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Police Psychic

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Anderson: He's thinking of making a move on your gun.
Dredd: Yep.
Anderson: He just changed his mind.
Dredd: Yeee-up.

This is when a character who has supernatural powers winds up using said powers to help law enforcement solve difficult but mundane cases.

Psychic Powers in any form would aid an investigation greatly — a mind reader or Living Lie Detector can tell if a person of interest is telling the truth, someone with Psychometry could use it to figure out a crime scene, someone who can speak with the deceased could just ask them who did it, and someone who can see the future can inform the police of future crimes. So it's no wonder that many fictional psychics hang around the police, the FBI, or some other law enforcement agency. Sometimes they are unofficial companions to field officers, a friendly neighborhood psychic the police occasionally ask for tips, or someone they recruit out of desperation after exhausting all other leads. Other times, they are in a more official 'consultant' or 'profiler' role; some settings might even have a whole division of the force built around their powers.

In fiction, police psychics will usually provide legitimate insight and clues, but not only will they have to interpret these signs, they also need to get the skeptical force to trust their powers. However, some people may claim they have psychic powers to help law enforcement but are actually just very good at analysis and deduction — if they're not faking it all to scam the authorities, that is. In Real Life, self-proclaimed psychics have involved themselves in several prominent cases, although their use is often controversial due to the lack of evidence regarding their reliability: often, "mediums" make serious mistakes in predicting case outcomes, such as declaring a missing person dead (after which they would be found alive). As a consequence, many police forces have policies banning their employment, although some field detectives still use them unofficially.

This often overlaps with Amateur Sleuth for characters who don't start as law enforcers. Compare Occult Detective — the difference is that these psychics focus on mundane, not supernatural, crimes. Not to be confused with Super Cop, which is when the cops themselves have powers in some way.


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    Comic Books 
  • Top 10 had the title police station call in a mind reader to help with a particularly troublesome suspect during interrogation. Justified because this was a universe where superpowers were an objective part of reality.
  • One of Judge Dredd's supporting characters is Judge Cassandra Anderson, a member of Mega-City One's "Psi Division."
  • Josie Mac, a detective in the Gotham City Police Department, has a psychic ability to learn things from inanimate objects, which she uses in her investigations (but keeps a secret, playing it off as a Gut Feeling, because she's afraid people will treat her differently if they know). She originally appeared in a story arc in Detective Comics, then became a regular in Gotham Central.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Fear 1990: Cayce, a young psychic, aids the police in catching criminals through her power of mentally linking with murderers.
  • Parodied in Forgetting Sarah Marshall with Show Within a Show, "Animal Instincts," in which Marshall plays an animal psychic working with the police department.
  • In The Killing Hour, an NYPD detective and his friend pursue a Serial Killer with the aid of a clairvoyant artist, who draws pictures of the murders before they happen.
  • Exaggerated in Minority Report. The Precrime Division can take down criminals before they commit their crimes because they have three precognitive psychics on hand. However, said psychics have been in government control since childhood, constantly see the worst of humanity in their visions, and are constantly sedated to keep them compliant.
  • In Runaway, Ramsay is ordered to consult with a police psychic, who tells him he and Luther were related in a previous life (Ramsay is unimpressed) and that Luther will be in touch because he has something Luther wants (which piques Ramsay's interest). This is actually a good example of Michael Crichton's opinion of psychics; they're mostly bogus second-rate stage magicians, but their skill sets would actually make some of them skilled detectives — this is after Luther contacted the station, so she's simply thinking about everything very carefully to reach a conclusion.
  • Solace: John Clancy is a psychic who occasionally helps the FBI out. Things get nasty when the killer he is consulted to help catch has abilities more powerful than his.
  • Cassandra Anderson appears in Dredd, played by Olivia Thirlby. Unlike her comic-book counterpart, who is an established Judge from her own division, the film's Anderson is a Naďve Newcomer, a cadet who failed the Action Girl aptitude tests but was passed through anyway on account of this trope, a Helmets Are Hardly Heroic type (they interfere with her abilities) compared to our Never Bareheaded Experienced Protagonist. Still, she needs to prove she has what it takes, and the film is a Day in the Life of Judge Dredd (Karl Urban), taking the role of Sink or Swim Mentor as he leads her through her field evaluation. Though the film is named after him, Dredd is the Supporting Protagonist; Anderson is the real heart of the movie.

  • 1-800-Where-R-U: After being struck by lightning, Jess Mastriani gains the ability to discover the whereabouts of missing people by looking at their photographs and ends up becoming a consultant to the FBI.
  • In Kim Newman's Warhammer novel Beasts in Velvet and related short stories, the character Rosanna Ophuls is an official police psychic who uses Psychometry to help identify criminals.
  • The Clairvoyant Countess: The titular character is a seer and psychometry user who becomes an Amateur Sleuth after a chance encounter with a policeman, Detective Pruden. Although she does utilize her psychic abilities to help him out, her greatest gift, as stated on the back of the book, is her common sense.
  • In The Dresden Files downplays this. Harry Dresden, professional wizard, is on the books with Chicago PD as a psychic consultant, but he primarily concerns himself with supernatural happenings.
  • The Secret History is a Reverse Whodunnit, which begins with a group of friends committing a murder. During the investigation, a psychic is brought in. Narrator Richard thinks nothing of it, but his superstitious friend Henry thinks that if they are to get caught, this will be how it happens.
    The psychic was a young mother from upstate New York. An electrical shock from some jumper cables had put her into a coma from which she emerged, three weeks later, able to "know" things by handling an object or touching a stranger's hand. The police had used her successfully in a number of missing-person cases. Once she had found the body of a strangled child by merely pointing to an area on a surveyor's map.
  • In The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries, one book has a couple of agents come looking for Sookie after she used her Telepathy to direct rescue workers towards buried survivors of a hotel bombing some time previous. They have an idea about using her as a Police Psychic, but she's not keen; she can only hear what people are thinking at that moment, so she'd have to spend a lot of time with very unpleasant people before they happen to think about the information she needs, which is not an enticing prospect. However, to explain that she'd have to admit to having such powers.
  • The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester, which introduced the concept of the "psi-cop" to science fiction. The story is a Reverse Whodunnit centering on Ben Reich's attempt to get away with the murder of a hated business rival and the efforts of psychic policeman Lincoln Powell to prove his guilt.
  • Happens on a one-off basis in The Dead Zone when Johnny Smith is asked to help catch a serial killer. Although he's successful, he finds it highly disturbing not least because his powers make him see horrific events like a child being murdered.
  • Greg Mandel in the trilogy by Peter F. Hamilton is a former British Army psychic whose skillset involves Gut Feeling and Living Lie Detector. He works as a private investigator for Julia Evans, CEO of Event Horizon. The second novel A Quantum Murder is the only time he works directly with the police, but even they know that Event Horizon is calling the shots.
  • Thara Celehar in The Goblin Emperor and its sequel is a Police Necromancer (in the original Interrogating the Dead sense, not making zombies). He's a priest of the setting's God of the Dead who uses his gift for post-mortem communication to solve mysteries ranging from regicide to inheritance disputes.
  • Known Space. In The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton, Gil arranges for the police psychic to check his safety at regular intervals while investigating a case of Organ Theft. It's played for realism; the psychic has a regular shift like any other government employee, so he has to book a time when she'll be available. The only slot she has free for him is 9.45am. He's later abducted on his way home at night, then wakes up in an anonymous apartment with no way of knowing what time it is. He only survives because the psychic got worried when Gil didn't turn up for work and checked him early.
  • Moon (1985): Jonathan Childes, reluctant extrasensory witness to a child-molesting Serial Killer, helped the police find the killer. Five years later, involuntary sensory merge with a similarly psychic Serial Killer sees this second killer come after him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock: Parodied when TV executive Jack Donaghy greenlights a new show, God Cop, in order to sink NBC. The premise? A New York City detective solves crimes with his new partner, God.
    Jack Donaghy, playing God: If there is one thing I have realized from being God, is that the more you know, the more you realize, you do not! ...know.
    Kenneth: Why is he learning anything? He's supposed to be God.
  • 1-800-Missing: Jess receives Psychic Powers from being struck by lightning, and is subsequently employed by an FBI Task Force since her visions often contain clues that can be used to find missing persons.
  • Bones: Recurring guest character Avalon Harmonia is a bit Creepy Good, but gains insight from her tarot cards and sometimes the corpse on the table to advise on the case of the week. And play Shipper on Deck for the office romances.
  • Forever Knight: Vampire Detective Nick Knight works with a psychic to solve a kidnapping in "Dying to Know You". Unfortunately she keeps seeing visions of Nick's true nature, confusing the issue. Eventually Nick takes the risk of telling her he's a vampire so she'll know she can still trust her visions.
  • The InBetween: Protagonist Cassie can commune with the dead, who are in the titular "InBetween". Her foster father is an FBI agent, so Cassie starts aiding law enforcement with her visions.
  • The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Pure" features Sebastian Ballentine, a psychic who steps in to offer the detectives at SVU a hand with their latest case of a missing teenager by offering visions of her location. His powers are called into doubt by the unit, and it is eventually revealed that he is not only a fraud, he is actually the episode's perpetrator, as his routine is ruined by his wife and her attempts to perform tasks for him while he is teasing the detectives. Part of his thrills come from offering his "services" to the police, knowing full well that they will fail to catch him.
  • The premise of Lucifer (2016) has the Devil himself Lucifer Morningstar join LAPD Detective Chloe Decker as a "consultant" for a homicide. Lucifer's contributions usually involve either using his wealth and extensive connections to get them into places or using his Compelling Voice to get people to admit their guilt or their seediest wants.
  • On iZombie, Liv Moore helps Det. Clive Babineaux out with cases through the cover of being a psychic. Although Clive thinks she is legitimately psychic, her ability to absorb memories and traits from the brains she eats are because she's a zombie (which she's trying to hide anyway).
  • Medium: The main character, Allison, can talk with the dead and often has dreams of the past or future. Once she convinces the D.A.'s office that her gift is real, she is allowed to tag along on police investigations.
  • The premise of Millennium (1996). Frank Black is a former FBI agent turned freelance consultant, who has an uncanny ability to get into the mindspace of killers and other criminals — a trait that he uses to help his old colleagues. Although the first season was unclear on whether this was a legitimate psychic ability or just very keen senses of empathy and intuition, later seasons made it clear that it was the former.
  • Psych: Exploited by Shawn Spencer who works as a consultant for the local police department as a 'psychic', because he has helped them crack difficult cases on more than one occasion. However, he doesn't actually have psychic powers, but instead a Photographic Memory and supreme deductive reasoning skills. He does not really try to shed the psychic label, however, as he does enjoy crime solving but couldn't make himself become a police officer.
  • A famed psychic helps the police out on The Rockford Files episode "The Oracle Wore a Cashmere Suit". Jim thinks he's a fraud.
  • Stitchers has a technological variation. Members of the Stitchers program are not psychic, but advanced technology allows them to briefly read the minds of the deceased. From here they deduce what happened.
  • Twin Peaks: Special Agent Cooper doesn't describe himself as a psychic, but he relies heavily on dreams, the "Tibetan method" and assorted kinds of magic to aid him in his investigations.
  • Vampire Prosecutor: Min Tae-Yeon works alongside the police as part of a special joint unit, his particular talent is known only to one other team member: As a vampire, he can drink a small amount of a victim's blood and see the last few moments of their life and then uses that knowledge to help push the police in the right direction.
  • The X-Files:
    • "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose", in which a (probably) fake psychic called "The Stupendous Yappi" (who even Mulder thinks is a fake) was called in by the police to help investigate a series of murders. Meanwhile, a definitely real one — the titular Clyde — has witnessed the crimes via his power of seeing how people will die and helps Mulder and Scully track down the culprit. Funnily enough, some of the claims made by Yappi turn out to be accurate, so he might be the real deal — though considering how vague his predictions are, that could just be random success.
      Detective Cline: Look, all I know is that so far, Yappi has provided more solid, concrete leads on this case than you have. Now if you don't mind, I have to get an APB out on a ... [checks notebook] ...white male, aged 17 to 34 with or without a beard and maybe a tattoo ... who's impotent.
      Scully: Might as well go home, Mulder. This case is as good as solved.
    • The episode "Closure" is kickstarted by a self-proclaimed police psychic who comes to Agents Mulder and Scully with a lead about the former's missing sister. While Piller's actual status as a police psychic is questionable, his powers do seem to be legitimate, as they are able to lead Mulder to a place where he can come to terms with his sister's death.
  • One episode of Joan of Arcadia deconstructed this trope. Arcadia's police department calls in a psychic named Ms. Bloome to help track down a kidnapped boy, much to Chief Will Girardi's displeasure (he's a skeptic in terms of all forms of supernatural things). Ms. Bloome explains that she had a near-death experience that resulted in her having psychic dreams, gaining psychometric power, and reading thoughts, but mostly gets the case wrong beyond a few small details, and it's old-fashioned police work that ends up rescuing the child. Will takes this as proof that psychics are a scam—but the consultant was also able to sense Joan's "special connection with the universe" (which is definitely true, given her ability to communicate with God) and foresaw the wheelchair-bound Kevin dancing at his wedding someday (the series repeatedly teased that Kevin might be able to walk again through a combination of science and faith). Luke ends the episode by pointing out that most skilled chess players can read the game a few moves ahead ("strategy and a little bit of living in the future")—at what point do people draw the line between sensible prediction and flat-out clairvoyance? And if that's the case, couldn't some people do the same for life overall?
    Luke: I mean, you see four moves ahead, it's empirical. You see five moves ahead, it's still grounded in science. I mean, who knows where the demarcation is? Now, if you see twelve moves ahead, maybe you're crossing into psychic phenomena. And maybe that's what a psychic does. She just sees the board of life better than we do.
  • In the 1992 TV film To Catch A Killer, police consult a psychic in the John Wayne Gacy case, in the hopes of finding where he hid the bodies of his victims (they're buried in a crawl space under his house).
    "Where is the sky? I can't see the sky anymore...all of these people here in the same dark place...all of these bodies..."

    Print Media 
  • Paranormal investigation publication Fortean Times has reported on this phenomenon and assessed the evidence for people such as Dutch psychic Peter Hurkos, who has been acclaimed as a psychic aid to police investigations in Europe and the USA.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Hunter: The Vigil: The VASCU are an FBI unit that make use of a form of psychic powers called Teleinformatics, which focuses on Telepathy, information gathering and information analysis to help and find them catch spree killers, serial killers, and slashers.
  • Shadowrun: Awakened are heavily in demand with law enforcement. Depending on their magical speciality, Awakened can use anything from Aura Vision, the ability to summon and interrogate spirits, or active divination spells to help solve mundane crime. In the UCAS and CAS, Supreme Court precedents have even been set for how magic interacts with the Bill of Rights, such as whether or not mind-reading someone is a violation of their Fifth Amendment rights (it is, at least without the proper authorization given).

    Video Games 
  • Empires that took the Psionic Ascension path in Stellaris play this trope as literally as it gets when they build the Psi-Corps facility, which increases stability on the planet they're built on and provide two Telepaths jobs, which are literally police officers with Psychic Powers, including benefiting from the same bonuses as regular police officers from a Police State.

    Visual Novels 
  • Played for Drama in the backstory of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney with the DL-6 case. Out of leads in Gregory Edgeworth's murder, the police turned to renowned spirit medium Misty Fey as a last resort, in hopes that she could channel Gregory. She did so, but Gregory named the wrong man as his killer, resulting in massive ramifications for nearly every major character throughout the trilogy.
  • In Ghost Trick, in order to solve a particularly convoluted cold case, Detective Lynne has to reach out for help of a ghost named Sissel, who is able to commune with the dead and travel back in time to alter their fates and save them.

  • How do you have a Psychic Police officer in a setting where there's an entire magically-empowered branch of the FBI? Well, in El Goonish Shive you have Agent Cranium, who has a spell that lets her instantly scan an area and create a copy of that area in her mind, which she can then examine at her leisure. This functionally gives her a limited form of clairvoyance... and this comes up because it's an incredibly rare spell and Sarah also has it.
  • Magi-Chan from Sonichu is an incredibly powerful psychic-type Pokémon, a part of the Chaotic Combo, and capable of traveling through time at will. What does he use his powers for, the viewer may ask? Mostly help the CWCville police round up anyone committing heinous crimes such as having gay sex, smuggling cigarettes, or trolling the mayor online.

    Western Animation 
  • Bob's Burgers: In "I Get Psychic Out Of You", Linda mistakenly thinks she's psychic and goes around making predictions. She gets the attention of Detective Bosco, who thinks she could use her powers to help him with a case.
  • In the episode "Bart The Murderer" of The Simpsons, Chief Wiggum consults a psychic to find Skinner's body, but the psychic can only channel celebrity gossip.
  • South Park: "Cartman's Incredible Gift": Cartman is mistaken for a psychic after he awakens from a coma and deduces some very obvious things from his surroundings. A gullible cop thoroughly believes he is psychic and hinges on his intuition to make an arrest, which makes Cartman famous. It turns out there is a whole slew of local Phony Psychic detectives. Later on, Kyle, getting sick of the police being complete idiots, stages the same accident as Cartman for himself and pretends to have gotten psychic powers to give the police the (incredibly obvious) answer to the crime.


Video Example(s):


Sarah Marshall-Animal Instinct

Sarah Marshall plays an police officer/animal psychic.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / PolicePsychic

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