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Series / Instinct

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My name is Dylan Reinhart. Not too long ago, I was an operative in the CIA known as Agent Reinhart. When I left the Agency and started teaching, I became Professor Reinhart. I wrote a book about abnormal behavior and criminals, which was so successful a serial killer used it as clues for his murders. That's when the New York Police Department reached out to me to help catch him, which I did, so they hired me, and I became Consultant Reinhart. So now I'm working with this woman, Detective Lizzie Needham of the homicide division, catching killers. Looks like I need a new name.

Instinct (stylized as INSTIИCT) is a single-camera Police Procedural that premiered on CBS in March 2018. The series is based off of the book Murder Games by James Patterson. It stars Alan Cumming as an ex-CIA now-professor Dylan Reinhart who is brought out of civilian life by Lizzie Needham (Bojana Novakovic) after a serial killer sends his book to the NYPD. Overseeing the homicide division is Lt. Jasmine Gooden (Sharon Leal), Lizzie's close friend. Dylan is aided by a contact from his CIA days, Julian Cousins (Naveen Andrews), and supported by his husband Andy Wilson (Daniel Ings).


This show provides examples of:

  • Accidental Aiming Skills: In "Long Shot" a woman is shot at night from a building across the street, prompting investigators start looking for experienced marksmen who could make that kind of shot. However, they then realize that they had the scenario wrong. They are looking for a complete amateur who was trying to scare the victim and was aiming a few meters away from her. The bullet hit a steel plate on a telephone post and ricocheted into the victim.
  • Accidental Murder: In addition to the Accidental Aiming Skills in "Long Shot," all fourteen victims in "I Heart New York" were collateral damage.
  • Action Girl: Lizzie has no problem taking down criminals and suspects.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Julian's last name in Murder Games is Byrd, but in the show it's changed to Cousins.
    • If they are considered the same character, Tracy McKay's name is changed to Andrew "Andy" Wilson.
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    • Dylan's father is named Josiah Maxwell Reinhart, while in the show he's called Roger.
    • A more subtle variant, Murder Games Elizabeth hates being called "Lizzie" and Dylan never refers to her as such, while in Instinct, Lizzie is only addressed by her full name when in formal situations.
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: Murder Games ends with Dylan and Tracy adopting their newborn daughter Annabelle, while the Pilot episode doesn't include the adoption subplot at all and ends with Dylan considering partnering up with Lizzie to solve crimes.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: Murder Games Dylan and Tracy met fifteen years ago in college, dated for three and got married four years before the book's present. Instinct Dylan and Andy met while Dylan was still working for the CIA (over three years ago) and have been married for less than one.
  • Adaptational Job Change:
    • In Murder Games, Tracy is an aspiring actor who settled into law, whereas in Instinct, Andy has left his law career behind to pursue his dream of running a bar.
    • In the book, Elizabeth is an NYPD detective, second-grade, but she is also a member of the mayor's security detail. In the show, she has no relation to the mayor and is only just being considered for promotion to second-grade in "Blast From the Past."
  • Adaptation Expansion: Naturally, since the book is a standalone that covers only one killer, while the series covers a killer an episode. The show also adds more detail to Dylan, Lizzie, and Julian's personal lives.
  • Adapted Out: Dylan, Lizzie, Julian, Tracy, and their respective families are the only significant characters to make it to the TV adaptation. Other NYPD characters, the mayor's entourage, and Grimes are all cut from this continuity.
  • Adorkable: Dylan, especially when he gets into something behavioural.
  • The Alcoholic: Lizzie's mother was an alcoholic, as is her sister, Katie. She's working on it, though.
  • Alternate Continuity: To the James Patterson book Murder Games.
  • Anywhere but Their Lips: As affectionate as Dylan and Andy are, they only kiss on the lips in "I Heart New York" and "Long Shot." Every other scene has them kiss on the cheek, kiss on the hand, or simply hug.
  • "Be Quiet!" Nudge: Lizzie does this to Dylan when he voices his theories to victims' families or potential suspects.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Dylan shoots a glass of poisoned iced tea out of Joan's hand in "Bye-Bye Birdie."
    Joan: What the hell?! You couldn't just yell, "Drop the glass!"?
  • Cool Bike: Dylan, Julian, and Detective Fucci have one.
  • Dead Partner: Lizzie's previous partner and fiancé died while undercover a year prior, and she hasn't had a new partner since.
  • Domestic Abuse: Owned reveals that Jasmine's Childhood Friend Abby was abused for three years by her husband, resulting in brain damage and ultimately leading to Abby's death.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: Lizzie picks some stale ones up from the break room for Dylan's 'dinner'. Dylan doesn't find it filling. Or edible.
  • Eureka Moment: Dylan has these Once an Episode when figuring out a significant clue to solving a case.
  • Eye Scream: The first victim of the Dealer is killed by an injection to his eye.
  • Faking Amnesia: In "Secrets and Lies," a spree killer pretends to have amnesia.
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Dylan used to be a CIA agent like his father, but quit because he realised he wanted to have a fulfilling relationship with Andy. His father did not take this well.
  • Freudian Couch: Joan makes Dylan lie on the couch and talk about his problems in "Heartless."
  • Gender-Blender Name: Lizzie initially thinks Andy is a woman, until Dylan points it out to her.
    Dylan: Oh, there's Andy!
    Lizzie: Which one is she?
    Dylan: Uh, the one who's six-foot, with stubble, and a man.
  • Great Detective: Dylan is a textbook example despite not actually being a Detective.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Dylan orders a very expensive tequila to deal with having dinner with his father. When his father shows up with Lizzie in tow, Andy steals the glass and downs it in one go.
  • Instant Humiliation Just Add Youtube: When Dylan bad-mouths a bunch of self-absorbed kids at a fancy party, he doesn't grasp how he's being filmed on their phones. By nightfall, a video and gif of him dancing and ranting at them has taken off huge and dismayed at everyone on the force laughing at it.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Lizzie stays up with Jasmine all night drinking after Jasmine breaks up her engagement. She shows up at work the next morning with her hair messed up and a horrific hangover. She tells Dylan her only solace is "that Jasmine is suffering far worse than I am." Enter Jasmine, looking bright, chipper, perfectly composed and showing no effects whatsoever of a night of drinking.
  • Jurisdiction Friction:
    • The homicide division is occasionally under pressure of losing their cases to other divisions or jurisdictions.
    • Averted in the Sleeping Beauty case. Ryan is a deputy from Nebraska and has no jurisdiction to investigate serial killings in New York. However, the first murder occurred in Nebraska in Ryan's home town and he was one of the investigators so he is allowed to participate in the New York investigation since he has valuable insights into the case.
  • Murder by Mistake: In "Heartless," the killer cuts out the heart of a girl who bears a striking resemblance to his intended target. He's overwhelmed with grief and commits suicide after discovering he got the wrong person.
  • No Badge? No Problem!: Lizzie repeatedly reminds Dylan he's not an actual cop and can't question witnesses or suspects.
  • Official Couple: Dylan and Andy.
  • Omniscient Database: Julian has one and uses it to pull information for Dylan.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Lizzie and Julian become romantically involved in "Live."
  • Sniff Sniff Nom: Although Lizzie prevents Dylan from eating the bread stuffed into a victim's mouth in "Wild Game," in "Bad Actors" Dylan tastes a mysterious substance stuck inside a costume head, and identifies it as peanut because he's having an allergic reaction to it.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The doctor in "Pilot" dies in the book.
  • String Theory: Dylan has an entire wall in his office for figuring out cases. Andy calls it the "board of carnage."
  • Whole Plot Reference: One episode strongly resembles an episode of Bones, down to the level of individual lines. Many people argue that it's a straight-up ripoff. This was rectified in the digital versions on CBS' site and iTunes by cutting out all scenes regarding the victim's religious background and reworking his piano playing history, and filling in the cut time with scenes that flesh out Katie and Andy’s subplots.
  • You Just Ruined the Shot: "Live" has Dylan and Lizzie desperately break in to prevent a man from seemingly murdering a girl with a chainsaw. In their defence, they're investigating a girl who was murdered in the exact same setting with a drill.

Lizzie: Don't they call you Professor Psychopath?

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