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YMMV: Cold Case
  • Acceptable Professional Targets: Gym teachers appear on this show as creepy perverts and rapists with a strange regularity.
    • Reception of regular teachers is also split down the middle. Some are decent and helpful while others are total jerkasses.
    • Social workers are portrayed as unprofessionals who aren't afraid to break the law for their own gain or power.
    • A notable aversion occurs in "It's Raining Men" where one of the side characters is a right-wing news reporter who turns out to be closeted. As Cold Case is a left-leaning show you'd expect him to be vilified, but he's portrayed as a perfectly reasonable guy and even hands over some essential evidence with minimal fuss. The worst it gets is another character calling him "crazy," which he responds to with a good-natured chuckle.
  • Acceptable Targets: If an episode even features a Black person, it will involve racism, drugs or basketball, if not a combination of two or more of these elements. Played up to eleven with Det Jeffries regarding racism, especially from suspects. Poor Will can't even get a break from minority suspects, who frequently accuse him of "selling out" by becoming a cop; if anything, this actually cheeses him off more than outright racism.
    • Played with in "Colors." The episode is a Jackie Robinson Story with the victim as an expy of the Jackie Robinson, there are at least two suspects with believable race-related reasons to want the guy dead, and even the episode's title suggests race as a major theme. Obvious motive, right? Nope. It was the victim's white-but-not-racist-at-all best friend, who simply didn't want him to quit the team.
    • Women as well, usually as the older the episode the crime is set in. Lilly is often an acceptable target, for obvious reasons. One episode which featured a missing and ultimately found dead female veteran suffering from PTSD had another (male) vet angrily tell her that she should have stayed in the kitchen. Said vet was later not surprised to find that something bad had occurred to her. "Ugly" women in particular are considered acceptable targets, even if they aren't the Victim of the Week.
    • Christians as well, surprisingly, as some episodes portray them rather poorly (Churchgoing People, That Woman, etc.)
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: The killer in "The Hen House" can be seen as either an attempted Atoner tragically pushed back into doing evil again, or simply a murdering, identity-stealing, Nazi scuzzball through-and-through.
  • Anvilicious: In "That Woman", we learn the important lesson that suggesting a group of teenagers exercise self-control will turn them all into heartless killers.
  • Complete Monster: See CSI Verse.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The episodes "Wishing", "Kensington", "Family", "Baby Blues", "Spiders" and "The Dealer" (to name a few) are examples where the it's only the victim and usually one other person are the only sympathetic characters among a cast of monsters and jerkasses.
  • Designated Hero: Audrey Metz in "World's End," who is portrayed as a liberated woman ahead of her time for... cheating on her husband.
    • Scotty Valens, namely in Shattered.
    • Nick Vera, too.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The mall shooters in Rampage are disturbingly popular.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Lilly and Scotty, who had a clear Unresolved Sexual Tension in the early seasons (even lampshaded by John Smith, who bluntly asks Scotty, "You get a piece of that? Bet you think about it from time to time.") Lilly and Stillman also have their fans, as do Kat and Vera.
  • Genius Bonus: Episode S 4 E 23 episode is titled "The Good Death", which deals with the premature death of a terminally ill man who was later discovered to be mercy killed by his wife, through an act of euthanasia. The term "Euthanasia" originated from the Greek term that means "good death."
  • Harsher in Hindsight: "Late Returns" was based on the real-life murder of Chandra Levy, an intern to a Congressman whom she was also sleeping with. The public opinion of the time, as well as the episode, pointed the blame at the Congressman, and the scandal ruined his career. Several years after the episode aired, the Congressman was found to be completely innocent.
    • In "The Plan", the closing montage shows that the military academy's swim teacher is now a woman. Presumably she was hired because it's been revealed that the last teacher, a man, was a pedophile, but the recent rash of teacher/student sex cases means it isn't really any less likely that she isn't one herself.
      • Not to mention the show acknowledges female pedophiles exist, with the season 4 episode "Blackout".
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Anytime Biggie says the word "Management" in the episode Metamorphosis is hysterical if you've seen Carnivāle (where Michael J. Anderson plays virtually the same role and Management is a sinister figure).
  • Hollywood Homely: The main victim, Martha, in "Lonely Hearts." We're repeatedly told that she's extremely unattractive and has no chance with men, and even the detectives, in a surprising display of insensitivity, comment that her traditionally-handsome boyfriend "must've had some kind of fetish." In reality, while she's somewhat overweight and by no means supermodel-gorgeous, she comes across as an adorable Manic Pixie Dream Girl type apart from being an accomplice to a Serial Killer, that is and in the scene she first meets her lover she has a flower in her hair and is fairly pretty.
    • Also the victim's daughter and murderer in "Blackout," who is continually put down as "plain" by her drop-dead-gorgeous mother. This is what the actress looks like when not made up to look frumpy.
    • Brown hair and drab clothes are apparently enough to make the killer in "The Crossing" the dowdy, matronly alternative to the glamorous, willowy, red-headed victim, even though they're about the same age.
    • The (innocent) frenemy of the victim in "Factory Girls", depicted as pitifully jealous of her popularity at their workplace, as well as her happy marriage, to the point where she blatantly tries to interfere in the relationship by making herself look like the better option. All because she's considered an Old Maid at only 22 (by the standards of when the episode is set) and regarded as a Plain Jane when she is clearly no less attractive than any of the other women seen throughout the episode.
    • The victim in "sleepover, is considered unattractive and nerdy by the other girls who consider her unpopular, in reality, she's adorkable, and quite cute.
  • Ho Yay: The show has many acknowledged gay couples but "One Night" has an ambiguous relationship between Justin (who was almost a victim) and his friend Valentino that is often interpreted as this.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Alpha Bitch Brandi in "The Sleepover." Is it any wonder that she's a bully with parents like that? Her brother Neil, who committed the secondary murder in the episode, is a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • Magnificent Bitch: Caroline Hargreave from "The Runaway Bunny," to the point of being the only non-sympathetic villain in the show to win.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Alessandro from "Sabotage" is initially very sympathetic, for a Serial Killer... until it's revealed who he sent his final bomb to: his preteen niece, as he wanted his brother, whom he viewed as responsible for the Trauma Conga Line he had endured, to know the pain of losing a child as he had.
    • In "Jurisprudence," Doherty having Kat transferred, simply as Revenge by Proxy to spite Stillman.
  • Narm: In Andy in C Minor the tension between deaf and hearing people is about as bad as 1960s racial tension, complete with everyone trying to pull apart two lovers because they belong to different worlds, and the victim having been killed because he wanted to get a cochlear implant.
    • It's hard to take the end montage of "Dead Heat" seriously when some of the people would flash back to them wearing those ridiculous jockey uniforms.
    • The hurricane of poker puns exchanged between the victim and his mercy-killer in "The River" causes his death scene to lose a bit of its bite.
    • The victim's utter devotion to disco in "Disco Inferno," to the point where he throws away a dental scholarship to be a professional dancer, in light of what eventually happened to that fad.
    • Any episode where moderately old people try and fail to act REALLY old, for instance, "Family 8108."
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize:
    • In "The Sleepover" Daveigh Chase did it, in "World's End" Ralph Waite did it, in "The Hen House" Peter Graves did it., in "Red Glare" Orson Bean did it, in "Free Love" Dale Dye did it, and in "Creatures of the Night" it's not even a spoiler that Barry Bostwick did it.
      • In Knuckle Up, Robert Picardo did it, and he wasn't even considered a suspect.
    • Ronny Cox appears as the victim's husband in "Slipping." He's just as evil here.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • A pre-fame Summer Glau and Mae Whitman among others have showed up as oneshot victims; Jennifer Lawrence appears as the present-day version of a teenage girl in another episode. TJ Thyne appears as the Asshole Victim's gay lover in as Season 1 episode two years before gaining fame as Dr. Jack Hodgins in Bones. Shailene Woodley makes an appearance in a Season 5 episode as a sister of a Amish murder victim. Kim Coates plays against type in a season five episode.
    • "Jackals" features a pre-Mike Ehrmantraut Jonathan Banks as John Clark, leader of a brutal biker gang. Yeah, he did it, one of the few episodes where the prime suspect was in fact the culprit.
    • David Hiney of Wizards of Waverly Place appears in "Fireflies" as the doer.
  • Rewatch Bonus: This happens frequently as new evidence puts previous flashbacks in a new light.
    • In the opening sequence of Forever Blue, this is said about the Cowboy Cop victim:
    "Isn't is about time he got married?"
    "You gotta go on a second date for that."
    • In that context, it makes him sound like a womanizer. However, once you realize that he's gay, you realize that he never went on a second date, not because he couldn't be satisfied by only one woman but because he couldn't be satisfied by any woman. To make matters worse, he was also secretly in love with his partner who he saw all the time. He probably thought that if he kept going out with women, he could suppress his feelings.
    • There's also the fact that his partner's wife is very cold to him. One thinks it's because he's late, then that it's because that they've been having an affair and she's angry about his sleeping around. Another flashback reveals it's because she walked in on him and her husband kissing.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Frankie Rafferty.
    • Moe Kitchener also seems to have very few fans even for a villain, owing largely to his arc being dragged out.
  • Seasonal Rot: Debatable. However, most long-time viewers agree that Season 7 was the point at which the series went downhill.
    • It did not help that both Lilly and Scotty went out of character and turned rogue against Moe Kitchner and Hector Cruz respectively over several episodes causing Arc Fatigue or that some episodes were merely retellings of older episodes.
    • Some also point to Season 6 with the Scotty-Frankie storyline as another point of decline.
  • Squick: Most of the scenes showing the victims' bodies come off as this.
  • Strawman Has a Point: When Moe Kitchener fills a complaint for harassment against Lilly for stalking him. When you think about it, she has no evidence but a Dying Dream to prove he was the one person that tried to kill her in "Into the Blue".
    • When Patrick Doherty points out that Stillman's repetitive actions to protect his team when they keep Jumping Off the Slippery Slope are more counterproductive than anything.
    • Patrick Bubley is portrayed as unreasonable for wanting to perpetuate the Cycle of Revenge against the Latino Gang Bangers that killed his brothers; while this is true, the fact is that the cycle only began in the first place because the cops assumed his brothers were Gang Bangers themselves and put little effort into their cases, and this aspect of the plot goes strangely unaddressed in the episode.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Several examples throughout the series, including:
    • The killers from "The Hitchhiker" and "Dog Day Afternoons"
    • Brandi, the Alpha Bitch from "The Sleepover" (and some would say her brother, as well)
    • Leah, the victim's female "friend" from "Wishing".
    • The girlfriend from "Family".
    • The fathers from "Jackals" and "Blank Generation". One was imprisoned for a despicable crime (stealing money from war widows) instead of being on the outside and protecting his daughter and the other was an Insufferable Genius/ Jerk Ass whose cold, unloving attitude drove his son to join a dangerous cult. On that subject, there is also the father from "Justice" deserves a mention. His daughter was raped and when she came to him and told him what happened, his response was "Nice girls don't invite boys up to their room." As a result of his words, the poor girl ends up eating her gun. It's only then that he's remorseful and says to the (sympathetic and willing to help, but her superiors didn't take the matter seriously) officer, "Why didn't anyone help my little girl?"
    • The mother from "Time to Crime", whose affair ended up costing her her daughter's life.
    • The so-called best friend from "Kensington".
    • The victim's boyfriend in "Our Boy Is Back". We're supposed to feel sorry for him for having to put up with Vera's harassment regarding his refusal to take a DNA test to determine if he's responsible, especially when Vera obtains his DNA anyway and it proves what the man has been saying all along—that he's innocent. Only for Lily to realize that the lack of his DNA at the crime scene means that he wasn't sleeping with the girl at all. So basically, all because he couldn't bear the humiliation of having the cops realize that he had yet to have sex with his girlfriend, this man basically let her killer get away with murder for several years and essentially invited the very harassment that he was complaining about.
    • Scotty at times. There were so many bad things that happened to the people in his life (his mother's attack, his brother being molested as a kid and being haunted by it and what happened to his fiancee), but these things happened to them instead of him. In addition, a lot of the bad things that occurred in his life, such as his suspension, were of his own doing.
  • The Untwist: "8: 03 AM." The cases are reopened because it was discovered that the murders took place at exactly the same time on the same day, and Kat hoped that a connection could be discovered. Turns out there was none; it was a total coincidence, although the victims did know each other, something that wasn't apparent in the original investigation.
    • Also occurs in "Debut" and "Hubris", in which the killer turned out to be... exactly who everyone thought was the killer. The only reason the cases become as long and involved as they do is due to the villains' attempts to deflect suspicion off themselves.
    • Used interestingly in "Creatures of the Night." They know who did it from the beginning; the real challenge is proving it before the guy walks due to a ridiculous deal he took when he confessed to prior crimes.
  • Wangst: Many of the doers' confessions and rationale for the stupidity of their actions come off as this. Special mention though goes to Dale Wilson in Fireflies and Gibby Hanes's tearful admission in 8:03 A.M..
    • The killing couple in "Love Conquers Al," who apparently believed their high school romance to be one of the all-time greatest love stories in history.
  • What an Idiot: The revelation of who the doer was in "Time to Crime" was heartbreaking, to say the least, that doesn't really change the fact that he was a complete and utter moron. Dude buys a gun that he intends to use to kill someone from the same person he intends to kill, then instead of, say, shooting him right there, he waits until the guy is in the middle of a crowded park, then fires randomly into said crowded park, and not only misses his target, but hits his own sister by accident.
    • Perhaps he knew that shooting the guy right then and there would immediately focus suspicion on him, whereas shooting at him via a drive-by might leave the case unsolved? (the guy was well known as a local criminal and there would have been no shortage of suspects). Maybe he had second thoughts about killing the guy and only the realization that he was going to continue to be a problem for him spurred the killing?

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