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  • MacGuffin: The jewels in "Under the Gun", the titular necklace in "The Blue Butterfly", a huge precious man-made diamond in "A Murder is Forever", the list in "Deep Cover".
  • Memento MacGuffin: The elephant statue on Beckett's desk that belonged to her mother Joanna. In "Veritas", Beckett discovered that her mother had stored a microcassette tape in the base of the statue, with the evidence she had collected against Senator Bracken. This tape leads to Beckett finally arresting Bracken for her mother's murder.
  • Mad Artist: From the Season 2 double episode "Tick, Tick, Tick..."/"Boom!", Scott Dunn, a serial killer who writes novels based on his murders.
  • Make Up or Break Up: Esposito and Lanie as of "Demons". By "The Limey", they break up, except for the occasional booty call. And as of "Reality Star Struck", they are apparently dating again. As of "Disciple" it's revealed that they're in a relationship, but they're not exclusive.
  • Male Gaze: Castle very overtly stares at Beckett's butt in the club scene of "Lucky Stiff" and she catches him. He looked at her butt again in "Deep in Death", when she man-handles a perp to the ground wearing just a jacket over her underwear. Of course, Beckett herself stared at his earlier in the series in "Wrapped Up in Death."
    • Near the end of "Always", when Castle stops kissing Beckett for a moment to unbutton her jacket, it's a toss-up whether Castle is looking at Beckett's scar from her shooting or her provocative underwear - at least, until he touches the scar.
    • Makes for important subtext in "A Deadly Affair". Castle attempts to return to their precinct after their "breakup" in the previous season finale. As Beckett bends over to write on the murder board in the office late at night, Castle's eyes wander down. Beckett sees this out of the corner of her eye and holds the pose. In the commentary track on the episode, the series creator comments that it's important to Beckett accepting him back that she believe that he really is still attracted to her.
    • In "The Double Down", Laney is called to a crime scene late at night, and shows up in a revealing, low-cut dress. Twice she has to admonish Castle to "quit looking at the girls".
    • The murder victim in "Death Gone Crazy" is a guy who came up with 'College Girls Gone Crazy', which takes videos of parties full of hot girls. When Beckett and Castle go to the crime scene, Beckett immediately tells Castle, "It's alright to look, Castle." Surprisingly, he responds, "Look at what?" and his gaze doesn't wander even for a bit... making the scene later in the episode where the entire situation is gender-flipped a lot more hilarious, particularly since Beckett isn't quite as able to resist temptation.
    • There's a funny moment at the end of "Reality Star Struck" when it turns out Lanie is Esposito's date for Valentine's Day, and she enters the precinct all dressed-up:
    Beckett: Lanie, you look great.
    Lanie: Yeah? It's not too much?
    Beckett: No. It might be too much... for Castle. (turns to Castle, who's staring) Eyes up, bud.
    • The show's tendency to feature shots of Stana Katic's rear end is Lampshaded in Season 4 episode "Headhunters"; when Detective Slaughter (Adam Baldwin) first glimpses Beckett, he very conspicuously stares at her bottom in tight jeans (and the viewer is given a shot from his POV, just to make the point about what a sleazebag he is.)
  • Manchild: Castle. Laser tag. Radio hijinks. A Kevlar vest stenciled "WRITER" instead of "POLICE". Property on the moon, bought "last month."
    • Best put by Beckett: "Sir, he's like a 9 year old on a sugar rush."
      • "One Man's Treasure" opens with him flying a remote-control toy helicopter around his loft, making the appropriate police narration and sound effects. Martha is not amused.
      • He even calls himself out on it in "Lucky Stiff".
      • In "Heroes and Villains", he finds out that his mother knows how to sew, and complains that she said she didn't know how when he asked for an ET costume for Halloween. Her defense is that he was 32 at the time.
      • He's upset that Alexis is going to college, because he's going to miss her, of course, but also because "...who's going to play with me?"
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Castle's first ex-wife, Meredith, introduced in "Always Buy Retail". An ongoing deconstruction and reconstruction. Fun-loving and fun to be around, but too scatterbrained to be a good wife or mother. Castle divorced her after she slept with her producer, but always ends up sleeping with her whenever she's in town. Alexis tries to keep a wide berth, but ends up blowing off tests she's spent days cramming for when she shows up to take her shopping. Castle's verdict: Such people are Deep-fried twinkiesthings you know are bad for you but you occasionally partake of anyway just for the sheer joy of it. But Meredith can also be a manipulative schemer: her second appearance on the show saw her subtly taking glee in Beckett's second thoughts about her relationship, based on Meredith's seemingly thoughtless flighty comments about her ex.
  • Manipulative Bastard: 3XK.
  • Manly Tears: Castle finally cries in "Knockout". It is heartbreaking. Ryan cries a Single Tear after Montgomery's death.
    • He doesn't actually cry, but in "Always", Castle is clearly holding back tears when he all but begs Beckett to drop her crusade for her mother's killer.
    • He also cries when he finally leaves Alexis at the college residence.
    Martha: Darling, are you crying?
    Castle: No, it's allergies... the pollen count is high.
    Martha: The pollen count's gotten to me too...
    • In "Target", Alexis is kidnapped, and Castle loses it. He ends up crying multiple times.
  • Marrying the Mark: Subverted in an episode dealing with a murdered Con Man. The team initially suspects the victim was going to marry a mark, but then the father of the bride informs them that he'd had a private investigator look into the groom, who, when confronted, offered to sign a prenup voiding any claim to the family fortune. His partner in crime wasn't pleased about this and killed him as part of a scam against the fiancee.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The show enjoys pulling this when it comes to the more paranormal-themed mysteries the characters investigate:
    • Debated endlessly in "He's Dead, She's Dead," regarding a psychic - and in particular, a letter she wrote in which she foresaw her death. Although not definitive definitive, it leans heavily towards the "Magic" side of the argument. Castle settles the matter of the letter's clairvoyance when he and Beckett compare it to their timeline. Another point of their discussion concerns the psychic's daughter telling Beckett that a man named Alexander will play a significant part in her life, and will save her in the future. Castle only finds out the name part of the prediction, telling Beckett in passing that his given name was Richard Alexander Rodgers, and saying before he leaves, "What a coincidence, huh?"
    • Again in the conclusion of "Demons" when the team investigates a supposedly haunted house. Beckett finds an important lead due to what might be a Contrived Coincidence or, as Castle suggests, aid from the victim's ghost. There is also no explanation as to why all the previous murders in the house were attributed to demons.
    • In "Scared to Death", each of the strange happenings in the episode appear to have a plausible explanation in the end, except for the disappearance of the serial killer's body.
    • In "Time Will Tell", the time-travel plot seems to be totally solved when it's revealed that the suspect and actual killer both spent time together in a mental ward, with one of their delusions rubbing off on the other. The (cleared) first suspect rationalizes it as him going back in time again, but not having done so yet in his timeline. Beckett ignores it, but Castle chases after him only to find that he's vanished after turning a corner. Huh. And then Beckett encounters a stinger reveal of her own: A vital clue to solving the case was a photographed copy of a letter from one victim's student. In the photographed copy, obtained from the murderer's lair, the letter can clearly be seen to be coffee-stained — but the stain doesn't exist on the "real-time" original of the letter until Beckett herself knocks a cup of coffee over on it, and then compares letter to photo to see they're (now) exactly the same. They never did figure out how he got out of the holding cell the first time, and neither of the two possible time-jumpers have any documentation before they show up, as adults, about six years before the show.
      • The behavior of the actual killer makes absolutely no sense if the killer is not a time traveler. The 'official' story, if he's not a time traveler, would be that he first tracked down the person he wanted to kill, then tracked down a letter that person sent and made a copy (how did he even know about this letter?), then tracking down someone who knew where the recipient of that letter was (without anyone noticing all this)...and at that point he turned around and started committing his crimes, pretending to work in the opposite direction by torturing that last person so he could 'find' the original letter, and use that to 'find' the person he wanted to kill.. Even for a delusional person, that's pretty weird and convoluted behavior.
    • In "Smells Like Teen Spirit", the Carrie-like outcast teenage girl who has apparently unlocked telekinetic powers after being bullied turns out to entirely normal, but it initially appears that the boy who has a crush on her has the gift... until he admits that he creates stunts and special effects as a hobby and rigged all the apparent telekinesis events. At the end, however, Beckett mentions that the police searched his home and couldn't find anything that would be used in creating special effects.
      • In this case, it is plausible that Beckett's just messing with him. At the very least, Lucas had a harness and rigging, as seen in the unedited prank video.
  • May–December Romance:
    • In "Inventing the Girl", Castle connects with Trina, an attractive young model who's clearly nursing something of a crush on him — until he realizes that she's actually Katrina, Alexis' old babysitter (and not that much older than Alexis herself). Everyone accuses him of trying this on when he nevertheless keeps in contact with her; averted when he reveals that he's actually putting her back in contact with Alexis.
    • Much to the dismay of Alexis, her young and handsome violin teacher is perhaps a bit too favourably impressed with her grandmother, to the extent that he neglects Alexis for her. We never see it evolve into an actual romance (the violin teacher is not a recurring character) but we do see some rather blatant flirting.
    • Quite notably averted otherwise on the show. For an infamous womanizer, Castle's on-screen love interests are all surprisingly quite reasonable given his age (late twenties and above, to his own early forties). He even shows outright horror when Alexis casually mentions one of her friends (age 17-18) is into him.
  • Meaningful Echo: At two points in "Knockout" a character informs another character that "you can't hide [someone] from me," with the other character replying "you got that ass-backwards; you can't hide from him/me." The first is Beckett trying to psych out Lockwood about the identity of his employer, with Lockwood turning it back on her; the second is Captain Montgomery, moments before making his Redemption Equals Death Heroic Sacrifice, turning Lockwood's assertion that he can't hide Beckett back on him.
    • The show will often do this; several episodes have subtle Call Backs to previous episodes which echo significant moments, often with roles reversed and usually to underscore how the relationships between the characters has evolved since the earlier moment.
    • Another common theme in the show is where one situation a character is involved in subtly parallels another scenario with a different character. One example is in the season 3 premiere; while Castle is having trouble getting the cops to forgive him for not calling Beckett throughout the summer, Alexis is having trouble getting over her summer boyfriend not calling her after their summer program ended. Castle tries justifying the guy's intentions to Alexis, which makes her wonder, "Why are you defending him?" Season 4 also has a lot of allusions to the increasing tension between Castle and Beckett, which they incessantly talk their way around.
    • Played for laughs (but still a heartwarming scene) in "Tick Tick Tick...". Early in the episode, Castle wonders if he is responsible for a killer who was obsessed with Nikki Heat. Beckett told Castle that the killer would have simply found something else to fixate on if not Nikki Heat and that blaming Nikki Heat for the killer was like "blaming The Beatles' 'Helter Skelter' for Charles Manson or Jodie Foster for John Hinkley." Later, when Beckett seemed upset at the killer's obsession with her (as Nikki Heat's inspiration), Castle assures her, "A very wise woman once said, you can't blame Jodie Foster for John Hinkley. Although you can blame her for Nim's Island."
  • Meaningful Name: The name 'Castle' was initially chosen for the main character because, when spoken quickly, it could almost be mistaken for 'asshole', to reflect Castle's initially self-involved Jerkass nature.
    • More specifically. Richard Castle -> Rich Castle -> Rich Asshole
  • Meddling Parents:
    • Castle's mother is constantly telling people things he wishes she wouldn't. Castle has his moments of over-protectiveness with Alexis, too, but after the chewing-out mentioned above, he's gotten a lot better. From "Vampire Weekend," when Alexis asks to go to a party thrown by high school seniors:
      Castle: This is one of those crossroads moments, isn't it?
      Martha: Oh, let her go. She's far more responsible than you ever were.
    • Inverted in "Food to Die For", when Alexis is hoping her dad will intervene on her decision of whether or not to go camping with her friends when she should probably spend the weekend studying. He finally does at the very end. And only because she has to tell him to do so, so that she can tell her friends she really wants to go with them but her father won't let her.
    • Inverted again by Alexis in "Significant Others" when Castle can't stop his ex-wife and Alexis's mother Meredith from staying at his place while Beckett is there. They were supposed to go to Paris before Alexis got sick with mono, and at the end of the episode, Alexis solves Castle's problem by insisting that her mom should go enjoy Paris for her.
  • Metaphorgotten: In the fifth season episode "'Murder', He Wrote".
    Castle: It's probably your typical tawdry Hampton story. Weekender meets local beauty, the elixir to his stressful city life. Whirlwind romance ensues, but then the wife gets wind of it and forces him to end it. That's when the elixir becomes a poison. With a gun. Only I'm going to have to work on the last part.
  • Mexican Standoff: Near the end of "Under the Gun", Beckett, Ryan, and Esposito get into one with three separate people all after the same treasure. In fact, everyone in that scene has a weapon...except for Castle.
  • Milholland Relationship Moment: In "Till Death Do Us Part", the team is investigating the murder of a pickup artist, and they find a picture of Jenny (Ryan's Fiancee, who he is marrying in a few days) in his conquest folder. They debate whether to tell Ryan, and when they finally get around to it, it turns out that he already knows and is cool with the situation - it happened only a month after they met, when they were not exclusive.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: "Kill the Messenger", "Murder Most Fowl", "Close Encounters of the Murderous Kind", "Set Up"/"Countdown", "Pandora"/"Linchpin".
  • Minored in Ass-Kicking: Castle, being a civilian, usually leaves the dirty work to his detective friends. But we are occasionally reminded that he is, in fact, a better shot than Beckett (well, at least in a target range). Beckett is clearly the more cool one under fire and among other exploits manages to land several shots on a helicopter flying away, later allowing it to be identified, as shown in "Knockout".
    • Physically, Castle is also something of a milquetoast, generally at a disadvantage in a physical confrontation and, while certainly not cowardly by any means, has a tendency to cower in the same way that any unarmed and untrained civilian suddenly thrust into danger might do. He's also been sufficiently roused to beat a hardened, ruthless assassin to a bloody pulp and once had to be held back from getting into a punching match with a drug dealer. It's not insignificant that in both cases — and, indeed, most situations where Castle's asskicking potential tends to kick in — someone he cared about was at stake (most often Beckett or Alexis.)
    • It helps that being 6' 2" and fairly well built, Castle isn't the easiest person to tackle, even for a strong man. Any time he's in a hostage situation, he is usually able to free himself from the criminal's grasp.
  • Miranda Rights: Invoked in an example of Lying to the Perp in "Sucker Punch". Castle and Beckett play on the pervasive Hollywood myth that reading the Miranda rights is somehow required for an arrest to be legal, when in fact it only affects the admissibility of a suspect's statements in court.
  • Misery Builds Character: Toyed with a bit in "Veritas," where Beckett confronts the man who had her mother killed. It implies Senator Bracken is even more off-the-rails than he appears, and Beckett doesn't buy it.
    Bracken: We had an agreement... a truce. Live and let live. I held up my end of the bargain. I even saved your life.
    Beckett: And that makes up for what you took from me?
    Bracken: What about what I gave to you? Everything you are, everything you've accomplished is because of me.
    Beckett: Is that how you justify murder? It builds character?
  • Missing Mom: Only in this case, as much as they care about her Castle and Alexis are kind of glad that Meredith isn't permanently around.
  • The Missus and the Ex: "Pandora" and "Linchpin" introduce Sophia, a member of the CIA, and Castle's previous "muse". Oddly, Castle doesn't seem too bothered about it all. Beckett, however, is, and their conversation is filled with unintentional double entendres about his relationship with Sophia until he flat out asks Beckett if she's jealous they had a relationship.
    • Again in "Significant Others". Beckett stays at Castle's because her apartment is being fumigated. At the same time, Castle's ex-wife Meredith stops by to help take care of a sick Alexis. The two end up parting on good terms.
    • And we must not forget "A Rose for Everafter", although in this case the ex is getting married to another man, but has to halt her wedding because one of her bridesmaids was killed.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: The victim in "Suicide Squeeze". His wife eventually learns it's not a girlfriend in Cuba he got killed over... it's his daughter. It's also established that the victim's wife was at one point Mistaken for Cheating by the victim, when in fact she was upset over his 'cheating'.
    • In "One Man's Treasure", the victim appears to have been cheating on his wife with a fiance, an illusion maintained by the supposed other woman. Later, it's revealed that the two were both corporate spies deceiving one another. The two never actually slept together.
    • Pops up several times in "Anatomy of a Murder". Nurse Greg is believed to be having affairs with over half a dozen doctors; it turns out that all the relationships are completely platonic. Subverted with the victim; at first they think she's having an affair with a former drug lord, only to find out that she was his personal physician. Later, the drug lord reveals that the two were more than friends, though it's left unanswered exactly how close they actually were.
  • Moment Killer:
    • Gina (Castle's ex-wife) in the second season finale. So, so much. Beckett is just about to tell Castle she loves him when Gina shows up and reveals that they "talked on the phone for hours.... just like old times" the night before. At which point Stana Katic breaks every viewer's heart with her expression.
    • Ryan and Esposito in "Vampire Weekend", with hilarious consequences:
    Ryan: Are we...interrupting?
    Beckett/Castle: *at the same time* No./Yes.
    • In 'Set Up', Castle and Beckett are isolated due to radiation exposure, unsure whether they're sick or not. To change the subject, Beckett about her problems with her boyfriend. In describing what she wants out of a relationship, she pretty much describes her relationship with Castle. As Castle opens his mouth to respond to this, the isolation tent is unzipped and they're told they're fine. Castle clearly reacts with a "just a minute" hand gesture that he wanted more time.
    • In the latter half of season three especially, several warm-and-fuzzy moments between Castle and Beckett have been interrupted in some way or another (in person in "Countdown", by telephone in "One Life To Lose") by Beckett's boyfriend Josh, resulting in an awkward conclusion to the moment.
    • "Cops and Robbers": "He's not the only one here, you know." Damnit, Martha!
    • "47 Seconds" is chock-full of these. Early in the episode, Esposito walks in while Castle and Beckett are discussing things that they may not want to put off saying. Later, Ryan gets Beckett's attention just as Castle is about to say something important to her, which he decides to put off until after the case. The most significant one is inadvertently done by Beckett herself; Castle watches her interrogate a suspect, smiling to himself at how well Beckett breaks down her suspect, when his reverie is broken as she reveals that she actually remembered everything from her shooting. And at the end of their case, when Beckett reminds Castle that he had something to say to her, Castle dismisses it and walks away.
    • Both Ryan and Martha interrupt Castle and Beckett during a warm and fuzzy moment in "After the Storm". In Ryan's case, however, he is lucky enough to interrupt them while they're both wearing clothes.
    • A non-romantic moment is spoiled by Ryan in "Secret's Safe With Me", when Castle is eagerly anticipating the opening of a safe potentially containing a diamond bracelet at the centre of the week's mystery:
    Castle: You know what I love about this case? Finding a pretty pink bracelet in my belongings.
    Ryan: You know you're gonna have to return that —
    Castle: [Exploding] I know, Ryan! I know that! I ju—Can you just let me have this moment?! This one, small, Treasure Island Indiana Jones moment?
    Ryan: Right. Got it.
    Castle: [Petulant] Well, it's too late now. It's ruined.
    • While keeping their affair a secret, Castle and Beckett are unwilling to show any hints in front of anyone. So they shake hands.
    Castle: I so wish I could kiss you right now.
    Beckett: Yeah, I know.
    Castle: [handshake begins] This is me softly touching your face and pulling you in for a long, slow kiss.
    Beckett: And this is me kissing you back, running my hands through your hair...
    Castle: Best handshake ever.
    Beckett: Yeah.
    Castle: I think my hand's getting a little sweaty.
    Beckett: I know, it's kinda gross.
    • In "Murder, He Wrote" Castle and Beckett are about to have sex in a pool when a blood covered man stumbles onto the property and falls dead into the pool.
    • In "Still", Beckett and Castle exit a building after he has saved her from a bomb. After she expresses her gratitude, they go to embrace but back apart when a siren blast alerts them to the arrival of others. The moment is restored when Gates tells her to go ahead and kiss him.
    • A particularly severe case in "Need to Know". Castle has just told Beckett that he got an apartment in DC to stay close to her, when McCord suddenly walks in to tell Beckett that she's been fired.
    • Since the Relationship Upgrade, Beckett's phone has become a regular. In particular, "In the Belly of the Beast," where it interrupts Castle and Beckett while they're about to get a really good font.
    • In "Private Eye Caramba," Castle's first ever client walks in on him and Beckett in the office while they're undressing each other. Quite apart from the effect on Castle and Beckett, this causes the client to doubt Beckett's objectivity in recommending Castle to her.
  • Mood Dissonance:
    • Castle and Beckett seem to be having a warm fuzzy moment at his book launch during "When The Bough Breaks..." when Castle suddenly brings up a thought he had about the current murder they're working on.
    • And at the end of "Always Buy Retail"
    Castle: I saved your life; that means you have to do what I want. And you know what I want. Never. Call me. Kitten.
    • In "The Good, the Bad, and the Baby", Lanie reports her findings to Beckett while cuddling the baby at the same time. As she elaborates on the details behind the victim's death, she does so in a baby-talk voice.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The end of "When The Bough Breaks" goes from Tear Jerker territory as the murderer is revealed and the murderer's motives are revealed, shattering his family ( he'd switched babies with another family upon learning that his son had a rare and fatal disorder that would most likely kill him before the age of five); bittersweet heartwarming as a father is reunited with the son he'd thought he'd lost; Castle and Beckett, believing their partnership to be over, ruefully say their goodbyes to each other; to comedy as the two learn, much to their surprise (and Beckett's annoyance) that their partnership has been extended longer than either of them thought. This all happens over about five minutes.
    • In "Sucker Punch", Castle does this to try to cheer Beckett up, who's understandably a bit grim as she's close to finding the man who murdered her mother.
    Beckett: What if I let her down?
    Castle: [pauses] Do you know why I chose you as my inspiration as Nikki Heat?
    Beckett: No. Why?
    Castle: 'Cause you're tall. [Beckett breaks into a small grin] Now go in there and do your job.
    (Beckett squares her shoulders and walks into the interrogation room)
    • In "He's Dead, She's Dead", the plot seems to be Lighter and Softer than normal as Castle tries to convince Beckett that the murdered woman was indeed a psychic. All seems to be going fine until halfway through the episode, Chet dies.
    • "Knockout" ends with Kate getting shot in the chest, and Castle holding her in his arms and telling her he loves her. As this shocking turn of events fades to black...cue the upbeat whistling theme song.
    • At the end of "Always", Beckett and Castle are finally together. And then the guy that shot Beckett finds the man who had all the information about the conspiracy and says that, now that he has found him, he will kill Kate.
    • The whiplash continues in the opener of the season 5 premiere; after a humorous scene where Beckett tries to sneak out of Castle's apartment without being seen by Martha and Alexis, the next scene shows Cole Maddox torturing Smith, attempting to find out the location of the incriminating files against his employer.
    • "Secret's Safe With Me" opens with a young woman bleeding to death and writing out her final words in her own blood before a close-up of her eye in the very second that she dies ... before cutting to a warm and fuzzy scene of Castle and Martha helping Alexis prepare for college.
    • "Murder, He Wrote" begins with Beckett and Castle going to the pool in Castle's house in The Hamptons, where Beckett reveals she "forgot" her bathing suit by dropping her gown... only for a dying man to appear right there and then, falling into the pool.
    • The opener of "Death Gone Crazy" alternates between showing Beau Randolph's creation 'College Girls Gone Crazy' in all its wildness, and shots of him disaffected and no longer caring about any of it. The background music shifts along with this.
    • A funny exchange occurs in "Scared to Death":
    Castle: Okay, does anyone here have a better solution? Cause we need one. If not for me, at least for Beckett.
    Beckett: (touched) Castle, that's so sweet! You want me to outlive you?
    Castle: Of course! Who else is gonna tell my tale of sacrifice and selflessness?
    Beckett: (annoyed) Okay, we won't be telling anyone anything. We're both gonna be fine.
    • Virtually any "serious" episode when followed by the theme song. The theme's jaunty upbeat tune completely goes against what happens in these serious episodes (though a few have a silent or subdued opening).
    • Probably the biggest incidence is in "For Better or Worse", which for most of the ep is a light-hearted chase to get Beckett to divorce her Vegas husband so she can marry Castle...only for it to end with Castle's car in flames after being run off the road.
  • Motive Decay: Discussed In-Universe several times. Castle initially joined the team for inspiration on his Nikki Heat series. But, as Esposito says, he soon sees enough to write fifty books. Castle stays with the team because he enjoys solving mysteries, cares about the victims, and loves Beckett.
    • James Patterson even points out that Castle is wasting too much of his time hanging out with Beckett rather than writing, chastising him for only writing one book a year.
  • Motive Rant: Nearly every episode ends in one of these. So much so that when a suspect actually asks for their lawyer, it's a sign that they didn't do it.
    • Played with in "Hedge Fund Homeboys", where Castle was able to read the suspect's motives so well that he did the rant for the perp — thus getting a confession from him, when the suspect gets caught up enough to confirm the rant with "exactly".
  • Mr. Exposition: Subverted in "Food to Die For." Castle tries to talk about topics that happen to get brought up... only to sputter out when he realizes that his audience doesn't care.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Done infrequently but at least once a season with Alexis Castle. Somewhat creepy, since she was underage for much of her time on the series. She regularly appeared in early seasons in abnormally short (secular) school girl skirts; her official publicity photo for years featured Grade B Zettai Ryouiki. At one point, a plot contrivance put her in a cheerleader uniform despite not being a cheerleader. For season 5, her photo puts her in a tight micro-mini dress, and one episode has her in an "alien assassin" costume that consists of a bikini, body paint, and feathers. While Beckett and Lanie both get their annual fan service moment, Alexis has more such moments than both put together.
    • Especially ironic since her character is intellectual, cautious, and responsible. All the characters love, respect, and feel protective of her.
      • Truth in Television for everything besides the uniform, since she is a beautiful, rich, popular teenager. Dressing up is par for the course. Besides she turned 18 in season 3.
    • This has been turned Up to Eleven in Season 8, as she's turned into a Sexy Secretary for her father's PI business. One infamous episode has her going undercover in a frathouse dressed in a sexy angel costume.
    • In real life, Molly Quinn enjoys cosplay, but sticks to elaborate-but-modest concept costumes. Including, most famously, dressing as Mal Reynolds from Firefly for ComicCon.
    • In "Once Upon A Time in the Old West", Kate dons a very attractive black cowgirl uniform. It covers a lot of skin, but it is impressive.
  • Muse Abuse: Played with; Beckett is not entirely happy at being the inspiration for Nikki Heat, suggests that she has faced a lot of grief because of it and is definitely less than impressed at how Heat is "kinda slutty", but seems to accept it over time, and on the whole no one appears to have had any reason to complain about how Castle has depicted the characters based on them in his books so far.
  • The Muse: Beckett, to Castle.
    • "Pandora"/"Linchpin" reveals that Castle has had an earlier muse, Sophia Turner.
  • Mystery Writer Detective: Castle.
  • Myth Arc:
    • For Beckett, her mother's murder and her pursuit of the killer. Replaced by LOCKSAT after its resolution.
    • For Castle, the hunt for serial killer 3XK.

  • Naked in Mink: Occurs offscreen in "One Life to Lose" when Peter is describing Mandy's method of "persuasion."
    Peter: She showed up at my apartment last night. She was wearing a fur coat.
    Beckett: So?
    Peter: Just a fur coat.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Lampshaded in "The Late Shaft" about a suspect, Zack Robinson.
    Castle: Ooh! Good bad-guy name! Snaky 'Z.' Hard 'K.' Even has 'Rob' in it.
    • Subverted, however; while he's a bit of a creep, he turns out to have had nothing to do with the murder.
    • Also subverted with 'Dr. Death', the doctor whom Castle consults with for his novels, who is in fact a rather mild and pleasant little man who only has that nickname because he's one of New York's top coroners.
    • Subverted again in "Under the Influence" with Joey Malone, a.k.a. 'Monster'. When Castle first hears it, he starts making theories about what a guy nicknamed Monster would probably look like, only for Esposito to lead him and Beckett to the other side of the interrogation room and introduce them to... a fourteen-year-old kid.
    • Another subversion occurs in "Target" with a guy named Bram Stoker, who turns out to be a relatively harmless college TA.
    • There's a major successful drug dealer. His name is Simmons. Vulcan Simmons.
  • Narrative Causality: A lot of Castle's theories, especially early on, are based on his assumptions about what would happen if the case they're working was a mystery novel — it's Never the Obvious Suspect, reject the Orgy of Evidence, and so forth. The hell of it is, he's right; the universe he inhabits really does work like a mystery story. He's just mistaking a TV show for a novel.
  • Never Found the Body: Jerry Tyson a.k.a 3XK in "Probable Cause" ... so Castle is immediately convinced that the death was faked. Beckett is less convinced. The trope is finally confirmed (i.e. 3XK is still alive) as of "Resurrection".
  • Never Heard That One Before: "Target" features a character named "Bram Stoker". Many people have mentioned the author to him.
    Castle: You look... youthful.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead:
  • Never Suicide: In "Hedge Fund Homeboys", the teen who committed suicide was really murdered by another teen, a Dexter wannabe who also planned another friend's murder.
  • New Old Flame:
    • Kyra is this for Castle in "A Rose For Everafter".
    • Chet is this for Martha throughout the second season to the point where she moves in with him. As of "He's Dead, She's Dead," he is now dead.
    • Castle's second wife returns to close the second season, and they pick back up where they left off, until they break up again for good early in season 3.
    • Beckett has a few too - FBI Agent Sorenson in the first season, ex-cop Royce in the third.
    • Sophia Turner, introduced in the season 4 two-parter "Pandora"/"Linchpin", who was a muse for Castle before Beckett.
    • Ryan has one in "The Wild Rover" — Siobhan O'Doul, a former girlfriend from when he was undercover and assuming a different identity.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Castle and Beckett in "Setup" when searching for a dirty bomb in van. They found a van in a location they knew the suspected terrorists visited... and go in alone, instead of getting the hell out and calling the bomb squad and end up locked in a freezing container with the bomb gone.
    • Played for laughs: in "Once Upon A Time in the Old West", Beckett shoots a snake close to Castle's feet... and spooks the horses that brought them to where they are.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Wealthy playboy writer Castle is consistently seen being nice, friendly and polite to people less wealthy than him. In the precinct house, even outside of the detectives he frequently works his interactions with other detectives and uniformed officers suggest that he is well-liked and respected by them.
    • Played for laughs in "Murder, He Wrote", when the killer of the week engages in a lengthy Motive Rant in the middle of a tense hostage situation about how much he hates wealthy visitors to the Hamptons like Castle who act like they're better than the locals. Castle's response is a wounded and defensive "I don't think I'm better than you!"
  • No Badge? No Problem!: The only thing Castle doesn't get to do is actually make arrests.
    • Lampshaded in "The Third Man" when Castle, in "Eureka!" Moment over-eagerness, calls up a newspaper requesting subscriber information, only to falter when they ask him who he actually is and why, y'know, he wants this information, at which point he promptly hands the phone to Beckett:
    Castle: I... sometimes forget I'm not actually a cop.
    • Played especially straight in the pilot, "Home is Where the Heart Stops", "Boom!", and "Knockdown", where Castle resorts to fisticuffs to take down dangerous perps. Often accompanied by his 70's-vintage "action theme song".
    • Beckett does this in "To Love and Die in L.A.", where she's out of her jurisdiction and therefore not a cop, despite acting as if she were one. She's caught and chewed out, though plot immunity and the thin blue line saves her from criminal charges. Castle points out that he isn't a cop anywhere and happily goes along. Just to make the example as extreme as possible, the cast of the Nikki Heat movie gets into the action as well; Castle and Beckett use the studio set to interrogate a real subject; all the other cops are actors.
    • Averted in "Deep in Death", "Love Me Dead" and others, where Castle's status as a civilian actually helps him.
    • Averted (slightly) in "Headhunters". Detective Slaughter gives Castle a gun and tells him to raid a bar. Castle, clearly uncomfortable, has no idea what he's doing, says "NPYD" instead of "NYPD", and awkwardly adds, "associate civilian investigator!" Needless to say, the patrons are not impressed.
    • Played straight in "Probable Cause": the 3XK sneaks into the precinct to tell Castle that he's the one that has framed him in the murder of the week.
    • Lampshaded in "Hunt" by Castle's father:
    Hunt: You've been playing cop for years. Ready to play spy?
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • In "Pretty Dead", Michael McKean plays Victor Baron, a thinly veiled Donald Trump clone, complete with comb-over.
    • "An Embarrassment of Bitches" features a very famous woman with "no discernible talent", that carries a dog with her wherever she goes. Kay Cappuccio is an obvious homage to Kim Kardashian (and to a degree superficially, Paris Hilton).
    • "Limelight"'s Mandy Sutton is somewhat reminiscent of Miley Cyrus — specifically the child actor gone... sexy and adult — mixed with Lindsey Lohan — the drinking and rehab.
    • In "Dressed To Kill", fashion designer Matilda Wake is likely based on Anna Wintour, the infamously demanding and eccentric editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine.
    • "Last Action Hero" features a group of aging action heroes (and a young new-comer) making a movie, "The Indestructibles 2". Including an expy of Dolph Lundgren and another of Zhang Ziyi.
    • The investor running the Mars simulation in "The Wrong Stuff" is a pretty clear Expy of Elon Musk.
  • No Party Given: Senator Bracken. Not that it matters, in light of his... other activities.
  • Noble Shoplifter: Alexis is so noble and has such a strong conscience that she reimburses the store when her friends shoplift.
  • Noir Episode: "The Blue Butterfly", at least in the flashbacks.
  • Nominal Importance: The second "uniform" in the series to get a name is Officer Hastings, introduced in "Rise". In the next episode "Heroes and Villains", she turns out to be a masked vigilante.
    • And then in "After the Storm", Hastings is assigned to guard Senator Bracken...and she conveniently looks the other way when Beckett confronts him.
    • Averted with the first named uniform. He goes by "Scott" in the first season and shows up once in a while ever since, thereafter called L.T. This is the actor's actual first name. Despite having been on the show for six years, he usually is an unspeaking part and remains a very minor character.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • From the pilot episode, when Castle finds Alexis doing homework at a book premier party, he starts recounting a "When I was your age" story, only to conclude with "I can't even tell that story because it's wildly inappropriate."
    • Castle has a tendency to start launching into anecdotes about something that once happened to him ("There was this one time...") only to quickly wrap things up when Beckett glares at him to shut up ("... Story for another time."), usually because they're at the crime scene or in an interrogation and Castle's anecdote is tangential at best.
    • Beckett gets one in "Close Encounters of the Murderous Kind" when she refers to the time when she was six and got a Lego stuck up her nose. All Castle can do is look very incredulous and let out a Flat "What"
    • In "Under the Gun," Beckett's old mentor, Royce, offers to tell Castle stories about "the good old days." Beckett replies with "Okay, fine. But if you tell him about the karaoke stakeout, I’m going to tell him what happened with the monkey."
    • "After the Storm": the morning after their night of passion, Beckett shyly asks whether Castle liked "the part where I..." We don't learn what exactly it was she did, but Castle is very quick and enthusiastic to assure her that he was a very big fan of that part.
    • In "Poof, You're Dead", while investigating a stage magician's murder, Castle asks Beckett if she knows any tricks. Beckett answers, "There's this one I do with ice cubes". At the end of "Scared to Death", Beckett (who is now Castle's lover) offers to show Castle her "ice cube trick".
    • In "Heartbreak Hotel", while in helping Ryan and Esposito investigate the murder of an Atlantic City casino owner, he asks a member of the security staff what information they have on him. Apparently, the last time he visited he "accidentally set a mattress on fire and there was jam on the drapes."
  • No One Could Survive That!: At the end of "Probable Cause", 3XK is shot and falls off a bridge into a river. Most people think he's dead, but Castle, who is Genre Savvy, thinks otherwise, especially since they Never Found the Body. He reappears in season 7.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: In "The Limey", the title character spends some time talking about how amazingly English he is, raised in the East End of London and educated at Eton — unfortunately he does so in the broadest Australian accent this side of Neighbours.
    • Also no-one raised in the East End of London is likely to be educated at Eton, since Eton is where the poshest boys go and the East End is where the poorer people live. Equally, an Etonian would be an unlikely candidate to become a police detective. Prime Minister, maybe (though the fact that was far too low-class to belong at his school was the point of his story).
  • Not in Front of the Kid: In one episode, Castle brought his daughter, Alexis, into the precinct and subverted this.
    Javier Esposito: Found your stalker. Franco Marquez, AKA Frankie Markie. Hayley filed half a dozen complaints against him. Says here that he even tried to break into her apartment and when she filed against him he showed up in court and called her a...
    [stops, looks at Castle and Alexis]
    Javier Esposito: B-I-T-C-H.
    [Alexis gives him a scathing look]
    Richard Castle: She can spell, Detective.
    Kevin Ryan: Probably better than you!
    • In the outtakes, Nathan Fillion accidentally swears in front of Molly when he flubs a line. He owes her a dollar.
    Nathan: I'll remember that when you've seen, uh... Fuck! (Molly gets a shocked look on her face, then Nathan turns to her) I owe you a dollar.
    Crew member: She's a minor!note 
    Nathan: I said I owe her a dollar!
    • Subverted in "Linchpin" when Beckett argues with Castle over an old flame of his, while Alexis was assisting Lanie in the lab (although in Beckett's defence, she is unaware that Alexis is present).
    Castle: Okay, we slept together, a long time ago! What's the big deal?
    Beckett: No big deal, sleep with whoever you want, the more the merrier!
    Alexis (clearing her throat) I have those toxicology reports you wanted, Lanie. (Castle glares at Beckett, who looks suitably mortified.)
  • Not So Different:
    • "There are two kinds of folks who sit around and think of ways to kill people — psychopaths and mystery writers..." In "Boom!" it's explicitly noted that both Castle and the killer "kill people for a living" and share certain similarities — except Castle only does it in his books. Then it's revealed that the killer is an amateur writer who distances himself from his crimes by writing them up as fictionalized manuscripts.
    • Castle gets another one in "3XK" when he has an Awesome by Analysis-off with a serial killer.
    • In "Law & Murder", Castle says that Alexis' "tell" is her nose twitch. When he lies to her later on, she realizes he's lying when his nose twitches. This is promptly following by her rapidly figuring out what the truth is by boiling down a series of guesses to their logical conclusion.
    • A slightly more friendly one happens in "Heroes & Villains": one of the suspects is a female officer named Hastings, who joined the police force after her father was killed in his shop by a junkie, and later became a vigilante called Lone Vengeance. Beckett interrogates her, and Hastings states she holds Beckett as a role model and professes that Beckett is not so different when compared with her, because both of them joined the academy in order to solve a parent's assassination. Beckett tells her to stop letting the past define her. Fandom hopes she will listen to her own advice.
    Beckett: You're a good cop, and you've got somebody who cares about you. Don't be so driven by the past that you throw away your future.
    • The episode drives the Not So Different completely home because both Hastings and Beckett are muses for fiction writers, with whom they share romantic chemistry. Lampshaded by Castle in the closing scene, which then subverts the trope by showing that Hastings and her writer are already in a romantic relationship. Castle and Beckett don't hook up until the end of the season.
    • Another example in "Kill Shot" takes place between Beckett and the sniper.
    Beckett: If you're gonna shoot me, you look at me in the eyes. Okay? And you look hard. Because I am not your enemy, I can't be. You and I have too much in common.
    • Played with in "Probable Cause", where the culprit behind the murder and subsequent frame-up of Castle is counting on the idea that everyone would find it easy to believe that Castle, a man who plots intricate fictional murders for a living, would easily snap and commit a real-life one. However, while those who don't know Castle (such as the A.D.A. on the case) do find it easy to believe, those who know him — Beckett and the other cops — are never truly convinced that Castle would be capable of what the murder he's been framed up for. Even Gates, who has no particular reason to like him, is skeptical that Castle could be responsible for such a 'heinous' crime.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Okay, it's exactly what it looks like. But he can explain...
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: The perp in the pilot holds Castle hostage, but uses a gun with the safety on, allowing Nathan Fillion to subvert Put Down Your Gun and Step Away in yet another badass way.
  • No Warrant? No Problem!: Esposito and Ryan are tracking down the owner of a safe deposit box, no one is answering the door. Ryan says "Did you hear that", Esposito immediately follows with "Yeah...", fakes a "help" in a female voice, and they barge in... to find a dead body.

  • Obfuscating Disability: In "Under the Gun", one of their suspects is an aging ex-con who needs a walker to get around... until he has to get away, at which point he ditches the walker and makes a run for it.
    • In "What Lies Beneath," a "blind" priest takes off running when questioned and reveals he faked his blindness just to get out of Florida for a better climate.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: In "Home is Where the Heart Stops," Beckett offers Castle access to some evidence, but only if he can get a bulls-eye at the shooting range after already having seen him miss badly three times. Castle plugs all three of his next shots through the 10-ring.
    Castle: Wow! Shot too soon.
    Beckett: Ah well. You know we could always just cuddle, Castle.
    • The assassin in after hours
  • Odd Couple:
    • Castle and Beckett, of course.
    • Esposito and Ryan also have a bit of an 'Odd Couple' vibe going on as well; Esposito appears to be more fastidious, athletic and suave, whereas Ryan seems ever-so-slightly slovenly, dorky and clumsy, Esposito's a bit of a ladies man where Ryan is in a relationship and is "whipped", etc.
    • Invoked by both Beckett and Castle in "After Hours". At dinner with his mom and her dad, they come to realize just how apparently mismatched they really are — Beckett even says that they 'don't make sense on paper' — and they spend the rest of the episode coming to terms with that fact.
  • Officer O'Hara: Downplayed Trope with Kevin Ryan. He doesn't have the accent and is at least one generation, possibly more, removed from Ireland. Still, references to his Irish heritage crop up now and again, such as being Raised Catholic and having gone undercover with an Irish-American gang in his earlier years.
  • Official Couple: Castle and Beckett. We're still waiting, but it's only a matter of time. To the extent that in interviews, the actors have pretty much admitted that yeah, they'll get together eventually — the fun part is in watching how.
    • They finally get together in "Always".
  • Oh, Crap!: A humorous one in "Reality Star Struck", when Castle realises he put his Valentine present for Beckett in Gates' blazer's pocket.
    • In "Target" when Castle confronts an accomplice to his daughter's kidnapping he identifies himself as her father. The accomplice knows that he's in trouble.
    • The 6th season episode, "The Belly of the Beast"; Beckett goes undercover as a drug courier named Elena to investigate a new drug ring run by someone known only as Lazarus. She learns that Elena was not a courier but an assassin, but is able to keep her head together, demanding to meet "Lazarus". When she finally meets him, he turns out to be Vulcan Simmons, a former suspect in the murder of Beckett's mother, and her cover is immediately blown. A later "Oh Crap" moment happens toward the end of the episode when Beckett discovers that the money from the drug ring has been funnelled into a political SuperPAC called Future Forward, and that Senator Bracken (the man behind Joanna Beckett's murder) has announced his bid for President, funded by this same PAC. Bracken, not Vulcan, is the real Lazarus. Oh Crap, indeed.
    • In "Inventing the Girl", it comes out that Beckett was a teen model. She is not happy to see a picture of her from then floating around the precinct.
    • "The Wild Rover" reveals that Castle cheated on a school paper which went on to gain accolades. He's been trying to live up to that reputation ever since.
  • Omniscient Database:
    • Subverted in the pilot, when Beckett says that a fingerprint takes weeks to identify. Strangely, played straight in later episodes, especially with fingerprint identification.
      • Actually double subverted, in that when she says it's because of the backup, Castle puts a call in to the mayor to speed up the process.
    • Also subverted with the missing persons' database, shown in "A Chill Goes Through Her Veins", which is just several stacks of old files.
    • Taken to the EXTREME in the "Tick...Tick...Tick...Boom!" two-parter, including a Viewer-Friendly Interface straight out of Minority Report. But also played with, as only the FBI gets the nice shiny toys, and they take them back after the episode is over.
    • Played straight in the "Pandora"/"Linchpin" two-parter by the CIA. And earlier in "Close Encounters of the Murderous Kind" by... the unnamed agency that hired Lyle Lovett.
    • Taken for granted at the beginning of the sixth season, where Beckett is a federal agent working for the Attorney General.
    • With the introduction of computer tech Tory Ellis at the tail end of the 5th season, these are getting more common.
  • Once More, with Clarity!:
    • Done in the season three premiere.
    • Also in "Setup".
    • And in "Always".
    • Also done in "Hunt", where the Previously On… segment is extended to show three people dragging Alexis away after she tries to scream for help.
    • "Veritas" as well, since it's the latest episode to deal with Beckett's mother's murder and possibly the last.
  • One Head Taller: Beckett often wears heeled boots when she's working, and as most of the shots they share have been in the context of them working, the height difference between Beckett and Castle has been obscured. When she's not wearing them, however, there's a notable difference in height between the two.
  • Only Sane Man/Only Sane Woman: Between Castle, Esposito and Ryan, Beckett looks like the most serious person on the series. Alternatively, Alexis Castle - despite being around 15 at the start of the series.
    • As of "Always", whenever Beckett's mother's murder is involved, Ryan seems to be the most logical and cautious member of the group. Esposito and Beckett prefer to think like cowboy cops and consider taking justice into their own hands, whereas Castle is more worried about the emotional and mental toll that the case usually takes on Beckett.
  • Ontological Mystery/You Wake Up in a Room: In "Cuffed", Beckett and Castle wake up together in a bed, handcuffed to each other, with no idea how they got there.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
    • Both lead actors have occasional moments of Canadian-ness.
    • Johnny Vong from "Sucker Punch" is an In-Universe example, upon hearing that Jack Coonan was killed.
    • Hans von Manschaft, a stripper, in "Almost Famous". He immediately drops the accent when he hears his rival has been murdered.
    • In the fourth season episode "The Blue Butterfly", half the story is semi-flashbacks based on a PI's journal and old case files, set in the forties. Castle is imagining all the people involved as the characters from the show, but with different accents. Some of them manage better than others at forties stereotypes. (Stana Katic in particular doesn't quite manage anything).
  • Opening Narration:
    • "There are two kinds of folks who sit around and think about how to kill people — psychopaths and mystery writers. I'm the kind that pays better."
    • As of early Season 3, the narration is MIA, as is the opening theme song (the opening credits are simply overlaid onto the scenes immediately after the first commercial break.)
  • Open-Minded Parent: Of the three generations in the Castle household, the fifteen-year old Alexis is far and away the most responsible (in fairness, Castle is a responsible parent; it's just that he's completely irresponsible about everything else). And in "Always Buy Retail", Castle explains that his ex, Alexis's mother, is even worse.
    Castle: "Sad, isn't it?"
  • Open Secret: As of "Still" Gates is fully aware of Castle and Beckett's relationship and appears to be alright with it.
  • ...Or So I Heard:
    • In "Inventing the Girl:"
      Beckett: "Nobody got murdered in Showgirls. [A beat] I hear."
    • In "Nikki Heat," Alexis repeatedly discusses certain qualities of schlock horror movies, and after Castle eyes her, follows up each statement with, "...if I'd seen it, which I haven't."
    • Appears again in "One Life To Lose," where Beckett denies being a faithful watcher of Temptation Lane, the soap where the murder of the week happened. Also played with since Castle shows an equal knowledge (if not fandom) of soap operas and yet there are no jokes about a guy liking or watching soap operas.
    • "Dial M For Mayor", when a sex-line call girl explains to them that it's not just about sex, Castle immediately says "It's therapy", then quickly adds "...or so I've... been told."
  • Oscar Bait: Alluded to in "One Life To Lose"; one of the soap actors has been cast in a Coen Brothers movie "as Matt Damon's half-wit Dad; role of a lifetime, has nominations written all over it."
  • Out-of-Character Alert:
    • "3XK": Castle tells his mother he loves her while being held at gunpoint. Five minutes later, he's rescued.
    • "Murder Most Fowl": A kidnapped kid is able to get a message out to his mother, ending with the line "Don't forget to feed Ace." Except they don't own any pets. Turns out he was being held where the A, C, and E subway lines end.
    • In the episode "Nikki Heat", apparently Castle is the first man to turn down a proposition from Natalie Rhodes, who wanted to sleep with him for character research. She is so surprised by this that she resorts to asking Beckett to give Castle permission.
    • Inverted in 'Countdown' — Alexis alerts the precinct when her dad was out of contact and didn't leave her a message. Turns out, she was right.
    • In "After Hours", Beckett alerts Castle to the fact that Leo is the killer and has her as a hostage by telling Castle how his mother loves baseball—a "fact" that was betrayed in the family dinner of the first scene, where she pointedly tells Beckett's father (a huge baseball fan) that she hates baseball.
    • In "Dreamworld", Martha becomes worried when she calls Castle and he does not make any jokes. He does not tell her that he is infected with a toxin that will kill him in a few hours.
  • Out of Order: "The Squab and the Quail" aired before "Still", despite coming chronologically afterwards. "Still" was held back a week due to being similar to the Boston Marathon bombing.
  • Overprotective Dad: Castle, though Alexis usually shuts him down before it goes too far.
    • In "Headhunters", Castle punches Detective Slaughter when the latter says about Alexis, "that girl got an ass."

  • Pair the Spares:
    • Happens to Castle and Beckett's dates at a restaurant when the two get too wrapped up in solving a murder in "The Third Man".
    • In "Poof! You're Dead" we are given Lanie/Esposito pretty much out of left field. Unless you had read Naked Heat beforehand, in which Nikki observes Lauren and Ochoa getting into a cab together.
  • Papa Wolf: Castle transforms from Overprotective Dad to this in "Target" when Alexis is kidnapped and held hostage in Paris. The succeeding episode "Hunt" reveals he inherited that trait of his from his father.
  • Paranormal Episode: The series dives into this from time to time. One episode ("Demons", in season 4) had them investigate the death of a ghost hunter in a supposed haunted house. Another episode ("Close Encounters of the Murderous Kind", from season 3) presented the possibility of aliens, including what might have been an abduction. Castle is the Agent Mulder while Beckett is the Agent Scully, and usually all of the elements are explained by the end. However, one element will be left hanging with the hint that it just might have been Real After All. Season 5 has "Scared to Death", which is particularly inspired by TheRing. Season 6 gives us "Time Will Tell", with it being left open to the viewer whether the guy really was a time-traveller or just crazy Except when Beckett spills her coffee over a letter and the stain matches the one on a copy the guy had.
  • Parental Substitute: Castle asks Beckett to be this to Alexis, if anything should ever happen to him (he got paranoid about being under a Mayan curse) in "Wrapped Up in Death".
  • Pass the Popcorn:
    • "The Double Down" starts with Castle eating popcorn and watching people around the precinct.
    • Also from "The Mistress Always Spanks Twice", referring to a suspect:
      Castle: "Sam-I-Am... in a box... with a fox? We're so gonna need some popcorn."
    • Castle likes this trope; from "One Man's Treasure":
      Castle: A wife-and-fiancee catfight? Please tell me we can stop for popcorn on the way!
    • Castle and Alexis share a bowl in "The Lives of Others" while spying on the apartment across the street.
  • The Pete Best: Name-checked in "Swan Song"...and it's the motive for the murder.
    Castle: (facing the camera) Pete Best was a drummer. I'd think Stuart Sutcliffe would be a more apt comparison.
  • Percussive Shutdown: During a particularly tense two-parter episode, Castle and Beckett have been chasing a group of domestic terrorists attempting to set off a dirty bomb in town. Eventually, they do find the bomb, but with only seconds left on the timer.... with no time to pick a wire to cut, Castle just yanks all of them at once... this works.
  • Phantom Thief:
    • In "Eye of the Beholder", Falco, the art thief.
    • Serena, who used to be one.
    • From "Home is Where the Heart Stops", Powell, a retired jewel thief that Castle consulted for a novel.
  • Platonic Prostitution: In "Hell Hath No Fury", Castle hires a High-Class Call Girl the victim consorted with solely because it's an easier way of finding her than the police department's time-consuming method of tracking her via her offshore based website.
  • Plausible Deniability: The main reason Gates gives as to why she didn't tell anyone she knew about Caskett.
  • Plot Hole: In "Veritas" how did Joana Becket put a tape of Senator Bracken admiting to HER OWN murder inside the elephants? And if she got that tape BEFORE she was murdered, why didn't she take it to the police?
  • Plotline Crossover: In "The Good, the Bad, and the Baby", the main plot involves a man who dies in a church with a baby in his arms. A B-plot involves Ryan spending quite a bit of cash to hit the multimillion-dollar lottery. Guess what the man was killed for trying to stop the rigging of. The baby? The son of the lottery's lovely presenter.
  • Pocket Dial: Castle goes on a date with a woman and he's trying to get information from her. She starts to get a little frisky with him, and he accidentally calls Beckett on his phone. Becket hears things that make her think Castle is in trouble and rushes over to his place, where she finds him with his date in her underwear on top of him.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Captain Gates is shaping up to be a mild one of these; she does seem to be okay at her job, but her relationships with the main characters are not exactly cordial, and she tends to dismiss Castle's contributions — however valid — out of hand simply because he's the one giving them. More recently, she's begun to take Castle's contributions more seriously as long as he's not being wacky about it. But conversely, she's also been pushing for Beckett to try to grow beyond relying on Castle.
  • Police Brutality: Subverted by Esposito in "Under The Influence". Although he implies, threatens, and promises this (he even does the "close the blinds" routine at one point), he doesn't once come close to touching the suspect (though he does get him to admit to not caring about the boy Esposito's protecting). At the end, after pretty much getting away with most of his crimes in the case, Esposito visits him and presents two guns.
    Esposito: This is my gun. And this would be yours. If you ever go near the kid again, this will be my story: "I had to do it. He pulled his gun on me. It was self-defense. I had to kill him."
  • Pool Scene: In "To Love And Die in L.A.", including Beckett in a clingy swimsuit getting out of a pool in slow motion. Justified in that she's trying to catch the eye of a suspect.
    • Unfortunately averted in "Murder, He Wrote" when a body falling into Castle's backyard pool in the Hamptons prevents Beckett from going for a swim having "forgotten" her swimsuit.
  • Poor Communication Kills: "Inventing the Girl" and "Anatomy of a Murder".
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: Much to Castle's chagrin, neither Beckett nor Lanie get his Jaws reference in "Last Call."
    Beckett: Any chance he [the Victim of the Week] went overboard?
    Lanie: Classic indicators point to deliberate blunt force, so I’d say no. This was no boating accident.
    Castle: Then we'd better close the beaches.
    [Beckett and Lanie stare at him blankly]
    Castle: No boating accident? Chief Brody? Hooper?
    [They still don't get it]
    Castle: Seriously?
    • This happens to Castle a lot; from "Secret's Safe With Me":
    Ryan:...looks like Johan Fleming is actually Wendell Dupree.
    Beckett: Same last name as our victim.
    Castle: Yes and the same date of birth, too, they must be twins. Wait, twins! (snaps) Of course, it all makes sense now. Wendell's secret identity - Johan Fleming? Is the same secret identity of Zan, the male half of the Wonder Twins. (Blank looks all around) Wonder Twins? Super Friends? (Beckett shrugs) Seriously, you guys, do you not watch T.V.?
  • Portmanteau Couple Name:
    • "Esplanie" for Esposito and Lanie, mentioned on-screen in "One Life To Lose."invoked
    • "Caskett" for Castle and Beckett.
      • Made more or less official in "Murder, He Wrote" by Castle himself when Beckett compares them to "Branjelina," after they shoot down "Rickate" and "Kateick."
  • The Power of Acting:
    • Natalie Rhodes.
    • Also used in "Poof! You're Dead" though with stage magic rather than acting.
    • Used again in "One Life To Lose."
  • The Power of Legacy: Beckett decides to do this for Captain Montgomery in the season 3 finale, and the rest of the cast agrees.
  • Powerful People Are Subs: Zig-Zagged in "The Mistress Always Spanks Twice". The BDSM club where the Body of the Week worked is patronized by various powerful men, but on the other hand the domme who runs it is herself a retired attorney. And then there's the various Casual Kink moments this episode where Beckett, the homicide detective, acts domineering over Castle, the millionaire crime novelist, as well as a male suspect who was a sub client of the aforementioned BDSM club.
    Castle: My safe word is "apples".
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner/Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Although technically, the show specializes more in post-asskicking one-liners (non-lethal Bond One Liners, to put it another way). At the end of "Always Buy Retail", Castle distracts a baddie with a champagne bottle so Beckett can get the drop on him. After he's laid out, Castle goes "I think that deserves a toast!" and drinks. Castle’s quick to approve when the other characters do this:
    Ryan: To a political campaign manager arrested for murder You can stop running, bro. The campaign's over.
    Castle: [Looks at Ryan approvingly] Ooh! Yes!
    • Averted in "Secret's Safe with Me"
    Beckett: (During an arrest) Take your hand off your tool, Marco!
    (Esposito and Ryan snicker)
    Beckett: Shut up.
    • In "Hunt", Jackson Hunt gets a pre-mortem two-liner:
    Hunt: You're not going to kill my son, Volkov.
    Volkov: Why not?
    Hunt: Because you'll be dead.
    • In "Get a Clue", Castle is being held at swordpoint.
    Masked Man: You have trespassed into secrets beyond your understanding. You will pay with your life.
    Castle: Okay, okay. But before you kill me, there's one thing you should know.
    Masked Man: And what is that?
    Castle: I am really good at this. [Slaps the man's sword aside, pushes him over, and grabs a saber of his own off the nearby rack.]
  • Precision B Strike: First Alexis, then Castle, call one of Alexis's friends a "Bitch" when she reveals her Alpha Bitch credentials.
  • Pregnant Hostage: Played with in the episode "Cops and Robbers". In a bank robbery, there is a pregnant hostage, but she doesn't go into labor or have health problems. She is, however, one of the first people the police bargain to get out, and Castle uses her as an excuse to fetch a pillow located near a window, where he can signal Beckett.
  • Pretty in Mink: Quite a number of wealthy ladies are shown wearing furs.
    • Martha buys a fur coat in "Lucky Stiff", but states it's fake.
    • In "The Blue Butterfly", a mob boss's girlfriend (portrayed by Beckett in Castle's mind) arrives at a club and wears a huge white fox wrap.
    • Meredith shows up in "Significant Others" wearing a mini skirt and a lynx jacket.
    • Fashion Designer Matilda King is first shown wearing a lynx coat draped over her shoulders.
  • Previously On…:
    • After the Opening Narration stopped being used close to the beginning of Season 3, one of these was used in "Knockdown", with clips from "A Death in the Family" and "Sucker Punch"...the other two Castle episodes which dwell heavily on Beckett's mother's murder.
    • Similarly, "To Love and Die in L.A." features one which is exclusively clips from "Under the Gun", the episode with Beckett's old partner Mike Royce. He's dead within a minute of the montage.
    • The Season Four premier episode had one, surprisingly, and did a recap of the season three finale to lead as an opener for why Beckett is being gurneyed down a hospital wing.
    • "Kick the Ballistics" has one, which puts into context the significance of the episode's murder weapon.
    • The Season 4 finale has another one.
    • The Season 5 premiere cleverly segues from a "Previously On" clip(in which the sniper who shot Beckett at Montgomery's funeral vows to finish the job) to the main episode (Castle wakes up suddenly in a Catapult Nightmare, as though he dreamed about the sniper threatening to kill Beckett), before revealing a shot of Beckett in Castle's shirt entering the bedroom with two coffee mugs. Pillow talk ensues.
    • "Hunt", being the continuation of the previous episode "Target", has this; slightly extended to immediately pick up where it last left off.
  • Prisoner's Dilemma: The episode "The Double Down" eventually has the team realize that they have a "Strangers on a Train"-Plot Murder in their hands. Unfortunately they don't have any hard evidence, so if both suspects keep mum they can't prove the theory. To solve it, Ryan and Esposito tell the weaker link while Castle and Beckett are interrogating him that his partner has already given him up to save his own skin, which convinces the bluffed suspect to confess.
  • Private Eye Monologue: In "The Blue Butterfly".
  • Product Placement: Microsoft products are featured prominently in "Kill Shot." Hulu even had a video dedicated entirely to the product placement.
    • In "The Final Frontier" there is an overwhelming amount of Marvel comic book characters and paraphernalia shown in the background at the con and all of the comic book references from Castle came from Marvel. ABC and Marvel are both owned by Disney. Castle references his and Alexis' Star Wars costumes. This episode would have been filmed before the news, but it doesn't hurt that Star Wars is now owned by Disney too.
      • At one point when Beckett informs Castle of a murder at the convention, Castle asks, "Did Doctor Octopus finally take out Spider-Man?" The episode aired just as Marvel was publishing the "Dying Wish" arc in Amazing Spider-Man, in which Doc Ock mind-swapped with Spider-Man and seemingly killed him, paving the way for Superior Spider-Man.
    • "Heroes and Villains" involved a vigilante who dressed up as a superhero, so it too was heavy on the Marvel Comics references, specifically saying the killer drew his costume's inspiration from Spider-Man, Daredevil, Deadpool, and Black Panther. It's also noticeable for a slight amount of Product Displacement in shutting out all famous DC characters. Disney owns ABC and Marvel, so it was understandable, but considering it was a show about comics and superheroes with only single offhand remarks about Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent was kind of obvious.
  • Prophecy Twist: In "He's Dead, She's Dead," the psychic told a criminal who wants out of crime if he wants to find happiness, invest in a real estate offer. He does so and the deal goes bust, costing the criminal much of his money and making him have to sell his estate for the money. Though angry and he went to confront her, she assured him to trust in the universe. Leaving her, he went to the realtor broker who is selling his house and it turns out his old high school sweetheart is going to be his specific realtor. Each still had a torch for the other and they rekindled their relationship, leaving him happier than he was for a long time.
    • In the same episode, the psychic told Beckett that a man named Alexander would become very important to her. At the end of the episode Castle heard about this and informed Beckett that before he started writing under his pen-name Richard Castle, his birth name was Richard Alexander Rogers.
  • Protectorate: Castle is sometimes a Heroic Neutral, but can be talked into helping by the words "what if it was Alexis in {that situation}?"
    • During a nuclear threat in "Countdown", he tries to gets her and his mother to go away from town.
    • In "Cuffed", this tendency actually provokes him into freeing a tiger from the other side of a wall mistakenly thinking that the criminals are slave trading.
  • Pulled from Your Day Off: "In The Belly Of The Beast" opens with Beckett giddily about to enjoy a rare day off when Gates calls her in to help out with an undercover operation. It gets worse. Much worse.
  • Pulling the Thread: In the fifth season, "The Squab and the Quail", Castle's jealous of a multi-billionaire inventor/venture capitalist's infatuation with Beckett, who is being targeted by an assassin. Pulling the thread lets Castle realize that said billionaire was trying to kiss Beckett, but it also makes him realize that she pushed him away (coincidentally saving his life and her relationship with Castle).
  • Punny Name: The Other Wiki states that Castle's name is a play on "Rich Asshole."
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away:
    • Subverted in the pilot: Castle's the hostage, but he's able to break free, and get the perp's gun. "Tell me you saw that!" Also, see above.
    • In season two Castle gets stuck in the same position and decides to headbutt the hostage taker instead, who is then shot by Beckett.
    • A strange variant in "Nikki Heat". The first scene of the episode enacts this as part of Natalie Rhodes's audition tape for the Heat Wave movie. Castle isn't convinced of Natalie's talent until she decides to shadow Beckett on a murder case for character research, which ends with Natalie using the same lines from her audition tape on a real killer. To everyone's surprise, it works.
    • Almost subverted twice in the season 4 opener "Rise", where Beckett has just recovered from her shooting. The first time, she starts shaking uncontrollably when a suspect points a gun at her until Ryan and Esposito arrive to subdue the suspect. The second time, she is able to face down the real killer, with a little help from Castle, who keeps her calm and collected enough to keep her gun aimed at the killer.
    • It actually works for once in "Linchpin", when a suspected CIA mole takes a hostage and backs into an elevator. Turns out he's not the mole.


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