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 and slacker with no real desire to apply himself in any normal occupation (possibly in part due to his aforementioned upbringing). 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 while Juliet is more civil to them and is 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. And with Shawn attempting to appear as a psychic whenever giving The Summation, he ends up doing comically inappropriate things when identifying a killer.The Character Sheet can be found here.Not to be confused with The Mentalist on CBS, a show with a similar premise that has been the frequent target of Take Thats and lampshading within the series.
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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".
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.
In season 6, episode 1, celebrity guest star Malcolm McDowell asks Shawn where he got his horrible British accents. Shawn responds, "I dunno, all the usual places I guess. Peter Pan. Geico Gecko. Phineas and Ferb's granddad." Phineas and Ferb's granddad is voiced by — wait for it! — Malcolm McDowell.
In "This Episode Sucks", Corey Feldman appears as the bartender in a Vampire Bar. As Shawn, Gus and Juliet interview him, the music playing in the background is a remix of the theme from The Lost Boys (The other two notable guest stars in the episode were Kristy Swanson and Tom Lenk, both famous for different incarnations of Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
"Dual Spires" is an homage to Twin Peaks, and guest stars several members of the original cast as citizens of the titular town. The guest stars are Sherilyn Fenn, Sheryl Lee, Dana Ashbrook, Robyn Lively, Lenny Van Dohlen, Catherine E. Coulson, and Ray Wise.note Wise is the only one not to play a citizen of Dual Spires. Instead, he reprises his role as a priest from a previous episode.
Ralph Macchio guest stars as the director of the police academy in "We'd Like to Thank the Academy." Shawn makes occasional references to his role as The Karate Kid; In one scene, he says "Yes, sensei," and later he says, "Well, don't just stand there and wax on about it."
In "One, Maybe Two Ways Out," Franka Potente guest stars as a secret agent on the run from her agency. This is a clear reference to her role in The Bourne Identity, and Shawn even makes reference to their adventure being like a Bourne film. This could also be a small reference to her earlier role in the film Run Lola Run.
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.
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.
Ambiguously Bi: Lassiter has been giving some hints towards that: in "A Very Juliet Episode," Lassie ducks under his desk when a female coworker walks by. When questioned about it, he explains that he made out with her at the last company picnic. He then proceeds to duck again when a male coworker walks by.
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.
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.
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 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 was drilled so often by his father that he can remember even minute details.
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.
Subverted just as often, also by Shawn.
Shawn: I'm Shawn Spencer, and this is my partner Lavender Gooms/Gi Buttersnaps/Coco Mickey.
Back for the Dead: Played straight with Despereaux in "Indiana Shawn," but then subverted.
The Barnum: Shawn, and given his circumstances, can you blame him?
Bathos: All the time, Shawn jokes while in mortal peril.
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 (though knowing Psych, it could have really have been an accident)
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.
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 call Henry honest. Though its still play straight with another cop buddy since he was so close to the Spencers that young Shawn call him uncle.
Buddy Cop Show: Shawn and Gus are not really cops, but O'Hara and Lassiter also fit the bill.
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.
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.
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.
However, 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.
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's introduces Gus as Deon Richmond, much to Gus' dismay.
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.
Lassie also has a Twitter now, also written by Tim Omundson. And yes, if you tweet him, he will respond in character.
Juliet and Chief Vick also have Facebook accounts... As do Shawn himself and Abigail Lytar. It's not known whether they are written by their respective actors/actresses, but Jules, Shawn and Vick will respond in character to your comments and Wall Posts ==
Shawn's Facebook account was actually a plot point in one episode.
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.
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 1-2 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 town, 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 [Santa Barbara] has ever seen." So, how many has it had?
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.
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, then 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 was mentally blocking out.
O'Hara: I told you, kids want X Boxes, 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.
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.
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 working as a consultant for the police for four years and solving 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 insistance 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.
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 actualCowboy 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 them because 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.
Lassiter also falls under this trope. It turns out he has eight guns in various parts of his house, including the shower, the toaster oven and a bowl of nuts. Revealed in an episode where Lassiter is suspected of killing an FBI witness in a big drug case. He has to go through the whole Turn In Your Badge trope and his apartment is searched over, revealing various hidden gun spots. Shawn and Gus then react appropriately: with slightly disguised surprise and creeped-out looks. Turns out the FBI missed one, which Lassiter used to take down the real murderer.
Lassie has also made plans for whose organs he would want in case he ever needed a transplant, who he would eat first if he was trapped in an Alive-esque scenario, and who from the department he would procreate with if they were the last two people on Earth. Even Shawn is a little weirded out by this.
Lassiter: (re: procreation) Well, it wasn't any of you!
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.
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
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.
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".
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.
Juliet: You disturb me. And your theory on this murder disturbs me. And you disturb me. Lassiter: You said that twice. Juliet: Yes.
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.
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.
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.
Shawn: That's ironic, right? Gus: What's ironic is that you have to keep asking me what irony is.
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.
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.
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.
Eureka Moment: Shawn usually gets one well in advance, but later has to set up the summation to maintain his role as a psychic.
"A Very Juliet Episode" involves a powerful mob boss who was convicted of murdering a federal agent, and 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ending, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Foreshadowing: "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."
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.
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.
Lassiter: You can't beat me on the field so now you want to beat me off?
Shawn: You might want to rephrase that.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 flasback 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".
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."
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 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 Not You, It's My Enemies: Inverted. After Abigail is kidnapped and nearly drowned by Yang, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 silently. 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.
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...
Though both jokes are in the episode if you watch it on Hulu.
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.
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.
Never Suicide: Once was attempted suicide, though. And another time it was suicide, but caused inadvertently by another person.
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.
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.
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 surprisingly, as it was the first year he had separated from his wife.
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".
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?
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.
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 someonein 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.
Not to mention how often the actors who play Shawn as a kid get switched (4 people now).
Lampshaded in "The Polarizing Express": Young Shawn tells Shawn he's the younger him, and Shawn replies, "You don't look like me." Young Shawn then comments that "we change all the time, sometimes from week to week."
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."
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.
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!
Shawn: Are you kidding me, free little bottles of Axe Shampoo, this is the best hotel ever!
In Ferry Tale Gus manages to distract Shawn by giving him a Snickers bar. Twice. After mocking Shawn for being easily distracted.
Shawn namedrops Snyder's of Hanover-brand pretzels on a couple occasions. One episode even includes a lingering close-up shot of a pack.
A Dunkin' Donuts coffee advertisement is done hilariously out of place in an early Season 3 episode. Probably intentionally, as Shawn and Gus randomly stop mid-scene to talk about coffee.
Funnily enough, because much of the show's humor comes from random references, the product placements are usually unnoticeable, or at least not nearly as annoying as in most shows.
Honey Bunches of Oats makes a couple of (relatively) prominent appearances early on.
Gus's car, which was referred to as "The Yaris" in season one, and every season after that referred to as "The Blueberry".
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.
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.
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).
In the Season One episode, "From the Earth to the Starbucks", Gus' would-be Romantic Interest is played by star Dulé Hill's wife, actress Nicole Lyn.
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 occurence 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.
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.
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.
Retirony: 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.
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.
Running Gag: The pineapples, Shawn giving Gus a strange alias such as "Knickknack the Guam Candy-Striper." Also, Shawn telling Gus "Gus, don't be a blank." The blank being filled with oddly specific random objects that have nothing to do with the situation, such as "gooey chocolate chip cookie" and "myopic chihuahua" and "the only black lead on a major cable network" (which Dule Hill, of course, is).
Also Gus screaming like a girl and/or beating a hasty retreat.
"I've heard it both ways."
Shawn's phone never being on vibrate and ringing always with horribly timing
Shawn's hair being almost super-humanly awesome.
"I can't talk to you like this."
"You know that's right."
Real Life example: Three hole punch. One of the writers thought that "three hole punch" sounded funnier than "three hole puncher" somehow, to which the cast responded by breaking into highly-exaggerated mock-laughter whenever the phrase came up.
The episode "Office Space" takes place largely at Gus's job as a pharmaceutical salesman, after a few seasons of not mentioning his job at all. This is lampshaded repeatedly to the point of Running Gag with various people saying they didn't think Gus still worked there.
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.
Not to mention the fashion show episode, where they masquerade as Black and Tan, two (made-up) supermodels. Shawn's Black. Gus is Tan. How dare you assume otherwise.
Lampshaded in "Shawn Gets the Yips" when Shawn assigns all the characters items found in a restaurant:
Gus: Let me guess. I'm the pepper, you're the salt..."
And in "High Top Fade Out" when Gus creates the false last names "Brown" for himself and "White" for Shawn. It's debatable whether Shawn's reaction was over this trope or the lack of creativity compared to Shawn's false last names.
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.
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.
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.
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 cooler than he is.
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.
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.
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 copy. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
Umpteenth Customer: One of the cold opens begin with young Shawn as the one millionth customer of a super market.
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.
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.
Which gets even weirder when you realise just exactly how many subtle and/or obscure references go completely unexplained.
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.
Shawn: Kareem! You took off your goggles. Gus: What? Shawn: What?
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 theWatson.
“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.
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.
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.
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 Marlo. Lassie tries to circumvent her restrictions, then rubs it in, which just makes it worse.
Xanatos Roulette: Mr Yin's and Mr Yang's masterful plans. They pretty much have to be to get around Shawn.
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.