These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
This show also does not hold the federal government's institutions like the FBI and CIA in high regard. To be fair, this is par for the course in any crime/espionage drama, and both organizations do/did have some good people in there (such as Agent Donnelly, Detective Carter and John Reese). It's just that the show is a fan of showing how many corrupt people are in law enforcement agencies in general.
Banks in this show are almost always shown foreclosing someone's home, involved in illegal activity (willingly or otherwise) or shown to be incompetent. An early episode even features a Narm-filled confrontation in which a pair of bankers harass Reese and an ex-soldier in a bar — as if there are roving gangs of bankers lurking around every corner, spoiling for a fight.
Anvilicious: This show holds war vets in very high regard, and frequently holds big corporate guys in very low regard. Not always though-there's at least one episode where a group of active duty American soldiers are the bad guys, and another in which the stock trader POI is sympathetic and entirely in the dark regarding the dirty dealings of others at the office where he works.
This has now been inverted with Carter now being considered one of the most popular characters and her death leading to a violate on-line backlash between those that despised the move to kill her off and those that accept the decision.
A rather vocal segment of the fanbase does not like Shaw being added to Team Machine.
Likewise, Root is an extremely divisive character in the fandom.
Broken Base: Multiple fans of the show are up in arms over the final moments of "The Crossing".
There's even argument over the change of structure of the show, specifically with how POI is slowly changing into a more "serialized" and complex format while slowly discarding the simple "case of the week" episodes. Detractors believe it's making the show to hard to follow while supporters claim it makes the show a whole lot more interesting.
Crazy Awesome: Root. Evident when she's in a shootout with Hersh, a trained assassin and shoots him when she has her back to him.
In the opening of "Legacy", Carter waiting for Reese looks a lot like someone waiting for their date.
Root's obsession with Finch. Supposedly it's about the Machine and he just happens to be the guy who built it and thus knows everything she wants to know, but sometimes she seems just a little too keen on him.
Amy Acker: She likes messing with her. There's an underlying competitiveness throughout, whether it seems funny or sexual or whatever. Each of them wants to be the alpha dog in the relationship.
All of the above are phased out over the course of the series as Carter and Root (both on opposite sides of the moral spectrum) join the team. Root/Shaw has even become the Fan-Preferred Couple.
"If-Then-Else" has Shaw kiss Root, seemingly confirming that attraction is mutual.
Lambert and Root blatantly flirted with each other while making threats during "The Cold War"
Fridge Brilliance: Throughout the first three seasons, Finch's attitude towards the Machine is cautious and wary. It only becomes more pronounced when the Machine starts acting outside of its original parameters, even though it seems to be benevolent. This is explained in "Prophets", when we learn that Finch's first 42 attempts at creating the Machine all began self-improving at an exponential rate, and attempted to escape from the IFT servers or even kill him outright. That's the reason he implemented the memory wipe, and now that the limitations he put in place are gone, he's afraid that it will go rampant like its predecessors did.
Root's handle. Having root access on Linux is the same as being an administrator on Windows: you can do pretty much whatever you want to the system and it won't try to stop you. This could be a double bonus, seeing as the Machine thinks of Finch as 'Admin', indicating that she's his equal in hacking skills.
Her aliases are all connected to famous, innovative and eccentric scientists: Turing, Dyson, Neumann.
In one episode Finch is reading It Can't Happen Here, the 1935 novel by Sinclair Lewis about a dictator who takes over the United States. An interesting choice for someone who designed the ultimate Big Brother surveillance system.
When translated back into English, the blue screen codes that have made an appearance in the later half of season 2 are revealed to be excerpts from various books and published documents.
The title of Episode 17 of Season 2: "Proteus" has two meanings. Proteus is an early sea god in Greek Mythology, which makes sense considering the setting. The word "protean" derives itself from the god's name, which means "versatile" and "capable of assuming many forms". That's especially fitting for an episode about an identity-stealing serial killer.
The episode title of Episode 10 of Season 3, "The Devil's Share" is the psychological term which refers to that part of human behaviour that allows us to be cruel to one another, or refers to one person's inhumanity to another. It also refers to an individual's actions that are not good for him/herself or for others, highly appropriate considering John Reese goes on a highly self destructive roaring rampage of revenge regardless of his gunshot wound and innocent people that get in his way due to Carter's demise in "The Crossing".
"Lethe" and "Aletheia", Greek antonyms meaning "forgetfulness" and "truth". Given the condition of the number for those episodes, very apt.
"Deus ex Machina"; translating as "god from the machine"...It also refers to the situation which Harold finds himself in at the climax. Alone and with no one seemingly coming to save him from the Decima Employee aiming a Glock 19 at him, Reese barely manages to get up there in time and screw up the man's aim.
Harsher in Hindsight: In the show, the Machine produces the relevant and irrelevant lists by monitoring NSA feeds and other forms of electronic information gathering. Then came the real life June 2013 reveal of the US government's PRISM program... It takes a turn for Hilarious in Hindsight once you remember that Finch black boxed the Machine precisely because he didn't trust the Powers That Be with unfettered access to the Machine and the information it handles.
Jonathan Nolan: Turns out the only thing thatís science fiction about our show is the public outcry that we imagined if anyone found out about Finchís Machine.
He's Just Hiding: The next-episode promo after "If-Then-Else" suggested that Shaw might still be alive, pretty much ensuring that this reaction would happen.
Hilarious in Hindsight: Around the time this show started airing, the Santa Cruz Police Department started field testing a computer program designed to predict areas where crimes are likely to happen in the near future and to redirect officers' patrols accordingly. It's helped them cut the robbery rate down by 19%.
Michael Emerson played a serial murderer on The Practice and several murderers on Law and Order series, now he's playing a guy who is dedicated to stopping murders before they happen.
Including one episode of Criminal Intent where he's a killer dating Martine Rousseau.
Everyone. Literally. Pick any character that has appeared on the show, and then pick another one to pair them with; odds are good that someone has already written a fanfic about it, even if the characters weren't in the same episode or have never shared screen-time.note (If not, pretty much all you'd have to do is suggest it and someone in the fandom would make it happen.) Most of them are crack pairings, but some of them are actually pretty popular.note Leon Tao and Logan Pierce? Shaw and Cal Beecher? Szymanski and Donnelly? Nathan Ingram and Kara Stanton? Root and Everyone? Yes, those are all ships.
The most common victim does seem to be Reese though; he's been paired with just about anyone he's ever shared screen-time with.
Root and Shaw, the averted torture scene in "Relevance" was full of it. And in "Devil's Share", when Root combines Guns Akimbo with Improbable Aiming Skills to dish out kneecaps, what's Shaw's reaction? "That was kinda hot.". In the second half of season 3, Root is basically openly flirting with her in most of their scenes together.
Shaw:(after examining the bandages on Root's ear) Keep 'em dry. Change the dressing every 72 hours.
And as of season 4 Prophets, it's almost certainly official.
Root: If the worst comes to pass, if you could give Shaw a message?
Finch: I think she already knows.
In Honor Among Thieves, Root implied that it's been canon since Mors Praematura. Apparently they had ten hours to kill in the CIA safehouse.
And undeniably official as of 'If-Then-Else', which has Root outright comment on how great the two are together, question on the possibility, and has Shaw kiss Root before sacrificing herself to save everybody.
Carter and Shaw, at times. Shaw's perpetual look of fangirlish adoration every time Carter does something Badass may have something to do with it.
Shaw and a Person of Interest, Kelli, are verging on canon due to their serious amounts of lesbian-ness.
The Genre Shift from just another crime procedural to a Post Cyber Punk science fiction show with Spy Drama elements. Fans either love POI for evolving and becoming more interesting or hate it and hark back to the simpler small-scale criminal plots.
The shift from a stand-alone episode structure to one that's gotten more serialized. Half of the fans either love it or have gotten accustomed to it while the other half say it has made the show impossible to follow and even go as so far to claim that the show has gone off plot. This issue has become the most hotly debated.
Root and Shaw as members of Team Machine. Either the most Bad Ass, competent and strong female characters on network television today or immensely disliked (some fans believe Root is smug and have a disturbing tendency to ignore any Character Development she received in Season 3. As for Shaw, her detractors claim she's redundant, dislike her coldness even though she's grown out of that quite a bit.) However, in regards to their critics, their reasons for dislike have never truly been consistent and have seemed to have constantly shifted to the point of nit-picking.
The death of Carter. While the majority of the fans have moved on, a Vocal Minority still complain about her death.
As of the conclusion of "God Mode," Harold Finch qualifies as one as well after deliberately putting a virus into the hands of the Machine's enemies, then hiding a virus within that virus that basically gives the Machine complete autonomy to protect itself.
Carter of all people in "Endgame." Starting a war between HR and the Russians, and decimating both organizations.
Greer, who somehow always manages to get what he wants.
Samaritan is already showing significant chops in the planning department. Makes sense, given Greer directly above helped make it what it is. Nautilus shows it completely bamboozling Finch and cheerfully walking away with absolutely no damage to its long-term schemes despite the target of its recruitment efforts being directly involved with him.
Root's first appearance. She meticulously destroys the life of the economically destitute POI, makes him the most wanted man in New York by framing him for a political assassination and even causes his wife to doubt his sincerity. If John, Zoe and Harold hadn't intervened, the POI would be in jail for a crime he didn't commit and his wife and children would be living in poverty and under the stigma of having a convicted criminal for a husband and father.
Elias locking a baby in a freezer car to get Reese to reveal the location of a man Elias wants dead. This is actually a double MEH - not only is Elias threatening to kill a baby, he had agreed to help Reese save the baby from some kidnappers as a return favor for Reese saving his life in an earlier episode, which shows how Elias honors his debts.
Reese and Finch openly admit to approaching it when they consider leaving two POIs who are trying to murder each other to their fate. If there had been a third number in need of their attention at the time they very well might have done it.
Quinn takes a flying leap off it by assenting to the murder of his own godson.
Det. Raymond Terney crossed it onscreen when he helped Quinn cover up Szymanski's murder.
If the fact that Finch created a sentient being, his child for all intents and purposes, and put in a program that basically forces it to kill itself over and over again every midnight isn't a MEH, I don't know what is. Later subverted when he then provided it a way to free itself. In Finch's defense, the machine wasn't supposed to develop a personality, and it processes millions of people's information. It absolutely has to remain unbiased. He couldn't leave that much power in the hands of what would essentially be an infant.
Northern Lights decides to let a terrorist attack occur, knowingly condemning innocent citizens to their deaths, in order to get to Nathan Ingram.
Word of God in "Liberty", the audio commentary notes the Force Recon Marines who kidnapped the POI'S friend were breaking their own rules by wiring said friend up to an I.E.D.
Greer was always flirting with this, but just avoiding going over the edge; if kidnapping Grace in "Beta" doesn't count as a Moral Event Horizon, blowing up civilians and policemen for Samaritan to get the government feeds certainly does.
Samaritan, at some point during the fourth season midseason trilogy. Options include:
Crashing the US stock market to force Team Machine to nearly-suicidal action to prevent worldwide economic chaos.
Manipulating the government's relevant number program into murdering a Nautilus contest winner who'd outlived his usefulness by framing him and his friends as terrorists.
Sometimes, even the numbers can cross this.
Nothing To Hide: Wayne Kruger was already established as a major league asshole, but when he smashed Harold with a vase, it was hard to feel any sympathy for him when he was killed off shortly after.
Nautilus: The episode ends with Claire Mahoney joining Samaritan despite Harold's pleading. However, she appears to have learned her lesson as of Q&A, seeking out Harold's help. But when Harold becomes suspicious, she pulls a gun on him, revealing that this was an elaborate trap all along.
Mostly subverted by the premise of the show. Most shows start with a crime and spend the episode connecting it to a person, but this trope often gives away who that person is. An episode of Person of Interest, however, starts with the person, generally played by that week's main guest star, and the mystery is how that person connects to a crime.
And then possibly deliberately subverted with the head of Vigilance, who appears to be a random aide right up until the part where he kills his mark. He's played by a C-list actor.
On occasion, the surveillance tactics used by Reese and Finch. Notably, "Bluejacking" people's phones, though it's deliberately portrayed as more effective than it is.
Remember the time they hacked into all the webcams in the apartment building so they could spy on the residents? Tell me you didn't immediately put tape over your webcam after that episode.
Reese: We're going to hack [the Poi's] WiFi? Finch: We're going to hack all of them. If the threat's in the building, we should get to know our neighbors. Reese: You're into sixteen networks already? Finch: When the phone company puts in your WiFi, the password is your phone number. Most people never even change it. The other ones might actually take a minute.
Root embodies this trope. She's the show's best consummate liar, the best hacker in the show after Harold and is a talented actor who can deceive most of the Properly Paranoid characters in the show. She could be anyone from a meek therapist to a Sexy Secretary and you would be none the wiser up to the point she uses her taser, hog ties you and engages in a spot of torture before shooting you dead.
John Greer the former MI6 officer who acts as Decima Technologies Director Of Operations is an epic example. Polite, charming and perhaps one of the most competent antagonists on network TV. He may be old and not look like much but he always controls the situation as Team Machine and the hacktivist Peter Collier found out to their cost. With his half a centuries worth of experience and the resources under his control he constructs the most devastating Batman Gambit in the show's history to date, which ends with him having subverted the USA with the American public none the wiser and demolishing Team Machine's infrastructure.
The Samaritan system. an A.I with no moral constraints, in possession of all the power The Machine has and has grown beyond its initial programming to inherit Manipulative Bastard traits? A recipe for disaster. The only reason why it hasn't dropped the might of American Law Enforcement on Team Machine is due to the final tampering conducted by Root in Season 3. One wrong move will cause it to get a lock on the protagonists and ensure that certain death is the only option.
Season 4 appears to be running on this, especially the episode "Prophets".
Prophets gets topped by "The Cold War". Samaritan takes over New York for 48 hours. On the second day, it begins tearing New York apart as it takes control of all critical infrastructure, makes the crime rate go up, instigates a massacre against witness protection program participants and to top things off, begins a cyber-attack to destroy the global economic recovery. And no one except Team Machine and Decima know what is going on.
The Producer Thinks of Everything: when the camera focuses on Root's earpiece in "Aletheia", you can hear high-pitched beeping that sounds like Morse code. If you're under 40, that is. Guess how the Machine contacts Root without Control noticing.
Remember, Amy Acker is 37. Camryn Manheim is 52.
Rewatch Bonus: There's a lot of things that you probably won't catch the first time around. Or even the second time around!
Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Carter was initially the Base Breaker when the show began. However her evolution into The Chessmaster in "Endgame" was met with favourable responses from fans and critics alike. This may have contributed to a portion of the fan base having a highly negative reaction to her demise in "The Crossing".
Root and Shaw have achieved this with a healthy dose of Character Development winning sizable portions of the fan base over.
The Scrappy: POI Wayne Kruger and increasingly in some parts of the fan base, Claire who some loathe for her Jerk AssSmug Snake fanaticism to Samaritan, the fact she's being played along as a fool, seems to be willfully blind to Samaritan and nearly murdering Harold in the most recent episode have cemented her in some parts
For the few who still don't accept their Character Development Shaw and Root can be considered this although it has increasingly died down with a large, growing number of fans who have, accepted and began to warm up to them.
Single-Issue Wonk: The death of Carter has turned a huge portion of the fan base into these.
So Cool It's Awesome: A lot of what Team Machine pulls off on an episode by episode basis falls into this category.
Special Effects Failure: The show has largely stopped using blank-firing guns in exchange for nongunsnote replicas that fire paper charges or non-firing props with muzzle flashes added in post production. It can bother viewers who are familiar with firearms, especially when muzzle flashes go off when characters clearly have their fingers off the triggers or are pulling triggers and there's no flash or smoke let alone recoil.
And then The horrifying ear surgery/interrogation Control does to Root.
They Changed It, Now It Sucks: The move away from the formulaic crime procedural format(like NCIS, NCIS LA and Hawaii Five-0) and increased emphasis on the serialized science fiction aspects of the show has divided the fandom in two between those who love the new direction and those who are vitriolic in their displeasure.
Unpopular Popular Character: Fusco, all the way. He's one of the more sympathetic characters in the show, and a genuine atoner, but the universe keeps piling more and more shit on him. However, things have begun to look up for him since his promotion and now he's a hero in the eyes of most of his NYPD colleagues. Although from time to time he still gets some ribbing from the other members of Team Machine.