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Series / Blue Bloods

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A tree grows in Brooklyn. note 
Think every family in the Crime And Punishment genre is on the bad guys side? What if we reversed the equation? The Reagan family is a law enforcement family, not a robber family. A four-generational family within the New York City Police Department, with a retired Police Commissioner from Ye Goode Olde Days as the great-grandpa, current Police Commissioner Frank Reagan as The Patriarch, his sons who are all cops and his daughter who is a DA. And their children (two of which have declared they are seriously considering joining the NYPD). They spend Sunday dinners together, quarrel, but stick by each other. Because the family that arrests together stays together.

They have different personalities. Grandpa Henry (Len Cariou) is a hardbitten Da Chief from the old days; Frank (Tom Selleck) is an incorruptible patriarch and responsible police commissioner, who knows how to keep peace between his children and how to encourage them without giving undue favoritism; Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is a ruthless but competent homicide/major case detective who always catches the bad guys; Erin (Bridget Moynahan) is a stickler for points of law but she can also manipulate the law to her advantage when seeking a conviction; and Jamie (Will Estes) is an idealist beat cop who feels a call to serve and protect. They are all loyal to each other and they all serve the cause of keeping order in New York City.

Blue Bloods is a CBS Cop Show with Family Drama elements that began airing in the Fall 2010 season. Its episodes typically interweave about three plot threads focusing on different parts of the family. The A-plot is almost always Danny and his current partner in a fairly standard Police Procedural Case of the Week, but the other threads vary widely by episode, from family drama around Erin's and Danny's children to Frank wrestling between his duties as police commissioner and his desire to do right by his family and city, to Jamie's growth and maturation from rookie academy graduate to experienced patrol officer, and eventually training officer in turn to a rookie.

Not to be confused with the aristocracy, whose article is named Blue Blood.

As of April 2022, this show has run for 12 years and has been renewed for a thirteenth season.

Blue Blood contains examples of:

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    Tropes # to D 
  • 20% More Awesome: Rossellini promising Erin that he'll turn over a new leaf. "I'll change — fifty percent."
  • Aborted Arc:
    • Possibly a case of Real Life Writes the Plot: the end of Season 3, involves Frank working with the NYC Public Advocate, a woman named Grace Newhouse who's thinking of running for Mayor. In fact, in the next episode Mayor Poole is shot, and Ms. Newhouse becomes Acting Mayor until Poole leaves the hospital. Although she's apparently going to run for Mayor, she suffers Chuck Cunningham Syndrome. This might have been loosely based on the real life mayoral race in New York City at the time: the NYC Council President Christine Quinn was running to become the first female Mayor of New York, which may have inspired the Grace Newhouse character; during the summer hiatus, she lost ground in the Democratic primary to Bill de Blasio, and lost the race. It's possible that this persuaded the writers to drop the character inspired by her, and/or because they'd realized that Poole and his actor David Ramsey had become an Ensemble Dark Horse who had an interesting relationship with Frank.
    • In Season 7, it seemed like Attorney General Lewis' investigation was going to be major subplot, yet he was not seen again until after his second episode.
  • Absurdly Powerful School Jurisdiction: Subverted in the episode "Devil's Breath". At first Erin's daughter Nicky tries to organize a sit-in to protest her school's policy of being able to search lockers at any time regardless of the student's consent. At the end of the episode she changes it to a mass protest after school hours and across the street. The principal threatens to suspend the whole group but Erin forces her to back down by pointing out that such a protest is, in fact, protected under the First Amendment.
  • Acting Unnatural: Averted. In season 1, the Reagans are about to make their move against the Blue Templar, having linked a recent hit on a drug stash house to the Templar. Frank, however, orders Jamie to step aside and not participate. This is because Frank knows the Templar has eyes everywhere. He tells Jamie to go about his tour like it's just another day on the job, which means Jamie spends the day protecting a girl who was subject to an attempted kidnapping.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • At the denouement of "Rush to Judgment" Frank dines with Gerry Guerrero, a civil rights attorney who works with Rev. Potter whom Frank had tangled with during the episode. Guerrero tells the waiter that Frank will have the crow; Frank promptly retorts, "Humble pie for my friend." Guerrero spends a good fifteen seconds looking like he can't decide whether to start swearing or laughing. (Of course, the scene is completely stolen by the Servile Snarker waiter asking them if he should come back with a completely straight face.)
    • In "Bad Cop, Good Cop," Frank disciplines a patrol officer he spots texting and smoking on the job. Frank's staff are somewhat amused by the caricature of Frank that is posted in the media in response.
  • The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Noble Sanfino trying to push some new party drug on Jamie, only to OD himself. He gets revenge by giving his dealer a near-fatal dose of his own product.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Roland Gates outed as an undercover cop.
    Gates: I got two kids, man.
    Shooter: Too bad for 'em.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys:
    • Erin gets weak in the knees when she meets an art aficionado. And she gets even weaker when he turns out to be an art thief who is using a fake alias. Frank is less than thrilled, but Erin tells him to mind his business.
    • Averted with almost every other major female, however. Any woman drawn to Jamie (Sydney, Laura, Bianca) or Frank (Kelly, Melanie) is almost surely not looking for a bad boy, and although Danny might have shades of being a bad boy, Linda clearly appreciates his very real husband / parenting skills.
  • Always Gets His Man: Frank and Danny.
  • Amoral Attorney: DA Rossellini has his eyes on the Mayorship, and is happy to manipulate Erin in order to get it. And if the Mayor goes, Erin's father goes.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Frank's Fitz Special revolver, which was handed down from his Grandfather to Henry, and then to him. Danny also uses Henry's old not-quite-authorized/not-quite-legal slapper (essentially a small blackjack).
  • Anti-Nepotism: Frank Reagan is a scrupulously honest top cop, and in later seasons Jamie Reagan starts to feel increasingly that his father is making life difficult for him in an attempt to avoid the appearance of nepotism, noting that most of his academy classmates have already made detective while he's still a (increasingly decorated) beat cop.
  • Arranged Marriage: Sammy Khan wasn't shot because of his anti-terror credentials, but because a traditionalist Muslim already had dibs on his girl friend.
  • Artistic License – Geography: Jamie operates out of the 12th precinct (itself a fictitious precinct due to the NYPD requiring works of fiction to use nonexistent precinct numbers). However, it seems like the 12th precinct has a pretty large service area, including Manhattan, as well as parts of Brooklyn and Queens. In reality, if it existed, the 12th precinct's service area would be limited to a part of Lower Manhattan around Washington Square Park. Same goes for Danny's job, where cases take him all over the city, when as a precinct detective, he really should only be catching cases that happen within his precinct's service area.
  • Artistic License – Law:
    • During the first two seasons, the police cars shown are replicas, bearing the obvious wrong font for the 'NYPD' lettering on the sidenote , and bear a modified NYPD emblem that's also worn on the shoulder patches of replica uniformsnote . This is more noticeable in some episodes where the replica cars appear alongside real-life NYPD police cars. Most of the time the precinct numbers on the real-life cars are not shown, since the NYPD does not allow real-life precinct numbers to be used in movies or TV showsnote . Only beginning in season 3 did the show got the approval to use replica cars with the correct patrol car font and emblems with the accurate wording.
    • In several episodes, it is possible to see police cars with forward-facing blue lights. New York state law prohibits facing-forward blue lights on police vehicles. This is another thing done to differentiate real NYPD units from the movie cars.
    • The NYPD Major Case Squad is depicted as operating at precinct level, out of the 54th Precinctnote . In reality, its detectives are stationed at One Police Plaza.
    • Danny Reagan's normal on-duty weapon is a Smith & Wesson 5946 pistol, which is within NYPD regulations. However, he has as a backup weapon a Kahr K9 9mm pistol. The Kahr K9 was an approved off-duty/backup weapon from 1998 to 2011. The NYPD had it pulled from service because it could not be modified to a 12-pound NY-2 trigger pull. Meaning, unless Danny got grandfathered in or Frank Reagan's policies differ from those of Raymond Kellynote , Danny would have to turn in his Kahr K9.
    • Though a minor one: in general, most police officers and detectives find it very unprofessional to discuss current and open cases at the dinner table in front of family members, especially individuals like kids or spouses, given the sensitive nature of some investigations.
    • After the officer funeral in "Unwritten Rules", we have a dinner table scene where police dress uniforms are all off:
      • Danny is seen at the dinner table in his Class A uniform with a 2–3 day beard. This would never happen as officers are required to look presentable in their Class As, which means he'd have to be clean-shaven.
      • Frank and Henry are seen in their white dress shirts as part of their uniforms while Danny is seen in his blue dress shirt. Jamie is wearing a white shirt like Frank and Henry. As a patrol officer, he would actually wear a blue dress shirt like Danny. White shirts are for members of the NYPD with the rank of Lieutenant or higher.note  It should be noted that Tom Selleck once asked the real NYPD commissioners for an opinion on the show and was informed that the commissioner does not have a uniform.
    • In "Partners":
      • Lieutenant James McCarthy is accused of excessive force when he has a crazed man stunned, and the guy falls into the path of an oncoming van and is killed. In real life, a crazed man wouldn't have been handled that way. Especially as soon as he spit at those pedestrians (in many states, spitting at someone constitutes assault), they would've probably tackled him to the ground. He also didn't have any type of weapon to endanger himself or others so the police officers could have just grabbed him, pulled him off the trash bins and then subdued him. Also, for the most part, police officers have moved away from handheld tasers to using gun tasers.
      • The situation for Jamie and Janko, where Renzulli sees Jamie's attacking the domestics perp as a guy defending a girlfriend more than a partner being defended, is a bit problematic. In real life, if the perp pushed Janko, she would have gotten more aggressive. If she even got pushed on the ground, Renzulli and the other officers on the scene would have rushed in to intervene, rather than just standing around and forcing Jamie to take care of it himself.
    • In "Town Without Pity", Jamie and Janko come upon the body of a man who died alone in his apartment. Janko even goes and picks up evidence like a bag of money, to which Jamie says, "You shouldn't be touching that". In reality, it's standard procedure to treat unattended deaths as homicides until an autopsy can be done. Additionally, PPE (personal protective equipment) must be worn in a situation like that in the event the body had some type of contagion, as well as protecting any physical evidence like fingerprints. Jamie and Janko's first response should have been to secure the scene until detectives could arrive.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: In "The Art of War," after Curtis shoots Hector Flores, the medical team tries to revive Hector and someone orders CPR. CPR is not an appropriate treatment for cardiac arrest due to blood loss from a gunshot wound, as CPR causes increased blood flow. The appropriate treatment is to provide attempt to stanch the blood flow and provide the victim with an emergency blood supply and significant fluids via IV.
  • Artistic License – University Admissions: In "Loose Lips," Nicky is turned down for admission to Rutgers due to disparaging remarks she made on her Twitter account about one of her teachers. She had a personal interview with a Rutgers representative. Rutgers University does not interview individual undergraduate applicants. As a state university, the volume of applicants is too high for the system to do so. On the other hand, if she were applying to a private college of smaller than 2,000 students, there probably would have been an interview.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: In "Chinatown", Dannie and Jacky's suspect invokes this when he refuses to speak without his lawyer.
    Suspect: No speakee Engrish.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: In "Leap of Faith", Danny thinks some small-town detectives could have been more thorough with the investigation of the first late Mrs. Bines.
    Danny: And where was Mister Bines during all this?
    Detective: Oh, right, I forgot to tell you. He was at the arsenic store.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The son of a Russian mob boss is shot at his own engagement party. While cheating on his fiancée in the wine cellar. No great loss.
    • The victims in the above-mentioned "Old Wounds" are rapists.
    • The victim in "Mercy" is revealed to be a pedophile with a taste for Ukrainian hookers.
    • Brandon Mitchell in "Personal Business", who is killed by the last woman he raped earlier in the season ("The Price of Justice"). He's also raped at least three other women previously who all refused to press charges (partly due to the shame and partly due to his connections).
  • Attempted Rape: In "Justice Served", this almost happens to Jamie's partner, who's reluctant to press charges at first for fear of looking weak in front of the male officers, but he eventually convinces her.
  • Badass Family: Very much so. The best example of this is when Danny's wife is kidnapped by a drug lord: the family bands together and figures out where she is, allowing Danny and ESU to be Big Damn Heroes, and Erin finds the mole in the DA's office. Also, they have their own private code for when someone is being held hostage to drop so someone else can shoot. They practice this. Lampshaded when Danny's son asks fearfully if a burglar could target them.
    Grandpa Henry: Are you kiddin'? He'll get one look at this table and run the other way.
  • Bad News, Irrelevant News: Danny and Jackie explain to a perp that the bad news is, they found his gun; he's headed for death row. The good news: they decided to drop the credit fraud charges.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In "Excessive Force", after shooting his mouth off at a COMPSTAT hearing, Gormley receives word that he's being summoned to One Police Plaza and should bring his box with him. He goes there expecting Frank to fire him. Frank surprises him by instead promoting him to a new post on his staff.
    • Serial Killer Thomas Wilder threatens Danny's family. He rushes home to protect Linda and the boys and is relieved but confused to find them safe. However, when the FBI agent he's working with reminds him of Wilder's preferred demographic of college-aged females, he realizes that Nicky is his target.
  • Band of Brothers: Naturally for a cop show. However this is deconstructed in a few episodes that highlight the blue code of silence — to never rat on another cop who is engaged in misconduct. In "Forgive and Forget," Jamie temporarily partners up with Officer Cara Walsh, who's been shunned at the 12th Precinct for being a "rat" (her previous partner Randy Cutter killed a suspect in custody using an illegal chokehold and Frank had prodded her into admitting to seeing the incident). One night, they respond to an armed robbery at a pharmacy. When the thieves open fire on them, Jamie calls in a 10-13 (officer needs assistance), but the nearest patrol unit to respond to them is the one driven by Edie and her new temporary partner. Although the four manage to subdue the thieves, Walsh takes a bullet to the left shoulder. Subsequently, Jamie rightfully chews out a few fellow officers who were closer to the pharmacy but chose not to respond.
    • Disturbingly, Henry believes in such behavior saying "cops shouldn't go against other cops" and he was commissioner during the time of the Knapp Commission — aka when the department was its most crooked (this is the period where renowned NYPD whistleblower Frank Serpico comes fromnote ).
  • Batman Gambit: In "Working Girls," Danny and Jackie are protecting a witness who's scheduled to testify against a Russian mobster who's had another witness killed. When a mole in the taskforce compromises the initial hiding place, they hide the witness at Jackie's apartment, but they don't tell anyone this other than Erin and Gormley. With Danny and Gormley unable to find the mole through background checks, they decide to plant a trail. Gormley gives an address out to the task force, knowing that the mole will notify the mob and they'll send assassins to kill the witness. The two hitmen go to an apartment complex, which seems to be Jackie's. They then kick down the door...of an empty apartment inside which an ESU team is waiting for them. After a quick gunfight, the assassins are captured, and quickly give up the mole.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: invoked Danny's reaction to his son asking if he's "sweating" a perp "in the box."
    Jackie: You've been playing those video games again, haven't you?
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Jamie and Eddie once manage to get a witness to a shooting to talk after they take up a collection in their precinct to pay for the elderly, impoverished victim's funeral.
  • Bed Trick: "Identity", Season 9 ep.21 features a pair of identical twins with a creepy relationship: the more confident twin bedtricks his girlfriends into sleeping with the shyer one so the latter can get laid. When one girl prefers the shyer twin the more confident one murders her out of jealousy, and the twims eventually agree to die by suicide together rather than be separated by prison.
  • Best Served Cold: In "The Life We Choose," an undercover detective is killed during a botched drug buy by the Phantom, who is in town to exact revenge on Task Force Apache, the cadre of cops and informants who sent him to jail.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed:
    • Sonny Malevski tries to take himself hostage. Frank lets him shoot himself.
    • The kidnapper in "My Little Valentine" leaps to his death rather than surrender to ESU.
    • Billy Flood attempts to draw a sniper's fire in "Critical Condition." Danny thwarts it by pushing him away.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Ironically enough, not Danny, Jamie's actual brother; but Sergeant Renzulli, his training officer.
  • Big "NO!": Danny, when a fellow officer and family friend is shot. ("The Life We Chose")
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • "Innocence". The wrong man was convicted of rape; while he's exonerated 18 years of his life are gone. Meanwhile the real rapist can't be prosecuted due to the 5-year statute of limitations, and has raped again ... but this time, he's on Frank's radar.
    I'll be watching you. And so will the thirty five thousand police officers in this city.
    • Similarly, "The Price of Justice". Because an abuse victim is reluctant to press charges against her abuser (since she doesn't want to testify), Danny, Baez, and Erin are unable to arrest him. However, the guy is now on police radar, and Danny is shown dissuading another woman the guy is trying to pick up.
  • Black Boss Lady: Lieutenant Dee Ann Carver, Danny's new supervisor after Gormley is promoted to 1PP.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The undercover operation in "The Life We Chose" is botched when the Phantom shows up and shoots the two undercovers doing the drug buys. The Hispanic detective, Detective Cruz, survives, but the black undercover, Detective Gates, is killed.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Discussed and mocked after Jamie's first line-of-duty kill (it also turns out to be a Suicide by Cop case). A reporter at a press briefing asks Frank why Jamie shot to kill instead of trying to shoot the gun out of the man's hand. Frank just sort of gives him an exasperated look before explaining that Jamie followed department policy, which is to shoot at the torso and keep shooting until the threat is neutralized, even if the threat dies of his resulting injuries. Then, when the reporter keeps trying to press the issue, Frank shuts him up for good:
    Frank: There's a man in front of you waving a gun in your direction. You have a second to react. What do you do?
    Reporter: Well, first I'd—
    Frank: [interrupts] Too late. You're dead.
  • Bling of War : NYPD uniforms have a party salad of decorations on a plate that also includes their badge. In a small subversion, the most prominent decoration is the one awarded to 9/11 first responders, a simple black bar with the letters "WTC".
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: In "Whistle Blower", the eponymous informant is shot in front of his wife. Inverted when said wife is discovered to have known well in advance that her husband was about to be gunned down, having tipped off the man who hired the hit about her husband's work with the DA's office.
  • Blunt "Yes": A suburban detective, chafing at Danny's questions, receives this response from Danny.
  • Book Dumb: Sergeant Renzulli. "'Rhetoric?' I'm not familiar with the vernacular."
  • Bookends: Season 8 begins with the family mourning the loss of one Mrs. Reagan (Linda) and ends with Jamie introducing the next one (Edie).
  • Both Sides Have a Point: In "Friends in Need" both Danny and Jamie get into an argument regarding a reckless rookie — Jamie is right that the patrol guide was meant to keep the police in line and the public safe, and that the rookie's actions got a child hurt; Danny is right about how action is sometimes the best option because waiting too long will get someone killed.
  • Brand X: On several occasions, "Con Electric" utility trucks are shown being used, either as stakeout vehicles or as a robbery getaway cars. Ostensibly, it's the show's equivalent of Consolidated Edison, New York City's actual utility company.
  • Break the Cutie: Happening to Jamie more and more often.
    • His first kill in the line of duty turned out to be a Suicide by Cop.
    • In "The Bitter End," a gang lures him and his partner Vinny into a trap. Vinny is fatally shot and dies in Jamie's arms.
  • Broken Aesop: While one theme of the show is taking responsibility for one's actions, Danny doesn't face any comeuppance for his borderline Dirty Cop actions that abuse a person's rights. And when someone brings this up, he refuses to see the error of his ways and blames it on either the perp or the DA.
  • Brush-Off Walk-Off: After an inmate arranges to have one of his friends killed, Frank Reagan visits the man in prison, where he freely admits his involvement. He's serving a life sentence in a state without a death penalty, so he has nothing to fear. Frank nods briefly, then informs the felon that his friend was also a Federal Consultant to the Marshall's office, and as such, the man was guilty of murdering a Federal agent, and subject to the Death Penalty at the federal level, and would be transferred to a prison in the midwest, where he had no contacts or cronies. Frank gets up and walks away, while four guards have to restrain the now condemned murderer.
  • By-the-Book Cop:
    • The father, Frank Reagan.
    • Jamie is even more so.
  • Call-Back:
    • Frank and Jamie's conversation while fishing in Episode 1 of Season 2, a callback to the pilot.
    • "Love Stories" sees Danny and Baez receiving the Medal of Valor for the successful drug raid they carried out in "Partners".
    • In "Home Sweet Home," Frank sprains his leg in a fall and is confined to his house for a few days. Henry remarks that it's the first time in four years that Frank has missed work. Frank says, "Last time, they had to shoot me," callback to "Dedications" where he was shot by Westies gang members.
    • In "The Road to Hell", Danny is trying to talk a distraught Martina from jumping off a ledge. He recounts to her a similar incident with an army vet with PTSD, who ultimately took his own life because he couldn't live with what he had done.note  Danny tells Martina that it's not worth it.note 
    • In "Blowback," when an officer is shot in what seems like retaliation for the officer-involved shooting of a teenager, Mayor Carter Poole mentions that the surgeons who operated on the officer were the same ones who operated on Poole when he got shot in the Bitterman Project in the season 3 finale.
  • The Cameo:
    • The season 2 premiere sees Frank grudgingly attend a performance by Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood. (To promote Bennett's second duet album.)
  • Can't Take Criticism: The NYPD in general and the Reagans in particular seem incapable of taking criticism over police policy and actions. Mayor Poole had many an argument with Frank over police treatment of minorities, Frank never once conceded his point.
    • In season 8, Danny's son Sean wins an essay contest and receives a medal from former New York City Mayor David Dinkins.
  • The Casanova: Sgt. Ray Langley, Jamie and Edie's training officer in "Stomping Grounds" has a habit of hitting on female officers under his command. After hearing that Langley hit on and kissed Edie, Jamie feels obligated to protect Edie and her career. He sees Langley as a predator who uses his position to make unwanted advances on fellow officers who were at a distinct disadvantage; at the end, he gathers a bunch of Langley's victims together, and intimidates the guy into putting in a transfer to Staten Island.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • In "Hall of Mirrors," a woman with OCD is convinced that a prowler keeps nudging her furniture around. It turns out to be her brother, trying to gaslight her to get control of their parents' estate.
    • A literal one in "Leap of Faith," wherein God "speaks" to the daughter of the murder victim.
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • The show is aired on CBS, yet on two occasions in the show, we see interviews with CBS anchors like Norah O'Donnell. So there's no explanation for what show replaces Blue Bloods in the in-universe programming lineup at CBS.
      • Probably a very similar show starring Tom Selleck.
    • "After Hours" has an offhanded reference made to Gordon Gekko, Michael Douglas' character in Wall Street. Tom Selleck appeared as a surgery patient in the 1978 movie Coma, which also starred Michael Douglas.
    • A reference is made to Mad Men by name in "Mercy". Several Mad Men cast members have guest-starred in Blue Bloods, like Mark Moses (Duck Phillips), Michael Gaston (Burt Peterson), and Gary Baseraba (Herb Rennet).
    • In "The Truth About Lying," Danny deals with a homeless man suspected of pushing a woman in front of a subway train (said woman turns out to have been committing suicide). The man is known as "the Hulk", ostensibly named after The Incredible Hulk, because of his mental problems and how he acts when he has an outburst. Ostensibly, Danny's never watched The Avengers or he'd comment on how Sgt. Gormley (Robert Clohessy) looks a lot like one of the police officers Steve Rogers gave commands to in the climax. Not to mention that Gormley's replacement at the 54th, Lieutenant Carver, is played by LaTanya Richardson Jackson, the wife of Nick Fury actor Samuel L. Jackson, and who played Mama Mabel Stokes in Luke Cage (2016). And if the Marvel Cinematic Universe exists in the Blue Bloods universe, there might be complications since several of the Netflix Marvel shows' actors have had appearances on Blue Bloods, including Mike Colter (Luke Cage (2016)), Toby Leonard Moore, Amy Rutberg, Chris Tardio, Daryl Edwards (James Wesley, Marci Stahl, Detectives Christian Blake and Carl Hoffman from Daredevil (2015)), Clarke Peters and John Ventimiglia (Det. Oscar Clemons and Det. Eddy Costa from Jessica Jones (2015)).
  • Christianity is Catholic: Justified. At least some are after all. They're also Irish.
  • Citizenship Marriage: Reconstruction in "Exiles". Jamie and Edie get called to deal with a domestic and encounter a Russian-American girl trying to overcome a Parental Marriage Veto from her father so she can marry her Syrian boyfriend. The father thinks it's a sham. In the end he relents, but it turns out he was Right for the Wrong Reasons. The boyfriend is actually gay and his life would be in danger if he returned to Syria (pictures of him partying with other men turned up on Facebook), so he married his platonic friend to get around ICE.
  • Clear My Name:
    • "Framed" sees the Reagan family work to clear Danny after he is framed for drug possession.
    • In "Bad Blood," a police dog named Raymond is accused of biting a young boy. Frank takes a personal effort to exonerate the dog, in part due to the fact he used to serve in the Canine Unit until the dog he handled, Greta, was killed by a burglar he sent her after.
  • Clint Squint: How Danny sizes criminals up.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Jamie's temporary partner Luisa Sosa in "Critical Condition" when they're assigned to a park stakeout involving a bag of goods left in plain sight as bait. When facing a guy bigger than her, she doesn't engage in Good Old Fisticuffs like Jamie: she pulls out a collapsible steel baton and hits him. Hard.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Mayor Carter Poole does not appear much after season 3, since David Ramsey is a series regular on Arrow. He still makes recurring appearances.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Anyone from a civilian to city official who criticizes the police department usually finds their criticisms are unfounded or wrong thanks to Frank.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Jamie is asked by the FBI to spy on a secret society for them that might include Danny.
  • Continuity Snarl: Multiple snarls, mostly involving the ages and pre-pilot biographies of Frank Reagan and his 4 children.
    • Frank Reagan
      • Has a scene in The Bullitt Mustang in which he mentions that he was once "on a rookie salary with mouths to feed" suggesting that he was married with children in his rookie year...
      • ...but then he has a scene in "Back In The Day" where it's implied he was once a young, single policeman not above fooling around "with a few stewardesses"...
      • ...and has several scenes in "After Hours" and "Nightmares" where it's shown that he was never the sort of man who'd cheat on his late wife Mary.
    • Erin Reagan
      • Canonically celebrates her 40th birthday in November 2015, in "The Bullitt Mustang", necessitating that she was 19 or 20 when she had Nicky, and thus in undergraduate school, not law school when she became a mother.
      • Actually she's had two 40th birthdays. One takes place prior to season 3's "Protest too much" (Frank and Whitney reference that they first met there) and "The Bullitt Mustang" was the second one
      • In which case, she'd have been 17 when Sleepless in Seattle came out in 1993. Considering her established wild child years, it's a stretch to believe that that's her 'first date' as Danny states it was in "Innocence". (Although this would match up better if Erin had an earlier 40th birthday, making her a few years older.)
      • Season 3's "Domestic Disturbance" suggests that Erin and Jack's marital troubles began after 'she went back to work after Nicky was born'. Erin would have had to have finished college and law school before worrying about a job to go back to.
    • Joe Reagan
      • The most glaring continuity problem in the show. During the entire first season several characters, especially Frank specifically say that Joe was the oldest Reagan child. Even Season 7's "Love Lost" has Frank saying that he was older then Erin.
      • Yet the vast majority of other episodes clearly say Joe was third, born after Danny and Erin but before Jamie.
      • Joe's tombstone establishes his birth date as June 6, 1977, and his death as May 15, 2009. He was 19 months younger than Erin.
    • Jamie Reagan
      • Has a major snarl in "Higher Learning" as two pieces of information from Dana in the same episode directly conflict with each other. First Dana says that she heard that Jamie had left the law firm he was working for, establishing that Jamie DID intern for a little bit as a summer associate after graduating Harvard. Then later she says she remembered how devastated Jamie was at school when Joe was killed. Joe was killed in 2009. Jamie was supposed to have been working at a law firm by then. (Remember that Jamie's in the NYPD academy by 2010).
      • Jamie's Harvard Alumni card as seen in "Hold Outs" has him as class of 2007, nixing the idea that he was in school when Joe died.
    • The Mayor of New York City spends all of Season 1 being referred to as Mayor Frank Russo. In his return appearance in Season 3, he's now ex-Mayor Robert Levitt. To his credit though, he's never addressed by his name on-screen in his season 1 appearances.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Frank and his old squadmate, John McKenna, just as he's taken off of life support.
  • Cool Car: The eponymous car from "The Bullitt Mustang". The Reagan men can't stop drooling over it.
  • Cool Shades: Frank Reagan sports these.
  • Cop Killer:
    • In "Officer Down" a patrol officer is gunned down when she blunders into the path of mafia-affiliated diamond thieves while coming back from lunch. The Mafia itself joins in hunting them down, because cop killers put the whole department on edge and make life difficult. An anecdote is recalled of a time where a cop killer was executed by the cops, and it was written off as a suicide. Grandpa Henry Reagan remarks that when he was on the force the mafia even had explicit rules that, outside of certain circumstances, cops were off-limits. The killer gets cornered, tries to shoot his way out, and is hosed down with lead by several detectives and an ESU team.
    • "The Life We Chose" sees Danny and fellow detectives Jackie Curatola, Jose Cruz and Roland Gates running an undercover drug operation. Danny and Curatola are "ghosts" who are tailing from afar, while Cruz and Gates are making the buys from a dealer. Things go bad when a mysterious guy named Phantom shows up, and shoots Cruz and Gates while they're doing the first buy. Cruz survives, but Gates is killed. It's worse because Gates was a father of three kids and his daughter was about to be christened.
    • In "Most Wanted," a Serbian mob boss named Zorhan Brasha is arrested after he beats up a truck driver with a tire iron over a parking space. Frank is informed that Interpol would like Brasha to be extradited to Serbia to stand trial for crimes he's committed there. Frank, however, is insistent on Brasha getting tried and convicted for crimes he's committed in New York City. When Garrett asks why, Frank and Gormley explain that a few years earlier, Brasha slit an off-duty cop's throat over a spilt drink, and then got away with it by having one of his henchmen take the fall for the crime.
    • In "The Bitter End" Jamie and his partner Vinny Cruz are lured into an ambush in the Bitterman Projects by a Latino gang with a beef against the NYPD, and Vinny is killed. End of the next episode, the NYPD carries out a massive raid that results in the arrests of over 47 members and associates of the gang, including conspiracy to murder charges for Vinny's death, an assassination attempt on Mayor Carter Poole, and many other charges.
    • In "Above and Beyond," the trope is used in an unusual way. Steve Tomlin, a detective from Danny's precinct, is killed by the leader of a drug organization that he'd been trying to infiltrate after apparently getting outed. In typical fashion Frank firmly promises the widow to bring the killer to justice. They catch the killer at roughly the twenty-minute mark, however, and then the plot turns into a bit of a lurid look at the double life this detective was leading (due to the discovery that someone had emptied Tomlin's locker after his death without authorization). It turns out that Steve Tomlin had an extramarital affair and a second family with another woman. His wife suspect the affair's existence. And she blew his cover when she drunk-dialed a number on the detective's contacts list, thinking it belonged to the other woman, when in fact it was a member of the drug cartel her husband was investigating.
    • The two-part season 5 finale concerns the death of Assistant Chief Donald Kent and his wife Maggie in a drive-by shooting carried out by the Warrior Kings gang.
    • "Fresh Start" has Erin dealing with the guilt after a criminal she put into the "Fresh Start" program is accused of killing a cop. Some detective work eventually exonerates him, sorta: it turns out that the man's rock-solid alibi for the cop's murder is an armed robbery he was committing nearby.
    • "Blowback" sees police officer Mark Hayes get shot in what appears to be a retaliation incident for another officer's justified fatal shooting of a teen armed with a knife. Hayes survives, but the police crackdown is ruthless.
  • Corrupting Pornography: In "Sins of the Father", a man targets the personnel of a porn studio after his daughter commits suicide after being fired from it, believing them responsible for her death.
  • Covert Distress Code: Given the long line of cops in the family, the Reagans have been trained if they are held captive and one of their family members says to the capturer "please don't hurt my family" they are to drop to the ground immediately, allowing the speaker to attack directly.
  • Cowboy Cop:
    • Danny is only too happy to bend the rules in the pursuit of justice.
    • Great-Grandpa Henry seems to indicate that he was a Cowboy Cop in his time. Of course back then there was more "flexibility" in what was allowed anyway.
    • Surprisingly, Frank led a unit of cowboy cops some 15 years ago. One of them, Billy Flood, snapped under the stress and was sent off to the loony bin, later resurfacing as a criminal.
    • In "Friends in Need," there's a rookie cop that Danny passes off for Jamie to mentor. He proves very reckless from the get-go when dealing with a perp, causing a bystander to get put in the hospital.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy:
    • In season 2, when Bianca Sanfino hits on Jamie, he suddenly finds himself afoul of her jealous ex and her mobster brother.
    • In "Hall Of Mirrors" anti-terrorism undercover cop Sammy Khan is shot in a drive-by shooting, which appears to be an attempted assassination carried out because of his credentials. As it turns out, he was shot by a guy who believed Sammy was hitting on his arranged marriage fiancée. He believes that just because his and her parents arranged this marriage, that she "belongs" to him.
  • Crime Time Soap
  • Cut Himself Shaving: In "Family Ties", a Russian mafiya bombmaker blows off a finger injury. "Slammed it in a door."
  • Da Chief:
    • Frank is constantly directing thousands of cops on city-wide manhunts making him a sort of Four-Star Badass Da Chief.
    • Dino Arbogast is introduced in season 2 as the Chief of OCCBnote . In season 4, he's promoted to Chief of Department after the retirement of Ed Hines, the previous occupant of the position. (The NYPD is so large — and has so many civilian personnel — that the Chief of Department is in charge of all sworn officers, but still answers to the Commissioner)
    • Sid Gormley functions as one as Danny's supervisor at the 54th Precinct Detective Squad until early in season 5. At that point, he gets promoted by Frank to the position of 'Special Assistant to the Commissioner', assuming the duties of the Chief of Department.
  • Dating Catwoman: Erin has a habit of this.
  • Death by Origin Story: Joe Reagan.
  • Death Seeker: Sergeant Mabrey in "Unsung Heroes". It starts with an incident with a barricaded suspect in a house. Jamie wants to wait for ESU and hostage negotiators to show up, but Mabrey storms the house and inadvertently endangers the hostage in subduing the hostage-taker. It's quickly clear to Gormley, once he hears Jamie's side of the story, that Mabrey broke protocol, but he becomes more suspicious when 1) he finds that Mabrey never had Jamie disciplined for disobeying a direct order and 2) uncovers evidence that Mabrey has had five similar incidents in the span of a year, like subduing a emotionally distressed person wielding a knife, jumping onto the subway tracks after an intoxicated passenger who'd fallen off the platform, and responding to an armed robbery outside of his precinct's service area. When confronted about this, Mabrey admits that he is dying from pancreatic cancer. He's trying to get himself killed in the line of duty (with only ten years on the job, his family won't get the health benefits if he dies of natural causes, but they'll collect on his life insurance if he dies in a line of duty incident).
  • Deliver Us from Evil: "Be Smart Or Be Dead" involves a female drug cartel assassin turning herself in and saysing she wants to quit the life after discovering she's pregnant, not wanting an innocent baby in the same hell. She helps bring her boss down for the police. It later turns out her pregnancy was caused by him raping her, which helped too.
  • Detective Mole:
    • In "To Tell the Truth," Linda is kidnapped in an attempt to intimidate Danny into not testifying against a drug lord whom he witnessed executing a subordinate. It becomes clear that there's a mole who leaked information about Danny to the drug lord's network. In the end, it's proven through some digging from Frank's secretary Abigail Baker that the mole bought burner phones for the drug lord, identifying the federal agent who sold Danny out.
    • In "Working Girls," Danny and Jackie are assigned to protect a witness scheduled to testify against a Russian mobster who killed an associate's wife, due to Erin's previous star witness (said associate) being killed off by the mobster's henchmen. They hide her in a hotel room, but the room is compromised when Danny realizes that the repairman sent to fix a broken air conditioner is actually a hitman. Danny realizes that there's a leak from the task force. He has Jackie stash the witness at her apartment, while he goes over the files of everyone on the task force to look for the mole. With nothing turning up, he and Gormley leak a false address out to the task force, hoping that the mole will react accordingly. Sure enough, he sends two hitmen to the address, and break into an empty apartment occupied by an ESU team. The hitmen quickly give up the mole who fed them the information.
    • Subverted in "Above and Beyond". Steve Tomlin, an undercover detective, is killed after the drug kingpin he's investigating finds out his true identity. When Gormley and Danny go to empty Tomlin's locker, they find it's been emptied and it's suspected that the dealer may have a mole. Turns out there isn't a mole, and Tomlin's locker was emptied early at his request because it was going to be discovered that he was cheating on his wife with another woman, with whom he'd fathered a kid. And it was his wife who accidentally blew his cover, calling a guy in the dealer's crew mistaking him for Tomlin's mistress.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: In "The Life We Chose," we have The Phantom, who seeks revenge on Task Force Apache, the network of informants and cops who sold him out.
  • Dinner and a Show: What the family meals sometimes turn into.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: In "The One That Got Away" Danny and Baez are frustrated at being unable to press charges against a Moroccan diplomat for abusing his son. Erin manages to get his son removed from him into foster care though. Near the end, he is Hoist by His Own Petard after his wife (who he also abused) guns him down in broad daylight. Since she also has diplomatic immunity, they have to let her go.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • While Danny's not 'corrupt', many of his actions that are borderline illegal.
    • The first season story arc has Jamie doing an off-the-books investigation of the Blue Templar, a secret fraternity of dirty cops. His late brother Joe was on to them and they killed him for it. The first season finale is the Reagan family teaming up to take them down.
    • In "Critical Condition," Danny discovers that one of the would-be bank robbers is an ex-cop, Billy Flood.
    • In "Framed," Danny is investigating a bookie who has his clients assaulted when they're late paying him. One night, just as Danny's about to get a warrant to raid the bookie's house in search of a black book that will reveal a list of all the clients who owe him money, he's pulled over and busted for drug possession. Danny insists the drugs were planted. Furthermore, Jamie finds that a baker Danny stopped at right beforehand seems to have been intimidated into lying about Danny's whereabouts. As the investigation turns out, an Internal Affairs captain (and one who had previously investigated Danny for a friendly fire incident) was among those who would have been outed as owing money to the bookie when the black book turned up, so he framed up Danny to get him out of the way; even breaking into Danny's house and using Danny's off-duty weapon to kill the bookie.
  • Dirty Harriet: One episode has Jackie going undercover to catch a killer with a predilection for webgirls.
  • Disappeared Dad: Anthony's father has long since passed, but because his mother is afflicted with Alzheimer's and won't be long for the world herself, she sometimes forgets that.
    Anthony: Dad's not here anymore, remember?
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: Danny gets competitive with another parent (a firefighter) at his son's school.
    Father: Cop, huh? I bet your dad likes donuts.
    Sean: He LOVES donuts!
  • Drives Like Crazy: Nicky discovers that the Reagan family is full of bad driversnote  she begins practicing to get her own license. Jamie is the one exception to this, as his calmer personality translates into more patience on the road.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Linda is killed offscreen in a helicopter crash between seasons 7 and 8.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: When Jamie rescues a baby from a burning building, Sgt. Renzulli takes credit for the rescue to protect the undercover sting that Jamie is engaged in. Played with a little, as Frank gives Jamie the medal he deserves privately later.

    Tropes E to I 
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The set used for Frank's office looks somewhat different compared to later seasons.
    • So does that of Frank and Henry's house.
    • Season 1 also has Frank giving press conferences outside. He stops doing this by season 2
    • Danny has two different investigative partners before Jennifer Esposito's Jackie Curatola was firmly established as his partner.
    • Season 1 is noticeably absent of Frank's Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Garrett Moore, who wasn't introduced until very late in the season. Thus, you have other characters like Frank's Deputy Commissioner doing the duties that Garrett does in season 2 onwards.
    • In seasons 1 and 2, Jamie was subject to overreaching season-long plotlines, including the Blue Templar in season 1 and the Sanfino crime family in season 2. That element was dropped for season 3.
    • Season 1 would often play with the idea that Danny and Jamie would be on the same crime scene, despite the fact that their precincts (12th for Jamie, 54th for Danny) would be nowhere near each other if they existed IRL. From season 2 onwards, things play out more realistically, where Danny's and Jamie's individual cases rarely cross paths, although they sometimes do.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: Danny and Maria identify two persons of interest in a case they're working when the pair enter the elevator they're riding. In a borderline-hilarious sequence, Danny and Maria cause a very snug Mexican Standoff by drawing on the pair, causing them to pull out their own handguns. The police open fire and end up killing their persons of interest and only barely end up unscathed themselves (since missing at six inches is, to say the least, really lucky). Why they didn't just pin the suspects to the wall and apprehend them while their guard was down is a mystery.note 
  • Enemy Mine:
    • In "Officer Down," when a cop is killed during a diamond robbery carried out by Mafia thieves, the mob actively cooperates with the police to find the shooters.
    • Typically, the police and the district attorney's office are shown to have an adversarial relationship. This is especially shown whenever Danny is butting heads with Erin to get a warrant. Yet at the same time, they do work together on occasion.
      • In "Blowback," an officer shoots a knife-wielding teenager. The incident is caught on a body camera the officer was wearing. The grand jury doesn't indict the officer, but around that same time, someone leaks the tape to the Internet. Subsequently, an officer is shot in what appears to be retaliation event. Danny leads the police investigation that looks for the shooter and witnesses who can place him at the scene, while Erin looks for the leaker in the D.A.'s office.
      • In "Drawing Dead," an officer shoots a 14 year old boy that supposedly drew a gun on him, but the gun is nowhere to be found. Erin does a probing of the case and manages to uncover that the boy in question had a prior arrest for illegal possession of a firearm. The officer who shot him also continues to stick to his story. Erin later tells Frank that this sort of matter appears to be one where the police and D.A.'s office need to work together to unravel the truth, given the victim's history, the officer not budging from his original story, and the fact that people in that neighborhood are not known to be very cooperative with police investigations.
    • In "Unbearable Loss," Reverend Potter, one of Frank's biggest opponents and an outspoken activist, has to put aside his rivalry with the NYPD to get justice for his son (though not easily, as the episode shows he's very entrenched in his anti-NYPD ways and it takes a lot of prodding for him to cool his jets and work together).
  • Engineered Public Confession: The killer in "Hall of Mirrors." One wiretap later, and he's toast.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • The theme of the episode "Brothers" is that Erin is trying to bring ruthless gangster Pablo Torres down through his brother Esteban, a straight and clean special education teacher who is being bankrolled by Pablo.
    • "Family Ties" has similar themes.
    • Benjamin Walker from "Family Business" was one. As Danny explains to Jackie, Walker made his living blowing up bank vaults, but then he fell in love with a woman and she became pregnant. Then he had one last robbery to carry out before he intended to retire, and that's how Danny caught him. Then she died while he was in jail.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: According to Henry, in the good old days even mobsters would help in the hunt for cop killers. For pragmatic reasons, though: dead cops cause more problems for the Mafia than live ones ever will, since killing cops is a surefire way to set the entire police force on the warpath.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: The cold open for The First 100 Days shows a dog barking to get Eddie and Witten's attention, then leads them to a domestic dispute. The dog then leads an off-duty Jamie and Eddie to a purse snatcher.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: While Reverend Potter may not be "evil" per se, he has a very sinister side and often works against the NYPD. In their meetings, it's quite obvious that Potter simply refuses to believe Frank truly puts the people of New York first and isn't a bigot who will always cover police corruption or undue force, thinking Frank must be playing politics when in truth he hates that trend to the core.
  • Evil Matriarch:
    • The murder in "Family Ties" was a coordinated hit by the bride-to-be's mother. Having married into the Mafiya, she wanted her daughter to have no part of it.
    • A gang banger's mom in "The Life We Chose."
    Ms. Hernandez: [to Danny] Some cops got shot? Too bad. What you call — "hazards of the occupation"?
  • Exact Words: Thomas Wilder warns Danny that he's going after his family. He rushes home, only to find Linda and the boys safe and sound. He's confused until the FBI agent he's working with reminds him of Wilder's MO—"18-22 year old females"—and realizes that his niece Nicky is the target. After all, Wilder didn't say he was going after his immediate family.
  • External Combustion: The fate of a Russian florist who knew too much. He survives, though.
  • Fake Guest Star:
    • Gregory Jbara as DCPI Garrett Moore. He's in pretty much every episode after the first season, and often gets more screen time than some of the main cast.
    • Despite being in basically every episode, Amy Carlson (Linda) and Sami Gayle (Nicky) weren't Promoted To Main Titles until season 5.
    • Also happens to Jennifer Esposito (Jackie), Megan Ketch (Kate Lansing), Marisa Ramirez (Baez), Nicholas Turturro (Renzulli), Sebastian Sozzi (Vincent Cruz), Vanessa Ray ("Eddie" Janko), Abigail Hawk (Baker), John Ventimiglia (Dino Arbogast), Robert Clohessy (Gormley)... and that's just the NYPD.
    • Finally, Tony and Andrew Terraciano (Jack and Sean) have been in nearly every episode but are still credited as guest stars (together).
  • False Flag Operation: Reverend Potter had one of his friends call in a fake armed robbery at his church and had his men assault Jamie and Sgt. Renzulli to make it look like the police were racist and attacking his church as revenge for his constant bashing of them.
    • A friend of Nikki's posts fake comments to her website and writes threatening graffiti on her own dorm room to try to draw attention to her social justice causes. When she's caught on camera, she attempts suicide.
  • Fanservice with a Smile: In her teens, Erin worked as a roller-bunny at a cocktail bar (specifically Roxy's). Frank was apparently aware of it (his mustache twitches in amusement at the memory) but he let it slide.
  • A Father to His Men : Frank sees himself as one to the 36,000 members of the NYPD rank-and-file. He also can remember exactly how many cops have died in the line of duty since he joined the force, and since he became commissioner.
  • Fence Painting: In "The Uniform," Jamie is stuck doing this with Sgt. Renzulli to pay for his student loans. Renzulli gamely grabs a brush to help him. "I don't see enough of your mug already?"
  • Fighting Irish: Danny. Also Henry.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Season 7's premiere opens with Danny having a nightmare about his fatal shooting of Thomas Wilder.
  • Following in Relative's Footsteps: All the male adults in the Reagan family are current or retired NYPD police officers. Frank Reagan followed in the footsteps of his father Henry and even achieved the same rank of police commissioner that Henry once held. Frank's son Danny joined up after he got out of the army and was followed by his brother Joe. Joe's death in the line of duty inspired Jamie, Frank's youngest son to also become a police office rather than a lawyer. Frank's granddaughter Nicole is also considering joining the NYPD after graduating high school.
  • Food End: Many episodes end with the Reagan family seated around the dinner table.
  • Food Slap: Danny gets a Caesar salad to the face while cornering a perp at his day job — a short order kitchen.
  • A Fool for a Client: When Jamie and Edie are accused of misconduct, they decide to fire their lawyers then just represent themselves (well, in practice Jamie represents both of them) after each puts the blame on the other. This succeeds, and it's partly justified as Jamie is a lawyer himself (he just didn't practice before, having chosen to go into police work instead of that).
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling:
    • While they're all somewhat mature, amongst Frank's kids, Danny is the foolish while Jamie and Erin are the responsible ones.
    • In the Baez family, Maria is the responsible one while her brother Javier is the foolish one.
  • Foreign Queasine: "Where We Stand" has officers mocking another officer for his Filipino background, including "adobong adidas" (adobo chicken feet). Jamie has to find a way to put a stop to it.
  • Foreshadowing: The very first line of "The Bitter End" is Jamie's partner Vinny announcing "This is it, Reagan! This is the end!" upon arriving at the Bitterman Housing Projects where he grew up (nicknamed "The Bitter End" in-universe). Vinny means it as a pun on the projects' nickname... but the episode ends with his death at the hands of the local gang. Vinny himself notes the irony when this happens, and in his dying moments, he smiles and repeats to Jamie "I told you, Reagan... this is the end. It's the end, it's okay..."
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Averted. The dead have a lingering presence on this show, most especially the late Joe Reagan who died before the series beginning.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Danny once has a gangster he helped put away for a double homicide go free because his then-partner faked blood evidence. Danny scrambles to find new evidence to re-convict, culminating in the old partner scaring a witness into testifying after Danny can't talk him into it. Danny can't bring himself to use the coerced testimony, so the con goes free.
  • Freudian Trio: The (living) Reagan siblings.
    • Id: Danny, the Hot-Blooded Cowboy Cop.
    • Superego: Erin, the lawyer who insists on following procedure.
    • Ego: Jamie, the Harvard-educated beat cop who gets caught in the middle of Danny and Erin's arguments.
    • Between the brothers, Joe was the Ego in the past with Jamie as the Superego and Danny as the Id, as he was mentioned as the bridge between the sensitive and thoughtful Jamie and the brash Danny.
  • Friendly Enemy:
    • In "Officer Down," Henry and Happy Jack, a retired mobster; in Ye Goode Olde Days they considered each other as Worthy Opponents.
    • In "Family Ties," Frank paying a condolence call on a grief-stricken mafioso who lost his son.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Occasional lighthearted taunting goes on between the NYPD Reagans and a neighboring family of FDNY firefighters. Made more amusing in that Sean's best friend is one of the latter.
  • From the Mouths of Babes: What the Reagan children, Nicky in particular, are for.
  • The Fundamentalist: The culprits in "Lonely Hearts Club", who are actually the mother and sibling of one of the victims, who were interviewed at the start. Though from the way they acted, the son seemed have talked his mother into it, and he seemed to be in it For the Evulz.
  • Gentleman Thief: Jacob Krystal, though he claims to be liberating stolen art.
  • Get Out!:
    • Guilt-stricken Erin tries to pays a call to her informant's widow, and is sent packing. Rather than feel even guiltier, Erin zeroes in on the wife's total lack of interest in the case.
    • In "Family Business", Frank visits the mother and sister of a man mistakenly killed by a cop to apologize for her loss. The mother is furious at this and asks if he knows what it's like to lose a son. When he says yes, she asks if he was "shot down in cold blood by your NYPD?" Of course, the answer is again yes.
    • In "Front Page News" when Jamie visits the widow of a man he shot in a suicide by cop situation. She becomes furious at the mere suggestion.
    • Attempted in "Inside Jobs" by white supremacist radio host Curtis Swint when Frank enters the theatre with a security detail made entirely of non-white cops, led by a large black sergeant.
    Curtis Swint: I don't want them or need them. Get out.
    Frank Reagan: Well, I'm afraid I can't do that, sir. See the particulars of your contract with the management of this theatre require an NYPD security presence up to and during your broadcast. You're welcome.
  • Girlboss Feminist: The story arc for one season has Erin's new boss, a woman who talked about the importance of having a woman in a place of power. She is revealed to be involved in an extortion ring, using knowledge of crimes by various city officials to get them to enact policies that she wanted, rather than having them prosecuted for those crimes. Erin is all too happy to turn her in.
  • Giving Them the Strip: Chasing a suspect who dives into a waiting car, Danny gets his raincoat caught in the slamming car door. The suspect and accomplice start driving away, dragging Danny along with them; unable to keep up running for more than a few seconds, Danny struggles out of his coat just in time.
  • Going Commando: Linda in "Night on the Town", revealed when her dress hits the floor.
  • The Good Chancellor: Frank Reagan is this in spades, behaving like an idealized Roman magistrate. He is completely incorruptible, loyal to his position, and never plays favorites even when it comes to his own family.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Danny and Jackie lampshade this in "The Life We Chose".
  • Good Guns, Bad Guns: An Uzi-toting biker performing a drive-by in "Hall of Mirrors."
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In "The Blue Templar", Sonny Malevsky shoots himself in the head; this is seen via blood spatter on the wall and the shadow of his body hitting he floor.
  • Groin Attack: Danny gets grouchy when he has to chase people.
    Joey Sava: What're you gonna do?
    Danny: What am I gonna do? This. [POW]
    • When a white supremacist gives Baez some bigoted lip in "Mistaken Identity", she pats him down then knees him in the jewels.
    • Henry apparently got two days suspension for "kicking a rapist in the nuts" when he was on the force.
  • Guile Hero:
    • If Frank can't shoot them himself or put other cops in a position to shoot them, he's perfectly willing to outwit the bad guys instead. He even ran The Plan on a foreign ambassador whose son was a rapist in "Privilege".
    • Both Danny and Erin have a little bit of this in them too.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: In "The Bullitt Mustang", the Reagans begin to sing the song for Erin's birthday, only for Henry to shut them down by pointing out the copyright law restriction. At the time of the episode's filming in summer 2015, this was true. By the time the episode aired in November 2015 a US district judge ruled that the copyright had lapsed and fallen into the public domain. By air date, the case was still pending with potential appeals. The writers worked it into the story line to illustrate a point in the plot — in this case as an analogy for a ticket-fixing scandal going on in Jamie's precinct.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Unusually, given the values of the series, the aesop of "Identity", Season 9 ep. 21 is that trust and loyalty, especially familial loyalty, is not an unmixed good.
  • Hello, Attorney!: Erin Reagan. Being played by Bridget Moynahan does have its perks. And Charles Rossellini, being played by Bobby Cannavale, counts.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: A smug rapist who got off scot-free, and isn't shy about voicing his gender political views. After a heated meeting with Erin, he intones, "She lies. They all lie."
  • High Turnover Rate: Danny has a high turnover rate for investigative partners. He lampshades it to Gormley after he and Baez are ambushed during the escort of a truck full of seized drugs, which leads to Baez being hospitalized.
    • So far, he's had six partners: his first onscreen one is DeMarcus King (in the pilot). Due to his misconduct getting him busted down to a different squad, and thus received Ava Hotchkiss for a spate of early season 1 episodes. About a quarter of the way through season 1, Hotchkiss departs and is replaced by Jackie Curatola. Curatola is Danny's partner for the rest of season 1, all of season 2, and the first few episodes of season 3.
    • In season 3, behind-the-scenes casting issues caused Danny to end up going through four different partners in the course of a 23 episode season. Curatola had to be written out of the show six episodes into the season in response to Jennifer Esposito being diagnosed with Coeliac disease. This resulted in arcs where Danny works with different partners. He has Curatola for the first four episodes. Then Curatola leaves and is replaced by Kate Lansing, played by Megan Katch. Lansing lasts a few episodes before returning to Internal Affairs after the events of "Framed". After that comes Candice McElroy, played by Megan Boone, for two episodes. Danny then spends "Warriors" directly partnered with Gormley. In "Quid Pro Quo," Danny has no partner, unless you are willing to consider Erin as a sorta-partner. Finally in "Protest Too Much," Danny gets a new partner in the form of Maria Baez, played by Marisa Ramirez, who has been Danny's partner ever since then.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Poor Henry is hit with one on Thanksgiving. If you thought that was going to stop him from having dinner with his family, you're mistaken.
  • Hollywood Tactics: In-story. During their brief loan to the Movie and TV Unit in "Price of Justice," Edie and Jamie find that the police consultant is making the show's characters do things that would be stupid for a real cop to do. One is having the leads draw their guns on the perp from both sides, which means both leads are in each others' line of fire. Later, one of the leads asks Edie and Jamie about the part in the script where the leads charge into a burning meth-den and arrest the perps. Edie and Jamie point out that cops only do this in real life if hostages or bystanders were in imminent danger. Not helping is that the police consultant is a fraud.
  • Honey Trap: The victim in "Family Ties" was supposed to be photographed kissing a hired blonde. The mother of the bride decided to cut out the middleman and shoot him instead.
  • Hostage Situation:
    • A trio of Bank Robbers get more than they bargained for in "Critical Condition." Danny gets the obligatory reference to Dog Day Afternoon.
    • "In the Box" sees Baez get taken hostage in the precinct interrogation room by an estranged husband that she and Danny had served a restraining order on. Danny works negotiations with ESU and the precinct commanders from outside. Erin gets involved, having to help persuade the guy's ex-wife to help resolve the situation so that everyone walks out alive.
  • Hot-Blooded: Danny.
  • How Unscientific!: The "Leap of Faith" episode has both the identity of the murderer and an important bit of evidence revealed through the daughter of the Victim of the Week getting messages from God in an otherwise realistic Cop Show.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Despite Henry telling Frank to start using an automatic, he's shown with a revolver in "Dedication".
  • I Am the Noun: In "Identity", Season 9 ep. 21, the head of a social justice organization is recruiting Nicky, apparently to use her as a mole into the Reagan family. So Frank gets her brother a job with the NYPD in order to use him as "insurance". When the ccommunity organizer asks Frank if he pulled any strings for her brother, Frank responds, ominously, "I AM THE STRING."
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each of the episodes takes its name from some sort of common theme going on in each of the different plotlines. For example:
    • "Under the Gun" in season 5 has three plotlines in which a firearm is involved in some form. Danny and Baez are investigating drive-by shootings by a guy on a motorcycle, Erin is dealing with a gang murder trial that's in jeopardy because the murder weapon has been switched out, and Linda contemplates buying a gun to arm herself after getting mugged.
    • In "Sins of the Father," Danny and Baez investigate murders that were committed by the parents of a porn star who committed suicide, while Frank deals with the fact that the father of a recently promoted detective is a man who killed a police officer in front of Henry back in the 1970s, and Jamie and Edie are handling a hit-and-run incident where a father turns out to have taken the fall for his son.
    • In "Power of the Press," the common theme is the media: Frank is dealing with the case of a cop participating in a bodycam pilot program who got into a scuffle with a criminal he was detaining. Danny and Baez meanwhile are protecting a material witness who's been kicked out of WITSEC on a technicality, and get him back into the program by using the influence of a reporter who has been poking around the case looking for the scoop. And Erin, upon finding out that the dean of students at a college hindered the investigation into the rape of Erin's schoolmate's daughter, makes clear when arresting the dean that she's going to make sure the media and the public see what passes for "justice" on the campus.
    • In "Loose Lips," a domestically abused woman is beaten to death after her boyfriend thinks she told Jamie about him.note  Nicky gets denied admission to Rutgers due to insensitive tweets she made about one of her teachers, while Henry gets in trouble when he's caught on camera drunkenly mouthing off to a colleague about some aggressive police tactics he'd like to reintroduce.
  • I Have Your Wife:
    • In "My Funny Valentine," a teenager fakes her kidnapping to spite her wealthy dad. The plan goes awry when a co-conspirator decides to ransom her for real.
    • "In the Life We Chose", Phantom, a recently released drug kingpin who just killed an undercover detective and critically wounded another, takes a former Task Force Apache snitch's family hostage to get the man to show himself.
    • In "To Tell the Truth," while on a late night shopping run, Danny witnesses a drug kingpin named Raymundo Salazar personally execute the brother of an associate who's been skimming from him. After some work, he and Jackie manage to arrest Salazar without incident, despite knowing that Salazar has a history of skating by threatening or killing off witnesses. Sure enough, some of Salazar's henchmen (aided by an inside mole in the investigation) kidnap Linda in an attempt to buy Danny's silence. Danny, Jackie, and Jamie work to locate Linda while Frank and Erin track down the mole.
    • In "Under the Gun," Erin is prosecuting Winslow Martin, a gangbanger who executed a man named Thomas Dunn in cold blood. The case is put in jeopardy when it becomes apparent that the murder weapon that the investigating detective vouchered has been switched out with an identical one prior to being presented at the trial. As it turns out, Erin's new intern Olivia was behind it — her brother runs with Winslow Martin's gang and they have taken him hostage to threaten her into tampering with the evidence to get Winslow acquitted.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Invoked. In the season 3 finale, some of the Los Lordes gangbangers trick a mentally challenged kid from the Bitterman Projects into shooting Mayor Carter Poole at a townhall meeting by telling the kid it'll be a hilarious joke.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Thief extraordinaire Jacob admits he's pursuing Erin because he "loves a challenge."
  • Impersonating an Officer:
    • In "Down the Rabbit Hole," serial killer Thomas Wilder kidnaps Nicky while dressing up as a police officer.
    • In "The Price of Justice", Jamie and Edie are on loan to the NYPD Movie and TV Unitnote  for the filming of a Rizzoli & Isles esque-cop show. A former cop is a special consultant hired to handle the "research", but it seems he does not grasp the reality of stuff (like having female cops in heels, a big no-no in a foot chase). The actresses ask Jamie and Eddie for advice on a scene. The consultant is outraged and threatens to report them to "their commanders", which confuses Eddie because in the NYPD, the terminology is "commanding officer." After a few more arguments where the man yells he's the expert, Jamie and Eddie get a detective to do some digging, and find that this "consultant" has never worked for the NYPD, and his only law enforcement experience is as a mall security guard in New Jersey. The consultant is fired in the end, though not for the fraud, but for sexual harassment.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Jamie has shades of this.
  • Informed Attribute: In "Black and Blue", Frank blackmails the Mayor, insults an activist preacher to his face, and leaks a taped confession to the press. At the end, Frank's lawyer praises him for his political savvy (!) and urges to run for Mayor.
  • Insanity Defense: In "Open Secrets," Erin prosecutes a woman with bipolar disorder who ran down and killed the superintendent of her building with her car. This is an open-and-shut legitimate case of the defense since the woman has been in and out of mental institutions. Erin's only problem is that there's a very arrogant expert witness who as it turns out has gotten sloppy by failing to properly analyze the defendant's medical records and not doing a long enough session to get an accurate picture of her disorder.
  • Insult to Rocks:
    • In "Rush to Judgment," civil rights attorney Gerry Guerrero compares the NYPD to The Mafia. At the denouement he tells Frank, "I should be apologizing to the members of the Columbo and the Gambino family for comparing them to you."
    • In "Knockout Game," Frank and his chiefs are discussing how to deal with a recent spate of gangs giving haymakers to random pedestrians. When Danny catches the latest case, a pregnant woman who ended up miscarrying, Frank decides they need to do more to get their informants to give up the participants, saying, "Look this kind of stupid, random brutality is giving regular street crime a bad name. Let's appeal to the sense of pride in the professional criminal."
  • Internal Affairs: The NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau exists, and it seriously needs to tighten up its recruiting standards. We've seen two recurring-role investigators who have been revealed to have been crooked: Season 1's Lieutenant Alex Bello is at first seen to be hard-nosed-but-professional ... but is later revealed to be a member of the ultra-corrupt Blue Templar fraternity. Captain Derek Elwood is introduced in Season 2, again tough-but-fair ... but who is also later revealed to be crooked and framed Danny for drug possession and murder in Season 3 in an attempt to cover his gambling habit. On the other hand we have Detective Kate Lansing, Danny's first interim partner between Jackie leaving and Baez coming in. She started in IA and then went back there after a few episodes. Jamie's partner at the end of the seventh season is a rookie beat cop who cut a deal with IA to work as a mole in the precinct for six months following her graduation as a way to work around a serious problem with her initial application.
  • Interservice Rivalry: If someone outside the NYPD is working a case, Danny is going to give them beef about it. He's given FBI agents, DA investigators, and US Marshals grief over stepping into his cases. The NYPD as a whole also has a standing rivalry with the Fire Department (with at least one event spilling over into a 3 vs. 3 brawl at a hospital) and Frank has had to deal with other governmental agencies like the Attorney General obstructively scrutinizing his policies. Both of the Reagan boys have been visited by IA as well for various investigations and never take too kindly to it.
  • Introduction by Hookup: Non-sexual example. Erin loses a bet with Linda and has to take a speed-dating session. One of the guys at the session turns out to be Robert McCoy, her opposite number in the Case of the Week. End of the episode, he asks her out to dinner and she accepts.
  • It Runs in the Family: Nicky browbeating Erin into letting her stay out until 11:00 (to quote Henry, "I was out on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific at her age!"). Frank wryly observes that she "made a very convincing argument."
  • It's Personal: In general, any episode where a cop dies.
    • In "Officer Down", a cop dies in the line of duty. It becomes personal for every single cop in New York.
    • "Hall of Mirrors": an undercover cop is shot.
    • And of course, "Dedication", in which Frank is shot.
    • Frank considers the death of any cop a personal grievance ("The Life We Chose").
    • "Silver Star" is personal for both Frank and Danny, as both were Marine vets, and so was the victim.
    • The season 5 two-part finale concerns the death of Deputy Chief Donald Kent and his wife in a gangland hit.
    • The case of Raymond, a police dog accused of biting a boy in "Bad Blood", is personal for Frank, who was a canine handler in the '80s, but transferred out after his dog Greta was shot dead by a burglar.
    • The case of serial killer Thomas Wilder over three season 6 episodes, who makes it personal after Danny calls him a coward on TV, and moreso by abducting Nicky.
  • It's Quiet… Too Quiet: In "The Bitter End," Jamie and Vinny Cruz pursue a purse snatcher into the playground of the Bitterman Housing Projects, shortly after the Los Lordes criminal organization (who practically control the Projects) has declared war on the NYPD. Upon entering the Projects, Jamie suddenly notices that the area is completely deserted, something highly unlikely in this neighborhood in the middle of the day....unless they're being set up for an ambush. A split second later, a gunman on the rooftop opens fire on them. Vinny is killed while Jamie barely gets out alive.
  • Ivy League for Everyone:
    • Jamie is a Harvard boy. Deconstructed in that it's mentioned a couple times he's having money problems due to his student loans. To the point that at one point, he has to take up a second job with Renzulli as a fence-painter.
    • Erin is a Columbia graduate, and in Season 6, her daughter Nicky is following in her footsteps.
  • I Will Show You X!: Frank on the city council's attempts to cut the NYPD's budget:
    "Hey, I got a good 'shared sacrifice.' How about we outsource 911 to Bangalore?"

    Tropes J to O 
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Danny can get a little rough with criminals. Just ask the guy whose head got shoved in a toilet in the pilot episode.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • In "Framed," Henry hires Erin's ex-husband on the sly to be an attorney for Danny when he was framed by a crooked Internal Affairs agent, he bills for it... totaling all of $1.
    • Danny has shown to be this trope. While he can be hard on criminals and be borderline Dirty Cop, he has a heart of gold when it comes to his immediate family.
  • Joisey: Inspector General Kelly Peterson from Season 4 is originally from Newark, New Jersey, and previously served as the Essex County Prosecutor before accepting the newly-created position of NYPD Inspector General.
  • Jurisdiction Friction:
    • The FBI/NYPD rivalry so often seen in New York City Cops series.
      • "Protest Too Much" has Danny grumping that the FBI is involved in his latest case due to the murder happening in the course of a bank heist (in Real Life it would be FBI jurisdiction automatically, as banks are federally insured, including all crimes committed during a bank robbery; the NYPD though could liaise through their Central Robbery Division).
      • In "Down the Rabbit Hole", the FBI preemptively releases a press release about serial killer Thomas Wilder when some of his bodies turn up, without conversing with the NYPD first. Of course, the FBI does have jurisdiction since Wilder is wanted for crimes in multiple states, but it still is this for their failure to share information with the NYPD. Danny also clashes with one of the FBI investigators he's forced to work with.
    • Though averted on a few other occasions —
      • In "Officer Down," it's mentioned that the FBI is on-board to help out with the death of an officer in a jewelry robbery.
      • And in "Bad Company," when Danny and Baez are investigating the abduction of a woman believed to have been taken in by a sex trafficking ring. They recruit Janko to be their infiltrator, and then join up with the FBI when they learn the FBI is also working the case.
    • The episode "With Friends Like These" has Frank dealing with tensions between the FDNY and NYPD. It starts when a group of Emergency Service Unit officers and firefighters being treated in Linda's emergency room get into a brawl after throwing insults at each other. Things get to a head later on when an officer is hospitalized from injuries sustained in a gunfight caused by a botched drug raid, the result of firefighters wanting to engage a blaze that the police believed was set by the drug dealers to torch evidence that they were trying to obtain.
    • "To Protect and Serve": Danny is investigating the murder of a father who was gunned down in front of his son. A description of the gunman from the son leads Danny and Baez to identify the shooter as a man who happens to be feeding information to the Department of Homeland Security about a drug operation that may be involved with terror cells. The DHS refuse to let their suspect get taken off the streets for the murder. At Erin's suggestion, Danny and Baez work around the stonewalling DHS by tailing the suspect's handler to identify the guy's hideout, then takes an ESU team in to capture the guy.
  • Just Following Orders: In "Blackout," one of Frank's chiefs gets in hot water because during a blackout he had left a high-crime housing project with no police officers servicing it. The chief's defense is that he was just following orders from the Mayor's office (that bypassed Frank), but Frank doesn't see it as a good excuse and has the chief terminated. Gormley finds such a punishment to be too extreme for a chief who was caught in a very tough bind, and is later able to persuade Frank to just have the chief demoted.
  • Just Train Wrong: The opening to "Samaritan" is supposed to take place on a 2 train on the IRT Nostrand Avenue Line, seeing how the crime scene investigation has the train stopped at Newkirk Avenue station on that line. However, the train shown is clearly comprised of R160 cars used on the subway's BMT and IND divisions, which are larger and wider than the R142 cars used by the 2 train. Furthermore, when the train doors are closing, the door chime is that used on subway cars built in the 1970s and 1980s as opposed to the electronic chime used on the R142 and R160 cars. Additionally, the station signs on the entrances designate the station as only being serviced by the 2 train when in reality the station is also serviced on weekdays by the 5 train (and is noted as such on the real station signs).note  The station where the gang leader is arrested also appears to be Broad Street station on the BMT Nassau Street Line being passed off for Third Avenue — 149th Street on the IRT White Plains Road Line.note 
  • Justified Criminal:
    • Billy Flood's motive in "Critical Condition" for robbing the bank: paying for his 8-year old daughter's heart transplant.
    • Jacob Krystal claims that his motive for art theft is that he returns works stolen by the Nazis during World War II to their rightful owners or their heirs.
    • In "Baggage", a group of former Army veterans rob a bank to pay for treatments for a comrade of theirs who lost his legs to an IED and suffers from traumatic brain injuries. When they're caught, some string pulling is done to ensure the man gets his needed treatment.
  • Karma Houdini: One episode in season 7, "The Price of Justice", features a very smug pretty boy who gets off on beating his girlfriend and claims she wanted to play rough, when he actually handcuffed her to the bed and subjected her to torture for his own pleasure, not knowing he was a depraved and predatory sex fiend. Danny can't get him convicted for assault and sexual abuse because the man lawyers up and his lawyer tries to pin the blame on the girlfriend because she consented to him having his way with her. The man and his lawyer also know that the woman's name will be dragged through the mud in court over this debacle, and this alone is enough to give her cold feet and make her drop the charges. Worse, when Danny and Baez try to set him up to make him beat his girlfriend on camera, the man is too sly to fool and mocks them openly for trying this. Danny, however, refuses to let the man get off so easily and publicly outs him as a woman-beater, warning him that even though he failed to bring him to justice, there are 30,000 cops in New York City and now all of them will be watching him. A few episodes later, in "Personal Business", said ex-girlfriend kills the abuser, believing he'll repeat his behavior with his new girlfriend, and Erin has to bring in the abuser's lawyer to represent the ex-girlfriend and claim self-defense.
    • The most recent episode, "Forgive Us Our Trespasses", has Dr. Leonard Walker, a serial killer who had previously got off with only being psychiatrically committed after Danny failed to pin the murders on him. After tricking his way out of the institution, he resumes killing and takes great pleasure in implying the crimes were committed by his alternate personality in order to set up an Insanity Defense in the event that he does get caught. Eventually the cops manage to prove that he killed his mother years ago, only for him to successfully elude them and make an attempt on Jackie's life. She fights him off, but he's escaped again by the time Danny gets there and is apparently not found. One hopes he'll return to get busted in Season 14.
  • Knight, Knave, and Squire:
    • The three Reagans on active duty in the NYPD, particularly in the earlier seasons. Frank is the Knight, the responsible and principled Commissioner. Danny is the Knave, the Cowboy Cop who's willing to bend (if not break) the rules if it means a result he wants. Jamie is the Squire, the New Meat beat cop who's starting out with the NYPD as the series begins.
    • The three surviving Reagan siblings as well. Jamie (despite being the youngest) is the Knight, a By-the-Book Cop who protects order, is loyal to his family and comrades, and puts Honor Before Reason. Danny is the Cowboy Cop Knave (in a carryover from the above entry). Erin is the Squire, who is a lawyer and untrained in combat.
  • Law Enforcement, Inc.: In season 2, a shady private security outfit tries approaching Henry with a job offer. So far, he's turned them down.
  • Let Me Tell You a Story: [insert Grandpa Henry moment of badassery here]
  • Like Father, Like Son: In season 7's premiere, the widow of a cop killed in the line of duty comes to Frank asking him to fail her son out of the police academy, not wanting to risk losing him as well. Thing is, said cadet is one of the best in his class, and despite Frank's best efforts, he can't find anything that would disqualify him.
  • Like Reality, Unless Noted:
    • As far as the NYPD is concerned since 9/11 and the War on Terror still happened in the show's universe. The actual NYPD Police Commissioner during the first four seasons of the series was two time appointee Commissioner Raymond Kelly. In 2014, during the show's fifth season, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton to the positionnote . Then in 2016, Bratton retired and his Chief of Department, James P. O'Neill, became the current Commissioner. Henry Reagan's tenure of office, stated to have been sometime in the 1970s, would most likely have occurred during the tenure of Commissioner Patrick V. Murphy.
    • A newspaper clipping in "Re-Do" suggests that the mayoral history of New York City was the same through at least Rudy Giuliani. Frank Russo is implied to have taken office then, and held the office until Carter Poole was elected. A telling hint is in the season 3 finale when Danny is interrogating a Los Lordes gangbanger after Mayor Poole gets shot by a Bitterman kid on the gang's orders — he calls Poole "the second black mayor in New York City," and David Dinkins himself shows up in a season 8 episode.
    • Hurricane Sandy still happened in this timeline. In season 3, a friend of Danny's who lived in the Rockaways is shown to have been impacted by the hurricane, and the scene shows houses that were destroyed by the hurricane. In "Back in the Day," Erin finds that one of her investigators was killed because he was looking into a case of corruption related to Hurricane Sandy rebuilding contracts.
  • Loan Shark: Sgt. Renzulli gets in deep from betting on horses. Frank bails him out, with the explicit proviso that it's a one-time only offer.
  • Look Both Ways: Happens twice to a Croatian gangster, who's fleeing after the police interrupt his attempt to trade a kidnapped girl for some fellow gang members. Not watching for traffic, he gets bounced off a taxi's fender as he steps off the curb, losing his gun. His pursuer, Danny, draws and demands his surrender, but he steps onto the road without looking again, sneering that Danny won't shoot him in the back ... and gets hit head-on by a delivery truck.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • In "The Job", Danny nails a suspect by casing his house until the garbage truck arrives, since, after all, trash left outside on the street is technically not on private property, and thus can be searched without a warrant.
    • In the season 5 two-part finale, Deputy Chief Donald Kent and his wife are gunned down in a gangland hit. It's proven that the hit was carried out on the orders of Clinton Wallace, the leader of the Warrior Kings gang, who is doing life at Rikers for other crimes. Frank visits Rikers and arrests Wallace for conspiracy to murder Kent, Kent's wife, and Hector, a witness to the Kents' death, and the attempted murder of Linda (who was hit by a collateral bullet during the assassination of Hector). Wallace laughs at the charges as he's already serving life, but Frank then explains that a search of Kent's possessions revealed that he took an oath with the United States Marshals Service, which allowed him to work with the DEA. The oath technically made Kent a federal law enforcement agent. And while New York state law doesn't have the death penalty, federal law does, so Wallace will be extradited to Terre Haute, Indiana to stand trial for Kent's death, which also removes his ability to give orders to his gang.
    • In "To Protect and Serve," Danny and Baez suspect that a career felon named Raoul Delgado is responsible for gunning down a man in broad daylight (in front of the man's son). However, Delgado has apparently been feeding information to the Department of Homeland Security about a drug operation that is collaborating with terrorist organizations. DHS members separately approach Frank and Danny telling them to back off on Delgado. Danny approaches Erin trying to see if she can get a line that breaks through the stonewalling DHS. She tells him she can't ... but then she says that there ain't no rule saying that Danny can't just tail Delgado's handler. Danny does just that and is then able to take an ESU team to apprehend Delgado.
    • In "Excessive Force," Gormley passionately stands up for his squad while Danny is being investigated for an alleged case of excessive force. Frank is impressed enough that he decides that Gormley should be his liaison with the rank and file cops. However, Gormley is too low in ranks to be eligible for Chief of Department,note  so Frank creates a new job post of "Special Assistant to the Commissioner" and gives Gormley the duties of the Chief of Department. note 
    • Frank's standard M.O. for dealing with problem people. A cop did something you consider unbecoming but you can't legally punish him for it? Transfer him to the worst duty you can come up with, as far from his home as possible, and technically it's not punishment. Don't want a leftist to burn the American flag during a protest but you can't legally deny him the permit? Give him the permit - and make the location of the protest his veteran father's grave. Don't want a elderly cop killer with lung cancer getting out of prison so he can see his grandchild before he dies, but the parole board has the authority to ignore your wishes? Get someone else to interfere in their independent operation for you.
  • Love Cannot Overcome:
    • Jamie's first girlfriend left him because she couldn't stand loving a cop with Chronic Hero Syndrome.
    • Linda seems to have finally had enough when her son witnesses a shooting.
    "I'm tired of playing second fiddle to the NYPD."
  • The Mafia: Season 2 has several subplots where Jamie is sent on investigations into the Sanfino crime syndicate. Other episodes occasionally involve organized crime factions.
  • The Mafiya: "Family Ties" deals with the murder of the son of the head of the Russian mob in Brighton Beach at his own engagement party. The mother of the bride is the killer: she didn't want her daughter trapped in the mob the way she was.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: More like "The Main Characters All Do the Same Thing". Generally speaking many cases are found by Jamie and his partner, investigated by Danny and his partner, and prosecuted by Erin and her party.
    • Frank's office politics plotlines usually see him personally meddling in things that would realistically be handled by the NYPD's Chief of Personnel and HR departments.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident:
    • In "Cellar Boy," the brakes on Jamie's car are cut to try and get him killed in an accident.
    • Perp not talking, huh? Hey, Danny notices a very nice looking katana on the wall:
      Danny: Okay. Here's how my testimony's gonna go. "The suspect grabbed a sword down from the wall, I ordered him to drop the sword, he failed to comply, bladda bladda bladda, I feared for my life, so no I had no choice but to fire my service weapon striking him several times in the chest and face."
  • Malcolm Xerox: Rev. Darnell Potter is a fairly transparent copy of the Rev. Al Sharpton. Not only is he a demagogue, an accessory to murder, a crook, a hatemonger and a liar, he's waging a motiveless war on the NYPD to boot. Later he gets ported to being a not-Black Lives Matter figurehead.
  • Manly Tears: Frank gets choked up while recounting 9/11 in "The Job."
  • Man on Fire:
    • In "To Tell the Truth," after Linda is kidnapped by associates of a drug kingpin that Danny witnessed committing a murder, Danny gets notified that a body has been found in a torched car. Fearing that it's Linda's body, he rushes to the scene, where Frank quickly tells him it's not Linda. It is, however, the body of the girlfriend who gave up said kingpin to Danny and Jackie.
    • In "Through the Looking Glass", a group of gangbangers in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn set a homeless guy named Benjamin Wilson on fire. Reporter Anne Farrell uses the incident to criticize the NYPD's patrolling of Brownsville, considered one of the city's highest crime neighborhoods. Things get complicated when Farrell scores an interview with the murder suspect, who says (with face and voice disguised) that the murder was part of a gang initiation, and that she can be certain it will happen again. Frank tries to get Farrell to give up the name of the killer, but she claims First Amendment protection. Erin gets a judge to compel Farrell to give up the information in order to prevent a future violent crime from being committed. Farrell refuses to testify and goes to jail for contempt of court, where Frank visits her. He says he has nothing to do with her being in jail, then convinces her that while she may not agree with Frank about the policing in Brownsville, they both know that Benjamin Wilson's killer belongs in prison, not out on the streets.
  • Married to the Job:
    • Danny's primarily of the "The Job is That Important" type, but with shades of "Justified Workaholic". Much to his actual wife Linda's chagrin, and often a source of tension when Danny has to leave his family's side to go out on an investigation. Danny also sometimes schedules himself for a lot of extra tours when he and Linda are going through financial difficulties.
    • Jamie's first fiancée Sydney Davenport left him early in season 1 as a result of this.
  • The Matchmaker: Nicky is interested in pairing her mom off with her boss, DA Rossalini. She also lobbied for Erin to date the art thief.
  • Mayor Pain:
    • Hand-wringing, mincing Frank Russo is a Type B. Fortunately, he seems to hold little to no authority over his Commissioner.
      Frank Reagan: I have to take this call, Your Honor.
    • Subverted by his successor, Mayor Carter Poole, who is shown to be genuinely concerned about the welfare of the public, it's just that he and Frank disagree on how to go about things.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Where were you on 9/11?" ("The Job")
  • Meaningful Name: Tom Selleck is known to be a staunch Republican in Real Life. Three guesses who the family's last name was inspired by.
  • The Mentor: Sergeant Renzulli, Jamie's training officer.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • It turns out that a woman died due to this in "Love Lost". She had an incurable illness, wanted to die on her own terms, and her husband euthanized her peacefully. Danny doesn't like it, but he still has to arrest him over this.
    • A physician who had euthanized his terminally ill daughter after she begged him to is the subject of another case. Erin decides to charge him only with manslaughter and to ask for only probation.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot:
    • In the season 4 finale, a brothel madam jumps from a penthouse. Danny and Baez are assigned to the casenote . But then Danny wonders why the Manhattan District Attorney's office would have its investigation squad take over the case. Then he gets more suspicious when he and Baez get orders from the Chief of Department to drop the case. Then Danny finds himself on modified assignment when the D.A.'s office lodges a complaint against him directly to 1PP over a tussle he had with the DA investigators. This gets Erin suspicious since the complaint was filed by Amanda Harris herself. Though on modified assignment, Danny eventually uncovers some evidence suggesting cover-up from within the police department. Erin's digging into the prostitution sting leads her to find evidence suggesting that Amanda's sting is not a sting but an entrapment scheme. A simple suicide thus becomes evidence that Amanda has been conspiring for years to entrap and blackmail lots of people of major influence, like high-level cops, politicians, pro athletes, and various celebrities, in order to guarantee their assistance whenever she needs it.
    • In "Home Sweet Home," the arrest of a Rikers Island corrections officer for a DWI traffic stop and discovery of drugs in his car leads to the discovery of a drug trafficking ring in the Riker's Island C-Block.
    • Discussed in "Down the Rabbit Hole" over dinner when the Reagans contemplate that it's possible they'll catch serial killer Thomas Wilder through a minor crime, such as unpaid parking tickets (like Son of Sam) or a traffic violation (like Ted Bundy).
  • Miranda Rights: Used on occasion as in most cop shows, but also parodied once after Danny stops a fleeing suspect with a shopping cart and the guy faceplants.
  • Misplaced Retribution: In many different episodes Danny dumps on Erin for her telling him some law prevents him getting a piece of evidence that he needs to build his case. She's never doing anything more than just following the law, while he acts as if Erin is the source (she's lawmaker of New York state, apparently, in his mind). Erin appears to realize that it's pointless pointing this out and Danny's simply venting at her, so she just takes it.
  • Missing Mom: Frank, Henry, and Danny have all outlived their wives. Mary Reagan, Frank's late wife, is occasionally mentioned, and Frank still wears his wedding band in remembrance of her, but her absence makes his job all the more difficult because has to go about dealing with problems essentially on his own without her around to help buffer conflicts and arguments, aid his decisions, and alleviate his stress. Because Frank no longer has her to go to, he tends to rely on his father in troubling situations. Rule of Drama seems to predicate that Frank is a widower to exemplify his role as The Patriarch and keep him hard-boiled and emotionally distant, and so that the show keeps its serious tone by eliminating the need to script in gratuitous romantic scenes or affections of the like.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: In "The Job," Frank is ditching his detail to make secret visits to a psychiatrist's office. Garrett thinks that Frank is hiding a new girlfriend. He even offers to help cover for him! See also Sure, Let's Go with That below.
    Garrett: Too young? Too old?
    Frank: More like the type that asks too many questions.
  • Mood Whiplash: Danny rushes home after Thomas Wilder threatens his family and is relieved to see that Linda and the boys are okay. It lasts all of two seconds when the FBI agent he's working with reminds him of the guy's MO—"18-22 year old females" and he realizes that Nicky is the one he's going after.
  • Most Writers Are Adults: The show's idea of a realistic message posted by a teenager on a Facebook-type networking site is "B-T-W homes that video made me L-M-A-O".
  • Mouthy Kid: Nicky has her moments.
  • Mysterious Past : Both Danny and Grandpa Henry.
  • Mystery Magnet: Reagans have a history of stumbling upon cases while out on the job.
    • In "Open Secrets," a kidnapping is discovered because the hostage-taker and victim happened to eat breakfast at a diner at the exact same time that Erin was there with Nicky.
    • "Baggage" has Danny and Linda visiting the bank to get their house remortgaged when it's robbed.
    • "Thanksgiving" sees a woman get thrown from her apartment window while Jamie and Renzulli are on foot patrol on that block.
    • "Stomping Grounds" happens when Danny and Baez stop by a restaurant while working one case, and Baez happens to recognize another customer as someone who as a kid she saw beat a boy to death on her block.
    • In "Worst Case Scenario," evidence of a bomb plot in New York City is found after Danny and Baez run into a distraught Arabic-speaking man rambling about his neighbors possessing bombs, at the same time that Jamie and Edie respond to a complaint from a nightclub waitress reporting a man talking with terrorist-like language.
  • Myth Arc: Jamie and The Blue Templars during season 1. Started out as the main thrust of the series but was quickly shoved to the back burner, appearing mainly in Book Ends in the episodes where it's mentioned at all. Season 2 shifts it to Jamie going undercover in the Sanfino crime syndicate. Dropped in season 3.
  • Nepotism:
    • Zig-Zagged. The Reagan clan is encouraged by family tradition, and Frank tends to prefer using Danny and his current partner for major cases. However there is no string-pulling for them per se and they all become competent at their work.
    • In "Love Stories," when Gormley submits Danny's and Baez's names for Medal of Valor consideration, on behalf of their actions in "Partners," Frank is initially reluctant to give a medal to Danny because of the potential that the public might see it as nepotism. When talking about it with Henry, Frank learns that he himself had been passed over for a similar commendation years before when Henry was commissioner (for singlehandedly taking down a fleeing bank robber while off-duty). Frank relents, gives the Medal of Valor to Danny and Baez. When they sit down for Sunday dinner afterwards, Henry and the rest of the family decide to do a private medal ceremony for Frank.
    • "Dedications" highlights that Frank once did pull strings while Henry was police commissioner, not to get a commendation, but to squash one.
    • In "Knockout Game," Frank rejects an officer who's up for promotion because he's the son of one of the chiefs and he was recommended by Henry. He explains he's trying very hard to keep an old boys' club from developing again. Then he has a one-on-one interview with the officer in question, who agrees with Frank that he most certainly should not be promoted because of personal connections. He wants to get there himself, and actually told his dad not to have Henry recommend him. Frank is impressed by this and promotes him after all, but he makes it clear he's doing it on the officer's own merits.
  • Newscaster Cameo: Two episodes show interviews with CBS This Morning anchor Norah O'Donnell.
  • New Meat: Jamie, in the first season. He levels up his badass and becomes street smart under Renzulli's mentoring.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Frank to an apologetic cleaning lady who broke a cup. Of course, it was a gift from the Mayor, so, no big loss...
  • No Badge? No Problem!: A variant. In "The Uniform", an NYPD Auxiliary Officernote  shoots a guy trying to rob his uncle's diner. The auxiliary in question brought along his own gun, in violation of Auxiliary Police policy.note  It was eventually ruled a good and justified shooting, and the auxiliary even got into the police academy later on
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Rev. Potter is essentially a Baptist Louis Farrakhan.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Decon-Recon Switch. Edie has been seeing a guy for a few months and persuades Jamie to come on a double date with them, being the date of the guy's sister. Unfortunately, a robbery takes place. Fortunately, Jamie and Edie managed to protect their dates and take down the robbers with no casualties or injuries. However, while the sister is thankful and becomes smitten with Jamie, the guy isn't. And a few scenes later, Edie reveals that they broke up, with the guy being embarrassed over having a cop for a girlfriend and feeling emasculated. Rightfully, this upsets Edie who angrily explains the Double Standard to Jamie — if a guy saves a girl, it's amazing and romantic, but if the genders were switched, the guy should feel ashamed for having a woman rescue him. And because of that, Edie wonders if she'll find a decent man to like all of her. Another few scenes later, Jamie reassures her that if she does meet men (like the guy earlier) who feel ashamed because she rescued them, instead of being grateful, then they don't deserve her.
  • Non-Promotion: After four seasons as Danny's supervisor at the 54th Precinct Detective Squad, Sgt. Sid Gormley impresses Frank with his candor and concern for the rank-and-file cops (after standing up for his own detectives during a COMPSTATS meeting). Frank then informs Gormley that he's making him Dino Arbogast's replacement as Frank's liaison to the regular cops.note  However, since the regulations require that the Chief of Department to be at least a captain, Frank instead creates the position of the Special Assistant to the Commissioner, which allows Gormley to assume the duties and authority but not the rank and privileges of the CoD. While Gormley does receive a promotion to Lieutenant later in season 5, this is mostly still in effect when he has to interface with senior police officers who technically outrank him.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The various times Jamie swallowed things.
    • Also, the various times when Erin went out on a date as a teenager and Frank secretly had his off-duty buddies tail her and her date to make sure she was safe. Erin only learns about this when she herself (along with Frank and Henry) stay up late waiting for Nicky to get back from a date ... and Frank reveals he's made similar arrangements for Nicky's protection.
  • No Such Thing as H.R.: A lot of the internal personnel issues which Frank deals with personally are things that should, by rights, be handled by the NYPD's Chief of Personnel. Justified by Frank's micro-manager tendencies when his officers' ethical lapses are concerned, and by Garrett constantly bringing such issues to Frank's office so they can quell incidents that have the potential to cause scandal within the press.
  • Obfuscating Disability: "In Too Deep" has a man who was accused of being a serial killer, but seemingly could not be as he's paralyzed and uses a wheelchair. However, it turns out he faked it, and really did commit these murders (this is compared to Ted Bundy, who faked disabilities too so women wouldn't view him as a threat).
  • Off on a Technicality: Dick Reed at the start of "Re-Do", courtesy of an overworked crime lab guy making a mistake on the protocols for DNA testing.
  • One-Steve Limit:
    • Averted. There are three 'Jack's: one of Danny's sons, Erin's ex-husband, and Jackie Curatola.
    • Another aversion: in the early seasons, there were two Franks — Commissioner Frank Reagan, and Mayor Frank Russo. Of course, the latter's name was never mentioned on camera, and when he showed up again in "Men in Black" (when Jamie arrested his daughter for smoking pot in public and mouthing off to him and Vinny), he's introduced as Robert Levitt.
  • Once an Episode: The Reagan family holds a conference over dinner.
    • A variation in "Thanksgiving": When Henry is in the hospital, the family brings the dinner to him. And the seating arrangement is the same.
    • Another variation occurs in the Season 5 finale, after Linda is shot in the crossfire of an assassination, and the family has still manages to have Sunday dinner together thanks to Linda and Danny "joining" them by Skype from Linda's hospital room.
    • The Season 8 premiere sets the dinner inside Danny's new house that the family helped set him up with to make up for his fire-bombed home from the end of Season 7. Unfortunately there is one less seat at the table this time, as Linda had been killed in the interval between the seasons.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: "Loose Lips" sees Nicky get turned down for admission at one college due to some disparaging remarks she made on Twitter about one of her teachers. Later on, Henry becomes the subject of controversy when he's caught on camera conversing with a friend about one of his old war stories (see Papa Wolf).
  • Order Versus Chaos: A subtle theme throughout the series, with Frank and Jamie representing order and Danny being chaos.
  • Our Founder: Frank is a fan of President (and former NYC Police Commissioner) Theodore Roosevelt. A big picture of TR hangs in his office.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: Or perhaps Our Mayors Are Different. Mayor Carter Poole is a Mayor Personable/Mayor Minority twofer, with elements of Barack Obama and Corey Booker.
  • Out of Focus: In general, there will be three or four plots going on, typically an A-plot involving Danny solving a typical murder case, a B-plot involving Jamie and his partner on a typical day of patrol, and a C-plot involving either Erin prosecuting a case or Frank dealing with NYPD politics.
    • Example: there is the occasional episode that doesn't have a plot for Danny (although Danny will still show as part of the Once an Episode family dinner). These episodes include cases like "With Friends Like These" (which splits time between Erin going back through an unsolved murder case, Jamie and Edie trying to help a mentally ill woman, and Frank dealing with tensions between the NYPD and FDNY), "Hold Outs" (which involves Erin dealing with a murder case that had a mistrial while Jamie and Edie work as part of a task force dealing with some street gang issues), and "Custody Battle", where there are two plotlines that both involve Jamie — the A-plot of a death-in-custody involving an officer who used an illegal chokehold, and the B-plot of Jamie convincing Edie to visit her incarcerated father.
  • Outranking Your Job:
    • Generally averted. Captains, Lieutenants and Sergeants are depicted as supervisors, who almost never personally conduct investigations or make arrests.
    • Frank sometimes toes the line on this. There are occasions where he'll order an investigation into a matter, but he doesn't actively participate in said investigation and has people who do the legwork and report back to him.
    • Jamie seems to be an inversion. While he's just an officer, many of his plots have him do things that are more likely to be assigned to a detective.

    Tropes P to T 
  • Papa Wolf:
    • In one episode Frank personally shoots a serial killer who is attempting to rape and kill Erin.
    • Henry certainly applies. When Frank was shot, the entire family waits in the waiting room. After revealing that he has a gun, Henry sits in front and the show proceeds to time-skip a few hours. You don't think much of it, until you realize that Henry is the only one who's relatively alert. Meaning that he was guarding his family, as the only way to get to them was to go through him.
    • And then there was the time Henry pulled a gun on an EMT to save his son from meningitis.
    • Danny feels this way when his immediate family is harmed, as notably shown in "The Job".
    • Danny's reaction when Nicky herself is abducted by a serial killer is to be as angry and terrified as if she were his daughter instead of niece.
    • It's also discussed earlier, as when Jamie is under an Internal Affairs investigation, Frank resists the temptation to tell IA to let him slide. Henry helps out by letting him know that the same thing happened to Frank when he was Commissioner, but he let IA go through because he knew Frank would be cleared. He was, and so is Jamie.
    • In "Loose Lips," Henry causes a scandal when he's secretly filmed regaling one of his old war stories to a friend, and the footage goes viral on YouTube: A cop was put under threat by a criminal gang and Henry ordered his men to lean on every crook in the city to get the word out that the cop was protected; it worked and the cop never knew. Frank calls Henry on this — Henry reveals that Frank was that cop.
    • In "Personal Business," an off-duty sergeant is shopping with his daughter at a bodega when armed gunmen rob the place, fatally shoot the cashier, steal from the register, and flee. It's a stinker because the sergeant was busy shielding his daughter the whole time, when protocol is that he should have intervened as he had his off-duty gun on him.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Danny and Linda's marital strife spills over into a family dinner during grace. Danny compliments his wife's prayer, "especially that part about making good decisions."
    Linda: I was saying grace.
    Danny: Yeah, and Erin's spinach isn't soggy.
    [Erin glares at him.]
  • Passed-Over Inheritance: In one season 1 episode, Jamie and Renzulli meet an obsessive-compulsive woman who is convinced there's a rapist creeping around her apartment. Turns out it's just her deadbeat brother, who is hoping to have her declared crazy so he can inherit her cash.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: Grandpa Reagan in "The Job". He knows God has a plan.
  • The Patriarch: Frank.
  • The Perfect Crime: In "Lost Souls" the killer stabs his victim in a rainstorm while carrying an umbrella to hide from cameras and wearing clothing so generic that the camera that caught the murder tells the detectives nothing useful. The only slip-up was the killer using his own credit card to pay for his subway card. Even then, there isn't really any evidence. To top it all off, its a Sympathetic Murderer as well, to the point that Danny makes sure to get the guy a good lawyer-before arresting the guy!
  • Perp Sweating: A literal example in "Immunity". An Argentinian diplomat's son is protected by diplomatic immunity, so he's invited to be questioned at the station. Danny deliberately has the A/C unit in the interrogation room shut off, so the guy starts to sweat. Then, after he leaves, the crime scene techs collect the guy's DNA, which is used to nail him (the guy's father is convinced to waive diplomatic immunity, as DNA evidence also proves he's guilty of a similar crime in Argentina, where immunity would not apply and prisons are much worse).
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Renzulli.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Danny and Baez deal with a pair in "Identity". Steven is the extroverted face of the company and Seth is basically a shy Extreme Doormat. When Steven's DNA is found on a murder weapon, Seth insists that Steve has an alibi.
  • Police Brutality:
    • Danny has a disturbing tendency toward this and sometimes the audience can't tell how far he will go. Given that it's usually towards quite despicable criminals, it comes off as Pay Evil unto Evil.
    • In "Whistle Blower", an incriminating video of a cop assaulting an old man goes viral on YouTube. Actually a subversion: once they were able to subpoena the unedited version it was clear the old man had made a grab for the officer's pistol.
    Garrett: There's even a music video version now. Set to "Another One Bites the Dust." Wanna see it?
    • In "Power of the Press," a police officer wearing a body camera as part of a pilot program gets into a confrontation with a suspect. However, the camera feed cut off right before the actual physical hit due to a malfunction, making it look like a deliberate beating. Eventually, video from another witness shows that the suspect took the first swing.
    • In one season 4 episode, Baez questions a racist suspect/witness of a mosque bombing. Her response to him mouthing off to her is to knee him in the groin; this is played for laughs. Made worse due to the next scene involving a man punching a police officer in the face for harassing him, which everyone takes dead serious.
    • Danny's actual cases of brutality give him a reputation that causes him to get in more serious trouble when a false accusation is lodged against him. This happens in "Excessive Force," when he chases a robber into an apartment building, who then jumps from a third-story window (and injures himself) after Danny gives him the idea with an empty threat. The robber immediately starts screaming "police brutality." With no one able to back up Danny's claims, especially given his history, he ends up in the crosshairs of Reverend Potter's anti-NYPD agenda. Eventually, though, it's revealed that a young Hispanic boy saw the whole thing, but, since his family are illegal immigrants, his parents don't want him testifying. Furthermore, Reverend Potter buys the family's silence by getting them a better apartment and offering to help with their visa problem. Once this is revealed, not only is Danny cleared, but Frank threatens Potter with arrest if he pushes the matter any further.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • A crooked developer rants about "union bloodsuckers."
    • In "The Job", a suburbanite father is waging a one-man war against "halfway house dirtbags." He ends up on Danny's bad side after he fires at Danny for interrupting him in the midst of attempting to kill one such victim and inadvertently endangered Danny's family.note 
    • A pair of junkies holding up an immigrant family ("Parenthood"). "I know you people don't use banks. Where's the money, chica?"
    • "Occupational Hazards" has Jamie and Edie tracking down a mentally unstable ex-union worker who threatens to blow up a union meeting because he thinks his job is being supplanted by blacks and women.
  • Politically Motivated Teacher: Nicky had a one at her old Catholic school. She was very left-wing, hated law enforcement and bullied Nicky every day because she she came from a family of cops.
  • Pompous Political Pundit: In "Inside Jobs," there's Curtis Swint, the borderline white-supremacist radio host who wants to make a live broadcast from a New York theater. Upon getting word of the potential risks, Frank must face the dilemma of protecting Swint's constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of speech and assembly, in spite of his own disdain for Swint's message, not to mention the backlash of the non-white politicians who want to shut down the show, like a Latino congressman, Mayor Poole, and Reverend Potter. He ends up foiling Mayor Poole's attempt at Bothering by the Book to shut down the theater (due to the discovery that the theatre's boiler is overdue for an inspection), then places Swint's police protection inside the theater, and arranges for it to be comprised entirely of non-white officers led by a large black sergeantnote .
  • The Power of Legacy: In "Unfinished Business," after failing to talk a traumatized war veteran out of jumping off a roof, Danny lies on his incident report, claiming the man had changed his mind about suicide, but slipped and fallen accidentally. That way, the soldier's son will be reassured his father hadn't intended to die and leave his family grief-stricken.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: In "Officer Down", The Mafia helps out in hunting down the Cop Killers. Henry notes that when he was on the force the Five Families had explicit rules that cops were off limits because dead cops are even worse for business than live ones.
  • Principles Zealot: Erin is an assistant district attorney and always getting in arguments with the other members of the family about the tension between legal protection, and law enforcement efficiency. An old problem that will always remain and is well handled in the show.
  • Promoted to Opening Titles: Amy Carlson (Linda) and Sami Gayle (Nicky) are promoted from "Also Starring" to the opening titles beginning in season 5.
  • Proscenium Reveal: In "Stomping Grounds," Jamie and Janko appear to be responding to an armed robber at a pharmacy holding up a cashier at gunpoint. Jamie shoots, and inadvertently hits a terrified customer, who falls. Then an alarm goes off, and it's revealed they are actually on a training course.
  • Protect This House: A father shoots dead the burglar who attacked his family, which is good enough for Danny. Not so much for the law, however, because a) the suspect was shot outside of the home, and b) the shooter is an illegal immigrant. In the end Danny coaches him on his confession to paint the case in the best possible light for the D.A.
  • Pulled from Your Day Off: In "A Night on the Town," Danny ends up catching a case right when he and Linda are about to have a romantic weekend of their own. He ends up trying and failing to juggle both, with her letting him out of a play they had nonrefundable tickets to by calling a friend.
  • A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Billy Flood, one of the finest officers in Frank's unit.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away:
    • In "Re-Do," Reed tries it on Frank, holding Erin hostage. Frank's response is to just shoot him.
    • A perp in Season 2 gets the drop on Jackie and tries to invoke this on Danny, who acts as if he's going to play this straight... and then Jackie slips out of the perp's grasp, grabs her gun back, and Danny's gun is back on target.
  • Quote-to-Quote Combat:
    Frank: A true leader is not a seeker of consensus, but a molder of consensus. [walks out]
    [Potter looks confusedly at the mayor.]
    Mayor: [chuckles] Martin Luther King.
    • In "Sins of the Father", Danny's case involves a father seeking vengeance for his daughter, who committed suicide after being fired from a porn studio (he was targeting the crew). During interrogation:
    Jerry Phillips: "For if there was harm, you shall appoint as penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth." Exodus 21:23.
    Danny: "Do not take vengeance against evil, but wait for the Lord and He will avenge you." Proverbs 20:22.
  • Rank Up:
    • Sid Gormley begins the show as the sergeant in charge of Danny's squad. He starts there until early in season 5, whereupon he gets promoted to a post on Frank's team of advisors as 'Special Assistant to the Commissioner'. A few episodes after that, he gets a rank promotion to Lieutenant.
    • At the beginning of Season 9, Jamie gets promoted to Sergeant after spending eight years as a patrol officer.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: The letter of the trope is averted rather thoroughly by leaving Jamie's first kill until the middle of season three and making it be a Suicide by Cop case. Jamie, already in the grips of These Hands Have Killed, is understandably horrified, and not once does anyone treat it as a rite of passage. During the same episode Frank recounts a statistic that less than five percent of cops ever have to fire their weapons outside the range, and less than five percent of those shootings are fatal. On the other hand, Jamie's first shooting, which was nonfatal, gets a passing treatment as this by the IA detective doing the routine shooting investigation, who tells him to enjoy the paperwork.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Like true Irish-Americans, the Reagans are good Catholics. However, in one season 3 episode Danny admits to only trying to set an example for his kids and that he lost his faith a long time ago.
    • Despite the above, Danny seems very open in one episode to the idea that God talked to a girl concerning the alleged murder of her mother—even when Erin and Jackie needle him for it. The episode ends with him in a cute moment of trying to recreate the girl's "vision" position for himself.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Naturally there are going to be the occasional speeches that are like this.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure : Frank Reagan would put Cincinnatus to shame:
    [to the mayor] "I serve at your pleasure... but I work for the people of New York City."
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Staten Island is considered the dumping ground for NYPD cops who screw up on the job.note  The fear of getting transferred there is mentioned repeatedly:
    • When Frank's position as Commissioner seems to be at stake, Gormley dreads the possibility of getting transferred to Staten Island. In the season 5 premiere, he'd feared that this would be his fate after he lashed out at Frank for not standing up to Lt. James McCarthy, who'd been accused of using excessive force on a crazed man. A few episodes later, he fears being terminated after shooting his mouth off at a COMPSTATS meeting and is even asked to bring his box when Frank summons him to 1PP. But Frank surprises him by instead promoting him to Special Assistant to the Commissioner.
    • In "Stomping Grounds":
      • Lt. Tim Harrison is a freshly retired cop who served 40 years on the job and was a favorite of Henry's (which, Frank reluctantly admits, is the only reason he kept him on when his sell-by date as a reliable cop had long passed). But hours after his retirement party, he shoots two black people on the subway (a guy trying to rob him, and another guy who was actually trying to intervene). During the manhunt, Frank confides to Henry that Harrison had a history of bigotry when it came to blacks. In fact, this got to the point that Frank had to have him transferred to Staten Island explicitly because Staten Island had a 75% white population.
      • Jamie and Edie get a new training officer, Sgt. Ray Langley, who has a habit of hitting on female officers he's trained in every precinct, most recently Edie. Jamie feels like Langley is abusing his power by doing so. So he gets rid of him by suggesting he put in a transfer to Staten Island.
    • "After Hours" concerns Jimmy Burke, a former partner of Frank's who took two bullets for him on a rooftop. He has been promoted to Inspector and placed in command of the 15th Precinct. While up for a promotion to Deputy Chief, it's discovered that as the Deputy Commander of Patrol Borough Manhattan South he has been cooking the books for his precinct's CompStats (artificially lowering crime rates by classifying obvious felonies as misdemeanors instead). In part, he justifies it on the grounds of how his 40-year career has left him with several failed marriages, alimonies, and college tuitions. He intended to get his promotion then call it quits. Frank allows Jimmy to retire with his reputation intact, rather than face the alternate option: demotion to Captain and reassignment to the 128th Precinct in Staten Island.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Danny Reagan is red to his first partner Jackie's (fairly subtle) blue. Good Cop/Bad Cop also applies, in reverse order.
    • Danny is also red to his sister Erin's blue. And to Jamie's blue, for that matter.
  • Reformed Criminal: Ray Bell, the barber from "The Life We Chose."
  • Retired Badass: Great-Grandpa Henry used to be a police officer, but has retired from such dangerous work.
  • Retirony:
    • Frank's friend John was leaving for a vacation when the World Trade Center was hit.
    • Roland Gates is shot on the eve of his daughter's christening.
  • Revenge Is Not Justice: In "Sins of the Father", an aggrieved father targets the crew of a porn studio after his daughter apparently committed suicide after being fired from it, and justifies himself by quoting from the Bible.
    Jerry Phillips: "For if there was harm, you shall appoint as penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth." Exodus 21:23.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better:
    • Subverted by Henry, who points out that Frank would have more firepower with a Glock. Frank concedes the point, and states his reason why:
    "I like carrying your gun, Pop."
    • In the Papa Wolf example above, Frank proved pretty conclusively he doesn't need a Glock. His .38 Special works just fine.
    • "Dedication" reveals that despite his earlier advice to Frank, Henry carries a .357 Magnum revolver.
  • Rewind, Replay, Repeat: Used in "All the News That's Fit to Click", Danny and Baez play back the 911 call that was made to lure Jamie, Janko, and the reporter they were riding with, into an ambush. In a scene that is a Shout-Out to The Fugitive, they have the TARU tech isolate the background noises, which reveal a 'next train' announcement, pinpointing the exact subway station where the call originated.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: It's not uncommon to see an episode with a plotline based on an actual controversial moment in the NYPD's lengthy history, or even an actual case.
    • The second episode of season 1 involves a good Samaritan who killed a criminal on the subway who was about to rape a woman, only for it to turn out that he got the gun illegally because of an earlier arrest from his late teensnote  (which is also the reason he didn't come forward right away). It brings to mind Bernhard Goetz, the "Subway Vigilante" who shot and wounded four men who tried to mug him on the 2 train in December 1984, and was acquitted of all charges except for carrying an unlicensed firearm.
    • In "Black and Blue", Reverend Potter has a friend fake a 9-1-1 phone call and then has his parishioners attack Jamie and Sgt. Renzulli when they respond, putting Renzulli in the hospital with a concussion. It's a milder version of a 1972 incident where police officers responded to a fake 911 call planted at a Harlem mosque, were attacked by parishioners inside, and in which one officer was killed.
    • "Loss of Faith" has the 12th Precinct on high alert due to word that a former officer terminated from there might be en route to New York City to exact revenge against the cops responsible for his dismissal. The plotline is kinda like that of the case of Christopher Dorner, an ex-cop who directed revenge against the LAPD for what he perceived as a wrongful termination.
    • In the season 5 episode "Baggage," the NYPD is dealing with Spanky, a guerilla street artist in the vein of Banksy who leaves inflatable balloons that emerge from suspicious packages left in public places.
    • "Blast from the Past" concerns that an officer named Thomas Scully is up for promotion to Sergeant. But 14 years earlier he was one of four officers who shot an unarmed Muslim teen 61 times while he was reaching for his wallet. The descriptions of what happened echo the February 4, 1999 shooting of Amadou Diallo, where four NYPD officers fired a total of 41 rounds at a pedestrian whom they thought was pulling out a gun that turned out to be his wallet. It was for a time the poster-child incident of the ongoing debate over police conduct and brutality in the United States. Also, because Diallo was a black man, there was also suspicion of racism.
    • In "Blowback," public outrage is directed at the NYPD after a grand jury doesn't indict Officer Eric Russell for the controversial shooting of a knife-wielding teenager that was caught on his body cam, and then someone in Erin's office leaks the body cam footage to the Internet. Shortly thereafter, Officer Mark Hayes is shot and critically wounded in what appears to be a retaliatory incident. This reflects the outrage felt in real life when a grand jury failed to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who used a chokehold on Eric Garner in July 2014. Subsequently, in December 2014, a few weeks after the verdict, NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were shot to death in their patrol car on a Brooklyn street, and the gunman then committed suicide in a nearby subway station. It was established to have been a retaliation hit for both Garner's death and the officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown.
    • In "Whistleblowers", Frank is dealing with allegations from an idealistic cop who claims to have evidence of abuse of power in high crime neighborhoods. The plotline itself seems to be a big reference to Adrian Schoolcraft, an NYPD cop who secretly recorded several conversations and alleged that arrest quotas were leading to police abuses such as wrongful arrests, while the emphasis on fighting crime sometimes resulted in underreporting of crimes to keep the numbers down. He was reportedly harassed and reassigned to a desk job, even physically abducted from his apartment by an ESU team and forcibly admitted to a psychiatric facility, where he was held against his will for a week.
    • "Friendship, Love, and Loyalty": Edie is wounded and another officer killed in an ambush by a guy seeking to get initiated into a gang. During a press conference, Mayor Dutton earns the wrath of the NYPD rank and file for suggesting that the shooter may have been afraid of the police, and the cops protest this by turning their backs on her when she shows up at the officer's funeral. This is designed to echo the NYPD rank and file's means of protesting de Blasio when he spoke at the funerals for Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Lunote .
    • The second-to-last episode of season 8 has a subplot about Frank going head-to-head with a data-tracking company when they refuse to unlock the phone of a terrorist that may hold information regarding upcoming targets. The plot reads very similarly to the controversy surrounding Apple's refusal to cooperate with the FBI to unlock the San Bernardino shooters' phones.
    • The season 8 finale concerns a series of revenge murders committed by the Prospect Park Six, who are clearly supposed to be a repeat of the Central Park Five (a group of people wrongly convicted for a gang rape they never committed). Unlike the Prospect Park Six, the Central Park Five never went to exacting vigilante retaliation on the people whose judgment lapses led to their wrongful convictions.
  • Rogue Juror:
    • Unusually done in the fourth season episode "Justice Served" when Danny is the sole holdout for a "not guilty" verdict in a murder trial.
    • "Hold Outs" in season 6 features something similar. The murder case of a guy killed during a carjacking seemed open-and-shut, but was declared a mistrial because one of the jurors voted "not guilty". An interview by Erin with the juror in question reveals that unlike the other jurors, he saw evidence in the police report that exonerated the defendant (a witness statement that said a white man, not a black man, pulled the trigger). The subsequent investigation by Erin and one of her office's investigators determines that it wasn't a carjacking, but rather, the wife of the deceased was cheating on him, and plotted with her lover to have the man killed.
  • Roofhopping: Danny vs. a hood in "The Uniform".
  • Rule of Drama: It's unlikely that a guy who despises politics (and politicians, and publicity, and reporters) as much as Frank Reagan would be appointed NYPD Commissioner.
  • Sassy Black Woman:
    • Danny locks horns with a power-mad nurse in "Leap of Faith."
    • Lt. Carver, Danny's replacement supervisor after Gormley gets promoted to be Frank's Special Assistant, played by LaTanya Richardson.
  • The Scapegoat: In "Friendly Fire," Linda chews Danny out over not mowing the lawn, and the world becomes this trope. Culminates in a still-agitated Danny accidentally gunning down a fellow cop.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!:
    • Inverted in "Parenthood," when Mayor Carter Poole's illegitimate daughter Ariel joins a protest and is caught up in the ensuring dragnet. Ariel doesn't demand special treatment, but her parents politely suggest, separately, that Frank had better let the matter drop.
    • Averted with Danny, who says he never believes in using his father's name to get special treatment.
    • Averted with Jamie, of course. In "Critical Condition," Sosa suggests that with Jamie's family connections, he could have made Detective by now.
    • When Jamie is accused of undue force (he was actually trying to knock someone out of the path of an oncoming biker), a D.A. makes it clear she thinks he's guilty and his father must be covering for him. When video proves Jamie innocent, the woman continues to snark about his family always getting their way.
    Jamie: If my family really threw their weight around like you say ... how smart is it for you to be insulting us?
    • Played with in "Men in Black", when Jamie and Vinny catch the previous mayor's daughter and her friend in the act of smoking pot on a park bench. When preparing to arrest them:
      Rebecca Levitt: Don't you guys have any real criminals to chase?
      Jamie Reagan: You might want to ease up on that attitude, Rebecca.
      Rebecca Levitt: You don't know who my father is.
      Jamie Reagan: [smirks] I don't really care.
      • Of course, after a discussion with Erin, her dad tells the judge:
      "I would like to tell the court that my daughter is a wonderful young woman ... [Beat] ... who needs to learn to respect the law."
    • The bad guys don't have a monopoly on this. In "Warriors" the State Department refuses to grant political asylum to a Turkish cellist in danger of being the victim of an honor killing if she returns home (for having dated and slept with an American during the tour). Frank talks a contact into getting the New York Philharmonic Orchestra to hire her, and his opposite number at State, the episode's Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist, expedites a work visa.
    • There's an implication that when Nicky is arrested with her friends in "Road to Hell" after drugs are found in the car during a traffic stop that Nicky was expecting the process to be easier for her on the basis of her last name.
      • This is openly defied in another episode where Danny is arrested when drugs are found in his car. When the rest of the family finds out about it, Linda freaks out and tries to demand that Frank or Henry pull strings and try to get him out of there. They both refuse as it would only make the situation worse. Doesn't stop Henry from at least pulling strings to have Erin's ex-husband represent Danny, with the caveat that he doesn't reveal who sent him.
    • In "In the Box," Garrett's stepson has been arrested by undercover cops for scoring oxycodone during an observational buy. Garrett wants to have him released into rehab. However, Frank is suspicious of the circumstances, and has Baker investigate, discovering that Garrett has used his pull at 1PP to keep Sam out of prison on several prior occasions. Frank confronts Garrett and gets him to see that he's enabling his stepson's drug habit and not helping him.
    • In "Dedications," Frank brings up having to use Henry's influence to squash a planned commendation, after a botched attempt to arrest the head of a Westies gang faction led to a shootout that caused the death of the guy's wife and grandson.
  • Secret Test of Character: After Jamie proposes to Eddie, she joins the Reagans for her first official Sunday dinner with them. While there, they all begin loudly discussing what they want the wedding arrangements to be and won't let her get a word in edgewise. Eddie gets increasingly frustrated by their pushiness and eventually tells them all off for trying to run her life...and the whole family smiles and laughs. It turns out they just wanted to make sure Eddie was willing to stand up for herself and speak her mind, which are valuable traits when dealing with the Reagan clan.
  • Seduction-Proof Marriage: "After Hours" provides the page quote. A key witness in Danny's Case of the Week, a hot nightclub owner named Sabrina, get the hots for Danny. He indulges her a little bit (one dance) to get her to open up, but firmly rejects her trying to take it further because he's Happily Married.
    Sabrina: Let me ask you a question. What does she got that I don't have?
    Danny: Me.
  • Semper Fi: Henry, Frank and Danny are all Marine veterans who've seen combat (Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, respectively).
  • Serial Killer: One of Danny and Jackie's Perps of the Week was a Serial Killer that preyed on call girls.
  • Serious Business: Danny recalls almost beating up another dad at a little league game.
  • Shame If Something Happened: In season 1, as Jamie picks up Joe's old case, Sonny Malevski keeps reappearing to turn up the heat.
  • Shoot Him, He Has a Wallet!:
    • In "Friendly Fire," Danny shoots a guy holding a gun. Only after the guy falls does he and Jackie realize the guy was an off-duty police officer and had his badge in his other hand (and failed to register Danny's command to stop because he had just sustained a head wound from interfering in a fight with a mother and her drug-dealing son). Danny is in serious trouble while Internal Affairs investigates whether it was an honest mistake or negligence.
    • In season 6, an officer named Thomas Scully is up for promotion to Sergeant. However Frank has reservations about the promotion because Scully was one of four officers tried and acquitted 14 years earlier for the death of an unarmed Muslim teen who was shot sixty-one times in a dark apartment. Such a promotion could be bad as far as public relations are concerned, given the current climate. Frank talks with Jamie, who says that Scully was one of his instructors at the Academy. When he brought up the shooting, he said that at the time, his precinct was on edge, given it was just after 9/11, there was a tip that someone of Arab ethnicity was stockpiling weaponry, and a cop in their precinct had been shot in a housing project just days before the incident. This caused a perfect storm of circumstances that caused them to gun down the teen when in reality he was just reaching for his wallet.note 
    • When Danny catches up to serial killer Thomas Wilder, Wilder has his hands behind his back while Danny has him at gunpoint. Wilder suddenly moves his hands as if drawing a gun and Danny fatally shoots him (Wilder's hands were empty). The fact that Wilder wasn't armed causes Danny to be subject to another inquiry from the State's Attorney General when new evidence comes up (recorded phone calls) suggesting Danny went into the clearing with the intent of shooting Wilder. Danny sees the whole inquiry as a farce, and after being grilled, gets up from the stand, proceeding to make a defense by putting the average citizen in his shoes to get a feeling of what it was like for him. After quietly explaining the set-up of the scenario, he suddenly shouts "BANG!" at the spectators, to demonstrate how fast anyone would have to make a decision if they were in a similar situation.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: At the end of the episode "Re-Do", a serial rapist takes Erin hostage within sight of Frank, and tries to invoke "Put Down Your Gun and Step Away". Or that was the plan, anyway: Frank puts a .38 round through his forehead before he can finish the sentence.
  • Shown Their Work: Different elements of the NYPD are portrayed quite accurately depending on episode.
    • In "Loss of Faith," Jamie's precinct is on high alert due to the news that an ex-cop who worked there is coming to New York City to exact revenge on the officers who played a role in his expulsion. When Frank is debriefing the officers, among precautions he tells them to do is for the plainclothes cops to wear the "color of the day" on full display. The "color of the day" is an NYPD policy designed to allow plainclothes and undercover officers to quickly identify themselves to uniformed officers so as to avoid a friendly fire incident, through a prominent article of clothing in that color, like shirts and/or hats. Why this system is necessary is shown in the same episode when, while on plainclothes patrol, Vinny forgets to wear the color of the day and almost gets himself shot by an officer who mistakes him for the ex-cop they're looking for.
    • The use of a former NYPD detective as a police technical advisor.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Erin delivers one to an Amoral Attorney in ''Innocence'.
    "How does it feel to be defending a rapist?"
    • She delivers another at the end of "Whistleblower", in one of her most powerful scenes of the season, if not the whole show.
    Wife of the Victim: I don't know what kinda fancy place you grew up in, but where I come from, there is nothing worse than a rat!
    Erin: That rat was the father of your children. And where I come from, nothing is more important than that.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Every now and then, Erin and Danny resort to acting like preteen siblings and have at each other.
  • Sickbed Slaying: Narrowly averted with a counter-terror agent who survived his shooting.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: So far, there is recurring tension between the Reagans who 'did good' and their friends who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. In a toss-up, the underprivileged tend to side with criminals.
  • Smug Snake: Sonny Malevski.
  • So Happy Together: The victim of "Whistle Blower" is shot on his anniversary.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: In "Re-Do", Dick Reed the serial rapist obsessively plays a vinyl record of "Ave Maria."
  • Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: In the Season One finale, Sonny Malevski, member of the Blue Templar and the guy who killed Joe, pulls this when Frank shows up to arrest the Blue Templar. Frank's response?
    "We all die, Sonny, it's just a question of when."
  • Strapped to a Bomb: In the season 3 premiere, Benjamin Walker, an ex-con Danny put away, takes Jackie hostage and ties her to a bomb in order to draw Danny out.
  • Strawman Political:
    • The show has right-wing bent and it's very unsympathetic to the various social justice movements, exemplified by the Reverend Darnell Potter, a black Sinister Minister with a taste for the media spotlight and a habit of making false Police Brutality accusations on specious evidence (even deliberately manufacturing a confrontation that put Sgt. Renzulli in the hospital in his first appearance).
    • Then there was the time Nicky's LGBT rights activist friend graffitied her own dorm wall with misogynistic slurs to draw attention, then attempted suicide after being found out.
    • Once in a while the show will make a token effort to say the activists are raising a good point in an unpleasant way, but usually not.
    • However, the aforementioned stories are Truth in Television, being based on Real Life events.
  • Strawman U: Much to Nicky's displeasure she finds out that Columbia falls under this this when radical left students protest Frank while he's trying to give speech, to the point he's driven off the stage after five minutes. Poor Nicky is in tears throughout the whole thing.
  • Stripping Snag: Danny once got his suit jacket caught in a fleeing suspect's car door and frantically ran after the car while trying to get out of the coat.
  • Suicide by Cop:
    • Jamie's first line-of-duty kill was of a man armed with a gun in Washington Square Park. It's discovered to be one when Danny uncovers that the 911 call that brought Jamie and Vinny to the park came from the victim proper.
    • An inversion (Suicide by Criminal) happens in "Unsung Heroes". Jamie locks heads with the hotheaded Sergeant Mabrey, who disregards protocol on a hostage situation.note  After getting Jamie's side of the story, Gormley discovers that Mabrey has been involved in five other incidents in the past year where he did save lives, but in the process, he endangered himself or others around him.note  Turns out he's dying from pancreatic cancer and is trying to get himself killed so that his family can collect on his insurance.
  • Suicide, Not Murder: In the season 4 episode "The Truth About Lying," Danny and Baez get put on the case of a homeless guy who seemingly shoved a woman in front of a subway train. It looks like homicide, and they bring in the guy — who is somewhat mentally challenged and prone to throwing tantrums (which is why he's nicknamed "the Hulk") — and he pleads that he wasn't trying to kill her but trying to save her. This prompts the detectives to rewatch the surveillance video of the incident more closely and indeed they notice that the woman stomps on the man's foot, trying to get him to let go of her, and then jumped in front of the train. She was committing suicide, as the result of cyberbullying.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: In one season 2 episode, where Frank is having secret visits to a psychiatrist, Garrett tries to figure out where Frank's been, and after several vague answers to Garrett's questions, arrives at the conclusion that Frank is dating someone secretly. Frank sees no reason to correct him on this point, since Reagans don't go to psychiatrists. See also Mistaken for Cheating above.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • In the pilot, Danny uses physical torture on a child molester to find a kidnapped girl. The child molester slides because his lawyer successfully argues that his confession admitted under duress be thrown out, forcing Danny to find other evidence to put him away. He is also demoted from Major Case Squad to a precinct detective by the next episode.
    • "Privilege." Bad guy has Diplomatic Impunity? Then just revoke it! But not so fast... His government can still deny you the authority to do so.
    • "Re-Do" — Corruption and cutbacks in government spending can ultimately endanger public lives, as shown when a foul-up of DNA evidence caused by an overworked technician causes a pedophile and a serial rapist-murderer to be released. While Erin uses loopholes to get the pedophile re-committed, the latter ends up continuing his terror by intimidating his surviving victim at every turn, and even tries to go after Erin, only to be shot dead by Frank.
    • "Excessive Force" sees Danny get wrongly accused of throwing a teenage thief out of an apartment window after a foot chase (the guy actually jumped out the window and started screaming "police brutality!"). His prior complaint history means exonerating him in this one false case is not a cakewalk.
    • Danny, playing the Cowboy Cop as usual, goes charging into a house solo after Thomas Wilder, and because he did so without waiting for Baez or ESU to back him up, the guy beats him up with a crowbar and escapes.
      • The Thomas Wilder case doesn't stop with his death episode. The first shot of the season 7 premiere is of Danny having recurring nightmares about shooting Wilder. And the premise of the episode is that the state's Attorney General is investigating Danny because new evidence has come up against him (Wilder kept recordings of all his phone calls with Danny, some of which include Danny saying things suggesting murderous intent towards Wilder). Not only that, but Danny's prior complaint history gets used against him.
  • Suspicious Spending: In "The Poor Door," the New York Daily News catches Louis Weems, a veteran Narcotics detective (and former drinking buddy of Gormley's) from Brooklyn North driving a brand-new red Ferrari that costs about the equivalent of three years' detective salary before taxes. Frank has to act because the fact that the press will take the fact that Weems seizes drugs and drug money for a living and driving a car he shouldn't be able to afford, and conclude he is corrupt. As it turns out, he's been engaging in some shady real-estate investments, by flipping buildings that he conducts drug raids on.
  • Swallow the Key: Frank Reagan didn't raise no fools. When confronted by some mob brokers, Jamie gulps down the thumbdrive he used to hack their finances. This to the family's utmost amusement as they reminisce about all the other things Jamie has swallowed, like the key to the Reagans' liquor cabinet.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: In Season 7's "Lost Souls", Danny and Baez investigate the murder of a man who tuned out to have killed two people while driving drunk years ago. They're relatively sure the husband did it, but the murder was as close to The Perfect Crime as possible and there were no leads and Danny is seriously considering letting the case die. When they finally bring in the suspected killer, Danny makes sure to get him a lawyer first-the same lawyer who got the victim off for DUI.
  • Take a Third Option: Frank is really good at finding the third option in To Be Lawful or Good dilemmas in the last few minutes of the episode.
    • When Valverde, a brutal dictator from an unnamed Banana Republic country, comes to New York City for medical treatment, there is much outcry from the public due to the actions he's carried out back home.note  Frank himself even personally admits he would never let the guy set foot in New York City if he had his way. So Frank arranges for Valverde to receive police protection before and during his surgery, then as soon as he's able to be moved he puts him on a plane back home, where a popular uprising has just deposed his government.
    • In "Inside Jobs," New York City is about to receive a visit from Curtis Swint, a white supremacist radio host who has been the source of major controversy.note  He's scheduled to do a live broadcast from a midtown theater. Frank is faced with two options: honor Swint's rights to assembly and free speech and risk a riot breaking out, or fall in line with Mayor Carter Poole and Reverend Potter and cancel the show completely. Frank decides to guarantee that the show can technically go on, while exploiting a loophole in Swint's contract that dictates that he have a police security detail during the broadcast. Frank plants the detail inside the theater and staffs it entirely with non-white officers under the command of a large black sergeant.
    • See also the fourth bullet under Screw the Rules, I Have Connections! above.
    • Two in "Devil's Breath":
      • Officer Peter Grasso, while off-duty, stops an armed robbery in progress. Everyone sees his actions as heroic...but then he gets caught receiving breath mints from Jamie to cover up the fact he'd been drinking. So he now is in trouble for pulling his gun after drinking and failing a breathalyzer test, which could mean termination (even though he didn't fire a single shot). Frank is advised to stay out of it. Instead he calls a press conference and announces that Grasso will face a month-long suspension plus a year of probation, but he gets to keep his job. He also makes it clear he's punishing the officer only because the regulations require it and that he'd work the streets with him any day of the week.
      • Nicky leads a demonstration against her schools policies regarding random, unannounced searches of lockers without consent from kids or parents, and Erin's caught between wanting to support Nicky against threats of suspensions for the protest and the fact that, legally, the school does have the right to do so. In the end Nicky inadvertently gives her the third option by holding the demonstration, key point, after hours and across the street from campus. The principal threatens to suspend the lot of them but Erin walks up and shuts her down by invoking the First Amendment.
    • In "The Extra Mile," Erin is dealing with a guy who refuses to testify against the man who killed his cousin. Said guy flees out of fear of retaliation, since there are two options: testify and get targeted, or not testify and let the killer walk. Erin takes a third option: put said witness in a jail cell next to the killer's cell. The killer is then caught and recorded threatening the witness. Thus, their killer incriminates himself on tape and their witness doesn't need to testify, and he doesn't fear retaliation because, as far as the killer's gang is concerned, the guy never cooperated.
    • In "Power of the Press," Erin's schoolmate's daughter is raped on campus, and apparently the evidence available is useless because it was withheld by the college. Erin realizes that she can't order the arrest of the rapist since there's almost nothing against him due to the evidence tainting. But she can order the arrest of the dean of students for hindering prosecution.
    • In "Flags of Our Fathers", anti-war activists want to burn an American flag at a public memorial, causing a near-riot to erupt during the first attempt at the demonstration. Frank doesn't want the flag burning to happen, and no one on the force wants to protect flag-burning activists, but Frank can't allow himself to violate the first amendment he suggests moving the demonstration to another public memorial: the cemetery where the group leader's veteran father is buried. The activist leader can't bring himself to do it on his father's grave, so they call off the demonstration.
  • Take That!: One episode sees Jamie and Edie working security on the set of a cop show due to the NYPD TV and Film Unit being stretched. The show is apparently called Dempsey & Kaine, and based on Edie's description of it as a cop show with two female detective leads, with decent actors but terrible writing, is probably meant to be a jab at Rizzoli & Isles.
  • Taking the Kids: Erin got Nicky after divorcing her husband, a defense attorney. To this day, Nicky is convinced on some deep level that defense lawyers are heroes and DAs are evil. Subverted in that Erin didn't take Nicky. Jack didn't want custody at all and Erin had to insist that he take partial custody. Even then he's an absentee father.
  • Tap on the Head: Oh, right — Danny doesn't appreciate people pointing guns at Jackie, either.
    Perp: I give up.
    Danny: Too late. [punches his lights out]
  • That Was the Last Entry: While listening to Joe's old iPod, Jamie uncovers a recording of his late brother preparing to infiltrate the Blue Templar.
  • Therapy Is for the Weak: Frank sourly tells his shrink that Reagan men don't go for prescription drugs. Or shrinks, for that matter.
  • Third-Person Person: In "Knockout Game", Danny and Baez seek out information about who might be behind the most recent incident — an attack on a pregnant woman whose fetus subsequently died — from a confidential informant he calls "Third Person Thorpe", who speaks just like his nickname suggests.
  • Three Successful Generations: Jamie, Danny and Frank embody this for different "generations" of police work: rookie patrol, experienced detective, and veteran brass. Add Henry, and you've got a fourth generation added on with "retired brass".
  • To Be Lawful or Good: There are occasions where the cast must face this sort of dilemma.
    • "The Poor Door" sees a notable case: Louis Weems, a former drinking buddy and partner of Gormley's, has been found to be engaging in shady real estate investments. When Frank informs Gormley that he is the one who gets to decide whether to retain or terminate Weems, Gormley ultimately decides to let Weems keep his job, but puts on him on notice by warning him that he won't be so lucky if he's caught cutting corners again.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • More then one nemesis. For example, unrepentant serial rapist Dick Reed decides, upon release, to go after Erin, who is not only a DA but has four cops in her immediate family. Two of said cops being the police commissioner and one of the best detectives in the entire department. Why he thought this would end well for him is anyone's guess, when Frank shows up and shoots him.
    • "Family Secrets" has an informant working for Erin and Abetemarco being set to be taken in for protection to testify against a notorious gang leader, but against the duo's wishes decides to hold off on doing so until the last minute because he wants to stay on the street a little longer. It ends in him getting killed by a hitman two days before the trial starts, leaving Erin with nothing to use in court unless they can prove the hit was ordered by the gang leader. Danny even lampshades how stupid of a choice that was, especially since it almost allowed a murderer to walk free.
  • Toyota Tripwire:
    • A perp decides to rabbit and escapes on a scooter. He nearly mows down Danny, but doesn't quite clear Jackie's front bumper. Ouch.
    • Reused in "Occupational Hazard" when a motorcycle gangster and his girlfriend who vandalized Erin's apartment and attacked one of her colleagues (which they were trying to frame a rival gang for) try to flee from an ESU raid, driving along the sidewalk and through traffic. Danny and Maria cut around the block and the gangsters run into the passenger side tire and go flying.
    • An actor doing a ride-along with Danny stops a fleeing suspect with the car door and nearly gets shot in the process. However, once he's in custody the suspect thinks it's cool he got stopped by a famous actor.
  • Tranquil Fury: Frank. ANY time Frank gets pissed, he doesn't really act any different, but all of a sudden, Danny isn't the scariest Reagan in the show anymore.
  • Tricked into Another Jurisdiction: Frank tricks a gang-leader serving life in prison into confessing to ordering the murder of a friend of his from prison. The gang leader gloats that he's already serving life in a New York prison, he's never getting out, and he still has the reach to order deaths from his cell in a non-death penalty state. Frank nods. Then, he makes a show of walking away before he turns and reveals to the gang leader that the man he'd had killed had served as a member of a Federal task force, making it the murder of a Federal agent. That makes him eligible for the Death Penalty at the Federal level, and also he's being transferred to a Federal prison in another state with no means of contacting his gang to order anything else.
  • Turn in Your Badge: When cops use lethal force or are involved in a highly controversial incident, they are 'placed on modified assignment'. That is, they are relieved of their shield and on-duty gun, and are placed on desk duty. Of the regulars, Danny gets subjected to this the most when his actions get him in hot water, including a few Police Brutality cases (some legit, some false), and Friendly Fire incident in season 2. In the season 4 finale, he's placed on modified assignment so as to be kept from uncovering high-level corruption. It's lampshaded and subverted in the season 7 premiere, when Gormley is sent to inform Danny that a new inquiry has been opened into his shooting of serial killer Thomas Wilder. Danny immediately produces his shield and gun to Gormley, only for Gormley to inform that he's not being place on modified assignment this time around.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The picture at the top shows the four main protagonists of the show: Jamie, Frank, Danny, and Erin. Most episodes deal with at least two of their stories, if not three, and there is not always intersection between any of them. If all four protagonists are involved in the plot, however, it's almost always with a significant amount of story crossover. The dinner scenes allow the characters to discuss their current ordeals with one another in a single setting.

    Tropes U to Z 
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: Frank has one in "The Job" when he's paying a secret visit to a psychiatrist.
  • Unions Suck: Played both ways, depending on the episode. Frank Reagan, the police commissioner, heads off a "blue flu" threat by the head of the NYPD union by bringing a large number of line officers into the contract negotiations, and wryly noting not a one of them has the sniffles. On the other hand, a later episode has Detective Danny Reagan being sympathetic to a labor strike at a construction site sparked by a deadly accident:
    General Contractor: Damn union bloodsuckers.
    Danny: We're in a union.
    GC: And I'm happy for you.
  • Vigilante Man: Episodes such as "Samaritan" and "Old Wounds" feature Well-Intentioned Extremists killing (formerly) Karma Houdini criminals.
  • Vow of Celibacy: When the Reagans' deceased longtime priest comes up for canonization, Frank discovers that Father Bill had a long-term romantic relationship with a woman, but as far as anyone can tell it was never actually consummated in deference to priestly vows. Frank compares this favorably to a saint of a previous century who took part in what would be considered genocide in the present day, and concludes that "the Catholic church could do a lot worse than 'Saint Bill from Brooklyn'."
  • The War on Straw: The show does not take a romanticized view of the NYPD Commissioner or his office. Frank has butted heads with protesters and union reps. Zig-Zagged in "Leap of Faith", which seems to portray the archdiocese as a standard Corrupt Church shielding a anarchist priest. Though Frank initially opposes his nomination for sainthood, after performing his own investigation, he decides things weren't so black and white in the Vietnam days. He even comes to the priest's defense when the archbishops show signs of buyer's remorse.
  • We Used to Be Friends:
    • In "Family Ties," it turns out that Jackie and her high school friend, Anna, ended up on opposite sides of the law. Jackie became an NYPD detective, and Anna got knocked up by a Russian mobster at age 16.
    Jackie: What happened to you?
    Anna: [icily] I grew up.
    • In "Ties That Bind," Danny's childhood friend Mickey Patrick pays him a visit. At one point, while Mickey and his wife are bonding with Danny and Linda, Danny sees a surveillance truck outside seemingly taking photographs of the house. The next day, he learns from an OCCB investigator from that Mickey is under investigation as a suspected mob associate. Danny ends up being torn between his obligations to enforce the law and loyalty to Mickey. Once he gets Mickey arrested, he must move to keep him from being targeted for retaliation from the mobsters he works with.
  • Wham Episode: The last two episodes of Season 3, featuring a plot revolving around the Bitterman Housing Projects definitely count as this trope, as they prove to be a game-changer for the series. Much later, the characters refer to the Bitterman Housing projects again in the context of continuing to make life better there.
    • Due to the complete lack of leadup to it (and the fact Season 7 ended on an unrelated, albeit high-impact, note), the revelation during the premiere that Linda died offscreen sometime between Season 7 and 8 sets a sudden, big status quo change for the eighth season.
    • In the 10th season finale, Sean discovers that there's an unknown Regan relative out there. Soon afterwards, an ex-girlfriend of Joe's comes to Frank and informs him that she's the mother of Joe's son, who he never knew about.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: An in-universe example. One weekend, while watching Danny's sons, Henry and Frank have tickets to a Broadway play. It's about Christianity and bringing it to Africa, or so Henry heard. ... The play is The Book of Mormon, by Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Nicky pushes this trope hard.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The killer in "Under the Gun" turns out to be a Crusading Widow who snapped after losing his wife to medical malpractice, then losing his consequent lawsuit via Miscarriage of Justice.
  • Working the Same Case: Occasionally shows up.
    • In "Inside Jobs," some rats are set loose at a society gathering that Erin is attending, hosted by a socialite who calls herself "Goddess". That same night, Danny is called in on a man who was beaten up then tossed out of a car, with a dead rat in his pocket. As it turns out, the two incidents are linked as the beating victim was the one who set loose the rats at the reception.
    • "Rush to Judgment" does a variant: the cases are not the same, but they both originate from the same event. At an anti-NYPD protest led by Reverend Potter and civil rights attorney Jerry Guerrero, Jamie is working security, and attempts to protect a mother and child from an inattentive biker, causing the biker to crash and get injured. Conflicting accounts, as well as Potter's smear campaign, forces Frank to hand the case over to Internal Affairs. At the same time, a woman and crowd supporter claims that Guerrero raped her; he denies this. Thus Danny and Baez are assigned to investigate that matter. They uncover that she faked the claim so as to get revenge for a previous problem the attorney was involved with. To fix things, Frank visits Potter and offers to help exonerate Guerrero if the police are given access to witnesses that clear Jamie of his own problem.
    • "Worst Case Scenario" has Frank convinced that terrorists might be coming to New York City to launch an attack. His claims seem confirmed when Jamie and Edie take a report from a waitress at a club who claims that she heard a regular customer speaking terrorist-like language. Coincidentally, an Arabic-speaking man runs into Danny and Baez on the street, frantically claiming that his neighbors possess bombs. Danny's lead and Jamie's lead are the same case.
    • The season 8 finale sees the Reagans all dealing with the Prospect Park Six revenge-killings, but all from different angles.
  • You Are Not Alone: Frank reminds Danny of this at the end of "Silver Star," when Danny muses on how he could have ended up just like the victim, a homeless vet.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: The wife of a slain informant discovers that Erin was the one pulling his strings. "So because you suck at your job, I'm a widow, and my kids don't have a father." Of course, this is rendered moot when it turns out, the wife was cheating on her man with someone he was investigating, who was the actual killer, and that it was the wife who blew his cover, if unintentionally, not Erin.
  • Your Door Was Open: In "Occupational Hazards," Erin is dealing with intruders who have been rearranging things in her apartment. Danny, not happy that she chose to call 911 instead of just calling him to look into the matter, spooks her by hiding behind her open door when she comes into her office.