Robert "Bobby" Goren is a quirky, extraordinarily intelligent investigator and criminal profiler, known as much for his instinct and insight as for his odd mannerisms. His partner, best friend, and Most Important Person is Alexandra Eames.
- Ambiguous Disorder: He seems to have trouble connecting with others, has a hard time accepting changes in routine (most notably displayed any time Eames is absent), gets obsessive about things easily, latches on to small details... a lot of signs for something on the autism spectrum.note
- Badass Beard: As seen in the later seasons (even within a single episode, where one scene could have him sporting a full grey beard and the next could have him clean-shaven or vice-versa.) Vincent D'Onofrio could grow one like nobody's business.
- Badass Pacifist: Goren almost always manages to get a criminal arrested simply by getting them emotionally riled up to confess their crime(s) or having their accomplice and/or alibi do that.
- In one episode, he and Logan are trapped unarmed in a locked-down prison with the corrupt guards they were investigating. Knowing the leader is beyond reasoning with, Goren singles out each of the subordinates in turn, convincing two of them to stand down and the third to actually escort them out. In the end, the leader is left standing alone in an empty hallway, knowing he's lost everything and unable to do anything about it.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: Of the family members we see, Goren is the most normal and well-adjusted. That should tell you a lot.
- Broken Ace: An amazing detective with an impressive case success rate. He also grew up in a dysfunctional family, many of his peers (sans Eames) think of him as crazy, and he has a hard time functioning without his partner.
- Cloudcuckoolander: He can come across this way, as illustrated by a lot of the details listed under Ambiguous Disorder.
- Character Tic: He will cock his head to the left if something catches his attention. If something's really interesting, he'll tilt his entire body to the left until his torso is practically parallel to the floor.
- Creepy Good: His disturbing mannerisms really offset his legitimately noble intentions.
- Deadpan Snarker: His very dry sense of humour often provides some levity in serious situations.
- Defective Detective: During the series, Goren's history, coupled with his unorthodox style, became a source of trouble within the NYPD, spawning rumors and accusations that he was mentally unstable.
- Disappeared Dad: His father walked out on the family when he was unable to take his wife's mental illness any longer. His biological father, Mark Ford Brady, was briefly in his life when he was a child and was known to him as "Uncle Mark," but disappeared as well once things went sour with his mother.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The Responsible (a decorated cop with a good case close record) to his older brother, Frank's Foolsih (a drug addict with a gambling problem).
- Freudian Excuse: Practically every member of his family has a disorder of some kind.
- Genius Bruiser: His primary modus operandi is to break suspects with mental gymnastics but he's shown several times that he is a formidable fighter as well. Only Elliot Stabler is more likely than Goren to rough up a suspect.
- Gentle Giant: He's really a very kind person and tries to avoid physical confrontation as much as possible — until he loses his temper.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: The 6'4" Goren is best friends with the 5'2" Eames.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: Downplayed. Goren has a rather manly chin, but unlike Stabler, he rarely waggles it around.
- Manchild: Until Sanity Slippage started to set in, at any rate.[Goren is thoroughly enjoying his time behind the wheel of a suspect's cherry red 1962 Ferrari GTO]Eames: [amused] You have to come out now.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: He generally comes off as an unassuming Cloudcuckoolander, which makes him even more terrifying to the perps — most of whom begin spilling their guts just to get the mind games and terrifyingly accurate psychological profiling to stop.
- Papa Wolf:
- Inverted. Goren became enraged over the corrupt judge he and his colleagues were investigating sent an officer to the mental ward his mother was staying in to harass her.
- Played straight with his nephew, Donnie — The whole reason the plot of "Untethered" kick-started was because Donnie revealed there being abuse in the mental ward he was staying in.
- Platonic Life-Partners: With Eames; in his own words, they are Like Brother and Sister, not that this deters the shippers at all.
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy: "Mad Hops" showed him to be surprisingly adept at Basketball court Trash Talk, cuing a jokey Mass "Oh, Crap!" from the kids on the court and one of them throwing him the ball."Nice kicks, where'd you get the laces, from a telephone pole?"
- Sanity Slippage: Starting around the end of Season Six, he starts getting every known misery in the universe piled on him. His mother dies. His partner is kidnapped. His nephew goes insane and then goes missing. His brother screws him over repeatedly, and just when they've reconciled, he turns up murdered. His mentor reveals himself to have been the one who murdered his brother, as well as his arch-enemy, as a way to "help" Goren be free. His captain is murdered. He gets fired from Major Case. Finally, in Season Ten, he starts seeing a therapist and there seems to be some hope that he can get a break from the world constantly being unkind to him.
- The Southpaw: Is shown on occasion to be left-handed, as is D'Onofrio in real life.
- Undying Loyalty: To Eames. He's noticeably off balance when she isn't around. And if someone decides to harm so much as a hair on her head, God help them. The episode "Blind Spot" in particular shows just how far Goren will go to save his partner.
- The Unfavorite: Despite being a highly decorated detective, Goren was always in the shadow of his dysfunctional older brother whom his mother always treated better. This is because Goren is the product of his mother's affair with a man who turned out to be a serial killer.
Alexandra "Alex" Eames is Goren's quiet, snarky, practical partner, who generally seems to mesh well with him despite the noticeable personality differences between the two.
- Action Girl: Despite her small stature, Eames is more than capable of holding her own in physical combat.
- Badass Adorable: Alexandra Eames is five-foot-two, adorable, and blonde. And she is just as terrifying as Goren when she gets going, if not more so.
- Best Friend Manual: To Robert Goren.
- Broken Bird: Her husband was a cop who was killed in the line of duty.
- The Cameo: Has made two guest appearances on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, with more possibly to come.
- Catchphrase: "No, see..." How she starts a sentence when she's about to demolish a suspect's lie with evidence. She not only says it at least once an episode, but says it more times than any other character in the L&O universe.
- Cloud Cuckoolanders Minder: Deconstructed; while she and Goren make a fantastic team, their partnership is implied multiple times to limit Eames' potential for upward career movement (although she isn't actually bothered by it and, in fact, refuses to keep a promotion that comes with the condition of firing Goren), and if Eames is away from Goren, he goes downhill fast. It's most notably seen in the episodes in Season Three in which Eames is absent and Goren is temporarily paired with Detective Bishop; he and Bishop get along very poorly because she isn't used to his antics and he can't stop comparing her to Eames. In addition, some of the later seasons show that despite her deep affection for and loyalty to Goren, on some level, Eames is resentful of being considered nothing more than the sidekick to her brilliant partner.
- Damsel out of Distress: In "Blind Spot", Eames is kidnapped by the serial killer, Sebastian. For some reason, the killer doesn't kill her like the other victims. With a combination of strength, scientific knowledge, and remaining level-headed, she is able to escape her imprisonment without help from the police.
- Deadpan Snarker: In so, so many spades. If there is a snarky comment to be made about a situation, Eames will make it. Interestingly, her snark is frequently much more cutting than her partner's.
- Fair Cop: Kathryn Erbe is the epitome of the no-fuss, practical beauty, and her big brown eyes only help matters.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: The 5'2" Tiny Girl to Goren's 6'4" Huge Guy.
- It Runs in the Family: Comes from a family of cops.
- Living Emotional Crutch: If Eames isn't with Goren, he doesn't function properly. Perhaps best illustrated in the episode which ends with her giving birth; while ruminating on the motive of the killer, Goren looks at her empty desk and immediately understands what's in the guy's mind: "He misses his partner."
- The Maiden Name Debate: She kept her maiden name, Eames, after she married Joe. She uses this to her advantage in "Amends" by pointing out to Ross that no one will immediately connect her to Joe when his murder has to be reopened.
- Missing Mom: In ten seasons, Eames mentions her mother maybe once or twice; the only thing we ever learn about her is that she had a stroke at some point. In an episode where she and Goren visit Eames senior, her mother is neither seen nor mentioned.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: Eames is extremely intelligent and one of the very best detectives in the entire NYPD — but her partner happens to be the downright brilliant Robert Goren. Watching Goren work, it's easy to forget just how good Alexandra Eames is at her job... which she naturally uses for her own and her partner's benefit at every opportunity. Frequently she will deliberately let suspects think she isn't a threat until, quite suddenly, she is.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: She is five feet and two inches of concentrated asskicking.
- Platonic Life-Partners: With Goren; in Goren's own words, they are Like Brother and Sister, not that this deters the shippers at all.
- Transplant: She has started making occasional guest appearances on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
- Undying Loyalty: To Goren. In Season Nine, she is offered the position of captain of Major Case on the condition that she fire Goren; she takes the position long enough to fire him so that no one else will do so, and then quits herself, unwilling to continue without him.
- Waif-Fu: Eames is five feet and two inches of pure badass. And she's the senior detective in her partnership with Goren.
- The Watson: To Goren. Much like the good doctor, she provides an interface between her partner and the rest of the world.
- Widow Woman: As noted above, her cop husband was killed in the line of duty some years prior to the start of the show. She's never remarried; one or two episodes mention that she dates, but in ten seasons there's no mention of a serious boyfriend.
- Written-In Absence: In Season 3, due to Kathryn Erbe's pregnancy; Eames was said to be acting as a surrogate for her sister.
The captain of the Major Case Squad in Seasons One through Five.
- Deadpan Snarker: He probably picks it up from his detectives.Eames: She also tested positive for lithium.Goren: Might have been for depression.Capt. Deakins: What's so depressing about being a crack whore?
- Know When to Fold 'Em: His career ended when a former friend of his framed him for corruption charges; he resigned rather than tarnish his reputation further or bring danger to the detectives trying to help him.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: His actor had Bell's Palsy during the filming of Season Four, so the illness was written in for Deakins.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Has been working with Goren long enough to know that his tactics, while unusual, get the job done, and is willing to give him and Eames a lot more latitude than most. That said, he also knows when to draw the line.
- Team Dad: Is more than willing to go to bat for his detectives, and gets Logan reinstated as a detective.
Logan is a troubled detective who formerly worked in the detective squad of Manhattan's 27th precinct.
For tropes relating to Logan's character in the original series, please see the Law & Order character sheet.
- Character Development: Subtle, but Mike has better control over his temper than he did back in Law and Order. It makes for interesting contrast when he's temporarily paired with Nola Falacci, whose own temper control is...shall we say, not as refined.
- Deadpan Snarker: A trait he retains from the original series.
- Hot-Blooded: Still shows signs of this from time to time, but it's way toned down from the original series. His temporary partner in Season 7, Nola Falacci, comments on this, saying that she'd heard he was a hothead; Logan responds to this by handing her a newspaper article about the incident in the original Law & Order in which he punched a homophobic councilman.
- Only Sane Man: In his temporary partnership with Falacci, something he finds amusing.
- Put on a Bus: Leaves the force at the end of Season 7 after a particularly difficult case nearly gets him fired.
- Transplant: From Law & Order to Criminal Intent.
- Two First Names: Either "Mike" or "Logan" can be used as a first name.
- Portrayed by: Annabella Sciorra
Logan's original partner as seen in season five.
- Distaff Counterpart: She is essentially a female version of Goren.
- Hidden Depths: Well...Eames: The girls don't remember anything about the place except that it's down a flight of stairs and it has a red bar.Barek: Oh. Ah...The Shock and Awe club. It's on Harrison between Greenwich and Hudson.Goren, Eames, and Logan all stare at her.Barek: There's this DJ there that I know.
- I Work Alone: Was known to work without a partner, hence her own idiosyncrasies, such as a habit of talking to herself.
- Omniglot: To quote her, she speaks "Spanish, Yiddish, Italian, Polish, some Creole, some Russian, some Cantonese from working in Chinatown".
- Raised Catholic: And unlike her partner, she is not a lasped Catholic.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Disappears after Season Five; no reason was ever given.
Megan A. Wheeler is Mike Logan's second partner in the Major Case Squad, and subsequently becomes Zach Nichols's first partner in Season 8.
- Boyish Short Hair: One of her defining characteristics.
- Broken Bird: Her fiancé's lies about his criminal activities are revealed when he gets arrested by the FBI right in front of her. And then, once he's locked up in federal prison for twelve years, she finds out she's pregnant with his child. There's also a subplot in a later episode involving the disappearance of her father, who was implied to be involved in mob activity; the episode ends with her at a mass gravesite waiting to see if they've uncovered his body.
- Deadpan Snarker: Not quite to Eames' level, but she gets plenty of moments.
- Disappeared Dad: Her father disappeared when she was younger; it's implied that he was up to some kind of criminal or mob activity. A later episode has her investigating, which ends with his body possibly being uncovered in a mass gravesite, though it isn't confirmed.
- Older Than They Look: Is noted by a number of characters to look very young. Logan, upon meeting her, makes a snarky comment about her freckles. Ross counters this by complimenting her time working undercover, saying that no one ever made her as an officer.
- Put on a Bus: After her character gives birth at the end of Season Eight. An episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit establishes that she later retired.
- Written-In Absence: In the seventh season, she goes on a special assignment in Europe for six months due to Julianne Nicholson's pregnancy.
Megan Wheeler's temporary replacement while she was on a special assignment in Europe.
- Character Development: She does learn to keep her temper in check better thanks to Logan, albeit slowly. In her last episode, she's actually the one to get Logan and Ross to stop fighting.
- Fair Cop: She's a good looking woman in good shape who constantly wears sleeveless shirts with low necklines.
- Fiery Redhead: Noted in-universe to be more hot-headed than Logan; if you know anything about Logan's time on the original show, you'll know that this is quite impressive. It's discussed in one episode when Falacci asks Logan why he's so level-headed when she'd previously heard that he was a hot-head himself; Logan responds by handing her a copy of the newspaper article telling the story of how he got demoted. Over time she seems to absorb his advice; in her last episode, she's the one to intervene in a fight between Logan and Ross and tell them to calm down.
- Hot-Blooded: To the point that she makes Logan the Only Sane Man in their partnership, amazingly enough. She does gradually start mellowing out, though.
- Human Shield: In "Senseless", a perp grabs her and holds her at knifepoint; while she comes out of it with a cut arm, it thankfully isn't too serious.
- Ms. Fanservice: She's a Fair Cop who constantly wears sleeveless shirts with low necklines.
- Put on a Bus: Once Wheeler comes back, Falacci is mentioned to have gone to Quantico for FBI training.
- Temporary Substitute: In the first half of Season 7 while Wheeler's actress was on maternity leave.
The captain of the Major Case Squad in Seasons Six through Eight.
- Amicable Exes: Downplayed; he shares parenting duties with his ex-wife and they're on good enough terms to have a family dinner together, but he doesn't seem to think much of her new partner.
- Papa Wolf: Has two sons with his ex-wife and would break anyone in two for threatening them.
- Ship Tease: With Rodgers; they're seen dressed for a theater date in one episode, and in "Frame" Goren angrily confronts Ross about asking Rodgers for information on him by saying, "Did your girlfriend tell you that?"
Logan's replacement and an old acquaintance of Captain Ross just returned to the force after seven years, Zach is a pretty quirky detective with a dry, witty sense of humor.
- Establishing Character Moment: The audience and Wheeler first encounter him as he arrives at the scene of the crime in "Rock Star" with his arms full of takeaway from various ethnic/specialty eateries of the neighborhood, cheerfully marveling over the variety and quality of the goodies.
- Hidden Depths: He is a brilliant pianist, and his using this skill to get under the skin of a musician/suspect in "Rock Star" is the moment that Wheeler realizes the "brilliance" Ross told her about earlier is not just an Informed Attribute. This skill ends up serving as Book-Ends for his tenure on the show, as it prominently appears in his final episode, "Three-In-One", as well.
- Mysterious Past: Captain Ross admits to Wheeler that during the seven years Nichols was off the force (by choice, suggested to be the result of post-9/11 burnout), the only clue to his whereabouts was a postcard from Cleveland.
- Tall, Dark, and Snarky: As to be expected by someone played by Jeff Goldblum.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: He came from a family of psychiatrists, and his father was very disappointed that he did not follow in his footsteps, causing a lot of strife between the two. In "Three-In-One", he is forced to enlist his father's help to capture a murderer and possibly save one of their intended victims. The collaboration works despite much stress for both men, and they reconcile at last.
The wise-cracking medical examiner.
- Deadpan Snarker: A trait carried over from the original series.
- Progressively Prettier: She was originally seen with short red hair and hidden in lab coats. Over time, her hair was dyed blonde and grown out and she was seen more outside work in more feminine clothing. "Untethered" even had her wearing a beautiful, sparkly dress as she was about to head to the opera with Ross.
- Ship Tease: With Captain Ross; it's never officially mentioned on screen, but they're seen dressed for a theater date in one episode, and in "Frame" Goren angrily confronts Ross about asking Rodgers for information on him by saying, "Did your girlfriend tell you that?"
- There's also a bit with Briscoe from the original series; she mentions that he took her out to the opera once.
- Transplant: From the original series.
The Assistant District Attorney that works with the Major Case Squad from Season One to Season Five.
- Badass Baritone: He speaks in a low, smooth tone of voice.
- By-the-Book Cop: Or attorney, rather. Rarely there is a time where he isn't clashing with the detectives, especially Goren.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: He was written out at the end of season five without a given reason.
- Deadpan Snarker: Not as severe as the others, but it's still seen. I.e., in "The Unblinking Eye" after the suspect is arrested for the crime and bemoans a failed audition he had and said his "mind went blank", he then quips, "Too bad his mind didn't go blank on that street corner" (where he shot the victim).
- Hello, Attorney!: He is a very attractive man who is also an ADA.
- Out of Focus: Even though the District Attorney's office didn't play as large as a part in the series compared to the other series in the franchise, beginning with the latter half of season four, he started to be used less and less. He initially was seen as someone who worked with the detectives and told them what they were allowed to do in the scope of the law, but eventually became someone who showed up once and episode just to block their efforts with little to no compromise.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: As an attorney, he was always seen wearing a collection of nice suits and ties.
- Token Minority: He is the only main or recurring black character in the show's history.
- Affably Evil: A villain yes, but she's a polite one.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Lacks empathy, superficially charming, an expert liar, and is incapable of forming emotional attachments with others.
- Big Bad: The closest thing the show has to this.
- The Chessmaster: A criminal mastermind, she is one of the few people Goren encounters throughout the series who can get the better of him, particularly by confronting him about his unhappy childhood.
- Dark and Troubled Past: According to Goren, her father sexually abused her in her childhood.
- Deadpan Snarker: As part of her being Goren's Evil Counterpart.
- Depraved Bisexual: Downplayed. She's bisexual and a villain, but her villainy is not correlated to her sexuality.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
- Gwen Chapel, the cancer-ridden daughter of her ex-fiancé, is about the only person for whom she shows any genuine affection, and in "Frame" it's implied that Gwen's cancer worsening is what has driven Nicole to kill again.
- She also claims that Goren is the only man she's ever loved, although the sincerity of this claim is questionable.
- Evil Brit: Technically she's Australian.
- Evil Counterpart: To Goren — Both are brilliant, use a facade to trick others, had a troubling childhood that involved an abusive father (emotional/psychological for Goren, sexual for Nicole), are not easily fooled by other Manipulative Bastards, have a sole loved one who acts as a form of emotional support (Eames is Goren's Living Emotional Crutch, Gwen is Nicole's Morality Pet and Morality Chain), and they both have an Ambiguous Disorder. The key difference is that Goren uses his talents to solve crimes and prevent future ones, Nicole uses hers to commit them.
- Foil: To Goren, in the way they manipulate others — Goren is a large man who pretends to be a Cloudcuckoolander and having others thinks of him as an idiot; Nicole is a petite woman who uses her superficial charm to let others believe she's a caring and warm person.
- Freudian Excuse: Goren theorizes that she was molested by her father as a child and that the trauma bred in her a pathological drive to use and destroy anyone who gets close to her; this is frequently implied to be true.
- Hot Teacher: In her first appearance.
- I Love You Because I Can't Control You: If you give credence to her claim that Goren is the only man she's ever loved, it's implied to be this trope; in particular, she apparently is drawn to him because she can't seduce him.
- Morality Pet: Gwen is one for her.
- Never Found the Body: The only part of her ever found is her heart; while the DNA test says it's hers, Goren refuses to believe it actually is.
- Interestingly enough... A murder suspect played by the same actress appears in a 2013 episode of Jo, a show also created by Rene Balcer. Said suspect's fingerprints match those on record for Nicole Wallace, but her DNA does not.
- Offing the Offspring: Killed her three-year-old daughter before the series began.
- Parental Incest: She never admits to it, but Goren becomes certain she was molested by her father as a child. One scene between her and Gwen suggests this is true, with Nicole telling Gwen that "sometimes daddies can love too much".
- Pet the Dog: The one act of kindness she does for anyone in the show's run is to leave Gwen with her aunt in Arizona to ensure her safety, instead of running away with her or leaving her with the relative who was trying to murder her.
- Two First Names: Either "Nicole" or "Wallace" can be used as a first name.
Robert Goren's former mentor, and one of the first criminal profilers. He was once a respected member of the FBI, but had a mental breakdown during the pursuit of a serial killer and subsequently became a laughingstock.
- Abusive Parents: At best he barely acknowledges his daughter Jo's existence; their interactions generally consist of him cutting her down, or of awkward silence. Goren and Jo both admit that Declan was far more of a father to the former than he was to the latter. It was bad enough that Jo ended up committing multiple murders and kidnapping Eames just to get her father's attention, and eventually he manipulates Jo into biting out her own tongue so that she can't give out any information on him.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: He knows that Goren has gotten dealt a pretty crappy hand in life and really wants to help make things better for him. So he murders Goren's brother Frank and nemesis Nicole Wallace in order to free Goren from their toxic influence, and goes to jail for his crimes to free Goren from his own.
- Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Part of why he treats Goren so much better than Jo is his longing for a son.
Goren's drug-and-gambling addicted brother.