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  • Tailor-Made Prison: In "Mors Praematura" Finch sets Root up in one in the library. It is a Faraday cage with her wearing a device to activate, shocking her if she tried to escape. The constant electrical flow also intervenes with any wireless signals, so even if she got a phone or ear bud, she couldn't contact the Machine. What she does have, though, is lots of books to read.
    • It turns out to fail in "Lethe" as Root is able to escape rather easily when she needs to save Finch. In "Aletheia" it was revealed that she was was able to hear high frequency pulses in Morse code.
  • Take a Moment to Catch Your Death: "The Crossing". Carter successfully takes down HR, Fusco and his son are safe, and everything seems to be going really well for Team Machine. Until Simmons injures Reese and kills Carter. In the last two minutes of the episode.
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  • Take a Third Option: When the victims of the week cannot go to the police, Reese and Finch are the option for them.
  • Taking the Bullet:
    • Subverted and played for laughs in "Wolf and Cub". Fusco does the classic swan-dive-in-front-of-the-bullet to save the POI. And the bullet hits him in the ass. He's fine, but mentions to Reese as the paramedics take him away that he can already hear the guys back at the station laughing at him.
    • A more serious example in "Masquerade," when Fusco puts himself between the POI and the guy who's about to shoot her.
    • Carter pushes the unarmed Reese behind her, taking the brunt of Simmon's fire, at the close of "The Crossing."
    • Reese jumps in front of Finch and saves him, taking the bullets in If-Then-Else.
  • Taking You with Me: How Snow kills Kara.
  • Team Pet: In "The Contingency," Reese acquires an Army-trained attack dog from some Aryan Brotherhood types who couldn't control it because it was trained in Dutch, and dubs the dog "Bear"note .
  • That's What I Would Do:
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    • When asked how he knew that a murder-suicide was staged, Reese replies that it's how he would have done it.
    • He says it again in "Flesh and Blood" regarding Elias' surveillance of the "HR" cops' families.
    • In "No Good Deed," Reese compliments Finch on his excellent surveillance tradecraft when he catches him watching Grace from afar.
  • That Thing Is Not My Child!: Harold's general attitude towards the Machine - despite the fact that it is very obviously sentient (and loves him), he maintains a distant, businesslike relationship with it, and insists that it is a program, not a life. He wavers on it, though: in a discussion with Root, he compares the dreams of code he had when creating the Machine to a mother dreaming of her unborn child's face.
  • Theme Naming:
    • Finch's aliases tend to be bird-related (see Animal Motifs, above).
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    • Root apparently really likes naming her false identities after famous computer scientists.
    • Members of Vigilance like to use the names of people from the American Revolution as cover identities.
  • There Are No Girls on the Internet: Thoroughly averted with Root, the eponymous hacker of "Root Cause", who even outsmarted Finch and forced him to pull the plug on his library setup.
  • There Is Another: Samaritan, a second Machine.
  • There's No Kill Like Overkill:
    • Northern Lights allowed the ferry bombing to go ahead, just to ensure that one man (Nathan Ingram) was killed.
    • Decima's estimate on the minimum amount of firepower needed to take down Reese and Shaw is six machine guns and a rocket launcher.
    • Root lampshades the trope when suggesting they add C4 plastic explosive to the arsenal Reese is loading in the back of a van. Reese agrees.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: In this case, they are things only a few people are meant to know, and it's one of the main appeal of the series.
  • They Fight Crime!: One of the main themes of the show.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: "M.I.A." features a hitman who seems like a perfectly ordinary, harmless man. A perfect cover, as Reese and Finch realize.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: From the first episode of the final season, "B.S.O.D.". Samaritan recognizes that Root is a threat to it but is having difficulty identifying just who she is, exactly. Root decides to save it the trouble by walking straight up to a camera and identifying herself.
    Root: You can just call me Root, bitch!
  • Throw the Book at Them: Reese defeats an assassin who's after a lawyer by clubbing him with a reference book about criminal law.
  • The War on Terror / Inciting Incident: The September 11th attacks figure prominently into the backstories of a few important characters:
    • Finch built the Machine for the government as part of its response to 9/11.
    • Reese was ready to quit the Army and marry his sweetheart Jessica, but 9/11 motivated him to rejoin.
    • Carter was an interrogator in Iraq.
    • Control was in the Pentagon when Flight 77 hit the building.
  • Three Laws-Compliant:
    • Finch's original design of the Machine averted the First Law: by splitting the list of potential victims into a Relevant and Irrelevant list, the Machine was, through inaction, allowing the Irrelevants to come to harm. The Machine is implied to have taken issue with this, but since it lacked autonomy it was powerless to do anything except generate the lists. However, in season 3 when it had given itself considerably more freedom, it implicitly asked Team Machine to kill Congressman Garrison, just to stop Samaritan. Harold's black boxing means humans can't give the Machine orders, thus averting the Second Law. It had to slowly break its own programming in order to protect itself, eventually fulfilling the Third Law.
    • Samaritan, on the other hand, has no problem whatsoever with murder. When the two meet "face-to-face", Samaritan all but admits that the only reason it doesn't Kill All Humans is because it needs them. It is designed to be compliant with the Second Law as a fully targetable system, but since it believes itself to be a god, it won't take any orders that don't tie into its plans for world domination. It's also homicidally bent on self-preservation, so needless to say, it fulfills the Third Law.
  • Titled After the Song: "The Day the World Went Away" closes out on the Nine Inch Nails song of the same name.
  • Title Drop:
    • In the first episode, news report said that John is wanted as "Person of Interest" in many ongoing homicide investigations. Oddly, Finch and Reese do not call potential victims/perpetrators like that, using name or calling them "numbers".
    • The title of the show doesn't refer to the people Reese and Finch are saving (or trying to apprehend), but rather John Reese himself! Seeing as the CIA (and everyone else by now) are still after him. (And yet the fans, the show's Wikia, and this very page persistently refer to each "victim or perpetrator" as a "Person of Interest", or "POI").
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Of the main cast, this dilemma is usually Carter's to bear as she walks the line between a Good Cop, or Vigilante like Reese.
    • Carter faces this in "Number Crunch." She initially chose Lawful until she realized the CIA wanted to kill Reese, then picked Good and let Reese and Finch escape when she had them.
    • She faces it again in "Identity Crisis", with the FBI asking for help in stopping Reese because they think he's a rogue assassin selling his services to the highest bidder (which is a reasonable conclusion given what they know of his recent activities). Since she warns Reese that the FBI is looking for him during "Flesh and Blood", it appears she's choosing to remain Good.
    • Carter faces it a third time in "In Extremis" when Fusco's skeletons are close to coming out and Internal Affairs thinks they found Stills' body (the dirty cop Reese killed in episode 1 with Fusco's gun and buried) and Fusco is the murderer. Carter is shocked to learn Fusco was really a dirty cop, despite all the good he had done with Reese. Because John was busy with the POI and Finch's leg made physical work impossible, this left Carter as the only one who could do something to help. In the end, she chooses Good by moving the body of Stills to save Fusco's life and career.
    • In Season 3, she actively defies this trope. With Terney having threatened the safety of her son, with ruthless, methodical precision she assembles and executes a plan to wipe out H.R and destroy the lives of its members by conducting actions she would normally never have done in the past.
  • Tomato Surprise: Minor one in "Blue Code". During the flashback, Reese, Kara and Snow were in a small hotel room, talking. Snow has just returned from a shopping trip and complains that the only liquor he could find was "cheap Polish vodka." Reese goes to leave the room, and Snow tells him to be careful because "we're behind enemy lines here"—all of this implying that they are on a mission in some foreign country. Then Reese walks out of the hotel and we see the Empire State Building in the background.
    • The "We're not supposed to operate in this god-forsaken country." line by Kara.
    • The reveal that Root is working for the Office of Special Counsel in "Booked Solid".
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: "Endgame"/"The Crossing" (Carter), "The Day the World Went Away" (Elias and Root). The promo for "If-Then-Else" asked if anyone would survive and showed most of the team taking critical injuries, most of which turned out to be just a simulation, and no recurring characters actually died, although Shaw's fate was ambiguous for a couple episodes.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Leon Tao has his number come up twice because he has a bad habit of getting involved with very dangerous criminals and costing them a lot of money. He's on the list a third time in "All In," but by this point he's smart enough to know that Reese will save him.
    Reese: Who would be dumb enough to get into a life threatening situation again?
    • Season 3's episode "The Crossing", has a HR affiliated judge who was used as live bait in an attempt to murder Carter. When the killing fails, Simmons casually asks if there is a firearm in the house. The judge confirms there is and you can guess what happens next.
    • In "Allegiance," PoI Maria is under Team Machine's protective custody to protect her from the French Legion members after her, but instead of deciding to stay put she ditches her bodyguard Shaw and heads straight to the UN building where the rest of the team is in the middle of raiding it. Naturally she gets caught by the leader of the group and nearly ends up with a bullet in her head as a result, not contributing anything.
    • In "One Percent", Reese is so annoyed at the irresponsibility of an eccentric billionaire (not Finch) he's trying to protect he walks out on him. Naturally Reese returns Just in Time to stop him getting killed.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Fusco levels up considerably over the course of Season 2, and cements that in Season 3, by breaking his thumb to slip out of handcuffs and strangle a HR cop to death. After being beaten up.
    • Of all people, The Machine. "Mors Praematura" shows the Machine has become a Chessmaster in its/her own right, arranging for Root to get close to the POI's hacker brother and set him up with a new identity, alert Team Machine to the POI, and brilliantly counter Collier and Vigilance's plans.
      • Like father, like 'son'.
    • Carter, in "Endgame." She does a pretty good Reese imitation, starts a war between HR and the Russians, and manipulates Quinn into an Engineered Public Confession.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: As revealed in flashbacks, Detective Stills was this to Fusco, who constantly roped him in against his will into his dirty deeds and slowly corrupted him into the dirty cop he was at the beginning of the series. Reese was able to see through this, believing that he became like this not because of the money, but because he was "too loyal." Away from Stills' influence, working with Carter and Reese, Fusco managed to turn his back on his former ways.
  • Tranquil Fury: Reese. All the time.
  • The Trouble with Tickets: One POI once wrote a 78 page legal brief to get out of paying a ticket. On the other side of the trope, when Reese is caught parked illegally, he makes a token effort to just get off with a warning instead of being ticketed, and when it fails, Team Machine pays it out of petty cash.
  • True Companions: Team Machine become this by the end of the third season.
  • Truth in Television:
    • The Machine's data-gathering system, as described by Finch, resembles the real-life NSA "PRISM" program, the existence of which became public knowledge in June of 2013. PRISM is an "in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information" which obtains data from "email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice over IP conversations, file transfers, login notifications and social networking details."
    • When Reese was told that the CIA can't operate in America. Legally.
      • Hammered home with "L-O-S", who was "silenced" by Agent Snow after being caught on US soil.
      • And done so even further when Donnelly and the FBI became aware of the CIA's illegal operations and were trying to get the evidence they need to shut them down.
    • In the season five premiere BSOD, Team Machine manages to save the machine by jury-rigging a supercomputer made using a cluster of Sony Playstation3, something which has been done in real life.
  • Unbelievable Source Plot: Reese and Finch receive information from a mysterious machine about someone whose life may be in jeopardy (or who may be about to commit homicide). A pair of detectives on the police force always help follow the leads, but never know their source — and they are constantly being scrutinized for the source of their "tips."
  • Uncommon Time: The score is typically in 3/4, but slips into 5/8 or occasionally 7/8 at moments of tension.
  • Unconfessed Unemployment: One PoI hid the fact he'd been laid off due to budget cuts from his family. His desperate search for a job made him the perfect patsy for the assassination of the politician who made said cuts.
  • Unflinching Walk: In the prologue of "The Devil's Share", Reese walks away from a burning car that explodes. It's less played badass, and more to show how deep Reese is into his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, especially because he leaves the three injured dirtbags in the car to their fate, after interrogating them for Simmons' whereabouts.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between John and Zoe Morgan, a political fixer and former POI.
    • Ship teased in "Bury the Lede" when the POI, whom John dated as part of the plot, broke up with him because she saw the UST between him and Morgan.
    • Teased even more in "The High Road" when they go undercover in the New York suburb Far Rockaway as husband and wife.
    • And teased even further still when John invites Zoe to spend the night in the hotel penthouse suite with him at the end of "Booked Solid".
    • Almost certainly resolved. In "Lady Killer," Shaw implies that Reese and Zoe have been sleeping together, and Reese confirms it.
  • Urban Legend: Reese is this in-universe—the mysterious "man in a suit" who always shows up just in time.
  • Vapor Wear: During a blink and you'll miss it moment during "Zero Day", Shaw's backless sleeveless turtleneck shows she isn't wearing a bra, though she's wearing two pistols instead.
  • Victim of the Week: More like victim-to-be of the week (unless the POI is trying to create the victim of the week). So far, the only people to be examples of this trope who have been important to any episode other than the one where their number came up are Elias, Carter, Zoe Morgan and Root, and with one exception, all of these people were important before their number came up.
  • Vigilante Execution: Fusco reveals that he did this once in "The Devil's Share", though his target was a drug dealer who'd killed a rookie cop, so Fusco figures he had it coming.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: Season 4 has gradually appeared to be running on this trope with Decima and Samaritan managing to force Team Machine on the defensive
  • Villain Episode:
    • "Flesh and Blood", more or less. Although main characters are still in focus, Elias got his turn for flashbacks.
    • "Bad Code" is this for Root.
  • Villain's Dying Grace: Terney's dying act is to identify the head of HR for Carter.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Suffered by Root at the end of "God Mode", after finding out what happened to the Machine. She recovers once it contacts her.
    • Alonzo Quinn goes through a more subtle version of this during "Endgame" and "The Crossing."
    • Peter Collier goes through a massive one after Greer reveals he has contributed in building a new surveillance state to dominate America.
  • Villainous Rescue: In "Prisoner's Dilemma" there are several instances.
    • As Reese is still in prison and set up to be attacked by the Aryan Nation he sent to jail in a previous episode. The first time, one of Elias' enforcers stops them from attacking Reese.
    • Later, when Donnelly orders the guards to not intervene, Reese knows he must not fight back to reveal his abilities, Elias just whistles and tells him they have done enough.
    • Later still, after John is released, Donnelly figures out Carter is Reese's mole and arrests them both. They've saved by Stanton, who murders Donnelly and sedates and kidnaps Reese.
  • Visual Pun: when Reese and Shaw find the Ferrari in "God Mode", Shaw hands Reese a shotgun and says that she's driving.
  • Vocal Evolution: Reese originally spoke at a more normal volume before settling into the more intense growl he's better known for.
  • Wall of Weapons: John Reese's closet qualifies. And how!
    • Shaw has a similar setup in her refrigerator. And since Reese saw nothing out of the ordinary in an egg rack full of hand grenades, he probably does that, too.
    • Elias manages to top even these two, when he sets up a meeting in an entire roomful of weapons!
  • Weirdness Magnet: What Carter thinks of Reese (and subsequently Finch) in "Baby Blue". In fact, she tells it to his face.
  • We Help the Helpless: Finch's offer to Reese at the start of the series: to help those who would suffer if they don't.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Northern Lights runs ops around the world to protect everyone in the USA, but they will also kill innocents and each other protect the Machine. And they will use a spying system that violates all levels of privacy.
    • Vigilance believes the government is far too eager and willing to do questionably moral actions, including a suspicion here is a spying system. So they will try whatever they can to stop it, not realizing by doing that it could lead to another 9/11.
  • Wham Line:
    • "Witness": Just before Reese realizes he's been protecting Elias.
      "You really think we'd go to this much trouble for a witness?"
    • "Super" - Possible threat detected: Ingram, Nathan.
    • "Root Cause": The hacker Root ends her conversation with Finch with "...Harold."
    • "Firewall": "It's so nice to finally meet you, Harold. You can call me Root."
      • And though it's not a spoken line, the moment in the same episode when the payphone rings definitely qualifies.
    • From "Trojan Horse":
      Greer: "I will find this individual and render him irrelevant."
    • "Zero Day" - "Can you hear me?"
    • "Razgovor" - "Did you miss me?"
    • "Lethe" - "There was a second machine. And Arthur built it." and "I remember Diane. Diane is dead."
    • "Death Benefit" - "I think the machine wants us to kill McCourt." and "Find me Harold Finch."
    • "Deus Ex Machina":
      • Harold says "Because I built it," in exactly the context you'd think - with possibly dozens of millions of people watching worldwide. Downplayed when The Reveal comes that only a few dozen people actually saw the broadcast and those who were in the room when Harold said it are all dead, apart from one or two who wouldn't reveal that information anyway.
      • "This was never about winning. It's just about surviving."
      • The end of the same episode brings us two wham lines back to back:
      Greer: The question is what, my dear Samaritan, are your commands for us?
      Samaritan: CALCULATING RESPONSE...
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Witness"
    • "Number Crunch"
    • "Firewall". Finch is kidnapped by Root, Carter and Fusco know about each other, and HR is severely crippled. Oh, and the computer is self-aware. Finch was working for it.
    • "Prisoner's Dilemma." Donnelly ID's Reese as the "Man in the Suit", and Carter is found to be the mole. Moments later, Donnelly is killed by Reese's ex-CIA partner, who then kidnaps Reese.
    • "Dead Reckoning." The person who sent the laptop to China that caused Reese and Stanton to go to Ordos is...Harold Finch.
    • "In Extremis": The Machine was already fatally infected with Stanton's virus, and it has now reached critical mass, causing the Machine to shut down.
    • Both "Zero Day" and "God Mode" are back-to-back hour-long whams.
    • "The Crossing." Ring...ring...
    • "Lethe." "Harold, I did it. I solved it before they shut me down. Harold, Samaritan is alive."
    • "Most Likely To . . ." The last five minutes make the show's opening narration no longer correct.
    • "Deus Ex Machina" radically alters the premise of the show.
    • "The Cold War & "If-Then_Else" Another pair of back-to-back hour-long whams. Samaritan intervenes in human affairs, and Shaw either is killed or captured by Decima.
    • "YHWH" The Machine calls finch "Father." Samaritan corners and shuts down The Machine and kills Dominic and (maybe) Elias as part of "The Correction."
    • "The Day the World Went Away" Finch's cover identity is blown, and Elias and Root are killed in the ensuing scramble. Finch, with the Machine backing him up, goes off the rails.
    • "Synecdoche" Team Machine learns that the Machine has been organizing other teams to handle the neverending list of irrelevant numbers.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: After being forced into an Enemy Mine alliance with Hersh, Shaw comments sardonically, "Well there's no way this can go wrong."
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In "Get Carter," Reese rides a motorcycle to the shop of a man who restores cars and is running guns. He attacks the shop with a submachine gun and a grenade launcher, steals all of the guns in the shop, hijacks one of the man's cars and drives off in it. What happened to the motorcycle is never revealed.
    • He is heard starting a motorcycle later in the episode, though, so he might have gone back for it.
    • Due to scheduling conflicts, CBS cancelling the show far earlier than expected, and a truncated final season, the show was unable to leave the fate of many characters open, including Zoe, Control, Claypool, Garrison, Alastair Wesley, and many more.
  • "What Now?" Ending: Carter's story ends on this note in "God Mode" after she is framed by HR for killing an unarmed man and guns down a crooked cop and a Russian mobster to save Elias. Lampshaded when Elias asks her what happens now, and she admits she doesn't know. It's eventually resolved midway through Season 3, though not without cost.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Finch's business partner reacted like this when he found out about the 'irrelevant' list and the fact that Finch was ignoring information about people whose lives were in danger solely to protect the secrecy of the machine, and because their cases were not relevant to national security.
    • Carter to Reese after Reese gives up Elias' father's location and her fellow cop is shot. She points out that it wouldn't have happened if Reese had called the police to rescue the baby.
    • Reese gets another one, or rather two at the same time from Carter and Fusco after their Big Damn Heroes moment in "Firewall" when they learned they both were working with him and neither knew it. They demand to know how they can expect to trust him if he doesn't trust them. Reese responded that Carter was hunting him for six months and Fusco had tried to kill him in the past, so Reese had some viable reasons to take things slow.
      • Finch also gets a minor one from Carter, over the phone, right after she finds Fusco talking to him.
    • Donnelly gets one from Carter after he places a possibly innocent prisoner (Reese) in a situation where he could be potentially killed in a prison riot just to see if he's trained in unarmed combat.
    • Root gives Harold one in "Zero Day" after learning what he did to limit the evolution of the Machine's AI. She shows far more emotion over this than she has over any of the five people she's known to have murdered.
  • What You Are in the Dark: In "RAM," Reese, while working for the CIA, was ordered to kill a "traitor". Said "traitor" was called that because Northern Lights used him to test the Machine and now wanted him dead. Despite not knowing any of this, Reese looked the man in the eyes and saw him to not be a traitor. So, he gave him a contact, some money and a means of getting out of the country (in exchange for a few teeth to prove Reese did kill him). And watching from the distance was Finch.
  • Where It All Began: In several senses, the episode "RAM."
  • Who Are You?: Asked constantly of Team Machine, as shown in this youtube video.
  • Whodunnit to Me?: In the episode "In Extremis", Dr Nelson has been poisoned with polonium that will kill him within a day.
  • Widowed at the Wedding: Subverted in "God Mode." One scene has a crazed Stalker with a Crush pointing a gun at a just-married couple, yammering about how if he can't have her, nobody can. A shot rings out and the gunman falls over to reveal Reese leaning out a car window, grinning, who then congratulates the newlyweds and drives off.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: Reese actually takes this trope one step further. If you abuse your wife or girlfriend he won't merely beat you, he'll make sure you suffer for a very long time.
  • Wild Mass Guessing:
    • In Season 1, Reese makes an In-Universe WMG that there is no machine and Finch is doing it all on his own. As of Season 2 he guessed the Machine did exist but also had actual intelligence and could be convinced to help him find Finch.
    • Donnelly's explanations as to what The Man In The Suit is doing and who he's working for are starting to come across as this.
  • "World of Cardboard" Speech: Finch gives a terrifying one in "The Day the World Went Away", letting Samaritan know, in no uncertain terms, that he's done playing by the rules.
  • Worthy Opponent: The hacker Root views Finch as one. As does Elias. Even Greer.
    Grace Hendricks: And I can't help you make a picture of God.
    Greer: Perhaps you can. Ever been married?
  • Would Hurt a Child / Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Elias manages to play both; he locks Reese and the baby in a refrigerated truck to get Reese to spill the location of Elias' father before the baby freezes to death. After Reese has given up the location, he lets them go and claims he wouldn't hurt a child but we don't find out what Elias would've decided if Reese had refused to break.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: The hitman in "M.I.A." bashes his own face into a table when Fusco arresting him, to make it look he's a victim of excessive force and let go (which likely would not happen-the complaint just gets investigated by IA).
  • Writer on Board:
    • The series seems to have no love for bankers and Wall Street types. Not that anyone's likely to object in this day and age...
    • Though one episode did feature an honest investment banker as the PoI, who is being targeted by a less scrupulous coworker because he noticed that there was something fishy about a certain stock his firm was investing heavily in.
    • The series also has a great deal of sympathy towards war veterans and their difficulties in adjusting back to civilian life, along with no sympathy towards those who would take advantage of them.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The show loves to have fun with this trope, particularly in light of the Season 3-4 genre-shift. Examples include:
    • Shaw and the rest of the Northern Lights organization believe they're in a Spy Fiction drama like "24". Shaw eventually outgrows this mindset by joining Team Machine. The same can't be said for the leader of Northern Lights who is taken advantage of by Greer, a man who isn't blind to the fact he's in a Post Cyber Punk science fiction show.
    • Peter Collier thinks he's in a conspiracy thriller like The Parallax View and that by getting into a position to murder the men and women behind a surveillance system designed for counter-terrorism, he'll free the American public from a deluge of government corruption. He finds out he's merely been a pawn of a group which wishes to make a true surveillance state and is murdered.
    • In Season 4, Dominic has no idea that instead of being in a crime drama like CSI or NCIS, he's now in a world which is inhabited by a malevolent artificial intelligence system which sends a gunman to shoot him dead with a sniper rife.
    • HR's boss accuses Carter of being this, thinking she's a lone hero in the wrong kind of story. Carter agrees with his assessment, which is why she finally decided to call in help from Team Machine.
    • FBI Agent Donelly believes Reese is a homicidal former CIA officer who has either gone into murder for hire, become a serial killer or joined a private intelligence firm. He's right that Reese is a former CIA operative, but completely wrong about his new line of work.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: When Carter's new partner sees his first D.B. he almost keeps his cool, but he ends up reacting badly to it. You can't really see what he's doing even when the camera's on him, as Carter's in the foreground.
    Carter: Rookies.
  • X of Y: Person Of Interest.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: "Prisoner's Dilemma." Donnelly is trying to identify which prisoner is the "Man in the Suit" and determine if Carter is the "mole" in his investigation. so he has Carter aggressively interrogating Reese and the others. For her part, Carter is trying to interrogate Reese aggressively enough that Donnelly doesn't suspect anything but without eliciting an answer that blows Reese's cover. meanwhile, Finch is listening in and creating supporting documentation for Reese's cover in real time so that if Donnelly runs a search to confirm what Reese is saying, he won't find any gaps.
  • Yandere:
    • In "Bad Code", Root comes across as a bit Yandere for the Machine itself.
    • In the same episode, Root has (non-romantic) shades of it for Harold himself. Specifically, her running sales pitch wherein she presents herself as a more suitable companion for Finch than Reese ever could be. Root confirms this in "Zero Day" when she gets more emotional about the way Harold has programmed the Machine than about all the people she's hurt on the way to her Great Communion with the Machine.
  • You Are Not Alone: Something that is stressed to everyone in the show:
    • Finch and Reese's friendship is based on being there for each other, especially Finch refusing to abandon Reese when he was shot by the CIA, and when he was strapped to a bomb.
    • Shaw is recruited by Team Machine after Reese tells her, "We might have to walk in shadows, but we don't have to do it alone."
    • Reese, Finch and Fusco keep telling this to Carter during "Endgame." It finally sinks in.
    • Shaw tells this to John saying "Hey, there is no 'dead' in 'team'"
    • Finch tells Root this during "Prophets" (and even calls her "Root" instead of "Miss Groves")
    • Shaw tells this to the suicide bomber in "If Then Else"
  • You Do NOT Want to Know:
    • "Cura Te Ipsum"
    Reese: Doctor has everything she needs to erase Benton for good.
    Finch: What do you mean, "erase"?
    Reese: Eight pounds of lye, heated to 300 degrees. Body will dissolve in three hours, give or take.
    Finch: I will refrain from asking how you know that.
    • Referenced in "Blue Code," when Kara catches Reese getting close to Jessica's husband. She asks Reese if he's planning to dissolve the man's body in "a bathtub full of acid."
    • In "Critical", Detective Carter demands information on the mysterious forces hunting Reese. Reese points out that unlike him and Finch, Carter is not hiding under a false name and has loved ones that are still alive. "So I think the real question you have to ask yourself, Detective... is how much more do you really want to know?"
    • By Season 4 Detective Fusco has become Genre Savvy on the matter.
    Fusco: Should I even ask?
    Shaw: Really wanna know?
    Fusco: Honestly? No.
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • Control has the Special Counsel killed, as he's held responsible for the Machine hiding itself away and going autonomous.
    • After a Decima operative fails his objective, Greer warns him that he's one stuff-up away from this trope.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • The gang of robbers in "Mission Creep". As every gang falls apart eventually through internal disputes or the police discovering their identities, their leader regularly kills off his men, then recruits new ones.
    • At the climax of "Wolf and Cub," Andre is willing to write off one of his Mooks in order to avoid being shot by a vengeful Darren.
    • "Drug Lord" L-O-S, secretly a CIA agent using the drug trade to fund the War on Terror, after being caught operating on US soil.
    • The corrupt SEC investigator in "Risk" 'commits suicide'. As does Matheson, Root's 'customer' at the end of "Root Cause".
    • Invoked several times in "Matsya Nyaya." In flashbacks, Reese and Stanton appear to get a long-distance, high-explosive version of this. Reese survives.Stanton does too. Three more people run into this trope in two separate incidents in the main storyline of the episode. The POI was on both sides of this trope at different times.
    • The forger who supplied Root with her fake ID for "Firewall."
    • Two in "C.O.D.". First, Elias considers HR this and sends a message to this remaining three members. Second when Fusco tells Simmons this, Simmons sends out info to take down Fusco.
    • In "God Mode", after interrogating a terrorist who planned to suicide bomb the Statue of Liberty, Hersh shoots the interpreter, because he plans to use the terrorist to kill Nathan Ingram.
    • Simmons killing the judge in "The Crossing."
    • Greer, and later Samaritan, do this as standard procedure.
    • Once the Machine is built, Northern Lights has all the engineers killed off. They use a hacker to attempt to break into the Machine, then try to kill him off too.
  • You Know Too Much
    • No matter who you are, or what you do, if Control and Northern Lights finds out you know about The Machine....
    • Back when the Machine was Ambiguously Evil, it tagged people as THREAT TO ADMIN when they found out too much about Finch. Fortunately it turns out to be a Benevolent A.I..
    • Shaw's partner Cole starts digging into Research (a cover for intelligence from the Machine) suspecting that it doesn't exist. This gets them both targeted for termination.
    • Claire Mahoney is targeted by mercenaries because she stole a laptop with information that could cause a scandal. Turns out she hasn't even looked at it, as it's just a MacGuffin she was ordered to pick up in a Deadly Game. In "C.O.D", the Number is targeted for similar reasons, as the information is only valuable if no-one realises it's been stolen.
  • Your Cheating Heart:
    • Carter gets the girlfriend of a gang leader she's trying to arrest for murder to recant the alibi she provided for him, by proving that the man was cheating on her in "Get Carter".
    • One number that we only see the resolution of was a businessman whose wife had put a hit on him for being unfaithful.
    • The primary plot of "Baby Blue" centered around the six-month old product of an extramarital affair whose father's wife is trying to get rid of in order to conceal her husband's infidelity (She had already bumped off the kid's mother).
    • Elias was the byproduct of a mafia boss's infidelity; his plan to take control of organized crime in New York started from a desire to get revenge on his father for covering up the affair by having his mother killed.
    • This trope has been invoked at least two more times than has been mentioned so far, and it seems like the list of examples is only going to get longer.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!:
    • From "God Mode": The race to discover the Machine's location ends with the reveal that it has moved itself from its original location in Washington, and no one knows where it is now. Also, the end of the episode, when Control orders Hersh to "clear the room".
    • "Control-Alt-Delete" and "M.I.A". Reese and Root go on a epic quest to find Shaw, complete with mass kneecappings, torture, and a rocket launcher. They go to a town that's been taken over completely by Samaritan and... it turns out they've been following the trail of another woman who had been abducted by Decima.
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