YMMV / Dateline

  • Acceptable Ethnic Targets: The majority of predators busted are white men, many of whom are middle class or above. This is in sharp contrast to other reality crime-based shows, where the majority seems skewed towards low income minorities.
    • Average income did notably fall, though, as the show became well known.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The paedophile with the screen name "can_i_rape_you_anally". Now imagine that name being read in Chris Hansen's flat voice and NOT at least smirk.
  • Fridge Horror: Beautifully explained by British journalist Charlie Brooker:
    And that "attractive young actress" who greets them by the door: make no mistake, she's hot. And at 18, she's US legal. Presumably someone at To Catch A Predator HQ sat down with a bunch of audition tapes and spooled through it, trying to find a sexy 18-year-old who could pass for 13. They'll have stared at girl after girl, umming and ahhing over their chest sizes, until they found just the right one. And like I say, she's hot. But if you fancy her, you're a paedophile.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Former Subway's spokesman, Jared Fogle, appearing in the show as a commentator on the predator hunt, this was before he was ousted as a pedophile himself, made even more cringeworthy when all he does is laugh at the child molesters and says how stupid they are for falling in the traps.
  • Internet Backdraft, Broken Base: Although these tropes likely existed as early as the whole "exploding GM cars" thing, they didn't really kick off until the whole "To Catch a Predator" bit got started. Proponents of the segment either feel that the predators deserved the humiliation, that the segment was necessary to scare pedophiles from soliciting sex from children, or both. Those who disapprove believe that the predators' crimes didn't justify Dateline humiliating them, that the segment enabled the pedophiles to get away with it (several cases were thrown out due to insufficient evidence because Dateline did the investigating, not the police), or both.
  • Just Here For To Catch A Predator: Alright, this show has been running in some form for at least 20 years. TCAP lasted as a few standalone segments for 4 years. Now look at how many tropes cover just that segment...
  • Memetic Badass: No sex offender is safe from Chris Hansen. Ever.
  • Memetic Molester: Inverted. Chris Hansen is a memetic molester locator.
    • Played straight with some of the more memorable predators, like Michael Wilusz (genericwhitemale), and Michael Warrecker (can_i_rape_you_anally).
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Why don't you have a seat right over there?"
    • One pedophile's incredibly creepy delivery of "Yeah..."
  • Narm: The NBC staffers' readings verbatim from the chat logs between the decoy and predator, with voices ranging from deadpan or disinterested, all the way to overly excited.
  • Never Live It Down: Their false claims about GM cars.
  • Paranoia Fuel: "To Catch A Predator" definitely makes people think twice about soliciting sex online.
  • Pedophile Has A Point: One of the predators (with the screen name can_i_rape_you_anally) says that on the Internet, you can pretend to be any age you want. However, that doesn't absolve him from being one of the scariest predators on the show.
  • Squick: Putting aside the obvious squickiness that comes with the paedo hunt, there was once a man who planned for a girl to perform a sex act on a cat.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: This is constantly discussed in Dateline, as you will see the predators in a sympathetic light. They may be very genuine. However, Chris Hansen, or the narrator, will remind themselves AND the audience that these are the same men who were soliciting sex from a minor who clearly had perverted intentions in mind (and that is at best; some had much worse intentions).
    • The saddest part is that there are some genuinely nice guys who talk to them, which would normally earn our sympathy. Until we are reminded, or we learn from factual evidence as to how intent they are as a predator, shattering any sympathy for them (most of the time).
    • On the other hand, the questionable ethics surrounding entrapment led Charlie Brooker to claim that it made him feel sorry for the child rapists.
  • What an Idiot: The To Catch a Predator series make it a point to highlight predators who come to the traps despite having seen the specials before.
  • You Look Familiar: Invoked in reality at least two times:
    • One man caught in a California sting operation showed up again at their next California sting 8 months later. Chris is quick to remind him of that.
    • In a recent Hansen VS Predator episode, Chris believes he recognizes the man who shows up at the house, later revealed to be a man that Chris had traveled with on the commuter train for several years.