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"Who can we get on the case?
We need Perry Mason
Someone to put you in place
Calling Perry Mason again"
Ozzy Osbourne, "Perry Mason"

Perry Mason is a hugely successful multimedia franchise of the twentieth century. Beginning as a series of best-selling novels by Erle Stanley Gardner in the 1930s, it has been adapted for film, radio, an iconic and influential 1950s-1960s TV series starring Raymond Burr, a failed 1970s TV reboot, a series of TV movies in the 1980s and 1990s that brought back the cast of the Raymond Burr show, and finally another TV reboot in the 2020s starring Matthew Rhys.

Mason is a skilled defense attorney who takes on seemingly hopeless cases, and turns them into victories by investigating the mystery, with the help of his secretary, Della Street, and private detective Paul Drake. Then, in a dramatic courtroom scene, Mason's new evidence is introduced, and the real criminal is forced to confess. Usually while on the witness stand.

There were eighty novels in the series by the time Gardner died in 1969, and two more were published posthumously. The first was 1933's The Case of the Velvet Claws, and the last was The Case of the Postponed Murder.

Seven movies were theatrically released between 1934 and 1940; the first four all starred Warren William as Mason. The final movie retooled the Perry Mason concept beyond all recognition into the western crime comedy Granny Get Your Gun. Yes, really.

The radio series began in 1943. It focused more on action than courtroom drama, and Gardner eventually withdrew his support for the show, which then went on to be adapted into the television soap opera, The Edge of Night.

The original Perry Mason TV series debuted in 1957, and ran through 1966. It featured Raymond Burr as Mason, Barbara Hale as Della Street, William Hopper as Paul Drake, William Talman as Hamilton Burger and Ray Collins as Lt. Arthur Tragg. It was, at the time, the longest-running, and most successful lawyer show on television, and is still what most people think of when they hear the name.

The TV series was revived in 1973 as The New Perry Mason, with a completely different cast led by Monte Markham, but it only lasted one season. It was then revived again as a made-for-TV movie, Perry Mason Returns in 1985, with the surviving cast of the original show, plus William "The Greatest American Hero" Katt as Paul Drake Jr - a slanted case of Real-Life Relative, as Katt was the son of Barbara Hale. The success of this TV movie spurred the production of twenty-nine more Perry Mason TV movies between 1985 and 1994, with the last installment airing after Raymond Burr's death in 1993 (NBC made four A Perry Mason Mystery Spin-Off TV movies without Mason himself before calling it quits).

The series is very popular overseas—a Turkish version (also called Perry Mason) was produced in 1983. It also inspired a song by Ozzy Osbourne.

In 2020, HBO started airing a new series starring Matthew Rhys that is considerably Darker and Edgier and Film Noir-ish than the previous shows. The first season serves as an origin story for the Perry Mason character and is set in The '30s in Los Angeles.

Many episodes of the 1943-1955 radio series have fallen into the public domain in the United States, and can be downloaded courtesy of the Internet Archive.

Is the Trope Maker of the following tropes:

Perry Mason works with their own pages:

Perry Mason provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: When Paul Drake goes undercover (posing as a county tax assessor) to investigate an accident victim in "The Case of the Resolute Reformer," he instead encounters a very drunk and disheveled woman, Grace Witt. She immediately takes a shine to him, and her attempts to seduce him are so aggressive that Paul flees in panic.
  • Accidental Murder:
    • "The Case of the Madcap Modiste" involves a case of mistaken murder. Leona Durant, a trusted friend of murder victim Flavia Pierce, wants to preserve the victim's marriage and attempts to poison model Hope Sutherland, a woman she believes the victim's husband was seeing. Unfortunately, she poisons Flavia instead when the victim holds the brooch containing cyanide in her mouth while fastening a dress instead of giving it to Hope.
    • Subverted in "The Case of the Lonely Heiress." Spicy Latina Delores clobbers her partner in crime Barnaby, as part of their con, and apparently kills Barnaby with a blow the head. She's devastated over this, until Lt. Tragg assures her she didn't kill him. He was poisoned... Plus it turns out she did kill him and tried to frame the heiress of the title.
  • Accidental Public Confession: A version of this happens in "The Case of the Madcap Modiste." During a live TV interview, Charles Pierce excitedly announces that the fashion design company he and his wife Flavia own has agreed to license their designs with Ariel Fashions. It turns out she is against the idea and didn't sign the contract. The interview turns into a massive embarrassment for all concerned.
  • Acoustic License: Witnesses on the TV show sometimes whisper or sob during dramatic courtroom moments and can be heard perfectly clearly. Other times, the judge instructs them to speak up when they do this.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Sometimes occurred when a novel was adapted into an episode without accounting for the moral differences between the television characters and their literary counterparts.
  • Age Lift: Della Street is 27 in the first book; she is played in the TV series by Barbara Hale (who was 35 in the first season). Lt. Tragg is stated in the books to be the same age as Perry; he is played by 68-year-old Ray Collins.
  • The Alcoholic: Several such characters appear on the TV show, including murderers Karen Alder in "The Case of the Negligent Nymph" and Aaron Hubble in "The Case of the Purple Woman", down-on-his-luck director Mike Flint in "The Case of the Promoter's Pillbox," has-been actress Mary Manning in "The Case of the Careless Kidnapper," the murder victim's wife Valerie Brewster in "The Case of the Fancy Figures," murder suspect's father James Morrow Sr. (complete with tremors) in "The Case of the Spanish Cross," obnoxious football team owner Burt Payne in "The Case of the 12th Wildcat," photographer Bud Ferrand in "The Case of the Bartered Bikini," rocket scientist Dr. Bradbury in "The Case of the Misguided Missile," recovering alcoholic William Sherwood in "The Case of the Antic Angel," and murder victims Carina Wileen in "The Case of the Fatal Fetish" and Victoria Dawn in "The Case of the Murderous Mermaid." They're shown to be drunk at least once during the episode.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys:
    • Played with in the case of Donna Knox in "The Case of the Rolling Bones." She was the girlfriend of murder victim Maury Lewis. She freely admits he was no good but she was in love with him anyway. Knox is no better though, as the two of them conspired to blackmail Daniel Reed, who is subsequently charged with Lewis's murder.
      Donna Knox: Maury wasn't the greatest guy in the world — far from it. He was a heel, but he was mine.
    • In "The Case of the Fickle Fortune," Norma Brooks is clearly shaken up by the death of her old boyfriend, murder victim Lloyd Farrell. An import/export broker who also trafficked in stolen goods, Farrell was nevertheless the object of Brooks's rather one-sided affection, and she admits to Perry that he wasn't the most agreeable person.
      Norma Brooks: Lloyd Farrell wasn't always very nice, I knew that. But I'd never known anyone like him. I couldn't help myself.
  • Always on Duty: The various homicide lieutenants seemingly turn up at every murder that occurs in Los Angeles, no matter the time of day or night.
  • Always Murder: If the initial problem Perry's client faces isn't murder, the viewer can be sure that a murder will occur later on to complicate the plot.
  • Amoral Attorney: Lawyers who turn up among the murder suspects or appear on the witness stand are usually depicted as lacking ethics or scruples, though they aren't often the killer. Ralph Hibberly in "The Case of the Spurious Sister," Arthur Crinston in "The Case of the Sulky Girl," David Pinter in "The Case of the Potted Planter," and Wayne Jameson in "The Case of the Nebulous Nephew" are rare murderous attorney examples in the TV series.
  • Amusement Park: A creepy amusement park is seen in "The Case of the Two-Faced Turnabout." Franz Schreck, a murderous foreign ruler of a Balkan Ruritania, is killed while on a horror-themed Tunnel of Love type of ride.
  • Angry Guard Dog:
    • Both "The Case of the Negligent Nymph" and its remake "The Case of the Impetuous Imp" feature a vicious attack dog that gets turned loose on burgling murder suspects Sally Fenner and Diana Carter respectively.
    • A pack of vicious attack dogs is seen protecting murder victim Wilfred Borden's home in "The Case of the Calendar Girl."
  • Armor-Piercing Question: in the 1985 TV movie Perry Mason Returns, the prosecutor relishes the thought of beating THE Perry Mason in court, even if he is 'rusty'. Her supervisor advises her not to get cocky. When she tells him she has an Open-and-Shut Case against Della Street, her boss replies "How many times do you think Hamilton Burger said that?"
  • Artistic License – Biology: In "The Case of the Feather Cloak," the feather of an 'i'iwi bird becomes a pivotal clue. In the episode, the species is described as having been extinct since the late 19th century. While it currently has Threatened Status, the bird is by no means extinct now, and was not when the episode was made in the 1960s.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: If there's a gun involved in the murder-of-the-week, Perry will on rare occasions wave the gun around thoughtlessly in court. One example occurs in "The Case of the Nervous Accomplice." Here, Mason does so with a pistol he's holding while standing directly in front of a ballistics expert he's questioning. The expert pushes the barrel away from his face with his hand while giving Perry a dirty look.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: A few odd examples appear on the TV show.
    • Ed Davenport, the murder victim in "The Case of the Runaway Corpse," is seen near death in an oxygen tent near the beginning of the episode. When he goes into a seizure that renders him unable to breathe, Dr. Renault gives him a shot of something he refers to as Chloramine to address the problem. In Real Life, Chloramine is used as a disinfectant to purify drinking water, not for any sort of medical purpose. Perhaps justified given that Dr. Renault is later revealed as a quack and he likely gave Davenport a placebo.
    • In court testimony given during the episode "The Case of the Buried Clock," the murder victim is stated to have been surreptitiously administered the drug Scopolamine, which is said to act as a truth serum. It is in fact a medication employed to treat motion sickness and postoperative nausea and vomiting. It does not act as a truth serum in either its intended use or as a side effect.
    • In "The Case of the Hasty Honeymooner," murder suspect Lucas W. Tolliver takes calomel to ease his chronic liver complaint. He refers to it as a folk remedy, and later during the trial, Perry calls it a "harmless home remedy." While widely used in medicine since the 17th century, this mercury-based compound is in fact poisonous and it's unlikely that Tolliver would have been able to obtain it during the mid-20th century, as it was no longer used for any purpose after the early 20th century. Further, while calomel was prescribed for many disorders back in the day, liver ailments were not usually among them.
  • Artistic License – Music:
    • When Perry first visits concert pianist and murder suspect Donna Loring in "The Case of the Provocative Protege," she is playing Ludwig van Beethoven's Leonore Overture No. 3 (a work associated with the opera Fidelio) arranged for solo piano. This is an orchestral work, and given the huge repertoire for the instrument, it's unlikely she would be practicing something of this sort under normal circumstances. The work was chosen for symbolic reasons by the screenwriter, given the opera's damsel-in-distress rescue subject matter. Loring even presents Mason with a recording she made of the work as payment for his services.
    • Averted earlier in "The Case of the Provocative Protege," when a recording is being played of a performance by murder victim David Carpenter; in this case, one hears excerpts from Beethoven's "Pathetique" Sonata in C minor, which is indeed a solo piano composition.
  • Asshole Victim: Many of the murder victims are blackmailers, thieves, murderers themselves, or just someone so irritating or otherwise evil that absolutely nobody would mind their being dead — and what's more, some of the murders occur in self-defense. This not only makes many of the murderers sympathetic for dramatic purposes, it also adds to the mystery: in an average Perry Mason story, nearly everyone has a motive to kill. Oddly enough, any crimes that the victims do (including murder) were not being investigated by Tragg and Burger, which means they would have likely gotten away with them.
  • The Atoner: Various culprits and suspects throughout the show undergo a Heel–Face Turn and try to make amends. One example is seen in "The Case of the Renegade Refugee." The episode centers on a Nazi fugitive who becomes devoutly religious and ultimately turns himself in after a coworker is mistaken for him (and is accused of murdering an investigator who’d stumbled across a dark secret of yet a third coworker).
  • Babysitter from Hell: Played with in "The Case of the Deadly Toy." It is revealed that eight-year-old David Selkirk's matronly babysitter Hannah Barton has some very strange ideas about what constitutes an appropriate toy for the youngster. When the boy discovers a grown-up's gun, she allows him to play with it, giving the excuse that he likes cops-and-robbers games and anyway the gun isn't loaded. (It remains his favorite toy, and initially there's concern that he may have killed his father with it.) Barton otherwise seems like a sweet, if somewhat dotty old lady and doesn't classically fit the full-on requirements for the trope. Nevertheless...
  • Badass Longcoat: In the TV movies, Perry often sports a cool black overcoat.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: In "The Case of the Negligent Nymph," the security guard patrolling George Alder's estate is accompanied by a vicious guard dog. When he hears a cat hiding in the bushes on the property, he turns the dog loose allowing it to attack and kill the cat.
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits: The opening credits for the renamed "A Perry Mason Mystery" specials dating after Raymond Burr's death state "Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner." At this point, we're down to Della Street — and even she's gone in the first five minutes.
  • Bandage Mummy: In "The Case of the Substitute Face," a man wrapped head to toe in bandages and being pushed in a wheelchair is seen on the cruise ship Perry and Della are taking from Vancouver to Los Angeles. It turns out to be a man in disguise, and proves critical to solving the murder case Perry has taken on.
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: Perry sometimes faces this from his clients who have a Big Secret. For example, in the novel The Case of the Fenced-in Woman, Perry's clients refuse to tell him what actually happened the night before the murder, forcing him to rely on discrediting the prosecution's circumstantial evidence. Had they told him, the defendants could have been convicted of obstructing justice and interfering with evidence.
  • Beatnik:
    • The TV episode "The Case of the Jaded Joker" features a depiction of a stereotypic beatnik coffee house and has characters who express themselves using beatnik lingo, notably Buzzie and Freddie Green, though even Lt. Tragg gets in on the act! Only Buzzie exhibits any visual traits of a beatnik, and even then not as typically as many shows of the time do.
    • Dissolute sculptor Alexander Glovatski in "The Case of the Absent Artist" is a beatnik in all but name. He's a disdainful, countercultural snob decked out in sloppy clothing and a small beard who belittles wealth and fame, talks in riddles, and seemingly believes True Art Is Angsty as well as incomprehensible.
    • Goring Gilbert in "The Case of the Reluctant Model" is an artist who is both referred to and portrayed as a beatnick. He has the cavalier attitude towards possessions and artistic notoriety, uses the lingo, and sports the stereotypic goatee often seen in such characters.
  • Beautiful All Along: Harriet Bain, the murder suspect in "The Case of the Green-Eyed Sister," is presented as a dowdy young lady. At the end, Della takes her for a makeover that reveals that she was actually pretty, just needing the right makeover. Paul Drake's eyes pop when he sees her.
  • Better Manhandle the Murder Weapon: This happens several times in the TV show. For whatever reason, one sometimes sees Perry's client find the body and immediately thereafter grab the murder weapon. It normally goes a long way towards having said client be charged with the murder, either because they are seen holding the weapon or because they left their fingerprints on it. Murder defendants who do this include Doris Hocksley in "The Case of the Empty Tin," Daniel P. Conway in "The Case of the Daring Decoy," Sandra Keller in "The Case of the Golden Oranges," Joe Davies in "The Case of the Jealous Journalist," Charles Griffin in "The Case of the Malicious Mariner," Sue Ellen Frazer in "The Case of the Unwelcome Bride," Ruth Prescott in "The Case of the Lame Canary," Linda Blake in "The Case of the Bluffing Blast," Edward Lewis in "The Case of the Accosted Accountant," and Betty Wilkins in "The Case of the Ill-Fated Faker."
  • Better with Non-Human Company: In "The Case of the Perjured Parrot," murder victim Charles Sabin shows great affection for his pet parrot Casanova but none whatsoever for the people he interacts with. This includes his wife, daughter, and assistant, whom he heaps with paranoid scorn.
  • Big Friendly Dog:
    • The title canine in "The Case of the Howling Dog" is a German shepherd who in theory is a watchdog but in practice is the opposite. At the end of the episode, Paul Drake has the pooch on a leash and says "Just stay away from him. He's a killer!" Naturally, the dog playfully jumps up on Paul and licks his face!
    • Amos Keller's big mutt Hardtack in "The Case of the Golden Oranges" is framed by murder victim Gerald Thornton as being vicious. In actuality, the dog is friendly — turns out Thornton faked his injury, hoping to force Keller to sell his orange grove to save his pet. Hardtack only gets angry when he faces Thornton's killer in court, Courtney Osgood, who dragged him from Keller's home to Thornton's trailer hoping to implicate the pooch again.
  • Big Good: Perry often plays this role — he not only pledges to defend and clear every client that comes his way no matter what it takes, but he often goes out of his way to help people outside of his cases as well — even if it does ultimately come down to a court appearance. He's even gone out of his way to help people who likely would have no way to pay him. Perry has an excellent reputation for his goodness and skill, which precedes him greatly: he's not only a trusted source of advice, but nearly all of his clients come to him (rather than the other way around) because they believe he can and will help.
  • Blackmail Backfire: Quite a few blackmailers end up as the murder victims, or are exposed and arrested over the course of the trial. Still others are rejected by their victims, with the third (out of three) attempted blackmailers in The Case of the One-Eyed Witness being physically thrown from the room by his would-be victim. A downplayed example from "The Case of the Capering Camera" had a previous victim of the blackmail racket based on I Was Young and Needed the Money pictures simply dare them to go ahead (notably the murderer of the episode wasn't one of the blackmail victims, but rather the blackmailer, with the victim being his Guilt-Ridden Accomplice).
    Katherine Ames: I wrote back publish and go to blazes. I'm proud of my figure.
  • Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: When Perry cautions Paul Drake about eating spicy chili sauce at a Mexican restaurant in "The Case of the Negligent Nymph," the latter confidently says he's no stranger to spicy foods and consumes a tortilla chip loaded with the stuff. He instantly regrets it.
  • Blind Without 'Em: In "The Case of the Slandered Submarine," Gordon Russell is unmasked as the killer during the court-martial murder proceedings of suspect Robert Chapman because of his poor eyesight. Mason first shows a slide of Russell's office asking him to describe it, then twice puts up a picture of an automobile accident while asking Russell to describe his own living room and Commander Page's apartment. Chapman, who is blind in one eye and has severe glare correction issues with the other, cannot see the projections and in the second and third instances describes his living room and the apartment to the amazement of those present. While murdering Dolores Chapman, Russell's glasses were broken and fragments of these lenses (both tinted, but only one of which is a corrective lens) were found at the scene.
  • Bluffing the Murderer:
    • In "The Case of the Nervous Accomplice," Mason and Drake fake a piece of evidence (a target shooting stand) and noisily wheel it into court to draw out the killer. The murderer, Herbert Dean, dismantled the original and discarded it to cover his tracks, then was caught when he went back to check if it was missing.
    • In "The Case of the Torrid Tapestry," Mason and Drake fake a piece of evidence (a Buddha statue) and bring it into court, letting it sit partly unwrapped in full view of all present. The original was supposedly destroyed in a fire. Murderer Nathan Claver gets caught when he goes back to a warehouse from which he thinks the Buddha statue has disappeared, it having been hidden away instead of being destroyed.
  • Body Wipe: The third and fourth opening of the show starts with the titular character doing it. view here and here
  • Book Ends: Applies in a meta sense. Holland Taylor guest starred in both the first telemovie in 1985 Perry Mason Returns, and in the last, 1995's A Perry Mason Mystery: the Case of the Jealous Jokester.
  • Bowdlerise: The second-season episode "The Case of the Caretaker's Cat", which involved arson, had the phrase "mineral spirits" repeatedly overdubbed with "volatile spirits" because of antsy censors who didn't want them to use the name of an actual substance that could start fires.
  • Brainy Brunette: Della Street definitely qualifies. Dark-haired? Check. Smart and perceptive? Double check. Sometimes, one of Della's observations helps solve the murder case Perry's working on.
  • Bungled Suicide: In "The Case of the Gilded Lily," Enid Griffin takes an overdose of sleeping pills when she finds out her boss, Stewart Brent, has suddenly gotten married. She is in love with Brent, and obviously takes the news very hard.
  • Busman's Holiday: Happens to Perry in a few of the TV episodes when he's on vacation or otherwise off traveling.
    • In "The Case of the Angry Mourner," he is on vacation in a nearby cabin when he is called upon to defend murder suspect Belle Adrian.
    • In "The Case of a Place Called Midnight," he travels to Mitternacht while on vacation in Paris to visit Lt. Frederic Ralston, the son of a client. While there, Perry is pressed into service, acting as a private investigator to clear Ralston when he is accused of murder.
    • While on his way to a fishing vacation spot, Mason and Drake stop off in a small California town to get a client of Perry's to sign some papers in "The Case of the Scarlet Scandal." They stay there to defend the girl accused of killing his client's wife, and are detained long enough that fishing season ends just before they leave.
    • In "The Case of the Lurid Letter," Perry is on vacation fishing in Placer Hill when he's called upon to defend murder suspect Jane Wardman.
  • The Cameo:
    • The 1966 series finale, "The Case of the Final Fadeout," provides on-screen cameo opportunities for dozens of the behind-the-scenes production staff. They appear as witnesses, courtroom spectators, show production crew, or bar patrons at Clay's Grill. Everyone from producers (Gail Patrick Jackson) to makeup artists (Irving Pringle) to directors (Jesse Hibbs) to cameramen (Jack Woolf) to prop men (Ray Thompson) to gaffers (Larry Peets) to electricians (Bob Kaplan) to accountants (Bernie Oseransky) are seen. A link to the complete list with pictures is presented here.
    • Several members of the Los Angeles Rams football team appear very briefly (billed as themselves) in the American football themed episode "The Case of the 12th Wildcat." The list includes Roman Gabriel, Joe Scibelli, Bill Munson, Marlin McKeever, Don Chuy, and Cliff Livingston.
  • The Casanova:
    • Applies to Paul Drake. He calls Della "Beautiful," notices and comments on every attractive suspect or witness he encounters (sometimes hitting on them as well), and has been known to complain when Perry needs him if he's got a hot date.
    • Fighter Davey Carroll in "The Case of the Playboy Pugilist" lives up to the episode description, noticing every good looking woman that crosses his path, including the wife and secretary of murder victim Tod Richards.
    • Guest lawyer Bruce Jason (covering for Perry in "The Case of the Two-Faced Turnabout") has a reputation as a playboy who is more interested in skiing, playing tennis, and chasing women. Alyssa, daughter of murder suspect Elihu Laban, minces no words when she finds out Jason is representing her father in court. She and Jason patch up their differences by the end of the episode — they're heading out the door on a date!
      Alyssa Laban: Bruce Jason! I've read his name in Hollywood gossip columns for years. "Movieland's most eligible bachelor." I was upset about it when Garrett Richards mentioned his name in Mr. Burger's office. Why, Mr. Hillman? Why Bruce Jason? Mr. Hillman, my father is still practically a stranger in this country, and I've tried to take care of him and look out for him. And I don't think Bruce Jason is the lawyer for him!
      Philip Hillman: Jason is very good.
      Alyssa Laban: [laughs scornfully] When it comes to nightclubbing or holding hands with some dumb, blond, temperamental starlet — oh, I'll bet he's good, all right.
  • The Case of...: Every novel, theatrical release, TV episode (both series), and TV movie have this at the start of their title. Often they have an alliterative subject: the Poison Pen, the Dangerous Doll, etc.
  • Catchphrase: Burr-as-Mason in the series and movies often introduces himself with the phrase "I'm an attorney, my name's Mason."
  • Caught on Tape: In "The Case of the Green-Eyed Sister," crooked Private Detective Arthur West has made a tape recording of a conversation implicating Ned Bain for a bank embezzlement he committed several years ago. West intends to use it to blackmail Bain, but Perry is able to erase it surreptitiously using a small hidden magnet in a cigarette pack while examining for splices. Turns out West has another copy, though, which he produces later.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In the 1989 TV movie The Case of the Musical Murder, a witness says that on a particular night, one of Johnny Carson's guests was Alan Thicke. Thicke had played talk show host and murder victim Steve Carr, in The Case of the Shooting Star a few years earlier.
  • Chalk Outline: Several of the TV episodes feature an outline drawn in chalk at the murder scene, showing where the murder victim was found.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Individual episodes (especially in later seasons) feature a lot of one-off, way-over-the-top acting, often ones that involve artists or actors as characters, that feature fortune tellers, or that portray certain ethnic stereotypes. Examples include "The Case of the Skeleton's Closet," "The Case of the Badgered Brother," "The Case of the Scandalous Sculptor," "The Case of the Meddling Medium," "The Case of the Sad Sicilian," "The Case of the Wrathful Wraith," "The Case of the Tsarina's Tiara," and "The Case of the Betrayed Bride." "The Case of the Dead Ringer" is an especially notable example, given that Raymond Burr joins the rest of the histrionic cast by overacting shamelessly in his dual role as the seaman Grimes. In "The Case of the Absent Artist", Zasu Pitts plays a Maiden Aunt friend of the dead man, who literally faints on the witness stand when Perry asks her about helping to cover up his murder.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Examples of disappearing characters occur on the Raymond Burr TV show and in later movies.
    • Paul Drake, Jr. and D.A. Michael Reston disappeared without explanation after the TV movies switched settings to Colorado.
    • Lieutenants Tragg and Anderson don't receive In-Universe explanations for their absences.
    • Perry's student law aide David Gideon is seen in nine episodes (the first as a murder suspect defended by Mason) before leaving without a trace.
  • The City vs. the Country: Country Mouse Amy Jo Jennings, the heir to her father's company, comes to Los Angeles to pursue her musical dreams in "The Case of the Frustrated Folk Singer." She is charged with murder of her unscrupulous agent, and after being cleared decides to go back to her Tennessee hometown and concentrate on her business.
  • Claustrophobia: In "The Case of the Misguided Model," Duke Maronek thinks he killed a man but tries to dispose of the body himself and refuses to turn himself in to the police. While he doesn't use the term "claustrophobia," he cites a fear of being confined as the reason. His girlfriend also says he doesn't like being in elevators.
  • Clear My Name: Perry Mason works hard to clear the reputation of his client if he suspects they have been framed. One example involves his private eye associate, in "The Case of Paul Drake's Dilemma."
  • Cloud Cuckoolander:
    • Elderly nurse's aide (and murder defendant) Nora Mae Quincey in "The Case of the Fiery Fingers" is a quintessential dotty old lady. When she engages Perry as her attorney, she does so over tea and biscuits and says she likes Della because she has been "very nice... and quiet." When Mason asks Quincey why she didn't go to the police about her suspicions that her employer may be trying to poison his wife, she says she did — but they seemed awfully busy and never asked to see the pills she was given (the implication being that the police thought she was a nut). She tells the lawyer that he shouldn't "work for too little money" and proceeds to pay him $5.00 for his trouble. The elderly woman also takes a shine to her employer's wife's rings and diamond bracelet, "borrowing" them because she thought they were so beautiful, that his wife "wasn't using them" and she just wanted to "own them for a little while"; she even wears them to her appointment with Perry!
    • Played with in "The Case of the Nebulous Nephew." Sophia and Ninevah Stone are two classic examples of pixilated old spinsters, who are determined to have their wills changed so a stranger who says he is John Brooks will inherit their money — over Perry's objection. The two women are convinced he's really a long lost family member named Caleb Stone and won't hear otherwise. At the end of the episode, it turns out they're right! Also, when their relative Ernest Stone is killed, they both claim to be the murderer to shield Brooks from being prosecuted.
  • Clueless Chick-Magnet: Perry's female clients at times find him attractive and usually make no secret of this when they do. He never reciprocates, though, and in fact often seems amused at their interest.
  • Comically Small Bribe: A few blackmailers seem surprisingly satisfied with a tiny amount of bribe money.
    • Beachcomber Arthur Dorian in "The Case of the Negligent Nymph" requests only $50.00 to hand over a letter to George Adler supposedly typed by Adler's aunt claiming that he was going to murder her (a letter which was fake, although Dorian didn't know that). Perry speculates that Dorian would have come back later demanding more money, though the beachcomber may have simply been content with that little because of his humble lifestyle.
    • Zack Davis, a hermit who a member of a criminal conspiracy was snowed in with for several months in "The Case of the Frantic Flyer," only requests $500.00 for his silence in covering up the theft of over a quarter-of-a-million dollars as well as a murder. As in "The Case of the Negligent Nymph," Perry speculates that Davis would have come back later demanding more money, which is later confirmed to be true.
    • "The Case of the Absent Artist" features an Eccentric Artist who, prior to the episode, blackmailed a tax cheat who earned $140,000 a year. All he asked for was one $28 payment and one $50 one (although his victim later gave him $500 without being asked).
  • Conflict Ball: In "The Case of the Grinning Gorilla," Perry is depicted in a notably out-of-character fashion. He seems unusually short-tempered in the episode, seen yelling at Della and various people in Benjamin Addicks's household, as well as blowing up at Nathan Fallon who comes to Mason's office trying to purchase the dead woman's effects. His behavior is usually far more measured and professional, with his shouting normally confined to lying or guilty witnesses on the stand. These traits seem to have been dictated by the needs of the plot than for any other reason.
  • Con Man:
    • In "The Case of the Wary Wildcatter," oil wildcatter and murder victim Charles Houston sells a total of 180% of his potential gusher's proceeds to raise funds to pay off a blackmailer who saw him disposing of his wife's body. When oil is actually found on his land and he has to pay out (shortly before being murdered) Houston has quite the Oh, Crap! moment.
    • In "The Case of the Lonely Heiress," Delores Coterro and murder victim Charles Barnaby are swindlers who seduce and cheat lonely rich women. They are targeted for exposure by the sister and stepbrother of a past victim who killed herself.
    • In "The Case of the Petulant Partner," murder victim Margaret Clark is the new and young wife of elderly Chuck Clark. She and her brother Howard Roper are living at Clark's new home. In actuality, Margaret and Howard are con artists, out to get the old man's money.
  • Continuity Reboot: The New Perry Mason attempted to do this for the television side of the franchise. The 2020 series is a more successful example.
  • Contrived Coincidence: A minor example occurs at the end of "The Case of the Wednesday Woman." At the end of the trial where Perry clears Phillip Stewart of murder, Mason shows Stewart and his wife how killer Helen Reed managed to finagle stopping the elevator and murder Jack Mallory. After doing so, the elevator door opens to reveal Reed in the custody of Lt. Anderson and a prison matron.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: In "The Case of the Lavender Lipstick," murder victim Silas Vance scrawls a last message to try and finger his killer, using lipstick on the bottom of the desk drawer under which he's lying.
  • Counterfeit Cash: In "The Case of the Fanciful Frail," a large packet of cash turns out to be counterfeit and proves to be a crucial piece of evidence in the murder of Bruce Strickland.
  • Country Mouse: Subverted by Charles Barnaby in "The Case of the Lonely Heiress." His rube hayseed persona is a ruse, as he's a Con Man.
  • Covered in Kisses: In "The Case of the Crimson Kiss," murder victim Carver Clement is found dead with a big lipstick imprint on the side of his forehead. At the end of the episode, Perry's client Fay Allison leaves a similar crimson smooch mark on the lawyer's cheek as well.
  • Covert Distress Code: In "The Case of the Bountiful Beauty," movie producer Gideon Long has a code word ("camellia" in this case) which he employs when he wants his eavesdropping secretary to summon him to the studio and get him out of an uncomfortable meeting. Long uses this word during his meeting with Perry when the lawyer starts asking a lot of difficult questions — but it turns out Mason knows this trick, telling Long he has his own such code word.
  • Creator Cameo: Erle Stanley Gardner appears in the first TV series finale, "The Case of the Final Fadeout," as a trial judge.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: In "The Case of the Deadly Verdict," the killer is Christopher Barton, who was dressed in drag when he killed Amanda Barton and later tries to murder housekeeper Emily Green to cover it up.
  • Crusading Lawyer: Mason is the Trope Codifier in television, taking hopeless cases and winning them.
  • Cut-and-Paste Note: Blackmail notes in "The Case of the Scarlet Scandal" and "The Case of the Shapely Shadow" are comprised of cut-out letters glued to a sheet of paper.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates:
    • In "The Case of the Tandem Target," Irma Hodge falls in love with (and later elopes with) club singer Con Bolton, much to her controlling stepfather's displeasure. The older man ends up murdered, and Bolton is charged.
    • In "The Case of the Missing Melody," Polly Courtland plans to marry jazz musician Eddy King. Her father is not happy about the match, but reluctantly goes along with it.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Paul ("The Case of Paul Drake's Dilemma"), Della (the first movie reboot, Perry Mason Returns), Andy ("The Case of the Hateful Hero"), and Burger ("The Case of the Prudent Prosecutor") all get at least one spotlight episode each, either in the original TV show or the made-for-TV-movies. Paul Drake Jr's Suspiciously Similar Substitute, Ken Malansky, gets his day in his first appearance, M10: Case of the Lethal Lesson before becoming a series regular.
  • Dead Artists Are Better: The plot of "The Case of the Posthumous Painter" hinges on the value of a dead artist's work increasing in value. Jack Culross fakes suicide, then paints several canvases while he is hidden away. They get sold at a gallery exhibition for a handsome profit, the proceeds of which will be split with the unscrupulous gallery owner.
  • Deadly Bath: In “The Case of the Dodging Domino,” murder victim Phil Schuyler is electrocuted with a plugged-in heater while taking a bath.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Lt. Tragg has been known to fire off lines of dry wit on more than one occasion. From "The Case of the Baited Hook":
      Tragg: Uh, mind if I give you a little advice?
      Mason: Do I have a choice?
      Tragg: Suppression of material evidence in a murder might be hard to explain to the Bar Association. And I'd hate to lose my favorite sparring partner.
    • Paul Drake has his moments of whimsical sarcasm. From "The Case of the Silent Six":
      Hamp Fisher: Say... I'm not the kind of guy who jumps to conclusions, but I get the feeling you don't like me.
      Paul Drake: You know, I'm not the kind of guy that passes out compliments, but you really got me figured.
    • Myra Heston in "The Case of the Lavender Lipstick" is a practiced purveyor of cuttingly sarcastic scorn. This is mostly directed at Handsome Lech co-worker Max Pompey, with whom she has a love-hate attraction.
      Myra: Karen Lewis could no more steal from this company or sell its formulas than — than she could fall for a goat like you!
  • Deathbed Confession: In "The Case of the Black-Eyed Blonde," murderer Norma Carter crashes her jeep into a bus while fleeing. Badly injured, she is next seen in a hospital bed. She confesses to murdering Marian Shaw in front of Mason, Burger, and Tragg just before dying.
  • Delinquents: Murder suspect Lennie Beale in "The Case of the Twice-Told Twist" is part of a juvenile gang (incongruously well-dressed in suits and sweaters!) involved in car stripping and home burglary. When the episode opens, we see the group strip Mason's car in ten minutes.
  • Demoted to Extra: Della slowly recedes in importance and focus as a member of Perry's team. In the earliest episodes, she's bright, plucky, good at vebal sparring, and ocaasionally involved in investigative work. By the early fifth season, she's little more than decoration whose only function seems to be silently jotting down notes and asking Perry how he solved the case. In one instance, Della goes an entire episode (fifth season's "The Case Of The Injured Innocent") without a single line of dialogue. Perhaps someone — maybe Barbara Hale herself — complained, because it does get a little better in later seasons.
  • Demoted to Satellite Love Interest: In the books, this is defied. Della Street turned down several proposals of marriage by Perry, because she wanted to be a part of his life and she knew that meant being a part of his work — and she expected that to end after marriage. In the TV series, there are no marriage proposals, though you can find very subtle hints of a continuing relationship between Della and Perry (at least in the early episodes) if you work at it.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: in some of the TV movies. M 9:Case of the Lady in the Lake had an unusually long Start to Corpse time probably so the audience would care when she turned out to still be alive, and M 15: Case of the Silenced Singer had quite a few flashbacks during suspect interviews possibly to help show the drastic personality changes that foreshadowed the revelation she was terminally ill, and arranged her own murder.
  • Dirty Cop: The killers in the episodes "The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink" and "The Case of the Sausalito Sunrise" are crooked policemen.
  • Disregard That Statement: Often said by the presiding trial judge when one of the lawyer's objections is sustained.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • In "The Case of the Envious Editor," Perry and Paul are questioning photographer Rudy Tripp about matters related to a murder. When Tripp turns on a fan to ruffle the skirt of a model he's shooting (exposing her legs), the gawking Paul is sufficiently distracted that he doesn't hear Perry's further instructions.
    • Paul is rendered distracted and speechless in "The Case of the Capering Camera," ogling a model during a photography session. Photographer Karl Kadar tries to get Paul's attention and succeeds — eventually. Shortly after, he jokingly asks Kadar, "How do you get in this line of work?"
  • The Ditz:
    • Hollis Wilburn in "The Case of the Surplus Suitor" is naive, sweet, sociable, and as flaky as they come. Among other things, she seemingly sets up a date with her two boyfriends on the same night.
    • In "The Case of the Ice-Cold Hands," Nancy Banks asks Perry to collect the winnings on a horse-racing bet she has just made. When Perry asks why she bet so much money on something like this, her reasons are flaky, to say the least.
      Mason: Then why did you bet on Doughboy?
      Nancy: Because I need the money! Because he was wearing pretty colors! Because he smiled at me.
  • Dolled-Up Instalment: "The Case of the Lurid Letter" is based on Hugh Pentecost's story "The Man with Half a Face".
  • Divorce Is Temporary: Jeff and Lola Bronson divorce after a bitter hearing at the beginning of "The Case of the Guilty Clients." They reunite at the end after each tries to defend the other from a murder charge.
  • Domestic Abuse: In "The Case of the Shoplifter's Shoe," Perry hears murderer Pete Chennery slapping his ex-wife Ione Bedford around through a closed door.
  • Don't Answer That: Perry frequently tells his clients not to answer questions asked by Burger or a homicide detective when they're being quizzed about a murder.
  • Doorstop Baby: "The Case of the Borrowed Baby" begins with Perry and Della discovering an abandoned infant in a basket (with attached note) on Mason's desk.
  • Dramatic Downstage Turn: Used especially in the courtroom scenes by Mason or Burger to add movement and interest during witness testimony.
  • Drunk Driver:
    • In "The Case of the Haunted Husband," murder victim Michael Greeley kills a truck driver in an auto accident while driving drunk. He is shown guzzling booze out of a flask and slurring his words immediately before the wreck.
    • Peter Caine is obviously intoxicated when he hits a pedestrian while driving in "The Case of the Resolute Reformer." He is seen weaving all over the road and singing nonsense just before the accident.
  • Dying Clue: In "The Case of the Lavender Lipstick," murder victim Silas Vance scrawls a last message to try and finger his killer, using lipstick on the bottom of the desk drawer under which he's lying. Unfortunately, the message is cut short and ambiguous, leading to the arrest of Karen Lewis. Mason figures out that there's more than one name Vance may have been trying to write, thereby unmasking the killer.
  • Eccentric Artist: When one encounters artists or sculptors on the the TV show, they often fit this trope, complete with Large Ham or Drama Queen behavior and a lack of common sense. Examples include John Kenyon in "The Case of the Greek Goddess" and Hannibal Harvey in "The Case of the Scandalous Sculptor."
  • Electrified Bathtub: In "The Case of the Dodging Domino," murderer Jerry Janda kills Phil Schuyler by throwing a plugged-in heater into the latter's bathtub, electrocuting him.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: Pictures of people caught in compromising or scandalous situations (sometimes faked) sometimes surface to cause trouble for the person photographed in the TV series. One example occurs in "The Case of the Misguided Model," showing murderer Sharon Carmody engaged in pulling a bunco-artist scam. A second example is found in "The Case of the Fraudulent Photo," when a staged fake photo is taken of District Attorney (and murder suspect) Brander Harris and Leora Matthews in an attempt to discredit the attorney.
  • Enemy Mine: Mason and Burger (or other prosecutor) may be adversarial, but all are after the truth, as are the various homicide squad lieutenants. At times, Mason will convince Burger (or Tragg or some other homicide detective) to team up with him to trap the real murderer. Burger is non-adversarial with Mason in other ways at times:
    • In "The Case of the Prudent Prosecutor," Burger asks Mason to defend his friend Jefferson Pike (who is accused of murder) because he knows Mason is the city's top defense attorney.
    • In "The Case of the Nervous Neighbor," Burger is very cooperative with Mason's attempts to acquit Alice Bradley of murder in court, having helped find the doctor whose testimony exonerates her. Later, when Alice's stepson Charles Fuller is arrested for another murder, Fuller adamantly claims he wants to take the stand in his own defense, which Mason advises him against. When Fuller persists, Burger (who is also present) grills him mercilessly as if he were on the stand and makes Fuller look foolish — and then says he'd be better off taking Mason's advice.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: In "The Case of the Red Riding Boots," it is eventually revealed that murder suspect Joe Dixon and murderer Rennie Foster are stepbrothers. Given this, it's particularly shocking that Foster would simply keep quiet, callously allowing his stepbrother to perhaps be convicted and go to the Gas Chamber.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In "The Case of the Left-Handed Liar," murderer Rhonda Houseman confesses to killing Bernard Daniels and then breaking into Daniels' desk to destroy a confession her husband Eugene signed, one in which he admits to cashing forged checks totaling $75,000. Despite the money being in the drawer next to the confession, Mrs. Houseman says she never considered taking the cash.
    Perry Mason: You took the confession, but not the $75,000?
    Rhonda Houseman: Mr. Mason, I'm not a thief.
  • Everybody Is Single: No one in the main cast is shown to be in any kind of committed relationship, at least during the first series.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: Many episodes end with Perry, Della and Paul doing this. On rare occasion, even Tragg and Burger get in on it. Examples occur at the end of "The Case of the Rolling Bones" and "The Case of the Lame Canary."
  • Everybody Smokes:
    • And how. One likely reason for the ubiquitous cigarette use on the series is the fact that a tobacco company was a major sponsor during the show's early seasons.
    • Inverted late in the show's run when a non-smoking poster is seen in one episode. William Talman developed terminal lung and throat cancer right after the show ended and made a couple "please don't smoke" PSAs in 1968... seventeen years before the famous one by Yul Brynner. It aired several times just before he died. Both Ray Collins (emphysema) and William Hopper (stroke) also died during the show's run or shortly after, likely from heavy tobacco use.
  • Evil All Along: At the start of "The Case of the Wandering Widow," Riley Morgan is released from prison after being cleared of a murder acquittal when sailor Burt Stokes comes forward to provide an alibi. Stokes is later murdered, and at the end of the show it is revealed that Morgan not only killed the sailor but was actually guilty of the first murder he was sentenced for. It turns out that Morgan and Stokes conspired to fake the former's alibi.
  • Evil Laugh: An unusual example occurs in "The Case of the Laughing Lady." It's a maniacal, high-pitched cackle that borders on being an Annoying Laugh, and murder suspect Carla Chaney is convinced it's an important clue to the identity of the actual murderer. Turns out it belongs to a bird, and it is indeed crucial to exposing the killer.
  • The Faceless: Applies to murder victim Elizabeth Bain in "The Case of the Woeful Widower." The viewer never sees her, only hearing her voice and seeing her hands.
  • Face Palm:
    • In "The Case of the Unwelcome Well," Perry hides his face in his hand in frustration while Jason Rohan describes the spending spree he has indulged in. Rohan has borrowed heavily from the bank, anticipating a big financial windfall from an oil well found on his property. Unfortunately, the well's owner refuses to pump the oil out, leaving Rohan horribly overextended.
    • Edgar Benson hides his face in shame when he hears his wife Emma confess in court to murdering Courtney Jeffers in "The Case of the Nine Dolls."
    • When Chuck Clark realizes his nephew Bill Shayne has murdered his wife in "The Case of the Petulant Partner," he dejectedly hides his face in his hand.
    • Murder suspect Betty Wilkins covers her face with her hand in embarrassment when a witness describes seeing her with Jim Ferris in "The Case of the Ill-Fated Faker."
    • In "The Case of the Sleepwalker's Niece," murder suspect Peter Cole hides his face in his hand when Mason tells him why the prosecution will likely charge him.
    • Mortified murder suspect Laura Hewes hides her face after Lt. Anderson testifies that the woman's blood and fingerprints were found in murder victim Ronald Hewes's house in "The Case of the Prankish Professor."
    • Betsy Burris hides her face in her hand in shock when her husband Sam is revealed as the murderer in "The Case of the Angry Mourner."
    • Murder suspect Jimmy West does a double face palm in "The Case of the Playboy Pugilist" after his boxer friend Davey Carroll accidentally implicates him with damning-sounding testimony on the witness stand.
    • Murderer Tilden Stuart hides his face in his hand as he breaks down confessing on the witness stand in "The Case of the Jealous Journalist."
    • In "The Case of the Married Moonlighter," Luke Hickey starts to put his face in his hand after confessing to murder on the witness stand as the show cuts to commercial.
    • Back-to-back examples occur at the trial denouement in "The Case of the Sulky Girl." First murderer Arthur Crinston and then Hamilton Burger hide their face in their hands when the former is exposed as the killer.
  • Faking the Dead:
    • Several examples of people faking their own death occur on the TV show, normally done to start over and forge a new identity. Examples include Samuel Carlin in "The Case of the One-Eyed Witness," Charles Morris in "The Case of the Fugitive Nurse," Lucy Stevens in "The Case of the Singular Double," Jim Ferris in "The Case of the Ill-Fated Faker," Roy Comstock in "The Case of the Lover's Leap," George Beaumont in "The Case of the Corresponding Corpse," Willard Nesbitt in "The Case of the Angry Dead Man," Ed Davenport in "The Case of the Runaway Corpse," and Jack Culross in "The Case of the Posthumous Painter." Sometimes these people are discovered alive and subsequently murdered.
    • This is also the inciting incident of "The Case of the Footloose Doll." Mildred Crest, a secretary whose fiance has just thrown her over and revealed himself to be an embezzler, picks up a female hitchhiker. When they get into an accident that kills the passenger, Mildred leaves her own ID in the wrecked and burning car and assumes the identity of the hitchhiker to start a new life.
  • Fiery Cover-Up: A few of the TV episodes feature an attempt to cover up evidence or divert suspicion by starting a fire in an office or home. Examples occur in "The Case of the Ominous Outcast" (a newspaper office), "The Case of the Positive Negative" (a photography shop), and "The Case of the Silent Partner" (someone's home).
  • Flanderization: In his first few novels, Hamilton Burger is characterized as being obsessively frightened of convicting an innocent man and being relieved and grateful whenever Perry exonerates an innocent client. After a while though (perhaps due to one too many courtroom humiliation) while certainly never striving to convict a person he knows to be innocent, his relationship with Perry becomes more adversarial, to the point where in The Case of the Lucky Loser he attends a trial being conducted by another prosecutor just because it looks like Perry will lose for once and he wants a front-row seat.
  • Foreshadowing: done rather well in M 15: Case of the Silenced Singer. In the early scenes before the murder, the victim is shown as a high-strung diva who gives grief to everyone around her - a typical murder victim. Flashbacks from each of the suspect interviews show someone very different, and Perry even says halfway through that he doesn't understand why just about everyone they've talked to eulogizes the victim, even as they admit she treated them badly. On the stand, her contract lawyer highlights that the victim's behavior drastically changed about six months previously. It all foreshadows that the sudden, drastic personality changes were a symptom of her inoperable brain tumor. The victim arranged for her own murder in order to end her suffering.
  • For Great Justice: Often stated as the motivation of both the prosecution and the defense.
  • Frame-Up: In "The Case of the Singing Skirt," stolen money, marijuana cigarettes, and two separate guns get planted on poker club employee Betty Roberts, a cigarette girl. The culprits include Sadie Bradford (acting under instruction from her boss, club owner George Anclitis) and murderer Slim Marcus.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: "The Case of the Madcap Modiste" had this done by accident. Charles Pierce is arrested and accused of poisoning his estranged wife Flavia. Charles' girlfriend Hope Sutherland tries to plant evidence to exonerate him. Hope was trying to make it look like Flavia killed suicide, but the evidence she plants ends up getting Flavia's employee Leona Durant accused of the murder. Unable to stand by and let an innocent person be convicted because of her, Hope confesses to planting the evidence that got Leona arrested. Only it turns out that Leona really did kill Flavia (albeit accidentally while trying to poison Hope), something Perry proves.
  • Freudian Couch: When we first see murder suspect David Craig in "The Case of the Bedeviled Doctor," he is giving a psychiatry session to a patient who is lying on a couch.
  • Friendly Rivalry:
    • Despite their frequent conflicts in and out of court, both D.A. Burger and Lt. Tragg often show amicable business relationships with Perry.
    • In "The Case of the Witless Witness," Perry successfully defends his judge colleague Daniel Redmond from a murder charge. The framing sequence shows Mason losing a case in Redmond's court, the two men having a spirited yet collegial disagreement immediately after the trial and again at the end of the episode. It's clear the two jurists respect each other despite their clear differences of opinion.
  • Funny Foreigner: Outsized caricatures of Slavic or Mediterranean characters sometimes appear on this show. Mediterranean-inspired examples include George Nikolides (Greek) in "The Case of the Crooked Candle," Theba (also Greek) in "The Case of the Greek Goddess," and Paulo Porro (Italian) in "The Case of the Sad Sicilian," while Slavic-style examples include Sonya Galinova and Vyacheslav Gerznov (both Russians) in "The Case of the Tsarina's Tiara." All speak in broken English, and all but Theba have flamboyant personalities.
  • Gas Chamber: This was mentioned very frequently in the series, with Perry working to prevent his clients from receiving it as a sentence note . The good news is that Perry managed to keep his clients from this. The bad news is that the murderers he smoked out likely went there.
  • Gold Digger: In "The Case of the Crying Comedian," aptly-named floozy Rowena Leach matter-of-factly discusses with Tom Gilrain what she wants most in her next boyfriend — money.
    Rowena: I'm telling you, the next guy is gonna have assets. And he's gonna let me count 'em, or there'll be no deal.
    Tom: Won't he have to have any charm, brains, or muscle?
    Rowena: Oh, he'll have those — if he comes up with the loot.
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: At the start of "The Case of the Sun-Bather's Diary," a young woman living in a trailer is doing some nude sun-bathing by a nearby lake. Someone drives up in a truck and steals her entire trailer, leaving her nothing but a towel.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Perry is a defense attorney (and a good one), but if you refuse to cooperate with him, he will call you out and/or threaten to drop you as a client. For example, in "The Case of the Final Fade-Out," Mason gives his potential client, a prima donna actress named Winifred Glover, a "The Reason You Suck" Speech for her abusive attitude and bad manners toward him, threatening to force her to find other council. She is angry because Mason cleared his earlier client Jackson Sidemark (now dead, with Glover charged with the murder) and still holds a grudge against Sidemark for firing her. Glover gets the point and wisely lets Mason represent her.
  • Good Lawyers, Good Clients: Perry is a highly capable attorney invariably seen defending an innocent client — although many times in the books, he doubts their innocence.
  • Graceful Loser: The trope applies to Burger about half of the time, as well as to the homicide squad lieutenant much of the time.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: In "The Case of the Dodging Domino," Broadway star Mona Wickham-White has planned a big, tangible show of affection at the beginning of the episode. She wants to bring her husband Damion out to her comeback show and see the new posters giving him credit for the hit song in it, which he was playing when they met. (However, it turns out said song was actually written by a third party.)
  • Greaser Delinquents: A group of small-town high school motorcycle hoods give teacher and murder suspect Jane Wardman a lot of trouble in "The Case of the Lurid Letter."
  • Halloween Episode: "The Case of the Dodging Domino" is the only holiday themed episode in the TV series, set during Halloween. Adults discussing costumes for a party as well as children out trick-or-treating are seen. Murderer Jerry Janda, who is no taller than the costumed kids, disguises himself as a trick-or-treater, thereby gaining access to Phil Schuyler's apartment and murdering him.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: A negotiating session between Russian émigrés Sonya Galinova and Vyacheslav Gerznov becomes a Chewing the Scenery shouting match in "The Case of the Tsarina's Tiara." It involves how to split the proceeds connected to the sale of the title object.
  • Handsome Lech:
    • Max Pompey in "The Case of the Lavender Lipstick" is a relatively attractive Casanova Wannabe with the morals of a skunk, who aggressively tries to force his attentions on two co-workers. He fires Karen Lewis, his first target, when she rejects his advances, accusing her of stealing company secrets and selling them to a competitor. His other point of focus, Myra Heston, is more amenable but uses him as an object of cutting scorn.
    • "The Case of the Waylaid Wolf" has Loring Lamont Jr. as the murder victim. He's young and handsome, but an unprincipled rake. He lures unsuspecting secretary (and later murder suspect) Arlene Ferris to a beach bungalow intending to seduce her by force, and nearly succeeds.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In "The Case of the Romantic Rogue," con man Stacey Chandler decides to go straight, marrying wealthy heiress (and murder suspect) Helen Harvey over her aunt's objections.
  • Here We Go Again!:
    • Lampshaded at the end of "The Case of the Fatal Fetish" by Paul Drake when a voodoo doll is tossed to the table where he, Perry, Hamilton, Della, and Assistant D.A. Larry Germaine are sitting. It mirrors a similar incident involving murder victim Carina Wileen and Germaine's mother earlier in the episode.
    • Paul Drake lampshades the phrase in "The Case of the Poison Pen-Pal" when Karen Ross repeatedly accuses the detective of breaking into her home and stealing some letters.
  • The Hermit: Zach David in "The Case of the Frantic Flyer" lives in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. He takes in Howard Walters, who has bailed out of his plane and broken his leg, and later proves to be Walters's murderer weeks later in Los Angeles.
  • Hidden Depths: In "The Case of the Empty Tin," Elston Carr is a grouchy old man who makes no secret that he was a gunrunner in China. However, as he points out, he is under no legal obligation to find the daughter of his late partner and give her their money, but is choosing to do so anyway.
  • Hollywood Homely: Invoked in at least a few episodes. One example occurs in "The Case of the Green-Eyed Sister." Harriet Bain, the "homely" sister, is actually quite attractive and has a nice voice.
  • Hollywood Law:
    • Often played straight despite Gardner's law background. Could be classified under Acceptable Breaks from Reality.
    • This show is the Ur-Example of lawyers freely walking right up to the witness stand to ask questionsnote  and began decades of TV and movie lawyers moving around courtrooms for dramatic effect. In real courtrooms, it's considered poor etiquette for those not directly employed by the court to traverse the well of the court (the space between the bench and the counsel desks) without explicit permission and some courts (like in Los Angeles, where the series is set) don't allow lawyers to step in front of their desks at allnote 
  • Hollywood Voodoo: In "The Case of the Fatal Fetish," Mignon Germaine has a nightclub act at the Club Caribbe centered around voodoo mysticism.
  • Homage: "The Case of the Twice-Told Twist" adapts several elements from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Lampshaded in the episode's title and the episode itself.
  • Hood Hornament: Murder victim Denver Leonard in "The Case of the Prudent Prosecutor" owns a Cadillac with steer horns attached to the front hood.
  • Hypocrite: In "The Case of the Counterfeit Crank," murderer Jay Fenton confesses in the courtroom to killing Kenneth Dalgran accidentally while struggling over a weapon. Fenton was trying to stop Kenneth from going off to murder his uncle, August Dalgran — but ironically seems to have no compunction over keeping silent about it afterwards, allowing August to go on trial as the murder suspect and potentially end up in the gas chamber if convicted. Mason upbraids Fenton about the hypocrisy underlying this decision.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • At one point in "The Case of the Ice-Cold Hands," Rodney Banks comments disparagingly on his sister Nancy's predilection for mystery stories. Ironic, given that the TV series is based on a series of such books penned by Erle Stanley Gardner.
      Perry: [pulling books off a bookself and looking a them] Mystery stories. Nothing but mysteries.
      Rodney Banks: Yeah. My sister don't have such good taste, I guess.
    • In the episode "The Case of the Lonely Heiress," swindler Charles Barnaby jokingly bemoans having to associate himself with equally dishonest lonely hearts magazine publisher Edmund Lacey.
      Barnaby: [scoffs] You know, it's a shame the kind of creeps you got to do business with just to make a dishonest buck.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: turns out to be the solution in M 15:Case of the Silenced Singer. The victim, dying of an inoperable brain tumor that was already drastically affecting her personality, arranged for a hitman to kill her because she couldn't bring herself to commit suicide.
  • I Remember Because...: In "The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink," a desk clerk at an unimpressive hotel remembers the exact day he left Los Angeles on a business trip because "If you worked at the Keymont Hotel, you wouldn’t have trouble remembering when you got a free trip to Mexico City."
  • Identical Stranger:
    • Perry has one. In "The Case of the Dead Ringer," a British sailor named Grimes (a lookalike for Mason) is hired to impersonate him. Grimes publicly offers a bribe to a prospective witness in a patent infringement case in an effort to discredit Mason.
    • Bruce Jason (who substitutes for Mason as defense attorney in "The Case of the Two-Faced Turnabout") also has a double. He's a rogue former OSS agent who is discoverd to be murdered at the end of the episode. Complicating matters further, Jason poses as his double to draw out the killer.
  • Identical Twin Mistake: In "The Case of the Duplicate Daughter," the murder case being tried is complicated by having a pair of identical twins mistaken for each other (Glamis and Phyllis).
  • Identity Amnesia:
    • Murder defendant Alice Bradley in "The Case of the Nervous Neighbor" has amnesia brought via a fractured skull and subsequent operation. She is found wandering in the Nevada desert after being missing for several months.
    • Murder suspect Doris Bannister comes to Perry's office apparently suffering from a bad case of amnesia in "The Case of the Desperate Daughter." It turns out that she's faking, even going so far as to push her car into a ravine off the road and wreck it.
    • In "The Case of the Lazy Lover," Bob Fleetwood is brought unconscious into murder victim Bertrand Allred's home, the implication being that he was struck by a car driven by Patricia Faxon. He later is reported to be suffering from amnesia. It turns out he was faking, using the condition as a dodge to fool Allred, who tried to kill him.
    • Eleanor Corbin, who later becomes the murder suspect, fakes amnesia in "The Case of the Glamorous Ghost" — and according to her sister Olga Jordan, this isn't the first time Eleanor has done so.
  • Idiot Ball: Like Perry, Della is depicted in an out-of-character fashion in "The Case of the Grinning Gorilla." She acts goofy and silly rather than in her usual intelligent and professional manner, sufficiently taken with a scrapbook and diary of a wealthy suicide that she buys the items and prattles about the contents to Perry. It brings out the first of several uncharacteristic Conflict Ball moments in Mason. As in his case, this appears to have been dictated more by the needs of the plot than for any other reason.
  • If I Can't Have You…:
    • Said threateningly to Lorraine Stevens by murder victim Philip Larkin in "The Case of the Prodigal Parent." He's obsessed with the woman and wants to date her, and does not take Lorraine's rejection lightly.
    • Said by Delores Coterro during her courtroom confession to the murder of ex-boyfriend Charles Barnaby. When she learns Barnaby plans to leave her for Marylin Cartwright, she injects poison into the champagne bottle the two will drink from in celebration. Cartwright survives only because she doesn't drink the wine.
    • In "The Case of the Deadly Toy," Claire Allison tells Mason her Stalker with a Crush ex-boyfriend Martin Selkirk threatened her, saying she wouldn't wed anyone else if she refused to marry him. Allison later becomes the suspect in Selkirk's murder.
  • I Have Your Wife: In "The Case of the Crafty Kidnapper," Alex and Patricia Tanner's son Bobby is kidnapped to prevent the couple from testifying in court — or at least that's how it seems.
  • Implied Death Threat: When Perry returns to his Gstaad hotel room in "The Case of the Nine Dolls," he finds a doll on the table inside. Its head is broken off, and a note is attached pressuring Mason to stop investigating on behalf of his eight-year-old client. The note suggests that if he doesn't, she may be killed.
  • Improbable Age: A comparitively rare example of a character being improbably too old. Although the mean retirement age for police personnel at the time was 54, Ray Collins was 67 (and looked even older — he could have passed for 77) when he began playing Perry's friendly police adversary Lt. Arthur Tragg. Producer Gail Patrick Jackson was completely aware of the improbability, but didn't care, stating "He was such a wonderful actor — beautiful voice, trained in radio's Mercury productions. We overlooked the fact that on an actual police force, he would probably be long retired." Collins continued in the role of Tragg for 7 seasons, through the age of 74.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Sometimes averted. In the books, Perry will play fast and loose with the law when necessary in efforts to aid his client — never breaking it exactly (or at least not getting caught), but certainly earning a reputation as a canny, cunning operator. There's also a bit of this in the Raymond Burr TV series, as Mason sometimes stretches the limits of legality or ethics by committing breaking and entering to search for clues, hiding witnesses, and creating confusing situations to help his clients.
    • Examples are encountered in "The Case of the Nervous Accomplice" when Mason creates a faked piece of evidence (a target shooting stand) to draw out the real killer, as well as when he has defendant Sybil Granger obtain a receipt during a second taxi ride to confuse the taxi driver witness.
    • Referenced by Lorna Grant in "The Case of the Treacherous Toupee," who Perry has hired to impersonate a missing witness:
      Lorna: Look, Mr. Mason, uh... I know you're on the level. But your reputation, well... you do skirt the law at times.
    • By about the mid-point of the series run, this aspect of the character is downplayed, and we are much closer to a version of Incorruptible Pure Pureness.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Events near the end of "The Case of the Empty Tin" leave both Perry and Burger somewhat shaken. Perry offers to buy his friend a drink and the offer is accepted.
  • Inspector Javert: Lieutenants Anderson (in his later seasons) and Drumm tend to be a lot more obstinate and scornful towards the people they suspect than Tragg ever was.
  • Inspector Lestrade: Lt. Tragg, who is very observant but doesn't usually connect the dots up right. He invariably arrests the wrong person for murder, though he usually has some kind of logic leading him to think he's doing the right thing.
  • Insurance Fraud:
    • In "The Case of the Torrid Tapestry," murderer Nathan Claver arranges to have dummy substitutes for his art collection burned in a fire in order to collect the insurance. He hides the actual artwork in a warehouse, and is caught when he sees a replica of the Buddha statue he owns in court (thinking it's the real thing), then returns to the warehouse to check.
    • "The Case of the Malicious Mariner" involves an attempt to collect on ship cargo lost during a storm. The jettisoned crates supposedly holding machinery were replaced with ones containing worthless scrap iron. The machinery was then resold surreptitiously.
    • The episode "The Case of the Carefree Coronary" is unusual for a couple of reasons. The legal proceeding that occurs is a coroner's inquest rather than a trial, and involves not only a murder but an elaborate insurance fraud network. Healthy men with disability insurance are given a drug that simulates heart failure, rendering them alive but unable to work so they can collect insurance benefits. One such beneficiary is murdered when he tries to blow the whistle on the scheme, and Paul Drake (who is posing as an insured client) is nearly killed when his cover is blown.
    • "The Case of the Lame Canary" has its murder tied up with an elaborate scheme involving fire insurance fraud and fencing stolen furs that supposedly were destroyed in the blaze. It turns out all of the main guest characters except the murder defendant and her boyfriend are involved, and three of them get further embroiled in a pair of related murders.
  • Invincible Hero: Perry Mason, at least most of the time. Legend has it that the TV writers wanted to do at least one episode where Perry lost, but Erle Stanley Gardner shot them down. Rescuing a client from the gas chamber at the last possible moment was as close as it got. Barbara Hale (Della Street), however, said in a relatively recent interview that the cases lost by Perry had been declared mistrials off the air. Perry actually lost three cases in the Raymond Burr series:
    • Episode 1.38, "The Case of the Terrified Typist" — the one most people who think "Perry only lost once" think of: the big case of the episode ends in Burger's favor. Too bad they were trying an impostor, invalidating the entire trial.
    • Episode 6.28, "The Case of the Witless Witness" — this is the easiest to forget, because it's not the main case of the episode, but one which he loses at the beginning.
    • Episode 7.04, "The Case of the Deadly Verdict" — another where the episode starts with Perry losing, this time because his client lied to him. He spends the rest of the episode setting things right.
  • I Own This Town: This trope occasionally applies to powerful people in small towns where Perry takes on a murder case, one notable example being his client Richard Bayler in "The Case of the Scarlet Scandal." Mason returns Bayler's retainer and drops him as a client when the latter gets too arrogant and overbearing. Bonnie Mae Wilmet (whom everyone calles "The Duchess") in "The Case of the Bullied Bowler" and Stanley Overton in "The Case of the Positive Negative" are other examples.
  • Irony: In "The Case of the One-Eyed Witness," Charles Gallagher comes to Perry's office hoping to find the lawyer in. He encounters Della instead and begins to tell her his abridged life story. Just after informing her that he had contracted tuberculosis, Gallagher pulls out a cigarette, lights up, and starts smoking.
  • Irregular Series: Ran regularly from 1957-1966, then was revived for a series of TV movies in The '80s and '90s.
  • I Was Young and Needed the Money: Mentioned several times in "The Case of the Capering Camera," in which many of the characters are models and photographers.
  • Jury and Witness Tampering: In "The Case of the Dead Ringer," seaman Grimes (a lookalike for Perry) is hired by Otis Swanson to impersonate the lawyer. After being cleaned up and dressed in a suit and topcoat, Grimes is instructed to pay off a prospective witness to lie on the witness stand — the hope being that Mason will be discredited and lose the patent infringement case he was hired for.
  • Kangaroo Court: "The Case of the Fugitive Fraulein" has this in the form of the East Germany's People's Court, which refuses to allow Perry to object to the prosecutor's quite clearly leading and assumptive questioning.
  • Killer Gorilla: Played with in "The Case of the Grinning Gorilla," when the title critter is let loose in Benjamin Addicks's house. There are tense moments where it appears the ape may harm Perry and his client, but he manages to distract it with shiny coins and a cigarette lighter while they make an escape. The gorilla is initially believed to have killed Addicks, but it turns out the man was stabbed to death instead.
  • Kindly Housekeeper:
    • Subverted in "The Case of the Devious Delinquent." Murder Edith Summers is the Balfour family housekeeper. For much of the episode, she comes across as caring, especially with regard to Tim Balfour, whose dumb and duplicitous behavior she enables and excuses. Turns out she has been wrecking the personal relationships between the various family members to maintain her position of influence in the household.
    • Subverted in "The Case of the Fickle Fortune." At the start of the episode, we see Mrs. Hollister approach future murder defendant Ralph Duncan outside the door of her former employer, who has just died intestate. She tries to get Duncan to let her into the house to claim something she says belongs to her, but Duncan refuses. It turns out Hollister has worked as a housekeeper for several old people nearing death while surreptitiously stealing from them; she is also revealed to be the murderer of Lloyd Farrell.
  • Knife-Throwing Act: Aspiring actress (and murder suspect) Reggie Lansfield is sufficiently desperate for a break that she signs on to be the target for a knife-throwing act in "The Case of the Murderous Mermaid."
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Occasionally, a killer or another criminal confesses to a crime when Perry reveals an incriminating piece of evidence, such as Max the diver, in "The Case of the Traveling Treasure" after Perry finds the gold he'd been hiding.
  • Large Ham: The courtroom scenes in the TV series often feature some serious scenery chewing and showboating, usually between Mason and Burger or between Mason and the killer.
  • Law Procedural: The Raymond Burr era series is the first important television example that regularly portrayed courtroom trials.
  • Lie Detector: Nancy Gilman is shown hooked up to a lie detector in "The Case of the Duplicate Daughter."
  • Lipstick Mark: A lipstick smeared shirt becomes a major clue in "The Case of the Haunted Husband." Turns out it's a phony, not the property of the murder victim as is first thought.
  • Literal Metaphor: In "The Case of the Sulky Girl," Della comically takes Mason's figurative instructions literally regarding some legal research.
    Della: [enters groaning under an armload of heavy law books] This is all I could find, Chief.
    Perry: If it isn't in those, Della, we'd better drop it.
    [Della gives Perry a look and drops the books on his desk with a loud thud]
  • Living a Double Life: In "The Case of the Absent Artist," it is revealed that Gabe Phillips (a cartoonist) and murder victim Otto Gervaert (an artist) were the same person. They lived respectively in Hollywood and Port Harmony and had separate girlfriends.
  • Local Hangout: In the TV show's final season, Perry, Paul, and Della are seen spending their off-hours in a booth at a local restaurant, Clay's Grill. Occasionally Burger and Lt. Drumm join them.
  • Long Runner: Definitely qualifies.
    • Books and short stories by Erle Stanley Gardner from the 1930s to the 1970s
    • Several theatrical releases from the 1930s and 1940s.
    • A radio series from the 1940s and 1950s.
    • Two television series and the made-for-TV-movies (the former running from the 1950s to the 1970s, the latter during the 1980s and 1990s).
    • HBO has announced a planned reboot of the series to begin during the 2020s.
  • Love Martyr: Many women in numerous cases, towards their boyfriends / husbands.
  • Love Triangle: Perry uncovers an 18-year-old love triangle that proves crucial to solving "The Case of the Drowning Duck." It involves unhappily married David Latwell (murdered 18 years ago), his then-wife Martha, and preacher's daughter Lois Reed. Latwell had planned to leave his wife and marry Reed when Martha killed him. Latwell's partner Ben Devereaux was wrongly convicted of the murder and executed. Ben's son Marv Adams is charged with the murder of blackmailing attorney Donald Briggs, who 18 years later is shaking down everyone connected to keep it quiet, and it turns out Martha killed him as well.
  • May–December Romance: M19:"The Case of the Glass Coffin", features a magician's assistant married to a man old enough to be her father. For good reason - he is her father. They posed as man and wife so the Victim of the Week - the hit and run driver who killed their wife and mother - wouldn't realize who they were.
  • Make It Look Like a Struggle: When suspect Jeff Bronson happens upon the body of murder victim Bill Ryder in "The Case of the Guilty Clients," he tries to cover up for his ex-wife by shooting off a gun, knocking over a lamp and other material, and breaking the glass in an access door, His hope is to make it look like Ryder was killed in a robbery attempt.
  • Make the Dog Testify: Happens a few times in the TV show.
    • Played with in "The Case of the Perjured Parrot." The title bird is brought into court and, while not technically put on the witness stand, is introduced as evidence. Perry does "cross examine" the parrot and proves this bird was a look-alike substitute for the murder victim's pet and taught to say an incriminating phrase.
    • In "The Case of the Bashful Burro," Perry calls Amos Catledge's burro as a witness during trial. As soon as the burro enters the courtroom, the animal affectionately nuzzles his master (who has shaved and gotten a haircut to change his appearance, and is watching the proceedings after going into hiding), thereby exposing him and forcing him to testify.
  • Male Gaze: Invoked a few times; for example, "The Case of the Crimson Kiss" starts out with a man admiring an attractive woman from the legs up.
  • Married to the Job: Seems to be the case for all of the main characters in the first TV series. Perry, Della, Burger, and Tragg appear to be available 24/7 whenever a murder is involved.
  • Message in a Bottle: A bottle containing an incriminating note, purporting to be written by a woman murdered aboard a yacht, ends up as a major plot point in "The Case of the Negligent Nymph" and its remake "The Case of the Impetuous Imp." In both cases, it turns out to be a phony.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Perry's clients are saved from this by the end of the episode, of course, but people not represented by him are subjected to this fate at times.
  • Mischief-Making Monkey: One of three simian tropes encountered in "The Case of the Grinning Gorilla." Former housekeeper Josephine Kempton is fired and accused of theft, but it turns out the light-fingered culprit is a mischevious young chimpanzee who has stashed a clutch of expensive shiny objects in a large Grecian urn.
  • Mobile Menace: Tragg frequently pops up at the most inopportune times for Perry and his clients.
  • Money to Throw Away: In "The Case of the Counterfeit Crank," elderly August Dalgran in seen throwing a big wad of cash from his office window onto the street below. He is hauled into court the next day and accused of disturbing the peace. Dalgren is faking being mentally incompetent so his nephew Kenneth will take over his company and see through development of a property the company owns over the objections of his business partners. When Kenneth betrays him and is subsequently killed, the older man is charged with murder.
  • Monkey Morality Pose: A scarf emblazoned with three monkeys engaged in the classic "see no evil/hear no evil/speak no evil" pose proves to be an important clue in "The Case of the Mythical Monkeys."
  • Motive Rant: Frequently happens on the TV show at the end of an episode when the killer is exposed, sometimes defiant, sometimes remorseful, sometimes tearful.
  • Ms. Red Ink:
    • In "The Case of the Unwelcome Well," Jason Rohan goes on a spending spree in anticipation of a big financial windfall from an oil well found on his property. Unfortunately, the well's owner refuses to pump the oil out, leaving Rohan horribly overextended.
    • At the start of "The Case of the Provocative Protege," crippled concert pianist David Carpenter manages to blow through all his money. His business manager scolds Carpenter for spending $100,000 in six months, as well as buying an expensive bracelet.
  • Mugged for Disguise: "The Case of the Howling Dog" begins with eventual murder suspect Evelyn Forbes (who is a patient in a sanitorium) knocking out a nurse, stealing her uniform, and using the clothing to dress as an employee to escape confinement.
  • My Secret Pregnancy: In "The Case of the Sulky Girl," the title character's being so upset that her guardian won't let her get married becomes a lot more understandable (especially by the values of the 1950's) with the reveal that she's already pregnant.
  • Never Found the Body: in M9: The Lady in the Lake, the victim's identical twin was kidnapped and murdered 15 years earlier, but her body was never found; the lake in the town where the story takes place is notorious for this sort of thing, which is one of the reasons the victim's husband is charged with her murder despite no corpse. Although in this case, there's no body because the woman has been kidnapped, not murdered.
  • Never the Obvious Suspect: A consistent basis for the stories, regardless of media. The person arrested and put on trial for murder invariably has both a strong motive and commits one or more acts that incriminate them (leaving their fingerprints on the murder weapon, making threatening statements against the murder victim, and being observed fleeing from the scene being the most common examples). Mason defends the suspect and reveals the actual killer in every case.
  • Nosy Neighbor:
    • Landlady Daphne Willom in "The Case of the Absent Artist" is a nosy busybody who eavesdrops on her artist neighbor, Otto Gervaert. When she hears him come in, she immediately rushes to the fireplace in her home and cocks her head near it to listen in.
    • In "The Case of the Petulant Partner," gas station owner Salty Sims is twice seen eavesdropping outside of Harry Bright's home.
  • Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon: This is the central plot point of Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star.
  • Obfuscating Disability: In "The Case of the Injured Innocent," race car driver and murder victim Vincent Danielli purposely wrecks his auto during a test run. Afterwards, he fakes paralysis from the waist down to avoid being sent back to Italy and stay with Kate Eastman, with whom he's having an affair.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: In "The Case of the Fugitive Fraulein," eminent scientist Hans Ritter pretends to have gone senile on the witness stand during the murder trial of his wife. He does this so the East German authorities, who want him to work for their side, will change their mind and release his granddaughter and wife, who are being used as bargaining chips to have him defect. He's so convincing that he's apparently able to fool a team of psychiatrists who examine him afterwards.
  • Obligatory Joke: In "The Case of the Torrid Tapestry," Paul Drake answers Della Street's question by jokingly referencing the old culture novice's cliche, "I don't know anything about art, but I know what I like":
    Della: What do you know about art?
    Paul: Me? I don't even know what I like.
  • Old, Dark House: "The Case of the Meddling Medium" begins by showing a spooky old house on a hill, complete with heavy rainstorm and flashing lightning.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: In many cases, the future defendant already had Mr. Mason on retainer for civil or divorce matters.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In "The Case of the Haunted Husband," butler Ernie Tanner slips in and out of a British accent during the episode.
  • Overly Long Name: In "The Case of the Laughing Lady," Perry uses as part of his defense the fictitious book Reminiscences of a Horse Marine by Mordechai Rappahannock Terwilliger... Senior!
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Perry and Paul investigate a house after finding some blood outside of it in "The Case of the Baited Hook." They open a closet door in the foyer and a standing corpse immediately falls foward to the ground with added Scare Chord. Amusingly, Perry and Paul are completely unperturbed by it.
  • Pen Pals: Young girls Sandra Gregson and Jill Thatcher have been exchanging correspondence in "The Case of the Poison Pen-Pal." It turns out the former has inadvertently been revealing company secrets to Thatcher in her letters, ruining a proposed merger deal.
  • People in Rubber Suits: Or ape suit in this case. The Killer Gorilla seen in "The Case of the Grinning Gorilla" is just a person in a gorilla costume.
  • Perp Sweating: In "The Case of the Crooked Candle," Mason grills murderer Larry Sands on the witness stand to the point where he confesses while sweating profusely.
  • The Perry Mason Method: Trope Namer.
  • Pet Positive Identification: In "The Case of the Bashful Burro," Perry calls Amos Catledge's burro as a witness during trial. As soon as the burro enters the courtroom, the animal affectionately nuzzles his master (who has shaved and gotten a haircut to change his appearance, and is watching the proceedings after going into hiding), thereby exposing him and forcing him to testify.
  • Phoney Call: In "The Case of the Dodging Domino," singer/actress Mona White tries to get songwriter Alex Chase to relinquish credit for a song he stole from her husband, Damion White, by making a bogus call to Perry Mason. She speaks to Perry all right, but fakes the subject matter discussed, pretending they're talking about bringing a lawsuit against Chase. Perry is initially confused, then says he doesn't know what Mona's up to — but that if she's using him for a legal dodge, Perry will bill her for his time.
  • Phony Psychic: Several examples of charlatans who pass themselves off as spirit mediums occur on the show, including Princess Charlotte and Philip Paisley in "The Case of the Meddling Medium" and Willa Saint Sutton in "The Case of the Wrathful Wraith." Surprisingly, murder suspect Bonnie Craig in the first of these episodes is shown to actually have mild E.S.P.
  • Plea Bargain: Occasionally the D.A. will offer Perry's client the chance to plead guilty to a lesser charge, but Mason invariably turns it down. One example occurs in "The Case of the Crimson Kiss."
  • Pose of Supplication: Occurs in "The Case of the Empty Tin." A wronged woman, sobbing, pleading for understanding, first holds her hands out in supplication and then collapses to her knees, throwing her arms around the man who holds her life in his hands... said man being Hamilton Burger. The woman, Rebecca Gentrie, is a murderess at least twice over.
  • Power Trio: Perry, Paul, and Della. Can be further subclassified as Beauty, Brains, and Brawn.
  • The Prima Donna: Two characters in "The Case of the Final Fade-Out", Barry Conrad and Winifred Glover, come across as this. Barry Conrad ruins producer Jackson Sidemark by signing off on another contract when he'd already verbally agreed for another season and the producer had invested a lot of money into the show; Conrad is a smug, self-absorbed jerk about it as well. Winifred Glover has a reputation for throwing tantrums on set and being nearly impossible to work with.
  • Print Long-Runners: Almost 40 years, from 1933 to the 1970s.
  • Private Detective: Several examples are seen, some being good and others evil.
    • This is Paul Drake's profession, and he's extremely competent. Perry isn't far from one himself.
    • Private detectives other than Drake are sometimes seen on the TV show, and they're often portrayed as being bungling or unscrupulous unless they're Drake's operatives. Sometimes they're revealed to be the murderer, examples being Jason Beckmeyer in "The Case of the Runaway Corpse," Lon Snyder in "The Case of the Unwelcome Bride," J.J. Flaherty in "The Case of the Ominous Outcast," and Dillard in "The Case of the Blonde Bonanza."
  • Production Foreshadowing: Perry (later joined by Burger and Tragg) is seen eating at Clay's Grill in the first season episode "The Case of the Crimson Kiss." In the ninth and final season, Perry, Della, and Paul spend their off hours as regular customers at a place with the same name.
  • Property Line: The civil suit Perry is handling in The Case of the Fenced-In Woman before it turns into a homicide case is of a man who built a house on two adjacent lots, only one of which the seller actually owned. The owner of the other lot gets a restraining order preventing the homeowner from coming on to her property, and has a barbed wire fence run through the middle of the house, moving into it on "her" side.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Perry clearly oversteps the boundaries of ethical behavior on occasion, but he's neither remorseful nor held accountable. When his opponents bring it up they're portrayed as being petty or malicious.
  • Protagonist Title: Applies for the radio and television incarnations of the franchise: Perry Mason, The New Perry Mason, and the Perry Mason Returns made-for-TV-movie series.
  • Proverbial Wisdom: Chinese restauranteur C.C. Chang in "The Case of the Weary Watchdog" frequently speaks using Oriental-style aphorisms, complete with Asian Speekee Engrish sentence structure, to illustrate his point. They're not always Asian-based, though.
    C.C. Chang: He who give penny to poor man receive one blessing. He who give heart to poor man receive five blessing.
    C.C. Chang: Legend say, when Moses throw wand into Red Sea, no miracle. Water not divide to leave dry ground. But when first man believe in miracle and jump into Red Sea, then miracle happens. Waters open to make dry passage.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack:
    • At the end of "The Case of the Fiery Fingers," Paul, Della, and defendant Nora Mae Quincey are seen having afternoon tea in a restaurant discussing Quincey's acquittal. A piece of Classical Music, the Johann Strauss waltz Tales From The Vienna Woods, is heard in the background.
    • During a scene at Nico's (an Italian restaurant) in "The Case of the Crying Comedian," an arranged version of music from Capriccio Italien by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky plays in the background.
    • "Waltz of the Flowers" from The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is heard in the background just before artist John Kenyan tries to propose to Theba in "The Case of the Greek Goddess."
    • The action-packed opening sequence of "The Case of the Silent Six" is underscored by a piece of Classical Music, the stormy "Revolutionary Etude" in C minor, Op. 10 No. 12 by Fryderyk Chopin.
  • Publicity Stunt: Sherry Lawlor pulls an outrageous publicity stunt in "The Case of the Avenging Angel" to simultaneously boost the careers of fledgling singer Sandy Chester and her father, songwriter Riff Lawlor. She perches on a billboard high up off the ground, threatening to jump unless Chester sings one of her father's songs to her.
  • Pull the Thread: The Perry Mason Method uses this as its first step to expose the killer.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Hamilton Burger and any other prosecuting attorney might come off as smug and confrontational during trials, but they're mainly trying to do their jobs. Burger, however, does have a rivalry with Perry and sometimes reacts badly to losing cases out of frustration at the antics Perry is able to pull.
  • Punny Name:
    • "Hamilton Burger" minus "-ilton" = "Ham Burger."
    • Followed in Perry Mason Returns by Deputy D.A. Barbara Scott = "B.S."
  • Rain of Something Unusual: At the opening of "The Case of the Counterfeit Crank," August Dalgran is seen throwing a big wad of cash to the street from an upper floor office window, loose bills raining down upon the passers-by below. He is subsequently charged with disturbing the peace.
  • Ransacked Room: On several occasions, someone (often the murderer) will leave a room turned inside out after trying to find a piece of incriminating evidence. Examples are seen in "The Case of the Barefaced Witness," "The Case of the Screaming Woman," "The Case of the Mythical Monkeys," The Case of the Brazen Bequest," " The Case of the Wednesday Woman," "The Case of the Duplicate Daughter," and "The Case of the Stuttering Bishop." In "The Case of the Shifty Shoebox," John Flickinger is shown ransacking his nephew Miles's room trying to find a gun.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: In the final TV movie Burr filmed (The Case of the Killer Kiss), his physical weakness (from his inoperable cancer) was becoming obvious; he was apparently unable to stand unassisted, so Mason is always either sitting down or standing up and leaning completely on the defense table. The one scene where he had to be standing only showed a closeup of his head, neck and shoulders, so somebody was probably holding him up. Also, the TV movies switched locales from California to Denver, Colorado because it was cheaper to film there.
  • Really Gets Around: In "The Case of the Duplicate Case," murder victim Millie Cornwall appears to be cheating on her husband Herbert with four male co-workers in the office where they work.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Servant-companion Harriet Snow berates her employer, temperamental actress Lorna Thomas, when she callously rebuffs Betty Clark, the girl she gave up for adoption, in "The Case of The Watery Witness."
      Harriet Snow: That was pretty cruel, even for you.
      Lorna Thomas: Oh, leave me alone.
      Harriet: Isn't there anything in you for the girl?
      Lorna: Don't presume on your years of service!
      Harriet: What else can I presume on? Your loyalty? You'd throw me out if you didn't need me. Your affection? You just showed an inexhaustible supply of it — enough to fill a thimble.
    • Mason puts his haughty client Winifred Glover in her place with a scathing "take it or leave it" speech in "The Case of the Final Fadeout." She relents immediately.
      Mason: You sent for me, Miss Glover. I came here intending to take your case, give you the best defense I could, because I believed I could clear Jack Sidemark and I believe... I believe you're innocent. But if defending you means putting up with your tantrums and accusations and bad manners and juvenile logic, you'll have to find a lawyer who can swallow it. Not me.
    • Ron Peters gives an angry dressing-down to the people who heard Susan being attacked and didn't do anything in “The Case of the Silent Six,” berating them during the course of his witness stand confession.
  • Retool: The first time the series moved to TV from radio it became the long-running soap opera The Edge of Night.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: "The Case of the Silent Six" is loosely based on the 1963 Kitty Genovese murder, in which the New York Times reported that a woman was slain despite dozens of witnesses having heard or seen the act, none of whom called the police or attempted to intervene. Here the woman in the episode is being beaten while screaming for help, but none of those who overhear her come to her aid. The truth of Genovese's murder was very different, but this wasn't clearly established until the twenty-first century, because the false story was much more 'interesting'.
  • The Rival:
    • Both Lt. Tragg and District Attorney Hamilton Burger played this role in regards to Mason.
    • D.A. Michael Reston filled this role in the TV movies he appeared in (played by David Ogden Stiers).
  • Runaway Bride:
    • It is revealed that several years ago murder suspect Linda Osborne was left at the altar by her fiance Clark Lawson, who ran off and married her cousin Margaret Jeffers in "The Case of the Nine Dolls."
    • There's a runaway groom in "The Case of the Fanciful Frail." At the start of the episode, Bruce Strickland doesn't show up for his wedding to Ethel Andrews, leaving her abandoned at the altar. Worse yet, he has absconded with $50,000 from the company they both work for and stuck her with the blame.
    • At the beginning of "The Case of the Missing Melody," Polly Courtland runs back down the church aisle to the exit shouting "Oh no, no, no!," leaving Eddy King standing at the altar wondering what happened. Polly does so after George Sherwin, a man in attendance, flashes her an envelope as she walks down the aisle. Polly and Eddy make up and marry at the end of the episode.
  • Run for the Border: On numerous occasions, the defendants or certain witnesses attempt to run to Mexico (since the series is set in California), or to a neighboring state outside of the police's jurisdiction (often Nevada).
  • The Scrooge: At the end of "The Case of the Reluctant Model," Burger bills Perry for the 20 cents he had to fork over in connection with a bus locker demonstration Mason shows him.
  • Secret Test of Character: "The Case of the Caretaker's Cat" sees wealthy Peter Baxter test his heirs' loyalty by cutting them out of his will, leaving everything to his devoted housekeeper, James Hing — wanting ultimately to see how they will react to this. Baxter further instructs Hing to help fake his death by burning his house down with a cadaver inside. Unfortunately, things backfire when Baxter ends up dying in the blaze instead after being heavily sedated. Hing is charged with the murder, which was committed by Kenneth Baxter, one of the original heirs.
  • Sexy Secretary: Della Street. She's classy about it, though, and doesn't flaunt her attractiveness.
  • Shave And A Haircut: Paul Drake's coded knock at Perry's office back door uses the classic "Shave and a Haircut" rhythm.
  • Shock Jock: Both Barney Austin and Larry Stevens are employed as trolling radio disc jockeys in "The Case of the Midnight Howler."
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Shakespeare:
      • Both Mason and Burger quote lines from Macbeth and King Lear in "The Case of the Lost Last Act."
      • August Dalgran cites Ophelia's mad scene from Hamlet in "The Case of the Counterfeit Crank."
      • In "The Case of the Ancient Romeo," snippets from Romeo and Juliet are performed during the episode. At the end, however, a quote from Macbeth is heard.
      • Clarence Henry cites a line from Henry V in "The Case of the Lawful Lazarus."
      • "The Case of the Startled Stallion" has actor Earl Mauldin quoting from Macbeth.
    • In "The Case of the Elusive Element," Perry quotes a sonnet by John Donne.
      Perry: I am a little world made cunningly of elements.
    • Paul cites a line from H.M.S. Pinafore by Gilbert and Sullivan at the end of "The Case of the Skeleton's Closet."
      Paul: Things are seldom what they seem, skim milk masquerades as cream.
    • The backstory to M19 "Case of the Glass Coffin", a selfish rich young woman commits a hit-and-run, killing a woman, and drives on without even stopping. She gets away without any sort of punishment, though the victim's husband kills in revenge Unlike in The Great Gatsby, karma eventually catches up with the right person.
    • In M20, "The Case of the Fatal Fashion", the Victim of the Week is the powerful Editor of a best-selling fashion magazine. The actress wears a wig that's a dead ringer for Vogue's Anna Wintour.
    • In "The Case of the Sulky Girl," Paul Drake's desk has a framed picture of Dick Tracy that says "To Paul Drake, with all our best wishes" and signed by Chester Gould.
    • Rod Serling gets several glowing mentions in "The Case of the Promoter's Pillbox." This is perhaps not surprising since Perry Mason and The Twilight Zone (1959) were both broadcast on CBS at the time. Crooked studio producer Charlie Corby claims Serling will be doing a rewrite on a screenplay for a film he's overseeing, while Mason sends his client Herbert Simms's script to Serling for his perusal. Mason says Serling will give Simms a start in the business.
      Corby: I got the best writer in television to do a rewrite for me as a personal favor. Only the best, baby — Rod Serling himself!
    • In "The Case of the Dangerous Dowager," Perry and Della quote the title of the Friedrich Nietzsche book Thus Spake Zarathustra after the title matriarch leaves Mason's office. The reference relates to the concepts of Will to Power and Übermensch exhibited by the elderly, controlling woman.
    • "The Case of the Accosted Accountant" has Paul and Della citing Proverbs 1.10 from The Bible.
  • Sleeping Dummy: Young Miles puts pillows under his blanket in "The Case of the Shifty Shoebox" to make it look like he's in bed sleeping. He does this so he can sneak out his bedroom window and play with the pistol he has found earlier.
  • Sleepwalking: Murder defendants Peter Cole in "The Case of the Sleepwalker's Niece" and Merle Telford in "The Case of the Lonely Eloper" are seen sleepwalking.
  • Small Town, Big Hell: The episodes where Burger was not present often had Perry visiting one of these, where the plot was always about someone who had the entire town turn against them either for the crimes of a family member or because of a baseless rumor.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Della Street is surrounded by male characters most of the time.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat:
    • Mason and Burger often have disagreements in court. While these are often baldly stated, on occasion they are expressed as swapped sarcastic wisecracks. An especially cutting exchange occurs in "The Case of the Baffling Bug" when Perry wishes to introduce a projected slide shot as evidence.
      Burger: [in a dry, snide tone] Your Honor, I realize that Mr. Mason has gone to infinite pains to present this little... dramatic interlude for us. Although I doubt that it serves any useful purpose, I would hate to deprive defense council of an opportunity to get a headline in this evening's papers. I have no objection, Your Honor.
      Mason: [using an equally cutting voice] The District Attorney's generosity is exceeded only by his wit.
    • Perry and Paul occasionally engage in friendly mordant banter. An example from "The Case of the Sulky Girl" after what was apparently a court skirmish with Burger:
      Drake: You did great.
      Mason: Enjoy it?
      Drake: And Burger's footprints are all over your back.
      Mason: Well, you don't win any marbles at a preliminary hearing.
      Drake: Not what you said last week. This one looks bad, Perry.
      Mason: That's your most endearing quality, Paul — your glorious, shining faith. I'd rather have your facts and figures.
  • Snipe Hunt: In "The Case of the Moth Eaten Mink," hotel clerk Frank Hoxie is sent to Mexico for several months, supposedly to try and collect payment from a customer who didn't pay his bill. In fact, the hotel owner wanted to keep Hoxie out of town until the newspapers stopped running pictures of a murdered cop, who had visited the hotel the night he died and been killed there (his body was dumped elsewhere).
  • Sore Loser:
    • Burger, the other half of the time.
    • In "The Case of the Witless Witness," it turns out that newspaper magnate Victor Kendall is sufficiently angry about losing a lieutenant governor's nod to rival (and judge) Daniel Redmond that he kills star hearing witness Martin Weston and tries to frame Redmond for the murder. When Perry exposes him, Kendall breaks down in court and confesses. Earlier, we see Redmond's former girlfriend Madge Eberly (who is angry that Redmond didn't propose to her years ago) participate in framing the judge for the murder as well as a related procurement fraud investigation.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In "The Case of the Moth Eaten Mink" the killer is shot dead by Tragg in the novel, but only shot through the shoulder and taken alive in the TV episode.
  • Spicy Latina: Describes murderer Delores Coterro in "The Case of the Lonely Heiress" perfectly. A sultry Mexican woman, she's also jealous and has a horrific temper (the latter of which is used as part of a two-person Con Man operation). She threatens to scratch out the eyes of her partner and lover Charles Barnaby, shoots at magazine publishing associate Edmund Lacey, and poisons Barnaby with spiked champagne when he plans to leave her.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • Matlock. The Hallmark Channel's series of McBride made-for-TV movies could be considered this as well.
    • Ace Attorney is also arguably one. Both involve defending clients with protagonists that often use courtroom antics for a wide variety of clients in a near episodic manner.
  • Split Personality: In "The Case of the Deadly Double," quiet, unassuming Helen Reed has a dual identity in brash, reckless Joyce Martel. As the latter, she drinks alcohol, smokes, and wears fur, none of which Reed does normally.
  • Spooky Séance: A few seated-in-the-round attempts to conjure up the dead occur in the TV series. Examples are seen in "The Case of the Meddling Medium" and "The Case of the Wrathful Wraith."
  • Spotting the Thread: Della in M20, "The Case of the Fatal Fashion". While looking at photos of the crime scene, Della notices a scarf, assumed to be the victim's, that is by a designer that the fashion magazine editor swore publicly to never wear again. It turns out to be the killer's.
  • Spousal Privilege: Invoked in the courtroom at times on the show. In a couple episodes, Mason encourages an unmarried couple (one of whom is a client and murder suspect) to quickly tie the knot in Nevada so this can apply.
  • Staged Shooting: At the beginning of "The Case of the Prankish Professor," Ollie Benson interrupts English Professor Ronald Hughes's class, shouting threats and shooting him in the head. It turns out the whole thing is staged as a class exercise in observation — but the situation nearly backfires because someone surreptitiously replaced the blanks with a live ammunition clip.
  • Stalker with a Crush:
    • Describes spoiled, wealthy murder victim Martin Selkirk in "The Case of the Deadly Toy." He stalks his ex-girlfriend Claire Alison and tries to break up her relationship with Dick Benedict, going so far as to break his rival's jaw by slugging him with brass knuckles. Alison is later charged with his murder.
    • Applies to Lester Crawford in "The Case of the Frustrated Folk Singer," who has a creepy stalker crush on murder suspect Amy Jo Jennings. He follows her out to Los Angeles from Tennessee hoping to get the woman's money, destroy her career, and marry her.
  • Status Quo Is God: The television episodes follow a similar pattern. Perry Mason winds up representing a murder suspect with a substantial amount of evidence against them, normally arrested by Lt. Tragg or a successor. A preliminary hearing (or occasionally a trial) is usually held that is frequently prosecuted by D.A. Hamilton Burger, at the end of which Mason sees the victim exonerated (frequently in the courtroom, but sometimes not). Research and deduction by Paul Drake and Mason himself are instrumental in acquittal.
  • Stealth Insult: Inverted in "The Case of the Sleepwalker's Niece" after a Snark-to-Snark Combat negotiation Doris Cole has with Mason leaves her with far less than she had bargained for.
    Doris Cole: I'd hate to tell you what I think of you, Mr. Mason — but if ever I'm in trouble, you're going to be my lawyer.
  • Stern Old Judge: Several different judges (usually male) appear on the 1950s-1960s TV show. Except when the plot requires a Perry Mason Method style denouement, they keep a tight rein on the court proceedings.
  • Sticky Fingers: Elderly Virginia Trent in "The Case of the Shoplifter's Shoe" is a kleptomaniac. She is first seen sneaking a pair of earrings into her purse and is shortly after caught ditching the earrings as well as a necklace, two scarves, and a dozen stockings in the ladies' room. When Perry comes to the rescue of Trent and her niece, the old woman palms a broach from a display right in front of Mason!
  • Stock Legal Phrases: The television show tends to go light on legal technical jargon, but one occasionally hears terms such as "amicus curiae" and "habeas corpus" put forth.
  • Straw Loser: Burger on occasion, though not as much so as in the novels.
    • Averted at least according to William Talman (Hamilton Burger), who maintained that Burger never lost a case on screen, reasoning that to Burger sending an innocent man or woman to prison would constitute a loss.
    • Also, the real killers exposed by Perry Mason's defense of the falsely accused are presumably prosecuted and convicted offscreen by Burger.
  • Strictly Formula: A particularly iconic example. Most of the episodes end with The Perry Mason Method, when Mason will call back a previous, often seemingly inconsequential witness to grill until the witness admits that he or she was the real perpetrator all along.
  • Stylistic Suck: Seen In-Universe in "The Case of the Crying Cherub." Artist and murder victim Liza Carson Lambert is shown as a painter who prefers cherubs as subject matter. Her artist husband David Lambert owns one of her paintings, but is openly disdainful of the work's quality and is seen throwing it across the room in disgust.
    David: I suppose you'd like me to paint those bath-oil syrupy cherubs with idiotic smiles like you do.
    Liza: They sell, darling. And I see you think enough of them to keep at least one around.
    David: [throws painting across the room] That's to inspire me not to do likewise.
  • Sugary Malice: When he first encounters Perry and Paul on a case, Lt. Tragg often loads his disapproving Deadpan Snarker remarks with a heavy coating of syrup.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • Lt. Anderson for Lt. Tragg (though Andy and Tragg appeared concurrently for awhile), then Lt. Drumm for Lt. Anderson.
    • In the TV movies, aspiring attorney Ken Malansky became this for Paul Drake, Jr. The recurring characters of DA Michael Reston (David Ogden Stiers) and Lt. Ed Brock (James McEachin) also filled the Burger and Tragg roles.
    • The four A Perry Mason Mystery films produced after Burr's death, featured two of Mason's lawyer friends filling in for an out-of-town Perry. The first was Anthony Caruso (Paul Sorvino) in "The Case of the Wicked Wives", the second was William "Wild Bill" McKenzie (Hal Holbrook) in "The Case of the Lethal Lifestyle", "The Case of the Grimacing Governor" and "The Case of the Jealous Jokester".
  • Swat Team: In "The Case of the Misguided Model," Perry's client Duke Maronek goes into hiding, holing up in a rural cabin. The police send a SWAT team to get him, lead by Lt. Drumm. Fortunately, Mason arrives in time to talk Maronek into giving himself up.
  • Swiss Bank Account:
    • Eight-year-old Peggy Smith has been surreptitiously sent money for schooling and expenses from a Swiss Bank Account set up by secret benefactor Constance Osborne in "The Case of the Nine Dolls."
    • In "The Case of the Surplus Suitor," all evidence points to murder victim John Wilburn having money stashed in a Swiss Bank Account to avoid paying taxes on it. He gets blackmailed and later killed by Vernon Elliott, but it turns out that it's Wilburn's business associate Gage McKinney who is guilty.
  • Take That!:
    • When The New Perry Mason was running, reruns of the show were promoted as The Real Perry Mason.
    • The final TV movie to feature Burr as Mason, The Case of the Killer Kiss, saw him up against (and resoundingly defeat) a local district attorney referred to only as "Mr. Markham," which was the name of the actor who played Mason in the aforementioned New series (Monte Markham, to be precise). Mr. Markham also appeared in the first post-Burr Perry Mason Mystery movie.
  • Taking the Heat: Murder suspect Jimmy Morrow is twice presented as putting himself in jeopardy by taking the rap for a crime someone else has committed in "The Case of the Spanish Cross." He has a conviction for car theft on his record while covering for a friend of his, and stands trial for murder in part because he thinks the victim's wife may have killed him.
  • Tantrum Throwing: Occurs during the TV episode "The Case of the Misguided Model." When prospective "White Snow" spokesman Sharon Carmody's bunco-based past is exposed during her final audition (her photo with a targeted victim is broadcast on the studio TV screen), her chance at getting the part is ruined. She goes into an angry tirade during the audition, screaming and throwing the sponsor's product around the studio.
  • Temporary Substitute: On seperate occasions when Burr was recuperating from surgery, some episodes from Seasons 6 and 8 featured guest stars to briefly fill Perry's shoes. The first, and arguably most notable of these episodes was Season 6's "The Case of Constant Doyle", starring Bette Davis as the titular character. The other instances were:
    • "The Case of the Libelous Locket", starring Michael Rennie as Professor Edward Lindley
    • "The Case of the Two-Face Turn-a-bout", starring Hugh O'Brian as Bruce Jason
    • "The Case of the Surplus Suitor", starring Walter Pidgeon as Sherman Hatfield
    • "The Case of the Bullied Bowler", starring Mike Connors as Joe Kelly
    • "The Case of the Thermal Thief", starring Barry Sullivan as Ken Kramer
  • Theme Tune: The distinctive theme melody, "Park Avenue Beat" by Fred Steiner. Could also be considered the show's Awesome Music.
  • This Bear Was Framed: When Benjamin Addicks is found murdered in "The Case of the Grinning Gorilla," the initial assumption is that he was mauled to death by a gorilla let loose in the house. It turns out Addicks was murdered before being manhandled by the beast.
  • This Is My Side: The civil suit Perry is handling in The Case of the Fenced-In Woman before it turns into a homicide case is of a man who built a house on two adjacent lots, only one of which the seller actually owned. The owner of the other lot gets a restraining order preventing the homeowner from coming on to her property, and has a barbed wire fence run through the middle of the house, moving into it on "her" side.
  • Throwing the Fight: Or in this case, throwing the horse race. Happens in "The Case of The Jilted Jockey" when the horse the murder suspect jockey rides gets doped up and loses.
  • Those Two Guys:
    • In "The Case of the Libelous Locket," shopkeepers Pedro Dias and Sidney Dawes are minor background characters that are often seen together. They identify murder defendant Janice Norland to Lt. Anderson and are seen observing and sometimes commenting on unfolding events. Pedro is taciturn (usually only uttering the word "Si"), while Sidney is a garrulous gabbler. Turns out the latter is the killer.
    • Alexander Glovatski and Myer in "The Case of the Absent Artist" are a pair of eccentric artists who hang around together and provide some exposition and humor.
  • Title Drop: Used in a few episodes.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Perry sometimes comes up against such a choice, though he barely hesitates (if at all) before choosing "good."
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Occasionally, Perry winds up defending a murder suspect in a small, rural California town — and invariably, there are local secret machinations conspiring to railroad his client. Examples occur in "The Case of the Drowning Duck," "The Case of the Lurid Letter," "The Case of the Barefaced Witness," "The Case of the Ominous Outcast," and "The Case of the Violent Village."
  • The Trickster: Perry is an interestingly lawful example - he often uses a mix of tricky guile and venerable wisdom to uncover clues and solve mysteries, but doesn't normally use coercion or trickery to make the guilty say something.
  • Troubled Teen: In "The Case of the Red Riding Boots," teenager Ann Farwell is beset with severe mental anguish over her father's plans to remarry. She intensely dislikes the prospective bride, murder victim Rita Conover, and says she can't abide the decision. During the trial, she breaks down sobbing on the witness stand, then runs from the courtroom and threatens to jump from a high window, trying to protect her mother who she thinks killed Rita. In general, Ann acts impulsively and histrionically (seemingly on the verge of a mental breakdown), sufficiently so that her father has her put into counseling. The psychologist's report states "Deep-seated emotional disturbance, rebellion, flat refusal to adjust to her father's marriage."
  • True Companions: Perry, Paul, and Della always. Could be expanded to include Tragg (or Andy or Steve) and Burger.
  • Truth in Television: Mason points out that his defense isn't as effective if clients lie to him or withhold information. Real life defense attorneys have faced similar situations.
  • Truth Serums: In "The Case of the Demure Defendant," Nadine Marshall confesses to killing her uncle after a psychiatrist gives her truth serum.
  • Tunnel of Love: In "The Case of the Two-Faced Turnabout," Franz Schreck, a murderous foreign ruler of a Balkan Ruritania, is killed while on a horror-themed tunnel of love Amusement Park ride.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Perry Mason and Della Street. The TV movies strongly suggest that they start dating.
  • Un-Reboot: Perry Mason Returns and the other made-for-TV-movies are set in the same universe as the original series, completely disregarding The New Perry Mason.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Minerva Minden is a female version of this in "The Case of the Mischievous Doll." That trope's page description "The Ditz with a trust fund" fits her perfectly. She does all kinds of flaky things such as stage a mock robbery of an airport vendor while shooting off a gun loaded with blanks just for kicks, as well as more serious transgressions such as committing a hit-and-run accident.
  • Vicariously Ambitious: In "The Case of the Prudent Prosecutor," Burger asks Perry to defend his old friend Jeff Pike against a murder charge. When Mason successfully clears Pike, the perennial hard-luck losing District Attorney suggests after the trial that (for once) this seems like a victory for him.
    Burger: I feel like I won this case!
  • Villainous Breakdown: Well, more like opposition than villain, but in "The Case of the Shapely Shadow," Perry calmly presents a theory of reasonable doubt strengthened with evidence for the jury to acquit his client. When it's Burger's turn to address the jury, he instead makes emotionally charged statements that focus more on criticizing and ridiculing Perry's defense and his client's character and just repeats the accusations. In the process of mocking Perry's argument, Burger inadvertently introduces new evidence through improper judicial conduct, which Perry quickly jumps on and pushes for the court to call for a mistrial. This causes Burger to yell out in outrage, becoming increasingly disheveled, loudly stuttering and fumbling through his papers then pleading with the judge to reconsider.
  • Voice Changeling: "The Case of the Angry Astronaut" reveals that murderer Matthew Owen did a voice imitation of just-murdered Addison Brand to confuse suspect Mitch Heller and help implicate him.
  • The Voiceless: In "The Case of the Traveling Treasure," robbery and smuggling ringleader Leon Ulrich appears in several important scenes but never utters a word on-screen.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The character Jackson, a clerk and process server working for Mason, appears in several of Gardner's novels but is seen in only one TV episode ("The Case of the Sleepwalker's Niece") and is briefly mentioned but not seen in a few others ("The Case of the Moth-Eaten Mink" and "The Case of the Fan Dancer's Horse").
    • Frank Everly is Mason's law clerk and The Watson in a couple of the earliest novels but then is dropped out of the books and never even appears in the show.
  • With Friends Like These...: Teenager Kathy Jergens seems to have some, er, odd priorities when it comes to her friend Ann Farwell, seemingly more interested in obtaining the girl's new red riding boots than taking her anguished friend's concerns seriously.
    Ann: I don't know what's the matter with me. If he marries her... I think I'll die!
    Kathy: If you do, will me these new red riding boots, will you?