Rizzoli & Isles is a show on TNT set in Boston with two of the department's hardest working women cracking the city's most gruesome murders. These two friends are as different from one another as can be. Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) is a no-nonsense cop with an attitude and tomboy inclinations. Dr. Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander) is a brilliant though eccentric medical examiner, much more feminine and milder than Jane. As odd of a pairing as they may be, Jane and Maura are close friends who are always there for one another and have each other's back.Based on the Rizzoli/Isles novels by Tess Gerritsen.
This show contains examples of:
Actor Allusion: While the detectives are investigating a college murder, Frost asks, "Where did you go to college, Korsak?" Korsak's answer: "Didn't, watched Animal House a few times." Korsak is played by Bruce McGill, who played D-Day in that movie.
Ascended Extra/Ensemble Darkhorse: Rizzoli is actually a secondary character in The Surgeon, the first book in the series, while Isles doesn't exist at all, and author Gerritsen had planned to kill her off before positive reader feedback changed her mind. Similarly, when Isles makes her first appearance in The Sinner (3rd book of the series), she's a minor character until her role enlarges to be almost equal with Rizzoli in most books, or the primary character in several.
As You Know: Our good detectives take a moment to explain to each other what Ritalin is.
Korsak is shown chowing down on a doughnut while watching Dr. Isles perform an autopsy in the first episode.
Jane does not like the idea of Maura keeping her food in the "dead fridge".
Badass Bookworm: After a 30-second gun-handling lesson, Maura asks, "Jane? Do I look badass?" Um, no, not really (for one thing, the gun's clearly unloaded and chamber cleared).
Bare Your Midriff: Rizzoli's workout outfit, particularly in the cold open of "I Kissed a Girl", and damn. You could bounce a quarter off her abs!
Baseball Episode: The second episode starts with a softball game between Robbery and Homicide, which is interrupted by the dumping of a dead body from the nearby freeway overpass. Notably, both ladies are hilariously bad, though Isles is considerably worse; Rizzoli's attempts to teach her how to swing properly set up a Chekhov's Gun later on.
Call Back: Oh, man, "I'm Your Boogey Man" is made of this trope. Somebody puts a road flare in front of Jane's apartment building, indicative of how she scarred Hoyt in "See One, Do One, Teach One." Later, we find that that somebody is a kidnap victim who Hoyt tortures to the point of suffering Stockholm Syndrome (not to mention he killed her abusive husband). Having gotten Frankie, Jr., to fall in love with her, she captures both Rizzoli siblings. While Jane tries to explain to the victim that Hoyt doesn't love her and is just using her to get Jane, she lets her guard down long enough for a struggle to ensue between herself and Frankie, Jr., for the gun. While they are both down on the ground, Frankie, Jr., gets the gun and kills her with two shots to the chest, even though his wrists were duct taped. In "See One, Do One, Teach One," Jane and Hoyt's apprentice were on the ground going for a gun. Jane got to it first and, with her wrists duct taped, she killed the apprentice with two shots to the chest.
The Cast Showoff: One episode sees Maura demonstrating fluency in Serbian. Sasha Alexander has a Serbian mother.
Catch Phrase: Amongst the obscenely rich Fairfield family, "Brothers don't kill brothers." Garrett Fairfield, Maura's ex-boyfriend, obviously thinks half-brothers aren't protected by this saying.
Cannot Tell a Lie: Maura says she can't, and it's true, at least under normal circumstances.
Frankie once had a girlfriend that ran out on him sometime after he bought her a car. Understandably both Jane and Angela are not fond of her, and when she shows up again with a little girl in tow, they want proof that the girl in question really is Frankie's. Jane smuggles out a plastic cup to use for DNA testing, and Angela sneaks out something else. Eventually they learn Frankie himself already ordered a paternity test - and it turns out that he isn't the father.
A test is eventually performed to find out whether Tommy or Frank Sr. is the father of Lydia's baby.
The Determinator: If the Season 2 premiere is any indication, this trope describes Jane. After watching a soldier get blown up by a car bomb minutes after the soldier was honored for her heroics in Afghanistan, Jane ignores all commands to stay home and nurse her wounds from the Season 1 finale, as well as other roadblocks, to try and solve the case.
Dirty Cop: "What Doesn't Kill You" revolves around the hunt for dirty cops in the BPD.
Door Step Baby: In "Melt My Heart to Stone", Lydia leaves her baby on Maura's doorstep.
Double Standard: In the books the series is based on, plain Jane is jealous and resentful of beautiful women and contemptuous of any man who is attracted to them. But she spends the first book lusting after her handsome partner and when he falls in love with the lovely Catherine Cordell, she accuses of him of "falling for the same thing every guy falls for - tits and ass". In a later book, when she meets the gorgeous FBI agent Gabriel Dean, she falls head over heels for him in seconds. So as a woman (and an average-looking one, at that), it's apparently perfectly okay for her to fall in love with someone attractive, but when a man does it, he's a shallow jerk.?
Enhance Button: Apparently sophisticated enough to expand an image caught by a webcam reflected off of a person's eyeball.
Even Evil Has Standards: Paddy Doyle doesn't like how the "new mob" handles business; he mentions how they would've never killed women and framed an innocent worker. Subverted on the former. Paddy Doyle killed Lt. Cavanaugh's wife and two year old child twenty years or so ago.
Everyone Knows Morse: That Maura, Jane and Korsak all know Morse code saves Maura and Jane's lives in "Dirty Little Secret". Trapped in a submerging car with a damaged mobile phone that can text symbols, Jane uses dots and dashes to text their coordinates (which Maura can recite) in Morse to Korsak.
The Surgeon left Jane alone in a van with a road flare. When he comes back to finish her, she's playing possum and he's curious as to why smoke is coming from underneath her. Jane then jabs the Surgeon in the eye WITH THE LIT END OF THE FLARE!
Maura extracting vitreous fluid from the eye with a syringe. Frost in particular does not take to watching her do it.
Fair Cop: Jane and Frankie, the Rizzoli siblings, are, to slightly understate it, better than average-looking. This is in contrast to the novels, where it is made a point that Jane is plain, and feels insecure around beautiful women. Conversely, FBI Agent Gabriel Dean is described as very attractive in the books but can be considered around average in the show.
Maura playing baseball in a water-resistant, skin-tight suit. It has, shall we say, quite the effect on guys.
One for each gender in "Money for Nothing." For the men, Maura in a tight running suit. For the women, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, shirtless and in a swimsuit.
Naturally, the episode "I Kissed a Girl" oozes of this trope. You have Jane flirting with numerous suspects and being kissed on the neck by murderer, Maura wearing a tight waitress dress that allows her to show off maximum cleavage and a baby bump, and Jane and Maura discussing lesbianism.
There are the yoga scenes. Maura is in a skin-tight workout suit, while Jane is in yoga pants and a training bra, showing off abs that you could balance a quarter on (keep in mind that Angie Harmon has three kids).
How many times can Jane and Maura be seen wearing tight clothes on this show? They do it again in "Born to Run."
Maura's fashion sense won't let Jane go to a fancy restaurant in her workaday outfit, so she has them trade their entire outfits. Also not that Maura is shorter than Jane, leading to the predictable.
Jane and Maura having to strip naked because of suspected virus contamination.
A scene where Jane and Maura are discussing what Jane is going to wear to a party. Jane is in her bathrobe — which has somehow come open to her waist, exposing her bra.
Gilligan Cut: In "Seventeen Ain't So Sweet", we cut from Jane telling Maura that there is no way she is going to her high school reunion, to Jane and Maura at Jane's high school reunion.
GPS Evidence: Maura was able to crack a case by determining the poison used in the murder came from a flower native to Boston. Jane was able to track the killer because the flower was growing in the front yard of someone who was interviewed earlier in the episode.
Hand or Object Underwear: In "Class Action Satisfaction", Jane and Maura have to take a decontamination shower after being exposed to a potential pathogen. After coming out of the shower, Jane tries to keep a medical waste bin between her and anyone else.
Has Two Mommies: Frost's Mom and roommate come to town. The others figure out they are a couple, but are afraid to say anything. Turns out Frost's knew all along, was just waiting for his mom to say something.
Heh Heh, You Said X: Jane seems to take great pleasure from the word "boubou", an item of West African traditional ceremonial dress.
Hide Your Pregnancy: Sasha Alexander is pregnant with her second child. This is expected to happen during season one, but she's delivering during the hiatus before filming for season two starts. Though sometimes, they aren't doing much to hide it. For "I Kissed A Girl", Maura was in baggy shirts or scrubs for half the episode and skintight outfits for the other half.
Hollywood New England: Mostly averted, but enter Donnie Wahlberg and you half expect him to say, "Chowdah." The weird part is that he's actually from Boston, but his regular accent isn't nearly that broad. It's more than made up by the extras, most of whom have very thick Boston accents.
Hollywood Voodoo: Averted, in they're doing a religion that is similar to real voodoo, but not exactly the same. The practitioners perform exorcisms, and Maura says their practices are consistent with Catholicism in the Cape Verde Islands and other West African nations.
Honest John's Dealership: Angela seems to be magnetized to these. First, there's the car dealership where she swapped out her old Buick for a lemon. Then we have her as a spokesperson for "Polynesian Anti-Aging Juice" (really 98% water and 2% non-harmful materials, according to Maura). She is effective as an advertiser, though. She sold two bottles to Korsak and one to a neighbor (however, said neighbor also fell for a Nigerian scam).
I Know You're Watching Me: Hoyt, just before escaping from custody, looks up at the surveillance camera, and puts his palms up. He intends it as a message to Jane that he knows she's seeing it, and is daring her to come after him.
Impaled Palm: Jane still bears the scars from when The Surgeon literally pinned her hands to the ground. She gets her revenge later in the episode by putting a bullet into both of his hands at once, telling him, "We match."
Informed Attribute: Jane describes herself as strong and athletic and Angie Harmon has a lithe, muscular frame. She may not look it at first glance, but the wiry kind counts.
Informed Self Diagnosis: In "Dirty Little Secret'', Maura accurately diagnoses what is wrong with her injured leg and then talks Jane through what she has to do in order to relieve the pressure so she won't lose the leg.
Intelligence Equals Isolation: Maura reveals that her childhood wasn't exactly parties and ponies in "I'm Your Boogie Man." In her own words, "there was a lot of benign neglect" - her parents had their own lives to lead that frequently didn't involve the mundane details of parenthood, and they didn't much care what Maura did as long as she kept good grades. As a result, Maura buried herself in schoolwork, to the point that she gave them the brochures to send her away to boarding school. At ten years old.
Internal Affairs: In "What Doesn't Kill You", Internal Affairs investigates Jane in the aftermath of her shooting of Paddy Doyle. Her bending of the rules to protect Maura makes it look like she might have been in Doyle's pocket. Ultimately, Doyle's chief mole inside the police is revealed to be the head of Internal Affairs.
After drinking the coffee in the cafeteria, Jane tells Stanley he should take his dirty socks out of the coffee maker.
In "Love the Way You Lie", Frankie complains that a health drink tastes like "Sweat and rotten celery". Frost tells him to stop drinking it, and that he also should stop drinking his own sweat.
It Works Better with Bullets: In "What Doesn't Kill You", a Dirty Cop attempts to shoot Jane with a pistol that had been taken from evidence storage. It doesn't work because, knowing that someone was taking guns from the evidence, Jane had removed the firing pins from all the guns.
Jack the Ripoff: In "No One Mourns the Wicked" the killer recreates the M.O.s of previous serial killers.
Season four, ep 3: Jane, her mother, and Maura conduct a plan to break up Lydia from her fiancÚ in order to stop her from taking TJ to a different city, where by all accounts he would have had a stable life. No regard is placed on the happiness of Lydia or her fiancÚ - who appears to be a perfectly decent guy - and no qualms are raised by anyone about the morality of their actions, not even from Maura. The episode ends with high-fives. However, it was shown the guy was lying to Lydia about wanting animals because he was allergic to Lydia's beloved dog, and his phrase "his own kids" seemed to imply he wouldn't see Tommy Jr as his own child after all.
The three girls in "All for One." Because of Massachusetts state law, they get away with running down their teacher when they all say that they were all the driver.
The series had a detective who killed a bunch of women with the same names as the original Boston Strangler victims. His purpose in so doing was to frame the person he believed was really the Boston Strangler. He had worked the original murder case and didn't believe that the person who confessed was really the killer.
Season four has a state trooper murder a student for trying to bust his drug trafficking at her college.
Les Yay: There is lots and lots of it in the interaction between Jane and Maura.
Mistaken for Gay: Averted. Jane and Maura pretended to be gay once in order to put off an ardent admirer of Maura's, and Jane has gone undercover as a lesbian, but no one has ever assumed they were partners in that sense.
Mood Whiplash: The second episode of the first season has an oddly-uniformed Maura Isles running happily to first base when a body is dropped off an overpass onto the far side of the field.
Murder by Mistake: The first victim in "Rebel Without a Pause" was hit by a ricochet of a shot intended for someone else.
Murder the Hypotenuse: "Partners in Crime" has a woman kill of her husband, because she was having an affair with her sister-in-law.
My Beloved Smother: Angela seems to be filling this role perfectly. She seems to show favoritism towards Frankie, Jr., when she blames Jane for her own basketball-related nose break, even though Frankie, Jr., admits it was his fault. Later, as Jane is holed up in her apartment during the hunt for the Surgeon and his apprentice, Angela makes an unannounced visit with the intent of staying the night. She gives Jane grief for being a cop, making Frankie, Jr., want to follow in her footsteps. This causes Jane to spend the rest of the night at Maura's. There was a set-up date with Grant in episode 3, which Angela engineered by telling Jane it was a dinner with family friends and Grant that it was a class reunion. So egregious, the two of them agree within minutes that the whole thing was a very, very bad idea. The welcome-home party in the season finale. Angela gives Jane and Frankie Jr. no end of grief about declining to attend the party she's thrown for their ne'er-do-well older brother Tommy, who is being released from prison. The whole thing backfires spectacularly and painfully; Tommy apparently decides to resume his profligate ways, while both Jane and Frankie Jr. are critically injured. Worse yet, while Angela is crying over Tommy, she has no idea what's happened to her other two children.
New Old Flame: Dr. Ian Faulkner, the never before mentioned love of Maura's life in the second season episode "My Own Worst Enemy." Ian is wanted for questioning by Interpol because he makes a habit of illegally smuggling much needed drugs into third world countries. Maura worked with him for two years in Ethiopia and loves him though she knows they can never be together. She helps him get drugs to smuggle to Africa and lets him leave at the end of the episode, but sheds a few tears over him.
Non-Idle Rich: While Rizzoli is working class, Isles comes from money and is clearly not hurting for any cash as seen from her wardrobe, apartment, and car. Referenced again in "Money For Nothing," when she casually comments that "most of my money is tied up in charitable endowments."
No Social Skills: It can appear as though Maura is a perfect example of this trope, but it's more her strict honesty policy and wide-ranging knowledge that doesn't include social interactions. Yet she is perfectly good at flirting and dating etiquette, not to mention being more empathic than Jane. The street smart Rizzoli is always helping her in other areas.
Jane: Did you ever like the same boy as your best friend? Maura: No. Jane: Did you ever have a best friend? Maura: (beat) No. Jane: (laughing) You would tell me if you were a cyborg, wouldn't you? Maura: (thoughtfully) No, I don't think I would.
Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon: In "No More Drama in My Life", the Victim of the Week is an amateur actor killed when the killer packs ball bearings into the blank round being used in a prop gun during rehearsal.
Only Sane Woman: Jane qualifies, given how often the expression on her face resembles that of someone in the process of herding cats.
Papa Wolf: Maura's biological father Paddy Doyle stabbed a rival mobster in the heart with an icepick to prevent him from killing Maura the way he'd already killed Doyle's son. On the dead man's chest was a blood-stained photo of Doyle holding Maura as a baby, pinned there with the icepick. Doyle's message: "Don't mess with my family." Doyle told Maura to call him with the murderer's name and he'd "send the man a message" but Maura couldn't do it, even if it meant she would be murdered. It's strongly implied that Jane Rizzoli's ex-partner Vince Korsak called Doyle to protect Maura.
Patrick Stewart Speech: An odd one in "I Kissed A Girl". Maura explains her love of luxury items by saying that she buys the finer things in life as a tribute to human ingenuity and artistry that goes into making things like her finely knit cable sweater and her couture high heels. Truth in Television, many high-end and bespoke items are made with great care and hours upon hours of effort poured into them.
Pretty Lech: Some of Maura's remarks can come across as this.
Maura: (regarding "Mega" Vega, a baseball player) I'd like to "mega" him.
Thanks to a sponsorship deal between MillerCoors and Turner Broadcasting, Rizzoli & Isles is sponsored by MGD 64. MGD 64 is Jane's drink of choice.
Hoyt is reading Tess Gerritsen's latest in the prison hospital. Gerritsen, of course, is the creator of the characters.
Dr. Scholls For Her has popped up quite egregiously in the most recent season.
Put on a Bus: Grant's job in Washington. Also possibly Agent Dean, as he got packed off to Afghanistan. The Bus Came Back at the end of season 2 for Dean, but due to the pickup of Billy Burke (Dean)'s NBC pilot Revolution he was Put on a Bus to Washington in 3x01.
Race Lift: Detective Frost is white in the books, African-American in the TV series.
Raging Stiffie: In "This Is How A Heart Breaks", Maura realises a 'corpse' is not dead when he gets an erection and she feels a pulse in his penis.
Rape Leads To Insanity: In "No One Mourns The Wicked", Dr. Victoria Nolan becomes a serial killer after being raped and getting pregnant by her own father. Mom and Dad were her first victims, and might have been excusable, given the situation. However, her body count rose, especially after she found her son, and started teaching him to become a serial killer as well.
Recursive Canon: In one shot Hoyt is reading the latest Rizzoli and Isles novel, with its title clearly visible.
Rip Tailoring: In "Don't Hate the Player", Isles swaps clothes with Rizzoli so Rizzoli can meet a suspect at a fancy restaurant. When Rizzoli complains that the shoes are too tight, Isles uses a scalpel to cut the ends of the shoes off, turning them into peekaboo toes.
Rule of Perception: In "Rebel without a Pause", a laser beam -used to establish a bullet's trajectory- is visible in full daylight.
Jane constantly tries to make Maura guess things, which the latter doesn't like to do.
Maura breaking out in hives whenever she tries to lie, or even withhold information.
Sarcasm Failure: On Maura. She knows the definition of sarcasm, but doesn't seem to actually pick up on it.
Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Maura turning her back on the high society scene to work as a medical examiner. When Jane calls her out on her privileged background, she demonstrates quite convincingly that she "has [their] backs," using her connections to obtain several vital clues to the murder.
Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: At least that's what one guy thought in "Born to Run." Almost a decade and a half ago, he and two of his friends gang raped and beat a fifteen-year old and recorded the entire thing on tape and got off without a blemish on their record because the guy's rich father bought off the prosecutor.
Sensitivity Training: Jane discovers she is an "equal opportunity offender" because she offends everyone when she is finally forced to go to sensitivity training in the second season episode "Gone Daddy Gone." None of the cops take the sensitivity training seriously. Jane spends most of the episode trying to hide from the sensitivity training instructor; Vince Korsak wants her to go only because he stands to get something out of it if she does go and a cop who had previously gone to sensitivity training is overheard insulting a suspect.
Serial Killings, Specific Target: In "Rebel Without a Pause", a sniper misses their shot at their target on their first attempt and kills someone else. They do another random shooting to make the police think this a series of random attacks before making another attempt on their original target.
Shipper on Deck: A platonic example, Jane's coworkers seem to be this for her and Maura.
Ship Sinking: This interview has Sasha Alexander expressing a decidedly dim view of the idea of Jane and Maura being anything more than friends.
Ship Tease: At least once an episode between Jane and Maura, most prevalent in "I Kissed a Girl." It reaches new heights in Season 2 episode 3 "Sailor Man", with Jane and Maura pretending to be a couple to get rid of an... unpleasant suitor for Maura. It works.
Stealing from the Hotel: In the episode "Gone Daddy Gone", Angela returns from a trip to Atlantic City with a hotel robe, the contents of the minibar and a hairdryer.
"Strangers on a Train"-Plot Murder: Two angry spouses who wanted their significant others out of the picture trade murders. They show a remarkable degree of Genre Savvy, agreeing never to contact on phone or computer, leaving no traceable trail of their connection. They plotted together at an exclusive dog park where they walked their dogs. The identifiable dog hair left at a scene is what trips them up.
Suspiciously Apropos Music: Nothing suspicious about it, Jane's ringtones are all appropriate. Each one is indicative of what she thinks of others. There's The Twilight Zone theme for Angela, the Dragnet theme for Frost, and "Piano Sonata No. 2" (the Funeral March) for Maura.
Sympathetic Murderer: The person who murdered two men during the Massachusetts Marathon and almost gunned down a third in "Born to Run." This is because her older sister was gang-raped on tape fifteen years earlier by the "victims," who got off because the survivor's father bought off the prosecutor. The rape victim eventually committed suicide and her father suffered a fatal heart attack as a result of the stress.
That Came Out Wrong: Angela cannot text, apparently, because she sent Jane a message that said "Honey, I need a boner." She really wanted a loner. (Note that B is on the 2 button and L in on the 5 button, and 2 is right above 5 on most touchpads.)
Toyota Tripwire: Rizzoli's brother does this to a fleeing suspect in "Sailor Man", so he can keep to the Exact Words of his promise to Rizzoli that he would not leave the car.
True Companions: In "All for One" three friends each give the exact same account for confronting their pedophile teacher, from how they set their phone to record, his actions, to deleting it later. They even each confess to be the one behind the wheel when the car struck him and killed him and the others were passengers. Because of this refusal to name anyone else behind the wheel besides confessor, and Massachusetts State Law says only driver can be prosecuted, there is no way to move beyond reasonable doubt. So the girls get away with it.
Tsundere: Should it happen again, it would be this trope... 2x07, "Crazy for You", Maura's rival Pike gets drunk and admits that he's loved Maura for years. When he's sober the next morning, he gets right back to his usual snarky, abrasive self, having completely forgotten the night before.
Type Casting: Two series in a row may not be enough, but Angie Harmon's last show had her as a tomboyish cop who is married to the job (the difference between Women's Murder Club and Rizzoli & Isles is that her character was divorced in WMC and single by choice on this show). This is also her third law show, but on Law & Order, she was an A.D.A., not a cop. Averted for Sasha Alexander, who was on a law show the last time she was on TV, but she goes from a federal agent who can hang with her male counterparts on NCIS to a more feminine ME with an advanced degree here. Donnie Wahlberg, on the other hand, seems to be type-cast into the cop role. Harmon played a tomboyish detective on Baywatch Nights.
Very Loosely Based on a True Story: One of the favorite things Rizzoli & Isles likes to do is take the story of an infamous real-life Boston criminal and give it a fictional twist. Both Albert DeSalvo (the Boston Strangler) and James J. Bulger (the leader of the Winter Hill Gang and, at the time of the episode's airing, an FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive) have been given this treatment. In fact, Maura's biological father is a Winter Hill enforcer and another enforcer killed her half-brother before Maura's father got to him.
Victoria's Secret Compartment: Maura smuggles a vial of Hoyt's blood out of the prison in her bra. Nobody expects anyone to smuggle objects out of a prison most of the time.
Vomit Chain Reaction: Happens in "Dirty Little Secret", where Tommy's vomiting (after a floater is pulled out of the river) sets off Frost.
Will They or Won't They?: Many fans believe we actually gotten to this point in the show, between Jane and Maura. Needless to say, the show would break away from the books' canon if they did, but it some feel become too great to ignore.
You Need to Get Laid: What Frost says to Korsak when Korsak begins geeking out over a victim's sailboat.