The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Episode" pirating the line apropos of nothing.
- "You know that's right."
- [Gus walks into any given room] "Shawn!" Lampshaded in the Episode Commentary of "Mr. Yin Presents".
Andy Berman: One of the scenes we knew had to be in this episode was when Gus walks into the room and yells "Shawn!"
- "I can't do this with you right now."
- Gus's go-to conversation starter: "You heard about Pluto? That's messed up."
- "What!" (highpitched; mostly Gus)
- Shawn's "Wait for it. Wait for iiiiiiiiiit..."
- Gus's "I hear that."
- Shawn periodically adding the suffix "-ish" when describing something.
- Gus's "You must be outta your damn mind."
- Gus's "It's a company car, Shawn."
- "Gus, don't be [insert random strange phrase here]."
- Exactly one half of an eleven-pound Black Forest Ham.
- This crevice on my arm.
- A gooey chocolate chip cookie.
- The American adaptation of the British Gus.
- An old sponge with hair hanging off it.
- A myopic Chihuahua.
- A giant snapping turtle.
- Nic Cage's accent in Con Air.
- Such a gloomy you.
- The only black lead on a major cable network (whoops, too late).
- "I like it. I like it very much."
- "Gus, can we go into the [something I don't want you to be doing/talking about] room and talk for a second?
- "I'm sensing something!"
- "Suck it!" has been one for a while, usually with Shawn and Gus shouting it back and forth at each other. Season 7 takes this Up to Eleven with the two of them singing "Suck it" in harmony.
- More recently, Shawn and Gus have both begun using Ed Lover's catchphrase, "C'mon, son!"
- Lassiter telling Shawn "I would rather [insert hilarious imagery here]" than do something that Shawn suggests.
- Shower with a bear.
- French kiss a hobo.
- Adopt a child.
- Learn to play the harp.
- Spend the rest of my life at Lilith Fair.
- Fall in love with a vegan.
- "You can't call shotgun on a [uncommon vehicle/mode of transportation], Shawn!"
- Shawn's dramatically-emphasized "Me!"
- Celebrity Paradox: Being big fans of Eighties pop culture, Shawn and Gus have made at least one reference to The Breakfast Club. But if Ally Sheedy played Allison Reynolds (you know, the basket case), then who's the serial killer Yang?
- Judd Nelson, who has been personally referenced on previous episodes, guest-starred in "Death is in the Air" as a scientist.
- Then again, Judd Nelson looks very little like he did twenty years ago, so it doesn't seem so glaring when Shawn and Gus don't mention a resemblance.
- Anthony Michael Hall was also in the film and was referenced before appearing in "No Trout About It" as Harris Trout.
- Molly Ringwald also guest-starred in "Shawn, Interrupted".
- In the "The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Episode" in which Jeri Ryan guest-starred, Shawn makes reference to the season finale of Leverage, where Ryan had been a semi-regular cast member in the same season.
- They also like to reference movies Dulé Hill appeared in: Holes in "65 Million Years Off" and The Guardian in "You Can't Handle This Episode". Thank God that The West Wing started in 1999 and really wouldn't be their sort of thing anyway, or else they'd be facing some very interesting paradoxes.
- Officer Dobson being played by Val Kilmer practically rips a hole space-time with the level of paradox involved.
- In "65 Million Years Off", Shawn makes several references to Holes, in which Dulé Hill had a minor role. May also double as an Actor Allusion.
- Anthony Michael Hall has been in the show as of the last episode of season seven, and unsurprisingly, The Breakfast Club has been mentioned, most notably in the episode "Murder? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?". (This also brings up Shawn's jab at an FBI agent at the season 7 premiere about his "soft, peachy Anthony Micheal Hall-ish face".
- Moreover the show will routinely bring in guest stars from shows and movies that have already been explicitly referenced even just a few episodes prior to their appearance with no comment made about the issue.
- Celebrity Resemblance: In "Scary Sherry: Bianca's Toast", Gus is twice mistaken for the actor who played Bud in The Cosby Show (his name's Deon Richmond, by the way). This happens fairly often for people watching the show, too. It's given several references throughout the series after this point, including an episode where Shawn introduces Gus as Deon Richmond, much to Gus' dismay.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The episodes featuring "Mr. Yang" and "Mr. Yin".
- The new season opener after Henry is shot maybe even more so. Shawn was even less himself than the Yin/Yang episodes.
- Chain of Corrections: Many times. It's always Gus doing the correcting.
- Character Blog: Lassiter and Gus both have blogs. In Lassiter's case, the blog is actually written by the actor who plays him, and both blogs have quite a few nice character details.
- The Charmer: Shawn practically owns this trope, which is probably why no one's killed him yet.
- Chekhov's Skill: In the childhood flashback opener, Henry often teaches Shawn something that he will eventually have to use in the episode.
- In the season 4 mid-season finale, the first half or so of the episode is inter-cut with these flashbacks. In one episode after being captured and being locked in the trunk of a car Shawn flash backs to his father teaching him EXACTLY WHAT TO DO when you've been captured and locked in the trunk of a car. And, this being Henry, he actually threw Shawn in the trunk for the lesson.
- This is inverted in the Season 6 opening episode when Shawn cheats a lie detector and at the end of the episode reveals the flashback of Henry teaching Shawn how to do so.
- Christmas Episode: Seasons 2, 3, and 5 featured special Christmas episodes that aired during the holiday season, complete with their own special variation of the opening theme.
- Lampshaded by Shawn in an episode where he claims, he "solves about a case a week, usually one around Christmas".
- Also contains the running gag of Shawn and Henry getting each other gifts. Well, Henry gets Shawn a gift. Shawn (always successfully) tries to guess what Henry got him.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Shawn's uncle, Jack Spencer.
Jack: This is Jack Spencer and I'm willing to offer you a fifty-fifty split on pirate treasure. [to the guy answering the phone at a fast food joint]
- City of Adventure: Santa Barbara, of all places. The real city is a small town of less than 100,000 people that has one or two murders a year. While not all episodes feature murder, and not all episodes that do feature murder take place in Santa Barbara, the murder rate in Psych's Santa Barbara must be at least a couple of magnitudes higher than that if the police need Shawn and Gus's help on a dozen murders per year. On top of that, the city has whatever backdrop is needed to make the plot work, such as a thriving illegal drag racing scene or a war brewing between Asian gangs. Given that the writers treat Santa Barbara as a much larger city than it is, one wonders why they didn't just go with a big city in the first place. Also, Mr. Yang is described as "the most notorious serial killer this city [Santa Barbara] has ever seen". So, how many has it had?
- Clark Kenting: Done so much it eventually gets lampshaded in season 4.
- Cliff Hanger: Season 6 ends on a massive one with Henry being shot by one of his old partners on the force.
- Cloud Cuckoo Land: "Dual Spires".
- Color Wash: In "Right Turn or Left for Dead", most of the episode takes place in two different Alternate Realities, with the "good"/fake reality being washed in a yellow/orange happy light, and the "bad"/real reality being washed a dreary grey/blue.
- Comatose Canary: Shawn, in one episode, is posing as a doctor. He admonishes the interns to speak positively around the coma patient, lest they frighten him into remaining comatose. This is a dodge to get them to speak layman to Shawn about the patient's condition.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Lassiter is usually the center. So many people make him look foolish.
- One of the more extreme examples of this was the snowglobe gag in "Gus' Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy", which sailed right past "cruel prank" into "cruel and unusual".
- Gus also gets a fair bit of this from Shawn as well.
- Lampshaded during "An Evening With Mr. Yang", where Shawn's callous goofy jokes over the kidnapping of a waitress seem like crossing the line even by the show's very loose, wacky standards. Shawn confides in Gus that if he starts taking the case seriously, he'll be playing by the killer's rules instead of his own, which would allow the killer to win and would likely cause Shawn to actually have to deal with the incredible amount of fear he's mentally blocking out.
- Comically Small Bribe: Lassiter tries to bribe the kid he's supposed to scare straight.
O'Hara: I told you, kids want XBoxes, not hot chocolate.
- Contamination Situation: In the season four episode "Death is in the Air", a deadly virus is stolen and released on a public place.
- Continuity Nod: Shawn and Gus dig up a dinosaur skeleton in "65 Million Years Off". In "Shawn (and Gus) of the Dead", the dinosaur skeleton is shown in the museum with a plaque bearing Shawn's name and photo. In yet a later episode, a photo of Shawn and Gus from the latter episode in an article about the psychic detective agency lands Gus in hot water at his regular job. Also used as the reason why one client chose Shawn's agency in an episode. Brought up again in "Indiana Shawn and the Temple of the Kinda Crappy, Rusty Old Dagger".
- Also in the museum episode, a very spooked Gus is buying charms and talismans (talismen!) and says, "Now I just need to find someone to loan me a cat. Do you know McNab's number?" Shawn gave McNab the cat he was using to pretend it was helping him solve a case more than a season and a half earlier.
- In the aforementioned episode where Gus nearly loses his job, Shawn attempts to save him by pulling off a Zany Scheme involving a very elaborate Scooby-Doo Hoax to prove to Gus' boss that their business is legitimate, complete with fake ghosts and rigging the lights in Gus' boss' house to flash on cue. When confronted about it, Shawn admits he went to get advice on the lights from Alice Bundy, the murderer from the Season 1 finale whose plan also revolved around a Scooby-Doo Hoax (albeit with a lot more murder involved).
- One episode is about how Shawn used to idolize firemen, which his policeman father tried to pull him away from; after meeting firemen as an adult, he thanks his father for "keeping him off the pole...in more ways than one." Two seasons later, Gus relates a Homoerotic Dream about a firehouse Shawn described to him.
- Also, one episode had a woman keep a framed picture of Chad, the character Shawn played on a Spanish soap opera the season before.
- As part of his plan to distract a vicious dog, Shawn asks Lassiter if he still has the softball gear in the back of his trunk. An earlier episode in the season, "Shawn Gets the Yips", takes place immediately after a police department softball game.
- In the fourth season finale, the serial killer Mr. Yin has "cast" the main characters as characters from Hitchcock films. He informs this of them via a slide show presentation that has a photo of the TV character next to the corresponding movie character. For Henry Spencer, the photo is a still from news footage from the previous episode where Henry had caught a shark.
- "Forget Me Not" features two fliers on the pole where the missing person's picture that keeps coming up is placed (you have to be quick
on the remote's pause button to catch them). One of them is a flier looking for a first print copy of The Green Spirit Strikes Again, the comic Gus owned that Shawn ruined for The Reveal in "Shawn Vs. The Red Phantom". The other one is looking for a missing gold pocket watch reading "Don't Lose—Henry", the same one that Henry bought Shawn in "Weekend Warriors". Both are by Shawn (the pocket watch flier even offers a free psychic reading as a reward).
- In "Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark", Henry pulls a picture of Shawn from his wallet to show who they're looking for. The picture is a newspaper clipping from the article about Shawn that Henry was shown reading three and a half years earlier in "Spellingg Bee".
- Slightly deconstructed in "Shawn Rescues Darth Vader", when Lassiter calls out Shawn on ruining his relationship with the detective from the first episode, providing a reason on why he dislikes Shawn's relationship with Juliet.
- There's a first season episode where Gus and Shawn are trying get a massage from a great spa, only to be told that they only have a couples massage session available. Gus says no, but Shawn doesn't have a problem with that. In the seventh season, Shawn books a massage so they can investigate a case. Gus is annoyed that Shawn booked them as "Mr. and Mr. Nussbaum."
- In "The Adventures of Psych-Man and Tap-Man, Issue 2", Lassiter tells a reporter that he hasn't forgiven their paper for the "Detective Dipstick" incident, referring to the nickname the paper gave him in "The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Episode".
- Control Freak: Lassiter, who is also highly competitive and the biggest naysayer on the force as to Shawn's psychic talents.
- Henry also fits this trope, since he was drilling Shawn in cop rules and skills since early childhood, and informed Shawn once that Shawn wanted to be a cop (despite Shawn disagreeing). Even after Shawn has been working as a consultant for the police for four years and has solved literally dozens of cases, Henry insists on riding him every step of the way, or flat-out refusing to hire him because he does not act like a proper detective, which he is not. True, Shawn is lazy and often needs pushing, but it is still excessive insistence on controlling his process given Shawn's demonstrable effectiveness.
- Convenient Escape Boat: In "You Can't Handle This Episode", Juliet's secret-agent brother Ewen is introduced by having him jump obstacles and dodge bullet fire while being chased. He runs onto a public beach, jumps into the water, knocks a civilian off of a Jet Ski and zooms off to safety. All while having a conversation with Juliet on the phone.
- Cool Car: "Shawn and Gus in Drag (Racing)" revolves around illegal street races and naturally features a bunch.
- Cool Old Guy: Henry is...kind-of...it's complicated.
- Peters and Boone in the episode "Viagra Falls".
- Cowboy Cop: While internal affairs seem to think Lassiter is one, he is actually pretty by-the-book (or, at least, just takes his work seriously) except for being quick to claim a piece of the action.
- The episode "High Noon-ish" reveals that a father figure of his was a faux sheriff in a faux Wild West park.
- In "Let's Get Hairy", he pulls his gun on a stonewalling receptionist.
- Lampshaded and subverted when Lassiter is paired up with an actual Cowboy Cop recruit (who has many other issues besides this). He's frustrated by the recruit's actions (which include firing a gun she's not ready to use—and trashing it when the recoil tosses it out of her hand—and being rough with a victim on the mistaken assumption that he's the suspect, even after she's been told otherwise). When he's finally rid of her (she has a heart attack, and is told to retire for health reasons—not that she would have gotten in anyways; she had myriad other health problems that would have made doing the job well quite difficult for her) and told that Da Chief thinks they're similar, he's horrified by the thought that this is what Internal Affairs and the rest of the department thinks of him. At least for that episode, he's shown making efforts to try and improve his image (if not actually reform).
- Cowboy Episode: One episode had Shawn and Gus investigating a murder in an Old West theme park. They, of course, dress up in cowboy clothes and start playing Sheriff...the whole episode then became an exploration of various Old West tropes, even a By Wall That Is Holey example.
- Crazy-Prepared: Henry has some of those tendencies. Once when walking home with Shawn and Gus to see a shadow in his living room, Henry reached into the birdhouse and pulled out a stun gun. Cue appropriate responses from Shawn and Gus.
- Credits Gag: Seen occasionally. In one episode featuring Spanish soap opera stars, the song is in Spanish. In another about Bollywood musicals, it's in Hindi. In the following episode, which dealt with Gus' old a capella singing group, it was sung by Boyz II Men. For the Christmas episodes, there's a version with cheery holiday instrumentals and snowflakes superimposed over the screen. Also, there's a longer version of the song that airs occasionally. When Curt Smith of Tears For Fears made a guest appearance in "Shawn 2.0", he sang the theme for that very same episode. The Shining tribute episode also has a unique version of the credits.
- In the fifth season opener, "Romeo and Juliet and Juliet", the cast's names appear in Chinese before being shown in English, though the theme song is, regrettably, not in Chinese.
- The episode "Bounty Hunters!" also features the Camp Tikihama spirit song over the end credits, which was supposedly made up by the Case of the Week. The song makes a return a full season later in "Tuesday the 17th".
- The Twin Peaks tribute episode had
the Log Lady Julee Cruise singing the Psych theme song's lyrics to the Twin Peaks theme song.
- Creepy Doll: The episode "Tuesday the 17th" includes a creepy doll as part of the Camp's props, modeled closely after the extremely creepy (and allegedly haunted) "Robert" doll in Key West, Florida.
- Creepy Mortician: As well as Woody, his equally creepy ex-girlfriend turns up in one episode.
- Criminal Mind Games: The Yin-Yang Killer in the episode "An Evening with Mr. Yang."
- And then again in the season 4 finale when Mr. Yin, Yang's partner, comes to screw with Shawn.
- Crossover: Unfortunately averted. Word of God says that if Psych hadn't made Leverage a fictional show within the Psych universe (see Celebrity Paradox above), Leverage's Eliot would have had an uncle named Henry. The favor was returned in Leverage, however, as Hardison mentions that Nate has Psych in his Netflix queue.
- Being a USA original series, though, it's seen several crossovers in commercials. For instance, Shawn and Johnny Smith in a diner arguing over who has it harder (fake psychic due to psychologically abusive upbringing vs. real precog due to coma) before seeing Adrian Monk counting and arranging the corn on his plate and agreeing they've got nothing on him.
- Done for another promotional commercial in which Gus has his wallet stolen by Neal Caffrey while chatting with both he and Peter Burke.
- Finally, in the series finale, Adrian Monk is given a passing mention as SFPD's resident consultant.
- Crowd Hockey: In "Death is in the Air" with the vial of plague.
- Cute Bruiser: In the episodes Juliet is in straight combat she is shown to use brute force a lot more than most Action Girls.
- Not to mention the roller derby.
- Cuteness Proximity: "Thrill Seekers and Hell Raisers" opens with Shawn and Gus in a pet store, talking about their shared love of bunnies. Gus admits it may seem creepy for their age, but "history will prove us right".
- Lampshaded when Gus reveals he has news he knows will upset Shawn, so he wanted to get Shawn near the bunnies first to help take it calmly.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Lampshaded: a pair of students smart enough to hack into the police database that need money attempt to get said money do so by using the hacking skills to create a cover ID to rob places. The cast notes that they were really stupid.
- Da Chief:
Interim Chief Vick. Henry gets in on the act when he becomes the outside consultant liaison.
- Damsel in Distress: Shawn has a tendency to act like this is the case when Juliette is in danger, forgetting what an Action Girl she is.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Yin almost pulled it off. Almost. He was going to kill Gus without preamble and without falling for his and Shawn's stalling tactics, but eventually they annoyed him into following "protocol".
- Dark Reprise: Lassiter's reprise of "I've Heard It Both Ways", sung after a new dead body is discovered that seems to be incriminating proof of the killer's identity. Oddly, it sort of doubles as a Triumphant Reprise of the song for Lassiter, as the first iteration was Shawn and Lassiter arguing and this reprise happens after Lassiter's theory appears to be the correct one.
Lassiter: The only thing that's satisfying is that the smirk is off your face.
- Death Equals Redemption: Subverted with Yang's death. Yang sees the light after dying to save Shawn and thinks she's going to heaven, but Mary says she likely will not be going to the Promised Land. He will, however, put in a good word for her.
- Death Song: "Promised Land" from The Musical episode is one for Yang.
- Defective Detective: Shawn's lackadaisical approach tends to cause people to refuse to take him seriously or consider him a nuisance to be shooed away so real people can get things done. He's something of an aversion, though, being for the most part a pretty well-adjusted (if oddball) guy.
- Department of Redundancy Department: In "Chivalry Is Not Dead... But Someone Is":
Juliet: You disturb me. And your theory on this murder disturbs me. And you disturb me.
Lassiter: You said that twice.
- Depending on the Writer: The Shawn/Henry relationship. Shawn often claims it's a bad one, and a few of the flashbacks show Henry overreacting wildly, but most of the time they seem to get along okay, even in many of the flashbacks. (Of course, the divorce didn't help the relationship.)
- Depraved Bisexual: In "Mr. Yin Presents," Yang herself, who hits on both the female asylum attendant and Shawn.
- "Yang 3 in 2D" has her implying she wants to host The View and make out with Elizabeth Hasselbeck.
- Diplomatic Impunity: In "Shawn Rescues Darth Vader" Shawn becomes obsessed with the idea of getting hired by the British ambassador and using the subsidiary immunity to go on a minor crime spree. It doesn't pan out.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Shawn usually does this for laughs, but also to tease a Romantic False Lead for his Will They or Won't They? with Juliet. Once it was Henry, walking down the sidewalk, before walking face first into an open door.
- Distressed Dude: Shawn and Gus fall under this trope pretty frequently. Sometimes they escape on their own, other times they end up being rescued by Juliet and Lassiter. Sometimes a combination of the above.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: Mr. Yang is revealed as this through flashbacks when Shawn meets her at the end.
- Donut Mess with a Cop: One Season 3 teaser. "That wasn't a jelly donut."
- Dramatic Gun Cock: "We'd Like to Thank the Academy." One of the villains, described as "a fabulous Emmett Smith," cocks his gold-plated pistol and says, "I don't even need to do that. I just like the effect."
- Dramatically Missing the Point: When, in the seventh season, Juliet discovers that Shawn has been lying about being a psychic, it implodes their relationship. He spends the following episode mulling things over and tells her "If I hadn't given you my jacket, we would still be okay." No, Shawn, it wouldn't still be okay, and that's the point.
- Dreaming The Truth: Used in "Mr. Yin Presents." Shawn is able to remember a vital clue that he walked right past the killer in the movie theater the night before and saw he was wearing ankle weights. Subverted by the fact that the ankle weights clue was a Red Herring and Mary is actually Yin's next victim.
- Dream Within A Dream Within A Dream Within A Dream: Happens in one of the "Psych Slumber Party" marathon commercials. It starts with Juliet's dream about her and Shawn being alone... which is in Shawn's dream about him with a giant stack of pancakes... which is in Gus's dream about Pluto being made a planet again... which is in Lassie's dream about Shawn finally giving up the Psychic Detective business.
- Dropped After the Pilot: The show gave Detective Lassiter a female partner (Anne Dudek appeared as the competent and skeptical Detective Lucinda, no last name given, partner and lover of the major character Carlton Lassiter) with whom he was having an affair and who was suspicious of Shawn's "psychic" abilities. Post-pilot she is never seen nor heard of again, she's transferred out in the second episode because of the affair thing and replaced with Shawn's trusting, less skeptical eventual Love Interest, Junior Detective Juliet O'Hara.
- Though in that case she was created to be written out of the plot.
- Dude, Not Ironic: Shawn is a little unclear on the definition.
Shawn: That's ironic, right?
Gus: What's ironic is that you have to keep asking me what irony is.
- Discussed in the first tie-in novel A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Read
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Shawn's unorthodox methods have been the deciding factor in arresting murderers, thieves, con artists, and even serial killers. Many times over the course of the series the Santa Barbara police would have imprisoned the wrong person, and many people would be dead, without Shawn's help. Despite this, every week the cops say they don't have time for his "hunches," his help is not needed, and please get out of the way so the "real" cops can do their jobs. This is especially noteworthy for Detective Lassiter, who is perpetually dismissive and condescending toward Shawn, despite the fact that he would be rotting in jail for a murder he didn't commit if Shawn hadn't cleared his name.
- Lassiter does start getting noticably more tolerant of Shawn and Gus after they help clear him of murder, only really objecting to the over-the-top acting and no-evidence-theories. Ultimately, when he gets promoted to Chief, he keeps hiring them. And the finale implies that he knew all along that Shawn was a fake, or at least strongly suspected.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The pilot has Lassiter paired with a different junior detective, with whom he's having an affair. She's gone by the second episode, and Lassiter's estranged from his wife. Shawn also worked a variety of jobs which on rare occasions had esoteric relevance to the plot. That disappeared relatively quickly and was replaced by Shawn learning his Chekhov's Skill in a flashback at the beginning instead.
- In the first few episodes, Shawn routinely claims to be speaking with and interacting with ghosts. That went away quick. And just in general, Shawn puts far more effort into his fake psychic episodes in the first couple of seasons, as opposed to later seasons where he mostly just puts his hand to his head and says "I'm getting something..."
- In Juliet's first appearance, we see a photograph of her parents who Shawn guesses have been together for 30 years (from her reaction, we can assume he's right) and her father does not resemble Frank O'Hara as portrayed by William Shatner in later seasons.
- In the first two episodes, young Sean is played by a different actor each time. The flashback in the second episode takes place later than most episodes, so Sean was about thirteen. Beginning in the third episode, young Sean was played by Liam James, and the flashbacks generally took place in a particular year which advanced with each passing season.
- In the first season, the Psych logo on the window is blue instead of green.
- In the pilot, Shawn is a sharp-shooter. He re-uses Lassiter's partner's target sheet, and hits each hole she has already shot. Shawn rarely uses guns after that, and never displays this proficiency.
- He rarely uses guns after that, true, but when he does, he does display the proficiency. For example, in "Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark," he manages to hit his kidnapper's truck on the first two tries. Bear in mind that said kidnapper was speeding down a road, and Shawn was firing from the hood of Lassiter's car, which was driving faster than the truck. Shawn doesn't use guns very often, but when he does, he has skills.
- Also, in "We'd Like to Thank the Academy", Shawn impresses the police instructor by quickly, and accurately shooting a cardboard "assailant" target. However he then shoots 2 "innocent women" targets. However, he later explains his reasoning behind shooting them. Namely, that he thought the women were suspicious.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: A major theme in the Shawn/Juliet relationship, referenced in Juliet's speech at the end of "An Evening with Mr. Yang" and Shawn's speech at the end of "Death is in the Air."
- Economy Cast: Juliet and Lassiter seemingly investigate every murder in Santa Barbara.
- As well as a bizarre variety of other crimes, ranging from auto theft and drug dealing to piracy.
- El Spanish O: Shawn's time on a Spanish soap opera mostly consists of middle school Spanish, but for his summation he switches to accented English with some -o-ing.
- This reappears in "No Country For Two Old Men" when the cast ends up in Mexico. It's made extra funny both times by the fact that James Roday's real last name is "Rodriguez" and his father is Mexican.
- Eureka Moment: Shawn usually gets one well in advance, but later has to set up the summation to maintain his role as a psychic.
- Later parodied when Lassiter, without explanation, yells out "I know who the West Side Rapist is!" while tap dancing with a class of children at a recital.
- To be fair, Lassie reveals early on in the episode that tap dancing helps him think things through.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Several examples of Red Herrings that are still criminals.
- "A Very Juliet Episode" involves a powerful mob boss who was convicted of murdering a federal agent, and whose wrath was keeping Jules' ex-boyfriend in witness protection. Turns out he didn't do it: he prides himself on honor and especially on not killing and doesn't want his children to grow up thinking he was a murderer. Likewise, he himself is not after Jules' ex, though he can say nothing about those who would kill the man independently to gain his favor. He ends up hiring Shawn and Gus to find the real killer in exchange for making sure Jules' ex is never troubled again.
- Desperaux likewise draws the line far below killing, though he is not above a little High-Altitude Interrogation.
- The duo of robbers in "Barbie And Clyde" are perfectly fine with lying, cheating, robbing and swindling folks out of their money and possessions, but likewise draw the line at killing. Also, they're against animal cruelty and digital piracy.
- Everyone Can See It: The Shawn/Juliet (non-)relationship has been commented on by several Case of the Week characters, and even Gus seems to be trying to help it along.
- In Season 5, when Shawn and Jules finally start dating, Shawn has trouble telling Gus, fearing that Gus won't take it well. When the truth comes out, Gus doesn't act surprised... until Shawn catches him eating caramel, which he has said Gus had a tendency of doing whenever Shawn enters into a serious relationship.
- Eviler Than Thou: Possibly Mr. Yin when compared to Yang. Yang even calls him a monster in comparison.
- Yin is definitely more evil. It turns out Yin is Yang's father and raised her to be a killer. It's also hinted that Yang never actually killed anyone and it was all Yin.
- Exact Words:
Shawn: "Say cheese or something."
Jules: "Cheese or something."
- Expansion Pack Past: Shawn, in partial rebellion to his father, has had fifty-seven prior jobs and has spent time in Argentina and Thailand among many other places.
- Fake Crossover: With Monk in a series of USA Network commercials. Gus was also obliquely mentioned in a "Monk" novelization.
- Also in the Psych novel "Mind Over Magic" Shawn complains that Gus isn't female, blond, and ready with a wipe after he touches something.
- Femme Fatale: Dahlia Beaumont. AKA Thea Summers. Much like Chinatown, she winds up having a dual connection to a character, being both his sister and his girlfriend.
- Firemen Are Hot
- Fixing The Game: One episode involves a rigged poker game with invisibly marked cards.
- Flanderization: In the first couple of seasons, Shawn was perfectly capable of acting like a normal adult when the situation called for it or he was off the job. By the 3rd season, his need to be as obnoxious as possible even when it seems likely to get him killed has become as pathological and uncontrollable as Adrian Monk's phobias. This is actually referenced in the show, where it's suggested that his success has completely gone to his head.
- It is also suggested, in the first Yin episode, that Shawn may be intentionally playing up his quirks as a way to avoid having to deal with the stress and fear that comes with the job.
- Also Gus's eating, at first both Shawn and Gus where bit of big eaters, but now in the current season, Gus had eaten a pit of meat that he found in the woods(which could have killed him) also eaten some more meat later in the same episode,(which everyone thought was Lassister!) Also, one a guy suddenly dies, Gus wanted to know if their could share his food.
- Lassiter also became more and more uptight and rigid as time went by with more humor revolving around this. Also, the affair he has with his partner (not Juliet) seems inconceivable in later seasons.
- Flashback with the Other Darrin: The episode "Mr. Yin Presents" ends with the reveal of a photograph of Mr. Yang and young Shawn, at the time played by Liam James. The photograph is brought back in "Yang 3 in 2D," but the young Shawn in the photograph is now Skyler Gisondo, who replaced James in season 5.
- Foil: Shawn and Henry's relationship and training can easily be contrasted with Yang and Yin's relationship. Shawn and Yang were both raised to follow in their fathers' footsteps. Neither really had a choice in the matter.
- Foot-Dragging Divorcee: Carlton Lassiter was in denial about his separation from his wife, and thought they were getting back together when she asked for dinner at their first-date restaurant. She confronted him with divorce papers and he gave a long, foot-dragging speech, but eventually admits he was aware he'd never been good for her. Having gotten that off his chest, he immediately signs the papers.
- For Want of a Nail: If only Shawn hadn't leant Juliet his jacket at Lassiter's wedding! "Turn Right or Left For Dead explores this"
- Foreshadowing: The beginning of every episode involves Henry teaching young Shawn a valuable lesson about crime-solving. Sharp viewers can often solve the mystery well before the end of the episode by applying this lesson to the clues Shawn finds.
- "Tuesday the 17th" becomes surprisingly darker once you've seen the Yin/Yang episodes. Especially the ending.
- And especially since the episode following it is "An Evening with Mr. Yang".
- Gus even refers to himself and Shawn as "Yin and Yang."
- Found Footage Films: "Lassie Jerky" is a parody of the style, in which every shot represents someone's camera feed and references to The Blair Witch Project abound. Subverted in that Shawn is revealed to have edited together the footage at the end to present to Chief Vick.
- Free Prize at the Bottom: One episode begins with young Shawn trying to get the prize from a box of cereal, and then his dad shows him that the most efficient way to accomplish this is to just open the box from the bottom.
- In "Death is in the Air" Shawn calls back to this when trying to tell Jules that he loves her.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the episode "Shawn Rescues Darth Vader" if you pause when the article detailing the release of Colin Hennessy comes up you'll find that the victim, Annabeth York, liked chocolate biscuits and listened to the advice of a voice in her head she called "Steve". It goes on to include a quote from Chief Vick where she says they'll be able to solve the case within an hour, not including commercials and if they're able to keep the snacks away from Shawn.
- Fridge Logic: A rare, in-universe example: the fact that there's no way Mr. Yang had the time to take Shawn's mom all the way to the drive in and strap her with explosives bothers Mary for a year after the Season 3 finale. He comes to the conclusion that Mr. Yang had a partner.
- Fundamentally Funny Fruit: Pineapples - either the word or the actual pineapple - are slipped into every episode the producers of the show can manage. Pineapples appear to be Shawn's favorite food, or at least his favorite housewarming gift. Or they turn up on pizza, a cake, a smoothie, Henry's shirt, or as a code word.
- There's even a Spot the Pineapple Sweepstakes that the viewer can play.
- The splash image for the show on Hulu is a picture of Shawn and Gus playing with pineapples on a white background.
- Funny Background Event: In "The Polarizing Express" you can see the Grinch mugging a couple outside the Psych office.
- In "Psych the Musical", Shawn is singing and dancing so that Yang, who he's having a Skype call with, will give him information for the case. He's doing it in one of the offices in the police department, and no one else can hear him, but they can see him through the windows.
- Gambit Roulette: Mr Yin's and Mr Yang's masterful plans have to be this to get around Shawn.
- Gender-Blender Name: Mary Lightly.
- Genki Girl: Gus's ex. Also, Juliet frequently.
- Gentleman Thief: Pierre Desperaux in the season premiere.
- Subverted in that he's not really a thief but an abettor to insurance fraud. The owners of fine art would steal them from themselves and blame the crime on Desperaux.
- However, as "Extradition II" shows, he's every bit as capable as he originally claimed.
- Genre Blindness: Henry, if two out of three of your cop buddies were dirty cops, what are the odds the third one will be one too? Dangerously high.
- Genre Savvy: Not surprisingly, Gus has very stringent requirements for entering any horror-movie-like situation.
- Much of the humor of the show revolves around (sometimes rather selective) genre-savviness from various characters (Gus, as mentioned, often being the biggest source).
- In season 4, Shawn and Gus have become genre savvy to the point of arguing which movie the situation derives from on at least two occasions.
- In the homecoming episode of Season 3, Shawn spends much of the episode wondering if he should be comparing events to The Breakfast Club or Pretty in Pink.
- Get Ahold Of Yourself Man: In "This Episode Sucks," Gus briefly goes catatonic at the sight of blood. After several gentle attempts to bring him back to his senses, Shawn elects to slap him as hard as he can in the face... except right before he does, Gus snaps out of it and instinctively punches him instead.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: All the time!
- From "We'd Like To Thank The Academy"
Lassiter: You can't beat me on the field so now you want to beat me off?
Shawn: You might want to rephrase that.
- QILF. The Q stands for queen. For those confused, replace the Q with M. Then, put the Q back.
- Godzilla Threshold: To take down Yin, the team calls in Yang.
- Good Colors, Evil Colors: Subverted in ''High Noon-ish", between Lassiter and a Wild West actor. One of the tourist even lampshades that they can't tell who the bad guy is since they are both wearing black.
- Give Me Back My Wallet: At the end of a Christmas Episode, a little girl/con artist thanks Shawn for helping her dad, and hugs him... and Shawn immediately asks for his wallet back.
- Groin Attack: A Very Juliet Episode
- Had the Silly Thing in Reverse: In an episode guest starring John Cena:
Shawn: *holds up a rocket launcher* What is this?
Ewan: That is an anti-tank weapon...and you're pointing it at yourself.
- Hair Today Gone Tomorrow: Corbin Bernsen plays his character both in the present and 20 years ago. This is lampshaded in "If You're So Smart, Then Why Are You Dead?", when he expresses disbelief that a 30 year old criminal had passed himself off as a teenager. Shawn replies "I dunno, dad, slap a wig on you and you're the spitting image of yourself when I was a kid."
- Has Two Mommies: Lassiter's mom has a female partner. Lassie apparently struggled with this initially, but it looks like he's come to terms with it since they both walked him down the aisle at his wedding.
- Have a Gay Old Time: In the Season 6 Finale:
Henry: Trust me, no one wants to nail this guy's ass more than I do.
*Cue aside glances from Gus and Shawn*
- Heroes Want Redheads: Gus definitely seemed very interested in Lassiter's red-headed little sister.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Shawn and Gus, who have been best friends since forever and do everything together. Shawn even gets jealous when he discovered Gus was once married.
- People assume Shawn and Gus are romantic surprisingly commonly. Shawn even occasionally uses it as a gag introduction to the duo. He doesn't always tell Gus about this in advance. The look of surprise on Gus's face is frequently hilarious.
- Hey, You!: Henry insists on being called Henry.
- Hikikomori: A one-shot character who only went out on Thursdays to the convenience store and to buy video games. Once-a-day/week/month trips to a convenience store an extremely common hikikomori trait (as is only going out to buy games/anime/manga/etc). Makes one wonder who on the writing staff actually knows about hikikomori.
- Homage: The 100th episode was an Homage to the movie Clue.
- Homoerotic Dream: See Continuity Nod.
- Hot Librarian: Maudette in Dual Spires
- Hurricane of Euphemisms: In "Santabarbaratown", when Shawn and Gus are interviewing someone connected to the case:
He wanted children. Gus:
And you didn't? Ida:
Let's just say they weren't in the cards for him. Shawn: Meaning what? Ida:
His juice had no pulp. His seed wasn't fruitful. He was pouring decaf. Pumping unleaded. His Hall had no Oates. He was sterile! Shawn:
- Hurricane of Puns: "Any Given Friday Night" opens with a category five storm of foot puns from Shawn.
- Hyde Plays Jekyll: "Who Ya Gonna Call?": A man has multiple personalities, one of which is a woman. At one point the man is dressed like a woman, but the personality in charge is the man. He dressed like the woman to divert suspicion from himself.
- Hyper Awareness: Shawn, thanks to his father's relentless training. He even gets a special effect to show when he notices something. Henry has this too, but he doesn't get special effects.
- A rival (fake) psychic working for the FBI also had some talent in this, at least able to deduce when Shawn was using his skills.
- It's often played with as having such a talent also requires the proper knowledge and/or skills to connect the pieces together. Shawn has referred to Gus on his knowledge of pharmaceuticals many times. Another time he joked that he identified a poisoned sandwich because the number of sesame seeds on the regular hotel sandwiches were much different (it was actually the style of toothpick to keep them together). He remarked that he was observant, not The Rain Man.
- Hypocritical Humor: Allison when Juliet figures out she's lying. Though she could also talking about herself.
Not bad for a blonde.
- "I Am" Song: "Santa Barbara Skies" from The Musical episode is one for Shawn.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: References to pop culture, usually mixed with a Pun.
- If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Non-romantic version delivered by Lassiter when he finds out that Juliet and Shawn have been dating behind his back, promising that if Shawn ever does anything to her, he will "discharge his pistol."
Shawn: You mean you'll shoot me.
- Ignored Enemy: Yin has Shawn and Gus strapped to chairs and is about to inject them with something to kill them. They start arguing over who Yin will kill first, and whether he plans on sterilizing the needle between uses.
- I Got a Rock: On his Character Blog, Lassiter says to note down the people who do this and he will arrest them.
- I Just Want to Be You: In the episode "Juliet Wears the Pantsuit", Juliet gets a roommate who she becomes friends with until the woman starts dressing like and pretending to be her (the film Single White Female is given a Shout-Out). It turns out that the woman is on the run from her abusive husband who keeps managing to track her down despite the number of times she has taken on false identities and thought she would be safe with Juliet as a roommate since she's a cop.
- I Know You Know I Know: Right there in the theme song, which was actually written and performed by the band of the show's creator.
- Impossible Thief: Pierre Despereaux was able to steal a crown from out of a sealed metal box in less than a minute without causing any damage to it. Justified in that Pierre isn't a thief, he just likes the mystique that it brings, all of the "stolen" items were given to him by the owners so they could claim insurance money.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Shawn in the pilot, "Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark," and "We'd Like to Thank the Academy."
- Also Juliet in the
Friday the Thirteenth Tuesday the Seventeenth episode. She shoots the bad guy in the hand, disarming him. Immediately lampshaded.
- Improvised Weapon: To the point of it being a Running Gag. When he sees a fight coming on, Shawn often arms himself (and sometimes Gus) with a random object (brushes, candles, flyswatters, etc.) even if there are more conventional or effective weapons available.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: Happens at least once, usually to shore up a case that's low on physical evidence.
- In the season six finale, Henry retires after learning that half of his old partners were crooked, covering up murder and drug trafficking for some extra money on the side. As he's telling the last of their group what happened to the other two, his partner makes a comment that "$50,000 was a lot of money back then...". Henry never told him how much they were making.
- Informed Ability: Inverted. Shawn constantly remarks on what a bad detective Lassiter is, but there are numerous indications that he solved plenty of crimes off-screen, and tends to fail only on the types of cases that require Shawn.
- One episode actually has Lassiter on such a roll clearing cases that Shawn and Gus are desperate for a case that he can't solve...so that they can make some money.
- Internal Reveal: Shawn attempts to come clean to Lassiter in his recorded goodbye message in the finale. Averted when Lassiter stops the recording and breaks the disc rather than hear it, though.
- Insanity Defense: One case involves Shawn going undercover in a mental hospital to prove someone tried innocent by insanity was faking.
- Insistent Terminology: crops up from time to time. A nice example is a 1987 flashback in which Henry claims to have taken something of Shawn, unbeknownst to him. Shawn calls it robbing, but "robbery is the taking of property by force or fear" and Henry is not afraid of anyone in the room. Gus then calls it burglary, but that involves breaking in - "this is theft, pure and simple".
- Inspector Lestrade: Carlton Lassiter.
- In Spite of a Nail: The episode "Right Turn or Left for Dead" contains two different possible realities for the investigation of a case, which branch off when Shawn makes one small decision one way or another. Even though the two investigations follow the leads in a completely different sequence, the end result is the same: Shawn solves the case in a flash of insight at the exact same time in both realities.
- Insult Backfire: Played with in Canada.
Lassiter: I swear, I'm gonna leave you to rot in this backwoods, rain-drenched den of politeness. No offense.
Canadian: None taken. I like your suit.
- Interdisciplinary Sleuth: Gus's day job as a pharmaceutical rep occasionally helps solve the Mystery of the Week.
- Irony: Lassiter, a detective that looks down at all criminals, no matter how big or small their crimes are. actually marries one.
- Also, Lassiter was the one who inspired Shawn's Fake Psychic routine in the first place by accusing him of being an accomplice in crimes in the pilot. He has no one but himself to blame for Shawn's presence.
- It Began with a Twist of Fate: After Jules finds out that Shawn's not really psychic and dumps him, Shawn suffers a Heroic BSOD that causes him to fantasize about what might have happened if he'd made one different decision (offering Jules Da Chief's scarf instead of his own jacket, as the contents of the jacket pocket were responsible for Jules realizing that he was a fraud). The fantasy version of events and the reality veer off in wildly different directions.
- It Makes Sense in Context: "Ever since I met you, I've been thinking about getting a car," is one of the most romantic lines in the series.
- To provide said context, Shawn is rambling and discussing how he loves his motorcycle because nobody ever asks him to drive them anywhere, it represents freedom of commitment, and he never has to help anyone move. He then tells Juliet the above line to indicate that she makes him want all of those things.
- It's a Wonderful Plot: "The Polarizing Express", lampshaded.
- Worth mentioning is that it's made clear that the "life without Shawn" bits are more of an ego trip combined with events outside the dream. Also inverted in the sense that rather than realizing everyone would be worse off without him, it helps Shawn realize he's mistreating the people in his life and couldn't do without them.
- It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Inverted. After Abigail is kidnapped and nearly drowned by Yin, Shawn is ready to compromise and make a stronger commitment to their relationship, but she breaks up with Shawn because she can't make a difference in the world if she's dead.
- It Will Never Catch On: Henry pulls a rare quadruple one in a 1989 flashback: When Shawn asks if he can get a home computer, Henry replies it's "another passing fad, like rap music, Madonna and L.A. Law."
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Played with. Shawn wants both himself and Jules to be happy, and wants to be happy for Jules and Declan, but can't picture himself being happy without her.
- Karma Houdini: Marlowe easily earns parole for her thievery, despite having assaulted a guard during a riot at the women's prison. (Of course, since the entire prison participated in that riot, it's not like they could punish everyone, so instead they must have punished no one.)
- Truth in Television- Actually, she could have been prosecuted for a new crime of assault on the corrections officer. There was no requirement to "punish everyone", just the specific prisoners involved. That this didn't happen, and she got parole, is what makes her a Karma Houdini.
- Killed Off for Real: Mary, the Mr. Yang expert from the Season 3 finale, is one of Mr. Yin's victims in the Season 4 finale.
- Mary returns in the form of some bizarre home videotapes in the Season 5 finale, through which Shawn discovers the truth about Yin and Yang's relationship.
- Yang in the Musical.
- Knight of Cerebus: Mr. Yin and Mr. Yang.
- Lampshade Hanging: This is incredibly common in the series. Just count the number of times it's mentioned on this page.
- In the pilot, Shawn states "Everything you need is right in front of you. You just have to pay attention," as he pulls a lampshade out of a trash can.
- In Bollywood Homicide, Shawn brags to his girlfriend "I solve a case every week. And usually one around Christmas."
- In Let's Get Hairy, after Shawn protests to Henry that he has a case to solve, Henry remarks that Shawn has a case every week.
- In an episode from season one, Shawn declares that he will have the case solved Friday by 10pm. During Season One, the show aired on Fridays at 9 PM.
- The season 3 episode "Any Given Friday Night at 10PM, 9PM Central".
- In the latest season Gus lampshades the face Shawn makes before the special effect highlights whatever Shawn noticed.
- In If You're So Smart, Why Are You Dead?, Shawn tells his father "slap a wig on you, it's the spitting image of yourself 20 years ago". The same actor plays him in the flashbacks. Wearing a wig.
- "Viagra Falls" not only lampshades old buddy cop show, it also lampshades Psych itself and the various gags the show uses.
- From "He Dead":
"Let me guess. You've got some loosely formed idea that shouldn't work on paper, but ultimately proves to be reasonably successful?"
- Large Ham: Shawn when playing up his psychic abilities, especially during The Summation.
- Guest Star Tim Curry in 'American Duos.' "I feel like an angel baby swaddled in a cocoon of cloud candy." Just one example.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In The Shining tribute ep, Shawn suggests that Lassie is letting his imagination run away with him saying "it happens to Gus and I once every seven days".
- Another lampshadey example, when Shawn meets Declan Rand for the first time:
- Last Name Basis: Everyone calls Burton Guster "Gus" and Lassiter "Lassiter", though Shawn calls him "Lassie" (unless he's trying to be serious). Juliet alternates between "Lassiter" and Carlton when she's frustrated. Lassiter calls Shawn "Spencer", which naturally causes some confusion when he does the same thing to Shawn's father.
- Leeroy Jenkins: "Last Night Gus" features a fugitive whose name is Leeroy Jenkins. He's appropriately hot-tempered.
- Let's Get Dangerous: Lassiter is often the butt of jokes and most of his cases seem to get solved by Shawn while he fumes silentlynote . That said, he has immense knowledge of firearms and has received enough Character Development so as to make clear that he's not Frank Burns.
- Shawn also counts particularly when Henry gets shot. He drops much of the joking and becomes scarily competent.
- Lie Detector: Used to question Shawn in the sixth season premiere about a case and his psychic abilities. Fortunately, his dad taught him how to beat a polygraph.
- Like an Old Married Couple: Shawn and Gus. Definitely.
- Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: Shawn's treasure-hunter uncle, Jack, makes more promises than he can keep (or intends to) and is motivated by little more than pure greed.
- Logging Onto The Fourth Wall: http://squirrelassassins.com/
- Love at First Sight: Lassie and Marlowe.
- Lovable Coward: Gus, sometimes.
- Loveable Rogue: Shawn. All the time.
- Love Cannot Overcome: Shawn's ex-girlfriend, Abigail, says she can't take the stress of his job anymore after being kidnapped by Mr. Yin.
- Magician Detective
- Malaproper: Shawn, frequently. His followup line when called on it (usually by Gus), "I've heard it both ways," is heard about Once an Episode.
- Lampshaded by Gus in High Top Fade Out, who cuts Shawn off before he can say it with "And no, you have not heard it both ways!"
- Lampshaded again by Shawn with "I've heard it both ways... actually, I haven't. Huh."
- Male Gaze: Possible in-universe example: in the episode Let's Do-Wop It Again Shawn is hospitalized and interacts with the others through an iPad that Gus carries around. While Gus is following Jules at one point, he seems to be holding Shawn a little lower than usual...
- In High-Top Fadeout, the episode to which Let's Do-Wop It Again is a direct sequel, Gus' friend Diddle's desk is position in just such a way as to get a clear shot of his co-worker's ass when she's at the copier.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Gus' ex-wife Mira, a super-adventurous Genki Girl who no one can seem to resist falling in love with, is a parody of this - especially in the flashbacks to when Gus first met her.
- Marshmallow Hell: Done to Gus in "Autopsy Turvy."
- ...and subverted/avoided later with a smiling Henry.
- A Minor Kidroduction: The young Shawn intros in nearly every episodes.
- Missing Trailer Scene: A variation for the season 5 premier. The joke shown in the commercials for one scene was entirely different in the show itself than for the commercials.
- Though both jokes are in the episode if you watch it on Hulu.
- Mistaken for Dying: Shawn, Gus, and Juliet think Lassie is dying when they misinterpret his strange behavior in "S.E.I.Z.E the Day". Turns out he was just panicking because Marlowe is pregnant and he's worried about getting hurt on the job and missing out on his kid's life.
- Mistaken for Gay: In one episode, Shawn feels an officer's muscles and asks him questions to find out if he's working undercover as a vigilante. The officer interprets the actions and questions to be a sexual advance and offers to set Shawn up with a friend.
- Likewise, Juliette wants to welcome a new female officer into the department, even buying her a cupcake, and the officer files a sexual harassment complaint.
- Shawn and Gus went on a The Bachelorette-esque show and were more preoccupied with each other than the actual bachelorette. The bachelorette herself thought they were gay.
- In the episode "Lassie Did a Bad Bad Thing," the killer tries to cover up his crime by orchestrating a murder-suicide between Lassiter and Shawn, explaining the motive as Shawn being Lassie's "former lover." Shawn reacts with indignation, but not for the reason you think.
- The Mob Boss Is Scarier: Subverted in a Christmas Episode, where a crowd is shamed into coming forward and telling the truth about the activities of a gang in their midst.
- Moment Killer: Shawn and Juliet have a... complicated relationship. But when Juliet finally makes an offer for a date, Shawn happens to be on his way to a date with a childhood sweetheart.
- Far, far worse is when he has to give her hints to his location over the phone under the pretense of saying goodbye to a lover. When he says he loves her and she begins to respond in kind, he intentionally cuts her off by saying "Goodbye, Abigail" to prove it was fake. He later admits to Gus that he knew she was about to say she loved him.
- Mood Whiplash: 7th Season premier "Santabarbaratown 2" contains some of the most serious, dramatic scenes in the entire series—followed immediately by a running gag of supporting character Woody the coroner showing up with one or more bodybags.
- "Deez Nups", a very silly Wedding/Stag Party episode that ends with Juliet finding out Shawn's secret. Juliet is very pissed off and Shawn is devastated.
- Yang's death at the end of "Psych the Musical".
- Murder the Hypotenuse: It happens in the high school reunion episode.
- Musical Episode: It's been confirmed that Season 7 will feature a double-length musical episode. An episode that will also just happen to feature the return of Yang.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: The Gusters to Shawn, regarding Gus's sister Joy. She's annoyed about it, since she very much wants to get back together with Shawn.
- And again with Lassiter's sister and Gus in "Dead Bear Walking." However, its Shawn who advises against it, in order to "prevent disaster."
- Never Suicide: Once was attempted suicide, though. And another time it was suicide, but caused inadvertently by another person.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: By telling Despereaux that he was disappointed to learn that he wasn't actually the highly skilled international thief he pretended to be, Shawn inspired him to prove he could really do it. By complying with his request to visiting him in prison, Shawn ended up accidentally helping Despereaux escape.
- Nice to the Waiter: One of the reasons Shawn gets away with so much shenanigans is that he often befriends people in the lower echelons of whatever organization he's looking into. At the SBPD, he remembered the name of their video tech when Juliet forgot the guy even existed.
- No Badge? No Problem!: Shawn will often tell people he's "The Head Psychic for the SBPD" as if he's an actual officer, when he's actually a consultant/hired on Private Detective. Doesn't stop him from investigating everything and everyone vaguely connected to a high profile or interesting case, even cases he hasn't actually been hired for it. Da Chief puts up with it because he gets results. It's to the point cops from other jurisdictions have assumed Shawn is the boss and Detective Lassiter is supposed to answer to him, rather than the other way around.
- Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: As it turns out, Lassiter's mother is in a very steady if not committed relationship with another woman. Lassie didn't take it well when his mother came out to him at his police academy graduation, but he regrets reacting that way, and if the framed photo of his mom and her partner in his home is any indication, he's made amends since then.
- The two finally show up in "Deez Nups", walking Lassie down the aisle. ''D'awwww''.
- Noir Episode: "Santabarbaratown." Most overtly referencing Chinatown but it subtly hits almost every Film Noir trope, including them going to a sultry lounge the looks like a 1920's speakeasy.
- The Nondescript: Discussed when Henry describes a woman he was set up with as nondescript and Shawn remarks that he's only heard someone say that when discussing a crime scene.
- Noodle Incident: In the season 3 episode "Talk Derby to Me," Chief Vick cites "The Prosthetic Nose Debacle of 2005" to explain why Lassiter is obvious when undercover but doesn't explain it any further. She also mentions in season 1 "The Secret Santa Debacle of 2005" to warn O'Hara from doing anything for Lassiter's birthday. Evidently, 2005 was a very eventful and stressful year in the life of Carlton Lassiter.
- Not So Different: Lassiter seems to think of the Spencer father and son being basically the same person.
- Same for Captain Connors, who in a less-than-lucid state, called Shawn "Henry"
- Lassiter and Shawn can also be more alike than they realise, often turning up at the same locations looking for evidence without knowledge of each other. A prominent example is the penultimate episode of season four, in which Lassiter starts acting on a 'crazy' hunch and conversely Shawn starts doing actual policework. Nicely lampshaded by Gus. A more subtle version in the same episode - both Shawn and Lassiter do part of their routine in moments when it's completely pointless, both rectify it as being a "force of habit".
- Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon
- N-Word Privileges: Played with. An eyewitness questioned by Shawn and Gus in a recent episode is a white man who speaks with a very pronounced Thai accent. They accuse him of mocking Asian-Americans, but he explains that he was adopted and raised by a Thai family, so in a sense he is Asian-American - and, incidentally, that "offensive accent" is how he actually speaks.
- Once an Episode: Shawn giving Gus an absurd pseudonym. Lampshaded in a recent episode where Shawn introduces Gus to a convicted killer using their full real names.
Shawn: I'm Shawn Spencer, famous psychic detective. This is my associate, Burton Guster.
Gus: Now you wanna use my real name?
- Averted in the season finale, where Shawn, knowing that it's going to be his last case, chokes:
Shawn: I'm Shawn Spencer, and this is my partner...(saddened) I'm sorry, I can't do this.
- In "Feet, Don't Kill Me Now", Lassiter introduces Gus by his full name. Gus's reaction makes him ask what's wrong, to which Gus says that he's not used to being introduced by his real name.
- A pineapple appears somewhere in every episode. They actually had a sweepstakes which you could enter by identifying where the pineapple appeared in a given episode.
- Fist bumps.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Suspected by many fans from the beginning, but pretty much confirmed on-air in "Shawn 2.0." Declan Rand, a criminal profiler who rivals Shawn's deductive skills, does a quick profile of Shawn. The first thing he says is that Shawn is highly intelligent, but ashamed of this fact, and therefore hides it with movie references and clown-ish behavior. When he leaves, Gus and a dismayed Shawn admit that Declan was 100% correct.
- Although it's important to note that Shawn doesn't want people to think he's a buffoon so they'll underestimate him. It's something he does to convince himself he's somewhat normal.
- Also, the fact that he got a perfect score on the detective exam at age 15. The top department detectives, Lassiter and O'Hara, only got 97 and 98, respectively, and that was after years at college and the police academy.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Henry becomes something like this and Head-in-the-Sand Management to Shawn and Gus when he becomes the outside consultant liaison. A bit of Fridge Logic considering he knows Shawn's abilities and Shawn's high success rate though at the same time, he usually is only trying to rein in Shawn's wackiness.
- By showing extreme reluctance in hiring Shawn at all in the stated belief that his antics - or simply not acting like a real detective, which he isn't - will make him a mockery... despite Shawn having solved dozens of high profile cases a year for five years and having toned down his theatrics considerably. Henry is not one to let someone rest on their laurels to maintain a good record, that's for sure. He's proactive in motivating them, in his own... unique way.
- A popular belief is that Henry kept getting in the way in a misguided attempt to get Shawn to be more of a detective, and less of a fake psychic. It doesn't really work.
- Odd Name Out: In the 2011 Halloween episode, Jules, Shawn and Gus are looking for someone who has been draining people of their blood. When told the names of three suspects - two with normal names, one named "Lucian" - they stare at each other, and say "LUCIAN!"
- Oh, Crap: Shawn rushes into an empty swimming pool to save Gus, turns over the body in the foot of stagnant water in the deep end, and it's the killer.... "Uh oh."
- Shawn at the end of "Deez Nups" when Juliet starts questioning if he's really psychic.
- Only a Flesh Wound: When Shawn is shot and survives, this is instantly enough for him to deduce the shooter was a military trained expert sniper, as there's no other way he could have shot accurately enough to make the shot nonlethal.
- Especially when the shooter's only three feet away and "misses."
- Yet at the same time, as the trope page mentions, there really isn't any non-lethal way to shoot someone (at least not in the ways most TV characters get shot).
- Typically played straight when Jules and Lassie have to shoot someone. Once Juliet shoots someone in the hand.
- Only Sane Man: Juliet in "This Episode Sucks," which she exasperatedly points out almost word for word early in the investigation. Other characters tend to revolve in and out of this trope, depending on who has the Crazy Ball this week, but Chief Vicks is the other most likely canidate.
- In "Not Even Close, Encounters", Shawn and Gus debate which of them is supposed to be holding the "sanity bag" in their relationship when they both become convinced that aliens were involved in the Case of the Week.
- Orbital Kiss: A lengthy version between Shawn and Juliet.
- Out-of-Character Alert: In one episode, Gus realizes Shawn had been under duress when they last spoke because he had been unusually serious and because he'd referred to their acapella group by its real name rather than the silly name he'd made up for it.
- Pac Man Fever: Shawn's dad apparently plays Crackdown with an NES light gun.
- Palette Swap: In "We'd Like To Thank The Academy", Shawn shoots two civilian cardboard cutouts in a training exercise. His justifications:
"The first woman with the groceries was exiting a library that doesn't allow snacks. I know this because we've tried on several occasions. And the second woman was simply a replica of the first woman, but they painted her face brown,
which is both offensive and suspicious."
- Papa Wolf: Henry shows shades of this.
"If Shawn really has been shot, there's no room I'm not gonna bust open to find my son."
- Paralysis by Analysis: "Shawn Gets The Yips"
- Parental Abandonment: The Missing Mom variation. We find out from an offhand remark by Henry what happened to Shawn's mother: she left, and Henry's very bitter about it.
- Strange variant on this: Shawn doesn't realize his mom left his dad and despises his dad for being the leaver, until his mom tells him the truth and apologizes for the negative changes in his life that occurred after she left. Shawn immediately says she has nothing to apologize for and starts to be a little less caustic with his dad.
- Passing the Torch: When Shawn's dad re-retires from policing
- The Password Is Always Swordfish: Shawn to Gus: "I can't believe you're still using 'chocolate thunder' as your password", in the roller-skating episode. Averted the previous (oilrig) episode, when Shawn notably scans the room and afterward only knows the password, panther21, because it was written down.
- Perma Stubble: Shawn's facial hair self regulates to a cozy five o'clock shadow.
- Pet the Dog: Invoked and parodied. "Barbie and Clyde" the robbers are perfectly willing to lie, cheat, steal, ransack... you get the picture. But—
"We do not kill people, and we're against animal cruelty!
- Phony Psychic: Does it really need to be said?
- Planning with Props: A favorite of Shawn's (more accurately "Reconstructing with Props" in this case) used in "Weekend Warriors" and "Shawn Gets the Yips."
- Private Detective: Shawn and Gus, with their "Psych" psychic detective agency offices and all. Though they are sometimes officially retained by the police.
- Product Placement: Shawn has an iPhone with a custom "Psych" skin. He even namedrops the Yelp app in "Shawn takes a Shot in the Dark".
- Pstandard Psychic Pstance: Shawn exaggerates this to the point of mockery, finding more and more outlandish ways to flail around to represent his "powers." In one episode, he figured out some evidence from a photo and stated it calmly, and Jules asked him how he knew. He then said that he got it psychically, but didn't have enough energy to do the usual "hands on head" thing.
- In "Thrill Seekers & Hell Raisers" Gus participates in the summation, and Shawn helpfully puts his hand next to Gus' head.
- This is similar to the season one episode where Shawn insisted on rubbing Gus' "magic" head while getting his psych on.
- Lampshaded in a recent episode when Shawn deduces something about his father and gets into his psychic position.
Henry: You're trying that on ME?
- And again by Gus in "Feet, Don't Kill Me Now":
Gus:: *after Shawn does the "hand to head" thing* Dude, I know you're not psychic.
Gus:: *about a minute later, when Shawn does it again* Dude, you're doing it again!
- Although it is notable that this is just an exaggeration of Shawn's natural mannerism when he's focusing on a memory. You can see him do it in the first flashback from the pilot.
- Psycho Lesbian: The murderer in one of the season 5 episodes; also a case of Nobody Over 50 Is Gay averted.
- Psychopathic Womanchild: Marlowe seems to have transformed into this since her incarceration (combination of types D and F). It's paid off handsomely: she won the respect of quite a few of Santa Barbara County's most vicious female criminals (even remaining friends with one of them after her parole) and is now an accomplished fighter who can perform jumping kicks and break people's noses. Through it all, she remains (or at least tries to make people believe she remains) a sweet, slightly goofy girl who is quite comfortable allowing Carlton to think he needs to protect her.
- Punk in the Trunk: Shawn gets stuffed in the trunk of a car in the mid-season 4 finale.
- Gus gets his turn in "Shawn and Gus in Drag (Racing)"
- Putting on the Reich: The Lassie-led SPBD in Shawn's dream in "The Polarizing Express". Complete with Vick having a really bad German accent, which Tony Cox blames on Shawn watching Austin Powers the previous night and having Perverse Sexual Lust for Frau Farbissina.
- Raised Catholic: Shawn and Gus both apparently, judging from the fact that they go to Confession at the end of one episode (unless, of course, Fr. Westley is an even worse priest than we thought).
- Reality Is Unrealistic: In the season 3 finale, Gus' voice while he's slightly out of breath from chasing a train apparently sounds too fake to be real to a character he and Shawn briefly speak to.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: For several episodes in season 2, Lassiter had his arm in a sling. The reason for this was never revealed, but was implied to be something embarassing. It was actually caused by Timothy Omundon's real-life injury.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Karen Vick. Certainly, when compared to Lassiter. It's implied she may be on to Shawn's bit, and tolerates it to solve cases.
- Red Herring: Happens every so often, with Shawn (happily) and Gus (reluctantly) having to exonerate them.
- A common occurrence in Psych is that they start focusing on a particular suspect, only to find him/her dead by the time they go out to catch him/her.
- A notable example is in the Season 4 finale: Mr. Yin wears ankle weights to make Shawn believe Mary is the killer.
- And a bit where it's made to look like McNab is Mr. Yin. But he's not; the drugs are just taking effect.
- Reference Overdosed: All the 1980s and 1990s pop culture jokes. See Psych.
- Refuge in Audacity: Pretty much anything Shawn ever says or does, but calling your phony psychic detective agency that you're using to get yourself out of trouble with the cops "Psych" is certainly up there in the "requires large cojones" department.
- Religious Bruiser: The Daredevil in one episode.
- Remember the New Guy: Done with Shawn's uncle.
- Also done with Drake(played by Mekhi Phifer), the sudden fifth member of Gus' old accapella quartet.
- Subverted with Lassiter's friend Stumpy. Lassiter tries to convince everyone that he and Stumpy have been pals forever, but they actually lost touch in high school. Lassiter was just embarrassed at his lack of guy friends.
- Shawn spends all of "Bounty Hunters!" ducking whenever someone says that they are going to retire. When asked what he is doing he explains that that's when somebody usually gets shot, right?
- In the season six finale, Henry retires due to finding out that two of his partners from his days in the force were crooked, and he could no longer put his heart in it. As he tells this to his last remaining partner, a tragic case of I Never Said It Was Poison happens, and the last partner shoots Henry as they're walking along the beach to keep him quiet.
- A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: Shawn once spoke of Juliet as being "an enigma wrapped in a little blonde riddle."
- Romantic False Lead: Abigail Lytar was one of these. However, O'Hara only reacts negatively to her when Shawn brings her on a case (You Can't Handle This Episode) because he brought her on a case. For her part, Abigail's not thrilled to get to see a dead body. Abigail has since been put on a plane to do volunteer work in Africa, but says she'll return sometime in February. And she did... only to fall into the hands of Mr. Yin. Although Shawn rescues her, she breaks up with him, unable to deal with the danger Shawn's profession puts him and his loved ones in.
- Juliet also expresses some jealousy when she discovers that Shawn's relationship with Abigail has progressed to the "he has a drawer, she has a toothbrush stage" when she and Gus are checking out Shawn's apartment. They are there to figure out how Shawn got himself SHOT, by the way, and Juliet still can't help getting sidetracked by her jealousy.
- Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: In "Mr. Yin Presents," the second member of the Yin-Yang killer team uses Alfred Hitchcock films to devise several themed ways of luring, capturing, or killing people. Mary Lightly was killed similarly to a scene from Psycho. The main cast had to go into a building as different characters from Hitchcock films, where Henry Spencer and Carlton Lassiter became trapped in a car (but survived); however, Juliet triggered a trap door that caused her to be captured. Later, she was tied in a chair that was attached to a clock tower, in such a way that at 4:30, a cable would be severed and she would fall to her death. At the same time, Shawn's girlfriend, Abigail, was bound beneath a pier while the tide was coming in. Both were saved in the nick of time.
- Rule of Funny: Pretty much the entire show, with a thin veneer of reality on top.
- In "Turn Right or Left for Dead," Shawn and Gus pretend to be Swedish, using hilariously awful fake accents (while talking a character who is actually Swedish) and he actually buys it.
- Running Gag: The pineapples
- Ruptured Appendix: Shawn is hospitalized with appendicitis in "Let's Doo-Wop It Again." This happened shortly after James Roday really had to have his appendix removed.
- Salt and Pepper: Shawn is white, Gus is black. Mocked in the "Ebony and Ivory" season 3 teaser.
- Samus is a Girl: 'Mr.' Yang is actually a 'Ms.'
- Scare 'Em Straight: In one episode, Lassie's saddled with the deputy mayor's son, a juvenile delinquent. It's hoped that he'll be scared straight. By the end of the episode, Juliet finally succeeds where Lassie keeps failing, by whispering something to the kid. We never find out what she told him, but it works well enough for the kid to apologize to Lassie for his behavior.
- Scary Black Man: Lassie tries to scare a punk kid straight by introducing him to a black convict. Subverted when the guy says prison is pretty okay.
- The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction: The culprit in "Death is in the Air" hired a prostitute to get some vials of a deadly virus from a hapless deliveryman while he was incredibly drunk. Although his judgment in women while sober isn't much better...
- Scooby-Dooby Doors: (Close concept) In "Christmas Joy" Shawn, Joy and Gus go in different doors, Gus stops for a minute and looks around the hallway but doesn't see Shawn or Joy when they come out and quickly go back in.
- Scooby-Doo Hoax: Subverted; the monster is meant to ATTRACT people to the camp.
- Screaming Birth: Averted for Chief Vick, who gives birth over the course of several hours, without screaming, on a properly angled table.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Shawn and Gus,
at a seance ALL THE TIME.
- Second Episode Introduction: Juliet doesn't appear in the pilot and is introduced in "Spellingg Bee"
- Secret Keeper: Gus and Henry. This allows both to function as The Watson and explain how he figured it out.
- Also Declan and, oddly enough, Curt Smith from Tears for Fears.
- Most recently, Jules.
- Serious Business: Shawn is a walking inversion; he regularly cracks jokes while investigating murders, much to Gus' dismay. And Lassiter's. And Juliet's and Vick's and Henry's...
- Lampshaded in "An Evening With Mr.Yang" when Gus calls Shawn out for wise-cracking during a particularly horrific case. Shawn, in a moment of genuine fear, confess to Gus that he's terrified by the case and the wise-cracking is the only thing keeping him from completely losing his shit. Gus spends the rest of the episode making forced jokes despite withering stares from Jules and Lassiter, throwing himself on the humiliation grenade to keep Shawn from losing his grip.
- Shaming the Mob: Inverted. At the end of "The Polarizing Express", Shawn incites a crowd of tenants to testify against a Miami crime lord.
- Sherlock Scan
- Ship Tease: By now, Shawn has probably made some sort of romantic advance towards every member of the cast, except his father.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: The season ending episodes since the first one.
- Shout-Out: Season 5, Episode 6 (Viarga Falls) has a club called the Dollhouse. Yes, it has an asterisk logo as well.
- Season 2, Episode 9 (Bounty Hunters!) Shawn and Gus are pitted against "Bird, the bounty Hunter" - A Punny Reference to Dog The Bounty Hunter
- Season 2, Episode 12, when Shawn is wearing a doctor's coat, it has the name 'Hauser'
- Season 4 Finale is basically a tribute to Hitchcock films, including several uses of the Vertigo Effect.
- Season 6, Episode 5 has Danny Glover remarking that he doesn't know how long he can keep up this charade. Shawn's answer is "All season."
- Season 5, Episode 15 has Shawn introduce Gus to Lauren (while she's filming them) as Radio Star, then says that he's "afraid your video will kill him". This is a reference to the song "Video Killed the Radio Star", a 1979 song by The Buggles.
- Season 6, Episode 9 has a criminal named Leeroy Jenkins, and you just KNOW that Shawn has to shout it out.
- "Indiana Shawn and the Temple of the Kinda Crappy, Rusty Old Dagger"
- "Heeeeere's Lassie" is full of them, from The Shining to Rosemary's Baby.
- Shawn sarcastically asks a Witness Protection agent attempting to cover up an accidental murder by not-accidentally murdering the witness - the witness he's supposed to protect if he can bend bullets.
- Shawn wonders where Desperaux get all those wonderful toys.
- When Shawn gets roped into helping the CIA to track a spy, he namedrops The Men Who Stare at Goats during a fake psychic episode.
- In the finale, Chief Vik says that the SFPD has their own consultant, who is alphabetizing the victim's kitchen.
- Near Christmas, Shawn does the Snoopy Dance when he solves a case. The "Psych-Out" at the end has Gus and O'Hara join in.
- In "The Head, The Tail, The Whole Damn Episode," Shawn asks Gus to warm up his Super Sniffer.
- Gus' "Super Sniffer" has been referenced in other episodes as well.
- One Halloween episode had tons of Shout Outs to An American Werewolf in London, complete with David Naughton.
- In "Shawn (and Gus) of the Dead," Shawn realizes that Gus wasn't given credit for his help in finding the dinosaur skeleton on display at the museum. His response? "Oh man, Gus is gonna have an aneurysm when he finds out. And not the funny kind, either."
- In "Romeo and Juliet and Juliet" Shawn is fighting a martial artist(long story) and he tries to use the Crane Kick, along with the accompanying quote.
- The whole episode "Dual Spires" is made of shout-outs to Twin Peaks. A brief list: It features the Log Lady (one of the strange themes and original Framing Device of Twin Peaks) a murder victim named Paula Merral (an anagram of "Laura Palmer", the young woman whose murder touched off Twin Peaks' story) who was known to run wild and was found wrapped in plastic next to a body of water. The opening theme is redone to sound like Twin Peaks'. The town is so small it appears on maps in parentheses. And then there's the final scene, which is nothing but Twin Peaks moments performed by Psych actors.
- Far more directly, the guest stars are largely castmembers from Twin Peaks, including Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs in the original, Bob Barker in the Psych episode), Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne/Maudette Hornsby), Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer/Dr. Gooden), and Lenny von Dohlen (Harold Smith/Sheriff Jackson).
- Shawn himself can be taken as one big homage. Let's see: a smart mouthed guy named Spencer is too wild to be a cop but he's a great detective, so he and his Black Best Friend found a private detective agency where they take on cases that tend to become vastly more elaborate than they first seemed. I wonder where they got that idea.
- Shawn vs. The Red Phantom has a ton of fun with comic books and sci fi. There are numerous veiled references to comic books analogues, like a movie ruined by nipples on the action suit. Three characters are called Talia, Dent, and Beatrix. George Takei guest stars.
- In one episode, Shawn and Gus visit a psychiatrist's office while on a case. Shawn introduces himself to the receptionist as R.P. McMurphy and his partner Cheswick.
- Marina Sirtis in "Game, Set, Muuurder."
- In "The Breakup", Chief Vick mentions that the San Francisco Police Department had a consultant who was busy alphabetizing the kitchen of the victim's home.
- Showdown at High Noon...ish: Between a (real) cop and a (fake) cowboy at a tourist trap town, no less.
Lassiter: I'm the good guy, you toothless hillbillies! Although I really did just shoot that guy.
- "Shut Up" Kiss: Halfway through season five, Psychic, Shawn is giving Fair Cop, Juliet advice about her upcoming two-week, ridonkulously romantic vacation with her boyfriend, and she shuts him up. Unbeknownst to him, she had overheard his previous confession of love to a third party.
- Also, during the high school reunion episode, Shawn confesses to Abigail where he was the night he "stood her up" before she shuts him up—if only temporarily.
- Sickening Sweethearts: Carlton Lassiter and Marlowe.
- Silver Fox: Lassiter.
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Henry Spencer would often give Shawn an ultimatum to enforce his skills on him.
- Small Reference Pools: Averted by the show itself, but in the town of Dual Spires, much to Shawn's annoyance, the only references they get are references to Everwood.
Shawn: I'm on to you... like the townspeople of Everwood were on to the fact that Nina was a surrogate mother.
Gus/Juliet: That's enough, Shawn.
Ralph: (almost whispering) She was.
Shawn: Thank you.
- Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Played with in one episode. Shawn's objection has absolutely nothing to do with the couple getting married, but the opening it presents is the only opportunity he has to do The Summation and expose the criminal.
- Special Edition Title: The Christmas episodes feature some additional Christmas-themed special effects as well as sleigh bells in the music, "Lights, Camera... Homicidio" is in Spanish, "Bollywood Homicide" has a Hindu rendition of the theme, "High Top Fade Out" is sung by Boyz II Men, and Shawn 2.0 has a version sung by Curt Smith of Tears For Fears.
- Spinning Paper: Invoked and parodied; in "The Adventures of Psych-Man and Tap Man, Issue 2", the effect is produced by spinning Gus's iPad.
- Spoof Aesop: "Think Tank" has Gus note the lesson of not to spend money before you know if it is good or not.
- Stand-In Parents: Shawn gets his uncle Jack to stand in for his dad at school. Shawn's dad finds out and is irritated rather than hurt. Especially since Jack really is (apparently) cooler than he is. Except Jack isn't cooln, he's an Indiana Jones wannabe who suffers from a serious case of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.
- Status Quo Is God: Shawn and Jules and their relationship. They've never really displayed any overt affection towards each other, but Shawn has turned down some relationships with characters that would obviously change the dynamic of the show because of some unspoken thing that they'll get together eventually.
- Never displayed affection? This troper has seen a whole bunch of affection go both ways, and he hasn't even gotten to the part where Shawn turns down a relationship because of Juliet. There's obviously something there, even if Shawn mostly jokes about it and Jules doesn't really seem to realise it yet - even other characters comment on how much Jules talks about Shawn.
- Status quo averted for at least the Season 3 finale.
- Said status quo has now been altered, but not completely changed. Jules finally admitted her feelings for Shawn, but at the worst possible moment (him finally taking a shot with a girl he would normally have turned down because of Jules), and since then their interactions have become somewhat awkward and occasionally (on Jules' end, anyway) overtly hostile.
- Who knows what'll happen now that Abigail's broken up with Shawn.
- This trope is the reason why Shawn doesn't go through with telling Juliet how he feels in "Death is in the Air."
- Completely changed in "Extradition II" where you can see Jules and Shawn making out everywhere
- And then Deez Nups happened.
- Steal the Surroundings: Subverted. A group of safecrackers stole a safe, but it wasn't to steal what was in it, but so the lead cracker could figure out how to open that kind of safe.
- Stop Being Stereotypical: In one episode, Shawn and Gus have hired an Asian-American assistant. The duo assumes that he knows about the Triads simply because of his ethnicity. While he finds it offensive, he begrudgingly admits that he does know enough to get the case started, seeming genuinely disappointed that he was able to help.
- Strapped to a Bomb: Yang does this to Shawn's mother in the third season finale.
- Sudden Downer Ending: The seventh season finale, after the Shawn and company solved the case and feeling great about it, Harry Trout announces that he is suspending Chief Vick, taking over her job in the interim, disavowing Psych from future cases, and demoting Lassiter from Head Detective. In just the span of three minutes.
- Super Hero: The Mantis...sadly subverted. As he turns out to just wanna take out The Caminos just to get his hands on their money.
- The Summation: Given a twist in that Shawn has to appear like a psychic, see Pstandard Psychic Pstance.
- Suspect Existence Failure: Many, many times. Pretty much, it's a coin toss whether or not the Red Herring will make it through the episode alive.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Parodied by, who else, Shawn. When investigating an oil rig, the captain of the Coast Guard finds them and asks what they're doing. Shawn replies "NOT eating candy, I can tell you that". For the record, they really weren't.
- Also, from "Earth, Wind, and... Wait for it..."
Arson Investigator: "Can you please just tell me why you think it's Dan?"
Shawn: "Well, it's not like I stole his cell phone or anything, because I totally don't do that sort of thing."
- Take That: Shawn walks up to a police department desk, then identifies himself as a psychic, saying he's like The Mentalist only not fake, and declaring that if he was fake, it would be a virtual carbon copynote . Other episodes indicate that Shawn is a fan of the show.
- Also, the killer in "Let's Get Hairy" is named after Ken Tucker, a TV critic for Entertainment Weekly magazine, who has criticized the show in the past.
- In "Shawn vs. The Red Phantom" Shawn and Gus meet a disgruntled comic book writer who's recently had a movie totally destroy his character's reputation. We aren't given details, but it's mentioned that the director added large nipples to the character's outfit.
- Done in Daredevils, at the later Die Hard sequels:
Shawn: "I'm Die Hard. He's die harder. We have two other guys in our crew, but they're not nearly as good as us."
Shawn: "on't be the B in Apartment 23! You're better than that! We're all better than that! At least I think we are!
- "Juliet Takes a Luvvah" also contains another dig at their favorite target The Mentalist when talking about Juliet's online dating profile:
: I mean who lists The Mentalist as one of their favorite TV shows?
- Then the show goes out of its way to make fun of the show's tendency to berate The Mentalist.
Shawn: Why would you say that?
Tech guy: I- I don't know. It just felt like the thing to say.
Tech guy: I don't know, I've never watched it.
You know, Gus and I thought about [going to live in the forest away from humanity] after watching 'The Village
', but then we didn't because that movie was horrible.
- In a bit of Self-Deprecation, they open the eighth season remake of "Cloudy... with a Chance of Murder" by having Shawn and Gus discussing remakes, in which they pan The Dukes of Hazzard, especially that race-car driver, played by James Roday.
- That Came Out Wrong: After easily cracking a case, Shawn goes out with a beautiful woman. He realizes just as she invites him back to her place that he has made a mistake. His comments that the case was "too easy" and "I can't believe how quickly I nailed this!" make it sound like he is calling her a tramp, and she leaves.
- This also happens in the football episode, when Gus (who is masquerading as a team manager/doctor/masseur) says that he won't massage the football players because he only uses his hands "to touch [him]self."
- When Shawn notes that he and Gus are being played as pawns in a game, Gus replies, "I'm no pawn, Shawn; I'm a queen!"
- In "We'd Like to Thank the Academy":
Lassy: The hell, Conforth, you can't beat me on the field so now you're trying to beat me off?
Shawn: You may wanna rephrase that, sir.
- Memorably, Lassiter about the SBPD in the first season: "We don't have balls."
- The season 6 finale (ahem) plays with this a bit:
Henry: This is my son, Shawn, and his partner, Gus.
Nice. I voted against Prop 8.
Gus: (scoffs) We're partners in a detective agency.
Shawn: But we're also lovers in the nighttime.
Gus: Will you stop it?
Shawn: We're like The Insiders, but even more gay.
Gus: The Insiders were not gay. And neither are we.
Shawn: All I have to do is make sure Bethel is in front of those cameras when he exposes himself.
Gus: Right idea. Wrong choice of words.
- Thematic Theme Tune: Appropriately describes, "I know you know/that I'm not telling the truth..."
- Theme Tune Cameo: In the episode "The Amazing Psych Man & Tap-Man, Issue #2", Shawn tells Juliet "I know you know I'm not telling the truth. I know...you know...".
- There Is Another: Season 4 finale; Remember Mr. Yang? She has a partner...
- They Do: Shawn and Jules.
- They Fight Crime: As silly as the premise is of "guy pretends to be psychic, people buy it, so he makes a living at it," that's the premise here. It is parodying TV psychics who in their turn are based on real life "psychics" who make a living of it, including being hired by the police.
- This Bear Was Framed: This is a somewhat regular thing, where it seems like once every few seasons there is an episode where an animal is falsely accused of being "the killer" and in danger of being "put down" for it (in one it was a panther, another the trope-naming polar bear, and in still another a shark), but the series sleuths uncover evidence that a person did the killing and then covered it up by making it look like a death by animal attack.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: In the horror movie-inspired Scary Sherry episode in the first season.
Jules: You are under arrest you crazy crazy crazy crazy crazy crazy crazy crazy bitch!
- Took a Level in Badass:
- Well not "badass," but Gus manages to pull off a Shawn style "cover" on his own in the season 5 opener.
- Marlowe Viccellio emerged from prison with some mad Muay Thai moves as her newest talent, and also learned how to break a grown man's nose with a single punch.
- Took a Level in Dumbass and Took a Level in Jerkass: Shawn gets hit pretty bad by this in season 5, though signs of it pop up in season 4 (mostly by starting to abuse Gus in ways that would have long term consequences, such as making expensive charges on his credit card). Previously eccentric and a bit of a Genius Ditz Shawn is now as jerky as to as to assume his former assistant knows about the Triads because he is Asian and stupid enough to cut what he himself describes as the cable between the pedals and the engine of a truck.
- Umm, Shawn has been using Gus's credit cards without Gus's permission since the start of the series. Hell, in the pilot, he forged Gus's signature to co-sign a lease on their office because Shawn has terrible credit.
- And Season 6 shows Shawn being low on funds because he's busy repaying the charges on Gus' credit card. As for the Asian assisant knowing about the Triads, see Stop Being Stereotypical above.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Pineapple, of course.
- Training from Hell: A watered down version to be sure, but Shawn's father Henry relentlessly drilled Shawn from very early in his childhood (to the exclusion of a normal childhood, save Gus — which isn't saying much) to have the uncanny attention to detail and eidetic memory which now allows Shawn to convincingly fake having psychic abilities.
- In episode 4x09, we learn that the training didn't stop there. Henry taught young Shawn how to escape from being locked in a car trunk... by locking him in a car trunk.
- Trigger Happy: Detective Lassiter seems all too eager to pull out his gun at a moment's notice. Considering just how many guns he keeps hidden in his house...
- Trust-Building Blunder
- Two Lines, No Waiting: Though everyone is usually working on the same case, if Jules and Lassiter happen to be working on a major case while Shawn and Gus take a smaller, weirder or seemingly less important case, you can expect that the smaller case is in some way a cover-up of the big case.
- Umpteenth Customer: One of the cold opens begin with young Shawn as the one millionth customer of a super market.
- Unbelievable Source Plot: Parodied. Shawn is gifted with excellent non-supernatural observational skills but rather than demonstrate these skills, opts to convince the police he is psychic. Only one of the cops doubts his powers are really psychic and is ridiculed by his colleagues for not believing.
- Undercover Model: A rare male case occurs when Shawn and Gus claim to be male models. Both played straight with Gus and subverted when nobody believes Shawn is a model, forcing him to claim to be a hand (and foot!) model.
- Unnecessary Combat Roll: In 4x14, "Think Tank", Shawn does one of these to get out of a limo with a killer in it. It is not explained why he could not just scramble out, nor where he learned that skill.
- This is Shawn Spencer. Chances are, Henry made him learn it just in case.
- Understatement: After getting caught in a bear trap, rolling down a hill, and falling into a river, Lassiter says that wasn't a good day.
- Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Shawn/Juliet/Abigail. Shawn, who is tired of waiting around for Juliet goes out with Abigail.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Depending on the writer, Shawn's antics can easily qualify.
- Variations On A Theme Song
- S2-E10, S3-E9, S5-E14 - A Christmas variation on the theme song.
- S2-E13, S7-E4 - The theme song is sung in Spanish.
- S4-E6, a Bollywood variation on the Theme Song.
- S4-E7, S6-E13 - The Boyz II Men acapella version (the episodes feature Gus' college acapella group.)
- S5-E8 - Curt Smith recorded a version of the song.
- S5-E12 - The Julee Cruise version of the song
- S6-E4 - A superhero-themed version
- S6-E11 - A theme song tribute to The Shining
- Viewers Are Morons: In "Shawn 2.0", the eponymous Declan suspects a murderer of having euthanistic intentions. In case this is too opaque for audiences, Lassiter asks for clarification: "You mean like mercy killings?"
- It comes up from time to time, with the main characters asking for clarification. For instance, Shawn knows WAY too little about how green screens work (in #1.10), and apparently (in #3.10) doesn't even know what latitudes and longitudes are.
- In #3.12, apparently Shawn has to guess that arson has something to do with fire. Is this the same guy that aced the police test at fifteen?
- Visual Pun: In the fourth season episode, "Showdown at High Noonish", Gus and Shawn take a case at a fake Old West town. Shawn is the Sheriff. Gus is a black smith. A black smith. He's black. And a smith.
- Vomiting Cop: Gus...ish.
- Waking Non Sequitur: In "The Polarizing Express." We get it, Gus doesn't.
Shawn: Kareem! You took off your goggles.
- Was It All a Lie?: When Juliet suspects Shawn isn't a psychic, she believes that everything he's said to her was all a lie.
- The Watson: Between his extensive general knowledge, comparatively level persona, relative lack of observational prowess, and his status as usual recipient of The Summation, it's hard not to think Gus is somewhat inspired by the Watson. He also has medical knowledge, like Dr. Watson.
- Wedding Smashers: Lassiter's wedding is interrupted by armed criminals. Fortunately, most of the guests are police officers so they all just pull out their guns and take down the bad guys. It's immediately lampshaded by the bad guys that it was a REALLY stupid idea to try and shoot up a cop wedding.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Henry isn't the easiest guy to impress and doesn't exactly conceal when he's disappointed, meaning that Shawn has spent most of his life either trying to impress his father or actively rebelling against him.
- Wham Episode: The season 4 finale definitely counts. Mr. Yin, the even more psycho partner to serial killer Mr. Yang, kidnaps Juliet and Abigail seemingly just to screw with Shawn. Mary, the Yin-Yang expert from the Third Season finale gets Killed Off for Real. Shawn manages to save both women, but Abigail breaks up with him and Juliet seems to have a breakdown as she falls crying into Lassiter's arms. And finally, the last shot of the episode implies that Yang knew Shawn when he was younger.
- The season 5 finale even more so. Mr. Yin returns for revenge, almost killing Shawn and Gus in the process. Yang is revealed to have a Freudian Excuse for her obsession with Shawn. It turns out that she is Yin's daughter and she always thought of the Spencers as a model of what a real family is. Then, it is revealed that Yin has taken on a new apprentice. After overcoming all odds to make it out alive, the episode ends with Lassiter discovering that Shawn and Juliet are together.
- "Neil Simon's Lover's Retreat": Moments after Shawn and Juliet seemingly laugh off the idea of marriage in their near future despite going on vacation together, Gus is given the Game Boy stolen from Shawn earlier in the episode, which he had been obsessing over in what appeared to be typically immature fashion. But after hearing a strange rattling inside, Gus opened the battery compartment to discover the engagement ring Shawn had stored there.
- Season 6 continues the trend. Not only were ALL of Henry's team when he was a cop corrupt, one of them SHOOTS HIM at the very end of the episode.
- In "Deez Nups": After Shawn gives Juliet his jacket to wear, she finds one of the clues that Shawn used in one of his many "visions" and begins to realize Shawn isn't actually psychic.
- "Psych The Musical": Yang is killed off.
- "1967: A Psych Odyssey": The Chief is transferred, and Lassie becomes the new chief. However, the mayor won't let Juliet advance to Head Detective, so she accepts an offer to be transferred with the Chief.
- Wham Line: "50 grand was a lot of money back then."
- What Did I Do Last Night?: An entire episode revolved around this where Shawn and Gus wake up in their office with Shawn wearing a gold chain, a shower cap, and sandals, Gus's car wrecked, and even more funny, Lassiter and Woody the coroner, are sleeping on their couch.
- Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Desperaux. Shawn says this, word for word, after Desperaux escapes via grappling hook.
- Whole Plot Reference: Done with at least two episodes: "Dual Spires", which is an homage to Twin Peaks, and "Last Night Gus" which was inspired by The Hangover.
- Also "Heeeeeere's Lassie", which mostly follows the plot of The Shining.
- "100 Clues" is all over Clue.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him??: Depending on whom you ask, the episode "Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark" came about either because an executive asked why the gun-carrying bad guys never shot Shawn, or because executive producer Kelly Kulchak is a fan of Hurt/Comfort fic.
- Wig, Dress, Accent: Really closer to Paper-Thin Disguise, Shawn and Gus tend to run into closets and come out wearing something appropriate to the situation they're about to enter, but their unfamiliarity with the fine details of the situation they're entering usually ends up with people looking crosswise at them.
- At one point they even SHARE a fake beard.
- Will They or Won't They?: Shawn and O'Hara. Semi-resolved, in the Bittersweet Ending of Season 3, when O'Hara finally kisses Shawn... while he's on a date with another woman. And then there's the summer finale of season five... while she's in a relationship with Declan.
- They're in a relationship by "Extradition II".
- James Roday actually calls it this in this interview.
- Wish Fulfillment: Shawn (and sometimes others as well) will tend to end up acting out various fantasy jobs; he gotten to play football player, male model, telenovela actor, cowboy etc...
- Woman Scorned: Marlo's parole officer. Lassie had a one-night stand with her years previous and never called her back so she takes it out on Marlowe. Lassie tries to circumvent her restrictions, then rubs it in, which just makes it worse. Juliet gets an I Told You So moment when reminding him that she advised Lassiter against hooking up with her because she was "crazy".
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Shawn and Gus according to "Shawn and Gus in Drag (Racing)."
- Also averted; there's one episode where Shawn knocks a woman unconscious with a blunt object.
- Worthy Opponent: Many criminals, but Desperaux calls him this. Yin and Yang both call him their "most admirable foe."
Desperaux: I knew you were worthy.
- Wrong Genre Savvy
- A promo features Lassiter thinking he is in a serious detective drama, complete with sexual tension between him and O'Hara a la Law & Order: SVU.
- Gus thinks he's the main character.
- Looking for a (suspected) vampire:
: "There's Eddie, Jake,
." Shawn, Gus, Jules
: (in unison) "Where's Lucien?"
- You, Get Me Coffee: Lassiter has demanded coffee from McNab multiple times. In "Viagra Falls", Henry's cop buddies incessantly ask this from Juliet.
- You Have 48 Hours: The SBPD often gives Shawn a deadline to solve the crime or get out of the way so that the real police can investigate. Played straight in the third season finale, when the killer gives Shawn a time limit to save the victim, his mother.
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: When Woody says he likes Juliet's "Fashion" shirt, she wants to change it immediately.