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Spin-Off from CSI: Miami, itself spun from CSI, that ran from 2004-2013 and set in New York City. The show's character work is probably its strongest aspect, with multi-season arcs for several of the characters, particularly Mac, Danny, and Lindsay. The cast is full of slightly messed up characters, all the way from Mac down to Adam. In fact, the coroner is probably the most well-adjusted person in the lab. In general this is handled well and doesn't devolve into Wangst territory.

Note: Due to the way TV Tropes' custom title database works, to link to this page, type Series/{{CSINY}}.


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This show contains examples of:

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  • A-Team Montage: Fittingly, the first 22 minutes of 'Unspoken' contains no spoken dialogue. Shorter versions in all the other episodes as the team memebers process evidence.
  • Abandoned Area:
    • The Cabbie Killer lives in an abandoned Firehouse and "works" in an abandoned warehouse.
    • Another perp lives in the back of the now-closed funeral parlor where his mother was the mortician. When the team show up to question him, they enter through the front door and find everything covered in dust.
    • "Death House" centers around a booby-trap-filled penthouse that has been unoccupied for 80+ years.
  • Abandoned Catchphrase: In at least three episodes of Season 1, Mac says while interrogating suspects, "Let me start this story for you." Danny also does it once in an obvious attempt to emulate his boss. As time went on, it was reduced to the subtle use of the word "story" by various characters during the interrogations.
  • Abandoned Hospital: 'Where There's Smoke...": Leonard Brooks takes one of his victims to the now-abandoned hospital where his mother, who worked in the burn unit, used to take him with her when she couldn't find a sitter.
  • Absolute Cleavage: Many of Stella's outfits highlight her cleavage, but in episode 4.03, 'You Only Die Once,' she wears a scintillating black dress with a neckline that drops all the way to the top of her stomach.
  • Aborted Arc: Peyton's single episode return in the end of the sixth season was hyped as the beginning of a love triangle. The season would have ended with Mac trying to choose between the feelings he still had for Peyton and the early-stage relationship he was beginning with Aubrey. Who he picked would have been revealed in the beginning of season seven. However, Claire Forlani got a part on Camelot and couldn't return for more episodes, plus Melina Kanakaredes decided to leave the series, pushing the writers to put aside that plot to focus on the newly-arrived Jo.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: The team trek thru a very large sewer hunting their suspect's living quarters in 'Manhattanhenge.'
  • Abuse Mistake: The motivation of the would-be killer in "Unspoken." His boss had accused him of being inappropriate with children.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • Adam's father. Full revelation doesn't come until season 9's 'The Real McCoy, but as early as season 3's 'Some Buried Bones,' he describes him as "a bully."
    • Shows up with the Victim of the Week a time or two. One example is the step-father in 'Sweet 16.' Mac, having just met his own step-son, doesn't take kindly to the man's attitude or conduct.
  • Accent Relapse: 'Yahrzeit'- A man pretending to be Jewish is revealed to be a German former Hitler Youth soldier. Even after 64 years of pretending to be a non-practicing Polish Jew, marrying a Jewish woman, and raising an Orthodox Jewish son, he reverts to his German accent when his crime is revealed.
  • Accidental Murder: 'Child's Play' and 'Fare Game,' to name a couple. In the former, a boy is shot because he's in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time; in the latter, a man doesn't realize blanks can kill at close range.
  • Accidental Pervert: In 'Right Next Door,' Stella finds a hole in her wall and mistakenly assumes one of her neighbors is a peeping Tom.
  • Accident, Not Murder: In 'The Fall,' after spending the whole episode researching the dozens of people who would have wanted to kill a truly big asshole of a studio executive, the investigators figure out that his death (from a fall off his balcony) was not a murder, but an accident that happened when he was eating from a stash of chocolates that was hidden there (his wife had forced him on a diet) and lost his footing.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • In 'Fare Game,' the perp is an aspiring actor, and to catch him off-guard Mac pretends to be trying out for Of Mice & Men; Gary Sinise directed and played George in the 1992 remake.
    • Detective Mac Taylor shares last names with Gary Sinise's most famous role, Lieutenant Dan Taylor of Forrest Gump. Sinise says he gave the character his last name in tribute to that character. The character's first name, by the way, is after Gary's son, McCanna, whose nickname is Mac and who, in turn, is named after one of his own uncles. The same brother-in-law of Gary's whom Mac's father, McCanna Boyd Taylor, is named for.
    • Also, in "Playing with Matches" the Quip to Black is "Houston, we have a problem." Referencing another movie Gary Sinise was in, Apollo 13. Although his character in that movie was not the one to say that line.
    • Mac playing bass in the jazz band is a direct reference to Gary Sinise's role in his own rock band, the Lt. Dan Band. Several Lt. Dan Band members played members of the jazz band, and Gary brought along his own guitars for those episodes.
    • Carmine Giovinazzo's backstory of having to give up an aspiring baseball career was incorporated into the backstory of his character, Danny Messer.
    • Mac helping with the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance in 'Indelible' (episode 8.01) was based on Gary Sinise's real life help with the project.
    • In season 7, Jo tells the team she was a cheerleader in high school. Sela Ward had been one both in HS and at the University of Alabama.
  • Adopted to the House: Sheldon, when Mac lets him crash at his place for a while beginning in 'It Happened to Me.'
  • Adults Dressed as Children: A dark version of this occurs in 'Admissions,' when a guy in his 30's and his accomplice pose as a teenager in high school and his father, respectively, in order to prey on innocent young girls.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: The first victim in 'The Cost of Living' who, as Stella says, appeared to have "fancied himself a real-life Indiana Jones."
  • Adventures in Comaland / Near-Death Experience: In 'Near Death,' Mac is shot in the back and left, well, near death. While he is being operated on, he journeys through a limbo that looks like the crime lab where he meets and has conversations with his friends (and his dead wife).
  • Affectionate Nickname: Danny calling Lindsay "Montana." Sid tells her Danny does that because he has a crush on her.
  • After-Action Healing Drama:
    • In the season 2 finale, 'Charge of this Post,' Mac, Flack and an office worker are trapped when a bomb goes off. Flack has a very serious injury to his abdomen and Mac uses the other man's shoestring to tie off a profusely bleeding artery.
    • In episode 5.02, 'Page Turner,' the gang had to race to find out exactly what type of radioactive substance had caused two people to die and the coroner, Sid, to collapse, so they could tell the doctors what to do to treat him.
  • Afterlife Antechamber: 'Near Death.' It looks a lot like the lab.
  • A God Am I: The Cabbie Killer believes himself to be the Greek god Charon, aka The Ferryman, thus it is his duty to transport the deceased across the River Styx.
    Cabbie Killer: The newly dead who have coins to pay for the ride must be taken across the river, or they'll wander the banks for a hundred years.
  • Agonizing Stomach Wound: The Native American victim in 'Communication Breakdown' was killed with a tribal technique used to injure wolves' intestines.
  • Agony of the Feet: In 'The Closer,' a barefoot woman clad only in lingerie darts into traffic and is hit by a truck. At autopsy, Dr. Hawkes discovers several puncture wounds on the soles of her feet. Turns out she escaped an assailant by climbing through her window and had stepped on spikes put there to deter pigeons from roosting.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: In 'Not What It Looks Like,' a trio of jewel thieves dressed as Holly Golightly escape via a ventilation shaft. Since Lindsay is approximately their size, it's her task to examine it for evidence.
  • Alice Allusion: 'Down the Rabbit Hole' and, to a lesser extent, its sequel episode, 'DOA for a Day.' There's even a white rabbit who does indeed disappear down a hole.
  • Alien Abduction: Inverted with a twist in 'Consequences.' A schizophrenic woman "captures" a badly injured paintball player, thinking he's an alien and that the green paint oozing all over his gear is his blood. She also has metal colanders hanging from her ceiling and offers them to Stella and Flack to wear so their thoughts won't be captured. Naturally, they decline.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The lab gets stormed in 'Snow Day,' and the precinct gets it in 'Today Is Life.'
  • All There in the Script: Mac's full name was in an early script, but was never said onscreen (McCanna).
  • Alone with the Psycho: Both Stella and Jo had to confront men out to kill them alone, and both lead to Killing in Self-Defense.
  • Alpha Bitch: 'Crushed,' episode 8.07: She pretended to be homely girls' friends, dolled them up, had her boyfriend have sex with them, rated the experience online, and gave the girls a big necklace so everyone would know. The sister of her victims strangled her and then part of her house fell on her. Her name was Libby.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The ending theme for the Japanese version is "The First Day Without You" by Dreams Come True (the band behind the music for Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2).
  • Always Murder: Occasionally averted with accidents (ex; 'The Fall,' 'Tri-Borough') and suicides (ex: 'Blood, Sweat and Tears,' 'What Schemes May Come').
  • Ambiguous Syntax: A plot point in 'City of the Dolls:' The events started because the victim told the culprit about a recording found in her daughter's doll about her describing "them kissing again." The culprit realized that she witnessed her relationship with a younger male student and told him to try to get the recording deleted, leading to the victim's Accidental Murder. It's later pointed out to the culprit that she could've avoided the whole mess if she didn't do anything as, due to how vague the description is without any context, the daughter could've been talking about two students secretly kissing at school, but the culprit knew exactly what she was talking about.
  • American Series: This is The Big Apple after all.
  • Amicable Exes: Jo and Russ. Although he didn't like Jo being a career woman, they're still friendly and even have some UST in one of the episodes he appeared in.
  • Amoral Attorney: These guys show up every so often as villains. Two examples are serial rapist D.J. Pratt's lawyer and a guy who irradiates a copy of the Tibetan Book of the Dead with thallium in an attempt to defraud the city; this led to two radiation deaths and nearly got Sid killed as well.
  • Anchored Ship: At first, Lindsay pushed Danny away because of her emotional problems with having survived an incident that took the lives of her friends. Then, he pushed her away while he grieved for Ruben.
  • And Another Thing...: Detective Flack did this once. When he made to leave, the door gave him a Eureka Moment; he realized that the victim's door had been locked from the outside, so whoever killed him must have had a key.
  • And I Must Scream: The victim with Locked-In Synddrome in 'Blink.'
  • And Starring:
    • Eddie Cahill gets an "And," Hill Harper the "With."
    • For the final two episodes, Megan Dodds and Natalie Martinez, respectively, got the "With" and "And," but without their images being shown.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: A crowd gathered around the first crime scene in 'Happily Never After' breaks into applause upon learning the identity of the victim, a much-hated woman.
  • Animal Assassin:
    • Subverted twice in 'Zoo York.' The first victim is eaten by a tiger, but turns out he was already dead before being thrown into the enclosure. The victim in the second case is killed not by the actual Brazilian Wandering Spider kept by one suspect, but by another using venom from the same type of spider.
    • Double subverted in 'Sweet 16.' The cobra is only meant to scare the birthday girl, but appears to have killed her father. Then it bites Lindsay, who has to be helicoptered to the hospital.
  • Animal Reaction Shot: Averted by the dog show beagle in 'Recycling.' His owner is insistent that Mac has almost driven him to tears. Cut to the dog...with a perfectly bland expression.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: Not a group, but the guy who killed someone for trying to kill a cockroach in 'A Daze of Wine and Roaches.'
  • Anonymous Benefactor: Sid, who gave away much of his pillow patent fortune to the families of 10 victims whose cases had deeply touched him after discovering he was most likely dying of cancer and wanted to ensure it went to do some good.
  • Arc Number / Harassing Phone Call: 333. Mac kept getting strange calls at 3:33 am. Eventually it led to someone who was angry about an event from Mac’s teen years.
  • Arc Villain / Story Arc:
    • For season 4, there are two: The 333 Stalker (Drew Bedford) for the first half, and the Cabbie Killer for the second half.
    • In season 6, a shorter arc concerned the Compass Killer.
    • From season 3's 'Hung Out to Dry' up to the season 6 ending cliffhanger was the Shane Casey arc, which concluded on the 1st episode of season 7, 'The 34th Floor.'
    • A few episodes in season 8 dealt with the serial rapist case that had prompted Jo's transfer from the FBI to the New York Crime Lab.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: From the season 5 opener, 'Veritas':
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • 'What You See Is What You See.' The femur being the strongest bone in the human body, there's no way Sheldon could've twisted it to make the lodged bullet fall out.
    • 'What Schemes May Come.' The heart monitor hooked up to the (actual) lab rat was set for human heart rates, not those of rats which would have been many times faster.
  • Artistic License – Law: The episode 'Grand Master' dealt with fugu being openly sold in a sushi bar. This is extremely illegal in the US. Even in Japan there are very specific laws strictly regulating selling and serving fugu.
  • Artistic License – History: The Native American tribe in 'Communication Breakdown' never existed.
  • As Himself / As Themselves:
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign:
    • There are some odd choices for character names from time to time, like that one girl named Risa Calaveras ("Laugh Skulls" in Spanish).
    • The Egyptian suspects in 'Seth and Apep.' An Egyptian viewer posted on another site that their names weren't Egyptian at all, but from another Arabic-speaking area.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • In 'Who's There?,' the victim was purposefully destroying his family's company, liquidating every cent they had, destroying the future of his own daughter, just to spite his estranged wife.
    • In 'All Access,' Frankie, Stella's deceased ex-boyfriend, is revealed to be this as he shot a sex tape between the two behind her back (and posted it online!) and then after Stella broke up with him, he stalked her by entering her apartment and then after she refused to accept him, he attacked her to the point of attempting to kill her, hence it ultimately ended with Stella killing him in self-defense.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Mac quotes relevant passages from memory in 'The Ride-In' and 'Taxi.' To specify the exact verses would require spoiler formatting.
  • Attack on One Is an Attack on All: Mac, in 'Heroes': "You attack one, you attack us all." It was initially referring to the dead Marine in Central Park; Mac is a Marine himself. But it takes on a double meaning when Aiden is found as the episode's second victim.
  • Audit Threat: Flack does this a fair bit. Mac does & and follows through in "Pot of Gold." He and Stella walk away grinning while a Treasury Agency officer laundry-lists the perp's charges.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking / Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: The 'Corporate Warriors' in season 2. They were all trained in martial arts. One used their skills to kill another, only to be killed in turn by a third.
  • Author Tract: Gary Sinise, a noted veterans' advocate in real life, seems to have influenced Mac's dialogue about veteran-related issues now and then. 'Clean Sweep' (episode 8.10) is a noticeable example.
  • Awesome McCoolname: "Stella Bonasera", "Sheldon Hawkes", "Danny Messer"
    • Gary Sinise has stated that "Mac Taylor" is a tribute to his son, "McCanna," and to Lt. Dan Taylor.
  • Awkward Kiss: Downplayed with Mac & Christine at her parents' anniversary party in 'Flash Pop.'
    Christine: [referring to her family] Look at them. They're watching every move we make.
    Mac: Well then, why don't we give them something to talk about? [leans in and kisses her on the cheek]
    Christine: [slowly moves to kiss him on the lips, then realizes what she's done] Did I do that? I mean, I didn't mind doing that...lemme just get our coats.
  • Baby Be Mine: In 'The Box,' a baby is stolen by the desperate couple he'd been promised to after his mother changes her mind about giving him up.
  • Back for the Dead: Aiden in 'Heroes.'
  • Back to Front: The entire opening of 'Nothing for Something' is shown in reverse.
  • Badass Crew: Yep, the whole team.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit:
    • Mac and Lindsay are called to a crime scene that Danny is already working. Mac shows up in a tux, having been at a benefit for the mayor. Lindsay arrives wearing a formal dress since she was at the opera. Danny makes a comment about being underdressed.
    • In a later episode, Mac chases down and arrests a purse snatcher while dressed in a tux again; he's about to attend another formal event.
  • Badges and Dog Tags: Mac keeps several photos and mementos from his Marine days in his office.
  • Ball Cannon: In 'Buzzkill,' a man attacks a group of models doing a live billboard display with a tennis ball launcher. The balls injure several of the models, and one of them smashes a neon sign and drops a live wire into the oversize glass a model is frolicking in. This would have electrocuted her, except she had already been poisoned.
  • Ballistic Discount: In 'Command+P,' a young inventor demonstrates his new process for 3D printing a gun to someone he thinks is an investor. He hands the gun to the investor, along with a bullet so that he can see the gun takes standard rounds. The investor loads the bullet into the gun, shoots the inventor, and steals the computer, printer and software.
  • Ballroom Blitz:
    • In season 1's "The Dove Commission," the author of the titular report and the woman he's dancing with at a party are taken out by a sniper using an armed drone-like device belonging to the TARU (Technical Assistance Response Unit).
    • The sniper in "Hide Sight" (season 7) takes out a woman at an office celebration, complete with cake and party hats, in a high rise.
  • Baseball Episode: Season 1's 'The Closer,' where the killer was a player, and Danny got to use the pitching skills from his aborted baseball career.
  • Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults: A girl hiding in a bathroom stall who overhears two cheerleaders insulting her becomes a vital plot point in 'Do or Die.'
  • Batter Up!!
    • In one episode, a guy who tried to fake his death to collect on the insurance by using blowfish poison to make him appear dead was betrayed by his spouse and buried alive. He managed to break out, so the spouse's lover killed him with a cricket bat (but not before the husband managed to inject both of them with the poison).
    • In the episode 'Tanglewood,' the Tanglewood Boys kill a wannabe with an autographed baseball bat taken from a sports bar. The fragment of signature on the splinter left in the body provides the CSI investigators with a vital clue.
  • Battle in the Rain: Sort of. In 'Snow Day,' half the fight is done soaking wet because the perps set the sprinklers off in at attempt to blend in with first responders and get away.
  • Bear Trap / Caught in a Snare: See Alien Abduction above; it's how she "captures" him.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Danny probably qualifies after it is revealed in the season 6 opener that he is paralyzed from being shot in the season 5 finale.
  • Beneath the Earth: The Compass Killer lives beneath a park.
  • The Bet:
    • Danny and Lindsay in 'Snow Day':
    Danny: There's no way you're gonna make this shot, too, Montana.
    Lindsay: A Benjamin says I do. (shoots the billiard in the hole) Now you owe me $100.
    • Part of the second episode of season 8 was a betting pool about when Mac would return to the lab.
    • In 'Nine Thirteen,' the entire subplot is the group trying to figure out whether or not Lindsay is pregnant and when she's going to tell Danny, though they never explicitly state it until the end. After she tells Danny in the last scene, the others are shown paying up their bets to Sid. Mac & Christine had one going as well. He tells her she owes him ten bucks before he relents and agrees to get evidence.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • After Danny jokingly asks Lindsay how she'd get away with killing him and suggests that she would use her forensic know-how to clean up the scene, she responds that she wouldn't clean up but would claim that Danny was a Domestic Abuser. Her "performance" is kind of eerie, to say the least.
    • Another time they're discussing what to do if the other dies: Danny wants a two-week long wake (first week for mourning, second week for partying) and Lindsay "jokingly" declares that she'll haunt him and any future girlfriends forever while eating all of his cannolis.
  • Big Applesauce: The CSI franchise finally makes its way to NYC with this show. Mac, who is from Chicago, tells Danny at one point that they are blessed to be working for the finest institution in the greatest city in America.
  • Big Bad: Several, including Shane Casey, the 333 Stalker, the Cabbie Killer, and the Compass Killer.
  • Big Eater: Lindsay, who gives Danny a Long List of food to bring her in 'Food for Thought,' prompting him to wonder if she's pregnant again.
  • Big Guy Rodeo: How the victim was killed in 'The Party's Over.'
  • Big Heroic Run: Sheldon runs down the middle of the street with his game face on and carrying a rifle when he heads to the warehouse to help rescue Danny and Adam in 'Snow Day.'
  • The Big Rotten Apple: The series zig-zags this: overall, New York is presented as an amazing place to visit and live in...but it's a show that takes place in the CSI-verse, so you may want to watch out for all of the (mostly murdered) dead bodies.
  • Billy Needs an Organ:
    • 'Live or Let Die' is this trope, but it's the doctor's wife who needs the liver. He orchestrates a medical helicopter hijacking and kills several people in the process. Mac is naturally not amused, and tells the man he will likely be in prison when his wife dies.
  • Bird-Poop Gag:
    • In season 2's 'Risk,' Stella and Flack are questioning a suspect who is feeding pigeons while standing up through the sunroof of his limo. They need his handkerchief for evidence and ask him to explain a large stain on it. He says the birds gave something back to him. A reference is made to that being considered good luck.
    • This scene has a mild Call-Back in season 7's 'Food for Thought.' Adam finds traces of bird saliva on a victim and asks Mac if he thinks someone getting bird spit on them is good luck "just like bird sh..." Mac testily interrupts him before he can finish his question.
  • Black Comedy: Used from time to time, but Mac is not amused by it after his suspect dies trying to jump from one rooftop to another in 'Blood Out.'
    Robert Hicks: [grinning slightly] Heard you had a falling out with Carmen Vega earlier today.
    Mac Taylor: [frowning] Young lady made a bad decision. Paid for it with her life.
    Robert Hicks: [apologetically] Gallows humor. Occupational hazard, I suppose.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • "World Send" delivery service is used throughout the series.
    • "Kiddie Clay" stands in for "Play Doh" in 'Happily Never After.'
    • Danny uses "Mighty Glue" to lift some prints during his 'Trapped' predicament.
    • There's some "Handi-Foam" insulation in the episode with the urban golfers.
    • Facebook accounts are referred to simply as "profile pages" in season 8. (Averted once in season 6, when Mac tells Stella, "Adam saw a quiz on Facebook: If you were the Compass Killer, where would you strike next?")
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead:
    • In 'Cavallino Rampante,' the carjacker's three daughters (blonde and brunette went into the family business, redhead went to law school).
    • Franchise-wide, we have the male version. In color order: Gil/D.B., Mac, and Horatio.
    • Mac's love interests, depending on one's personal belief about Claire. While he tells Reed in season 3 that she had brown hair, in 'Indelible' & 'Near Death' she's clearly shown to have dyed it red/auburn. Peyton was a brunette and Christine is blonde.
  • Blood Brothers: Stella and her foster sister. The foster sister still had some of Stella's blood in a necklace vial, which led to it getting found at a PA crime scene during the Cold Case crossover episode, 'Cold Reveal.'
  • Bloody Handprint:
    • 'Rain.' After a robbery, one of the robbers is found in a pool of blood with baby-sized ones leading away from it.
    • 'The Past, Present and Murder.' A body goes missing from a crime scene. Then, a bloody handprint is found on a "trash bag animal" that appears when airflow from passing subway trains comes up thru the grates. It really does make sense in context.
  • Body in a Breadbox: Probably the most prone to this of all the CSIs, because bodies found in generic NY alleys would get pretty dull after a few weeks. A prime example is the body in a 2x2x2 foot wooden box found on a beach.
  • Body of the Week / Victim of the Week: Goes with the territory, this being a Cop Show / Police Procedural.
  • Body Paint: A can of this laced with ecstasy leads to a model's death in "Wasted."
  • Body Sushi: A season 1 Victim of the Week was poisoned at one of these. The perpetrator was a young woman who had once worked for the victim as a personal assistant and was now working as a "table." The victim had fired the young woman and destroyed her career for refusing her sexual advances; once the victim learned of her former PA's new job, she would specifically request the young woman to be her "table" and continue to sexually harass her. Because refusing a customer request was likely to get herself fired, the former PA had poisoned her toenail polish to get her revenge (the victim liked to eat sushi off her former PA's toes).
  • Bolivian Army Cliffhanger:
    • The season 5 finale is a prime example with the entire team. The bar they're all in is sprayed with bullets in a drive-by. The episode ends with everyone having hit the deck.
    • The season 6 finale is with the Messer family and Shane Casey. The screen goes black before a gunshot is heard. Who shot who?
  • Booby Trap / Death Trap: An inventor's house, designed to gruesomely off his enemies. Stella narrowly avoids getting skewered by one of the traps, and Sheldon is in danger of being crushed by another.
  • Bound and Gagged: Chronlogically...
    • Camille in 'Smooth Criminal.'
    • The wife in 'Who's There?'
    • One of Brooks' victims in 'Where There's Smoke.'
    • Christine in 'Seth and Apep.'
  • The Boxing Episode: 'Tales From The Undercard.' Mac is revealed to be a fan of the victim, a retired boxer who got back into an underground version of the sport.
    • Not an episode, but Sheldon is also revealed to be a boxing fan in 'Cool Hunter.'
  • Brats with Slingshots: 'Commuted Sentences.' Country girl Lindsay uses one to simulate how a bullet would ricochet off a column.
  • Break the Cutie: Danny and Flack have both gone through this; Adam to a lesser extent.
    • Danny is involved in several fights with Mac, has been held hostage and had the shit kicked out of him by a gang of drug dealers, has been implicated in the shooting of another officer, and his brother was put into a coma while trying to save him from (another) murder rap.
    • Flack has gotten blown up, was beaten to a pulp on the subway, had to participate in the investigation and arrest of his mentor, had problems with his sister, and his girlfriend was killed in the line of duty.
    • Adam came pre-broken but hides it well most of the time, but has also been held hostage and roughed up by drug dealers (with Danny, from above), among other things.
  • Break Up Demand: The fathers in 'Blood, Sweat and Tears' forbid their kids to see each other.
  • Breast Plate: In some episodes, Stella wears a rather low-cut Bulletproof Vest, exposing part of her cleavage—and the heart area.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • Mac, Danny, and Flack have all had former partners &/or training officers turn up again and turn out to be bad.
    • Stella's mentor and pseudo-father figure turned out to be an art thief and smuggler of Grecian antiquities.
  • Brooklyn Rage: Danny, at times. He's settled down a little since becoming a family man, but his short temper can still get him into trouble.
    • He wants to go Jack Bauer on the guy he thinks killed Aiden.
    • He slugs the guy who disses Rikki Sandoval after her son is killed.
    • He gives a beat-down to a neo-Nazi who spits on Sheldon.
  • Bullethole Door: The third season finale featured a group of robbers breaking into the lab vault in this way. Done slightly more realistically than most of the examples of this trope, involving a .50BMG sniper rifle (i.e. a BFG) and taking most of the episode.
  • Bullet Holes and Revelations: Having to wait until season 7 to find out who shot who in the finale of season 6.
  • Bulletproof Vest: The team wear them when they know a suspect is particularly violent and armed.
    • Danny forgets his in one episode, forcing Mac to tell him to stay with the SUV. Unfortunately for Danny, the perp runs out of the building and he chases him anyway.
    • The 333 Stalker's brother is given one to wear before confronting him.
    • At the beginning of season 7's 'Exit Strategy,' Mac and Danny are shown getting ready to apprehend a suspect. Danny kisses a picture of Lucy before sticking it in his vest pocket while Mac, also wearing a vest, kisses his crucifix before dropping it down his shirt. Half-way thru, the episode has a Call-Back scene.
  • Buried Alive: The first victim in 'Boo,' who escaped from a "green coffin" made of hemp and was mistaken for a zombie by bystanders due to his appearance and the fact that it was Halloween.
  • Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: In 'Misconceptions,' Flack discovers a letter from his father expressing his wishes to have his ashes scattered on the diamond at Yankee Stadium. He spends most of the episode persuading his sister to help him do this.
  • The Bus Came Back: Peyton. But just for one episode.
  • Bus Crash: Aiden's death was a combination of this and Stuffed in the Fridge. Everyone expected a case of The Bus Came Back when the episode and Vanessa Ferlito's guest appearance were announced, but the character only appeared alive in flashback. She was found in a burned out car, dead and charred.
  • Busman's Holiday: A minor example with Mac in 'Greater Good.' He uses his day off to reinvestigate a closed case that had been bothering him...and also keeps checking in on Lindsay as she's in the hospital about to give birth to Lucy.
  • The Butler Did It: Conversed by Stella and Flack in "Trapped." He lists the wealthy victim's hired help and the following exchange ensues:
    Stella: That's it? No butler?
    Flack: No.
    Stella: Too bad. I though we could wrap up this one up quick.
    Flack: What?
    Stella: In a mansion like this, it's always the butler.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Mac, most of the time.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable:
    • Averted with Stella giving Sid mouth-to-mouth during her HIV-scare window ('The Ride In').
    • Also averted with the guy in the hibernation experiment who was later found to have bruising on his chest from someone giving him CPR ('What Schemes May Come').
  • Cake Toppers: The head of the bride from a wedding cake topper is found lodged in the throat of a victim in 'Murder Sings the Blues.'
  • Call-Back:
    • In 'Necrophilia Americana,' Mac and Danny each use the presence of beetles on the body to tease Lindsay about having eaten the bugs at the end of 'Fare Game' two episodes earlier.
    • In 'Can You Hear Me Now?' (ep 4.01), Mac and Danny find a victim who has had his tongue cut out, and Mac is visibly shaken when telling Stella that the man died at the hospital. He gets the same look on his face when Christine's kidnappers send him a tongue in the mail in 'Seth and Apep' (ep 9.15).
    • See also Bird Poop Gag and Bulletproof Vest above.
  • Calling Card: Both the Compass Killer (compasses, obviously) and Shane Casey (t-shirts with screen-printed clues).
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Adam, except his dad no longer remembers abusing him.
  • Camping a Crapper / The Can Kicked Him: The woman who got locked in a high-tech public toilet and drowned when its self-cleaning feature kicked in.
  • Can't Tie His Tie: Lindsay has to help Adam with his before they go to the 9/11 10th anniversary memorial program in 'Indelible.'
    Lindsay: By the time you're done, it'll be the 20th anniversary.
  • Can Only Move the Eyes: The locked-in victim in the pilot.
  • Car Cushion: A few.
    • In 'Dancing with the Fishes,' a couple are driving underneath a tramway when a the body of a young lady falls onto their windshield.
    • In 'Past Imperfect,' Clay Dobson falls (or did he jump...hmmm?) from a rooftop and lands on a squad car.
    • Downplayed in 'Happily Never After' when a dead woman slides of the top of a bus that came to a sudden stop in traffic.
    • In 'Nine Thirteen,' the victim lands on a parked cab after falling off the 10th floor balcony.
  • Car Fu: Lindsay takes out a suspect with her Avalanche when he runs off. She doesn't kill him, though.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Danny, who wanted to be a pro baseball player, but got hurt and ended up joining the police instead.
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse: One of the victims in 'Jamalot' is found rolled up in an expensive rug inside a dumpster.
  • Casting Gag: In 'Comes Around,' John McEnroe plays himself and his own doppelganger, who has taken to impersonating him. McEnroe can't believe anyone would mistake the two of them.
  • Catchphrase: Danny knows he says "Boom" a lot, and Adam knows he says "What up!" a lot.
  • Caught in the Bad Part of Town: In 'Blacklist,' the killer hacks the GPS of a CEO's car and sends him into the worst part of New York. He then activates the car alarm to attract the attention of the bad element.
  • Caught on the Jumbotron: One victim is killed because he kissed the man next to him at a baseball game and it was shown on the big screen.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: While the lab is being stormed in 'Snow Day.' Peyton is outside, knowing Mac is still in the building & tries to reach him, but the service has been tampered with.
  • Chairman of the Brawl:
    • In 'White Gold,' Flack and Lovato attempt to arrest a suspect in a bar. The suspect knocks Flack down and then uses a bar stool to knock Lovato's gun out of her hand and knock her down. Flack puts a gun to his head before he can finish her off.
    • Previously downplayed in Lovato's first episode, "Where There's Smoke." As she arrives unannounced at the precinct, still dressed in her undercover get-up, the cops are trying to restrain a very large, very aggressive perp who breaks away from them and barrels in her direction. Without even looking at him, she calmly slides a metal chair into his path with her foot, tripping him so they can recapture him, then plants her foot on his chest:
      Det. Lovato: Where do you think you're going?
  • Cheated Death, Died Anyway: Mac's wife (who died in 9/11) made it out of the first tower, only to be crushed by falling rubble from the second.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Danny's brother Louie is left in a coma in season 2. He's only mentioned once again, in season 6's 'Redemptio,' and is referred to in the past tense then.
    • After The Bus Came Back for one episode in season 6, Peyton disappeared again.
    • Dr. Aubrey Hunter, who briefly appeared to be a new love interest for Mac, vanished without a word after the episode following Peyton's second disappearance.
    • At the end of 'Pot of Gold,' Mac takes a rain check on Reed's offer to go "grab a green beer or something." They agree to get together later, but Reed is never seen or mentioned again.
  • Christianity Is Catholic:
    • The opening scene of the series proper finds Mac trying to have a quiet moment in a Catholic church.
    • A few episodes later in 'Three Generations Are Enough,' Stella makes the sign of the Cross before beginning her search for evidence in a church. Later she asks Mac if he still goes; he replies, "Sometimes."
    • Danny takes his young neighbor, Ruben, to the "Blessing of the Bikes" at the boy's church in 'Child's Play.'
    • One of the firemen en route to a fire in the opening of 'Playing with Matches' kisses his crucifix before dropping it down the front of his shirt.
    • The street basketball player in 'Oedipus Hex' visits his church to make confession, light a candle, and obtain a prayer card (which he places in his sock) before an important match.
    • The gang leader in 'Sangre por Sangre' prays and makes the sign of the Cross before beginning his breakfast.
    • The perp in 'Life Sentence' kept his girlfriend's rosary after she died.
    • Mac is seen wearing and kissing a crucifix twice in 'Exit Strategy.'
    • After Mac prays over a deceased first responder in 'Indelible,' he makes the sign of the Cross...although he's so exhausted, his hand drops and he can't quite finish it properly.
    • Christine prays over Mac with a rosary in 'Near Death.'
  • Circling Vultures: All three branches of the CSI franchise have used the spot-the-vultures technique of finding human remains. Even New York, for a body on a rooftop.
  • Circus Episode: In 'Blood, Sweat and Tears,' a very small box is found on the beach with the body of a man curled nicely in it. What is amazing is that this box is only 2x2x2 feet. This leads the detectives to a circus where the man was working as a contortionist.
  • City of Adventure: Cultural festivals, abundant nightlife, magic acts in the street, Fleet Week, parades...there's no reason to be bored in NYC.
  • Clean Cut / Diagonal Cut: The second victim in 'Corporate Warriors' has been decapitated by a katana so cleanly that his head is still sitting atop his neck when his body is found.
  • Clear My Name / Clear Their Name:
    • Danny (twice - see Break the Cutie).
    • Hawkes is framed for a robbery/murder in 'Raising Shane.'
    • Flack is benched when a suspect dies in his custody...with no one but the two of them in the interrogation room.
    • Mac spends three episodes under suspicion of murder when a serial killer invokes Taking You with Me.
  • Close to Home: A case with a young female victim in 'Silent Night' upsets relative newcomer Lindsay so badly she deserts the crime scene.
  • Clothing-Concealed Injury:
    • In episode 2.05, 'Dancing with the Fishes,' Lindsay encounters a woman who exploits this. She uses makeup to fake a black eye, then wears sunglasses to cover it up.
    • Justified and downplayed by Mac, whose battle scar from the 1983 Beruit Marine Barracks bombing is naturally covered by his shirt. When Stella sees it while he's being checked out by the paramedics after the explosion in episode 2.24, 'Charge of This Post,' he merely comments, "Old injury."
    • Reed wears a scarf to hide his neck injury inflicted by the Cabbie Killer (season 4) when he returns (in season 6) to ask for Mac's help in 'Pot of Gold.'
  • The Coats Are Off: Justified on a couple of occasions:
    • Lab coats are normally worn while processing evidence and/or doing reconstructions, but in 'Corporate Warriors,' Mac is seen brandishing bladed weapons, including a katana, without one because it would impede his range of motion.
    • Also downplayed in 'Snow Day.' After the sprinklers kick on, Mac removes his jacket, quietly balls it up and sets it aside while discussing tactics with Sheldon & Stella. Ostensibly, it would be uncomfortable if soaked, but he'll need that range of motion again before it's over.
  • Color Motif / Color Wash: See Mood Lighting below.
  • Comatose Canary: Subverted - it only looked like a Comatose Canary...twice: in 'Blink' and 'Damned If You Do.'
  • Comforting the Widow: Danny has sex with the mother of Ruben Sandoval, a kid who was accidentally shot during a robbery and died. Not exactly a widow, but a single mom - pretty much the same idea, though.
  • Condensation Clue: In 'Unspoken,' this is how Danny learns that a would-be killer has been in Lindsay's hospital room.
  • Confess to a Lesser Crime: Invoked with Aiden's case in 'Officer Blue.'
  • Connect the Deaths:
    • Inverted when a killer is identified because he'd turned on the lights in his downtown office suite, breaking the pattern of lights in which the victim had spelled out "Marry Me," as a grand romantic gesture.
    • Played straight in 'Sláinte' when Mac plots the three locations where a victim's body parts have been found, but whose head is still missing, and realizes that the sites are corners of the neighborhood formerly known as Hell's Kitchen. When they search the fourth corner, they find the missing head.
  • Content Warning: "Yahrzeit" opened with a notice that the episode dealt with the horrors of the Holocaust and was thus possibly disturbing to some viewers.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Mac keeps folders of unsolved cases on the corner of his desk. In Season 1, he tells Stella there are currently nine but that there used to be 12. In Season 2, he tells an employee he has to fire that he'll add the case at hand to the pile. Throughout the series run, the folders are seen there but not mentioned again until the season 7 finale, when he solves the last one and moves its folder to a cabinet.
    • In episode 2.03, 'Zoo York,' on Lindsay's first day (see Welcome To the Big City below), she has to paw her way through a tiger's waste looking for evidence. Five episodes later, Mac has her dumpster diving. She tells him the rookie stuff has to stop. He responds with, "Beats sifting through tiger dung."
    • The death of Jessica Angell is referred to several times, including her father inviting Flack over for dinner on what would've been her birthday, and Mac's in-limbo conversation with Flack in 'Near Death.'
  • Continuity Overlap: See Crossover below.
  • Contortionist: The young man who dies after the box he was folded up in was buried on a beach.
  • Conveniently Placed Sharp Thing:
  • Cool Code of Source: 'Kill Screen' involved someone using a hack to cheat in a Gears of War 3 tournament. At one point we see the hack's source code. Apparently, it's coded in...HTML. The author of this article (in Polish) even tracked down the original website from which the HTML code was taken for the show.
  • Cool Shades: As seen in 'Zoo York' for example, Mac does have some; he just doesn't flaunt them the way Horatio does. Justified on a number of occasions when the team is out in bright sunlight. See 'Tales from the Undercard' where Stella and Mac have on shades but Lindsay doesn't. She's squinting and holding her hand up to block the sun as she's talking to them.
  • Coolest Club Ever: A number of clubs are mentioned, including 'The Real McCoy' in season 9.
    • Adam is familiar with a lot of them, and is quite surprised in 'Risk' that Mac knows all about one called "Wild, Wild, Wet" which features fighting Beta fish on its tables. Mac tells him he was there working on a case, but then smugly adds:
    Mac: The shrimp cocktail was *fantastic*.
  • Cop and Scientist: Flack works closely with either Mac, Stella, Danny, Lindsay, Jo or some combination thereof on just about every single episode.
  • Cop Killer, which of course leads to Cop Killer Manhunt:
    • One example is Flack's Love Interest, Angell, who's shot in the season 5 finale while protecting a Donald Trump/Rupert Murdoch expy's son (who was due to testify against him; the killers turn out to be kidnappers, who knew this would put immediate suspicion on their target's father). The episode also ends with the bar they're holding a wake for her in being shot up in a drive-by. Nobody's killed (although Danny ends up in a wheelchair for a while), but it fits the trope in spirit.
    • Aiden also counts, despite no longer being on the team. They were dead set on finding the perp and Danny was willing to beat up the guy he thought did it. Mac's speech in the beginning has a double meaning. He's talking about the dead Marine, being one himself, but it clearly shows with Aiden too. "You attack one, you attack us all."
    • Mac himself was a variant in the season 8 finale, having been shot In the Back after stumbling into a drug store robbery. He only nearly died, but the NYPD's reaction was largely the same as in a straight example.
  • The Corpse Stops Here: The woman caught with her hands in a dead woman's chest, making stabbing motions, turns out not to be the killer. She was a chronic sleepwalker trying to massage the woman's heart in an attempt to revive her.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: There's a variant where the victim didn't do it; the killer used the victim's finger to write someone else's name in order to frame them. 'Air Apparent'
  • Counterfeit Cash: Central to the first season finale, 'What You See Is What You See,' as well as 'The Ride In' and 'Keep It Real.'
  • Country Mouse: Averted with Lindsay. She's just as at home in the big city as she was in Montana.
  • Courtroom Episode: Mac trying to clear his name in the Dobson fiasco in 'Comes Around.'
  • Covered in Kisses: When Mac finally finds Christine in 'Seth and Apep,' he can't seem to stop kissing her face and the top of her head. It's hard to blame him.
  • Creepy Cockroach / Friend to Bugs: 'A Daze of Wine and Roaches' had a live, bejeweled Madagascar hissing cockroach worn as a broach to a restaurant. Also one of the victims of the episode is murdered by a roach aficionado for trying to crush one.
  • Creepy Doll: The one in 'City of the Dolls' that sounds demon-like when they first turn her on and her first sentence drags out, making her sound like a spooky man, "Myyy naaame is So—phie."
  • Crime After Crime: In the two-parter with Mac's old partner it is revealed that Bill Hunt had stolen a large amount of cash, then killed a witness to cover it up.
  • Crime and Punishment Series: A number of episodes end with a Perp Walk. Some of the guilty, including Shane Casey, Leonard Brooks and the guy from Lindsay's past, are shown in jail after being caught.
  • Crime Reconstruction: Pretty much every episode. Techniques include stabbing a pig to determine a type of weapon, digital simulations, acting out fights, and setting things (Mac's arm among them) on fire.
  • Crossover:
    • With the other CSIs, first with CSI: Miami pursuing a suspect wanted in both states, when a kidnapped girl was taken cross country; and more recently with the original when Mac's girlfriend was kidnapped by her shady employee's loan shark, and the girl who impersonated her in Las Vegas was killed trying to rob a jewelry store.
    • With Miami and Vegas in the "CSI Trilogy" which occurred in episode 7 of all three shows during Nov of 2009.
    • Also with Cold Case. Stella's foster sister killed someone in PA, and due to their Blood Brothers thing, the necklace she still had with some of Stella's blood caused one of the Cold Case guys to come investigate it in NY. Ended up with Let Off by the Detective, when Stella found that her friend had killed a man who'd been molesting her.
  • Cross Player: Adam changes Mac's Second Life avatar in 'Down the Rabbit Hole' to female so Mac, who is clueless about such things, can go after the bad guy. Stella has to take over his dialogue because he's got no game, either...at least as a female.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Leonard Brooks' post-arsonist M.O. He roasted one victim to death inside an elevator, and burned another one from the inside out using a chemical that mixed with stomach acid. Drinking water only made it worse.
  • Cry into Chest:
    • Lindsay, with Danny at the end of 'Not What It Looks Like.'
    • Christine, when Mac rescues her in 'Seth and Apep.'
  • Cut Apart: In 'Smooth Criminal,' Flack & Co appear to have found the apartment where Camille is being held by a hitman. But, they broke down the door of a Red Herring, and the hitman had Camille open his...to find his building's superintendent.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: Lampshaded in 'Turbulence' when Mac finds blood on a suspect's cuff:
    "Is this the point where I say I cut myself shaving?"
    • Played straight when Sheldon gets beat up by thugs sent by a so-called friend of his who wants him to destroy evidence. He tells Mac he walked into a wall.
  • Cyberspace: In 2007, 'Down the Rabbit Hole' took place half in Second Life.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Tw of the daughters in 'Cavallino Rampante' followed their father into the car theft business and the one in 'Identity Crisis' became a con-artist just like her old man.
  • Dark Secret: Often the motive for many of the crimes. Then there was the one suspect who postponed reporting his car stolen because he didn't want his wife to find out he was having an affair...with another man.
  • Darker and Edgier / Shiny Vs Gritty: Initially, and especially compared to CSI: Miami (currently it's only slightly gorier than the Law & Orders).
  • Dead Animal Warning: In 'Dead Inside,' Stella receives a dead rat in the mail: a warning to her that the murder of the "rat fisherman" should remain an unsolved case.
  • Dead Man's Chest:
    • In 'Hammer Down,' the 2nd part of the "CSI Trilogy," the team discover a woman's body stuffed in a barrel that fell off a semi during a traffic accident.
    • In another episode, a dead woman was stuffed into her own suitcase before being thrown into a lake.
  • Dead Person Conversation:
    • Mac talks to Claire in 'Near Death.'
    • The Compass Killer talks to his dead wife in 'Manhattanhenge.' Mac realizes this and uses it to his advantage in apprehending him.
  • Deadly Bath:
    • 'Heart of Glass' has a woman who has filled a bath with rose petals and water ending up electrocuting herself.
    • In 'Flag on the Play,' the body of a lingerie football player is found in the whirlpool tub in the team's changing room.
  • Deadly Prank: The victim of the exploding cigar meant for Laughing Larry in 'Child's Play.'
  • Deadly Road Trip: 'She's Not There' has the death of a tourist, who comes to NYC in search of his missing daughter.
  • "Dear John" Letter: Peyton does it to Mac, though she apologized later for it during her one episode return visit.
  • Death by Falling Over: It appeared that a character kills another just by pushing them over, onto a rug. It even goes so far as to have them arrested for the murder and even having them admit it. Later, it's revealed that the victim was just fine and got up after the other character left, only to be killed by someone else immediately after.
  • Death by Origin Story: Claire, who died on 9/11/01, three years before the show began.
  • Death by Sex: See Sex Equals Death below.
  • Death from Above: The construction worker victim in 'Tri-borough.' A frozen chunk of waste from an airplane toilet dislodged and hit him on the head.
  • Death in the Clouds: 'Turbulence.' A man is found stabbed to death in an airplane lavatory.
  • Death of a Child:
    • 'Corporate Warriors': A 10 yr old boy dies from smoke inhalation.
    • 'Child's Play': Danny's young neighbor is hit by a bullet during a bodega robbery.
    • 'Unspoken': A little girl is accidentally shot by her best friend who removed the magazine from the gun they were playing with so he thought it was empty.
  • Defective Detective/Dysfunction Junction/Standard Cop Backstory: Let's take it from the top, shall we?
    • Mac: 9/11 widower, has been framed for murder, blown up three times, taken hostage three times as well (once by a Stalker Without a Crush), seems to attract serial killers like flies to honey, shot nearly to death, his previous girlfriend left him with only a letter (though The Bus Came Back). He had to deal with having a Stalker with a Crush for quite a while. Spent several months struggling to overcome speech aphasia related to his gunshot injury and nearly lost his new girlfriend because he was too darn stubborn to let her in on what was happening. Then, said girlfriend was abducted and nearly killed before Mac found her.
    • Danny: Has been framed for murder twice. The second time, his brother ended up in a coma while trying to clear Danny's name. He's gotten in trouble more than once for losing his temper with suspects. For a while he was suspected of shooting an undercover cop and it caused problems between him and Mac for almost a season. His neighbor's son got shot while Danny was looking after him. Was in a wheelchair from a motive-less shooting. Had his wallet (with ID, credit cards, and badge) stolen by Shane Casey. And then Shane Casey tried to kill him, fell to his death (not!), broke into his and Lindsay's apartment and threatened to kill their daughter, only stopped by Lindsay's shot. Later, he became a sergeant, only to have one of his rookies shoot the wrong man when two guys threatened the group, which had gone out for a drink.(One guy had a gun, but the rookie cop shot the other one.) On top of that, he was accused of having an affair because the same rookie was seen cozying up to him on a surveillance camera tape. She then lied and said Danny told her to lie, nearly costing him his job, though he was cleared when Lindsay pressured the rookie to tell the truth.
    • Stella: Orphan, with lingering if mostly well-hidden issues as a result. Had to shoot a stalker ex-boyfriend and had her apartment burnt out by a next-door neighbor. Discovers that the professor whom she regarded as a father figure was an art thief and kept the fact that he knew her mother a secret for years (and judging from his confession that he loved her mother gives the implication that he may have been her father). Then when she confronts him, the professor takes a bullet for her from his brother and dies in her arms.
    • Lindsay: Witnessed her friends' murder and has been dealing with the lingering trauma ever since. Married Danny who kept secrets from her and was in a wheelchair. Later became traumatized after killing Shane Casey in her own home. Had to listen to accusations Danny was cheating on her after the incident with Danny and his group of rookie cops, though it was untrue.
    • Flack: Alcoholic sister. Had to arrest his mentor for tampering with a crime scene, which caused problems between him and Mac and between him and the rest of the PD. Got blown up. Girlfriend was shot and killed, leaving him mentally screwed up for at least the first part of season 6.
    • Adam: Has hinted at past abuse (psychological, eventually revealed to be physical as well). Was held hostage and tortured so the criminals could get access to the lab. In the episode 'The Party's Over,' it's hinted that he may have OCD. His job also seems to be perennially in danger, first from budget cuts and then from one of the other lab techs. He also happened to be playing street hockey when a car bomb went off right next to him. His very secret shame is he slept through 9/11. He made up for it by going to "The Pile" the next day, although depending on how long he was there he could now be susceptible to cancer. Additionally his dad was/is an abusive jerkass who, thanks to Alzheimer's disease, doesn't remember the abuse or Adam (most of the time - he recognized Adam long enough to tell him what a disappointment he is and looked awfully shifty when Adam asked him about the abuse directly); he does, however, remember how much of an abusive jerkass his father was. Fortunately he has a very understanding girlfriend.
    • Sid: Changed careers for unknown reasons. Divorced at least twice. Inhabits a "creepy place" with dead body trivia. The woman he treated like a daughter was murdered after her husband, a former colleague, had to be fired, then murdered drug addicts, and turned out to have been stealing organs from corpses while he worked at the lab. And let's not forget having to go to the hospital: once for an allergic reaction, another for getting radiation poisoning while examining a body, and finally the exploding bullet to the face that would have blinded him if it weren't for his glasses. And having survived all that, he was then diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that may well kill him, as it's well advanced.
    • Sheldon: Lost a series of patients on the table, accused of murder, friend tried to bribe him to destroy evidence. Lost most of his savings in an insurance scam, resulting in him losing his home and having to sell a lot of his stuff until Mac offered him his spare room to give him time to get back on his feet. His sister was murdered, and his girlfriend left him some years back because she was raped and he ended up not being there like she needed. Got called out for having marijuana in his system after his new girlfriend was using it and spent time with him, causing him to breathe it in off her.
    • Jo: Forced out of the FBI after turning in a dirty agent that got a rape case she was working thrown out, attacked by the rapist after the victim's father tried to get him caught by framing him, and was forced to shoot said rapist in self defense. Lost her sister to a drunk driver several years ago.
  • Defenestrate and Berate / Fake Kill Scare: 'The Lying Game' opens with a jilted boyfriend throwing his ex-girlfriend's belongings out of the window at her and her new boyfriend. The last item is her pet dog. When the new boyfriend's legs are covered in blood, the viewer is led to believe that the dog has just splattered on the sidewalk. The camera then pulls back to show the girl has safely caught the dog and the blood has come from a passing truck that was spreading salt on the icy street.
  • Derailed Fairy Tale: In 'The Lady in the Lake,' Adam begins telling two little girls in the precinct about the case, describing it as a "princess story." It derails when he overlaps it with telling them about the "piece of a spaceship" that he found at the scene.
  • Destroy the Evidence: In one example of many, Flack's mentor removes evidence that would incriminate his son in 'The Fall.'
  • Deus Ax Machina: Played with in 'Uncertainty Rules.' It's not the suspect with the ax who's guilty. He would most likely have been another victim had he not been strung out on LSD in the bathroom at the time.
  • Diamonds in the Buff: In 'Summer in the City,' Stella and Danny must solve the mysterious death of a famous designer found dead, wearing his latest creation which is a bra made of diamonds. In the course of the investigation, they interview the model who wore the bra for a photoshoot, and there are plenty of flashbacks to the shoot where she is wearing the diamond bra and nothing else.
  • Die Hard in a Crime Lab: The third season finale, 'Snow Day.'
  • Dirty Cop: Repeatedly. Danny, Mac and Flack have all had former partners or mentors revealed as this.
  • Disappointed by the Motive: Danny's reaction to the murderer in 'A Daze of Wine and Roaches:'
    You killed a guy over a cockroach?!
  • Disguised Hostage Gambit: 'Snow Day.' A few police officers are taken hostage and dressed up like the bad guys. Adam stops Flack and his team from shooting them.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: A call girl is murdered in 'Means to an End,' and Adam makes a joke about a possibly dissatisfied customer. Lindsay calls him out on it.
  • Disproportionate Retribution / Revenge Before Reason: Various victims were killed for comparatively minor offences such as:
    • trying to kill a cockroach in 'A Daze of Wine and Roaches.'
    • mocking an overweight basketball fan in 'Personal Foul.'
    • kissing someone of the same sex and having it shown on the Jumbotron at a baseball game in 'The Closer.'
  • Distressed Dude:
    • Adam and Danny are taken hostage in 'Snow Day.'
    • Sheldon is caught up in a prison riot in 'Redemptio.'
    • Mac is knocked out and placed in a Laser Hallway by the perp in 'The Thing About Heroes.'
    • Downplayed in 'The Untouchable' as Mac frees himself from zip ties after being tazered from behind.
  • Dizzy Cam / Orbital Shot: Several times, but 'Hung Out to Dry' has a nice example of the symbols whirling around Mac when he's noodling over the cryptic messages on the various victims' t-shirts.
  • The Doll Episode: 'City of the Dolls' and 'Sex, Lies, and Silicone,' with two VERY different types of dolls.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": Mac.
    • Danny plays a joke on his future wife, Lindsay, on her first day on the job, telling her to call Mac "Sir." Mac tells her to stop after a couple times, and she realizes Danny tricked her.
    • Averted with Adam, who calls Mac "Sir" quite often. Mac never says a word.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Mac is essentially reacting this way to the aftermath of being shot. He thinks it's his problem to get through, despite people starting to notice and his friend Kevin saying he should at least tell Christine. Fortunately, he finally did, though only when she was near to leaving him.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Female: The motivation of the killer in the B-plot of 'Grand Master.'
  • Down the Rabbit Hole: 'Down the Rabbit Hole,' obviously.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Mac was on the receiving end in 'The Untouchable.' A rich guy tazed him, kidnapped him, blindfolded him and drove him to a bad part of town before doing it. He then drove off and left Mac. Fortunately, Mac is not easily intimidated.
  • Dramatic Sit-Down: 'White Gold.' Mac & Danny go to a pizzeria to notify the victim's family of his death. Upon hearing the news, the uncle who had raised him since his parents were killed in an accident when he was nine is visibly shaken and his knees start to give way. Danny tells him to have a seat and he does so on the nearest stool.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Flack, after Angell died. Led to his Heroic BSoD.
  • Due to the Dead: Quite a number of examples:
    • 'Officer Blue:' Stella and Mac are seen wearing their dress uniforms, having just returned from the memorial service for the mounted officer who was shot in Central Park.
    • 'Heroes:' Mac tells Stella that Aiden's father will let them know when the arrangements for her service are finalized.
    • 'Yarhzeit:' The broach owner's aunt leads Mac through the titular service in honor of her niece and his father. Also downplayed by Adam quietly filling in for Sheldon who goes out of town for his uncle's funeral.
    • 'Pay Up:' The team hold their own private wake of sorts for Angell.
    • 'Indelible:' Mac participates in and the other team members attend the dedication of the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance for first responders who lost their lives on 9/11.
    • 'Clean Sweep:' Mac sees that a deceased homeless Marine is laid to rest with full military honors.
    • 'Flash Pop:' The lab techs, who are usually just background characters, hold a vigil at work for one of their own who was murdered. Jo is particularly moved by this.
    • 'Reignighted:' Christine accompanies Mac to the funeral of Cap. Curtis Smith, a firefighter friend of his who was killed in the line of duty.
    • 'Civilized Lies:' Danny and Lindsay visit the family of an off-duty police officer who was shot and killed. They give the man's son, who is going through the Police Academy, his father's badge which the young man proudly shows to his mother and sister.
  • Dumpster Dive: Several, including 'Bad Beat,' when Lindsay was still a rookie:
    Lindsay: Ah, now, see? That's a shame.
    Mac: What's a shame?
    [She pulls something up out of the dumpster.]
    Lindsay: Somebody went and threw away a perfectly good shotgun.
    • In 'White Gold,' Sheldon examines a corpse in a dumpster. Luckily for him, it had been emptied before the body was placed there.
  • Durable Deathtrap: The traps in 'Death House' are still working after almost 100 years.

    E-H 
  • Ear Ache:
    • The younger brother of the victim in 'Trapped' had had his ear cut off as a child. It was sent to the family & the brother kept it in a jar.
    • The victim in 'Rush to Judgement' had cauliflower ear due to having been a wrestler.
    • The victim in 'Sanguine Love' and one from 'A Man a Mile' each had a part of an ear bitten off.
  • Easy Amnesia: Averted. Mac took several months of therapy to recover from his speech aphasia.
    • Factoring in the 6-month time skip between seasons, it was roughly 8 and a half months.
  • Electric Torture: In 'Blood Out,' the team investigate a particularly brutal murder. Before being cut in half with a chainsaw, the Victim of the Week was tortured by having car battery jumper leads attached to his pecs.
  • Embarrassing Browser History: When former FBI agent Jo first joins the team in season 7, she freaks Adam out by telling him, "we know about those web sites you visit."
  • Encyclopaedic Knowledge:
    • Mac knows a lot about a lot of things, even stuff like the rules of Roller Derby, which shocks Stella:
    Stella: You can NOT know this.
    • See also his character page.
    • Averted in a late season 8 episode when Lindsay asks him about a certain type of rare wood. He's completely unfamiliar with it.
    • Sheldon impresses Mac with his knowledge of mosquitoes during his first outing in the field:
    Mac: Did you know that Hawkes is a walking encyclopedia of tidbit information?
    Stella: Good. We can go to him instead of Google.
  • Energy Weapon: The laser beam-equipped car in 'You Only Die Once.' The beam actually scalped a victim.
  • Engineered Heroics: The victim in 'Battle Scars' tried to pull one of these; it backfired.
  • Enhance Button: Used frequently, including getting an image off the reflection of someone's eyeball, and getting fingerprints when someone waved their hand in front of a security camera.
  • Episode on a Plane: 'Turbulence.' Mac has to get his flight to DC turned around when a murder victim is discovered on his plane.
  • Eureka Moment: Hawkes watches a Jennifer Lopez video during his lunch break in 'Grand Murder at Central Station.' While admiring her, um, assets, he remembers they are insured, helping him figure out the case - it's an insurance scam.
  • Even Evil Has Standards / Selective Slaughter:
    • A hitman turns himself in and spills the beans on his client in 'Greater Good' when said client switched targets from a man to a woman. This hitman doesn't do women.
    • The would-be killer in 'Unspoken.' Lindsay saw him shooting at his intended target and was injured in the chaos. He came into her hospital room intending to dispose of her before she could identify him. But then he saw the drawing her daughter, Lucy, had made and backed off, realizing she was a mother. It ties into what he later tells the detectives about never wanting to hurt a child. Lindsay dying would have hurt Lucy.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French:
    • When Stella speaks to Mac in Greek while he's brooding over a case in 'The Closer,' the following exchange ensues:
    Mac: I give, what was that?
    Stella: What the hell's wrong with you, Mac?
    Mac: Ugh, it sounds so much better in Greek.
    Stella: [smiling] Everything always does.
    • In 'Communication Breakdown,' Flack overhears Angell questioning a witness in the man's native French and whispers as he passes behind her, "Sexiest thing I've ever heard."
  • Evil Lawyer Joke: In 'Enough,' Mac visits a lawyer whose office has just been sprayed for bugs. The man kills a cockroach while complaining that his fumigators didn't do a good job, and says he & they are from the same species. When Mac stares at him blankly, he asks: "What, you don't like lawyer jokes?" Mac replies, "I don't like lawyers." At the end of their conversation, Mac turns it on him with "What do they call a thousand lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start." Pause. "What, YOU don't like lawyer jokes?"
  • Exact Words:
    • '...Comes Around.' During the hearing about Mac's encounter with Clay Dobson, Danny is asked if he can read a portion of the autopsy report. He says, "Sure" and proceeds to do so...silently.
    • In 'The Ride In,' a man convicted of counterfeiting explains his motivation to Flack: since his father told him "Jimmy, everything I have is mine; you ain't got nothin' coming, so you got to go out and make your own money," he did just that.
    • In 'Hide Sight,' Mac is told "not to utter the word 'sniper'" during a press conference. He doesn't, but when a reporter says, "Sounds like a sniper to me," Mac, concerned that the public needs to know the truth, replies, "Me, too." Chief of D's Carver asks what he's supposed to tell their superiors. Mac says, "Tell them I never uttered the word 'sniper'."
    • In 'Seth and Apep,' Flack & DB buy time for Mac to find Christine by heading off Dept of Justice officers at the pass, telling them the Egyptian murderer they're after is at another precinct due to a mix-up. As they lead the officers away to get coffee while they wait, DB says, "Why, I'll bet our guy's walking him out the precinct right now." Cue Mac *leaving* the building with the handcuffed man in tow.
  • Expensive Glass of Crap:
    • In 'A Daze of Wine and Roaches,' cheap wine was being passed off as expensive, though that wasn't ultimately why the vic was killed. It involved the killer trying to squash the guy's jeweled cockroach.
    • In 'The Real McCoy,' one of the speakeasy employees cuts corners with counterfeit vodka.
  • Exploding Cigar: A victim is killed by one meant for "Laughing Larry" in 'Child's Play.'
  • Exploding Fish Tanks: The male victim in 'Heart of Glass' fell into his aquarium, shattering it to pieces.
  • Eyepiece Prank: In 'Clue: SI,' Lindsay gets one of these from her husband, in a prank meant for Adam, the lab tech. She wears glasses the rest of the episode to hide it and spends most of the ep trying to determine the prankster. She tells Danny she'll find a way to get him back for it.
  • Eye Scream:
    • The eyeball that falls from the sky into Stella's coffee cup in 'No Good Deed.'
    • The man who's nailed to a tree with railroad ties thru his eye sockets, and whose eyeballs Mac finds in his pocket in 'Hung Out to Dry.'
    • Clay Dobson's victims, whose eyelids he cut off so they'd have to stare at him as they died.
  • Face Doodling: In 'Get Me Out of Here!', Danny and Adam arrive at a frat house to investigate a murder. They wake up a pledge who has had a pair glasses drawn on his face and the word "TOOL" written on his forehead.
  • Face Palm:
    • At the end of 'Oedipus Rex,' when the Suicide Girls strut away and Danny realizes what he's lost out on by turning down one's offer for a date, you can clearly see him doing this in the background.
    • Mac does the face-wipe version a number of times. A notable example is while chewing Flack out for going A.W.O.L. in 'Cuckoo's Nest.'
  • Failure-to-Save Murder:
    • Mac's 333 Stalker is out to get him because Mac had failed to save the guy's brother back in Chicago when he was 14 years old.
    • Also the killer's motivation in 'Where There's Smoke.'
  • False Confession:
    • One episode had a man confess to murdering the quack doctor who milked him & his wife of all their savings while "treating" his terminal illness. It was his wife who killed her, but he wanted to take the rap since he knew he didn't have long to live anyway.
    • "Greater Good" sees Mac struggling over an old case on his day off. A man had confessed to fatally hitting a girl on her bicycle and had served his time. After his release, Mac realized that the man's bruises from his seatbelt proved that he'd been on the passenger side. His daughter, who was studying to be a doctor, was driving; he confessed so she could finish med school.
  • False Rape Accusation: The alleged victim of the DC Rapist in the three-part season 7 arc. The senator father of his earlier victim hired the woman to allege that the guy raped her, but Lindsay's forensic tests showed that given the rate at which GHB leaves the system, she would be dead if she really ingested the indicated levels at the time of the attack. The senator then kills the woman, hoping to frame the guy for murder, but that backfires as well.
  • False Roulette: Mac does this to one of Christine's kidnappers as he tries to force the guy to talk in 'Seth and Apep.'
  • False Start: Danny & Lindsay's romance, until she dealt with her past.
  • Family of Choice: Mac regards his team as his family, and tells Christine so in 'Unwrapped.'
    Mac: For the longest time, this place, those guys, were my whole world. And now I have you.
  • Fan Boy: Mac apparently idolizes Ronald Reagan judging by the framed picture and "eight-hour documentary [he's] always watching."
  • Fan Disservice: The one time we see Flack without a shirt, he's got a whopping great hole in his chest where he was seriously injured in an explosion. Another time, he lifts his shirt to reveal severe bruising from a beatdown he took on the subway.
  • Fanservice:
    • Certain features of Stella are on display a bit.
    • Danny ends up shirtless or in a vest/wifebeater a lot.
    • Lindsay once took a walk in the rain and ended up in a Sexy Soaked Shirt.
    • Mac kicking ass while soaking wet in the season three finale.
    • Shirtless Mac with Peyton in the s3 opener, whether you liked the ship or not.
    • Angell in Flack's button down shirt with a pair of handcuffs.
    • Mac swimming in the 100th ep.
    • Mac testing the weapons in 'Corporate Warriors.' Especially the katana...in a tight black t-shirt.
    • The episode about the lingerie football league. Must have been designed for the Male Gaze.
    • The Suicide Girls episode as well.
    • And the female roller derby team in 'Jamalot.'
    • The female lube wrestler in 'Trapped.'
    • The maids in 'Murder Sings the Blues.'
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: 'Blood, Sweat and Tears.' Due to Feuding Families, a circus girl's father forbids her to see her boyfriend who's also in the circus.
  • A Father to His Men: Mac, particularly to Lindsay and Adam. See Character Page for more details.
  • Fatal Attractor: Stella Bonasera. Her boyfriend tried to kill her after she broke up with him and another guy she was seeing turned out to be Mac's 333 Stalker, who was out for blood as well.
  • Fatal Method Acting: Two in-universe examples:
    • The girl portraying Marie Antoinette in 'A Daze of Wine and Roaches' is discovered dead in the guillotine prop right after the group's picture is taken.
    • In 'The Formula,' a Formula One racer dies when his car explodes during an exhibition race.
  • 15 Puzzle: A large scale floor version is one of the booby traps in 'Death House.' It was already solved when the team arrived, but still helped them figure out what was going on.
  • Finger in the Mail:
    • 'Trapped' dealt with the heir of a wealthy family whose little brother had been abducted at a young age. When the family was slow with the ransom money, his brother's ear was cut off and sent to the family; later, the brother was killed. The surviving man kept the ear in a jar of preservative.
    • In 'Brooklyn Til I Die,' the estranged father of a victim receives a finger with a family ring on it from kidnappers, proving that the vic is indeed his son.
    • Mac gets a tongue in the mail from Christine's kidnappers in 'Seth and Apep.' It isn't hers, but it did freak him out for a while (see Call Back above).
  • Finger-Licking Poison: In 'Page Turner,' the killer coats the pages of a book in thallium to poison his victims.
  • Fingore: Danny getting his fingers stomped on and broken in the season three finale.
  • Fiery Coverup: Subverted by the "victim" of Stella's apartment building fire who, as it turns out, had died two or three days earier.
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Flashback Echo: Flack's injuries in 'Charge of This Post' take Mac back to the Beirut barracks bombing:
    Smith: How'd you know what to do?
    Mac: I've lived through this moment before.
  • Flashed-Badge Hijack: Flack does it in the beginning of the episode 'You Only Die Once,' running up a $60 cab fare in the process. Chief Sinclair is not pleased.
  • Flash Mob Cover-Up: The killer in 'To What End?' puts out an ad for people to show up at the scene dressed as clowns, offering a bonus if they wear his same costume.
  • Flatline: Mac in 'Near Death.' One of the nurses shouts it in the operating room.
  • Food Porn:
    • Quite literally, during the "food sploshing" in 'It Happened to Me.'
    • Also literally with the practically nude women serving as tables in the sushi restaurant in 'Grand Master':
    Stella: Oh, that can't be sanitary.
    Danny: Who cares if it's sanitary? I wanna see the menu.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling:
    • Don Flack and his party-girl sister, Sam.
    • Danny Messer and his gangster-ish brother, Louie.
    • Doctor Sheldon Hawkes and his sister, who had been a drug addict (before getting clean, unbeknownst to him).
    • Chief Carver and his sister (see spoiler under Sibling Yin-Yang below).
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A few episodes after Lindsay's introduction and after impressing him with sports trivia, Danny jokingly remarks that he'll have to ask her to marry him if she keeps that up. Three seasons later...
    • In the same vein, in a season one episode, Mac says something about how Danny could fall in love one day. Danny laughs it off, but then Lindsay shows up in the next season and...
    • In 'Dead Reckoning,' a mystery woman is tied to several crimes and homicides which baffled the authorities. Anything familiar that shows up when she is mentioned? A Q-tip swab. It’s later discovered that the mystery woman is in fact an innocent worker at a Q-tip production facility which earned a contract to supply the city’s forensics department. She didn’t like how her gloves felt, so she took them off. This ended up contaminating the entire stock onwards which created a fictional serial killer who committed crimes at a sporadic rate.
  • Foreign Queasine / Masochist's Meal: The exotic dishes in 'Fare Game.'
  • Forensic Drama: Obviously.
  • Forged Message:
    • In the season 9 crossover with CSI, 'In Vino Veritas,' Christine's kidnappers put fake texts on her phone as part of a robbery scheme. Before they realized the sham, the Vegas investigators strongly hinted to Mac that she was cheating on him.
    • Earlier in season 9 (episode 6, 'The Lady in the Lake'), the killer did the same thing to make the victim's boyfriend think the girl had left town.
    • Even earlier, in season 7, Raymond Harris somehow sent Bill Hunt a text from Mac, luring him to Mac's office so he could shoot them both from the building across the street.
  • Forgets to Eat: Seems to go with the territory.
    • In an early episode, Flack doesn't want Stella to drive because "when you drive, we don't eat."
    • In one of Lindsay's first episodes, she and Danny are working a case together and she doesn't want to break for lunch because "Mac wants us to solve the case." Danny replies that Mac wouldn't want them to starve to death in the process.
    • In 'Nothing for Something,' Jo has Flack take Mac to a diner after this exchange:
    Mac: I know what you're going to say. It's not the way it looks. I'm fine.
    Jo: It's exactly the way it looks. That's the same suit you had on yesterday, if not the day before. You haven't even been home in two days.
    Mac: This isn't the first time one case has rolled over into another. I'll be fine.
    Jo: When's the last time you had something to eat? I don't want to hear about that trail mix from the vending machine last night.
    Mac: (a tad defensively) It was a granola bar.
  • Formerly Fat:
    • One of the cheerleaders in 'Personal Foul.'
    • In 'Blood Actually,' Sheldon confides to Danny that he used to be very overweight & even shows Danny a picture of himself he carries around as a reminder. Naturally, Danny wants to keep it; Sheldon wisely refuses.
  • Foster Kid: Stella. She tells a suspect about it in one ep, it comes up as a plot point in "Cold Reveal," and is mentioned in her conversations with Prof. Papakota.
  • Frame-Up:
    • Hawkes, for robbery & murder in 'Raising Shane.'
    • Clay Dobson tries this with Mac in season 3.
    • Also happens to the serial rapist from Jo's FBI past (see below).
  • Framing the Guilty Party:
    • Aiden considered this with DJ Pratt.
    • The serial rapist from Jo's FBI case had people attempt to frame him for another rape and then for murder.
  • Freakier Than Fiction: See Ripped from the Headlines below.
  • French Maid Outfit: 'Murder Sings the Blues.'
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: See the "Awesome" page for Mac's retort to the serial killer in 'Manhattan Manhunt.'
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: The victim in 'Fare Game' made her living with these.
  • From Dress to Dressing: Various characters tear off parts of their shirts/use their own clothing to bandage victims from time to time. Including:
    • In 'What You See Is What You See,' Mac uses his jacket to stem the flow of blood from the waitress' gunshot wound.
    • In 'Charge of This Post,' he borrows a shoestring from a fellow victim of the explosion to bind a profusely bleeding artery in Flack's gut until the paramedics can arrive. Then he tears strips from his own shirt to stuff in the gaping wound to staunch additional bleeding.
    • 'Epilogue' has a variation. A perp stabs a security guard, hitting his femoral artery, then tears off one of the man's sleeves to use as a tourniquet on his own arm which the guard had hit as well.
  • Fruit Cart: Too many chase scenes to list.
  • Gaia's Avengers: The eco-terrorist bombers in 'Green Piece.'
  • Games of the Elderly:
    • In 'Uncertainty Rules,' two friends take their introvert buddy out on the town for his 21st birthday. One of the places they visit is a retirement home where they join in on Bingo Night...and win the $25,000 pot.
    • In 'The Real McCoy,' Adam visits his father, who has Alzheimer's, at his senior care facility and plays dominoes with him.
  • Gangbangers: The Tanglewood Boys, among others.
  • Gas Chamber: The Cabbie Killer's M.O.
  • Gas Leak Cover-Up: How the drug dealers get into the Lab in the first place in 'Snow Day.'
  • Generic Ethnic Crime Gang:
    • The Greek antiquities smugglers Stella goes after in season 5.
    • Also the Trinitarios, a Dominican gang, in season 9's 'Blood Out.'
    Flack: Nobody loves a good dismemberment like the Latin street crews.
  • Genius Cripple: Dr. Leonard Giles, the wheelchair-bound forensics/DNA expert from season 1.
  • Genuine Human Hide: Some of the evidence in 'Yahrzeit' is made from human skin.
  • Give a Whole New Meaning: Det. Maka states in 'Til Death Do We Part':
    Gives a whole new meaning to the term "cold feet."
    • Flack repeats it in 'One Wedding and a Funeral.'
  • Give Me Back My Wallet: Averted in 'Nothing for Something.' Mac's pickpocket brings his wallet back to the Lab, but the case turns out to be much more complicated.
  • Given Name Reveal: Christine telling Jo that Mac's middle name is Llewellyn in 'Near Death.'
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: 'Not What It Looks Like' - it's used when glass counters in a jewelry shop are shattered during a robbery.
  • Going by the Matchbook: In 'White Gold,' Hawkes and Flack find a matchbook stuck to the victim's back with blood, having fallen out of the killer's pocket when he dumped the body into a dumpster. This leads them to the bar where he hangs out.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: In 'Civilized Lies,' Mac and Flack do this. Mac is extremely irritated and aggressive about an off-duty officer being shot, and Flack tries a good-cop approach after Mac storms out. The suspect even asks if it's this trope.
    Flack: To tell you the truth, I don't quite know what to do. [gestures towards one-way glass] *He's* usually the good cop.
  • Gone Horribly Right: In 'Clean Sweep,' a cage fighter was so afraid of a stalker harming his family that when his friend, a homeless veteran, died after an accident he decided to set the body on fire and fake his own death. The fighter is eventually found, but he burned the body so thoroughly that there's no proof the homeless vet wasn't murdered and the cops will be forced to charge him, although Mac did try to put in a good word (he also got the vet a military funeral).
  • Gory Discretion Shot: 'Blood Out.' Kinda a requirement when the victim is being dismembered with a chainsaw.
  • Gratuitous Italian: For the Greek name of Stella Bonasera, which means Star Goodnight.
  • Great Escape: 'Redemptio.'
    Mac: We're gonna have to break Sheldon out of prison.
  • Greens Precede Sweets: Mac won't let the little boy in 'Necrophilia Americana' have a candy bar until after he gets him "some real stuff."
  • Grievous Bottley Harm:
    • Danny gets beaned with one while having a drink with his band of rookies in 'Officer Involved.'
    • In 'Blood Actually,' one of the three victims is bludgeoned to death with a champagne bottle.
  • GPS Evidence: Many times played straight, once subverted because an enemy of one of the investigators figured out that the team chased this sort of evidence.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: In 'Blood Out,' the Victim of the Week is cut in half with a chainsaw, after being subjected to Electric Torture.
  • Halloween Episode: Two.
    • Episode 4.06, 'Boo,' which aired on Oct 31, 2007, had a possible murder-suicide at the Amityville Horror house and what appeared to be a zombie.
    Sid: He was dead before he was killed. Medically, that makes him a zombie. Happy Halloween.
    • Episode 8.06, 'Get Me Out of Here!' concerned a fraternity prank gone awry on Halloween...a pledge was missing and the pledge master was left for dead in an open grave.
    Jo: Not often you find a body where it actually belongs.
  • Handy Cuffs: In 'Vacation Getaway,' Shane Casey uses the shackles around his wrists and ankles to strangle a guard and escape.
  • Hanging Judge: The Victim of the Week in 'Crossroads.' He was discovered to be a corrupt judge who got kickbacks from any juvenile delinquent he sent to a specific hellhole juvenile prison center. The Killer Of The Week had his whole life destroyed because he was sentenced to do time for stealing a pack of gum.
  • Happily Adopted: Jo's daughter Ellie (Not to be confused with Ellie Brass from CSI.)
  • Happily Married:
    • Danny and Lindsay
    • Mac and Christine will be joining them now. Had the show continued to season 10, it would have had the most married team members with 3.
  • Harmful to Minors:
    • As a teenager, Lindsay witnessed the murder of several friends. In season three, she is called to testify at the trial of their murderer.
    • The little girl in 'City of the Dolls' who witnessed her mother having sex with a high-school student.
  • Hazmat Suits: Due to the radiation in 'Page Turner.'
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: 'Bad Beat.'
  • Hedge Maze: Where the victim, who turns out to be a college friend of Reed's, is found in 'Some Buried Bones.'
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • After seven episodes of teetering on the brink, Flack finally has one in episode 6.08, 'Cuckoo's Nest.'
    • Mac has one as well in episode 7.22, 'Exit Strategy,' after having his own gun misfire as a perp attempts to shoot him with it point-blank between the eyes.
    • Christine has a mild one in 'Blood Actually,' along with flashbacks of her kidnapping.
  • Heroic Vow:
    Mac: There are three things that I'll protect at any cost: the honor of this country, the safety of this city, and the integrity of this lab.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The perps in 'Charge of This Post' and 'Point of View' both turned into villains while trying to prove their points.
  • Hey, That's My Line!: When Jo says "Boom" upon finding some evidence in the field, Danny turns to Sheldon and asks:
    Did she just use my word?
  • Hidden Wire: Several cases, including the one where Louie Messer got beaten to a pulp, and part two of Christine's kidnapping.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: While in Greece in 'Grounds for Deception,' Stella and Mac don't let on to the local officials that she knows Greek.
  • Hiding the Handicap: Mac not letting on to anyone about his speech aphasia.
  • His and Hers: Played with. 'Stealing Home' had a "committed threesome" in whose bathroom Sheldon found towels embroidered with "Hers," "His," and "Hers."
    Sheldon: Hey, Mac, there's three of *everything* in here...except the tub.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: Came up as a plot point relevant to the motive in one episode. An Xbox used in a Gears of War 3 tournament had been hacked to give one player a hitbox half the size it should have been, and everyone else a hitbox twice the normal size.
  • Hockey Fight: There's one between the NYPD and FDNY teams in 'Reignited.' Danny, Don and Adam are on the NYPD's team.
  • Hollywood Blanks: Averted. A Victim of the Week is accidentally killed by a blank-firing gun going off point-blank in his chest. The murderer — a down-on-his-luck actor that was humiliated by the victim — makes clear as he confesses that he didn't think a blank could do that.
  • Hollywood Healing / Throwing Off the Disability:
    • Although it takes Danny several episodes to learn to walk again in season 6, he still goes from wheelchair to cane and then to walking unaided and even running a little too fast (like, two episodes), with only one instance of complaining that his back hurt.
    • A milder form with Mac...it is possible to recover from aphasia over a couple of months, but it still moved somewhat quickly. Not so fast as to make it impossible to believe (especially with the six-month time cut), but a little bit. And, in real life, it can still re-surface when the person is angry or afraid...and Mac seemed fine the whole time he was worried about Christine in the crossover.
  • Hollywood Silencer: One perp uses a teddy bear as a silencer for a Desert Eagle pistol.
  • Hologram: Adam finds one as a clue that leads them to the real killer in 'Air Apparent.'
  • Homage: The season three finale is clearly a Die Hard homage.
  • Honorable Marriage Proposal: Danny's first to Lindsay.
  • Honor Thy Abuser: In 'The Real McCoy,' it is revealed that Adam's father, Charles, had been verbally and physically abusive to Adam, his brother and their mother; that Adam's brother had left home because of it; and, later, Adam had threatened to kill Charles if he ever hurt his mother again. Adam has moved Charles, who is suffering from Alzheimer's, to a nearby facility so he can keep an eye on him. When Mac asks Adam why he visits the man, Adam answers, "Because I'm his son," and explains that he feels no emotion towards his father and is concerned by that. Choked up and on the verge of tears he says, "You're supposed to honor your parents. What does that say about me as a person?" Mac tenderly replies, "Looks like you're feeling something now."
  • Hood Hopping:
    • A suspect in 'Dead Inside' wakes up in a house that's being transported via highway, freaks out and hood hops his way thru traffic.
    • In 'Hammer Down,' Mac jumps from car to car while he and Langston chase a perp thru a junkyard.
  • Hooks and Crooks: In 'Happily Never After,' the killer uses a longshoreman's hook (that someone else had been using as part of a Captain Hook costume) as a murder weapon.
  • Hostage Situation: Several, including:
    • 'Snow Day.' Adam and Danny are held by the Irish gang that want their drug horde back.
    • Reed is taken hostage by the Cabbie Killer and forced to use his blog to get the killer's message out.
    • 'Hostage' / 'Veritas.' Mac is taken hostage in the bank by "Joe."
    • Sheldon's girlfriend, Camille, is taken hostage by a hitman in 'Smooth Criminal.'
    • Christine is kidnapped during the 'In Vino Veritas' / 'Seth and Apep' crossover.
  • House Fire:
    • There's an apartment fire in the B-plot of 'Corporate Warriors.'
    • Stella's apartment suffers this when two kidnapped kids start a fire to try to get the police to rescue them, only for the flames to follow an air vent and an open window into an apartment that is a bonafide fire hazard (polyurethane foam furniture and an ignitable floor varnish caused a flashover to happen in there).
  • How We Got Here:
    • A minor example with the B-plot characters in 'Oedipus Hex.'
    • Several major ones, including what led to Mac getting shot in 'Near Death.'
  • Human Notepad: The second victim in 'Jamalot.'
  • Human Shield: Several perps use other people as shields throughout the series, including Suspect X and Shane Casey.
  • Hummer Dinger:
    • The Chevy Avalanches used throughout the series.
    • Averted by Mac and DB in 'Seth and Apep' when they take unmarked sedans to go look for Christine. Of course, Mac has Zane in the trunk, so...

    I-L 
  • I Am Very British: Jane Parsons and Peyton Driscoll. Also the psychiatrist in 'Clue: SI.'
  • I Can See You: "Joe" the bank robber and Mac trade these off in 'Veritas.'
  • I Can't Feel My Legs: Danny, after he was shot in the back.
  • Iconic Items: Mac's Detective Bureau lapel pin and the picture of Ronald Reagan he keeps in his office, Sid's glasses, and Danny's dog tags that were his grandfather's from the Korean War.
  • I Didn't Mean to Kill Him: Several victims were killed due to accident or mistaken identity.
  • I Don't Know Mortal Kombat: Averted by Mac in 'Kill Screen.' The others, particularly Adam, don't think he'll be too good at the video game they're playing ("Asteroids has got to translate."), but Mac and Jo both kick Adam's butt from the get-go ("Hey, who's shooting at me?").
  • I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You: How Sass Dumonde responds to Adam's request for her name when they meet on "LookinAtChu" in 'Unfriendly Chat.'
  • If Only You Knew: 'No Good Deed' opens with Mac & Stella having coffee on the street, when a vulture drops an eyeball from the Victim of the Week into hers. It ends with, Mac having a conversation with Ella McBride from 'Dead Inside':
    Ella: Have you heard the latest urban legend? Apparently a woman was drinking coffee when an eyeball fell in it!
    Mac: [smiles] Impossible.
  • If You Die, I Call Your Stuff: Danny, to Mac, in 'Sleight Out of Hand,' jokingly. Mac was testing coolant gel used by stunt performers during burn scenes.
    Mac: What other job allows you to set your boss on fire? Going once, going twice...
    Danny: Sold, but if you go up in flames, I get your office?
  • Ignore the Fanservice: Mac does a good job of this in 'Jamalot,' much to Polly's dismay.
  • I Have No Son!: Inverted near the end of 'Yahrzeit,' where the killer's Orthodox Jewish son disowns his father after it is revealed the father was a Hitler Youth member and only pretended to be a Holocaust survivor in order to not be caught for his crimes.
  • I Have This Friend...: Lindsay got pregnant; she used this in a spectacularly transparent attempt to ask Stella if she needed to worry about any of the chemicals in the lab affecting the baby.
  • I Have Your Girlfriend: Christine's kidnappers make her call Mac and talk to him before they do in 'Seth and Apep.'
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: The guy who killed someone with a gun loaded with blanks and the boy who shot his friend after thinking he'd removed all the bullets but forgot the one in the chamber.
  • I Lied: In 'Point of No Return,' Stella promises George Kolovos that she won't send him to Cyprus (where he's a wanted criminal) in a shipping container if he gives up his partner. He does...and she locks him in the container anyway.
    Kolovos: Wait, we had a deal!
    Stella: I lied.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: An odd variation with Dr. Marty Pino in 'Point of No Return.' Instead of being cannibalistic, he's harvesting organs to extract unmetabolized drugs to sell.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: In the B-plot of 'Time's Up,' the Victim of the Week suffers a fatal immodest orgasm while seated in a deli.
  • Immoral Journalist: Two.
    • Robert Murdock appears in a few season 5 episodes. He runs a sleazy newspaper and revels in printing stories that make the NYPD look bad, particularly when the "blue flu" hits. Although, he subverts it himself later when he prints a tribute to a fallen officer.
    • In season 8's 'Clean Sweep,' Mac is approached by a reporter named Jennifer Walsh who openly flirts with him, trying to get him to corroborate/comment on things she's speculating about...even going so far as to ask if he would compromise his own values in order to close a case.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Every so often the CSIs will be faced with someone who was killed by something pointed.
    • A woman was stabbed to death with an icicle ('Love Run Cold').
    • A man was stabbed to death with a swordfish ('Dancing with the Fishes').
    • Another victim fell off a balcony and landed on a spike in an awning ('Sangre por Sangre').
    • Yet another was pushed over a railing and landed on a spiked piece of artwork in a hotel lobby ('Open and Shut').
    • Another time, Mac & Flack worked a case with a suspect who had scaled a high fence, only to land on a long piece of rebar sticking out of some concrete on the other side ('Forbidden Fruit').
    • In season 9's 'The Real McCoy', the victim is impaled by a Christmas tree stand at a tree lot.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Shane Casey steals an NYPD uniform and uses it for several episodes.
  • Implausible Synchrony: The 333 stalker will time certain events to happen exactly at 3:33, and he can rest assured that Mac will be freaked out when he looks at his watch.
  • Improvised Weapon / Improvised Weapon User:
    • Adam defends himself with a fluorescent bulb he grabs from a pile of trash in the parking garage in 'Unfriendly Chat.' Cue ribbing from Danny and Sheldon, who call him Obi-Wannabe-Kanobi for starters.
    • Murderers throughout the series intentionally used such things as a cricket bat, a Statue of Liberty key chain, a baseball, etc., on their victims.
    • Other victims were unintentionally killed with a knitting needle, a pool cue, a swordfish, and a guitar...to name a few.
  • Improvised Umbrella: In 'Rain,' while the team are staking out a newspaper box where kidnappers have instructed their ransom to be placed, a woman hurries up to the box, buys a paper and uses it to shield her head from the rain.
  • Informed Self-Diagnosis: Sheldon, diagnosing his own fracture after his and Danny's scuba diving incident in 'The Deep.'
  • Initialism Title: Two initialisms for the price of one!
  • In-Series Nickname:
    • Danny starts out calling Lindsay "Montana" as an Insult of Endearment, but drops it after they're married. He picks it up again briefly while she's hospitalized in season 9's 'Unspoken.'
    • Once Sheldon joins the team in the field, Danny calls him "Doc" all the time; some of the others occasionally do too.
    • Danny, Adam and Sheldon all call Mac "Boss" quite a bit.
  • The Inspector Is Coming: The episode with Quinn. The lab stays accredited, but Lindsay is warned not to let Danny distract her into leaving evidence unattended again. And Quinn flirts with Mac a bit, reminding him about the time before Claire died that they kissed at a party. Mac can't deny liking it, but is firm about loving Claire and that he wouldn't have done anything further. Quinn seemed to hope she might strike up something with him again, but he isn't interested.
  • Instrument of Murder: In 'Stuck on You,' a guitar handle was used to crush a victim's larynx so badly that he couldn't breathe.
  • Insurance Fraud: The motive of the main storylines in 'Grand Murder at Central Station,' 'Boo,' and 'Second Chances.'
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: The season 3 episode, 'Cold Reveal,' crosses over with Cold Case.
  • Internal Affairs: Mac, Stella, Flack, Danny and Sheldon all had run-ins with IA.
  • Interservice Rivalry:
    • NYPD vs FDNY in 'Reignited.' It involved the two sides playing each other in a hockey game. Fights naturally broke out.
      Mac [snarking to his FDNY buddy, Curtis]: I guess there's no truth to the rumor that the departments hate each other.
    • Regular detectives vs the lab team-Flack and Danny both admit at times that the pure detectives see the lab guys as nerds.
  • In the Back: The mounted policeman in season 1's 'Officer Blue,' Danny in the season 5 finale, and Mac in the season 8 finale.
  • Is It Always Like This?: Jo's reaction at the end of her first day on the job after finding a dead pregnant woman in the Lab, dealing with a premeditated murder, a crime of passion, and a high-end thief.
    Jo: Are all your cases like this?
    Mac: [nodding] Pretty much.
  • ISO-Standard Urban Groceries:
    • Played straight in 'Nothing for Something.' Mac's old partner, William Hunt, goes after a perp they put away who's out of jail and up to his old tricks. He carries your standard-issue brown bag of groceries complete with baguette into an alley he knows the guy will be walking through. When the guy gets there, the bread, an orange, some paper towels, etc are scattered around and Hunt is nowhere to be seen. Hunt jumps out, beats the guy to a pulp, calmly gathers his groceries and walks away.
    • Downplayed in 'Slainte.' After having cancelled another dinner date, Mac tries to make things up to Christine by showing up at her restaurant with what appears to be a plain, medium-sized gift bag. It has handles and nothing is seen sticking out of it. She offers to fix him something to eat; he says he thought they'd fix something together. A minute later, they're in the kitchen and he's slicing up a small baguette which he uses to make bruschetta for her.
    • Slightly more downplayed in 'Today Is Life.' Mac is waiting for Christine on her steps and sees her coming up the sidewalk with a brown bag of groceries. The only identifiable object peeking out is a roll of paper towels. He takes the bag from her and sets it on the steps. It is neither dropped, spilled nor emptied on screen; it's just used to show where she's been.
  • Is That What They're Calling It Now?: In 'Rush to Judgment,' Flack discovers that a murder victim had been secretly taking dance lessons to surprise his wife for their anniversary. When Flack tells Mac what he was doing but before he can explain, Mac asks:
    "Private salsa lessons? Is *that* what they call it these days?"
  • It Is Not Your Time: Mac, with Claire telling him so. Also, Stella tells Danny this after he recovers from his paralysis.
  • It's Personal:
    • Mac was in the Marine Corps; once a Marine, always a Marine, and he takes that very seriously. He refers to himself as a Marine (in the present tense) in several episodes, including 'Officer Blue' and 'Tanglewood.'
    • Also the reason why Flack killed Angell's murderer in the Season 5 finale.
    • The reason why every member of the team is out for justice first after Aiden is killed...
    • ...and then in the season 8 finale. A perp shot Mac, and when you do that, they all come after you. Luckily, they didn't kill her over it.
    • If you kidnap Mac's girlfriend, it gets personal real fast ('Seth and Apep').
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Mykelti Williamson, who plays Chief Sinclair, famously portrayed Bubba Blue in Forrest Gump alongside Gary Sinise.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique:
    • Averted in 'Heroes.' Danny wants to do this to a suspect, but Mac tells him they have to do things right for Aiden's sake.
    • In 'Life Sentence,' Mac's first partner, William "Wild Bill" Hunt, returns and does this to a recently released perp the two of them had put away 17 years earlier, who's out to get both of them.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: In 'DOA for a Day,' Flack dressed as a Parks Department employee sweeping up trash as part of the group's attempt to nab Suspect X.
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: The boy who was sentenced by a Hanging Judge to years in a juvenile detention center for stealing a pack of gum in 'Crossroads.'
  • Jurisdiction Friction:
    • Several times, including with the NJ police, the FBI, UN officials and Barcelona law enforcement.
    • Somewhat averted with the Department of Homeland Security in 'Charge of This Post.' The officer in charge agrees to let Mac lead while insisting that her team be involved.
    • Averted with Russ, Jo's FBI agent ex-husband, who helps them out in season 7.
    • And with Cade, her FBI boyfriend, with whom they cooperate, in '2,918 Miles.'
    • Also averted by the FBI agents in 'Brooklyn 'Til I Die' who show up to help with the kidnapping even though the case hasn't crossed state lines. Mac welcomes the assistance.
  • Justice by Other Legal Means: In 'Pot of Gold,' when the episode's main perp denies having any connection to the murders, Mac calls in a Treasury Agent who informs said perp of the laundry list of charges against him.
  • Justified Criminal:
    • Two boys trying to pay the rent, who are themselves robbed by a much more conventional robber.
    • Carver's nephew, who killed his abusive mother when she started beating his younger siblings.
    • The guy who stole a clown's costume to kill the drug producer who sent a hitman after him. He even gave the clown his day's pay.
  • Just One Little Mistake: The only mistake the second killer in 'Criminal Justice' makes is he planted the evidence after Hawkes had sprayed for footprints at the scene, and the distribution of chemicals on the evidence alerts the team to the fact the evidence was planted afterwards. Otherwise he nearly commits The Perfect Crime. Which makes sense, because he's a DA, and has fifteen years of experience with criminals and the crime lab to know how they work. Also a case of Murder the Hypotenuse because the planted evidence was a lighter that belonged to a guy who his wife was banging; he killed that guy and ground down his body to invoke Never Found the Body.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: 'Corporate Warriors.'
  • Keeping the Enemy Close: Detective Mac Taylor alludes to this trope:
    Detective Mac Taylor: You know what they say: keep your friends close and your enemies closer - and if that doesn't work, kill 'em.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery:
    • In 'Risk,' Mac and Lindsay are called to a crime scene that Danny is already working. Mac shows up in a tux, having been at a benefit for the mayor. Lindsay arrives wearing a formal dress since she was at the opera. Danny comments about being underdressed.
    • In 'The Party's Over,' Stella is in a revealing Little Black Dress when the deputy mayor is found dead at the fundraiser she's attending with a date. She starts processing the scene immediately & doesn't change until Mac brings her something else to wear from the Lab.
  • Kill and Replace: Suspect X did this in 'DOA for a Day' to fake her own death.
  • Killer Outfit: This trope and an urban legend based on it were used in 'Til Death Do We Part.' The first victim was a bride on her wedding day. It turned out that she had bought her wedding gown used, and it was severely contaminated with formaldehyde. (The gown's original owner had been buried in it, and was then dug up so the gown could be stolen for resale.)
  • Kill It with Ice:
    • One victim was stabbed to death with an icicle.
    • Another had her heart frozen when she was impaled by the valve on a tank of liquid nitrogen.
  • Kinda Busy Here: It's bound to happen with cops. In fact, the series opens with Mac's phone ringing in church. Sometimes blends with Interrupted Intimacy.
    • Mac's phone goes off once in the middle of watching an opera with Peyton, and once during sex.
    • In 'Snow Day,' she finally gets reception again and calls him while he's trying to sneak up on the BigBad.
    • Happened with Stella and Frankie as well.
    • Also with Flack and Angell.
    • Happened in the final season with Mac & Christine enjoying a quiet moment on "their" bench in Central Park.
  • Kiss of Death: The killer's M.O. in 'Personal Foul.'
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Just about everyone.
  • Kung-Shui: After the martial arts showdown in the bar in 'Corporate Warriors,' the owner bemoans the fact that she'd just refurbished the place and now it has to be done all over again.
  • Labcoat of Science and Medicine: Whenever the characters are analyzing evidence, they're wearing labcoats.
  • Lampshade Hanging:
    • Sid knows he has a tendency to find weird things while doing autopsies.
      • In 'Nine Thirteen,' the "Curse of Building 913" is referred to when the team is called to the scene of yet another suspicious death; 37 people have died in various ways there since the original owner committed suicide by jumping from the building decades before. Then Don realizes something:
    Flack: Hey, Sid, how come they only ever call you out for the really strange ones?
    Sid: They...didn't call me. But, uh, this was one I was not going to miss.
    • Late in season 9, some of the team lampshade the Quip to Black puns so prevalent in the franchise. Sheldon has placed some evidence in the super glue chamber:
    Jo: I think your cake is done.
    Sheldon: Then let's hope it'll be the icing on the case.
    Danny and Lindsay moan, make faces, say "Ew," and such.
    Jo: [off camera, as Sheldon grins] I dunno, I kinda liked that one.
  • LARP: The murder victim and her kidnapped boyfriend in 'Brooklyn 'Til I Die' are participating in one of these.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Really laser-guided with Mac...he can't remember a lot of random words for things after being shot. It's a real condition called speech aphasia.
  • Laser Hallway:
    • Mac creates a laser barrier in front of the perp he captures in 'Snow Day.'
    • The 333 Stalker creates one around him in 'The Thing about Heroes.'
  • Last-Minute Baby Naming: After Lucy is born, Danny and Lindsay don't agree on one right way, leaving fans until the next season to find out whether it was Lydia or Lucy. (Lucy).
  • Lawman Gone Bad: Mac discovers that his first partner, Bill Hunt became one of these. Having stolen a large amount of money from a crime scene (he was nearing retirement and didn't think he was being paid enough) and murdered the girlfriend of the guy who has a vendetta against him and Mac (the guy doesn't know, then doesn't care that Mac wasn't responsible).
  • Law of Inverse Recoil:
    • Played straight in 'Stealing Home.' The shooter isn't used to firing a gun and suffers from "limp wrist."
    • Averted in 'Stuck on You,' where Mac has Lindsay fire a crossbow to see what kind of effect it has on her since she's the same size as their suspect. She handles it very well and wants to keep firing it.
  • Left for Dead: Mac, twice. "Joe the bank robber" thinks he's dead when he pushes the SUV into the Hudson, and the accomplice in 'Near Death' obviously thinks he's dead after being shot in the back, too.
  • LEGO Genetics: The goats that produced spider silk and the rat with a human ear on its back in 'What Schemes May Come,' although as it turns out, that actually falls under Aluminum Christmas Trees.
  • Le Parkour: Featured in 'Tri-Borough.' One of the three victims is discovered to be a participant in this sport.
  • Let Me at Him!: Danny, when he sees Mac with the guy initially suspected of killing Aiden (although it was really a recurring serial rapist/killer and not even him). Mac warns Danny off, telling him they have to do it right.
  • Let Off by the Detective:
    • Stella with her foster sister in the Cold Case crossover. She went to the house and said she was there as a friend, but would be back as a detective the next day, knowing her friend would likely be gone.
    • Several of the team in another ep involving a stalking victim who killed said stalker out of desperation.
    • Mac with Chief Carver and Carver's nephew in 'Justified.' The nephew, who killed his abusive mother feeling he had no choice, would have to stand trial for manslaughter but likely wouldn't get prison time, and Carver wouldn't be tried, just forced into early retirement and stripped of his pension. Not a complete let off, but still showing leniency.
  • Let X Be the Unknown / Noun X: The team refers to the suspect in the 'Down the Rabbit Hole' / 'DOA for a Day' arc as "Suspect X." The don't learn her real name until 10 episodes after she's introduced.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: A kidnap victim in 'Til Death Do We Part' resorts to severing his own hand in an effort to escape.
  • Life Will Kill You: Proof that it's not Always Murder. For instance, the guy who fell off a balcony when he lost his balance trying to reach for his hidden stash of candy while he was intoxicated.
  • Lipstick-and-Load Montage: 'Cavallino Rampante' opens with a montage of a beautiful young woman getting ready for what appears to be a night at a club. She is actually a car thief getting ready to boost a Ferrari.
  • List of Transgressions:
    • See Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking and Justice by Other Legal Means above.
    • Adam says of one suspect, "The penal code is his personal to-do list. Pick a section, he's violated it."
    • Don says of Hector "Toasty" Mendez in 'Blood Out,' "This guy should get a gold medal in the felony Olympics. He's got 17 arrests so far this year, and two open drug charges to boot."
  • Little Black Dress:
    • Stella, on several occasions. Fixing to go on a date at the end of 'What You See Is What You See' and attending the mayor's event in 'The Party's Over,' to name just two.
    • The trio of thieves dressed as Holly Golightly in 'Not What It Looks Like.'
    • Christine has at least four. She wears different ones to her parents' anniversary party in 'Flash Pop' and when she fixes dinner for Mac for the first time in 'Sláinte'; then chooses between two others for their Valentine date in 'Blood Actually.'
  • Living Statue: 'Crime and Misdemeanor.' The guy in the misdemeanor case earned a living as one.
  • Locked in a Freezer: Sheldon confines one of the perps who infiltrated the lab in 'Snow Day' to a drawer in the morgue.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard:
    • 'Trapped' had Danny and Stella investigating the death of a millionaire inside his mansion's panic room. Danny accidentally trips the room, locking himself inside without a forensics kit. While he's waiting to be rescued, he uses the items found in the room to finish processing the crime scene.
      • Lampshaded by Danny addressing Stella as "Miss MacGyver" as she's walking him through said processing.
    • A later episode has Mac and Stella stuck fighting robbers who are trying to steal the Lab's confiscated drugs. Thank God Mac can build a bomb and laser trip wires from the stuff found in the lab.
  • Lodged-Blade Recycling: Played realistically in 'Epilogue.' A security guard is stabbed and pulls the knife out and uses it to stab his attacker. He then bleeds to death from the wound he had suffered which he might have survived if he had left the knife in.
  • Logging onto the Fourth Wall: The series had three examples, all now defunct.
    • "aresanob.com" had a link to "see what Stella saw" that Frankie had posted.
    • At the time, there was a site based off of the Edoc Laundry t-shirt line used in 'Hung Out to Dry.'
    • "Lookingatchu" from 'Unfriendly Chat' was made real for a while.
  • Love Confession:
    • Lindsay was the first; she told Danny in season four out of frustration, after he slept with Rikki Sandoval. He eventually reciprocated and they later married.
    • Mac was the second; his telling Christine was a big step for the guy who grieved for so long. She responded by kissing him passionately.
  • Luke, You Are My Father / Long-Lost Relative: Slightly sideways example: Reed Garrett, the biological son of Mac's dead wife, whom she gave up for adoption, comes looking for her. She died on 9/11, but he and Mac establish a sort of tenuous (Mac's not a people person) father-son relationship when Mac opens up and shares some memories of her.
  • Lying to the Perp: Detectives occasionally employ what Mac refers to as "The Rule" during interrogations, i.e. police are allowed to lie to suspects in order to obtain a confession.
    • In 'Officer Blue,' Aiden resorts to this in a pizza shop that's a front for money laundering.
    • There's also Stella's "I Lied" moment with the Greek smuggler referred to above.
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    M-P 
  • MacGyvering:
    • Danny taking fingerprints with pen ink and so forth in the panic room, coached by Stella, in 'Trapped.'
    • Mac making the lazer wall, with Stella's help, during the storming of the lab in 'Snow Day.'
    • Mac & Stella use a candle, the local fountain, a Greek/Turkish coffee pot, and one of her pewter earrings (as a catalist) to test a soil sample while at an outdoor cafe in Greece in 'Grounds for Deception.'
    • Sheldon using sulfuric acid from a recyclable battery to weaken the prison cell bars in 'Redemptio.'
  • Mad Bomber: 'Charge of this Post.' The perp blows up a building to draw attention to his belief that "WE'RE NOT READY!" for a terrorist attack.
  • Madness Mantra:
    • 'Three Generations Are Enough' features a document on a hard drive with nothing but the episode title repeated over and over.
    • When one of the suspects in 'Jamalot' is given a legal pad to write out his statement, all he fills the page with is "He plagiarized me. He plagiarized me. He plagiarized me..."
  • The Maiden Name Debate:
    • While Lindsay does change her name to Messer, she is sometimes still referred to as "Officer Lindsay Monroe Messer," such as when being presented with her medal in 'The 34th Floor.'
    • Conversely, Jo Danville had stuck with her maiden name while she was married to Russ. Otherwise, she bemoaned, her name would've been "Jo Josephson...please."
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: As shown in the photo montage on the trope's main page, even tho Mac is the head of the Lab and should be delegating and supervising, he frequently analyses evidence, pursues criminals and interrogates suspects.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: In 'Recycling,' a bike courier pedaling at top speed was stabbed, resulting in a severed artery and a hairline fracture of the pelvis. He was so high on adrenaline he didn't even notice he was bleeding out.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places:
    • Danny & Lindsay on his pool table.
    • The nude bungee jumpers in 'People with Money.'
    • The victim in 'Turbulence' who had joined the Mile-High Club (see below).
  • Malevolent Architecture: The booby-trapped penthouse in 'Death House.'
  • Malevolent Masked Men:
    • The bank vault robbers in 'Rain.'
    • The muggers in 'Civilized Lies.'
  • Mama Bear: Lindsay. Threaten Danny and/or Lucy at your peril.
  • Mama Didn't Raise No Criminal:
    • Played straight by the perp's mother in 'What You See Is What You See.'
    • Averted in 'Damned If You Do' in that the mother is right about her son.
  • Man Bites Man:
    • One of the miners in 'A Man a Mile' bites off part of another's ear. Danny says he got "Tysoned."
    • In 'Uncertainty Rules,' a little person who wrestles for a living is known to bite his opponents on the shin.
  • Maneki Neko: Counterfeits are used as a vehicle for smuggling cocaine in 'Unwrapped.'
  • Man on Fire:
    • Luke Blade, during his magic trick, and the guy he killed replicating the trick. Followed by Mac & Danny recreating it in the lab.
    • The victim in the cigarette costume in 'The Ride In.'
  • Marked Bullet: The rival gangs in 'Sangre por Sangre' carved their gangs' initials into their bullets as a way of taking credit for their kills.
  • Married to the Job:
    • Mac, for most of the series. Re-connecting with and eventually (presumably, given the proposal) marrying Christine pulled him out of it.
    • Stella, too, sometimes. In 'Blink' she reveals to Danny that she listens to the police scanner even while showering.
    Danny: Why does that not surprise me?
  • Marrying the Mark: The fiance of the dead perp in 'Identity Crisis' is told he would likely have been her next victim.
  • Matrix Raining Code: At least once, in 'The Thing About Heroes,' when the team is trying to analyze data on a broken MP3 player.
  • Medal of Dishonor: How Lindsay feels about hers at the beginning of season 7.
  • Medication Tampering:
    • In 'Blood Actually,' the killer swaps a diabetic victim's insulin for sugar syrup, so that when he goes to inject himself with insulin, he is in fact shooting up more sugar.
    • In 'Time's Up,' a college student has her asthma inhaler switched for a drug that enhances sexual arousal, causing her to suffer a fatal asthma attack while orgasming.
  • Mercy Kill: Averted by Mac, who tells Sheldon (in 'Here's to You, Mrs. Azreal') he was unable to pull the plug when his father, who was in severe pain from the final stages of cancer, had asked him to.
  • Mid-Suicide Regret: One of the teenagers in the Suicide Pact in "Blood, Sweat and Tears" decides not to go thru with it immediately after trying and later tells Mac, "Suddenly I realized everything that was wrong in my life, I could fix."
  • Mile-High Club: 'Turbulence' has Mac discovering a dead body on a plane. It turns out this guy was a fugitive who was trying to flee and was told by his flight attendant girlfriend to tie up and rob an air marshal. He murdered him instead. They then had sex in the lavatory before he threatened to hijack the plane, and he was killed for it.
  • Miranda Rights. Most, if not every episode, with some variations.
    You have the right to remain silent; use it.
    Flack[to the girl who shot Mac in 'Near Death']: Shut up! That's short for "You have the right to remain silent."
    Flack [to a suspect in 'Blood Out']: Hey, Moron, one more word outta you and I'ma duct tape your mouth shut!
  • Mistaken for Aliens: Two urban paintball players are mistaken for aliens by an insane woman in the episode 'Consequences'. One encounters some criminals and becomes the Victim of the Week while the other is mauled by a Bear Trap the woman set in the alley to catch aliens and spends most of the episode convalescing in her apartment's bathtub.
  • Mistaken for an Imposter: The victim in 'Boo' who was buried alive is at first mistaken as simply being dressed as a zombie. It is Halloween after all.
  • Mistaken for Cheating:
    • Danny. When one of his rookies shot an unarmed man instead of the armed man who confronted them, she deflected attention from herself by saying Danny was cheating with her and told her to lie. A video from the bar shows her cozying up to Danny and makes Internal Affairs more suspicious, though Danny denies it and insists she came on to him. Lindsay eventually pressures the rookie to admit the truth and clear Danny.
    • The Ugly Guy in the Ugly Guy, Hot Wife couple in 'Blood Actually.' His wife, who was intensely in love with him, thought he was cheating so she gave her diabetic husband regular chocolates disguised as sugar-free ones and replaced his insulin with sugar water. Turns out the "other woman" was a travel agent he was using to plan their 5th anniversary dream vacation.
  • Mistaken for Junkie: Hawkes. His girlfriend was the actual user; he just inhaled marijuana residue from her while they were getting it on. But it showed up in his random NYPD-mandated drug test and Mac was anxious to know what was going on.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile:
    • The episode 'Rush to Judgment' centers around the Victim of the Week, a high school wrestling coach who supposedly sent an email containing child pornography to his students. It was revealed that one of his students, upset that being moved up a weight class guaranteed his defeat and the loss of a college scholarship, hacked the coach's unsecured wifi signal, and used his laptop to send the child porn to several members of the team. The father of one the team members saw the email, confronted the coach, killed him, hacked him up, and discarded the remains all over town.
    • 'Unspoken' had a former teacher shooting up a political rally to get revenge on a former principal who disliked his caring manner towards the kids he worked with. In flashback, we see the shooter hugging a student of his after she scraped her knee, and getting fired for "inappropriate behavior."
  • Mistaken for Spies: In 'Brooklyn 'Til I Die,' a rich young man is kidnapped and his companion is found killed. At the beginning the CSI team believes that they are dealing with spies but shortly after it is revealed that the couple was taking part in a group role-play game and were in the wrong place at the wrong time. One of the actors was questioned and played it smooth up until he found out that the cops were real and instantly started to freak out.
  • Molotov Cocktail: How the perp blows up the food truck in 'Food for Thought.'
  • Moment Killer: Quite a few throughout the series run. See also Kinda Busy Here above.
    • When Danny follows Lindsay to Montana for moral support, they find themselves alone in the courtroom after the trial and almost have their first kiss...but reporters burst in, snapping pictures and shouting questions.
    • Ellie and a friend walked in on Jo and her boyfriend in various states of undress once.
  • Money to Throw Away:
    • In 'Brooklyn 'Til I Die,' a man tosses handfuls of high value gambling chips into the crowd to create a distraction to allow him to escape the casino. This turns out to be part of a role-playing game.
    • In 'Pot of Gold,' a bartender throws the cash from a tip basket into the crowd to hinder the cops from getting to him while he runs out the back door.
  • Monochrome Past:
    • 'Charge of This Post,' 'Yahrzeit,' 'Blacklist (featuring Grave Digger)' all use sepia tones for significant flashbacks.
    • In 'Flash Pop,' scenes of a case from 1957 are shown in black & white and muted colors.
  • Monster Clown: 'To What End?' episode 7.11: He's just trying to protect himself from a hitman.
  • Mood Lighting:
    • The show started out rather dark and gloomy. After taking a lot of flak (although not a lot of Flack) for it, the lights were turned up for the second season.
    • Added to this is the harsh blue lighting used for the first season (used to make New York look slightly 'colder'), which was eventually found to be too cold and phased out for the second season.
  • Most Definitely Not a Villain: Sort of, with Lampshade Hanging. When they find a victim wearing an "It's the big APPLE" sweatshirt, they immediately assume it's a tourist. They're right.
  • Motive Misidentification: Among others, 'The Dove Commission.' For most of the episode, the investigators are convinced the author of the titular Commission's report on dirty cops is killed for revenge by someone he outed. The motive turns out to be *much* more personal.
  • Mud Wrestling: A variation with a flashback of the lube wrestler victim in the B-plot of 'Trapped.'
  • Murder by Mistake: 'Here's to You, Mrs. Azreal' features a girl who got smothered to death by her own mother while recovering from a drunk driving accident that claimed the life of her look-alike friend because her killer believed she was the one who had died in the crash and didn't think it was fair for the other young woman to survive after having caused it. Maybe they shouldn't have swapped driver's licenses before she got behind the wheel.
  • Murder by Remote Control Vehicle: An episode features a Serial Killer whose gimmick is remotely sabotaging computer systems (e.g. changing the ordering system of a restaurant so a victim with an allergy has their meal loaded with allergens and blocking the emergency call). His first kill was a variation of this trope; he hacked the GPS of the victim's (expensive) car so it would take him to a bad part of town, lock up the doors and engine and then sound the car alarm to lure in crooks.
  • My Card: The detectives are constantly giving their cards to potential witnesses in case they remember more details. When Sheldon gives one to a victim's mother on one of his first cases in the field, Don chastises him because if he keeps this up, his phone will be ringing off the hook.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: A woman made her suicide look like murder in an effort to frame the doctor who negligently caused her daughter's death so that he'd finally get the punishment she felt he deserved.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • The reaction of the girl's killer aka her own mother at the end of 'And Here's To You, Mrs. Azrael.' To explain, her daughter traded licenses with her inebriated look-alike friend in order to drive home after a wild night of partying. They got into a crash, the friend was killed, and the daughter was put into a coma. Due to their facial injuries, all the responders/med personnel had to go by were the switcherooed licenses. The daughter came out of the coma and her mother, thinking she was the other woman and had caused her daughter's death, smothered her out of revenge, with the daughter briefly crying out to her but the mother thought this was the other girl calling for her mother, and only realizing her mistake when Mac explains the mix-up while charging her with the murder.
    • Also that of the would-be assassin in 'Unspoken' when he realizes a child was killed with the gun he threw in a dumpster.
    • Frank Waters has the same reaction in 'Means To an End' when he realizes his latest attempt to bring John Curtis to justice resulted in someone else's death.
  • My Little Panzer: The cardboard submarine that is behind a motive in 'Child's Play.'
  • Name's the Same: Becomes plot points in the following:
    • Mac's namesakes in the 100th episode.
    • In 'Command+P,' a case of mistaken identity leads to two murders all because the first victim runs into the wrong guy named Andy.
  • Native American Casino: Figures into the plot of 'Communication Breakdown.'
  • Nazi Grandpa: One is discovered in 'Yahrzeit.'
  • Near-Death Experience: Mac, in 'Near Death.'
  • Neck Snap: COD of victims in 'Super Men,' 'The Cost of Living,' and 'Forbidden Fruit.'
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles:
    • The clown killer tries to hide in a flash mob of similarly dressed clowns in 'To What End?'
    • Sheldon refers to this trope in 'Unfriendly Chat:'
    With a constantly changing IP address, we're looking for a needle in a stack of needles.
  • Never Found the Body (Or Even DNA): Mac's wife Claire along with hundreds of real-life 9/11 victims although the fall 2011 premiere revealed she escaped her tower before it fell... It IS implied that she returned to help others.
  • Never Say Goodbye: Jo makes Sid promise this at the end of 'Command+P.'
  • Never Suicide: Stella is very (bordering on insanely to the rest of the cast) certain that a young woman who had been searching for her missing twin brother for over a decade didn't kill herself — the fact that her GSW is in the stomach instead of her head or heart is a telling clue.
  • New Media Are Evil: Invoked and subverted, sometimes in the same episode.
    • In 'Unfriendly Chat,' Adam witnesses a murder on a Chatroulette-like site. Jo and Mac both try out the site and find it interesting rather than dangerous. Jo even uses it to show the NYC skyline to a soldier in Afghanistan.
    • In 'Who's There?' a woman makes a fake "profile page" to entice her husband into an online affair so she can use it against him in their divorce. Lindsay and Jo take cues and set up a page for Mac, who ends up reuniting with Christine this way.
  • New York Is Only Manhattan:
    • Averted by the series as a whole. Crimes happen in all five boroughs throughout the 9 year run. Season 1's 'Tri-Borough' has cases spread across the city. Also, Aiden is from Brooklyn, Danny is from Staten Island and Don is from Queens.
    • Invoked by the owner of the Manhattan Minx rollerderby team in "Jamalot:"
    New York isn't Queens or the Bronx; it's Manhattan!
  • Night Swim = Death: Too many episodes to list. It's usually signaled by finding the body floating in the swimming pool.
  • "Noah's Story" Arc: A scammer/crazy guy used this and built an ark once. He offered rides to 4 couples for $100,000 each, filled the ark with animals, claimed the world was going to end that Sunday, but was found dead in his house on a huge pile of cash before the date arrived. The detectives found the 8 people holed up in the vessel in the man's backyard.
  • No Badge? No Problem!: Usually averted since, unlike the original, the CSIs are also NYPD detectives.
    • However in one episode Mac follows his stalker to Chicago, and tries to throw his badge to get into the Tribune building. Chicago PD had to remind him that badges only work in their jurisdictions and he had no power in Chicago.
    • Averted in San Francisco in '2,918 Miles' since Mac and Jo are helping FBI agent Cade.
    • In the season 9 crossover, Mac asks Jimmy Boyd "Do you know who I am?" Jimmy says he does but that he also knows Mac's (NYPD) badge is no good in Vegas. DB steps in at that point and lays down the law.
  • No-Dialogue Episode: 'Unspoken.' Half the episode was backed by Green Day music and no speech.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Danny's brother, Louie, gets one from The Tanglewood Boys while trying to clear Danny's name in 'Run Silent, Run Deep.'
    • Flack is the recipient of one while on the subway during his A.W.O.L. period in 'Cuckoo's Nest.' Terrence Davis, his former C.I., comes to his rescue.
  • No Name Given: Mac, whose full first name has never been said, at least onscreen. (Mac can be a name in itself, though Gary Sinise and an early script said otherwise [see Actor Allusion].)
  • Nonfatal Explosions:
    • Mac, Flack and an office worker survive the bomb in 'Charge of This Post.'
    • Mac survives the lab explosion in 'Snow Day,' (although two of the gang members do not).
    • Adam survives a van exploding near him while playing street hockey in 'Green Piece.'
    • Mac survives the restaurant explosion that propels him in 'Sangre Por Sangre.' When he gets up, he's clearly having trouble hearing for a moment.
    • Sheldon and Camille survive the food truck explosion in 'Food for Thought.' They come to and start helping other victims.
    • Flack survives a car bomb exploding barely a block in front of him in 'Sláinte.' He's pretty stunned by it.
  • Noodle Incident: Christine asks Mac if he recalls a time during a vacation when they all got drunk. Mac doesn't want to talk about it.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Used in the 'Vacation Getaway' / 'The 34th Floor' cliffhanger when Shane Casey falls off a lighthouse.
  • No Periods, Period:
    • Averted in 'Crime and Misdemeanor.' At the scene of a woman's murder in a hotel room, blood is found in the mattress coils. The man to whom the room is registered, who is obviously the first suspect, tells investigators, "Menstrual blood never bothered me," and that the woman left after they had sex.
    • Mildly averted in 'Nine Thirteen,' when Lindsay is seen counting on her fingers upon leaving the ladies' room and later tells Danny that she's pregnant again.
  • No Phones Tonight: Danny and Lindsay agree not to bring theirs on vacation. Lindsay sneaks hers along to use as a backup camera, but still has it turned off most of the time. This means that it takes a long time to locate its signal (it finally pops up on the grid when Lindsay takes a picture) to find them when Shane Casey comes after them.
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • 'Point of View' has Mac pursue a suspect in a stairway. They pause on one of the landings when the suspect protests his innocence. He then gives Mac a big push, which causes him to fall backwards off the landing, the railing of which isn't high enough to guard against falls. Mac's knocked unconscious and ends up off work for a month with some broken ribs, his arm in a brace and a sprained ankle.
    • In 'Nine Thirteen,' the Victim of the Week is attacked on the 10th-story balcony of a highrise. After the villain leaves him for dead, he gets to his feet, stumbles around and easily falls over the way-too-short ledge, landing on a parked vehicle.
  • Not Good with Rejection:
    • The original wife of the threesome in 'Stealing Home.'
    • Stella's boyfriend Frankie.
    • Ella McBride in 'Forbidden Fruit.'
    • The first wife in 'Dead Reckoning.'
  • Not Listening to Me, Are You?: Mac is preoccupied with being railroaded over Clay Dobson’s death in 'Comes Around' and stops listening to Peyton as she talks about autopsy results on a current case. She gets irritated and says she made a patê with the dead person’s liver then served it to her co-workers, and Mac finally starts listening again.
  • Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon: Variant in 'Fare Game.' It was a blank gun, and the killer just wanted to scare the victim with it, but he didn't realize that at point blank range, it's still a deadly weapon.
  • Not My Driver: The MO of the "Cabbie Killer."
  • Not Quite Dead:
    • The body stolen from the coroner's van in 'What Schemes May Come' turns out to be a man in a hibernation experiment. He was revived, but died shortly thereafter anyway.
    • At the end of 'Vacation Getaway' it is revealed that Shane Casey survived his fall from the lighthouse.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: Averted with Hawkes, who was an MD before changing careers.
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: 'All Access.' Frankie doesn't know enough about guns to take the safety off when he tries to shoot Stella, giving her the chance to grab it, take off the safety, and shoot him as he continued to try attacking.
  • Officer O'Hara: Averted with Flack. A great example in 'Pot of Gold' is him calmly contrasting himself with the off-duty officers who are particularly angry with the perp for having to come in to work instead of enjoying the St. Patrick's Day parade/festivities.
  • Office Romance:
    • Danny & Lindsay
    • Mac & Peyton
    • Flack & Angell
    • Flack & Levato
  • Official Couple:
    • Danny and Lindsay.
    • Mac has been one half of three official couples: first with Claire (though it's all shown in flashback and referred to in past tense because she died before the series' start), then with Peyton, then finally in earnest again with Christine.
  • Official Couple Ordeal Syndrome:
    • Danny & Lindsay
    • Mac & Christine, to a lesser extent, but probably only because the show ended.
  • Official Kiss: Mac & Christine, when he finally admits he loves her.
  • Offing the Offspring: Late in season 6: What really happened to the Never Suicide girl and her brother: stepdad killed bro and years later killed sis when she found out.
  • Off with His Head!: 'Corporate Warriors,' and actually voiced by Sid during an autopsy in 'Hung Out to Dry.'
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The look on the face of the rapist whose case ruined Jo's FBI career in 'Means to an End' when he realizes he left a bullet in the chamber of Jo's gun before tossing it back to her as a taunt.
    • Danny also does this in 'Food For Thought' when Lindsay's wanting a ton of food and Danny thinks she's pregnant again.
  • Older Than They Look: The 32 yr old perp posing as a high school student so he and his older partner (posing as his father) could prey on teenage girls.
  • Once for Yes, Twice for No: Inverted by Mac, who asks the victims in 'Blink' and 'Damned If You Do' to indicate twice for yes and once for no.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: Done a number of times throughout the series. One example is season 7's 'Sangre por Sangre.' In the opening, it appears that a gang leader is shooting at Mac and barely misses him. At the end of the episode the event is shown from a slightly different angle, revealing that the leader was aiming at - and killed - another gang member, who actually *was* aiming at Mac.
  • Once per Episode:
    • Danny will say "Boom!" and/or Adam will say "What up!"
    • Det. Flack and/or Danny will chase a suspect on foot.
    • Mac will make a military reference, and/or (particularly from season 2 on) a US flag will be prominently displayed somewhere in addition to his office.
  • One of Our Own:
    • Stella shooting her boyfriend in 'All Access.' Mac and Flack spend most of the episode proving it was self-defense.
    • A mild example with Sid preparing (in one of the limbo sequences) to do Mac's autopsy after he got shot in the season 8 finale.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Played more realistically than a lot of examples in "Sangre por Sangre." Righthanded Mac is shot in the left arm while trying to apprehend a gang leader. While clutching it and wincing in pain a few times, he continues hunting the guy down and shoots another gang member in the process.
  • Opening the Flood Gates:
    • A high tech public toilet was rigged to fill up with water when its automatic cleaning feature kicked in. When a woman opened it from the outside, she and a bystander were knocked clean off their feet...and met with a drowning victim.
    • Another victim was confined in a hidden room slowly filling with cold water in a booby-trapped penthouse. When the team busts a hole in the wall, all the water crashes thru, almost sweeping them off their feet. Thankfully, the victim survived.
  • Opposites Attract: City boy Danny and country girl Lindsay.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: During the crossover episodes with CSI: Miami.
  • Organ Theft: 'Live or Let Die,' 'Point of No Return,' 'Hammer Down.'
  • Orgy of Evidence: In 'Prey,' the CSI team investigate a murder with a large amount of strange evidence; all of it designed to simulate evidence encountered at early crime scenes.
  • ...Or So I Heard:
    • In 'It Happened to Me,' Adam gives an in-detail explanation of what a "sploshing" party is before playing this trope hilariously straight. Adam does this a lot.
    • Flack does it as well in 'Vigilante:'
    Flack: Pole dancing is good cardio.
    Lindsay: [gives him a look]
    Flack: So I've heard.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: One case involved members of a vampire church/religious group. They exchanged blood with consensual donors, sometimes filed their teeth to points, and had a mark carved on the arm when they joined the group.
  • Outranking Your Job: Although Mac is the head of the lab, he's frequently seen analyzing evidence alongside his subordinates or chasing down and interrogating suspects as opposed to delegating everything except his own paperwork to others.
    • Subverted in one episode when Lindsay asks him to help her out with the mountain of evidence she needs to process.
    Mac: [grinning for once] Sorry, I get to be the boss this week. [walks away]
  • Out Sick: In 'Point of View,' Mac is stuck at home after cracking his ribs falling down a staircase. It turns into a Rear Window Witness plot when he spends time watching the apartment building across the street.
  • Out with a Bang: In 'Enough,' one Victim of the Week is shot in the head while having sex with a prostitute in the back of his car. The prostitute then pushes his body out and steals his car.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: The amount of blood shed by both the first victim in 'Cool Hunter' and the second victim in 'It Happened to Me' is obviously more than a single human body would contain.
  • Overprotective Dad: Danny says Lucy will never have a computer and won't date until she's 30. He won't even let one of the male lab rats talk to her the first day he and Lindsay bring her to work.
  • Overturned Outhouse: In 'Tri-Borough,' the victim was inside a port-a-potty when it was tipped over by a construction worker as revenge for replacing him. This wasn't actually what killed the guy: It was a falling block of airplane toilet water.
  • Painful Body Waxing: 'Point of No Return' opens with a scream coming from a cheap motel room. As the shot zooms, the viewer discovers that this is not a horrible crime but a group of women holding a bikini wax party. The actual murder takes place in the room next door.
  • Paintball Episode: 'Consequences.' Two men were playing in the streets. Both got shot. One died and the other was abducted by a schizophrenic woman who mistook him for an alien.
  • Panicky Expectant Father: Downplayed by Danny. He's fine until the day of Lucy's birth when he starts getting nervous and says to Adam:
    What if it's twins? I mean, you've seen Lindsay, she's huge!
  • Paranoia Fuel: In-universe (and probably real life) example in the form of the Cabbie Killer. The city's mass transit system was stretched to its limits due to everyone being afraid to take a taxi.
  • Paranormal Episode: Mac going into the Afterlife Antechamber in 'Near Death' and seeing his late wife, Claire.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: Evident with Ellie after she and a boy sneak into the apartment and Jo thinks there's a burglar and confronts them, with an FBI agent/old friend (whose shirt is open) right behind her and herself not fully dressed.
  • Passed-Over Promotion: The killer's motive in one of the cases in 'The Lying Game.'
  • Password Slot Machine: Used by a pair of car thieves to crack the security code on a Ferrari in 'Cavallino Rampante.'
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The core of both Luke Blade in season 3 and Leonard Brooks in season 9, both due to feeling betrayed by their respective "families," whether blood-related or not.
  • Percussive Pickpocket:
    • The guy who lifts Mac's wallet in 'Nothing for Something.'
    • Also how Shane Casey sneaks a cell phone *into* Mac's pocket in 'Raising Shane.'
    • 'Shop Till You Drop' has Mac catching a pickpocket (who manages to hide his stash before they grab him) just before running into the Victim of the Week. They later find a security camera video of said pickpocket bumping into their suspect and realize that he stole a camera with vital evidence on it.
  • Perma-Stubble: Danny seems to have settled into this after losing the Beard of Sorrow.
  • Phrase Catcher: By the fifth season, every other character has picked up Danny's "Boom!" Catchphrase. Once Jo arrives in season 7, it doesn't take her long to pick it up as well.
  • Pillow Pregnancy: The professional shoplifter in 'Some Buried Bones.' When Danny causes two stolen items fall out of her shirt by knocking on her stomach, Stella congratulates her on twins.
  • Pillow Silencer: The titular victim in 'Rest in Peace, Marina Garito' was killed in this manner. The perp was caught after he over-thought things and returned to the scene to steal the matching throw pillow from the couch.
  • Pinned to the Wall: A couple making out outside a party in 'Stuck on You' are impaled and pinned to a wall by a crossbow arrow.
  • Planet of Steves: 'My Name Is Mac Taylor.' Apparently, our hero has at least 22 namesakes in the NYC area alone.
  • Playing Sick:
    • Danny gets the "blue flu" during the Robert Dunbrook arc.
    • Sheldon calls in sick in order to spend time with Camille in 'Food for Thought.'
  • Plot Allergy:
    • Flack is allergic to cats; it comes up twice.
    • Sid goes into anaphylaxis in 'The Ride In' from an unrevealed ingredient on his meatball sub.
    • There's one victim who's allergic to shellfish and another to peanuts.
    • Mac's severe allergy to blueberries is (harmlessly) revealed in 'Clean Sweep' thru a prank of Flack's.
  • Plot-Powered Stamina:
    • On more than one occasion, Mac works 48+ hours straight. Whenever one of their own is murdered, he expects everyone around him to do the same for the sake of the officer's family (Aiden in season 2 and the off-duty officer in season 9).
    • In 'Risk,' Danny spots a body on the subway tracks on his way home after a double shift and goes back to work to help with the case.
  • Poetic Serial Killer / Theme Serial Killer: The t-shirt killer uses Greek mythology and numerology in his clues.
  • Police Brutality: Danny, with the Neo-Nazi suspect in 'Yarhzeit.' Stella got called out for it in season 1's 'Supply & Demand,' for what is revealed to be her fourth time.
  • Police Brutality Gambit:
    • Subverted, a suspect slams his head into the table and says he'll sue. Mac cheerfully explains how easily his injuries could be proved to be self-inflicted and says he injured himself for nothing.
    • The serial killer who killed himself to frame Mac for murder is a much more extreme example.
  • Potty Emergency: One of these leads to the discovery of a victim in 'Playing with Matches.'
  • Powerful Pick: One of the victims in 'What Schemes May Come' is killed by an ice pick to the neck.
  • Pregnant Hostage: One of the bank tellers in 'Hostage' is three months pregnant.
  • Prison Episode: 'Redemptio.' Sheldon is there to witness an execution.
  • Prison Riot: 'Redemptio.' again. Shane Casey uses it as part of his escape plan.
  • Private Profit Prison: The juvenile detention center in 'Crossroads.'
  • Product Placement:
    • Dasani water is on prominent display in several episodes.
    • The team's vehicles are constantly referred to by model. An example from 'My Name Is Mac Taylor':
    Mac: Who has a set of keys to the Avalanche?
    • Hasbro gave the show the rights to use the titular game quite prominently in 'Clue: SI.'
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Sid and Adam in season 5.
  • Pulled from Your Day Off: Quite often.
    • Mac is called away from the opera with Peyton; they're both interrupted while in bed together; and he tags along another time when she's called to a scene during a dinner date...then Flack calls him to yet another scene.
    • Happened to Stella once when she was in bed with Frankie.
    • Lindsay comes in on her day off to help determine the poison Sid was exposed to in 'Page Turner.'
    • Mac's called in while on a date in Central Park with Christine in 'The Real McCoy'.
  • Pun-Based Title: Quite a number of episodes over the 9-year run, including 'Outside Man,' 'Zoo York,' 'Fare Game,' 'Oedipus Hex, 'Raising Shane,' 'A Daze of Wine and Roaches,' 'What Schemes May Come,' 'Happily Never After,' 'Unfriendly Chat,' and 'Clue: SI.'
  • Put Off Their Food: On Lindsay's first day on the job, she assists Mac with an experiment that involves stabbing a pig to determine what the murder weapon was. When they're through she says she's done eating bacon for life.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Peyton Driscoll and Reed Garrett in season 4, although they each came back for one episode during season 6 ('Point of View' and 'Pot of Gold,' respectively).
    • Haylen Becall in season 6. Granted she had only been promised a year of employment, but she still left without saying goodbye.
    • Aubrey Hunter also disappeared without a goodbye in season 6.
    • Stella in the season 7 opener.
  • Pyromaniac: The season 9 premiere and second ep were centered on one of these.

    Q-T 
  • Quip to Black: Usually Mac or Stella (succeeded by Jo) but everyone has their turn.
  • RPG Episode: 'Down the Rabbit Hole,' and to a lesser extent, 'DOA for a Day,' the beginning of 'The Box,' and 'Brooklyn 'Til I Die.'
  • Rage Against the Legal System: The young man who killed the Hanging Judge above.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: The woman with the brain condition that prevented her from recognizing her own reflection. She accidentally killed someone after seeing her reflection once, and in the interrogation room she attacks the one-way mirror, yelling that it's the killer.
  • Rags to Riches: Sid. He wasn't exactly poor before, but he wasn't wealthy either. Now he's made a bundle on his pillow invention. And then he gave most of it away after being diagnosed with cancer.
  • Rain of Blood: The "Where did that drop come from?" version is used in the opening of 'Hung Out to Dry.'
  • Rank Up: Danny, briefly. He took the sergeant's exam and passed, and was assigned to train a group of rookies. Unfortunately, when he took them out for a drink after hours, they were attacked by two men, one of whom was armed. Danny was knocked out, and later found that one of the rookies had shot the unarmed man, rather than the one with the gun. She got scared and tried to cover by implying Danny was having an affair with her and said he told her to lie. Lindsay eventually pressured her to tell the truth, and Danny was cleared of any wrongdoing, but decided not to keep the job. He didn't like the long hours away from his family and never felt really at home with the rookies like he did with the team at the lab.
  • Ransacked Room: The room of Christine's impersonator in Las Vegas. Also has popped up in a few other episodes.
    • One of which was 'Supply and Demand.' The college student's apartment was trashed by the guys looking for their stolen drugs.
  • Rape and Revenge / Sisterhood Eliminates Creep: The woman who killed her attacker and then started attacking other rapists because she felt they weren't getting enough jail time. Her lawyer and another victim helped with the attacks.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil / Serial Rapist:
    • There is one specific rapist in the second season named D.J. Pratt who goes out of his way to rape the same woman twice, the second time after he was acquitted of the first rape. This turns him into Aiden's Arch-Enemy when the rape victim comes to her, and turns him into a Smug Snake Arc Villain for the season; her pursuit of Pratt leads her to consider tampering with evidence, get her fired, and eventually get her killed by Pratt. That murder is how they bring him down after he and his lawyer show arrogance towards the CSIs and after he rapes a prostitute in another episode (said prostitute, in an attempt to get away from him, tripped and fell onto a spike. Pratt is one of the most stuck-up enemies on the show.
    • Two seasons later, during the Cabbie Killer saga, the team discovers that a student at an Ivy League prep school and his father are in fact two-fully grown men who are using the school and parties to prey on female students. One of the rape victims is the daughter of one of Mac's antagonistic comrades from the previous season. Bonus points for them having records. They are arrested for both the rapes and for the "son" having killed a counselor who confronted him about the issue when the daughter informed him of the rape and a new attempt, but as it's highly implied the two will get off yet again, the officer shoots him dead offscreen; all we hear is the gun shot.
    • The murder victim in 'Vigilante.'
    • John Curtis in 'Crossroads' and 'Means to an End.'
  • Real Men Hate Affection: Danny, observing a "cuddle party" in season 2's 'Grand Murder at Central Station,' although Lindsay eventually changed his mind.
    Danny: I don't cuddle.
  • Rear Window Witness:
    • 'Point of View' pays homage to the classic Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window. Mac has been severely injured during the pursuit of a suspect and is confined to his apartment, where he wiles away the time observing his neighbors. Mac witnesses a shady deal similar to L.B. Jeffries and becomes suspicious of his murderous neighbor.
    • In 'Unfriendly Chat,' Adam is on a video chat with a woman he has never met before when she is strangled.
  • Recruited from the Gutter: The Victim of the Week in 'Second Chances,' was an up-and-coming musician who had been a homeless drug addict until his girlfriend and her band took him in. It turns out that they'd been invoking this trope; rescuing a drug addict to join their band and arranging a relapse/overdose death when their victim's life insurance had "matured" enough to give them a big payout.
  • Red Herring: In both episodes where an in-universe Neo-Nazi named Michael Elgers appears ('Green Piece' and 'Yahrzeit'), he is not the killer. In 'Green Piece' he is framed, while in 'Yahrzeit' his alibi is confirmed.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: The Rat Fisherman from season 5 claimed he might eat his catch if he were hungry enough, although he may have been yanking the investigators' chain.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns:
    • In 'All in the Family,' an old shotgun is thrown off a roof by the villains, hits a gargoyle on the way down and bump-fires into a passerby, killing her and leading the team to the villains' original crime.
    • Averted in 'Point of View,' in that Mac's revolver does not go off despite falling 30 or so feet with him and bouncing on the metal grate he lands on.
  • Remember the New Guy?: The character of Detective Flack did not appear in the 'MIA-NYC Nonstop' "pilot" because the character was not conceived until after the episode aired. In 'Blink,' the series premiere, however, Flack seems to have been part of the team for some time. It's possible that Mac had just been working without Flack in the pilot, but that never seems to happen on any other case.
    • Unless it was his day off; he actually had one in 'Misconceptions.'
  • Remember That You Trust Me: Mac is horrible about letting people in, even Stella, his closest friend. This has come back to bite him in the ass more than once, including being a huge factor in the failure of his relationship with Peyton, and the huge disaster that resulted after he was implicated in a murder (see Taking You with Me). Stella calls him on it in the season 6 premiere, when he's obsessing over trying to figure out who opened fire on the team at the end of season 5 and acting as if he's the only one on the case. He did seem to be improving a bit by the time Christine starts romancing him, but then he slipped into it again with his aphasia condition in Season 9. Jo called him on it once, but he rebuffed her and had to apologize later. It took Christine several episodes and very nearly walking away from him for him to finally get the message and open up to her. How much he opened up to the rest of the team, with the cancellation of the series at the end of Season 9, will remain a mystery.
  • Rescue Romance: One episode has a woman who, it initially appears, gets back together with her ex after he saves her from being kidnapped and assaulted. It turns out that the "abduction" was a fetish game she and her current partner had knowingly staged, and her ex killed her lover in a fit of jealousy - she just found it hot that he would go that far for her.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Averted with The Tanglewood Boys. Their official gang tattoo includes room for two dates: the date when someone joins the gang and the date when he leaves it. And while Danny says that leaving the gang alive "hardly ever happens," his own brother, Louie, managed to do so.
  • Reverse Polarity:
    • Justified when Mac actually does this to show Stella the color-changing ink used by the counterfeiters in 'What You See Is What You See.'
    • Adam also does this when he shows Lindsay how the mangetic apparatus used to hijack the armored car in 'The Triangle' works.
  • Ripped from the Headlines:
    • 'And Here's to You, Mrs. Azrael' is based on the mistaken identity case of Whitney Cerak and Laura VanRyn.
    • 'Hide Sight' drew from the cases of Steven Stayner ("I Know My First Name Is Steven") and his brother, Cary.
    • 'Misconceptions' was based on the disappearance of Etan Patz.
  • Rise from Your Grave: The opening of 'Boo' plays this one as straight as a show based on science can.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue / Unstoppable Rage: Mac goes dangerously close to the edge when Christine is taken. At least two guys get shot, and Mac appears to play Russian Roulette with one of them; though it's later revealed that he only pretended to put the bullet in the revolver.
  • Rule of Three: The Plot Device from the "333 Stalker" arc.
  • Rooftop Confrontation:
    • Mac & Clay Dobson in season 3.
    • Mac & Flack with the perp in 'The 34th Floor.'
    • Mac & the unnamed perp in the opening of the season 7 finale, which led to his BSOD moment.
  • Roofhopping:
    • In 'All in the Family,' Mac, Don & Sheldon travel from one crime scene to another two buildings away via the rooftops. Downplayed in that the first gap is covered by a large board and the second is easily jumped by all three of them.
    • A perp attempts this, unsuccessfully, in 'Blood Out.'
  • Room Full of Crazy:
    • 'Jamalot:' The second Victim of the Week is murdered by someone with a compulsion to write on any surface including the walls of the room in which he kills the guy.
    • 'The Ride In:' The man calling himself "Noah" has written quotes from various religious texts, from the Bible to the Koran to Nostradamus, all over his walls.
    • Mac turns his office into one while trying to figure out who's behind the shooting that happened at the end of Season 5.
  • Run for the Border: The season 5 premiere had the perp try to escape to Canada before Mac caught up with him. Needless to say, he failed.
  • Rustproof Blood: The most blatant example is the 30 yr old T-shirt that the 333 Stalker sends Mac. While not blood red, it's certainly not rusty enough for its age.
  • Saw a Woman in Half: The first victim in 'Sleight Out of Hand,' with your garden-variety hand saw, no less.
  • Scaramanga Special: One perp makes a gun out of a steering wheel lock; another assembles one from various items including a souvenir ink pen.
  • Scars Are Forever:
    • Mac's wife's son, Reed, still bears scars on his neck from his ordeal with the Cabbie Killer; he hides them with a scarf.
    • Mac still has a scar from being burned by hot shrapnel after a bomb blast in Beirut. Granted, we can't spot it when he's swimming in 'My Name Is Mac Taylor,' but makeup is really hard to manage during a water scene, so it's justified. It is visible in the scene where he's shirtless in bed with Peyton, though.
    • Chief Carver's adult nephew still has scars from his mother's abuse of him as a child. The make-up department did a flawless job of matching the scars on the two actors portraying him at both ages.
    • When Mac gets out of the shower in the season 9 opener, the bullet wound scar on his back from the season 8 finale can be seen.
  • Scary Surprise Party: In 'Uncertainty Rules,' a college student is abducted by two men in scary clown masks who force a gun into his mouth. It turns out to be a squirt gun filled with tequila, and the two clowns are his friends who are dragging him out to celebrate his 21st birthday. However, the party goes horribly wrong.
  • Scenery Censor:
    • 'Time's Up' opens with a naked man running through the streets of New York. While there a lot of close-ups showing him from the waist up, there are several long shots where strategic areas are blocked by traffic, bystanders, etc.
    • Also used with quite a number of bodies in autopsy, as is the case franchise-wide.
  • Sdrawkcab Alias: Frankie does this to Stella by calling his sculpture (and website) "Aresanob."
  • Second Episode Introduction: Flack. His character wasn't conceived until after the pilot on CSI: Miami and made his first appearance in 'Blink,' the first actual NY episode.
  • Secretly Dying: Sid, most likely. Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma isn't *always* fatal, but he did tell Jo that his was pretty advanced. Jo knows, but he asked her not to tell anyone else.
  • Secretly Wealthy: Sid, after selling his pillow patent for $27 Million. He told Jo but asked her to keep it to herself. See also Wealthy Philanthropist below.
  • Secret Snack Stash: A victim literally falls prey to his own in 'The Fall.'
  • Seduction-Proof Marriage: Danny after marrying Lindsay. In 'Out of the Sky,' his old partner ribs him about the pretty nurse in the hospital when Danny visits him and this is Danny's reply.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Mac and Stella have a short conversation about the winner of a hotdog eating contest while digging up the wooden crate with the corpse in 'Blood, Sweat and Tears.' It's kind of a "What's that got to do with the price of eggs?" moment.
  • Self-Immolation: Attempted by a perpetrator in 'My Name Is Mac Taylor.'
  • Self-Made Orphan: Attempted by the villain in 'Damned If You Do,' but subverted by a case of mistaken identity.
  • Semper Fi: Mac. And the episode 'Heroes.'
  • Sequel Episodes:
    • The various arcs: Cabbie Killer, Compass Killer, 333 Stalker, Shane Casey.
    • 'Run Silent, Run Deep' ends with Stella discovering what Frankie put online; it isn't revealed to the audience until the next episode, 'All Access.'
    • "Suspect X" alludes capture in season 5's fifth episode, 'Down the Rabbit Hole' and doesn't show up again until the fifteenth, 'DOA for a Day.'
    • The original suspect in the arson case in the season 9 premiere shows up again in the next episode.
  • Serial Killer: Several. Mac seems to attract them somehow.
  • Serial Killings, Specific Target: In 'Page Turner,' the killer poisons his wife with thallium and then coats a book in the library where she works with it, knowing that others will be exposed. After two more people die, he launches a lawsuit against the city and the library.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • Danny was said to be from a family of cops, but episodes like 'Tanglewood' and 'Run Silent, Run Deep' cast doubt on that. The producers tried to retcon by saying it was extended family, but many still don't buy it.
    • Mac tells the victim in 'Blink' that he used to sit with his wife in the hospital just as he was sitting with her. This indicates a probable intent to have Claire found near death after the towers fell and then have died of her injuries later. In season 4, though, he tells Reed her body was never found.
    • The novel with Mac visiting Claire's grave and the one where he recalls not being able to contact Claire on 9/11 was published before the respective revelations (of the body never being found and the fact that they did have a cell phone conversation, albeit one that was cut off in the middle) and novels aren't usually canon anyway, so it's easily excused.
    • Stella tells a suspect in 'Til Death Do We Part' that she lived at Saint Basil's Orphanage until age 18, but in season 3's 'Cold Reveal,' there was a big plot about her and a girl she shared a foster home with. She could have gone in and out of foster homes when she was a child, always going back to the same orphanage. In that case, it'd be easier just to say, "I grew up in an orphanage."
      • In season 5's 'Grounds for Deception,' she tells Flack & Danny that Professor P had "rescued me from foster care" & that's when she went to St. Basil's. Must've been so bad she didn't want to think about it.
    • In 'Supply and Demand,' Mac mentions having hired Danny 5 years earlier, while in both 'Outside Man' and 'A Man a Mile' they had discussed the fact that Danny was "3 years in" and thus up for promotion to CSI Level 2. (Three years also jives with the revelation in 'Exit Strategy' that Mac had become head of the Lab sometime in 2002.)
    • Christine's brother, Stan, was referred to as Stephen in the captioning of one episode. (And there was a character called Corporal Stan Whitney in a season 2 episode, but he was rather minor, and the writers may just have missed it, even with the early intention of the military storyline for Stan.)
    • In a season 1 episode, Danny swears to Mac "on my mother's grave." In season 2, he tells Louie that both of their parents are coming to visit him in the hospital. In a later season, Mrs. Messer was referred to as babysitting Lucy.
      • However unlikey, it could've been just an expression to him.
    • Flack mentions a brother in an early season, who is literally never spoken of again, but his sister shows up quite a bit in later episodes.
    • Minor one: One episode has Danny appearing to be a Yankees fan, but another indicates him as a Mets fan. That's rare in two team towns for those not into baseball or in the US; people who follow the game usually stand by one team or the other, but not both.
  • Series Fauxnale: The format of the finales of seasons 7, 8, and 9 are this, because of the uncertainty over renewals. Of course, 9 turned out to be the actual finale.
  • Sex Equals Death: It was blissful, unwed and not in the missionary position. Of course Angell was going to die.
  • Sexual Extortion: The department store manager/victim in 'Shop Till You Drop' is guilty of this.
  • Sexy Coat Flashing: Hawkes' girlfriend Camille at the end of 'Food for Thought.'
  • Sexy Shirt Switch:
    • Not Stella or Lindsay, but the mother of Ruben Sandoval, with Danny.
    • Also Angell with Flack's.
  • Shady Real Estate Agent: The burned victim in 'Death House.'
  • Shaped Like Itself: When Mac questions a suspect in the b plot of 'Trapped,' he suggests that things got out of hand between the guy and the victim. The guy tells Mac to "define your definition of 'got out of hand.'"
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Danny on occasions.
    • Mac, three times: 'Charge of this Post,' 'People with Money' and swimming in 'My Name Is Mac Taylor.'
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: A street vendor tries to sell Stella a knockoff Rolex, only it's spelled with two L's and a Z. Bonus points for him trying this right outside the lab.
  • Shoot Him! He Has a... Wallet!: The innocent victim in the series finale.
  • Shopping Cart Antics: In 'Obsession,' one of the murders centers around a race run using shopping carts and where it is customary to sabotage the other teams.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Zigzagged. Danny wants to marry Lindsay after the pregnancy reveal, but she initially says no, only saying yes several episodes later when he does a surprise proposal.
  • Shout-Out:
    • An episode involving a "time machine" had the TARDIS materialization sound effect and a Doctor Who reference.
      • The first victim in that episode was named Dr. Martin Browning. A combination of the names Martin (Marty) McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown from Back to the Future. The giant clock on the building that houses the time machine is prominently featured in a few scenes as well.
    • The third episode of Season 4 is a giant love letter to the James Bond franchise, which actually is in the episode's plot with a pair (actually a trio) of high-tech thieves who break into apartments in tuxedos. They're even called "James Bond wannabes" by a radio DJ.
    • The fourth season Halloween episode involves a "zombie" whose cause of death is a cricket bat to the head.
    • Several to The Matrix and Oz in an episode that featured Harold Perrineau as an inmate who's spared from execution when a guard dies. He also killed Sheldon's sister a decade ago, although he wasn't on death row for her murder since it's officially unsolved who helps Sheldon escape when Edward Furlong's character sets off a prison riot (he even gets to say a variation of "Come with me if you want to live!") while the rest of the Five Man Band uses computerized blueprints on a touchscreen table to aid Sheldon.
    • Possibly the overly-serious head of, essentially, the guild of New York clowns.
    • 'Civilized Lies': This is either a shout-out or a funny coincidence: A hood nicknamed "Mookie" winds up dying under the Deegan expressway. The Punny Name title a la "Fated Fatal" or "A Nimmel House" and the main characters manipulating Mookie's accomplice with faked videos (Deegan is a manipulative seer; the detectives manipulated the suspect's sight) could also count.
    • 'Blood Actually,' a set of three short stories, to Love Actually and Valentine's Day, but unlike the films there's no connection between the characters (unless Sid autopsying the three victims counts).
    • Stella is apparently named for Stella Kowalski.
    • 'Super Men' has a guy in a superhero costume, and as many Superman references they could possibly cram in including glass with traces of krypton, and the guy's street clothes and glasses left in a phone booth.
    • The aforementioned 'Unspoken' shouts out Green Day by using tracks from their 2012 album trilogy for the backing music and building the plot partially around the songs, especially when the first half doesn't contain any spoken dialogue.
    • 'Snow Day' is an obvious homage to Die Hard. Among other things, Mac writes "Find the Bullet" on a dead perp's forehead before sending him down the elevator to Sheldon in the morgue.
    • In 'Trapped,' Danny not only calls Stella "Miss Macgyver," but also tells her he thinks he saw one of the techniques she guides him through on an episode of The Flintstones.
    • 'Blood, Sweat and Tears' includes a "Romeo and Juliet" story and uses quotes from the play.
  • Shower of Angst: Stella, in 'Creatures of the Night' due to her rape case being full on dead ends, including semen with no sperm and thus no DNA.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: The Carver siblings: The brother became Chief of Detectives, while the sister became an abusive, drug-addicted prostitute who was eventually murdered by her own son who got away with it since he was trying to save his younger siblings.
  • Sickbed Slaying:
    • Invoked for revenge in 'Here's to You, Mrs. Azrael.'
    • The killer in 'Unspoken' intends to do this to a hospitalized Lindsay, but ultimately doesn't go through with it.
  • Side Bet:
    • Danny and Mac in 'Fare Game.' Danny bets Mac $5 that Lindsay won't eat the bug cuisine he brought back after a case involving it. Lindsay eats it and Danny has to pony up to Mac.
    Lindsay: You bet I wouldn't do it?
    Danny: Dunno what I was thinking, betting against a country girl.
    • In season 1, Mac & Stella bet on the outcome of the dog show in 'Recycling.' Stella takes that one.
    • Danny & Flack bet $50 on whether or not the basketball fan in 'Personal Foul' will make the million-dollar shot. Flack pays up, but tells Danny, "I owe you ten."
    • In 'Greater Good,' there's an office pool on how long Lindsay will be in labor.
    • Mac and his fireman buddy, Curtis, have a standing bet on the outcome of the ice hockey matches between NYPD and FDNY; loser buys the winner dinner.
    • Near the end of Lovato's first episode, Flack tells her the guys in the precinct have a pool going about which will last longer, her or the fern on her desk.
  • Significant Name Overlap: Central to the plot of "My Name Is Mac Taylor." When two men who share the same name as detective Mac Taylor are killed, detective Taylor rounds up all the other Mac Taylors in New York and tries to figure out who will be the next victim.
  • Silent Treatment: Christine does this to Mac for at least an episode and a half when he refuses to tell her about his speech aphasia.
  • Sinister Shiv: In 'Nine Thirteen,' the Body of the Week had his throat slashed with a shiv made from a melted coffee cup lid and sharpened to an edge by grinding it against the cell wall.
  • Sinister Subway: 'Tri-Borough,' 'The Cost of Living,' 'Risk,' 'Murder Sings the Blues,' and 'The Thing about Heroes.' Remarkably, all of the cases are different.
  • Sleepwalking: 'Night, Mother,' where a sleepwalking woman was suspected of stabbing another woman with a wooden stake. It was found that the real killer stabbed the victim, then the sleepwalker went through the actions she'd seen used to try and save her young son, who died in a car crash years earlier. She did CPR, then tried to reach in and massage the dead woman's heart.
  • Slipping a Mickey: The serial rapist in season 8 was accused of this.
  • Snow Means Love: In 'Happily Never After,' a couple arrive in a "winter wonderland" and start kissing. Then an ice castle collapses and they find a corpse.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Mild case with Lucy Messer. There was a 6 month skip in the last ep of season 8, but Word of God stated she was being aged up another few months to a year. She was referenced as being 3 at the end of season 8. When she appears in season 9, she should be about 4 or maybe four and a half but Danny said she was 5 early in season 9, and the actress who played her in 'Unspoken' was a six year old.
  • The Sociopath: The manipulative 16 year old girl in 'A Daze of Wine and Roaches.'
  • Soft Water: The only way Shane Casey could've survived his fall from the lighthouse at the end of 'Vacation Getaway.'
  • Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: The arsonist does this in his cell with his glasses and a book he's reading at the end of 'Where There's Smoke.'
  • Sommelier Speak: Happens in an episode involving counterfeit wine — mostly played for laughs, although the actual experts get some respect.
  • Spanner in the Works: Many a killer has seen their plan for the "perfect" crime undone by anything from bad weather to an unexpected wrinkle to a tiny detail they thought would never be noticed.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: The point at which Mac interrupts the second wedding in 'Til Death Do We Part.'
  • Spiked Wheels: The team ran into such a car (using lasers to evade the police), and James Bond is explicitly referenced.
  • Spiteful Spit: Hawkes gets it from a notorious racist in 'Yarzheit.' Mac had offered to send someone else with Danny to question the guy, since Hawkes is black, but Hawkes wouldn't be intimidated. The guy spits on him, then makes a remark about there not being a law against spitting on an animal. Hawkes stays calm, but Danny, who always did have a quick temper, punches the guy and gets suspended for it.
  • Spree Killer:
    • Henry Darius in the two-part crossover with CSI: Miami (as Mac says, "12 people in two states over the last 72 hours").
    • Deranged magician Luke Blade in 'Sleight Out of Hand.'
    • Shane Casey in his several-season arc, in a futile attempt to clear his brother from a murder charge.
    • The sniper in 'Hide Sight' whose motivation was to make a name for himself.
  • Stage Magician: One is played by Criss Angel in 'Sleight Out of Hand.'
  • Stalker with a Crush: Ella McBride, to Mac. She engineered a "chance" meeting with him in a grocery store, manufactured evidence to bring him at the Lab - which he angrily called her out on - then slit her wrists and called him instead of 911 to regain his attention. She even made one of her confession cards to add to her wall, which says, "I will make him love me."
  • Stalker Without a Crush:
    • Stella took Reed to be a stalker when he was following her around trying to get up the nerve to talk to her, thinking she was his birth mother.
    • Mac's 333 caller.
  • Starting a New Life: The chef in 'Fare Game' and the cage fighter in 'Clean Sweep' had both done this, and the cage fighter was trying to do so yet again.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Jo's ex-husband, while he loves her and the kids very much, would rather she be a stay-at-home-mom and they're both too stubborn to give in.
  • Stealing from the Till: One of the crimes at the department store in 'Shop Till You Drop.'
  • Stepford Smiler: Detective Flack after Angell's death.
  • Stock Animal Diet: Averted in two episodes, both involving rats that are fed poisoned scrambled eggs (one is part of the plot, the other a small throw-away scene).
  • Stock Footage:
    • The aerial establishing shots over NYC.
    • Also, the shot of a bullet being test-fired into a water tank is re-used throughout the run, flipped at least once.
  • The Stoic: Mac is the embodiment of this trope. Even Gary Sinise once said of his character, "He smiles once a season."
    • During the episode where Lindsay gets pranked and is trying to figure out who's to blame, Danny is doing process-of-elimination and says it couldn't have been Mac because the word joke "doesn't seem to be part of his vocabulary."
    • He did start to loosen up toward the series' end, tho, with the introduction of his new girlfriend, Christine. Even the producers noticed, "Mac is smiling!"
  • Stood Up: Lindsay does this to Danny early on, while she's privately dealing with the trauma from her past.
  • Story Arc: Shane Casey's story ran from early in season 3 thru the season 7 premiere, probably the longest arc in the entire franchise.
  • Strange Cop in a Strange Land: Mac in Chicago. The CPD does not like him waving his badge to get into a vacant floor of the Tribune building.
  • Straying Baby: Lucy wandering off from Lindsay in a crowd during 'Unspoken.'
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Several times: the bombs in the season 2 & 3 finales and the booby-trap in the season 9 premiere, car bombs went off near Adam and Don, a restaurant blew up near Mac, and a food truck that Sheldon & Camille visited also exploded.
  • Stuffed in the Fridge: Aiden The team were all stunned when they realized who the victim was.
  • Subculture of the Week: Vampirism, Gaming, Life-Size Dolls, Circus Life, Cuddle Parties, Food Sploshing...the list goes on.
  • Sudden Name Change: Jessica Angell was called Jennifer in one episode.
  • Suicide Pact: The teenage couple in 'Blood, Sweat and Tears' and three friends in 'What Schemes May Come.'
  • Sundial Waypoint: 'Manhattanhenge.' Sheldon figures out where the sunlight will hit at a certain time, which leads the team to the killer's location
  • Super Intelligence: In 'Time's Up,' the autopsy of a brilliant physicist revealed a sewing needle embedded deep in his brain, that'd been there since an unnoticed accident in his early infancy. It's speculated that its presence caused his neural wiring to develop differently from most people's, which may have made his groundbreaking insights possible.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: In the B case of 'Buzzkill,' Angell presents Mac with an incomplete composite sketch of the perp, which looks like it's from a very cheap coloring book. His snarky reply:
    Mac: So all we have to do is find everybody with two eyes, a nose and a mouth.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Times two. Jessica Angell was this for Aiden Burn, after the former was Put on a Bus. After Angell was Killed Off for Real, Jamie Lovato was brought in, and now is the Suspiciously Similar Substitute for the original Suspiciously Similar Substitute. She's even becoming Flack's love interest.
  • Sword Sparks: The LARPers' makeshift swords throw off sparks during their battle in the junkyard in 'The Box.'
  • Swordfish Sabre: In 'Dancing with the Fishes,' one of the cases is that of a fish merchant who was stabbed with one of the swordfish he was selling.
  • Take Me Out at the Ball Game: A number of deaths occur during sporting events:
    • In the parking lot of a MLB game.
    • A runner in the Big Apple Marathon.
    • During a million-dollar shot at halftime of a basketball game.
    • A Roller Derby team member during a match.
    • A Formula One driver during an exhibition race.
  • Taking the Bullet:
    • Stella's mentor and father figure shields her with his body from a gunfight between his brother and Mac in Greece. He's fatally shot, while Stella's uninjured.
    • Danny, for Lindsay in 'Pay Up.' Danny was closest to the bar's window anyway, but it's clear as the shooting starts and chaos erupts that he throws himself on top of Lindsay to protect her.
  • Taking the Heat:
    • The episode 'Greater Good' revolves around a woman who hired a hitman to kill the man who ran over her daughter a year before, believing that his sentence was too lenient. Mac also wants to know why the man insists on taking the blame when the evidence points to him being a passenger, and not the driver. It's finally revealed that the man and his daughter had celebrated her becoming an M.D., and after drinking several glasses of wine, she got behind the wheel of her car and ran over the victim. Knowing that her career, and her life, would be ruined, her father told her that he was willing to take the blame for everything.
    • In another episode, a guy walks into the police station holding a gun and claiming to have shot a doctor. He turns out to have been taking the heat for his wife: the guy had a terminal illness and the doctor had conned the couple out of their savings with a quack treatment involving leeches leading the wife to shoot her. He wanted to be sent to jail in her place seeing as he didn't have long to live.
  • Taking You with Me: When Mac corners a serial killer on a rooftop, the guy jumps off rather than go back to prison. But he does it in such a way that it looks like Mac pushed him, and since Mac didn't wait for backup, there's no one who can say that he didn't.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink:
    • In 'Blood Actually,' a woman murders her diabetic husband by giving him a 2 lb box of chocolates with a sugar-free label on it. Actually, they are normal chocolates. She also replaces his insulin with a sugar syrup, so when he injects himself, he just shoots up more sugar.
    • In an earlier episode, a guy died when two others snuck lobster broth into his soup even thought they knew he was alergic to shellfish.
  • Tastes Like Chicken: Subverted by Danny while eating a centipede in 'Fare Game.'
    The Chef: Tastes like chicken, right?
    Danny: [shaking his head] No.
  • Tattoo as Character Type:
    • Subverted by the villain in 'Yarhzeit' who's only pretending to be a concentration camp survivor.
    • Played straight with the in-universe neo-Nazi ex-con from that episode and 'Green Piece.' He looks pretty much just how you'd picture him.
  • Tattooed Crooks: The Tanglewood Boys don't take it very well when a poser gets one of their membership tats.
  • Techno Babble:
    • Flack calls various members of the team out for using big words. From 'Indelible' for instance:
    Jo: That ring around the blood spot is called skeletonization.
    Flack: Why don't they just call it a ring?
    Jo: Okay, that's it. Forget it. I give up.
    Flack: Sorry, it would be much more interesting if you guys used smaller words.
    • Adam tries this in 'Damned If You Do' when Jo has him impersonate a polygraph examiner:
    Adam: I understand there's a question to the veracity of certain statements that you may or may not have made and/or heard during your confinement in the fine institution known as Rikers Island. Is that correct?
    Perp: I have no idea what the hell you just said, man.
    • But it morphs into Buffy Speak when he refers to the needle as "the pen thingy."
  • The Taxi: It was used as a killing device by its driver.
  • Team Dad: Mostly Mac to Hawkes, including letting Hawkes stay at his place when Hawkes lost all his money to an insurance scam. Mac to Danny at times too, and to Adam in 'The Real McCoy.'
  • Tell Me About My Father: Gender flipped twice.
  • 10-Minute Retirement:
    • Mac's retirement at the beginning of season 8. He's only away from the crime lab for the first episode (although it's stated that he was away for four months...so he must have left right after the season 7 finale and was gone throughout the summer hiatus).
    • Danny's promotion to police sergeant (and thus away from the crime lab) also only lasts four episodes before he voluntarily demotes himself and goes back to being a detective.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Aiden manages to make her murder into one of these.
  • That One Case:
    • DJ Pratt, who was finally caught due to his having killed Aiden.
    • The bodega robbery from two years before the series began was solved in 'Exit Strategy' (7.22). It was the last of the open case files Mac kept on the corner of his desk.
    • And the case of the kidnapped boy in 'Misconceptions.' Mac had been a rookie detective when it occurred and he'd kept it in the back of his mind for decades, finally solving it in episode 9.05.
  • That's an Order!: Mac plays into the bomber's delusion that he's a Marine in 'Charge of This Post,' taking on the role of a superior officer to get him to secure the BFG he's holding.
  • There Will Be Toilet Paper: At the beginning of 'Indelible,' Mac has a flashback of Claire's last morning, during which he had nicked himself while shaving and had asked her to hand him a cotton swab. It was brought on by him nicking himself again on the current morning.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: A number of times, including:
    • When Mac has his first get-to-know-you meeting with his stepson, Reed has a soda in front of him. Halfway through their conversation, he pulls the paper off the straw and takes one sip. As he thanks Mac for it upon leaving, the full glass is in plain view.
    • Justified in season 6. Mac has introduced Dr. Aubrey Hunter to his idea of the perfect slice of pizza. As they're walking down the street discussing it's merits (she doesn't exactly agree with him), a young boy across the street is shot. They take off running to help and she tosses the slice, with only one bite missing, into the nearest trash can.
    • After Ellie skips school to find her birth mother in season 7, Jo takes her for a walk to talk about it and buys her a milkshake. Ellie takes one sip, declares it to be terrible and hands it back to Jo who throws it away.
  • This Bear Was Framed: The tiger in 'Zoo York' didn't kill the victim; he was already dead before being eaten.
  • Thoroughly Mistaken Identity: The mother who killed her own daughter in the hospital because she thought the bandaged girl was her daughter's friend whom she believed to be responsible for her daughter's death.
  • Throw-Away Guns: Done by a perp in 'Civilized Lies.' He fires two shots at Jo and Lindsay, finds his gun empty and then discards it before trying to flee...and running straight into Danny.
  • Time-Delayed Death: A few, including the young man from the pizzaria in 'Officer Blue' who didn't collapse until after he left the establishment, and the Native American Chief in 'Communication Breakdown' who died on the subway after swallowing a deadly object that was slipped into his food.
  • Time Skip: Six months in the end of the season 8 finale, to give Mac time to heal from being shot.
  • 'Tis Only a Bullet in the Brain: The female victim with a severe headache in 'Heart of Glass.'
  • Title Drop: Episode titles. Fairly often, usually justified. To name a few...
    • Episode 1.05: "You know how a Sandhog measures progress? A man a mile. 'Cause that's the death rate down there. Electrocutions, cave-ins, decapitations. Every mile of rock we move, we lose one of our own."
    • Episode 1.09: Officer Blue is the name of the horse which has a bullet needed for evidence lodged in its neck.
    • Episode 1.13: Tanglewood is the name of the gang involved.
    • Episode 2.04: "Guess that's what they mean when they say corporate warriors."
    • Episode 2.14: Necrophilia Americana is the scientific name of the flesh-eating beetles found at the crime scene.
    • Episode 3.24: Danny takes Lindsay's shift and leaves her a note saying, "Enjoy your snow day."
    • Episode 4.01: Exaggerated by the killer who screams at Stella, "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?!"
    • Episode 7.07: While the team is searching for a sniper, Mac asks, "Have you found his hide sight yet?"
    • Episode 9.13: "Nine Thirteen" is the name and street number of the building in front of which the Victim of the Week is found.
    • Episode 9.17: Heartwarming in the series finale during Mac's voice-over monologue including the words of the victim:
    Mac:...Sometimes, the good comes when we most need it and least expect it. If we are lucky enough to notice it, set our eyes upon it and appreciate it, it can almost make us forget all of the bad. "Today is life. The only life you're sure of. Make the most of today." Words of wisdom. A slice of goodness passed on by an innocent soul whose life was cut short by an errant bullet. These are words that will always stay with me, words that are about to change the course of my life forever.
  • To Absent Friends: The team toast Aiden in season 2, and Angell at the end of season 5.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Adam, three times.
    • Redeeming himself by coming to the rescue of the disguised hostages in 'Snow Day.'
    • Taking out his assailant with a fluorescent bulb in 'Unfriendly Chat.'
    • Taking it upon himself to search for more evidence at the crime scene, then braving the angry rioters to deliver it to Mac at the precinct in 'Today Is Life.'
  • Tongue Trauma:
    • In the season 3 premiere, 'Can You Hear Me Now?', the perp cuts one of his victims' tongue out for not reporting a crime he'd witnessed.
    • In 'Seth and Apep,' before Christine can be rescued, Mac receives a tongue in a box at the precinct and naturally thinks it's hers.
  • Toplessness from the Back:
    • Camille, at the end of her Sexy Coat Flashing scene.
    • Gender-flipped with Mac exiting the shower at the beginning of 'Reignited,' clearly showing his bullet wound from 'Near Death.'
  • Torso with a View: Played realistically with Flack's injuries in 'Charge of This Post.'
  • Tragic Keepsake: Mac's beach ball, which he couldn't let go of because Claire's breath was in it. He had their 9/11 opera tickets as well, but let them go in the season 8 premiere.
  • Transgender: The first victim in 'The Lying Game.'
  • Trans Tribulations: 'The Lying Game' again. The victim had faced this.
  • Trap Master: In Death House,' the CSIs find a nearly 100 year old corpse when responding to a 911 call. When Stella is almost killed by the same trap that killed the victim, the CSIs realize they are in the abode of a long dead trap master, and must then figure out the riddles of the penthouse to locate the 911 caller and the caller's girlfriend.
  • Trapped in a Sinking Car: Mac, after being kidnapped in the season 4 finale/season 5 pilot two-parter.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: With Mac after being shot, a really selective Laser-Guided Amnesia thing.
  • Trial Run Crime:
    • The perp in 'Love Run Cold' poisons a cat before the "real" victim.
    • The perp in 'Point of View' does the same with a canary...but he has plans for many more victims.
  • Trophy Room: Two, both belonging to Neo-Nazis, in 'Yarhzeit.'
  • Turn in Your Badge:
    • Danny, when he's suspected of murder in 'Run Silent, Run Deep.'
    • Don, when a suspect dies in his custody in 'Rush to Judgement.'
    • Stella angrily turns hers in to Mac when he orders her to stand down from her investigation during the Greek antiquities theft arc.
    • Averted with Danny in 'On the Job' and 'Officer Involved.'

    U-Z 
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife:
    • The second of the three Valentine's Day stories in 'Blood Actually' featured this kind of couple, although from the hot wife's perspective she was the lucky one to find such a great guy which made her husband's "betrayal" that much worse; unfortunately the only thing he was guilty of was acting suspicious in front of his apparently insecure wife while planning their surprise dream vacation.
    • Also the couple in the 'Compass Killer' arc, due to his injuries from a guy who'd gone postal in his office.
  • Unfortunate Name: Aiden Burn. Three guesses what happens to her in the season 2 episode 'Heroes' - and the first two don't count.
  • Unintentionally Notorious Crime: The drive-by shooters at the end of season 5 don't have any idea that there are cops in the bar, or that they have seriously injured one of the team; they're just shooting at random businesses.
  • Unnaturally Blue Lighting: First season, even worse than usual.
  • Unprocessed Resignation: When Mac returns to the Lab in 'Keep It Real,' he tells the team that Sinclair pulled his retirement papers upon his request.
  • Urban Legends: The following legends turn up in various cases:
    • A bride is killed by her dress on her wedding day.
    • A construction worker is killed by "blue ice" falling from an airplane.
    • A corpse is found buried in the end zone at Giants Stadium.
    • The show creates one of its own when an eyeball falls out of the sky into Stella's coffee cup.
    • A college student kills his roommate in order to get an automatic 4.0 for the semester.
  • Unsettling Gender Reveal: The first victim in 'The Lying Game' was revealed to be a mid-transition transgender woman who was killed due to a violent reaction by someone she was hitting on.
  • Valentine's Day Episode: 'Blood Actually.' Three cases, each with a couple and/or love story aspect. The three canon couples all have their own romantic moments.
  • Vapor Trail: In 'Second Chances,' the Victim of the Week is doused with gasoline when he is run over by a car and the fuel tank punctures in the collision. The trail of gas is then ignited by a cigarette discarded by a passerby (who is on his way to commit another crime) and it burns back to set fire to the victim.
  • Vehicle-Roof Body Disposal:
    • In 'American Dreamers,' a skeleton is placed on the open upper deck of a double-decker tour bus.
    • In 'Hush,' Mac and Stella investigate when half of a crushed body is found on top of a shipping container on a truck. The other half is eventually located in a shipping yard. It turns out that after the murder, the person who helped the murderer clean up placed the body on top of a shipping container, hoping it would be crushed and look like an accident.
    • In 'Happily Never After,' a killer drops one of the bodies of the week out of a window onto the top of a school bus. The body isn't found till the driver slams on the brakes and the body slides off the roof.
  • Vehicle Vanish: In 'Vacation Getaway,' Shane Casey holds a hostage at gunpoint and drags her across the street. A bus passes between Casey and Mac and Stella. After it passes, the hostage is there but Casey has vanished.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: The murder method in 'The Formula.'
  • Very Special Episode:
    • Stella's HIV-scare arc was done in cooperation with KnowHIVAIDS.org, and a PSA aired after each episode.
    • 'Indelible,' done in tribute to 9/11 and featuring the Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance, also had a PSA at it's conclusion.
  • Vigilante Execution: Several, including:
    • In season 4's 'Admissions, Gerrard bursts into an interrogation room and fatally shoots his daughter's rapist.
    • In 'Taxi,' disgruntled cab drivers kill the man they believe to be the Cabbie Killer and dump his body in front of the precinct.
    • It is heavily implied that Flack shot Angell's killer in cold blood in the season 5 finale. This is later verified during Mac's limbo period in the season 8 finale.
    • It's the M.O. in season 7's 'Vigilante.'
  • Villain-by-Proxy Fallacy: The entire motivation for the Compass Killer.
  • Violently Protective Wife: Lindsay, given her shooting of Shane Casey and her altercation with the rookie cop who caused Danny's job to be threatened.
  • Violin Scam: The M.O. of the perp/victim in 'Identity Crisis.'
  • Voiceover Letter: Several, including:
    • Slight variation in 'Time's Up.' When Mac reads the Dear John letter from Peyton silently, only her voice is heard.
    • Averted when Lindsay gets a congratulatory note from Stella in 'The 34th Floor.' The audience hears Lindsay's own voice as she reads it.
    • Played straight with Mac reading Reed's real-time blog aloud in 'Taxi' to analyze the clues he knew Reed was leaving for him.
    • Played straight again in 'Misconceptions,' when Lindsay reads the last entry in the original suspect's journal (which explained his intentions for his actions).
  • Vomit Discretion Shot:
    • Just before Lindsay reveals her first pregnancy to Danny.
    • When Don throws up in Terrence's bathroom in 'Cuckoo's Nest.'
  • Vorpal Pillow: At least twice, 'Here's to You, Mrs. Azrael' and 'Rest in Peace, Marina Garito.'
  • Wacky Cravings: In 'Forbidden Fruit,' Lindsay (who is pregnant) has a whole bunch of weird food laid out on the lab table as part of an investigation into a poisoning. Mac walks in and comments that he hopes this isn't one of her cravings.
  • Wait Here: Mac tells Danny this in 'Point of No Return,' after Danny reveals he forgot his bulletproof vest. Danny obeys at first, then ends up chasing the suspect anyway when the guy runs outside and into another area. The result is Danny trying to survive a shootout until the others can catch up.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: In 'Death House,' the team are investigating a penthouse that has been converted into a series of elaborate deathtraps. Hawkes gets trapped in a small metal room where the walls start closing in on him.
  • Wannabe Secret Agents: The couple playing Boris and Natasha in 'Brooklyn 'Til I Die.'
  • Water Guns and Balloons: 'Fare Game,' which used the real life Streetwars game as "Water Gun Wars." It's a tournament where people try to "assassinate" each other with water guns or balloons to become the last person standing and win a cash prize. The victim in the episode was killed when the guy he knocked out of the game tried to scare him with a blank gun, and didn't realize that even blanks are lethal at close range.
  • Wealthy Philanthropist: Coroner Sid Hammerback turned into a philanthropist after getting rich off his pillow invention. He'd found out he was suffering from lymphoma and possibly going to die, and decided that since it couldn't buy a cure and he couldn't take it with him, he'd help the families of some of the victims that came through the morgue. Jo found out it was him, but he asked her not to tell anyone else. (It's ambiguous as to whether Mac found out as he's revealed to know during his 'Near Death' experience, but that could've been a case of paranormal omniscience.)
  • Weaponized Ball: In the episode 'The Closer,' the murder weapon was revealed to be a baseball thrown by a free agent pitcher.
  • Wedding Ring Removal: In the season 1 finale, Mac takes his wedding ring off finally. He had been unable to bring himself to remove it before then, as he was still struggling with the loss of his wife on 9/11. He continued to struggle for a while, but taking off the ring was symbolic of him being ready to start dating again.
  • We Have to Get the Bullet Out: Averted in a variation. In 'Officer Blue,' Mac needed the bullet lodged in the horse to help make his case, but he knew the animal wasn't likely to survive. Fortunately, he did manage to stall the surgery long enough that the horse did make it.
  • Weird Trade Union: In the second case in 'The Ride In,' a man is trying to form a union for costumed mascots. He accidentally kills a man when he flings a cigarette at him to prove that people in costumes get bullied and the union is meant to provide protection, not knowing that the man (who was part of a publicity stunt for a new brand of cigarette) had made his costume with flammable materials.
  • Welcome Episode:
    • Lindsay, in episode 2.03,'Zoo York.'
    • Jo in the season 7 opener, 'The 34th Floor.'
    Jo: [referring to the victim she discovered upon her arrival] My first thought was it's a practical joke. You know, "Welcome to the New York Crime Lab."
    Mac: We usually sabotage a pair of latex gloves or have a tech pose as a dead body in Autopsy, then suddenly pop to life. But murder? Not our style.
    Jo: Good to know.
    • Just a reference, but in 'Epilogue,' Sid reveals to the team that he'd had someone pull the dead body prank on Angell when she'd attended her first autopsy.
  • Welcome to the Big City: Lindsay, essentially. Her first case upon arriving from Bozeman, Montana involves a man devoured by a tiger. Her job?...
    M.E. Evan Zau: [walking into the lab] Whoa. What is that smell?
    Lindsay: [searching for human remains that the tiger swallowed] Tiger dung. The zoo just made a fresh delivery. Everyone else just happens to be conveniently busy.
    Zau: You know what they say: It's a dirty job, but...
    Lindsay: The rookie's gotta do it.
  • West Coast Team: Inverted, along with CSI: Miami, spinning off of the Las Vegas-based original.
  • Wham Line: "Aiden." Mac, in the episode 'Heroes,' when he realizes the identity of a body found earlier was a former CSI.
  • Wham Shot: In the episode 'Flag on the Play,' Danny found his grandfather's dog tags that were stolen in the previous episode from a pawn shop. He brought them back to the lab and checked them for prints to see who stole them. The perp: Shane Casey, whom Danny locked up three seasons earlier and had been serving a life sentence in prison.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: The 21-year-old whose beer was spiked with LSD in 'Uncertainty Rules.'
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Louie Messer is left in a coma at the end of 'Run Silent, Run Deep.'
    • Reed Garrett, who pursued info on Mac's cases for his blog with a vengeance, is last seen in season 6's 'Pot of Gold,' and isn't even mentioned again.
    • Peyton Driscoll, after The Bus Came Back for one episode.
    • Aubrey Hunter. Even after she'd told Mac he was the reason she stayed in Manhattan, she disappears without a trace as well.
  • White Gangbangers: The Tanglewood Boys.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: While searching Central Park at night in 'Scared Stiff,' Flack reveals to Danny that he's afraid of deadly black widow spiders. Danny explains that, while they will make you quite sick, they won't kill you, and ribs his friend about it.
  • Widowed at the Wedding: 'Til Death Do We Part.' The first bride dies from a formaldehyde laced dress that she didn't know was taken off a corpse. Later, Mac has to stop a groom from suffering the same fate from his tux.
  • Wipe the Floor with You:
    • Frankie does it to Stella in 'All Access.'
    • Mac does a table variation of it to one of the Neo-Nazis in 'Yahrzeit.'
    • It's done to a victim in 'Who's There?'
  • Witness Protection: An old case of Flack's pops up again in 'To What End?' when someone he helped get into the Witness Protection program returns.
  • Workout Fanservice:
    • Mac's swim in ep 100, 'My Name Is Mac Taylor.'
    • The pole dancer class in season 7's 'Vigilante.'
  • Working with the Ex: Jo and Russ, twice.
  • Worthless Treasure Twist: In 'White Gold,' two crooks kill a young pizza chef because they think he is transporting a fortune in cocaine. However, what they assumed were bricks of cocaine were actually bricks of mozzarella cheese.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The guy who killed Lindsay's classmates.
  • Would Not Hurt A Child:
    • The shooter in 'Unspoken.'
    • The robber/kidnapper in 'Exit Strategy' who takes off with the girl rather than shoot her as his accomplice demands.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit:
    • The guy who slammed his head on the table in the interrogation room with Mac & Flack. Mac is delighted to inform him that they can easily prove his injury was self-inflicted.
    • In 'The Untouchable,' a young woman darts out in front of Mac's Avalanche at night, then falls to the pavement. When he gets out to assess her injuries, she jumps up and her accomplice tazes him in the neck from behind.
    • The woman that Lindsay discovered had faked being abused by her husband in order to get her brother to kill him.
  • Writing Around Trademarks:
    • In 'Sanguine Love,' a tube of ChapStick is found at the crime scene and the name is shown in plain view on screen, but the detectives consistently refer to it as "dry lip balm."
    • The reference to Facebook pages as "profile pages" in 'Who's There?' and 'Brooklyn Til I Die,' without saying the name of the site.
  • Writing Indentation Clue: Several times, including 'All in the Family' and 'Late Admissions.'
  • Written-In Absence:
    • Lindsay was written out for a few episodes during season 3 so Anna Belknap could go on maternity leave.
    • Done again in season 5, where Lindsay ended up pregnant with Danny's baby.
  • X Called; They Want Their Y Back: When Jo is going over some videotapes of a suspect's therapy sessions.
    Danny: Jane Fonda called, she wants her workout videos back.
    Jo: They're not Jane's, they are Cher's.
  • Yandere:
    • Stella's boyfriend Frankie Mala, who stalked her, broke into her appartment and tried to kill her after she broke up with him.
    • Ella McBride, who stalked Mac in a grocery store, faked evidence to get close to him, then slit her wrists to regain his attention after he berated her for compromising his case.
  • You Have to Have Jews: Averted, in that none of the main cast or characters are Jewish, in spite of the very large Jewish population in NYC.
  • You Remind Me Of Her: Mac tells Reed that he reminds Mac of Claire, Reed's mother and Mac's late wife. He mentions that Reed has the same stubbornness Claire did, and that he looks like her.
  • You See, I'm Dying: Sid, to Jo. The phrase isn't said verbatim, and his condition isn't always fatal (though his is advanced), but you can tell it's what he's telling her all the same.
  • You're Not My Type: Aiden, to Danny.
    I'm way outta your league, Messer.
  • Your Favorite: Flack picked on Mac by telling a reporter she could sweet-talk him into an interview by bringing Mac his "favorite" breakfast foods...except he was severely allergic to one (blueberries) and abstaining from the other (coffee).
  • Your Head A-Splode: In 'Hide Sight,' a sniper used explosive bullets. One exploded as Sid tried to remove it from the victim's head, tearing a big hole in it and dazing Sid, whose eyes only survived intact due to his glasses.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: 'Hung Out To Dry.' The plot seems resolved, until Lindsay comes in and announces that Shane Casey escaped.
  • Zero-G Spot: Not quite genuine Zero-G, but a couple in one episode got busted for public indecency because they were having sex while bungee-jumping off bridges in the city. It's strongly implied that this is the female jumper's personal favorite kink.

Alternative Title(s): CSI New York

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