Series: Veronica Mars

Lamb: Before we go in there, you should probably know something about Veronica Mars. We need to be careful with this one. She's... slippery.
Morris: Sheriff, we have interrogated Al Qaeda members at Gitmo. I think we can handle a teenage girl.

Veronica Mars was an hour-long teen drama that ran for three seasons on UPN (later CW). The brainchild of novelist Rob Thomas and produced by Joel Silver, one of the producers of The Matrix, the series combined the Amateur Sleuth/Kid Detective with a healthy dose of Film Noir and class warfare.

The main character is, appropriately, high school junior Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell). She lives in the unincorporated town of Neptune, California, "a town without a middle class": the "09ers," from the prestigious (and fictional) 90909 zip code, are insanely spoiled children of insanely wealthy parents, while everyone else works for the 09ers, mostly as domestics at minimum wage (if that). Veronica, daughter of county sheriff Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni), was more of an honorary 09er: her best friend was Lovable Alpha Bitch Lilly Kane (Amanda Seyfried), her boyfriend was Lilly's equally-popular brother Duncan (Teddy Dunn), and she was also friendly with Lilly's boyfriend and Duncan's best friend, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), son of movie star Aaron Echolls. The Kanes are practically royalty in Neptune; Lilly and Duncan's father, Jake Kane, is a software billionaire, and the largest employer in town; when his company went public, their secretaries became millionaires. It may just be popularity by association, but Veronica's life is pretty good.

Then it all comes apart. Duncan dumps Veronica so abruptly, and so seemingly out of the blue, that she has no idea she's been dumped until Lilly tells her; days later, Lilly is found dead, her head bashed in. Veronica's father accuses Jake Kane of committing the crime, and the town reacts badly, holding an emergency recall election and replacing Keith with his deputy, Donald Lamb. Keith changes his profession to Private Detective, a trade both he and Veronica excel at. Veronica stands by her father through the bad publicity, and ends up ousted from the popular clique. Most of her former friends turn on her, none more so than Logan, who becomes, in Veronica's words, a "psychotic jackass" to the world at large. Soon thereafter, Lamb apparently cracks the case, catching Abel Koontz, a former Kane Software employee... but Keith and Veronica don't buy it. Finally, Veronica crashes a classmate's party—largely to spite those shunning her—and ends up roofie'd and raped. When she attempts to report it, Sheriff Lamb accuses her of lying and throws her out of his office. And, to add insult to injury, her mother Lianne turns to drinking and eventually vanishes, leaving Veronica a note saying she'll be back for her someday.

Then, as the first episode actually begins, Veronica reluctantly befriends new transfer student Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III). She has by now transformed herself into a hard-boiled detective, helping Keith with stakeouts and taking pictures of unfaithful spouses, and meanwhile solving mysteries for classmates with the help of Wallace, Keith, and other allies including PCH biker gang leader Eli "Weevil" Navarro (Francis Capra), computer whiz Cindy "Mac" MacKenzie (Tina Majorino) and, occasionally, Duncan Kane, Logan Echolls and other 09ers. In the meanwhile, she pursues her own investigations: Who really killed Lilly Kane? Who was responsible for Veronica's rape? And what on earth is Lianne Mars up to?

The first two seasons were known for having a season-long Story Arc. The Driving Questions of Season One have just been covered. Season Two opens with a schoolbus crash that kills or injures several of Veronica's classmates, with the Marses suspecting foul play and attempting to unravel the complicated motivations behind it; additionally, Logan is implicated in the slaying of a PCHer, Felix Toombs, who was found dead after an altercation which left both Logan and Weevil unconscious. Season Three, where Veronica goes to Hearst College, deviated from the formula in an attempt to attract new viewers. The big mystery format was abandoned, in favor of two short arcs and a hand-full of stand-alone episodes. The show was canceled at the end of the season, going out on an awesome (and heart-breaking, but maddeningly inconclusive) two-part finale.

On March 13, 2013, a Kickstarter project was launched to help fund a concluding movie. The Kickstarter broke the record for fastest to reach a million dollars, in four hours and 24 minutes, and reached its $2 million funding goal less than 11 hours in. When the Kickstarter ended on April 12, $5,702,153 had been donated, and the previous record for most donations (87,000 people) was also broken with 91,585 fans sending in donations. As a result, Warner Bros. agreed to distribute and market the film, releasing it to theatres and for download on March 14, 2014 - a year and a day after the Kickstarter launched. Additionally, six months later a Web Video Spin-Off, Play It Again, Dick!, launched on CW Seed. It centers around Ryan Hansen's adventures in attempting to greenlight a Spin-Off of the show centered around his character Dick Casablancas, and involves Hansen, Bell, Dohring and others engaging in some unabashed Adam Westing.

Now has an episode guide, a character index and a page for the movie.


This show provides examples of:

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    Tropes A-D 
  • 419 Scam: The episode "The Wrath of Con" features two college students pulling off a scam based on this one in order to raise money for the video game they're making. The "sealed account" is the students' trust fund.
  • Aborted Arc:
    • The final third of season three was supposed to have been a mystery that heavily featured popular supporting cast member Mac.
    • "Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner" seems like it'll be the start of revealing some Hidden Depths for Lamb, possibly paving the way for some serious development, but the show quickly regresses him back to a one-dimensional jerk and never looks back. And for all we know, Grace is still in that closet at series' end.
  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: There's an episode centered around the corrupt antics of Neptune High's student council. The council, run by the school's wealthiest students, conceived a policy called "Pirate Points" to allow the councilmen and their cronies on the various sports and cheer teams to have take-out food delivered to the school for them to eat, while forcing the rest of the students, and those in clubs that were not liked by the jocks and student council, to eat the crappy cafeteria food. To keep a rabble-rousing ex-cheerleader from getting elected student council president on a platform of her abolishing the Pirate Point program, Alpha Bitch Madison Sinclair schemed to get popular student Duncan Kane elected president, under the logic that Duncan would keep the Pirate Point program going since he was too spaced out to care either way about how controversial the program was. In the end, after realizing the reform candidate was a narc for the local police and probably wouldn't carry out her vow to abolish the program, Veronica was forced to switch candidates and shamed Duncan (via pointing out how much of a hand-puppet he had become for Madison) into taking up the cause. Rather than abolish the system, he opts to reform it into a more egalitarian program, expanding it to include all clubs and teams at school as well as all students on the honor roll.
  • Abusive Parents: Too many to count:
    • Most notably Logan who has a father who emotionally and physically abused him... and also slept with and then killed his girlfriend.
    • There's also the religious zealotry of the Mannings, who lock their seven year old daughter in a closet because she's "not ready to be tested."
    • There's also Big Dick Casablancas, who would have competitions with his oldest son to see who could make his youngest son cry.
    • Implied for Rodney and Gia Goodman's mother, but we still have no idea what she actually did.
  • Abuse Mistake: In the season 3 premiere, Mac has just moved into her new college dorm this episode. Veronica comes up to Mac's room, hoping to go out somewhere for a night of fun, but Mac is already sitting on the floor in the hallway outside the room because her new roommate (still a stranger/new acquaintance since this is the first episode of the college season), Parker, is "in there with some guy." Unfortunately, however, the tickets Mac & Veronica need are still in the room, so Veronica takes Mac's keys and braves going in and interrupting whatever Parker and the "some guy" might be doing. She walks in, and it's dark, with music playing, and she hears some "sex noises" from the guy - moaning or something similar. Veronica rolls her eyes and then says quietly (more to herself than anyone), "Don't mind me," grabs the tickets, and then runs out of there. After Mac & Veronica return, too drunk to drive home so Veronica plans to sleep on Mac's couch, they comment "and we're dude free" before actually entering. The last second of the episode is Veronica and Mac waking up to Parker's screams - she had been drugged, then raped and her hair completely shaved off her head. This grievous mistake is explored more in the next episode as well.
  • Action Dad:
    • Keith Mars, Veronica's private detective and formerly the town sheriff, goes berserk when first season's villain tries to burn Veronica alive.
    • The domineering, abusive and murderous Aaron Echolls seems oblivious that his daughter is being beaten up by her boyfriend, even appearing interested in starring in a movie he wants to pitch. However, at the start of what looked to be a pleasant dinner he administers one of the most comprehensive beatdowns ever seen on TV, before calmly concluding "I've decided I'm not interested in appearing in your movie." It would appear that the same protectiveness doesn't apply to Logan, though.
  • A-Cup Angst: Although Veronica presently embodies the opposite trope (see Petite Pride below), the episode "Blast from the Past" reveals that she used to feel very self-conscious about her small chest. It's never specified when she got over this, but it lasted at least into her freshman year of high school.
  • Adoptive Peer Parent: Kendall Casablancas has stepsons 7 and 9 years younger than she.
  • Alcoholic Parent: Lianne Mars, mother of the titular character. Which is why she is Put on a Bus by Veronica, after failing to complete rehab.
  • All Bikers Are Hells Angels - The PCHers. Although considering the dominant ethnicity of the PCHers, this is really more a case of All Bikers Are The Mongols.
  • All Girls Like Ponies: A Running Gag; whenever Veronica gets a present, she always makes some comment about how it's going to be a pony. She also loves unicorns, and defends herself with a toy unicorn against Mercer when he attempts to rape her.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: After seeing that he does have a softer side, Veronica finds herself making out with her high school's "obligatory psychotic jackass", Logan. Their relationship redefines the phrase "on-again, off-again", especially in the third season. Particularly jarring is the finale, where Veronica still appears interested, despite the fact that he only recently beat the stuffing out of her current, genuinely nice boyfriend, "Piz", for suspecting that he posted a sex tape online...despite Piz having no reason or inclination to do so. Logan's response to any situation is to start hitting it, really. Veronica's renewed interest in Logan isn't so much because he's beating someone up, but that he's beating up a man to avenge Veronica's honour when he has absolutely nothing to gain doing so (and plenty to lose). She's clearly turned on by the whole thing, hence her guilty look to Piz.
  • All Take and No Give: Veronica has a tendency to be this way with her friends, especially Wallace. He isn't afraid to call her out on it when she takes it too far. It gets to the point that Veronica is often greeted with some variation of, "Let me guess—you need a favor?"
  • Alliterative Name: Meg Manning, Cassidy Casablancas, Gia Goodman, Vincent Vanlowe. Cindy Sinclair and Madison Mackenzie, if they weren't switched at birth and kept the same name.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Veronica and Cassidy, with vastly different outcomes.
  • Alone in a Crowd: In the pilot, Veronica sits at the lunch table, reading a book, as the entire student body moves around her in fast-forward. This isn't exactly the same, however, as Veronica has already been jaded by the death of her best friend, disgrace of her father, and her own date-rape, she has simply accepted her status as a loner. And then the new kid sits down beside her...
  • Alone with the Psycho: Veronica with Aaron Echolls in the season one finale. Mac in the season two finale. Veronica with Mercer and Moe in the conclusion of the first season 3 storyline.
  • Alpha Bitch: Three words: Madison Freaking Sinclair. Vapid, stupid, and rude to everyone she knows, extremely entitled because of her rich parents, and absolutely vindictive towards people she's taken a dislike to, particularely Veronica. In The Movie, even 10 years after they've all left high school she still thinks she's God's gift to the world and perceives V to be her personal nemesis.
  • Always V Sexy: Veronica
  • Amateur Sleuth: Veronica starts out as a semi-amateur sleuth, in that she helps out her father with his case load as a PI while at the same time carrying on her own investigation into her best friend's death (effectively pro bono, as the case is considered solved by the law). Towards the end of the first season, she becomes an unlicensed PI to many of her fellow high school students, digging up information in exchange for cash. In the third season, legally an adult, she passes her test to become a licensed PI. The proposed fourth season which never got off the ground would have ended the amateur part completely, jumping ahead a couple of years for her to become an FBI agent.
  • Anchored Ship: With Veronica and Duncan in season 1 ((eventually they get back together and then break up for good) and later with Logan and Veronica, which ends with no definite resolution, mostly due to the show's cancellation.
  • And Starring: "And Enrico Colantoni."
  • Anger Born of Worry: Both Veronica and Logan really dislike it when the other puts him- or herself in danger.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: The so-called "epic love" speech from "Look Who's Stalking" definitely fits, even if it isn't actually Logan's first declaration of love (which is shown in season 2 premiere flashback and isn't angsty at all).
  • Animal Wrongs Group: Subverted in a third-season episode. Veronica suspects a group of committing a crime, but finds out they're generally pretty good people. She also tricks a Ted Nugent Expy into wearing a shirt saying "Meat is Murder".
  • Anti-Villain: a few of the "bad guys" have sympathetic motives, such as Ryan in "Ahoy Mateys" (revenge for the death of the boy he loved) or Pete in "Weapons of Class Destruction" (revenge for years of bullying that put him in the hospital and turned his father against him).
  • Arc Welding: Arc Patching, if not Arc Welding, was done when the season 2 bus bombing storyline wrapped up. The perpetrator was revealed to also have raped Veronica at Shelly Pomroy's party, a storyline thought to be wrapped up in season 1 as being not rape, but semi-consensual sex between two people who had been independently, involuntarily roofied. This explained Veronica's chlamydia, despite her having only two (or, as The Reveal made plain, actually three) sexual partners and presumably using protection, the existence of which was used to paint Veronica as a slut and therefore untrustworthy in the trial of Aaron Echolls. The blatant illegality of delving into her medical records for some reason not resulting in a mistrial is another debate entirely.
  • Arch-Enemy: Veronica has many enemies, all for various reasons, but Madison Sinclair is the one person Veronica truly hates with a passion. Even after almost a decade of not seeing each other, there is still no love lost between them.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • "Between here and Granger, you got rattlesnakes, coyote traps, scorpions, hippies doing mushrooms, all kinds of bad stuff."
    • Not to mention Lamb: "Well, well, what do we have here? An illegal gambling establishment. Underaged drinking. Public displays of affection. It's like Sodom and Gomorrah in here."
    • In "Weapons of Class Discussion", after Veronica figures out who is issuing the bomb threat, she confronts him over the phone.
    Veronica: "He was suspended for holding you down and letting a tarantula crawl across your face... and stealing your lunch money."
  • Artistic License – Law:
    • Many, many occasions - Veronica's cross-examination at the Lilly Kane murder trial being the most egregious. Most episodes have at least one.
    • On at least three occasions when the Dean died, when the bus driver died, and when the Coach died someone asks Veronica or Keith to prove a death ruled a suicide was in fact murder because their life insurance policy won't pay in the case of suicide. In California, life insurance policies are required by law to pay in full in the case of suicide if the policy has been in place for 2 or more years. Less than two years refunds all premiums.
  • Artistic License – Religion: In the third season, Piz starts ranting on his radio show about how even though he is a Catholic school boy, the concept of Purgatory completely baffles him. He then goes on to completely incorrectly explain it as the place for people not good enough for Heaven (a common misconception among non-Catholics and Catholics alike, so maybe this is Truth in Television?). Purgatory is the place of purification for souls on their way to Heaven in which the temporal effects of their sins are cleansed.
  • Ascended Extra: Oh, Dick Casablancas. He started off with one word in episode 2 - "Logan" - and his role just got bigger until he got a Promotion to Opening Titles for season 2. It was rumored that the only reason why the actor playing Dick got booted up to full-time cast member was due to the fact that the actor playing Dick's brother Cassidy was brought on full-time for season two, as the Big Bad and that having him in the title and not the actor playing his on-screen brother, would give away the season's twist ending).
  • Ass Shove: In one episode, Chip Diller was drugged and had an Easter egg stuck up his ass.
  • As You Know: Used in the season 2 finale, in which the Big Bad and Veronica take a 5 minute timeout before he tries to kill her, for them to confirm yes, she knows everything. Veronica Mars is smarter than me, so I was thankful and disbelief-suspending, for the explanation.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Aaron Echolls may not have used an axe in the show, but his eyes in the rearview mirror scene in the season 1 finale, locking the title character in a fridge and setting it on fire (intending to burn her alive because she refused to give him back tapes proving he had murdered another teenage girl by bashing her skull in with an ash tray (also for refusing to return incriminating tapes), as well as the frequent abuse of his son and the beating-almost-to-death of his daughter's boyfriend, qualify him as a member of the Ax Crazy group.
    • Logan Echolls has been shown to possess similar tendencies and was described as 'psychotic' in the first episode, during which he bashed in the headlights of Veronica's car because she had inadvertently caused his own to be taken away by getting him arrested. He is shown to have a short fuse throughout the series, although the show ended before he could properly follow in his father's footsteps.
  • Back Story: The series had a massive backstory that explained how Veronica, a formerly girly high school student, became a hard-boiled sardonic detective. Apparently all it takes is: 1) having the Sheriff be your father; 2) have your best friend murdered under mysterious circumstances; 3) have your father disgraced by the rich locals after he fails to close the case; 4) lose face with your peers because you stand by him; 5) go to a party with your peers only to get roofied and raped. The result? A jaded, cynical 17 year-old girl with an appetite for getting the truth—the perfect story telling recipe for awesome.
  • Backup from Otherworld: Season one: the late Lilly Kane is a major motivator in the solving of her own murder. Her ghost appears to Veronica and to her brother Duncan, metaphorically. Or is it? She shows up in season two to save V's life.
  • Badass Biker: Eli "Weevil" Navarro, head of the PCH biker gang in Neptune. For the first season, at least. This culminates in the second season, where he kills the guy who stole his biker gang by tasering him and taping the drugs he was carrying to the underside of the guy's bike, knowing that when he reported back to the crime family who owns the drugs that they would search the bike and "deal" with him - thereby leaving him in the clear.
  • Badass Bookworm: Who would have thought that Cassidy was capable of murdering at least 10 people, and probably more?
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The River Stix.
  • Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults: "Carrie Bishop and Susan Knight. Go figure."
  • Batman Gambit:
    • It's never explicitly confirmed, but it's pretty clear that in "My Mother, the Fiend", Vice Principal Clemmons manipulated Veronica into investigating a mystery for his own ends without her realizing it until it was all over.
    • Cassidy uses one, asking Veronica to investigate his step-mother for adultery, knowing that this will lead Veronica to discover his father's real estate scams, and reveal it to the world, which in turn will cause his father to flee the country, moving all of his father's money into his (and Dick's names) in trust funds. Then he asks his mother to move back in with them/take them with her, knowing this will make her decide to sign off on the trust funds to give him early access.
    • In the third season, Tim is a big fan of these. First, he frames Veronica for cheating on her essay, with the knowledge that she will clear her own name, but he left enough clues that she would discover their mentor's dirty secret in the process, hoping it would scare her away from him. Later, he kills the Dean, knowing that Veronica will investigate and find enough information to incriminate the Dean in the process.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Keith Mars got in serious trouble for doing this, since impersonating government officers is illegal. His daughter gets away with it on multiple occasions, however.
  • The Beard: Inverted trope in "Donut Run," in which it is vital to Veronica and Duncan's ploy that the FBI believe they have broken up.
  • Beardness Protection Program: Duncan grows a beard like this near the end of the first season. Unless it's a Beard of Sorrow; at the time that he grows it, he's both depressed and running away from home.
  • Beard of Evil: Tim, the killer in Season 3, sports a beard.
  • Beard of Sorrow:
    • Duncan near the end of the first season. Unless he's actually entering the Beardness Protection Program — at the time that he grows it, he's both depressed and running away from home.
    • Logan grows one in the third season after Veronica breaks up with him.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: MY NAME IS CASSIDY!
  • Berserk Button: Yeah, trying to harm Veronica with Keith or Logan around is probably not the best idea.
  • Betty and Veronica
    • Inversion. In season 2, Veronica is torn between Duncan (Betty, sort of) and Logan (Veronica).
    • In season 3, Veronica is torn between Piz (Betty) and Logan (Veronica).
    • There's an episode in season 1 called "Betty and Veronica"; however, the episode in question is not an actual example of the trope, although it does contain several Shout Outs to the trope-naming comics.
  • Big Bad: Seasons 1 and 2; different in that you don't find out who the Big Bad is until the finale. Aaron in season 1, and Cassidy in season 2.
  • Big Damn Heroes - Logan's usual function. And if he doesn't get there in time for BDH, you better believe he'll get arrested just to beat the crap out of you in prison. Don't mess with his V.
    • Keith Mars gets one at the end of season 1, literally walking through fire to rescue Veronica.
    • Veronica gets one at the end of the first sub-arc of Season 3, rescueing the latest rape victim with a unicorn.
  • Big Damn Movie: Is a go!
  • Big Eater: Wallace Fennel, though to be fair, he's a basketball player, and needs the energy:
    Wallace: The day of the back-to-school athletics banquet there were spirit boxes in our lockers. There weren't any brownies in there, but there were cookies.
    Veronica: Did you eat one?
    Wallace: I ate six.
    Veronica: That's my Wallace.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: Several; the Kanes, the Echollses, the Casablancases, the Mannings...
    • Even the Mars family is not immune, although they are far better off than the aforementioned families in this regard. Still though, a father shunned by the community, a drunk mother who ran away, and a daughter who's almost disturbingly wise beyond her years can't quite be described as healthily functioning.
  • Bi the Way: Lily, at least according to Veronica's dream in "Not Pictured":
    Lily: The guy's gone. We had a little screaming over fooling around with his ex.
    Veronica: That bastard!
    Lily: Oh, no no, it was, it was me. I kind of fooled around with his ex. I mean, you'd think that guys would dig that, right? (off Veronica's shocked look) What? It's college. It's expected.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Some of the things Veronica does are pretty gray morally (see: using Leo to steal evidence). Even the two most arguably moral characters in the show, her friend Wallace and her father Keith, do bad things; Wallace is in a car when it runs over a homeless person and never reports it doesn't report it until weeks later and Keith destroys evidence that would implicate his daughter and has an affair with a married client.
  • Black Best Friend: Wallace. He gets his own story in season 2...which results in him leaving the show for several episodes...and is promptly written into the background of season 3. Weevil might also count as a sassy latino associate, but he's got enough of his own motivations that he might count as independent of Veronica...except he needs her help frequently to get him out of jail. Wallace got a few storylines in Season 3. The show tried a little harder than most shows to make the minority best friend more three-dimensional.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Two Words: "Community soap."
  • Blah Blah Blah: Quoth Wallace to Veronica, in one episode, "Course, you're not listening to a word I said. So I might as well have said, 'blah blah blah, blah, blahbity blah blah."
  • Bland-Name Product: Skist, the soft drink choice of Veronica.
  • Book Ends:
    • A few elements bookend the first season. Keith Mars kinda skeeves out Veronica by saying "Who's your daddy?" ("I hate when you say that"). He also tells her, before going on a stakeout in the pilot, to take back-up (Backup is their pit bull); when Aaron Eckel's tries to steal his car for a get-away in the season finale, he's surprised by Backup in the back seat.
    • The second season begins and ends with Pietà Plagiarism, first with Veronica holding Logan, then Logan holding Veronica.
    • The pilot features Weevil beating up Logan and telling him to apologize until Veronica says she doesn't want his apology. This is mirrored in the series finale with Logan beating up Gory until Veronica makes a similar statement.
  • Born Detective: Veronica is practically the poster child. Raised by her sheriff-turned-PI dad, she was already running her own PI business in High School (it was well-known that the girls loos doubled as 'her office' during school hours). A lawyer-friend of the family would leave cases open on the desk she had at her father's office while he was with clients in case she decided to 'take a look'.
  • Break the Cutie: Parker. Veronica came pre-broken, Mac hardened after the events of season 2, and Dick is somewhere between this and Break the Haughty (goddamn Comedic Sociopathy).
  • Break the Haughty:
    • Jackie. Dick, sort of.
    • Logan starts out as a Jerkass who torments Veronica whenever he gets a chance, and then nearly every tragedy that could possibly happen to him happens. He's probably the best example of a Jerkass Woobie on recent television.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Subverted. In the season 2 finale, Kendall just gets a several-million-dollar windfall as the result of Cassidy's suicide. She then walks into Keith's office with a briefcase and tries to offer him a job. When he refuses, she shows him the contents of the briefcase — which the audience doesn't get to see — and he agrees to take it. A few episodes into season 3, we learn that the briefcase actually contained a van Gogh painting, not cash.
  • Broken Bird: Veronica herself.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: subverted. Duncan and Veronica are not siblings, although both thought they were at different points.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Anyone who knows better leaves Veronica alone. Anyone who doesn't learns very quickly. It only takes a few hours for her to ruin your life.
    Veronica: After all these years, how do you not instinctively fear me?
  • The Bus Came Back: Having fled to Australia halfway through the second season, Duncan returned for a brief cameo in the finale.
  • Bus Full of Innocents: The second season revolves around the Bus Full of Innocents crashing.
  • The Butler Did It: Or more accurately, the butler's son did it.
  • Butt Monkey: With his mother committing suicide, his dad being an abusive jerk, being framed for murder twice, and a whole other things, man, does it suck being Logan.
  • California University - Hearst College.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Or woman. Given how common terrible parenting is in Neptune, it's not surprising this happens every once in a while:
    • In the season one finale, Veronica finally calls out on her mother about everything, the drinking, the abandonment... and kicks her out.
    • Logan gets a few of these; most notably the scene when he and his Dad are sharing a jail cell and Logan yells at him for Lilly's murder.
    • Trina calls out her BioDad in season 2, for, y'know, abandoning her at the prom of the school he taught at.
    • Dick gets a big one in season three, when he gives his dad hell for the way they treated Cassidy, and asks if it's their fault he's evil and dead.
    • Wallace sings out his with "Papa Was a Rolling Stone."
  • Camera Sniper: At least half the episodes have this, though that's unsurprising considering the character is a private eye.
  • Canada, Eh?: The girls are pressured to join a dorm-wide party where everyone decorates their rooms like a different country. They give a Take That to the whole thing by picking Canada, with the country spirit consisting of a picture of a moose, saying "Eh," and playing Barenaked Ladies songs.
  • The Cassandra: Veronica will, without fail, get to the bottom of any mystery, embarrassing the guilty Jerk Jock, Alpha Bitch, or idiot sheriff in the process. Despite this, the town residents only ever react to her questioning them with smug indifference. Not only that, but she spends the entire first season trying to figure out who killed her best friend, Lilly. It turns out to have been Aaron Echolls, the father of Lilly's ex-boyfriend and Veronica's boyfriend at the time she figures it out. Unfortunately, when it goes to trial he gets off Scott free (not counting getting shot in the head by Wiedmann) because Logan destroys the sex tapes, and no one believes Veronica or Logan when they testify that they saw the tapes themselves. Even worse, Aaron nearly burned Veronica to death and beat the crap out of her father, but in the trial he claims that Veronica accidentally crashed her car, and they were waiting at the nearest house when Keith found them and attacked him. And the only other witness, the owner of the house, mysteriously went missing. Seriously though, you think these people would learn to trust V's gut once in a while.
  • Casting Gag: Kevin Smith shows up in season two as a convenience store clerk.
  • The Cast Showoff: Kristen Bell singing One Way or Another in "Clash of the Tritons".
  • Changeling Fantasy: Parodied. In the episode "My Mother the Fiend," Veronica finds out who Trina Echolls's real parents are. After the big reveal, Trina confides to Veronica that she had always dreamed that her real parents were movie stars. To which Veronica answers: "Trina, your parents were movie stars..."
  • Chained to a Bed: Cliff in "The Rapes of Graff"
  • Character Name Alias: It plays a similar name game with other notable fictional detectives. Keith Mars has memorably introduced himself as "Adrian Monk" and as "Carson Drew, and my daughter Nancy". Veronica, infiltrating a rival school, went by the name Betty, saying she was Horny, the mascot for the Rhinos, the team at her old school...Riverdale. On one occasion, Veronica went to a church group and pretended to be pregnant. Her chosen alias was Hester.
  • Character Title: Also prominently features the Mars family as opposed to putting the father in the background.
  • Chekhov's Gun: All the time but rarely ever in the same episode. If there's some brief mention of something out of the main line in an episode then it will be used one or two episodes later e.g. A deputy mentions he's a bouncer at a club, three episodes later he is used as an explanation as to how Veronica was able to quickly get into the club.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • "A Trip to the Dentist" features Veronica asking a bunch of previously one-off characters questions leading her to find out what happened the night she was raped.
    • Duncan in "Not Pictured". It seems like he was only there for a flashback but it turns out he had Clarence kill Aaron
  • The Chessmaster:
    • Veronica pulls off several of these to catch criminals. The plan she uses to allow Duncan to escape the USA with his child crosses into roulette territory.
    • There's also the epic scheming of Cassidy Casablancas. Not only did he kill a dozen people, keep any attention off him for months, manipulate and blackmail his way through the stock market, he's also the only person I can ever remember lying to Veronica's face and not having her suspect at all. And he's just 16. He's good dammit.
  • Christmas Carolers: Seen at a Christmas party.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Mallory Dent, in the opening credits as a main character for the first handful of episodes and then never seen again. Hand Waved into Put on a Bus some time later with a vague reference to the character being on maternity leave.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: Inasmuch as Veronica sought an internship with the FBI in Season 3 and in the planned fourth season, she would have become an FBI agent.
  • Clear My Name: Veronica spends a lot of her time doing this. Usually it's either her or Eli being accused, but other people get their turns occasionally.
  • Cliffhanger: Season One ends on several cliff hangers. Aaron Echolls has been arrested, but it's unclear how Veronica's relationship will be affected. The audience knows that Logan had an incident on the bridge where he contemplated suicide, although the characters don't.
  • Come to Gawk:
    • This is the subtext of the second season when a parent commits a crime, their children have to walk the walk of shame. In "Ain't No Magic Mountain High Enough", Jackie is volunteered to sit as target in the water balloon carnival booth, in a bikini, being pelted with cold water by people who hate her.
    • It's also a common occurrence for people to be stripped naked and duct-taped to the high school's flagpole.
  • Confessional: One second-season episode has Logan and Weevil trying to convince Veronica to bug a confessional, as they're convinced that the priest is involved with a drug ring. She refuses, but agrees — with reservations — to plant a camera with no mic, so they can see if any drugs are being handed off. note 
  • Continuity Lockout: Why the network demanded season 3 have smaller arcs than the season-long ones of season 1 and 2. They made it too hard to attract new viewers.
  • Convenient Slow Dance: The second season episode "Plan B". As Veronica just tries to save Gia from Logan's rather not-friendly honest opinion, they end up dancing to "Sway" by The Perishers.
  • Cool Loser:
    • The lead character is witty, attractive, fashionable and generally benevolent. Veronica's unpopularity is ostensibly due to her father's insistence that local hero Jake Kane was a murderer. It wasn't until later on, when she becomes more than a little infamous for her ability to figure things out, that she regained some respect — her 10-Minute Retirement at the beginning of the second season proves that. Once again, Buffy-style, at the end of the second season, she's given a minor ovation from her classmates as she accepts her diploma. In Veronica's case, it's arguably on purpose. She's pissed at them for essentially abandoning her when she needed her friends the most. The ones she eventually forgives are generally the ones who had their own issues regarding Lily's death (Logan and Duncan are pretty much the list). The theme song was well-chosen.
    • Wallace Fennel, Veronica's best friend is also an example of this. He's at best marginally popular, despite being the star on the basketball team, very nice, funny and dating the super hot daughter of a baseball legend. In Wallace's case, it's at least partly intentional. As he said, he'd rather hangout with the chick who cut him down when duct-taped to the flag pole than the people who just stood and laughed at him.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Jake Kane, to a point. Big Dick Casablancas eventually proves to be a clearer example.
  • Corruption of a Minor: In a third season episode, Veronica's client is a young man who was forced to join a militia in Africa at the age of six.
  • Country Matters: Oh, if only this wasn't network television, Kendall Casablancas would've gotten whupped:
    Veronica: Mrs. C! I trust you're well.
    Kendall: Why, if isn't little miss teen getaway. Your dad and I were just dealing with a little trouble.
    Veronica: Like, trouble, with a capital T, that rhymes with C, that stands for—
    Keith: Veronica!
    Veronica: I was gonna say cute.
  • Crapsack World: Neptune is a town divided into the rich section of town (the "09ers") and pretty much everyone else, as far as being a town where you are insanely rich or working low wage jobs for the incredibly rich. The town police is run by an evil jerk whose pettiness towards those who he doesn't like is matched only by his laziness, as well as filled with people who blindly support the wealthiest guy in town when he's accused of murdering his daughter. In addition, the county supervisor is a pedophile, the local business mogul is a Corrupt Corporate Executive, and the town's famous actor resident is an abusive psychopath and murderer.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Yet to people who don't live there, it probably just seems like any other Southern Californian town filled with Hollywood A-listers, pristine beaches, and millionaires.
  • Creepy Children Singing: Near the end of the second season, there's a closing-episode montage set to Alejandro Escovedo's "Falling Down Again", which features children singing in the chorus and laughing during the fade-out, playing in conjunction with the imagery of Thumper chained to a urinal, struggling while the stadium is being demolished.
  • Crime After Crime: Played with, or perhaps subverted in season one, in which the Kanes commit various counts of conspiracy (mislabeled in the show as obstruction of justice) in order to conceal that Duncan did not kill Lilly. Well, technically, they thought he killed her and that's why they covered it up. In their defense, they did find him in a position where he was covered in her blood.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Vinnie Van Lowe
  • Cult: A subversion appears in the first season. Secrecy (sort of), organic diet, isolation, authority clash... and they're actually decent people, whose "secret crop" is Christmas poinsettia flowers. The kid VM "saves" is "deprogrammed" back into a jerk, though she learns about his real soft spots and he remembers her somewhat fondly from her time infiltrating the cult, making him a useful source of information in a later episode.
  • Cure Your Gays: One episode involved a high school boy whose parents sent him to a camp that was supposed to "de-gay" him.
  • Cute and Psycho: Cassidy. Think he's the sweet, nerdy, helpless guy? Ha. More like rapist and mass-murderer. Have fun!
  • Cuteness Proximity: Veronica (and later on Logan) have at least one scene where they degerenate into babytalk when around Backup.
  • Daddy Didn't Show: Mom does this twice. First she skips out on rehab, which Veronica had spent her entire savings on. But that's not low enough, so after Veronica confronts her about it, she absconds with a $50,000 check that Keith got for finding Duncan Kane. Oh, and she does this while Keith is in the hospital after saving Veronica from a murderer.
  • Daddy's Girl:
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: Well played, Aaron Echolls.
  • Date Rape: Part of the backstory told in flashbacks. Veronica is roofied during a high school party end of her sophomore year and wakes up partially unclothed the next morning. She tries to report what happens and Sheriff Lamb calls her a slut and kicks her out of the station. Which explains why she hates him so much. At the end of season 1 she finds out she was drugged when Madison gave her a trip to the dentist. Duncan rescued her at first getting her to a safe room. Then he was drugged and put in the same room. Duncan in his state thought she had consented. Logan was the one that brought the drugs to the party. Then at the end of the 2nd seasons she find out that mass murderer Beaver had raped her that night. In season 3 she can't understand why Logan goes as far as he does to protect her as she investigates a serial rapist, who targets her but is scared off by Logan
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Part of the backstory before the series started was a gender flipped version. Duncan Kane's mother hates Veronica. Lilly states that Celeste would hate anyone that Duncan might love more than her. Lilly also warns that Celeste would do anything to break up Duncan and Veronica. Celeste tells Duncan that Veronica might be his 1/2 sister. He breaks up with her without telling her why. Veronica finds out on her own. Two DNA tests later (she throws one out without looking because Keith is her real Dad. Before opening the 2nd one she signs away her rights to the Kane fortune because Keith is her real Dad) it turns out they aren't 1/2 siblings and get back together for a while. It is unclear if Celeste really believes Veronica could be her husband's daughter or she just used it to break them up because she is obsessed with her son. In flashbacks Veronica's Mom and Duncan's Dad don't seem to have any concerns about the two dating. Jake's concern with Duncan and Veronica dating in "present" time seems to be more about knowing Keith doesn't believe that Lilly's murder has been solved, and Jake believing that Duncan accidentally killed his sister during a seizure.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It would be a shorter list to name the characters with lines that weren't. Backup, Mandy, Inga. No, seriously. That's about it. Every other character on the show is a deadpan snarker or tries to be. And Backup is a dog. And several people are convinced that he can have a very sarcastic face when he wants to.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Veronica spends much of the first season conversing with her murdered best friend Lilly Kane. Duncan, Lilly's brother, also speaks with her. In the second season episode "I Am God" Veronica dreams she's speaking to the victims of a bus-crash.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Kendall Casablancas, nee Shifflet, aka Priscilla Banks.
  • Death by Falling Over: In the episode "Kanes and Abel's", Veronica imagines each of her major suspects killing Lilly; in her vision of how Jake Kane may have killed her, he pushes out of the way while trying to attack her boyfriend Weevil. As she falls she hits her head on a table, killing her.
  • Death by Recognition: In season 3, the Dean of Heart College gives us a "What are you doing here?" The next time we see him, he's dead.
  • Death Wish: Logan Echolls has something of a death wish, highlighted most obviously in 1x22 'Leave It To Beaver' and 3x20 'The Bitch Is Back.' But with his background, can you blame him?
  • Deceptive Legacy: One of the cases of the week the eponymous character receives is to track down a classmate's father. It turns out that his mother told him that his father was dead to hide the fact that his father has had a sex change.
  • Defiled Forever: In the third season, Max doesn't care at first that Wendy (/Fiona/Sharon) is a prostitute, but once they start living together and people start talking about her past and trying to hire her as a stripper, he starts having more and more of a problem.
  • Determinator: A few characters potentially, but Veronica herself definitely fits the best. Let's list all the things that happen to her throughout the show: her boyfriend dumps her without notice, her best friend is murdered, she's rufied and raped, she's framed for cheating multiple times in an academic context (which is an efficient way to sabotage an academic career), she's locked in a burning fridge, attacked with her own tazer, and roughed up by an Irish mobster. That's not to count the relentless bullying an emotional isolation the rest of her school puts her through. And her response to all this? Find out who's responsible for [insert travesty] and make them pay.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?/Rule of Symbolism: Veronica stabbing a rapist with a porcelain unicorn.
  • Did You Just Have Sex?: In season two, immediately after Veronica sleeps with Duncan she bumps into Logan who says she looks different and asks if she's changed her hair. At home her father makes a similar comment and she wonders whether he's really such a good detective that he can tell she's had sex.
  • Discriminate and Switch:
    • When Veronica's Black Best Friend Wallace moves in with his new roommate, the roommate acts uncomfortable. He explains, "I specifically said I didn't want a roommate who was...uh, you know...better looking than me."
    • In an earlier episode, Veronica has implied that one of her teachers, Mr Woo, is gay, and he plays with this trope:
      When you get out into the real world you'll realize that not all well dressed, articulate, and organized men are gay. Some of them are just... (beat) Asian.
  • Disney Death: The ending of the second season of has the season's Big Bad Cassidy detonating a remote bomb aboard a plane that presumably has Veronica's dad on it. However, it turns out that her father drove home and he wasn't on the plane.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Tim Foyle's Xanatos Gambit, in a nutshell.
  • Distressed Dude: In season 2, when Logan gets kidnapped by the PCH gang, who threaten to castrate him.
  • Do Not Call Me Paul: Cindy Mackenzie much prefers her nickname, Mac.
  • Double Entendre: We'd insert all the double entendres the show uses in here, but fun as it is we don't want to be doing this all day, and frankly it could be too long for the page to handle. Many of them are seriously Getting Crap Past the Radar—including a not-too-subtle Curse Cut Short involving Country Matters. You have to wonder if someone fell asleep on the job there.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male - Partially averted, partially played straight. Veronica bluntly points out that what the members of Lilith House did to Chip Diller was rape and he is clearly traumatised by it. On the other hand he is such an Asshole Victim that it is very difficult for the character to invoke sympathy. However, the female rapists are still portrayed more sympathetically than he is.
  • Downer Beginning: At the beginning of this show, Veronica's dad has been voted out of office, her alcoholic mom has abandoned them, and none of her former friends are speaking to her...and those are just the things that are actually shown in the first episode. If we count things that are talked about and then shown later, we also get Rape as Backstory and a murdered best friend.
  • Downer Ending: Oh, how to count the ways. Veronica's father is under indictment because he destroyed evidence of her breaking-and-entering. His successor has a good chance of being Vinnie Van Lowe, a corrupt rival private investigator whose campaign was financed by the local crime syndicate. Veronica's dating Piz, a milquetoast whose incompatibility with Veronica becomes crystal clear when Dick Casablancas emails a video to everyone on campus of the two having sex, leading to Veronica vowing reprisals against the man responsible for creating the footage versus Piz wanting to ride out the crisis, much to Veronica's shock and horror. And when Logan does avenge Veronica's honor by publicly beating up the man who gave Dick the video to circulate, the guy vows revenge against Logan. And given that the guy's father is a hired killer for the Russian Mob, Logan's longstanding death wish just might be fulfilled.
  • Downtime Downgrade: Essentially happens with Logan and Veronica after season 1, would be an Off-Screen Breakup if not for a brief flashback. Averted after season 2 - they don't break up after summer, they do it on screen... a few times.
  • Drama Bomb: The bus crash in the opening episode of the second season.
  • Dramatic Necklace Removal: Veronica wears her best friend Lily's necklace to a dorm-room casino when she's searching for Logan when everyone in the room is robbed, and the masked robber pulls it off her neck. When she finds the robber, she takes Lily's necklace back in like fashion from the robber's daughter.
  • Dream Within a Dream: In one episode of Veronica Mars, Veronica keeps having dreams in which her unconsciousness is processing clues about students killed in a bus crash, by talking to those students - often, in the middle of class. During one class, she drifts off, processes a clue about the meaning of the phrase "I AM GOD", wakes up and discovers that she's written "I AM GOD" all over a blackboard she was supposed to be solving a math problem on, and everyone is laughing at her. (Then she wakes up for real.)
  • Dress Hits Floor: Done in episode 4, season 1. Veronica has a flashback scene to a game of Never Have I Ever, where it comes out that she's never skinny dipped. The end of the episode has her dropping her dress on the beach to do so.
  • Drinking the Kool-Aid: The episode "Drinking The Kool Aid" sees Veronica investigating a commune/possible cult. Her Side Kick, Wallace, eventually does an episode Title Drop.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • "Clash of the Tritons", Logan's mother having taken all she can from her cheating husband, abandons her car on a bridge and jumps to her death - apparently. Logan refuses to believe it, and they Never Found the Body.
    • A season and a half later, the Big Bad Cassidy Casablancas leaps to his death after having his crimes and Freudian Excuse (sexual abuse which he was trying desperately to keep secret) made public.
    • Logan in the season 1 finale, but unlike the previous 2 examples, he wasn't able to go through with it.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Not only is Sheriff Lamb brutally killed off in the lamest of lame fashions, but afterwords EVERYONE forgets he exists, save for by a deputy newly re-appointed interim Sheriff Keith Mars promptly fires upon reassuming control over the department. A major moment for seasonal rotting, as far as you thinking that the violent murder of the sheriff would be a major thing that would hang over the department for quite some time.)
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?
    Veronica: After all these years, do you not instinctively fear me? Maybe you should write yourself a note.
  • Dysfunction Junction

    Tropes E-G 
  • Eating Lunch Alone
    • Veronica, until Wallace sits with her in the first episode.
    • And whoever Veronica needs to talk to will also be conveniently doing this most of the time.
  • Eating the Eye Candy - Veronica does it to a shirtless actor in "An Echolls Family Christmas".
  • Economy Cast - Neptune contains exactly two private investigators (Keith Mars and Vinnie Van Lowe) and although the rich and powerful muster many lawyers, about the only one to appear in more than one episode is Mars family ally and Public Defender Cliff McCormack.
  • Egg Sitting: Veronica has to "raise" a baby-like doll with her boyfriend Duncan for a sex-ed class. It's not clear if they fail or succeed, but Veronica definitely isn't shown to be a reliable parent. Also, the doll serves as Foreshadowing for the reveal that Duncan's ex-girlfriend is pregnant.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Piz's first name is Stosh. Mac's first name is Cindy. Both use the first syllable of their last name instead.
  • Embarrassing Nickname:
    • Cassidy "Beaver" Casablancas. A nickname so loathed, protesting against it was one of the last things he did before killing himself. Presumably nicknamed as such because his father and older brother were both nicknamed Dick and liked to torment him.
    • The Principal's son, Vincent, is nicknamed Butters by his peers. And he isn't bitter about it at all.
  • Embarrassing Password:
    • Mayor Woody Goodman's password is stated to be Mr. Good Wood (without the period, of course).Considering this is only an episode before we learn he is a child molester, this is also a disturbing password
    • Veronica comments on how adorable it is that criminology TA and wannabe amateur sleuth Tim Foyle's password is Dick Tracy.
  • Embarrassing Slide: In the pilot, Veronica does this with film instead of a picture when Lamb tells the courtroom that his (unknowingly switched) security tape will show the courtroom what happened.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Veronica records a confession with a camera hidden in her locker during "Like a Virgin".
  • Establishing Character Moment: The series begins with Veronica's monologue while she's spying on a couple. The kind of character Veronica is becomes especially clear when she says "$40 an hour is cheap compared to the long-term financial security sordid photography can secure you...your offspring...your new lover." Cynical, jaded, witty, and sexy. Veronica in a nutshell.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Aaron Echolls physically abuses his son Logan, cheats on his wife, and murdered a teenage girl that he slept with after she threatened to tell on him, but he cares a great deal about his adopted daughter Trina. Enough to unleash a severe beating on her abusive boyfriend when he finds out what the guy did to her.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes:
    • Logan and Duncan both certainly have a type: Lilly, Veronica, Meg and Hannah...
    • In "Weapons of Class Destruction", Veronica investigates a guy who turns out to have a thing for blondes. She notes that at least she's his type.
  • Everyone Went to School Together:
    • Veronica's mother went to school with Love Interest Duncan's mother and father: explored in "My Mother, the Fiend" and a plot point in other episodes.
    • Veronica's teacher and Trina's mother. They all seemed to be in the same year.
  • Everything's Better with Llamas: Logan said his mother wanted alpacas.
  • Evil All Along: Cassidy starts by raping Veronica and then lying about it (which isn't revealed until later on), but he becomes truly evil in Season 2. He kills a bus full of his classmates, a witness could turn him in, and 3 people on a plane. This wasn't revealed until the finale but yes he was evil.
  • Evolving Credits: Mrs. Dent disappears from the credits partway through season 1. Note that this was the only time the credits ever changed during a season; every other actor was credited for every episode even if they did not appear in those episodes. This includes a character who was Killed Off for Real mid-season.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Flashbacks of Veronica during season one and Logan's stubble and unkempt appearance during his depression in "Postgame Mortem" due to his break-up with Veronica.
  • Face on a Milk Carton: Played straight in an episode where Veronica and her dad are investigating the "Mooncalf Collective", a hippie group near their town. After returning home, VM pours herself a glass of milk and recognizes a teen she met at the Collective, giving her dad the evidence he needs to bring the authorities into the matter (The story takes place ~2005, making it an anachronism).
  • Fake Guest Star: The series always had an interesting relationship with leads v. guest stars. The actor portraying Ms Dent was listed as main cast in Season 1, despite only appearing for a handful of scenes over four episodes (and disappearing from the credits, though not promotional materials, after seven). In Seasons 2 and 3, new one-season-arc characters Jackie, Piz and Parker were promoted to leads above some recurring co-stars who played equally significant roles in all three seasons. Season 1 recurring characters Dick and Cassidy were promoted to lead cast in Season 2, though it's rumoured that Dick was only promoted to disguise the fact that Cassidy's promotion was due to him being the Big Bad of the season, as his role didn't really expand until Season 3. Meanwhile in all this, Tina Majorino as "Mac" appeared in at least as many or more episodes than Dick, Cassidy and Jackie, played a more significant role in the main plot than two of the three, yet wasn't promoted to lead credits until Season 3, along with Michael Muhney as Don Lamb, another actor who'd been with the show since the first season.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: After Lianne walks off with Veronica's $50,000 bounty, the latter temps as a barista.
  • Fallen Princess: Veronica doesn't have any superpowers, but when her sheriff father arrests the town's benefactor for the murder of his own daughter, Veronica's best friend, pretty much everyone in her clique of high school elite friends turns against her, resulting in her being date-raped. This in turn leads to her transformation into the Veronica we know. As she pours her energy into solving her friend's murder, she rapidly gains the super detective skills and world-weary attitude of a professional PI twice her age.
  • False Confession: This is a major part in the Lily Kane murder mystery in the first season: Disgruntled former Kane Software employee Abel Koontz confesses to the murder of Lily Kane, but in reality the Kanes agreed to pay for his daughter's future so that he would take the fall (He's dying from a disease, so he doesn't particularly care what happens to him), because they believe that their son Duncan killed Lily in an epileptic fit. Because of his confession, Sheriff Lamb ends the investigation, saying they found the killer, causing Veronica and her disgraced-Sheriff-now-PI father to investigate it themselves.
  • Family Business: Albeit unofficially, Keith Mars's private eye business, which he runs with his daughter Veronica.
  • Femme Fatale:
    • In the third season, Hearst College Dean's wife Mindy O'Dell.
    • Kendall Casablancas sometimes fills this role in the second season.
    • Additionally, since Veronica Mars is basically Film Noir with the genders flipped, Logan Echolls and Dick Casablancas often fit this role as well, the former especially in season one.
  • Fidelity Test: Veronica plays a Fille Fatale to find out whether the jealous client's fiancee is cheating. He isn't, but it doesn't end well for them anyway.
  • Fille Fatale - Lilly gives an impression of having been this.
  • Film Noir: The show somehow effectively used this style in a San Diego high school setting. And gender swapped.
  • Finger Gun: Veronica uses this at Sheriff Lamb in the pilot episode.
  • First-Person Smartass
  • Five Second Foreshadowing: The series tended to reveal its season-long villains in this manner.
  • Flashbacks a-go-go
  • Foe Cooties: Veronica can barely look at Logan on learning he slept with Madison Sinclair, let alone date him.
  • Freudian Excuse:Does this with several characters:
    • Logan isn't exactly a villain, but he does have a home life worthy of one: his famous father sleeps around and is physically abusive, his mother commits suicide, and his sister is an emotionally void, aspiring (and failing) actress whose primary motivation in life is to improve her career without working at all.
    • For that matter, Logan's father—a murderer himself—claims that it was his father's abuse which made him who he is.
    • Even more blatantly, Cassidy Casablancas is a psychotic mass-murdering teenager due largely to the physical and emotional abuse of his father and older brother.
    • The show also has a Lampshade Hanging. In the first-season episode "Drinking the Kool-Aid," a boy joins a cult, and his rich parents ask Mr. Mars why he'd go when he was provided for. Mr. Mars says that it's often rich kids who leave, and the boy's father sighs (paraphrasing): "Yes, I know what you're thinking. Spoiled rich kid, no material need denied, no spiritual need fulfilled. That's not us."
    • Subverted Trope by Meg, whose parents are crazy fundies, but is still a very nice person.
    • In the same episodes where we find out about Meg's parents, Sheriff Lamb also indicates his dad abused him, and combines it with a Pet the Dog moment.
  • From Bad to Worse: The pilot episode embodies this trope as Veronica lays out her backstory. In the space of a few months, her boyfriend dumped her, her best friend got murdered, her mother left the family, she became a social pariah in her school, her father got recalled from his job as sheriff, and then, just to top things off, she got drugged and raped by someone at a party. And this is all before the show even started.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: In the episode "Green-Eyed Monster", Wallace mentions to his mother he's going to be giving Jackie a hand with her trigonometry. He's not being very subtle with his entendres, but it is still a shock to him and his mother when his little brother Darrell pipes up, "Are you hitting that?"
  • Fundraiser Carnival: Neptune High had a Winter Carnival to raise money for the senior trip. Justified in that it's a very affluent school district.
  • Fur and Loathing: Veronica wears a coat with a faux-fur collar while talking to some animal rights activists, realizes it, and takes it off. One of them sneaks behind her and moves to chop the collar off; Veronica catches her, shrieking "It's fake!" (This is probably important to actress Kristen Bell, who is herself one of the sane-ish kinds of animal rights activists.)
  • Gambit Roulette: The whole deal with kidnapping Duncan's daughter, Cassidy's far-reaching scheme, and the season three plotline where a teacher's assistant kills the head of the college in order to destroy the life of one of the professors at the college, as payback for him giving a bad reference for the assistant where he basically slagged him and cost him a teaching job at another college.
  • Gamer Chick: In the episode "The Wrath of Con", Veronica disguises herself as an anime geek/gamer in order to track down a group of nerds who are running a 419 scam. She winds up sucking when playing a multiplayer shooter... but this is actually a ruse designed to get the scammer to reveal himself (she repeatedly team-killed him in order to get his attention, the reason why she was doing so poorly).
  • Gang of Hats: The PCH Bike Club are all Latino bikers from the wrong side of the tracks, all high schoolers (or at least high school age).
  • Geeky Turn-On:
    • Mac and Max get into an "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better" conversation about whether Mac can take down Max's term-paper-selling website. Logan picks up on the subtext and wonders if he could sell tickets for this "hot nerd-on-nerd action."
    • When Mac sees the supercomputer, she remarks "Hello, lover!"
  • Gender-Inverted Trope: Wallace is a male Girl Friday, and Logan often acts as a male Femme Fatale.
  • George Jetson Job Security - The journalism teacher seems to be Neptune High's equivalent of Defense Against the Dark Arts. Ironically, Ms. Dent was originally planned to be a major character, going by her inclusion in the opening titles.
  • Get Into Jail Free: Logan takes a tire iron to a police car in order to get thrown into a holding cell...with the guys who nearly raped Veronica. We get a nice Oh, Crap look from them, and the scene ends.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar - Watch just about any episode.
    • It still boggles the mind how this exchange got on network television.
      Weevil: If you're lookin' for my trophy, it's back by auto shop.
      Veronica: Lube job? Or....can you get a medal for stealing hubcaps?
      Weevil: Is this 1970? Rims, baby.
      Veronica: So you got a trophy for a rim job?
      Weevil: Forget it. Look, I got some information for you.
      Veronica: Finally, a Deep Throat to call my own!
      Weevil: I'm not even going to touch that one.
    • The high school principal's last name is Moorehead. Make of that what you will.
    • Corny offers up some, uh, special baked goods. "The secret? It's all in the butter."
    • Dick Casablancas's less-"masculine" younger brother is Beaver.
    • Likewise, Woody Goodman. Whose creepy-as-hell computer password is "mr. good wood". *shudder*
    • An obscene gesture known as "The Shocker" was shown twice.
    • In another scene a girl is wearing a "I Heart Dick" shirt. It's talking about the character—when the camera pans down, it reveals that the full text is "I Heart Dick Casablancas"—but still.
    • Kendall: Oh, quit standing there so smug. Tomorrow you're just gonna call me at two in the morning saying you want some company. For your information, that really doesn't satisfy me, Logan.
      Logan: Really? You always come.
    • See Country Matters above for a Curse Cut Short that the radar most likely didn't catch.
  • Girl Friday: Wallace is a Rare Male Example.
  • Going by the Matchbook: In a flashback, we see that Lily has quite a collection of matchbooks with Hispanic names and phone numbers written on them. Of course, she's never been to the bars or met the guys, she just left them around the house for her mother to find....
  • Gold Digger - Kendall Casablancas
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Unusual "bad adultery" from a protagonist. Keith, Veronica's dad, begins an affair with a married woman (he himself is married to an alcoholic who fled, stealing $50,000 from him). Veronica is crushed, and confronts him. She calls him on his hypocrisy when all of his excuses are exactly what every guy they've caught in their Private Eye business says. He breaks it off.
  • Goodbye, Cruel World!: In a third season episode, Veronica is given a Criminology assignment of planning 'the perfect murder'. She suggests faking a suicide note from the victim, using a generic phrase such as "Goodbye cruel world", typed on a computer so the note can't be analysed. Shortly afterwards, the dean of the college is murdered in exactly this way.
  • Good Parents: Averted with most parents on the show, who range from neglectful to downright abusive, but Veronica's father Keith stands out as one of the greatest dads in television, making her a Daddy's Girl. He lets her help him in his P.I. business all she wants is always supportive when she's down, puts his own personal life on hold when he finds a new paramour because she's still not over her mother Lianne abandoning them, and will destroy anyone who even considers hurting his little girl.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Pretty much everybody is shown having very enjoyable sex, except Cassidy with Mac, where he has erectile dysfunction. Guess who's the villain of season 2? Justified because Cassidy's inability to have sex with Mac is actually a clue that he was raped as a child, which is how he is connected to the bus crash. Averted with Duncan and Veronica, whose sex is "fine" at best.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Though a number of characters die throughout the series, it's usually not seen onscreen; instead, someone walks in on either the body or, on two occasions, on the murderer firing gunshots at an offscreen target.
  • Got Volunteered: Logan volunteers his father to donate money to a soup kitchen. He does so publicly enough and with grand enough reception that his father can't back out without looking like an ass. However, behind closed doors Aaron brutally beats Logan in response.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: There's an episode called "Green-Eyed Monster", which takes this trope Up to Eleven.
  • Griefer: Veronica once needed to find a guy in a video game club, so purposely griefed his character in order to listen for his reaction in Real Life.
  • Guile Hero
  • The Gwen Stacy: Meg, also Kendall for Keith (oddly enough)

    Tropes H-M 
  • Half-Arc Season: Two ways. Its first two seasons, though technically full arc seasons, had a lot of Mystery Of The Week with little or no movement on the season-arc story. Its third season had two distinct shorter arcs, one six episodes long, with beginning, middle, and end; and the second nine episodes long. The last five episodes of the season are standalone (excepting the last two episodes, which were aired together). The advantage, in a show like VM, is that some of the Mysteries of the Week can actually be key revelations in the arc, but this fact is not obvious until the end of the episode.
  • Hannibal Lecture: In "Like a Virgin", Veronica interrogates a murderer who psychs her out. To complete the homage to Silence of the Lambs, Veronica is pretending to be a Southern girl, and speaks with a fake accent that resembles Jodie Foster's in the movie.
  • Head-in-the-Sand Management: Apart from her father, the closest anyone comes to a Reasonable Authority Figure is Vice Principal (later Principal) Clemmons. Everyone else is a complete ass.
  • Heel-Face Turn: This includes Weevil, Logan, and Dick.
  • Heroic Bastard: Subverted when Veronica looks to be then is revealed not to be the bastard daughter of Jake Kane.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Veronica and Keith become this, due to the horrific monsters they deal with over the course of the show's three seasons.
  • High School Hustler - Veronica Mars
  • Hollywood California: The series was set in Neptune, California, filmed in San Diego. "Neptune" could probably be read as Oceanside, a middle-sized city just north of San Diego, just without copious numbers of US Marines, since the real life Oceanside is just south of Camp Pendleton, one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the world. Oddly enough, the show was filmed in the suburb Chula Vista at Hilltop High School. However, Oceanside High School was used for exterior shots, so there's definitely plenty of evidence for faux-Oceanside.
  • Hollywood Game Design: There was an episode where two geeks make a world-class video game in their dorm room, all by themselves.
  • Hollywood Law: The Lily Kane trial was wallbangingly full of this.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Cute, goofy computer geek and budding hacker Mac is a Hollywood Nerd in the grand tradition, and particularly owes much to Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Willow. Mac is not a stick figure and has the shape of someone healthy but who could perhaps benefit from more exercise and less sitting in front of the computer.
  • How Unscientific!: In the episode "Normal Is the Watchword" our titular heroine is saved by a hallucination of (or possibly the actual spirit of) her dead best friend Lilly. Lilly had appeared frequently the previous season (as Veronica tried to solve her murder), but it had certainly been implied she was not a literal ghost, just Veronica's way of working through her emotions and thoughts. At least until "Normal Is the Watchword", when Lilly's sudden and unexplained appearance distracted her friend from getting on a doomed bus. It is later implied that Veronica may be suffering from a neurological condition brought on by various traumas.
  • Humiliation Conga: After Aaron Echolls is revealed as Lilly's killer in the first season finale. Keith and Aaron are slugging it out, but Aaron points out Veronica is locked in a fridge surrounded by flames, and as Keith goes to rescue her, Aaron uses this as a getaway. Having stolen Veronica's car keys, he hops in the car and has a look of relief, but that changes when he hears growling from the backseat. Veronica's pitbull, Backup, bites Aaron's arm and after a struggle, Aaron just manages to escape, stumbling into the street only to get mowed down by a flower delivery truck with a lily pictured on the side. Veronica, having escaped the burning fridge, tells the truck driver to call 911 and moments later, Aaron is arrested for Lilly's murder.
  • I Am One of Those Too: The episode "The Wrath of Con" sees Veronica and Wallace infiltrating a college party posing as prospective students. Wallace claims to be a math major and finds himself having to come up with plausible-sounding answers to questions like: "The Poincaré conjecture or Fermat's Last Theorem: which one do you think better defines the geometry of three-dimensional space?"
  • I Am What I Am: Invoked word for word by Veronica when people call her out for her nosiness and vindictive nature.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Veronica gives a Gender Flipped version of the speech to Jackie:
    "If you think I am gonna let you break Wallace's heart for sport, you have grossly underestimated my wrath."
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: Subverted amusingly in one episode. Veronica actually tries to do this when she thinks she has found an Animal Wrongs Group by advocating outright terroristic tactics, but it doesn't work out because the activists are the sensible, law-abiding sort who don't believe in extreme methods.
  • I Love the Smell of X in the Morning:
    Veronica: I love the smell of testosterone in the morning.
  • Impersonating an Officer: In the third season, Keith Mars, who was the former Sheriff of Neptune, dons his old uniform to grill two women for information. It fails when one of their friends recognizes him as the previous Sheriff and berates the other two for their ignorance. Later, there's a hilarious bit when Keith drives past the incompetent current Sheriff and gives him a mocking nod.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug:
    • Pretty much everything. Sometimes this is played with, though—when Veronica is dealing with particularly Genre Savvy characters, she plants two bugs, an obvious one that they find right away and a more inconspicuous one that they don't bother looking for because they think they've already found the bug.
    • Then there was the time in season 2 when the incredibly obvious bug Veronica planted in Sheriff Lamb's office was... an actual bug.
  • I Never: An episode in the first season had flashbacks featuring the main character and her former friends ditching going to homecoming and drinking champagne in a limo while playing "I Never."
  • I Never Got Any Letters - The thing that eventually brings Wallace around to his biological father.
  • The Ingenue - Hannah Griffith.
  • In the Blood
    • A rather sedate example - Cindy Mackenzie, who was Switched at Birth, seems to have inherited every one of her personality traits from her biological parents, and exactly none from the people who raised her for her entire life. The same goes for the girl she was switched with.
    • A more overt example is the implication that the men in the Echolls family are inherently violent and sadistic, which (according to Veronica) is a major source of worry for Logan as far as him continuing the circle of violence with any children he might have.
    • Veronica considers this with leads for the serial rapist in season three: "Dick, a rapist? Two in the same household?" He's not, by the way.
    • An overarching example in the series is Veronica, the Born Detective, born of Keith...a detective.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    Veronica: Dad, your hooker's here.
    Keith: Escort, honey.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: An episode has an (adult) hacker's relationship with a student (minor) at the school revealed by Veronica and her camera as a blackmail scheme. She even says "There's something seedy in being the interruptus in somebody else's coitus."
  • Intrepid Reporter: Veronica Mars is called exactly this from 1.14.
  • Invisible President: In the season 1 finale, the Kane family throws a party where the Governor of California is a guest. Based on the episode's air date and a few chance remarks, it's pretty clear that the governor is intended to be Arnold Schwarzenegger, but his name is never mentioned and he never appears onscreen.
  • Involuntary Charity Donation: Logan tells a news crew that his father Aaron will be donating five percent (or less - we're never told his income exactly) of his next paycheck to a homeless shelter. His father severely beats him for this.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Logan is seen after at least one fight with bleeding knuckles. One person he beat up mentioned that he had bruised Logan's knuckles pretty badly with his face.
  • The Irish Mob: The 'Fighting Fitzpatricks', an Irish crime family in Neptune who are involved in drug dealing and extortion, among other things.
  • Irish Priest: Patrick Fitzpatrick. Also most likely a Corrupt Priest and a member of Irish Mafia.
  • Ironic Echo: In Season 2 Veronica mentions Nick and Jessica's breakup. In Season 3 "What's Left of Me" Nick's song about said breakup is playing on a radio.
  • Ironic Nickname: Lucky the Janitor. Also, when Veronica jokingly says "easygoing Veronica Mars, that's what the kids at school call me", Keith provides the page quote.
    Keith: You know how fat men are sometimes called 'Tiny'?
  • It's All My Fault:
    • Veronica after the bus crash and Parker's rape.
    • Dick, of all people, after Cassidy's death.
  • It's for a Book:
    • Veronica used "it's an assignment for health class" (or some variant thereof) to cover all kinds of activities, including collecting a DNA sample from her dad. Somewhat justified in that she's a good actress and usually plans out her requests beforehand instead of making them up on the spot.
    • The series actually inverts it in the third season. The final assignment from Veronica's former FBI agent criminology professor? A paper on how you'd commit the perfect murder. When the Dean ends up dead in a manner that copies elements from Veronica's paper, she is seriously wigged.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Except Veronica breaks up with Logan because she doesn't want to deal with his enemies
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: In a rather gruesome scene in season 2 of Veronica Mars, Weevil has Logan kidnapped. Two PCH bikers proceed to play Russian Roulette with Logan's hands and knees until he tells them whether or not he killed Felix Toombs.
  • Jerkass: Logan, Dick Casablancas, Don Lamb - and pretty much every adult male in Neptune, especially when they are rich.
  • Jerk Jock:
    • Logan in his early appearances before Character Development hit in. Ostracizing Veronica, wrecking her car with a baseball bat, organizing bum fights...
    • The series notably averts this in one episode where a girl cheats on her football playing boyfriend with an artist. The "star athlete" turns out to be genuinely decent and caring, the artist... not so much.
    • Also averted by Wallace, the star basketball player who is, with the possible exception of Meg (Alpha Bitch aversion cheerleader popular girl who is the nicest person around), the best person in the entire series.
  • Jury Duty: Veronica is pretty upset that she has jury duty during her Christmas break. Once she's there though, a Rogue Juror votes guilty while Veronica and the rest want to acquit (inverting the usual formula. Veronica and the rest then sides with the rogue, thanks to Veronica's detective skills revealing the defendant's guilt in the episode "One Angry Veronica".
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Dick Cassablancas is responsible for Veronica's rape, as he encouraged his brother to rape Veronica, yet the characters don't seem to care and the writers seem to have forgotten about it.
    • In a second season episode, a lesbian cheerleader poses as a blackmailer preying on Neptune High's gay students with the end goal of outing her girlfriend, who wanted to stay in the closet. It goes off pretty much as planned, with no negative consequences for the cheerleader at all. It is implied that the cheerleader's girlfriend will be told, and not be happy about it.
  • Kill the Cutie: Initially Lilly Kane, the character who dies before the beginning of the first season, would count as an example, since she was a young attractive teenager who got her head smashed in with an ashtray, though she becomes arguably less of a 'cutie' during some of the later flashbacks as her innocence level drops.
  • Knee-capping: This was threatened when Logan was being tortured. His tormentors were playing Russian roulette with him, pulling the trigger after each "wrong" (i.e. not what they were looking for) answer given. After two "wrong" answers, they moved from his arms to his knees.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Intentionally done by Veronica. When one of the characters in the programme that Veronica hates tells her that they were dealing with some trouble, Veronica says, "Trouble with a capital "T", that rhymes with "C", that stands for..." When her father objects she replies, "What? I was going to say "cute."
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Veronica and Duncan are discussing Logan sleeping with an older woman.
    Duncan: She's the same age as us.
    Veronica: She's 25. (About the same age that Kristen and Teddy were at the time.)
  • Let Them Die Happy - Veronica does this to Abel Koontz.
  • Lie Back and Think of England:
    • V suggests this as a way for Mac to get through prom with her goober of a date.
    • Mac is excited/nervous about getting a hotel room after prom; Veronica says this jokingly to calm her down.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Mac and Beaver. At the time, it was a Woobie moment for Beaver, since the scene strongly suggested that Beaver was subconsciously cock blocked by his brother, Dick (who lived up to the pun). Let's just say when we find out the real reason, it's significantly less Woobie-ish.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Averted, where the titular heroine is a loner in season 1. Later seasons acknowledge the trope's effect, however, as Veronica sporadically feels guilty about the fact that she really operates better alone.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: The Veronica of flashbacks, when she was a fairly stereotypical high school girl, has long hair; present-day Veronica, having become a Guile Hero by way of Break the Cutie, favors a much shorter, more severe cut.
  • Lovable Rogue - Just about the entire cast - most notably Veronica, Logan and Weevil.
  • Love Hurts:
    • Veronica's first love Duncan dumps her without any explanation and then, after rekindling their relationship, leaves her to escape the country and the law with his child from another girl. She and her Second Love Logan hurt each other pretty equally and consistently throughout the show even as they try to make their relationship work. And all the other guys were pretty much rebound.
    • And then there is Mac, who takes a long time to get over Cassidy, who turned out to be a murderer and a rapist.
    • And Keith Mars, whose wife turned out to be a long-time cheater and later an alcoholic.
  • Love Makes You Crazy - Got an hour?
  • Luke, I Am Your Father:
    • Subverted when paternity tests confirm that Keith Mars is indeed Veronica's father, not her mother's highschool sweetheart Jake Kane.
    • And then played straight with Logan's adopted sister in an interesting way that somehow managed to avoid the usual cliché of the trope.
    • Also played straight at the end of the second season episode "Green-Eyed Monster" with Wallace and Nathan.
  • Luke, I Might Be Your Father: In the first season, Veronica has reason to suspect Jake Kane — the father of her ex-boyfriend Duncan, and former lover of her mother — might be her biological father. He isn't.
  • Ma'am Shock: Veronica is astonished when a young mugger she has just apprehended calls her 'lady.' Although her big dog may have had something to do with it.
  • The Mafia - Gangs gangs everywhere
  • Mail Order Bride: Subverted in an episode. A woman claiming to be a Russian emigrant looking for an ex-boyfriend she met through the Internet turns out to be a member of Russian mafia searching for a witness.
  • The Magic Poker Equation: At once subverted and played straight in "An Echolls Family Christmas", a first-season episode. In The Teaser, a Texas Hold'Em game is down to a climactic final hand. Logan's hand could go well any number of ways with the cards on the table, though he still technically has nothing, with only the river remaining. When it comes time to reveal hands, Weevil's hand...isn't so impressive. As Logan notes, given the number of cards left in the deck, he can win with over thirty of them. And as the river is played, Weevil beats him with a pair of twos.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: In the first season, episode 7, that the case of the week involves a pregnant woman fighting with her boyfriend, who isn't the father, makes Veronica think that maybe she's not her father's daughter. This latter point will be a continuing point in the first season.
  • Maybe Ever After: The show ended this way, with hints of possible feelings lingering between Veronica and Logan while she was dating Piz at the time. In this case, the lack of resolution might simply be a result of the series being canceled. The 2014 movie then reaffirmed their feelings for each other.
  • Meal Ticket: Kendall Casablancas, a young hot ex-professional cheerleader marries the elder Dick Casablancas, and when he flees the country to avoid prosecution for real estate fraud, she tries to make her casual sex relationship with her step-son's rich friend more of a sugar daddy thing, despite his being several years younger than herself. Didn't work.
  • Meaningful Echo: The pilot establishes that "Who's your daddy?" is Keith's (somewhat oddball) way of saying he has his daughter's back. This is repeated twice later on: first is part way through the first season when Veronica's paternity is in question, he reveals after a test that he is indeed her biological father, and again in the last episode of season one where he rescues his daughter from being burned alive by the season's villain.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Veronica Mars, whose name means "true image", which ties in with her being a Born Detective and having a pathological obsession with finding the truth (which often comes with taking a picture of it since she's a Private Detective).
    • Plus, the Mars family lives in Neptune, and Veronica drives a Saturn. A character makes the connection in an early season 3 episode.
    • Wallace means foreigner in Norman French—in the pilot episode of the series, Wallace is the new kid in town.
    • Dick Casablancas usually is a dick.
  • Media Watchdog: Many fans joke that the storm of double-entendres present in the dialogue simply overloaded the censors' filthometers and they gave up.
  • Missing Mom - A good part of the first season involved Veronica's quest to find her mother, as well as the emotional fallout from the abandonment.
  • Missing White Woman Syndrome: Brought up when Weevil mentions that shortly after the murder of Lilly Kane, a little girl from his neighborhood named Marisol Reyes disappeared, but she didn't warrant the same amount of media coverage or therapy sessions for the students. (Weevil was fogging the issue, not wanting to bring up his own affair with Lilly. At the same time, Lilly was the daughter of a minor celebrity. Also, Reyes simply disappeared, whereas Lilly was brutally murdered.) Notable because due to the nature of the show, the point of Weevil's tirade was ignored on the fanbase, who thought that the introduction of the Reyes case was going to be an important part of the Kane case. It wasn't. Also, this would have reflected badly on Keith Mars, since he would've been sheriff at that point.
  • Mistaken for Cheating - Happens a few time, both with clients' spouses and main characters. Notably, Veronica has trust/jealousy issues, especially in season 3.
  • Mock Guffin: In the second season episode "I Am God", Veronica is haunted by dreams of the bus crash (the season-long mystery she's trying to solve), and in particular of a drawing of a scythe hanging over nine tombstones, with the words "I Am God" written underneath. She thinks it's a key to how the bus crashed, but it turns out to just be an album cover for an indie rock band.
  • Mock Millionaire:
    • One episode introduces the richest kid in Neptune, who arrives to school in a limousine and lives in the biggest house in town. The twist ending is that he's the son of the butler, and thus is actually not rich.
    • There's also Richard Casablancas, who turns out to have been running a real estate con all this time. When his son hires Veronica to track Richard's gold digger wife, the con ends up being exposed, and Richard flees the country.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: "Mars, Bars". When we find Mac in bed with her boyfriend, the sheet covers him at the waist, though she has the sheet cinched tight clear up to her neck.
  • Monkeys on a Typewriter - Veronica references this when she realizes that she knows Curly Moran after all.
  • Monster Sob Story - Say you didn't feel even a little bad for Cassidy. Go ahead, say it.
  • Mood Dissonance: An episode does this beautifully - a major character is stabbed in the stomach by an ex-lover at a Christmas party while everyone is outside smiling, watching snow fall, and listening to a choir sing happy Christmas music. As described by Veronica: "Christmas in Neptune is, was, and always will be about the trappings - the lights and the tinsel they use to cover up the sordidness, the corruption."
  • Motive Rant - Used a lot in the show, by the bad guys to explain their actions.
  • The Movie: Long desired by its fans, it is the goal of a Kickstarter campaign brought forward by Rob, Kristen, and other castmembers.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Quite a bit; it is a CW show, after all. Examples include Logan, Duncan, Piz, and possibly Dick.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Kendall Casablancas. Although she may go fully into Hello, Nurse! territory, depending on your perspective.
  • Mutilation Interrogation: In a season 2 episode Veronica unwittingly ends up in the home den of the Fighting Fitzpatricks gang when she's investigating a corrupt plastic surgeon. When they find out who she is, their leader threatens that she better start talking, or she really will need a good plastic surgeon. Then he brings over a tattooing needle, and prepares to start carving up her face before Logan saves her.

    Tropes N-S 
  • Name of Cain: Duncan and Lilly and their parents, Jake and Celeste. It fits both Duncan (suspected of murdering his sibling) and Jake (due to his general moral dubiousness) particularly well. And it's the Kanes who set up Abel Koontz to take the fall for the murder; this Meaningful Name is lampshaded by an episode title.
  • Narrator: Veronica, natch.
  • Necro Cam: They use one of these sequences at the end of season one, where Veronica finally pieces together what actually happened. She presumably explains her theory to Duncan while the audience sees the footage of her idea being performed.
  • Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters: Weevil becomes one towards Veronica later in the series. He was the head of a local biker gang, but he often helped her out and had a particular disdain for the entitled upper class rich kids.
  • Never Found the Body - Lynn Echolls and Kendall Casablancas.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead - one of the Fitzpatricks mocks Keith in one episode for speaking ill of the late Sheriff Lamb.
  • Never Suicide:
    • Subverted with Logan's mother. It really was just a suicide. (Probably. They never did find the body.)
    • Played straight with Dean O'Dell, whose murder is an elaborate suicide set-up to eventually implicate his unfaithful wife and her lover.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: Aaron Echolls is an actor playing action heroes, and family men. In reality he's an abusive parent, philandering husband, and he murdered Lilly Kane.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
  • Noble Bigot: Logan Echolls is something of a racist, and very much a classist. He really hates poor people. And yet, he's also genuinely heroic at times, and we root for him, and we cheer when he falls in love with Veronica and they become a couple.
  • No Fourth Wall:
    • Creator Rob Thomas once put his own books prominently in the background of one scene, and in the series finale, a character quips "Rob Thomas is a whore" (see below)... although in the context of the scene he's referring to the lead singer for Matchbox 20.
    • A phone call from Clarence Wiedman to confirm the completion of an off-the-radar job is answered with "CW?" followed by Wiedman's reply of "It's a done deal." Just after the show was picked up by the new CW network following the merger of its former home, UPN.
  • No Holds Barred Beat Down: Aaron Echolls delivers an extensive one to his daughter's abusive boyfriend. to the tune of "That's Amore". It lasts long enough to go from being awesome to being uncomfortable to watch. As it should.
  • No Medication for Me: Duncan spends most of an episode avoiding taking his antidepressants. After jumping off a set of bleachers and injuring his head and then having an atypically vivid daydream, he ends up deciding that he's better off taking them after all. However, unlike many other examples, he actually consults a doctor regarding going off the medication.
  • Nominal Importance: Inverted. Almost all major and minor characters have first and last names that may be known by greater fans of the show. However, given that the large arcs of the show tended to included a large number of characters, this may not be surprising.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • In season two, when Cassidy pulled a prank on his brother Dick in revenge for Dick treating his brother like shit, Dick threatened revenge. However, Cassidy stops his vengeful evil older brother in his tracks when Cassidy reminds him of a mysterious "Sally" and what happened to her. This was ultimately clarified in an interview by Rob Thomas: Sally was a childhood pet that Dick had, who Cassidy killed in retaliation after Dick did something horrible towards him.
    • When Veronica calls Cliff for a favor in season two, both of them rattle off a few previous incidents where they helped each other out.
  • Not Blood Siblings: In season 1, Veronica finds out that her mother and the father of her ex-boyfriend Duncan Kane were High School Sweethearts who may have continued their relationship as an extra-marital affair... meaning that she and Duncan may or may not be half-siblings. This revelation leads her to pull her car over and puke on the side of the road. Luckily, the paternity test that her father has done proves that she and Duncan aren't related. A few months later, they resume their relationship. Though according to Word of God, Duncan was SUPPOSED to be Veronica's half-brother for real, but the network wouldn't let them put Actually-Blood-Siblings sex on the air. So it was originally meant to be a complete (and squicky) subversion of the trope.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Wallace to Veronica. Of course Executive Meddling said it would never happen. Weevil and Dick could also qualify as the same.
  • Not So Great Escape: Veronica often gets caught during her investigations, hiding once in the leg space of a desk and another time in a closet.
  • Not Too Dead to Save the Day: In the season two premiere, the ghost of Lilly Kane shows up to lead Veronica away from the doomed bus, saving her life.
  • Oh, Crap: Season 2 has one, when Keith tells Woody: "Most adults keep their hands off other people's children." Steven Guttenberg makes the BEST "Oh crap" face.
  • One Born Every Minute: Used, but instead of out-conning the conmen, V just steals their hard drives and holds them ransom for the cash they swindled her client out of, plus her fee for recovering it.
  • Only Friend: Logan and Dick serve as this for each other in season three. Veronica and Wallace are an example in early season one.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Israeli actress Alona Tal manages to hold an American accent for most scenes but in the scene where Duncan is dreaming about her, she clearly slips into an accent.
  • Opening Monologue - "I'm never getting married. You want an absolute? There it is." and so forth.
  • Opening Shout-Out: At the beginning of an episode, Veronica describes another girl with, "We used to be friends, a long time ago." This segues immediately into the opening credits, which begin with the Dandy Warhols singing, "A long time ago, we used to be friends ..."
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Veronica is a normal high school student...and a private eye.
  • Outside Inside Slur: Hispanic students who have predominantly white friends are called Coconuts: brown outside, white inside.
  • Pac-Man Fever - Season 1 episode 4 constitutes one of the most painful examples ever seen. Also includes Totally Radical.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Keith Mars, who previously gave off the impression of a Non-Action Guy, goes berserk when the first season's villain tries to burn Veronica alive. He even walks straight through the fire to save his daughter, spending several weeks in a hospital afterwards.
    • The domineering, abusive and murderous Aaron Echolls seems oblivious that his daughter is being beaten up by her boyfriend, even appearing interested in starring in a movie he wants to pitch. However, at the start of what looked to be a pleasant dinner he administers one of the most comprehensive beatdowns ever seen on TV, before calmly concluding "I've decided I'm not interested in appearing in your movie." It would appear that the same protectiveness doesn't apply to Logan, though.
  • Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality:
    • Mac describes herself as "frozen from the waist down" since a traumatic episode. She and her boyfriend had planned a special night to lose their virginity together. Just before the event, she takes a shower while he waits in bed for her. When she comes out of the shower, he is gone. It turns out that he is a serial killer and rapist, and he left to kill Veronica because she had figured out he was the culprit.
    • Mac's boyfriend Beaver wouldn't do anything more than hold hands anyway, because of his molestation as a child. However, she subsequently seems to get over this fairly easily, with little on-screen explanation.
  • Parental Betrayal: Aaron Echolls and to a much lesser extent Veronica's Mum who abandons Veronica twice and the second time she does it she takes Veronica's college fund for good measure.
  • Parental Hypocrisy: There must be a booming business in high school exposing the hypocrisies of parents for their children.
  • Parental Incest: In a case Veronica investigates, a young woman's disappearance. Turns out the first time she disappeared was because her father raped her. The second time was because her parents were coming to visit.
  • Parental Favoritism - All over the place:
    • "Lilly always said her parents adored Duncan and tolerated her. If she couldn't please them, she'd go out of her way to piss them off."
    • Aaron Echolls, who dotes on his daughter and beats his son. Made even worse by the fact that Trina refuses to believe Logan's claims of abuse and accuses him of lying in order to make their father look bad.
    • Dick Casablancas Sr. is pretty blatant about favoring his eldest - which ends badly.
  • Parents Know Their Children: Mac's birth mother, who immediately recognizes her on first sight despite only knowing that she is a girl, due to Mac accidentally being Switched at Birth.
  • Parents Walk In at the Worst Time: Aaron Echolls accidentally walks in on Logan and Veronica making out. He politely makes an excuse and leaves, and later, when Veronica has to hide from Logan's friends (their relationship is still a secret), even offers to drive Veronica home, and tells her he approves of her with Logan.
  • Parent with New Paramour - Twice with Keith Mars. The first is an attempted relationship with Veronica's guidance councelor, but he decides to call it off because Veronica is still coping with the loss of her mother after she abandoned them both. The second is with Wallace's mother, which lasts quite a bit longer. This one just weirds Veronica out for a while but she later warms to the idea when she sees how they're happy together.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish:
    • Subverted in the Veronica Mars episode "Like A Virgin". Veronica reports that her account's been hacked, and the system administrator gives her a spiel about password safety. Whereupon she reveals that her password was "GJ7B!X" (with possible variation in case).
    • Subverted again in "Mars vs. Mars." Keith changes the combination to his safe to something of personal significance, then leaves it in a location that would be highly visible to a trained PI. When trained PI Veronica finds all the password and opens the safe, it no longer contains files but instead an ink packet that explodes onto her.
  • Perpetual Poverty - Pretty much half of Neptune, as far as perpetuating the class warfare subplot of season two and three. Veronica and Keith also fit this trope during the first half of season one but do ultimately rise out of it later on.
  • Perp Walk:
    • This rarely involves an actual arrest, but the jerk of the week usually gets some kind of public shaming... that occasionally involves getting taped to a flagpole.
    • There is episode where Veronica herself is arrested by the sheriff in front of the school. "Gosh, I hope they use that photo in the yearbook" indeed.
  • Petite Pride: Veronica, natch.
    Troy: Flat? (referring to car tire)
    Veronica: Just as God made me.
  • Pet the Dog
    • Late in season one, Aaron acts like Lynn's death has changed him, starts trying to act like a kind father to Logan, and encourages Logan's relationship with Veronica as "good for him." It doesn't last.
    • In season two, when Sheriff Lamb finally believes Veronica about something, in this case the Mannings psychologically abusing their youngest daughter, Grace.
    • In season three, when Vinnie saves Veronica from a beatdown at the hands of the Fitzpatrick clan.
    • Late in season 3, when Dick finally shows some emotion over Cassidy's death.
  • Photo Booth Montage: In a first season episode, a girl manipulates her blackmailing, emotionally abusive boyfriend into doing this so that she and Veronica can doctor the photos to make it look like he is gay, and thus get him kicked out of the navy.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Notably averted; Weevil and his PCH bike club actively engage in biker gang activities, although they aren't as violent as real life gangs.
  • Pitbull Dates Puppy - Veronica dating Piz
  • Platonic Life Partners: Veronica and Wallace. They're best friends, confide in each other about (almost) everything, and spend an inordinate amount of time together. However, neither of them ever shows any romantic interest in the other and they both date other people.
  • Platonic Prostitution: Keith goes to see a prostitute, but to get her to provide an alibi for Abel Koontz that he was 'elsewhere' on the night of Lily Kane's murder.
  • Playing Drunk: Veronica walks into a poker game, picks up a half-empty bottle that the clearly inebriated Duncan has been drinking from all night, and drains it in a single gulp. It was iced tea, and he was faking drunkenness as part of his poker strategy.
  • Please Wake Up: Duncan's parents found him cradling his sister's body. They thought he had killed her, but he'd found her and was begging her to wake up.
  • Police Are Useless - That is, unless said police officer is Keith Mars.
  • Porn Names: An escort site had, among their employees, a lady named "Bambi Gasm".
    Mac: (in posh accent) Of the Boston Gasms?
    Cassidy: One would hope.
  • Posthumous Character: Lilly Kane, the rich teenage girl whose murder starts the main Myth Arc of season 1, is already dead by the first episode and only seen through flashbacks afterwards.
  • Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy: It wasn't an intentional scam, but the apparent appearance of Logan Echolls' dead mother turning out to be his sister using her credit cards had much the same effect.
  • Previously On: They used these to good effect—usually the Previouslys would help with something that had emotional pay-off that episode instead of making it blatantly obvious what clue in the A Plot was going to be revealed next.
  • Prince Charming: Played straight in "Ain't No Magic Mountain High Enough", where Logan meets Hannah who he says is "like the hot daughter of a king he marries off to get like Denmark or something."
  • Private Detective: Both Veronica and her father. Usually working the same case, sometimes just parallel versions.
  • Private Eye Monologue - Starts the whole series, and Veronica usually narrates.
  • Privileged Rival: Most of the villains are villainous because they have the money to bribe, cheat, and scam their way through the court system which effectively kneecaps the only thing Veronica can do (sleuth, get evidence, get them in court).
  • Product Placement - A good deal of it, and more and more in season 3—the final episode parodied this with the "Rob Thomas is a whore" comment.
  • Professional Sex Ed: In the third season, a boy meets a cute girl at a convention and has his first sexual experience with her. Later, it turns out she was hired by his friends.
  • Profiling: A character accused of stealing because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time is described as having been "lurking" in the area. "Lurking? You mean, 'standing while black'?"
  • Prom Baby - Trina is revealed to have been a Prom Baby in season 2.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles - Many in season 3, although ironically most of them didn't get a bigger part for it. Also, Dick and Beaver in season 2.
  • Punny Name
    • Tim Foyle
    • Gil T. Pardy
    • Carrie Bishop and Susan Knight, who feature most prominently in the episode that also involves Mr. Rooks.
    • Veronica MARS lives in NEPTUNE. From season 3:
      Piz: Well, a Saturn for a Mars.
      Veronica: In Neptune, yeah, the planets really aligned for this one. Now, move Uranus
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Cassidy Casablancas. He doesn't even really try and use them, but he just always looks like that.
  • Quick Nip: Subverted with a poker game where one of the players periodically takes a swig from a bottle of Jack Daniels he keeps with him. Later in the same episode, Veronica (a very small blonde teenager, and the ex-girlfriend of the player in question) grabs the bottle and takes a long draw, much to the shock of everybody present. She then remarks on his abysmally low alcohol tolerance, and explains that the bottle contains tea.
  • Rape and Switch: The victims of Woody Goodman. Of the 4 we know about, one was definitely gay, another was sexually "on the fence" (as another character put it), and one... well... it's subject to Alternate Character Interpretation, but there's definitely subtext. The fourth victim we know about (or was strongly implied) doesn't have his sexuality brought into the whole thing, but he was less important than the first 3.
  • Rape as Drama - Most of the time it's used.
  • The Rashomon - Used in "A Trip to the Dentist" to explain the story of how Veronica was raped.
  • Real After All: It is clear that our titular heroine's dreams and conversations with her dead friend Lilly are happening in her head, and after Lilly's murder is solved they stop. However the second season episode 'Normal is the Watchword' has Lilly briefly appear and save Veronica's live by distracting her at a key moment - the implication being that her (Lilly's) ghost intervened directly.
  • Really Gets Around - Lily was like this. Also, Parker (for a while). Aaron Echolls slept with (at least) three guests at their previous Halloween party (and possibly one serving girl he simply forgot about) at a party his wife attended!
  • Real Song Theme Tune - "We Used To Be Friends" by the Dandy Warhols. A slower, Darker and Edgier version replaced it in season three.
  • Reality Ensues - The series finale, where Veronica learns the hard way that her actions had very real consequences.
  • Rearrange the Song: The series used The Dandy Warhol's "We Used to Be Friends" for its theme. The third season, which moved from high school to college, switched to a dramatically different remix of the song - it was much slower and more electronic than indie rock. Allegedly, it was meant to have more of a noir feel to it.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Veronica gets one at Duncan with just one sentence: "You. Stand. Idly. By." On the surface, she's just saying that while he may not have been behind that mudslinging campaign against his principal opponent in the race for student council president, he allowed it to happen, but the subtext is that she's really letting him have it for standing by and doing nothing while all his friends trashed her reputation.
  • Record Needle Scratch: Played straight when Veronica is listening patiently to her dad saying that he met someone and hoping that she's ok with it... until he drops that it's her best friend Wallace's mom. Cue record scratch.
  • Red Herring: Par for the course for a detective show. Veronica always has to run down one or two false leads. Taken Up to Eleven in the second season, in which she has to investigate every single victim of the bus crash in order to find out who was really behind it.
  • Red Herring Twist
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • The Casablancas brothers: Dick is stupid, impulsive, never thinks things through, loud, and sex-obsessed. Beaver is intelligent, quiet, reserved, manipulative, secretive, and completely ruthless.
    • Logan and Duncan. Duncan (blue) is reserved and somewhat emotionally restricted, whereas Logan (red) is pretty much the dictionary definition of Hot-Blooded.
    • And, in flashbacks, Lilly and Veronica. Lilly was the brash, wild one (red), whereas Veronica was sweet and demure (blue) before (things changed).
  • Relative Error: In the last season, Mac's newly introduced animal-rights-activist love interest turned out to have a female housemate, who triggered this trope.
  • Religious Stereotype: Played with when one of Veronica's investigations involves the conservative preacher father of a friend. The preacher's assistant fits the fundie stereotype to a T as well as being the villain of the episode. On the other hand the friend's father turns out to be both honest and compassionate.
  • Reminiscing About Your Victims: Parodied and subverted.
    Veronica: I once shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.
    Dean: Oh, how'd that go?
    Veronica: ...It was kind of a let down.
  • Removed from the Picture - One boy's presumably dead dad got this treatment from his wife. Turns out he changed his gender.
  • Rescue Romance: Played with in "Silence of the Lamb"; Leo, a rookie deputy at the police department, actually rescues Keith, Veronica's father, from the Monster of the Week, but Veronica becomes smitten nonetheless.
  • Revenge: Veronica is a revenge addict. When she starts to run short on targets for personal revenge she looks for other people to get revenge for.
  • Riding into the Sunset: A symbolic variation. Veronica walks away into the rain, signifiying the consequences of the series finale being rather crappy (her Dad's facing charges that could land him serious jail time for protecting her, and their primary opponent for her Dad's old job as Sheriff is a corrupt puppet of the mafia). As the camera pans out, we get the impression that Veronica is upset not only because she inadvertently got her Dad in trouble, but because she knows she'll never change her ways.
  • Right Behind Me: Subverted. The title character is asked about the hated Celeste Kane, and sarcastically describes her as a paragon of humanity. Meanwhile Kane has appeared right behind her.
  • Right Through His Pants: "Kanes and Abel's" has an Imagine Spot like this — Veronica is imagining Jake Kane murdering Lilly after catching her in flagrante with Weevil, and when he pulls the two of them apart they're both wearing pants. Of course, this is justified by the fact that it is an Imagine Spot, and Veronica probably doesn't naturally imagine her friends naked...
  • Ripped from the Phone Book: Wallace's estranged father Nathan Woods rips out the page of a phone book while looking for Alicia Fennel's address.
  • "Risky Business" Dance: Appropriately enough, in "Russkie Business" (which also has an actor named "Tom Cruz").
  • Rogue Juror: Inverted in "One Angry Veronica", where Veronica is forewoman of a jury and one member is the single holdout for a guilty verdict. Over the course of the episode the jurors find additional information which does, in fact, point the finger at the defendants; eventually, there is only one holdout for innocence, who agrees to vote guilty because he's sure the defendants will get off on appeal.
  • Running Gag:
    • RATNERRRRRRRRR!
    • "Do you know a good lawyer?" "I know a lawyer..."
    • "IS IT A PONY?!?"
    • UNICORNS!
    • People getting taped to the flagpole.
    • Wallace and hacky sack. "It's a white man's sport!"
    • Favors, generally requested from or by Veronica and lampshaded increasingly heavily over the course of the series.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Veronica uses this every so often on her dad. She has a tendency to give him this kind of answer even when she isn't actually doing anything shady (e.g., answering "How was your date?" with "Lousy conversation, but the sex was fantastic!" when the most that happened was a peck on the cheek), which makes it work better.
    • One example:
      Keith: What are you doing tonight?
      Veronica: I'll be meeting two hookers at my boyfriend's place.
    • And in a later episode, when she answers the phone.
      Veronica: If you're wondering what I'm doing at this time of night, I'm hanging outside a convenience store, eating corn nuts and watching strippers.
  • School Newspaper News Hound: Veronica was on her high school newspaper staff as a photographer, and later did some actual journalizing herself. The school's television news program was a common sight. (This is not as unbelievable as it sounds; it's the only public school in a county filled with people who would be paying large metric buttloads of property and other taxes.) In college, she joined the newspaper, but didn't stay; the paper was hip-deep in the factionalization of the campus, and Veronica wanted no part.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Practically everyone on the show is guilty of some version of this. Veronica herself constantly exploits any and all connections she has in law enforcement. Usually justifiable, considering she lives in Neptune.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Pretty much the mindset of every 09er kid in Neptune (and their parents). It comes to a head in Season 2 and in the movie where class tensions reach their peak, enough that Keith wants Veronica to be anywhere any other than Neptune.
  • Second Love: Logan and Veronica for each other. Possibly, Alicia for Keith.
  • Second Year Protagonist: The series starts in Veronica's junior year, but When It All Began and many flashbacks are set in the previous year, while freshman year isn't mentioned much.
  • Self-Deprecation: Season 3 had quite a bit more Product Placement put in it by creator Rob Thomas than previous seasons. In the second-to-the-last episode ever, after two Product Placements in a row, this conversation happened:
    Mac: Hey, did anyone else hear there's gonna be a Matchbox 20 reunion show?
    Piz: So? Rob Thomas is a whore.
    Mac: Yeah.
  • Self-Induced Allergic Reaction - A suspect eats peanut butter cookies in order to trigger his nut allergy and escape from jail.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • Cervando, one of the victims of the bus crash, manages to have three different last names in various episodes where he's mentioned.
    • The date of Shelly Pomroy's party (where Veronica was raped) changes by several months when it's brought up in season 3.
    • In the series finale, Veronica hints to Jake Kane that she knows some deep, dark secret about his time at boarding school. Except he went to Neptune High, and the show even had a whole storyline about the Kanes and Marses' history there.
  • The Sheriff: As Neptune, California, is an unincorporated town, there is a Sheriff's Department for the county, not a police force. Keith Mars is the ex-sheriff, ousted for political reasons. He was replaced by Sheriff Lamb, who was pretty much just short of being a full-on manifestation of Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop. He's never shown taking bribes, but when a high school student reports that she's been raped, he laughs her out of his office.
  • Ship Tease - In 3x10, "Show Me The Monkey", the script ANVILS that Piz/Veronica will be moving further... cut to Veronica showing up at Logan's door. At which point, they have sex and tease the two getting back together before rebreaking the couple up and moving onto Piz and Veronica getting together.
  • Shirtless Scene - Weevil, Logan, Dick, Don Lamb, Cassidy...
  • Skinny Dipping: Veronica does this in the ending of season 1's "Wrath of Con" in memory of Lily.
  • Ship Tease: Played for laughs between Dick and Mac.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Sleuth Dates Cop: Veronica has a private detective/ex-sheriff father. She doesn't always need him to get cases, but she did learn most of her sleuthing skills from him. Through part of season 1, she really did date a cop, who made regular appearances even after they broke up.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The show can get almost Anvilicious in its views of doing what's "right" versus doing what's legal. Some examples:
    • It's okay to steal evidence from law enforcement to conduct your own investigation if you know the cops are a bunch of failures.
    • If your illegitimate child is at risk of falling into the custody of abusive people, you're better off fleeing the country with her without even giving a custody hearing a try.
  • Slow-Motion Pass-By: Veronica gets one in the second episode when she passes Weevil doing garbage pick-up as punishment for a crime he didn't commit.
  • Slut Shaming: Season 3's serial rapist arc. The worst perpetrators are the Straw Feminists.
  • Soapland Christmas: The episode "An Echolls Family Christmas" has a light-hearted A-plot involving stolen poker winnings, but the B-plot see Keith investigating death threats against Aaron Echolls. They turn out to be genuine, and he's stabbed by a spurned lover at his family's Christmas party - he survives, but the fallout and scandal breaks up his marriage and drives his wife Lynn to suicide two episodes later.
  • Society-on-Edge Episode: The second-season premiere largely features the townspeople losing their senses after a long string of privileged rich people get away with crimes they obviously committed. Later, Veronica and Logan (one of the aforementioned rich people) narrowly dodge a drive-by shooting—violence which the series typically avoided until the first season's finale.
  • So Happy Together:
    • In "You Think You Know Somebody", Troy and Veronica serenely hold hands and walk down the hall right before he turns out to be a drug dealer who never told her about his shady past.
    • In "Ain't No Magic Mountain High Enough", Mac and Beaver are totally cute the entire episode. The season ends with Beaver being a sociopathic molestee who may or may not have used Mac as The Beard.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • "That's Amore" playing while Aaron Echolls beats the ever-loving crap out of his daughter's abusive boyfriend. Made even darker when you consider that Aaron murdered his son's girlfriend, who he had been having an affair with on the downlow and that said beating scene was Rob Thomas's way of laying the groundwork for Aaron being revealed as the murderer as far as showing him being capable of beating someone nearly to death.
    • The music is in the scene itself, but in episode 1x10, "An Echolls Family Christmas", Christmas carolers were singing while Aaron Echolls was getting stabbed with an ice pick. (It always seems to involve Aaron, doesn't it?).
  • Spirit Advisor: Lily Kane first appears to tell her brother that her murder isn't solved. She later appears and distracts Veronica from getting on a bus with a bomb on it that ended up crashing and killing everyone on board.
  • Spiritual Successor: It's basically Buffy the Vampire Slayer set in a film noir world.
  • Spoiler Opening: Averted in the second season, where Duncan's brief cameo in the season finale, where it's revealed that he ordered the execution of Aaron Echolls, was a surprise largely because he hadn't been removed from the opening credits after he was written out. As if to make up for this, in the third season finale the reveal that Jake Kane is the head of The Castle (Neptune's secret society) is undercut by having Kyle Secor listed as a Special Guest Star at the start of the episode.
  • Standard Cop Backstory:
    • It is hinted at that Sheriff Lamb suffered some child abuse. Very little else about his background is given, but he does seem to spend a lot of time in the office.
    • Veronica herself fits a few of those points too: her backstory include losing her best friend to murder, having been raped, and her mother abruptly leaving.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers:
    • Logan and Veronica. They try it out several times, but each time circumstances contrive to keep them apart, usually their clashing personalities and Logan's self-destructive behavior. This is subverted by the 2014 movie, however.
    • Duncan and Veronica are the best example since not only can they never be together, they can't even so much as contact each other without the risk of spending the rest of their lives in prison. Veronica herself lampshades this
      Veronica:True Love Stories Never Have Endings
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Rashard and Keith both insist on the term 'special lady friend.'
  • Straw Feminist - Lilith House doesn't care who actually is doing the raping, they just want to pin it on the Pi Sig fraternity so they can shut it down. They even have a member falsely claim to be sexually assaulted to further this agenda. How's that for commitment?
  • Story Arc - Several storylines spanned the whole of a season, while others took up large chunks of one
  • Strange Bedfellows - In season two, Veronica has to team up with Clarence Wiedman.
  • The Summation
  • Summation Gathering: A variant in "An Echolls Family Christmas": Veronica figured out who stole the game pot from the poker game, and suggests that they all show up for another game, and whoever is revealed to have stolen it will be kicked out and will have effectively bought her into the game.
  • Surprise Incest: Duncan Kane broke up with Veronica because his mother told him she was his half-sister. After the first season finale revealed Veronica and Duncan weren't related, they got back together (until Duncan got Put on a Bus).
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Subjective; it was widely rumored that Piz was created to fill the void with the loss of Duncan (who was written out when the creator decided to shift away from the original love triangle and give Veronica more options).
  • Switched at Birth - Mac and Madison. This leads to a Tear Jerker when Mac meets her blood sister and mother at Madison's.

    Tropes T-Z 
  • Tap on the Head: In the first season finale, several people get rather badly knocked about. Keith, after a knock-down drag out with Lily's killer and a bad encounter with a fire, ends up in the hospital, as does the killer (who also gets hit by a delivery truck and attacked by a pit bull). Meanwhile, Veronica was knocked out by a car wreck and beaten unconscious by the killer but the doctor just sends her home for some restnote .
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Veronica defends one of her favorite teachers against a claim of this. She goes through the girl's diary, and checks the dates, and so gets him off. She then finds out that it was all true, and that the girl who said she was his lover was really a friend of the actual girl, and she did get pregnant and so wasn't in school. Veronica then got him fired.
  • Techno Wizard - Mac; also uses a Magical Computer.
  • Telegraph Gag STOP: There’s a blackly humorous one of these in the episode "Lord of the Bling"; at Lynn Echolls' funeral, Aaron asks Logan if he's heard from his half-sister Trina:
    Logan: She sent a telegram. "Heartbroken. Stop. Can't make it back from Sydney. Stop. Underwater scene shoot tomorrow. Stop. Entire crew said prayer for Mom. Stop. Love you. Stop."
    Aaron: Logan...
    Logan: Stop?
  • 10-Minute Retirement - In "Normal Is The Watchword" (the season two premiere) Veronica claims to have given up investigating after catching Lilly's killer, only to pick it right back up as soon as she finds out Wallace is involved in the problem she was previously refusing to solve.
  • That One Case: For both Keith and Veronica, the Lily Kane murder.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: Wallace asks Veronica how she knew the daughter of a record producer. She replies, "We used to be friends...a long time ago." Cue theme song that starts with the line "A long time ago, we used to be friends."
  • This Song Goes Out To TV Tropes:
    • In "Clash of the Tritons", Veronica dedicates her karaoke version of "One Way or Another" to a secret society she’s trying to catch.
    Veronica: This song goes out to my friends in the Tritons.
    • Subverted when a little girl who is dying to see Logan get back together with Veronica calls a radio station and asks Nick Lachey's "What's Left of Me" to be dedicated to her, from him. Funny, of course, because neither him nor her are exactly the romantic type... and yet this cheesy song somehow rings true.
  • Those Two Guys: Dick and Beaver but only in Season 1.
  • To Make a Long Story Short: An episode had Wallace happily taking his sweet time, now that he got to tell the story about how he weaselled information out of somebody, getting to the point. After which he summed up with, "To make a long story short..." to which Veronica replied "Ha!"
  • Too Much Information: In the first season episode "The Wrath of Con", a flashback shows Veronica, Duncan, Lily and Logan playing "I Never". Duncan says, "I've never seen my parents have sex." Lily has, she drinks, and begins to describe it in detail; Duncan, her brother, can't handle this, covers his ears and face and pleads for Lily to stop.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Logan Echolls became a grade-a jackass in between the prologue and the pilot episode. He, Duncan Kane, Veronica and his girlfriend Lilly Kane all used to be friends. After Lilly was mysteriously murdered Logan turned on Veronica when her dad, sheriff Keith Mars, publically accused Lilly's father. He started hating Veronica with a passion and is even partly responsible for Veronica getting roofied and raped at a party, while being an openly elitist prick and doing such things like organizing bum fights for kicks. Even his best friend Duncan eventually starts to get sick of it. Veronica lampshades it by calling him a "psychotic jackass" in the pilot, but it's later revealed that Logan is lashing out due to severe physical abuse from his father Aaron. Over time he becomes a Jerk with a Heart of Gold instead.
  • Torture for Fun and Information: Aaron Echolls is introduced, in his very first episode, beating his son with a belt, and is eventually revealed to be the killer of Lilly Kane, so you don't want to admire anything about him. But in "Hot Dogs", we find out that Trina, Aaron's daughter, is being abused by her boyfriend. In a scene that has quite a bit of Fridge Horror to it, but is undeniably kind of hilarious, Aaron kicks the daylights out of the kid, singing along with the tune of "That's Amore".
  • Tracking Device: Used over and over again in order to track and find nearly anybody.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: How Jackie's father is blackmailed into working security for a morally ambiguous casino owner.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Veronica’s backstory. A few months before the show started, Veronica's boyfriend broke up with her for no reason. Then her best friend was brutally murdered. Then her dad got fired from his job as sheriff, and the related events made her a social pariah in school. Then her mom abandoned her without warning. Then she was drugged and raped at a party, and the new sheriff refused to even investigate. The end result is that she turns her from a popular, fun-loving high schooler to a jaded misanthrope Kid Detective with no respect for authority.
  • Traumatic Haircut
  • Trivially Obvious: It's a Running Gag that when anyone asks a Neptune resident if they know a good lawyer, the response is always, "I know a lawyer."
  • Troubled Abuser:
    • Aaron Echolls, who abuses his son. We learn later that his father was also an abusive alcoholic who beat his mother in front of him and put out cigarettes in his hands.
    • The abused child in question, Logan Echolls torments Veronica, provides the drugs that are used in her rape, and arranges such deranged activities as "bum fights." Despite being one of her biggest tormenters, he eventually became Veronica's boyfriend. He became woobified, as large portions of the audience chose to excuse his actions on the basis of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Logan, Weevil, Veronica...
  • Truth-Telling Session - A flashback makes it clear: never play "I Never" with friends, unless you want it to turn into one of these. With booze.
  • Turns Red - The season one final fight between Keith Mars and Aaron Echolls qualifies this.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Keith Mars when he regains the position of sheriff. While generally a good guy, his response to underage drinking was way out of proportion to the actual problem. The deputies subsequently make no effort to enforce the law in this regard and pointedly ignore Keith's orders.
  • The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: A scene in season one has Abel Koontz, Lily Kane's supposed murderer who's now a death row inmate, taunt Veronica by asking if she really thinks she's the daughter of the schlubby sheriff. It turns out that she is.
  • Unbreakable Weapons - You'd think, given her reliance on it, Veronica might have run out of charge for her taser at least once. Though it did get taken from her at least twice.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: "Weapons of Class Destruction" involved a suspected plot to bomb the school. One of the prime suspects turned out to be an undercover ATF agentnote  who was hoping to draw out the real bomber by making himself out to be a kindred spirit.
  • Undercover as Lovers: Veronica did this to Logan at the Neptune Grand once to look for his mother.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Jake Kane. The Mars family catches the real killer of his daughter Lilly, but he procedes to ruin their live in the Season 3 finale.
  • Unscrupulous Hero: Veronica’s intent is always to catch the bad guy, but her methods can range from manipulating an officer in order to steal evidence or eavesdropping on therapy sessions. Her motivation is almost always revenge rather than justice. She certainly enjoys her Kick the Dog moments, but her targets are always REALLY terrible people so the audience doesn't flinch too much.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee - Season 2. Pick an episode.
  • Uranus Is Showing: From the episode "Welcome Wagon":
    Piz: [referring to Veronica's new car] A Saturn for a Mars.
    Veronica: In Neptune! Yeah, the planets really aligned for this one. Now move Uranus, the Mercury's rising.
  • Valley Girl - Gia, Madison, Hallie.
  • The Vamp - Where to start, where to start...
  • Vertigo Effect: The last episode of season 2, when Veronica figures out exactly what's going on.
  • Very Special Episode - The Season 3 episode that centered around a former child soldier from Africa meeting his long-lost father. The episode was intended to raise awareness of the existence of child soldiers and Invisible Children, an activist organization whose cause is to free and help them.
  • Vigilante Execution - Clarence Wiedman murders Aaron after his acquittal.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: In order to avoid spoiling anything, suffice it to say there are several of these, although some turn out to be red herrings and not true villains at all.
  • Virgin Vision: When Veronica comes back from sleeping with Duncan, Keith looks closely at her and says that she seems different.
  • Viva Las Vegas: In the third season, Dick Casablancas goes on a date with a girl. They end up in Vegas. Then they get married. Dick is a tool.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot:
    • When Veronica finds out that Jake Kane may be her father, which means that her ex-boyfriend Duncan may be her half-brother.
    • When Veronica finds out that Cassidy is a murderer... and Mac is with him.
    • Veronica also uses this trope to her own benefit by pretending to throw up to keep a possible rapist at a distance.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World
  • The Watson: Wallace Fennel is the Watson to Veronica, especially at the start of season 1, since he is new to Neptune.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Ms. Dent disappeared without explanation eight episodes into the first season due to budget constraints (and the fact that her character didn't really have much to do). Her exit is explained as maternity leave in a throwaway line a few episodes later.
  • We Used to Be Friends: The series used "We Used to Be Friends" as its Real Song Theme Tune, and it shows: as we learn in the first episode, following the murder of her best friend Lilly, Veronica's boyfriend ignores her (actually, that happened a couple of days prior), her former friends turn against her, and she gets roofied and raped. Thus begins her descent into Film Noir.
  • Wham Episode - "A Trip To The Dentist", "Not Pictured", "Mars, Bars."
  • Wham Shot:
    • From "Not Pictured" Not Pictured: Cassidy Casablancas
    • In the Season 2 premiere, Veronica walks into work and is told her boyfriend is there the camera pans to reveal...Duncan.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: A non-humorous example: The first episode has Veronica waking up from a party in bed without her underwear after being roofied at a party. It takes until the end of the season (and more than a year of in-show chronology) until she figures out exactl what happened that night.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A few rather serious points are just... left there. Perhaps the writers were thinking they'd have time to get around to them, but some never even get mentioned again, when they really should have. No one cares about the murder of Aaron Echolls? Why the hell didn't the FBI charge Veronica as an accomplice to kidnapping? What about the murder of Kendall Casablancas?
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Veronica gets this a lot. Most notably in season two: Veronica Mars finally gets the goods to destroy her mortal enemy Donald Lamb and help get her father elected sheriff once again, after obtaining an audio recording that has him extorting a bribe from a retired baseball player, who threw a playoff game to pay off his gambling debts. One problem: Wallace is dating the baseball player's daughter and the revelation would destroy her reputation at school. On top of this, Wallace has just discovered that his mother has been lying to him all of his life about his father being dead, when his father finally shows back up in Neptune to visit the son his ex kept him from seeing. But Veronica is too busy to lend a sympathetic ear to Wallace, as she's too concerned with finding the proper venue to play the audio recording for maximum damage. This causes Wallace to lose his trademark cool and verbally ream Veronica out over how distracted by revenge she has become and worse, how she doesn't care that her scheme will ruin the life of Wallace's girlfriend.
    • Veronica gives this to Keith when he sleeps with a married woman and then proceeds to hand out every excuse they've heard from their marks.
  • When Life Gives You Lemons: From the episode "Look Who's Stalking":
    Veronica: So my Grandma Reynolds was always saying, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade." I wish she was still alive because I'd really like to ask what she suggests for when life gives you chlamydia.
  • Wild Card Excuse: "It's a project for health class" seems to be Veronica's go to excuse to slip all kinds of stuff past her dad.
  • Window Love: Mac and her biological mother in "Silence of the Lamb".
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Veronica is a private eye who not only makes a number of references that should really be beyond her range, but also regularly outsmarts many adult characters over the course of the show despite being a teenager. There is also the matter of her emotional duress which has granted her a cynicism more typical of a divorced adult.
  • Witness Protection - In one episode, Keith gets hired to find someone who turns out to be a protected witness.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Cassidy Casablancas was molested, belitted, picked on by his family, and abandoned by his mother. It causes him to go crazy and a blow up a Bus Full of Innocents.
  • Working the Same Case: The show has a habit of cleverly combining Veronica and her dad's cases, sometimes pulling dismissed plot threads into one cohesive reveal of the season's Big Mystery.
  • Working with the Ex - Or at least going to school with him. Or them.
  • World's Smallest Violin: In "Not Pictured", the season 2 finale, Vinnie Van Lowe, in jail for trying to rob the mayor's house, offers Keith a 60/40 split on reward money. When Keith responds that it should be 50/50, Vinnie whines that he's the one in jail, and Keith does this to him:
    Vinnie: I risk my life to bring a fugitive to justice and you're giving me world's tiniest violin.
    Keith: Guess I'm just heartless.
  • Worst Whatever Ever: "Worst. Easter Egg Hunt. Ever."
  • Would Hit a Girl: Most of the bad guys on the show are not afraid to raise a hand to a woman. That's how you know they're bad guys.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Logan Echolls finds out that his late mother's trust fund is running low unexpectedly. He's told that it's going to run out in fourteen months at this rate, but it turns out that it's only losing ten thousand dollars a month more than expected. The idea that his losing one-hundred and forty thousand dollars means he'll be broke in a little over a year doesn't mesh well with his continuing stereotypical rich-kid lifestyle nor the subtext suggesting that he noticed the missing money because he's actually being financially responsible.
  • You Answered Your Own Question: Veronica herself in "Clash of the Tritons":
    Veronica: Who framed me?
    Rick: They're called the Tritons. It's a secret society at school.
    Veronica: Why haven't I heard of them? *beat* Stupid question.
  • You Know What You Did: Subverted when Alpha Bitch Madison Sinclair claims that she and Logan had had sex. True to trope, Veronica believed this unquestioningly, and confronted Logan about it. They had.
  • You Look Familiar - the same person played Lucky in season 2, and Tim Foyle in season 3.
  • Your Cheating Heart - A lot of examples. Aaron Echolls, Lianne Mars, Jake Kane, Kendall Casablancas plus many clients' spouses. Notably averted with Logan while he's dating Veronica, even if she's constantly jealous of him.
  • Your Favorite: Subverted. Logan's "loving" father Aaron makes him a birthday dinner of his favorite food. Except it is his sister's favorite and Logan is deathly allergic to it. Aaron responds by getting mad at Logan for not appreciating his efforts.