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Series / Psych

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I know, you know, that I'm not telling the truth!
I know, you know, they just don't have any proof!

Gus: You named your fake detective agency "Psych"? As in "gotcha"? Why didn't you just call it "Hey, we're fooling you and the police department; hope we don't make a mistake and somebody dies because of it"?
Shawn: First of all, Gus, that name is entirely too long; it would never fit on the window. And secondly, the best way you convince people you're not lying to them is to tell them you are!
— "Pilot"

Shawn Spencer was drilled from childhood by his father, a police officer, to have a strict attention to detail and other detective skills. As a result, Shawn effectively possesses a Photographic Memory and the ability to observe and put together clues too subtle for the average person to pick up.

Unfortunately (and at least partly a result of the training), as an adult Shawn is equal parts prankster and slacker with no real desire to apply himself in any normal occupation. So, he employs his skills to identify criminals and their methods in the news and calls crime tip lines for the reward. This backfires on him when he is arrested as an accomplice. The police are suspicious of how good his tips are, believing that he must have been involved with the crimes.

To avoid jail time and continue his lucrative-but-lazy crimebusting, Shawn tells the police he's a psychic. After a demonstration on several of the officers in the Santa Barbara Police Department, he is allowed on a case. After solving it, he opens up a detective agency and, to the perturbation of certain members of the Santa Barbara Police Department, Shawn and his best friend Burton "Gus" Guster help the police solve crimes assigned to them by Chief Karen Vick.

The two frequently collaborate with the real detectives Carlton "Lassie" Lassiter and Juliet "Jules" O'Hara. Lassiter finds Shawn unbearably annoying, though he eventually grows to respect him, while Juliet is more civil to them, and eventually becomes Shawn's Love Interest. Shawn's retired father Henry usually makes at least one appearance an episode, sometimes just in the Flashback opening. Being that Henry taught him his skills, he is one of the few in on the con.

As one could easily guess from just a passing glance at this page, Psych is a show that doesn't take itself too seriously. Shawn and Gus frequently talk about their childhood, which includes numerous references to The '80s and (increasingly) The '90s. With Shawn attempting to appear as a psychic whenever giving The Summation, he ends up doing comically-inappropriate things when identifying a killer.

The show originally ran on USA Network from 2006 to 2014. Continued fan interest has led to Psych being revived as a series of TV movies. There is no set release schedule, however, as each is produced whenever the cast can spare the time. The first movie, a Christmas Special simply entitled Psych the Movie, aired in December 2017. A second movie, Psych 2: Lassie Come Home premiered in July 2020 on Peacock. A third, This is Gus, was released in November 2021.

Not to be confused with The Mentalist on CBS, a show with a similar premise that has been the frequent target of Take Thats and lampshading within the series.

Psych provides examples of:

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    Tropes A to H 
  • Abusive Parents: Although it's made very clear throughout the series that Henry loves Shawn dearly, some of the flashbacks (or real-time references to Shawn's past) are rather worrying. For instance, Henry taught young Shawn how to escape a locked car trunk... by locking him in a car trunknote . Adult Shawn is also upset by the fact that, when he was eight, Henry hid Shawn's Easter eggs by burying them five feet underground. Henry claims that he left loose dirt to indicate a fresh dig to make it easier. Shawn points out that this fresh dig was hidden under a camouflage tarp covered with bricks and broken glass. On a more amusing note, there's still two he hasn't found. Shawn is also visibly surprised whenever Henry shows even small amounts of affection, even claiming Henry hadn't said "I love you" in to him years.
    Henry: I'm sorry you think that I messed up your whole youth. I'm sorry you think that I screwed up your life. Get over it.
  • Accident, Not Murder: In "Any Given Friday Night", the victim of the week is a football player who was apparently killed by Russian gangsters to whom he owed money, based on the fact that he received a threatening text on the day he died. Except that when Shawn and Gus investigate, they realize that the football player was already dead when the text was sent. Closer investigation reveals that he'd died in an ATV accident. Three of his teammates had been there, and they staged the supposed murder into cover up the fact that their off-roading jaunt was in violation of the morality clause in their contracts.
  • Actor Allusion: Has its own page.
  • Aesop Amnesia:
    • In one episode, Juliet learns that she can dress nicely and look like a beautiful woman without compromising her competence as a detective. After which she immediately goes back to wearing the same pantsuits she's been wearing all series.
    • "Does not ever learn a lesson" is basically Shawn's quintessential personality trait, though he actually does go through Character Development as the show goes on.
  • Affably Evil:
    • Pablo Nuñez from "No Country For Two Old Men" is the ruthless leader of a Mexican crime syndicate whom Juliet's stepfather Lloyd owes money too. However, Pablo is a pretty reasonable guy and was willing to forgive Lloyd's debt to him when Lloyd found a pair of cufflinks that belonged to Pablo's father and Pablo is even grateful enough to invite them to a party. The only reason he even tries to kill Lloyd and Henry later on is because Lloyd stole some US Mint plates from him.
    • Psych: The Movie has two examples:
    • El Proveedor, a local fence. He crosses paths with Shawn when the former comes looking for the engagement ring that was stolen in the series finale. When Shawn's "premonitions" end up coming true for El Proveedor, he is so grateful that not only does he track down the engagement ring, he officiates Shawn and Juliet's wedding.
    • Allison Crowley's nameless henchman who is dubbed the "Black Gentleman Ninja" by Shawn and Gus. He is friendly and polite before attacking Shawn and even after being arrested and captured congratulates Shawn and Juliet on being married.
  • Affectionate Parody: The series has its own page.
  • Always Someone Better: Subverted eventually. Various characters try to match wits with Shawn either through Criminal Mind Games, The Perfect Crime or a rival investigator (one time a rival psychic detective who was on to his Hyper-Awareness scam). None have proven to be better than him, although he has had set-backs along the way. Even Henry, who trained him on how to do this, doesn't have quite the same talent. In the final season, with Juliet going with the Chief to San Francisco, the department ends up with new head detective Besty Brannigan. While just as quirky as Shawn (she has a peppy and light-hearted attitude and enjoys knitting and other activities, making things for her nephew), she is also just as smart as he is while also being as ruthless as Lassiter, even sharing the same type of gun. We never actually see how she works (though its hinted to be somewhat like Lassiter), but in the penultimate episode, we see her manage to nab the criminal before Shawn (albeit, Shawn was hindered with Gus suffering nightmares at the time.) Nonetheless, it's clear that they come to the exact same conclusions, but with her being an actual police officer, she can move through the evidence and identify suspects without Shawn having to do his shtick.
  • Ambiguously Bi:
    • Shawn makes the occasional comment that hints at being bi, like when he says he and Gus wouldn't work as a couple not because they're straight, but because Gus is too good for him.
    • Lassiter and the Coroner Woody in "Late Night Gus" was played for laughs.
  • Anachronic Order: Episodes begin with a flashback to Shawn's youth, wherein he's being trained by his father (or his grandfather is trying to help Shawn out from under the strict Henry's rules).
  • And the Adventure Continues: After spending the whole finale episode making it seem as though he's going to be getting out of the fake psychic routine and leave Gus behind to be with Jules, the final episode has Shawn move to San Francisco, be chased by Gus, who quit his job to be with his best friend, and moving the whole operation to a new city. It's clear that he'll get up to the same antics, with the only difference being that he'll be in a new city, and that he'll be married to Jules.
  • Artistic License Law: In one episode, Shawn is able to solve the case because he was able to view somebody's psychiatric records, saying that doctor-patient confidentiality is void if the patient is accused of murder. This isn't even remotely true, and, even if it was, the records wouldn't be handed over to someone who isn't even a cop or DA.
  • Ascended Meme: Shawn hits Gus with Ed Lover's "C'mon, Son!" in an episode.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Nelson Poe in "Weekend Warriors" was shot and killed when he looked up and saw the episode's bad guy during the Civil War reenactment rehearsal. Shawn and Gus later find out that he was sleeping with another man's wife before he died.
    • Nigel St. Nigel in "American Duos" is a would-be case of this; he manages to survive the episode, but the fact that he's a hyper-critical, snooty, disdainful and arrogant British asshole means that finding who wants to kill him isn't particularly easy, since there's a list of suspects practically queuing up.
    • Vince Wagner in "Meat Is Murder, But Murder Is Also Murder" is an restaurant critic with ridiculously high standards. Not only did he give every restaurant he went to bad reviews for their best dishes, he also gave his wife ratings on everything she did (including sex), of which she never rose above two out of five.
    • Professor Hahn, the calculus teacher in "If You're So Smart, Then Why Are You Dead?". In addition to having a temper, he's a blackmailer. Not only did he blackmail a student in the past for his tuition money and had the student expelled when he didn't comply, Hahn also did the exact same to the episode's killer when he found out the killer's real identity.
    • Oil rig Safety Inspector Butch Hicks in "There Might Be Blood". He was such a stickler for the rules that he wrote up everyone for even the slightest infraction. Unsurprisingly, the entire crew of the rig is glad to be rid of him.
    • Old Man Fuller from "Gus's Dad May Have Killed An Old Guy". He had a history of being incredibly difficult with his neighbors and was revealed to be blackmailing them meaning that pretty much everyone in the neighborhood had reasons for wanting him dead.
    • Gus's boss Dorian Creech from "Office Space". The man was an overly aggressive, cruel jerk and even worse than Ogletree from "Ghosts". Hell, in his introductory scene, he throws his letter opener at his secretary just for not opening his mail for him. This is why the case is hard to solve on top of Shawn and Gus tampering with the crime scene, since every employee is a viable suspect.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!:
    • Shawn, in "Ferry Tale", vehemently objects to going with Gus on an environmental trip. As they board the ferry, Gus points out that Shawn did agree to go, but that he apparently wasn't paying close attention when he did. Shawn, offended, begins ranting about how he has keen, well-developed mental abilities and an infallible sense of attention. He forgets his complaints mid-rant when Gus gives him a Snickers bar (in a shiny wrapper, no less, making this trope count even more) and goes "Ooh!". This works at least twice.
    • In "Dead Man's Curveball," he accidentally ingests speed. In the middle of a conversation, he becomes distracted by Gus's ear.
  • Attention Whore:
    • Shawn, natch. That his 'psychic' abilities also conveniently enable him to solve crimes in a showy fashion where all attention is focussed on him is most likely not a complete coincidence.
    • In each of the 'musical' promos, Shawn and Gus recreate a famous 1980s music videonote  only for it to gradually devolve into both men trying to push the other out of the way so that they can be the focus of attention.
  • Autopsy Snack Time: Woody the coroner is constantly eating during autopsies. The only people this doesn't seem to bother is Shawn and Gus, who like that he shares the snacks with them.
  • Awesome by Analysis: Shawn's analytical skills are some of the best and honed masterfully thanks to Henry's training. In "Nip and Suck It", we're treated to a short scene where Henry does the same thing, complete with the same sort of effects usually given to Shawn.
  • Awesome Mc Cool Name: It's equally likely that Shawn introduces Gus with an awesome or terrible fake moniker. Gus gives himself a cool fake name once or twice.
    Gus: My name is Gus, but you can call me...John Slade.
    Shawn: I'm Shawn Spencer, and this is my partner Lavender Gooms/Ghee Buttersnaps/Coco Mickey.
  • Bathos: All the time. Shawn jokes while in mortal peril. The first episode of the Yin/Yang trilogy has him state it's a coping mechanism to deal with the stress and danger. Gus immediately plays into it to make himself a target of everyone's anger and give Shawn a break.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Shawn's M.O. is to get into places by pretending he has the authority to do so.
    • Perhaps most memorable in "Shawn vs. the Red Phantom", where Shawn manages to convince George Takei that he and Gus are George Takei's assistants.
    • Usually Shawn ropes Gus into it, but once it happens to Henry.
      Henry: What's going on?
      Gus: This is the part where you get blindsided with Plan B. It's kinda fun when it's not happening to me.
  • Becoming the Mask:
    • Juliet often has a problem with getting too into her undercover personalities.
    • Shawn gets sucked up in the street racing culture in "Shawn and Gus in Drag (Racing)".
    • This happens to Gus in the episode "Black and Tan". It's justified, since it's more for a girl than anything, but he still acts like a model even when it's just him and Shawn. We find out in "Shawn and Gus in Drag (Racing)" that he's still using the head oil years later.
    • In later seasons, Shawn does his psychic routine even when there's no one around but Gus and/or Henry, who are both in on the secret. When called on it, Shawn just says it's "force of habit." It's gotten to the point where they don't even call him on it any more.
  • Beta Couple: Marlowe and Lassiter in the last few seasons, then Gus and Selene in the movies.
  • Better than a Bare Bulb: The amount of Lampshade Hanging and Affectionate Parody in the show is ridiculous.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Lassiter and Juliet pull one of these to catch the perp or to spring Shawn and Gus out of danger in practically every other episode.
  • Big Eater: Shawn and Gus both exhibit traits of this, regularly eating on the job, stopping for snacks, and even in their contract for taking private jobs, a food allowance is included (all snacks must be paid for by the person who hired them).
  • Body in a Breadbox: Shawn and Gus constantly run into dead bodies stuffed into closets and alcoves, usually while not even having reason to believe someone is dead. This is usually followed by one or both of them freaking out and screaming like a little girl. Lampshaded by Gus in "There Might Be Blood" after following the smell of onions to corpsey closet:
    Gus: Why does it always have to be a dead guy?
  • Borrowed Without Permission: The show has a Running Gag where Shawn will take something that belongs to Gus without asking for his permission. Gus usually reacts with mild annoyance to this.
  • Broken Pedestal:
    • When a case ends up exposing a Dirty Cop ring back when Henry was a detective, Shawn fears this on various levels. He isn't so much concerned of Henry being one of them, but his partner Lou, one of the dirty cops, was so close to the family young Shawn called him "uncle". Shawn's real concern was that he always consider his dad a supercop who should have seen the deception. This gets rebuilt when it's revealed that Henry could never get a leg up because both of his friends (and one more) were doing everything they could to shake him off,and even then,it was difficult to do so. Additionally, Henry was the only one to not become a Dirty Cop out of the group of four (with the last one, Jerry, being involved in something far worse than Jack or Lou), maintaining his integrity and dedication to what it means to be a real cop.
    • Henry's discovery that his three closest friends on the force (one being his partner Lou) were all dirty cops shakes him up to where it leads to him retiring for the second and final time from police work (the last one revealed to be involved, Jerry, was also a part of something much worse and a slip-up leads to Jerry shooting Henry.)
    • Despereaux the master thief turned out to be running an insurance scam with art curators, so he wasn't the Classy Cat-Burglar that Shawn hoped he was. In his follow up episode Despereaux even noted with amusement how much Shawn wanted him to be a legendary thief.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Shawn really loves antagonizing people that are clearly capable of inflicting physical harm upon him and would be all but to eager to do so.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Subverted. It was actually Thursday. Shawn and Gus accidentally tamper with a crime scene and everything spirals rapidly out of control. Juliet lampshades it and they say this trope pretty much word for word. Except it's Thursday.
  • Call-Back: In the season 3 finale Shawn and Gus tell Mary he needs a new hobby to replace his Yang obsession. They suggest racquetball. It becomes a Running Gag in the finale of season 4 when they work with him again and culminates with them wearing racquetball uniforms to his funeral. The joke comes back at the end of season 7 as a call-way-back to the line "Do you think they have racquetball in heaven?" during the song "Promised Land" between Yang and Mary, who is dressed to play racquetball.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • In "In Plain Fright", Shawn sees a murder... in a haunted house.
    • In "Truer Lies", Shawn has to prove the truth of a witness testimony given by a compulsive liar who had a history of sending the police department on wild goose chases. It was also implied that Shawn saw a lot of himself in the guy.
    • "Not Even Close... Encounters" had a lawyer who frequently suffered from delusions claim that his co-worker had been abducted by aliens. No one believed him due to him having made a similar claim previously and his insistence that a textile company he was suing had deliberately caused a chemical spill. As it turned out, the lawyer was right about the company deliberately causing the spill as the CEO had discovered oil under some land and wanted people out of the area while he drilled for it. The CEO exploited the lawyer's history of mental illness to make him think he saw an alien abduction to discredit him.
  • Catchphrase: Has its own page.
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • Being big fans of Eighties pop culture, Shawn and Gus have made at least one reference to The Breakfast Club.
      • But if Ally Sheedy played Allison Reynolds (you know, the basket case), then who's the serial killer Yang?
      • Judd Nelson, who has been personally referenced on previous episodes, guest-starred in "Death is in the Air" as a scientist.
      • Anthony Michael Hall was also in the film and was referenced before appearing in "No Trout About It" as Harris Trout. This also brings up Shawn's jab at an FBI agent at the season 7 premiere about his "soft, peachy Anthony Michael Hall-ish face".
      • Molly Ringwald also guest-starred in "Shawn, Interrupted".
    • In the "The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Episode" in which Jeri Ryan guest-starred, Shawn makes reference to the season finale of Leverage, where Ryan had been a semi-regular cast member in the same season.
    • They also like to reference movies Dulé Hill appeared in: Holes in "65 Million Years Off" and The Guardian in "You Can't Handle This Episode". Thank God that The West Wing started in 1999 and really wouldn't be their sort of thing anyway, or else they'd be facing some very interesting paradoxes.
    • Officer Dobson being played by Val Kilmer practically rips a hole space-time with the level of paradox involved.
    • Moreover the show will routinely bring in guest stars from shows and movies that have already been explicitly referenced even just a few episodes prior to their appearance with no comment made about the issue.
    • Shawn mentions that Kristy Swanson in Higher Learning would be worth making into a stained glass art piece, and she later came into the show as Marlowe, Lassiter's Love Interest.
    • James Roday Rodriguez's role in the 2005 remake of Dukes of Hazzard is referenced (and derided) by both Shawn and Gus in the season 8 episode "Cloudy... with a Chance of Improvement".
    • In "Mr. Yin Presents...", during Shawn and Gus' first visit with Yang in the psychiatric hospital, she ask Shawn's opinion on her tell-all autobiography, and Shawn admits to preferring Bruce Campbell's. Campbell would later guest-star in season 8's "A Nightmare on State Street."
  • Celebrity Resemblance: In "Scary Sherry: Bianca's Toast", Gus is twice mistaken for the actor who played Bud in The Cosby Show (his name's Deon Richmond, by the way). This happens fairly often for people watching the show, too. It's given several references throughout the series after this point, including an episode where Shawn introduces Gus as Deon Richmond, much to Gus' dismay.
  • Cerebus Syndrome:
    • The episodes featuring serial killers "Mr. Yang" and "Mr. Yin" make Shawn lose his jokester attitude.
    • The season opener after Henry is shot maybe even more so. Shawn is even less himself than the Yin/Yang episodes.
  • Chain of Corrections: Shawn gets a basic fact wrong. Gus corrects him. Repeat.
  • Character Blog:
  • Chekhov's Skill: In the childhood flashback opener, Henry often teaches Shawn something that he will eventually have to use in the episode.
    • In the season 4 mid-season finale, the first half or so of the episode is inter-cut with these flashbacks. In one episode after being captured and being locked in the trunk of a car Shawn flash backs to his father teaching him EXACTLY WHAT TO DO when you've been captured and locked in the trunk of a car. And, this being Henry, he actually threw Shawn in the trunk for the lesson.
    • This is inverted in the Season 6 opening episode when Shawn cheats a lie detector and at the end of the episode reveals the flashback of Henry teaching Shawn how to do so.
  • Chemically-Induced Insanity: Used a few times:
    • In "Shawn Interrupted," Shawn goes into a mental ward to try to prove that a crimelord is faking insanity to get an Insanity Defense. Turns out this trope is at play instead, and he is being continually dosed by one of the nurses.
    • Happens to Lassiter in "Heeeeeere's Lassie", where the killer is putting a chemical in the air vents to drive certain residents insane.
    • Occurs yet again when a law firm has a man dosed so that people think he's an insane conspiracy nut to discredit them when he is building a case against them when he finds that they've had some shady dealings.
  • Christmas Episode: Seasons 2, 3, and 5 featured special Christmas episodes that aired during the holiday season, complete with their own special variation of the opening theme.
    • Lampshaded by Shawn in an episode where he claims, he "solves about a case a week, usually one around Christmas".
    • Also contains the running gag of Shawn and Henry getting each other gifts. Well, Henry gets Shawn a gift. Shawn (always successfully) tries to guess what Henry got him.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Shawn's uncle, Jack Spencer.
    Jack: This is Jack Spencer and I'm willing to offer you a fifty-fifty split on pirate treasure. [to the guy answering the phone at a fast food joint]
  • City of Adventure: Santa Barbara, of all places. The real city is a small town of less than 100,000 people that has one or two murders a year. While not all episodes feature murder, and not all episodes that do feature murder take place in Santa Barbara, the murder rate in Psych's Santa Barbara must be at least a couple of magnitudes higher than that if the police need Shawn and Gus's help on a dozen murders per year. On top of that, the city has whatever backdrop is needed to make the plot work, such as a thriving illegal drag racing scene or a war brewing between Asian gangs. Given that the writers treat Santa Barbara as a much larger city than it is, one wonders why they didn't just go with a big city in the first place. Also, Mr. Yang is described as "the most notorious serial killer this city [Santa Barbara] has ever seen". So, how many has it had?
  • Clark Kenting: Done so much it eventually gets lampshaded in season 4.
  • Cliffhanger:
    • Season 6 ends on a massive one with Henry being shot by one of his old partners on the force.
    • The movie ends with just as big a one when Juliet's brother arrives at the psychphransico office...followed by a trigger-happy SWAT team that proceeds to shoot the office up as they escape. Plus, there's what's inside Ewan's wedding gift...
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Lassiter is usually the center. So many people make him look foolish.
    • One of the more extreme examples of this was the snowglobe gag in "Gus' Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy", which sailed right past "cruel prank" into "cruel and unusual".
    • Gus also gets a fair bit of this from Shawn as well.
    • Lampshaded during "An Evening With Mr. Yang", where Shawn's callous goofy jokes over the kidnapping of a waitress seem like crossing the line even by the show's very loose, wacky standards. Shawn confides in Gus that if he starts taking the case seriously, he'll be playing by the killer's rules instead of his own, which would allow the killer to win and would likely cause Shawn to actually have to deal with the incredible amount of fear he's mentally blocking out.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Lassiter tries to bribe the kid he's supposed to scare straight.
    O'Hara: I told you, kids want XBoxes, not hot chocolate.
  • Continuity Nod: Has its own page.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Whenever Psych has a case unrelated to the one being solved by the SBPD, there will be something to connect the two at the end. For example, Shabby the Sea Lion was shot by some diamond smugglers that Lassie was looking for. In another episode, the SBPD is looking for a "Regina Kane", who is actually one of the personalities of Psych's client.
  • Control Freak:
    • Lassiter needs to be in charge and it plays into his ego. It's caused him a fair bit of problems. He's also highly competitive and the biggest naysayer on the force as to Shawn's psychic talents.
    • Henry was drilling Shawn in cop rules and skills since early childhood, and informed Shawn once that Shawn wanted to be a cop (despite Shawn disagreeing). Even after Shawn has been working as a consultant for the police for four years and has solved literally dozens of cases, Henry insists on riding him every step of the way, or flat-out refusing to hire him because he does not act like a proper detective, which he is not. True, Shawn is lazy and often needs pushing, but it is still excessive insistence on controlling his process given Shawn's demonstrable effectiveness. Not just with Shawn though. In the episode involving the dinosaur, a psychologist appears seemingly to deal with Shawn's attitude with Henry behind him, only for the end to reveal he was there to deal with Henry's need for control. Henry flipped out in anger. Lassiter also once went fishing with Henry and Lassiter was severely annoyed by Henry lecturing his fishing technique for the whole three hours. He admits that he understands a bit now why Shawn is the way he is.
  • Cop/Criminal Family:
    • Henry Spencer was a respected, by-the-book cop, while his son Shawn has technically been defrauding the police department for years by claiming to be psychic and selling his services. While he has genuinely good intentions and has actually done good work, if anyone ever manages to prove his deception, it would cause a lot of damage to the department.
    • Jules is a good cop whose dad is a con man and brother is a black ops agent operating off the books.
  • Cops Need the Vigilante: Shawn usually commits about two dozen serious infractions solving every one of his cases. He usually gets called on it by the people he works with. Only once did it actually screw up a case.
  • Cowardly Lion: Shawn and Gus, particularly Gus, aren't the bravest people in the world. They'll scream and flee at even the slightest hint of danger. But they'll stand up and step forward when it really matters.
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • Henry has some of those tendencies. Once when walking home with Shawn and Gus to see a shadow in his living room, Henry reaches into the birdhouse and pulled out a stun gun. Cue appropriate responses from Shawn and Gus.
    • Lassiter is over-prepared for work and personal life.
      • He has eight guns in various parts of his house, including the shower, the toaster oven, and a bowl of nuts. Revealed in an episode where Lassiter is suspected of killing an FBI witness in a big drug case. He has to go through the whole Turn in Your Badge trope and his apartment is searched over, revealing various hidden gun spots. Shawn and Gus then react appropriately: with slightly disguised surprise and creeped-out looks. Turns out the FBI missed one, which Lassiter used to take down the real murderer.
      • He's also made plans for whose organs he would want in case he ever needed a transplant, who he would eat first if he was trapped in an Alive-esque scenario, and who from the department he would procreate with if they were the last two people on Earth. Even Shawn is a little weirded out by this.
        Lassiter: [re: procreation] Well, it wasn't any of you!
      • Lassie reveals that he's been building up a tolerance for chloroform over the last fifteen years.
    • Lassiter has also rubbed off on Juliet by the time of the movie, to the point she encourages her partner to keep a gun hidden in his house, and she herself has taken karate lessons.
  • Credits Gag: Seen occasionally.
    • In "Lights, Camera, Homicido" and "No Country for Two Old Men", the song is in Spanish.
    • In "Bollywood Homicide", it's in Hindi.
    • In "High Top Fade Out" and "Let's Do Wop it Again", it is a Capella sung by Boyz II Men.
    • The Christmas episodes have a version with cheery holiday instrumentals and snowflakes superimposed over the screen.
    • When Curt Smith of Tears for Fears made a guest appearance in "Shawn 2.0", he sang the theme for that very same episode.
    • The Shining tribute episode also has a unique version of the credits.
    • In the fifth season opener, "Romeo and Juliet and Juliet", the cast's names appear in Chinese before being shown in English, though the theme song is, regrettably, not in Chinese.
    • The episode "Bounty Hunters!" features the Camp Tikihama spirit song over the end credits, which was supposedly made up by the Case of the Week. The song makes a return a full season later in "Tuesday the 17th".
    • The Twin Peaks tribute episode had the Log Lady Julee Cruise singing the Psych theme song's lyrics to the Twin Peaks theme song.
    • The opening credits of the Vigilante episode is given a comic book feel.
  • Creepy Mortician: As well as Woody, his equally creepy ex-girlfriend turns up in one episode.
  • Criminal Mind Games: The Yin-Yang Killer in the episode "An Evening with Mr. Yang." Notably, what led to the capture of Yang was Shawn absolutely refusing to to follow the game, which pissed off the killer so much that she walked right up to Shawn with a gun and an angry rant about him not playing, surrounded by undercover police.
    • And then again in the season 4 finale when Mr. Yin, Yang's partner, comes to screw with Shawn.
  • Crossover:
    • invoked Tragically averted. Word of God says that if Psych hadn't made Leverage a fictional show within the Psych universe (see Celebrity Paradox above), Leverage's Eliot would have had an uncle named Henry. The favor was returned in Leverage, however, as Hardison mentions that Nate has Psych in his Netflix queue.
    • Being a USA original series, though, it's seen several crossovers in commercials. For instance, Shawn and Johnny Smith in a diner arguing over who has it harder (fake psychic due to psychologically abusive upbringing vs. real precog due to coma) before seeing Adrian Monk counting and arranging the corn on his plate and agreeing they've got nothing on him. Done for another promotional commercial in which Gus has his wallet stolen by Neal Caffrey while chatting with both he and Peter Burke.
    • In the series finale, Adrian Monk is given a passing mention as SFPD's resident consultant.
  • Damsel in Distress: Shawn has a tendency to act like Juliet's a damsel in distress when she's in danger, forgetting what an Action Girl she is.
  • Depending on the Writer: The Shawn/Henry relationship. Shawn often claims it's a bad one, and a few of the flashbacks show Henry overreacting wildly, but most of the time they seem to get along okay, even in many of the flashbacks. (Of course, the divorce didn't help the relationship.)
  • The Dissenter Is Always Right: Happens quite a lot with Shawn as the dissenter, much to the annoyance of Head Detective Carlton Lassiter.
    • Many episodes such as "Truer Lies", "Dead Bear Walking", and "Shawn, Interrupted" feature Shawn going against Lassie's belief that a certain suspect was responsible for the crime of the week, outright going beyond the law to assist said suspect. In other episodes, when a suspect claims to be innocent of a crime, Shawn tries to prove their innocence, regardless of everyone else's opinion.
    • In "The Head, Tail, and the Whole Damn Episode", Lassie pre-emptively claims that a shark attack victim was murdered to avoid getting showed up by Shawn. This results in him becoming a laughingstock in the media. However, Shawn insists that Lassie was right and encourages him to follow his gut instinct. As per formula, the victim was actually murdered, having been stabbed to death with a serrated blade that resembled a shark tooth.
    • Gus himself gets a moment in "Cog Blocked", where he insists that a man with a boring, unremarkable life was murdered and did not commit suicide (even Shawn himself is pretty sure it was a suicide). It turns out that the killer was his boss, who killed him to cover up an insurance fraud scheme.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • Shawn usually gets distracted by women for laughs, but also to tease a Romantic False Lead for his Will They or Won't They? with Juliet.
    • Once Henry gets distracted by a woman while walking down the sidewalk, before walking face-first into an open door.
  • Distressed Dude: Shawn and Gus fall under this trope pretty frequently. Sometimes they escape on their own, other times they end up being rescued by Juliet and Lassiter. Sometimes a combination of the above.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop:
    • One Season 3 teaser. "That wasn't a jelly donut."
    • In "Dual Spires," while Juliet and Henry are staring at a large assortment of donuts:
      Henry: In all my years of police work, I've never seen anything like it.
      Juliet: I know. Our new station manager is an angel sent from heaven.
    • In "We'd Like to Thank the Academy", Shawn mentions he never craved donuts more until he put on the police cadet uniform. He and Gus stop at a Dunkin' Donuts stand in a convenience store in their uniforms to illustrate, and even ask if there's another donut stand somewhere in the store.
  • "Down Here!" Shot:
    • One episode has Shawn and Gus being visited by a guy who used to bully them in school. When they open the door for him, they don't see anyone, until they look down. The guy isn't much bigger than when they were kids, but it makes him perfect for his current job as a horse-racing jockey.
    • One of the cold opens pans between three men playing poker, then to a blank space where the fourth man should be, before panning down to reveal the fourth player as a then seven-year-old Shawn.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: When, in the seventh season, Juliet discovers that Shawn has been lying about being a psychic, it implodes their relationship. He spends the following episode mulling things over and tells her "If I hadn't given you my jacket, we would still be okay." No, Shawn, it wouldn't still be okay, and that's the point.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Happens in one of the "Psych Slumber Party" marathon commercials. It starts with Juliet's dream about her and Shawn being alone... which is in Shawn's dream about him with a giant stack of pancakes... which is in Gus's dream about Pluto being made a planet again... which is in Lassie's dream about Shawn finally giving up the Psychic Detective business.
  • Dropped After the Pilot: The show gave Detective Lassiter a female partner (Anne Dudek appeared as the competent and skeptical Detective Lucinda Barry, partner and lover of the major character Carlton Lassiter) with whom he was having an affair and who was suspicious of Shawn's "psychic" abilities. Post-pilot she is never seen again, and is said to have been transferred out in the second episode because of the affair thing and replaced with Shawn's trusting, less skeptical eventual Love Interest, Junior Detective Juliet O'Hara.
  • Dude, Not Ironic:
    • Shawn is a little unclear on the definition. One exchange from "We'd Like to Thank the Academy":
      Conforth: I can't believe you get out of the bed in the morning without hurting yourselves.
      Shawn: Oh, but we do! And injury-free since June of last year, when Gus broke his finger flipping the injury countdown calendar. Wait, that's irony, right?
      Gus: Irony is you asking what irony means every time you say it.
    • Discussed in the first tie-in novel A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Read.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Shawn's unorthodox methods have been the deciding factor in arresting murderers, thieves, con artists, and even serial killers. Many times over the course of the series the Santa Barbara police would have imprisoned the wrong person, and many people would be dead, without Shawn's help. Despite this, every week the cops say they don't have time for his "hunches," his help is not needed, and please get out of the way so the "real" cops can do their jobs. This is especially noteworthy for Detective Lassiter, who is perpetually dismissive and condescending toward Shawn, despite the fact that he would be rotting in jail for a murder he didn't commit if Shawn hadn't cleared his name.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The pilot has Lassiter paired with a different junior detective, with whom he's having an affair. She's gone by the second episode, and Lassiter's estranged from his wife. Lassiter would also become much more morally upright (and so not the person to have an extramarital affair with a co-worker) and more inept with the opposite sex. Shawn also worked a variety of jobs which on rare occasions had esoteric relevance to the plot. That disappeared relatively quickly and was replaced by Shawn learning his Chekhov's Skill in a flashback at the beginning instead. Shawn's also more hostile and belligerent towards Lassiter in the first episode, whereas in later episodes he becomes more playful, if still disrespectful.
    • In the first few episodes, Shawn routinely claims to be speaking with and interacting with ghosts. That went away quick. And just in general, Shawn puts far more effort into his fake psychic episodes in the first couple of seasons, as opposed to later seasons where he mostly just puts his hand to his head and says "I'm getting something..."
    • In Juliet's first appearance, we see a photograph of her parents who Shawn guesses have been together for 30 years (from her reaction, we can assume he's right) and her father does not resemble Frank O'Hara as portrayed by William Shatner in later seasons.
    • In the first two episodes, young Shawn is played by a different actor each time. The flashback in the second episode takes place later than most episodes, so Shawn was about thirteen. Beginning in the third episode, young Shawn was played by Liam James, and the flashbacks generally took place in a particular year which advanced with each passing season.
    • Shawn and Henry's relationship is played for angst in the first couple of episodes. This quickly shifts to a more light-hearted bickering while flashbacks become goofier and show young Shawn giving as good as he gets.
    • In the first season, the Psych logo on the window is blue instead of green. (In the season eight episode "Cloudy...With a Chance of Improvement," which is a remake of season one's "Cloudy...With a Chance of Murder," the logo is blue in the first scene as a nod to this detail, then green for the rest of the episode.)
    • In the pilot, Shawn is a sharp-shooter. He re-uses Lassiter's partner's target sheet, and hits each hole she has already shot. Shawn rarely uses guns after that. Mostly because they refuse to give him one.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: A major theme in the Shawn/Juliet relationship, referenced in Juliet's speech at the end of "An Evening with Mr. Yang" and Shawn's speech at the end of "Death is in the Air."
  • Economy Cast: Juliet and Lassiter seemingly investigate every murder in Santa Barbara. As well as a bizarre variety of other crimes, ranging from auto theft and drug dealing to piracy.
  • El Spanish "-o": Shawn's time on a Spanish soap opera mostly consists of middle school Spanish, but for his summation he switches to accented English with some -o-ing. This reappears in "No Country For Two Old Men" when the cast ends up in Mexico. It's made extra funny both times by the fact that James Roday Rodriguez is Mexican-American.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Constantly on the show, mostly with Shawn as despite his great intellect and skills, he often jumps to the wrong conclusions based on his lack of real police experience.
    • One episode opens with a flashback of Henry finding Shawn writing a book report on Charlotte's Web despite not having finished the book. Shawn says he doesn't see the need as it's perfectly obvious what will happen: Wilbur wins the prize at the fair and he and Charlotte live happily ever after. A smiling Henry bets Shawn a trip to Disneyland he gets an A and Shawn already starts planning it with no idea he's about to fail.
    • This ties into the rest of the episode as Shawn is about to accuse a man of murder but Henry interrupts to point out the guy is innocent because of a detail in his file that Shawn didn't bother to read. Shawn has to turn it around to make it look like he meant to accuse the innocent man to "flush out" the real killer. This also ties into the plot of Shawn working with what he believes is a think tank working out how to stop the murder of a billionaire...only to realize too late that the leader of the think thank is the one who intends to murder the billionaire, and he's just given him the plan.
  • "Eureka!" Moment:
    • Shawn usually gets his Eureka well in advance, but later has to set up the summation to maintain his role as a psychic.
    • Later parodied when Lassiter, without explanation, yells out "I know who the West Side Rapist is!" while tap dancing with a class of children at a recital.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Several examples of Red Herrings that are still criminals.
    • "A Very Juliet Episode" involves a powerful mob boss who was convicted of murdering a federal agent, and whose wrath was keeping Jules' ex-boyfriend in witness protection. Turns out he didn't do it: he prides himself on honor and especially on not killing and doesn't want his children to grow up thinking he was a murderer. Likewise, he himself is not after Jules' ex, though he can say nothing about those who would kill the man independently to gain his favor. He ends up hiring Shawn and Gus to find the real killer in exchange for making sure Jules' ex is never troubled again.
    • Despereaux likewise draws the line far below killing, though he is not above a little High-Altitude Interrogation.
    • The duo of robbers in "Barbie And Clyde" are perfectly fine with lying, cheating, robbing and swindling folks out of their money and possessions, but likewise draw the line at killing. Also, they're against animal cruelty and digital piracy.
  • Everyone Can See It: The Shawn/Juliet (non-)relationship has been commented on by several Case of the Week characters, and even Gus seems to be trying to help it along. In Season 5, when Shawn and Jules finally start dating, Shawn has trouble telling Gus, fearing that Gus won't take it well. When the truth comes out, Gus doesn't act surprised... until Shawn catches him eating a bowl of caramels, which earlier he said Gus had a tendency of doing whenever Shawn enters into a serious relationship. When Shawn questions if it is, Gus defensively hides the bowl with Shawn rolling his eyes at what's gonna happen.
  • Fatal Attractor: Juliet's mother has a really bad track record when it comes to men. Not only were her first and second husbands a con artist and gambling addict respectively, but she has also dated an embezzler, an alcoholic pick pocket and a man who sold defective above ground pools.
  • Femme Fatale: Dahlia Beaumont. AKA Thea Summers. Much like Chinatown, she winds up having a dual connection to a character, being both his sister and his girlfriend.
  • The Film of the Series:
    • Psych the Movie.
    • Psych 2: Lassie Come Home.
  • Finale Season: The last season was billed as the last, and makes strides to wrap up the series. Chief Vick is briefly replaced, but ends up accepting a job as Chief in San Francisco. Lassiter was demoted to uniformed officer by the replacement Chief, but ends up as the new Chief after proving himself to the Mayor, and learns Marlowe is pregnant. Juliet follows Vick to SF, and she and Shawn do a long distance relationship until he decides to follow her in the Grand Finale, with Gus following shortly after. Later followed up with a movie, however.
  • Fixing the Game: One episode involves a rigged poker game with invisibly marked cards. Another involves a conspiracy to fix horse races.
  • Flanderization:
    • In the first couple of seasons, Shawn was perfectly capable of acting like a normal adult when the situation called for it or he was off the job. By Season 3, his need to be as obnoxious as possible even when it seems likely to get him killed has become as pathological and uncontrollable as Adrian Monk's phobias. This is actually referenced in the show, where it's suggested that his success has completely gone to his head. It is also suggested, in the first Yin episode, that Shawn may be intentionally playing up his quirks as a way to avoid having to deal with the stress and fear that comes with the job.
    • Gus's eating. At first, both Shawn and Gus were bit of big eaters, but in Season 7, Gus had eaten meat that he found in the woods (which could have killed him) also eaten some more meat later in the same episode,(which everyone thought was Lassiter!) Also, one a guy suddenly dies, Gus wanted to know if their could share his food.
    • Lassiter also became more and more uptight and rigid as time went by with more humor revolving around this. Also, the affair he has with his partner (not Juliet) seems inconceivable in later seasons.
    • Woody, when first introduced, was a competent coroner with a goofy sense of humor who happened to like Shawn and Gus and operate on their wavelength. By the time the second movie, rolls around he had become a rank incompetent who struggled to get through a single sentence without saying something dumb.
  • Flashback with the Other Darrin: The episode "Mr. Yin Presents" ends with the reveal of a photograph of Mr. Yang and young Shawn, at the time played by Liam James. The photograph is brought back in "Yang 3 in 2D," but the young Shawn in the photograph is now Skyler Gisondo, who replaced James in season 5.
  • Foil: Shawn and Henry's relationship and training can easily be contrasted with Yang and Yin's relationship. Shawn and Yang were both raised to follow in their fathers' footsteps, as a police detective and serial killer, respectively. Neither really had a choice in the matter.
  • For Want of a Nail: If only Shawn hadn't lent Juliet his jacket at Lassiter's wedding! She finds evidence that Shawn used to find a suspect, confirming he is faking the psychic act and breaks up with him. "Turn Right or Left For Dead" explores this in addition to how events follow in an investigation, one where Shawn goes home with Juliet and another where he himself runs into the victim and it changes the outcome. The two versions have different color toning too, with the apparent "happier" version much warmer (and has Shawn and Juliet as almost completely OOC).
  • Foreshadowing: The beginning of many episodes involve Henry teaching young Shawn a valuable lesson about crime-solving. Sharp viewers can often solve the mystery well before the end of the episode by applying this lesson to the clues Shawn finds.
  • Free Prize at the Bottom:
    • One episode begins with young Shawn trying to get the prize from a box of cereal, and then his dad shows him that the most efficient way to accomplish this is to just open the box from the bottom.
    • In "Death is in the Air," Shawn calls back to this when trying to tell Jules that he loves her.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • In "The Polarizing Express" you can see the Grinch mugging a couple outside the Psych office.
    • In "Psych the Musical", Shawn is singing and dancing so that Yang, who he's having a Skype call with, will give him information for the case. He's doing it in one of the offices in the police department, and no one else can hear him, but they can see him through the windows.
  • Gambit Roulette: Mr Yin's and Mr Yang's masterful plans have to hinge on unplanned events to get around Shawn.
  • Gaslighting:
    • The villain in "Let's Get Hairy" was a psychiatrist who was drugging his superstitious patient into thinking he was a werewolf to frame him for a murder.
    • In "Not Even Close... Encounters", a corrupt CEO deliberately causes a chemical spill in an area so he could drill for oil without anyone knowing about it. A Crusading Lawyer discovered what he was doing and tried to expose him. Knowing of the lawyer's history of psychotic episodes, the CEO made the lawyer think he'd witnessed his co-worker being abducted by aliens knowing that no one would believe him and thus potentially have his case dismissed.
    • Lassiter is a victim of this in "Heeeeere's Lassie". The killer did the same thing to the previous tenants of his apartment as revenge for spurning her affections. She gaslighted Lassiter out of fear that he would discover her crimes.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Mary Lightly (the Yin/Yang episodes), Leslie Valerie Sally ("Office Space").
  • Genre Blindness: Henry. If two out of three of your cop buddies were dirty cops, what are the odds the third one will be one too? Dangerously high.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • Not surprisingly, Gus has very stringent requirements for entering any horror-movie-like situation.
    • Much of the humor of the show revolves around (sometimes rather selective) genre-savviness from various characters (Gus, as mentioned, often being the biggest source).
    • In season 4, Shawn and Gus have become genre savvy to the point of arguing which movie the situation derives from on at least two occasions.
    • In "Murder? ... Anyone? ... Anyone? ... Bueller?", Shawn spends much of the episode wondering if he should be comparing events to The Breakfast Club or Pretty in Pink. He eventually concludes he's been looking at the wrong John Hughes movie.
    • In "Tuesday the 17th", Shawn is acutely aware that they've stumbled into a slasher film scenario and keeps advising people to not make the same mistakes. No one listens.
  • Godzilla Threshold: To take down Yin, the team calls in Yang.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Subverted in "High Noon-ish", between Lassiter and a Wild West actor. One of the tourist even lampshades that they can't tell who the bad guy is since they are both wearing black.
  • Girl of the Week:
    • Early season episodes often gave Shawn an episodic love interest, presenting him as something of a womanizer until he settled down with Abigail and then Juliet.
    • Gus would get temporary love interests who lasted an episode or so until the end of the show.
  • Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Corbin Bernsen plays his character both in the present and 20 years ago. This is lampshaded in "If You're So Smart, Then Why Are You Dead?", when he expresses disbelief that a 30 year old criminal had passed himself off as a teenager. Shawn replies "I dunno, dad, slap a wig on you and you're the spitting image of yourself when I was a kid."
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Gus definitely seemed very interested in Lassiter's red-headed little sister.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Shawn and Gus, who have been best friends since forever and do everything together. Shawn even gets jealous when he discovered Gus was once married.
    • People assume Shawn and Gus are romantic surprisingly commonly. Shawn even occasionally uses it as a gag introduction to the duo. He doesn't always tell Gus about this in advance. The look of surprise on Gus's face is frequently hilarious.
    • When Shawn proposes to Juliet in the finale not only is Gus present, but he delivers a significant portion of the proposal, and all three involved seem perfectly aware that marrying Shawn virtually marries her to Gus as well.
    • At one point, Gus has to take Shawn to a pet store and let him pet the rabbits before confessing he has a secret girlfriend, so that Shawn won't cause a scene.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X":
    • Shawn says he's selling tickets for the Policemen's Ball. Lassiter says "We don't have balls." Shawn says "There is absolutely nothing I can say to that."
    • In another episode (about a character they're trying to investigate for fraud):
      Shawn: All I have to do is make sure Bethel is in front of those cameras when he exposes himself.
      Gus: Right idea. Wrong choice of words.
    • In "We'd Like to Thank the Academy," Shawn and Gus are forced to enroll in a police academy crash course to make up for violating police procedures. They take advantage of a practice patrol to pull over Lassiter for "driving under the influence," leading to this exchange:
      Lassiter: What the hell, Conforth, you can't beat me on the field so now you're trying to beat me off?
      Shawn: You may want to rephrase that, sir.
      Gus: Maybe he has been drinking.
    • Another from the Season 6 finale "Santabararatown," in reference to a suspect who escaped conviction when Henry was an officer in the eighties:
      Henry: Trust me, no one wants to nail this guy's ass more than I do.
      [aside glances from Shawn and Gus]
  • Hikikomori: A one-shot character who only went out on Thursdays to the convenience store and to buy video games.
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: In "Santabarbaratown", when Shawn and Gus are interviewing someone connected to the case:
    Ida: He wanted children.
    Gus: And you didn't?
    Ida: Let's just say they weren't in the cards for him.
    Shawn: Meaning what?
    Ida: His juice had no pulp. His seed wasn't fruitful. He was pouring decaf. Pumping unleaded. His Hall had no Oates. He was sterile!
    Shawn: Oh! Sure.
    • Shawn launches a similar stream of euphemisms when Lassiter doesn't understand that the bartender's partner is his boyfriend (rather than his business partner) in "Last Night Gus". Given how much time Lassiter spends with Shawn and Gus, it's not that surprising he doesn't get it at first.
  • Hurricane of Puns:
  • Hyper-Awareness:
    • Shawn, thanks to his father's relentless training. He even gets a special effect to show when he notices something. Henry has this too, but he doesn't get special effects. It's often played with as having such a talent also requires the proper knowledge and/or skills to connect the pieces together. Shawn has referred to Gus on his knowledge of pharmaceuticals many times. Another time he joked that he identified a poisoned sandwich because the number of sesame seeds on the regular hotel sandwiches were much different (it was actually the style of toothpick to keep them together). He remarked that he was observant, not the Rain Man.
    • A rival (fake) psychic working for the FBI also had some talent in this, at least able to deduce when Shawn was using his skills.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Allison when Juliet figures out she's lying. Though she could also talking about herself.
      Not bad for a blonde.
    • Juliet is appalled when Shawn suspects her brother might be a murderer. Gus reminds her that she previously charged both his (innocent) parents with murder...on Christmas.

    Tropes I to P 
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Episode titles are generally references to pop culture mixed with a Pun.
  • Ignored Enemy:
    • Yin has Shawn and Gus strapped to chairs and is about to inject them with something to kill them. They start arguing over who Yin will kill first, and whether he plans on sterilizing the needle between uses.
    • Happens again in the movie when Shawn and Gus discuss the Chief's daughter's location and Woody keeps apologizing for calling Allison Cowley a "bitch", all while she gets exasperated that they keep ignoring her for their own conversation and don't even follow her instructions.
  • I Got a Rock: On his Character Blog, Lassiter says to note down the people who give healthy Halloween "treats" and he will arrest them.
  • I Just Want to Be You: In the episode "Juliet Wears the Pantsuit", Juliet gets a roommate who she becomes friends with until the woman starts dressing like and pretending to be her (the film Single White Female is given a Shout-Out). It turns out that the woman is on the run from her abusive husband who keeps managing to track her down despite the number of times she has taken on false identities and thought she would be safe with Juliet as a roommate since she's a cop.
  • I Know You Know I Know: "I know, you know" is right there in the theme song, which was actually written and performed by the band of the show's creator.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills:
    • The few times that Shawn's marksmanship is demonstrated, he makes unlikely shots with precision.
      • In the pilot, he hits the same bullet holes that Lucinda Barry does at the shooting range.
      • In "Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark," he shoots out the villain's engine block during a Car Chase Shoot-Out despite recently having been shot himself.
      • In "We'd Like to Thank the Academy," he shows off his speed and precision with gun. Unfortunately, he's an undiscerning shot, so it's more like super-accurate Reckless Gun Usage.
    • Juliet in the Friday the 13th Tuesday the 17th episode shoots the bad guy in the hand, disarming him. Immediately lampshaded.
      Killer: In the hand? Are you kidding me?!
  • Improvised Weapon: To the point of it being a Running Gag. When he sees a fight coming on, Shawn often arms himself (and sometimes Gus) with a random object (brushes, candles, flyswatters, etc.) even if there are more conventional or effective weapons available.
  • Insistent Terminology: Crops up from time to time. One example is a 1987 flashback in which Henry claims to have taken something of Shawn, unbeknownst to him. Shawn calls it robbing, but "robbery is the taking of property by force or fear" and Henry is not afraid of anyone in the room. Gus then calls it burglary, but that involves breaking in — "this is theft, pure and simple".
  • Internal Deconstruction: Shawn's irreverent approach to crime solving is showed in later seasons to be a major part of his method. During the Yin-Yang trilogy, the time-limit and someone's life on the line means that he has to have Gus be the comic foil so Shawn could fully focus and not lose his cool.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • Shawn attempts to come clean to Lassiter in his recorded goodbye message in the finale. Subverted when Lassiter stops the recording and breaks the disc rather than hear it, though.
    • The audience is fully aware of who the villain is in the movie, but not how they're connected to the characters until the characters find out. At least until The Man Behind the Man is revealed.
  • Irony:
    • Lassiter, a detective that looks down at all criminals, no matter how big or small their crimes are marries one after she's served her time for a murder case he worked.
    • Lassiter was the one who inspired Shawn's Phony Psychic routine in the first place by accusing him of being an accomplice in crimes in the pilot. He has no one but himself to blame for Shawn's presence.
    • In the pilot, Shawn exposes Lassiter's relationship with his partner Lucinda resulting in her getting transferred and the department implementing a rule against workplace relationships. This bites Shawn in the ass four seasons later when he and Juliet start a relationship which they have to hide from the rest of the department.
  • Irregular Series: Becomes one following its original eight-season run, as installments thereafter are made-for-TV movies.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: "Ever since I met you, I've been thinking about getting a car," is one of the most romantic lines in the series. Shawn is rambling and discussing how he loves his motorcycle because nobody ever asks him to drive them anywhere, it represents freedom of commitment, and he never has to help anyone move. He then tells Juliet the above line to indicate that she makes him want all of those things.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Played with. Shawn wants both himself and Jules to be happy, and wants to be happy for Jules and Declan, but can't picture himself being happy without her.
  • Karma Houdini: Marlowe easily earns parole for her thievery, despite having assaulted a guard during a riot at the women's prison.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Mr. Yin and Mr. Yang's appearances make for markedly darker episodes.
  • Lampshade Hanging: This is incredibly common in the series. Just count the number of times it's mentioned on this page.
    • In the pilot, Shawn states "Everything you need is right in front of you. You just have to pay attention," as he pulls a lampshade out of a trash can.
    • In Bollywood Homicide, Shawn brags to his girlfriend "I solve a case every week. And usually one around Christmas."
    • In Let's Get Hairy, after Shawn protests to Henry that he has a case to solve, Henry remarks that Shawn has a case every week.
    • In an episode from season one, Shawn declares that he will have the case solved Friday by 10pm. During Season One, the show aired on Fridays at 9 PM.
    • The season 3 episode "Any Given Friday Night at 10PM, 9PM Central".
    • In the latest season Gus lampshades the face Shawn makes before the special effect highlights whatever Shawn noticed.
    • In If You're So Smart, Why Are You Dead?, Shawn tells his father "slap a wig on you, it's the spitting image of yourself 20 years ago". The same actor plays him in the flashbacks. Wearing a wig.
    • "Viagra Falls" not only lampshades old buddy cop show, it also lampshades Psych itself and the various gags the show uses.
    • From "He Dead":
    "Let me guess. You've got some loosely formed idea that shouldn't work on paper, but ultimately proves to be reasonably successful?"
  • Large Ham:
    • Shawn gets hammy when playing up his psychic abilities, especially during The Summation.
    • Guest star Tim Curry in 'American Duos.' "I feel like an angel baby swaddled in a cocoon of cloud candy" is just one example of his hamminess.
  • Knocking the Knockoff: A later show, The Mentalist, blatantly ripped off the show's exact premise (a man who can cold-read details of a crime scene via Sherlock Scan solves crimes by pretending to be psychic), and Psych took several opportunities to call them on it. At one point, Shawn explains what he does as "like The Mentalist but not fake" and then adds that if he were a fake psychic, it would be "a virtual carbon copy." In another episode, a character is made fun of for listing The Mentalist as one of her favorite TV shows.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • In The Shining tribute episode, Shawn suggests that Lassie is letting his imagination run away with him saying "it happens to Gus and I once every seven days".
    • Another lampshadey example, when Shawn meets Declan Rand for the first time:
      Shawn: Criminal profiler? That sounds like one of those job titles that only exists in cheesy TV shows.
      Declan: No argument here. What do you do?
    • Juliet references this in regards to Chief Vick's husband and the fact that he's never been on the show.
      Juliet: You know, in all the years I've known you, I've never met your husband.
      Vick: Really?
  • Last-Name Basis: Everyone calls Burton Guster "Gus" and Lassiter "Lassiter", though Shawn calls him "Lassie" (unless he's trying to be serious). Juliet alternates between "Lassiter" and Carlton when she's frustrated. Lassiter calls Shawn "Spencer", which naturally causes some confusion when he does the same thing to Shawn's father.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!:
    • Lassiter is often the butt of jokes and most of his cases seem to get solved by Shawn while he fumes silently.note  That said, he has immense knowledge of firearms and has received enough Character Development so as to make clear that he's not Frank Burns.
    • Shawn drops much of the joking and becomes scarily competent when Henry gets shot.
  • Logging onto the Fourth Wall:
  • Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: Shawn's treasure-hunter uncle, Jack, makes more promises than he can keep (or intends to) and is motivated by little more than pure greed.
  • Love at First Sight: Lassie and Marlowe hit it off instantly, becoming the show's Beta Couple.
  • Malaproper: Shawn, frequently. His followup line when called on it (usually by Gus), "I've heard it both ways," is heard about Once an Episode.
    • Lampshaded by Gus in "High Top Fade Out", who cuts Shawn off before he can say it with "And no, you have not heard it both ways!"
    • Lampshaded again by Shawn with "I've heard it both ways... actually, I haven't. Huh."
  • Male Gaze:
    • Possible in-universe example: In the episode "Let's Do-Wop It Again" Shawn is hospitalized and interacts with the others through an iPad that Gus carries around. While Gus is following Jules at one point, he seems to be holding Shawn a little lower than usual...
    • In "High-Top Fadeout", the episode to which "Let's Do-Wop It Again" is a direct sequel, Gus' friend Diddle's desk is position in just such a way as to get a clear shot of his co-worker's ass when she's at the copier.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Gus' ex-wife Mira, a super-adventurous Genki Girl who no one can seem to resist falling in love with, is a parody—especially in the flashbacks to when Gus first met her.
  • Meaningful Name: Yang and Yin. In Daoist philosophy the Yang side is light, warm, active and energetic, while Yin is dark, cold, calm and quiet. Yin is associated with death, night, the old, and the earth. And Yang is associated with life, daytime, the new, and heaven. Which becomes even more meaningful when Shawn reveals Yang probably never actually killed anyone and later when she dies and goes (maybe) to heaven.
  • Memory Trigger: The show utilizes this on a regular basis: Shawn recognizes a clue, flashes back to a relevant conversation / incident, and uses it to corner the culprit.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The young Shawn intros in nearly every episodes.
  • Mirror Character: Lassiter and Shawn can be more alike than they realise, often turning up at the same locations looking for evidence without knowledge of each other. A prominent example is the penultimate episode of season four, in which Lassiter starts acting on a "crazy" hunch and conversely Shawn starts doing actual policework. More subtly in the same episode—both Shawn and Lassiter do part of their routine in moments when it's completely pointless, both rectify it as being a "force of habit".
  • Missing Mom: An offhand remark by Henry reveals what happened to Shawn's mother. She left, and Shawn's father Henry's very bitter about it. Shawn doesn't realize his mom left his dad and despises his dad for being the leaver, until his mom tells him the truth and apologizes for the negative changes in his life that occurred after she left. Shawn immediately says she has nothing to apologize for and starts to be a little less caustic with his dad.
  • Mistaken for Gay:
    • In one episode, Shawn feels an officer's muscles and makes comments to find out if he's working undercover as a vigilante. Comments like "You look like you could handle yourself in a dark alley full of guys" and "I bet you're real nice with the hand=to=hand action". Of course, the officer interprets the actions and comments to be a sexual advance and offers to set Shawn up with a friend.
    • Likewise, Juliet wants to welcome a new female officer into the department, even buying her a cupcake, and the officer files a sexual harassment complaint.
    • Happens twice with Shawn in "Murder? ... Anyone? ... Anyone? ... Bueller?" First, after nobody believes Shawn when he says someone was murdered and he's arguing with Gus, Abigail thinks they're an arguing like an old married couple, then when questioning the couple he suspects with Juliet he goes out of his way to compliment the male suspect on his appearance, including a comment about his "package", which earns him confused looks from everyone else.
    • Shawn and Gus go on a The Bachelorette-esque show and are more preoccupied with each other than the actual bachelorette. The bachelorette herself thought they were gay.
    • In "Lassie Did a Bad Bad Thing," the killer tries to cover up his crime by orchestrating a murder-suicide between Lassiter and Shawn, explaining the motive as Shawn being Lassie's "former lover." Shawn reacts with indignation, but not for the reason you think.
  • Moment Killer: Shawn and Juliet have a... complicated relationship.
    • When Juliet finally makes an offer for a date, Shawn happens to be on his way to a date with a childhood sweetheart.
    • Far, far worse is when he has to give her hints to his location over the phone under the pretense of saying goodbye to a lover. When he says he loves her and she begins to respond in kind, he intentionally cuts her off by saying "Goodbye, Abigail" to prove it was fake. He later admits to Gus that he knew she was about to say she loved him.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • 7th Season premiere "Santabarbaratown 2" contains some of the most serious, dramatic scenes in the entire series—followed immediately by a running gag of supporting character Woody the coroner showing up with one or more bodybags (implicitly intended for main characters).
    • "Deez Nups", a very silly Wedding Episode that ends with Juliet finding out Shawn's secret. Juliet is very pissed off and Shawn is devastated.
    • Yang's death at the end of "Psych the Musical".
  • Multi-Gendered Split Personalities:
    • In a first season episode Shawn and Gus are hired by a client who turns out to have multiple personalities. One of them is a woman who has been trying to arrange a sex change behind the (male) primary's back, another is a murderous psychopath who kills the doctors the female alter has been going to.
    • In another episode, Gus falls for an extremely attractive woman... at a mental hospital. Eventually, he learns that she is sharing a body with another personality named "Frank".
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits:
    • The Gusters to Shawn, regarding Gus's sister Joy. She's annoyed about it, since she very much wants to get back together with Shawn.
    • And again with Lassiter's sister and Gus in "Dead Bear Walking." However, its Shawn who advises against it, in order to "prevent disaster."
  • Necro Cam: In earlier episodes, this is done with fuzzy, washed-out, oversaturated shots of how the victims die. This changes in later seasons: instead of showing original footage, often it would repeat key lines that would give a clue to what happened.
  • Never Suicide: Once was attempted suicide, though. And another time it was suicide, but caused inadvertently by another person.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: By telling Despereaux that he was disappointed to learn that he wasn't actually the highly skilled international thief he pretended to be, Shawn inspired him to prove he could really do it. By complying with his request to visiting him in prison, Shawn ended up accidentally helping Despereaux escape.
  • Nice to the Waiter: One of the reasons Shawn gets away with so much shenanigans is that he often befriends people in the lower echelons of whatever organization he's looking into. At the SBPD, he remembered the name of their video tech when Juliet forgot the guy even existed.
  • No Badge? No Problem!: Shawn will often tell people he's "The Head Psychic for the SBPD" as if he's an actual officer, when he's actually a consultant/hired-on Private Detective. Doesn't stop him from investigating everything and everyone vaguely connected to a high profile or interesting case, even cases he hasn't actually been hired for it. Da Chief puts up with it because he gets results. It's to the point cops from other jurisdictions have assumed Shawn is the boss and Detective Lassiter is supposed to answer to him, rather than the other way around.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • In "Talk Derby to Me," Chief Vick cites "The Prosthetic Nose Debacle of 2005" to explain why Lassiter is obvious when undercover but doesn't explain it any further. She also mentions in season 1 "The Secret Santa Debacle of 2005" to warn O'Hara from doing anything for Lassiter's birthday. Evidently, 2005 was a very eventful and stressful year in the life of Carlton Lassiter.
    • Also never explained was exactly what happened the two times Shawn and Gus were at the Mexican border and why those incidents taught Gus that he should never go anywhere with Shawn blind.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • Lassiter seems to think of the Spencer father and son being basically the same person.
    • Same for Captain Connors, who in a less-than-lucid state, called Shawn "Henry"
    • Allison Cowley remarks on this regarding her and Juliet, wince they're both blonde, can kick ass and are intelligent. Except for, you know, Allison's lack of empathy.
  • No Name Given: Allison Cowley's two assassins. They are simply referred to as "Heather Rockrear" and "Black Gentleman Ninja" note  by Shawn and Gus. Even the credits refer to them as such.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • In "Scary Sherry: Bianca's Toast," we never see the aftermath of Bianca's death by electrocution in the bathtub, but Juliet's Thousand-Yard Stare tells us that it can't have been pretty.
    • Similarly, in "Tuesday the 17th," Annie's dead body is never shown, but it's heavily implied that Clive hacked her to death with an axe. When Juliet—a trained cop who's seen dozens of dead bodies—finds her, all she can do is press a hand to her mouth in horror.
  • N-Word Privileges: Played with. An eyewitness questioned by Shawn and Gus in an episode is a white man who speaks with a very pronounced Thai accent. They accuse him of mocking Asian-Americans, but he explains that he was adopted and raised by a Thai family, so in a sense he is Asian-American - and, incidentally, that "offensive accent" is how he actually speaks.
  • Once an Episode: The show has a number of them. They mostly got added over the course of the first season or two. One started in the pilot.
    • Pineapples: James Roday Rodriguez ad-libbed a bit in the pilot where he grabbed a pineapple that set-dressing had put in Gus's apartment, "Can I slice this for the road?" The crew loved it and stuck pineapples in every episode for the fans to spot. They even had a sweepstakes you could enter by identifying an episode's pineapple.
    • The show almost always opens with a flashback to Henry teaching Young Shawn a lesson and/or teaching him a skill that will be useful in the episode.
    • The show almost always ends with a Summation Gathering where Shawn can pull together all the threads and dismiss the Red Herrings, usually in front of Juliet and Lassiter.
    • "Gus, don't be (a/an) [absurd thing]."
    • Until he and Juliet get together, Shawn getting Distracted by the Sexy.
    • Shawn giving Gus an absurd pseudonym. Lampshaded in an episode where Shawn introduces Gus to a convicted killer using their full real names.
      Shawn: I'm Shawn Spencer, famous psychic detective. This is my associate, Burton Guster.
      Gus: Now you wanna use my real name?
      • Averted in the series finale, where Shawn, knowing that it's going to be his last case, chokes:
        Shawn: I'm Shawn Spencer, and this is my partner...[saddened] I'm sorry, I can't do this.
      • Also averted in "Feet, Don't Kill Me Now", where Lassiter introduces Gus by his full name. Gus's reaction makes him ask what's wrong, to which Gus says that he's not used to being introduced by his real name.
    • Fist bumps.
  • Obstructive Vigilantism: Shawn often keeps information from the cops so that he can investigate on his own (typically with Gus as The Drag-Along), or so that he can use the info to have a shocking "psychic revelation."
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Shawn rushes into an empty swimming pool to save Gus, turns over the body in the foot of stagnant water in the deep end, and it's the killer... "Uh oh."
    • Shawn at the end of "Deez Nups" when Juliet starts questioning if he's really psychic.
  • One-Word Title: The show is named after the one-word private detective agency Shawn founds at the end of the pilot.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Juliet is the only sane person when they deal with vampire matters in "This Episode Sucks," which she exasperatedly points out almost word for word early in the investigation.
    • In "Not Even Close, Encounters", Shawn and Gus debate which of them is supposed to be holding the "sanity bag" in their relationship when they both become convinced that aliens were involved in the Case of the Week.
  • Overused Running Gag: Shawn and and Gus discuss this.
    Shawn: I've heard it both ways.
    Gus: No, you haven't.
    Shawn: You know what's even more tired than me saying "I've heard it both ways"?
    Gus: Me saying "No you haven't"?
    Shawn: That's right.
    Gus: Agree to disagree.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": Shawn to Gus: "I can't believe you're still using 'chocolate thunder' as your password", in the roller-skating episode. Averted the previous (oilrig) episode, when Shawn notably scans the room and afterward only knows the password, panther21, because it was written down.
  • Perma-Stubble: Shawn's facial hair self regulates to a cozy five o'clock shadow.
  • Phony Psychic: The premise of the show is Shawn pretending to be psychic.
  • Planning with Props: A favorite of Shawn's (more accurately "Reconstructing with Props" in this case) used in "Weekend Warriors," "And Down The Stretch Comes Murder," and "Shawn Gets the Yips."
  • Plausible Deniability: It's practically confirmed that Chief Vick knows that Shawn's psychic abilities are just an act but, in addition to her friendship with his dad, considers his skills too valuable to ignore. So she plays along for both this trope and knowing Shawn would be a major liability if he was a more official consultant.
  • Private Detective: Shawn and Gus do private detective work through their "Psych" psychic detective agency. Though they are sometimes officially retained by the police.
  • Product Placement: As with pretty much everything on the show, lampshaded and played for laughs:
    • Shawn has an iPhone with a custom "Psych" skin. He even namedrops the Yelp app in "Shawn takes a Shot in the Dark" (It's even available for purchase in real life).
    • For "Shawn (and Gus) of the Dead," Red Robin asked the writers of Psych to do product placement. Unbeknownst to them, there were already two references to Red Robin written in the episode.
    • Or how about the Axe Body Spray plug Shawn makes when he notes that it's like catnip for women, complete with the approving head-nod of Jules?
    • Gus's credit card. Note to whoever wrote that bit: Showing it being used to make unauthorized purchases does not make people want it.
    • In the episode "Think Tank" Shawn is trying to safely maneuver a billionaire through a hotel hallway, when he sees a small bottle of Axe shampoo in a cleaning ladies cart,
      Shawn: Are you kidding me, free little bottles of Axe Shampoo, this is the best hotel ever!
      • He also demands a giant bowl of Skittles, some Big League Chew, and a "dope NBA air horn" (the last item claimed to be at Gus' request) in exchange for Psych joining the Think Tank.
    • In "Ferry Tale" Gus manages to distract Shawn by giving him a Snickers bar. Twice. After mocking Shawn for being easily distracted.
    • Shawn namedrops Snyder's of Hanover-brand pretzels occasionally. One episode even includes a lingering close-up shot of a pack.
      • Shawn eats it so often in the middle few seasons it almost becomes a Trademark Favorite Food - second to pineapple of course.
    • A Dunkin' Donuts coffee advertisement is done hilariously out of place in "Daredevils!". Probably intentionally, as Shawn and Gus randomly stop mid-scene to talk about coffee. The donuts also appear in a lengthy scene in "We'd Like To Thank The Academy."
    • Funnily enough, because much of the show's humor comes from random references, the product placements are usually unnoticeable, or at least not nearly as annoying as in most shows.
    • Honey Bunches of Oats makes a couple of (relatively) prominent appearances early on.
    • Gus's car, which was referred to as "The Yaris" in season one, and every season after that referred to as "The Blueberry".
    • Woody offers Shawn and Gus Oreo Cakesters.
    • Mexican Coke, it has real sugar and everything.
    • It's impossible to tell if the Cheetos line in "Meat Is Murder, But Murder Is Also Murder" is actually a Cheetos ad or not, since the actor was trying to show why he should be the new food critic for the newspaper. It also turns out to be a key clue to solving the case.
  • Pstandard Psychic Pstance: Shawn exaggerates this to the point of mockery, finding more and more outlandish ways to flail around to represent his "powers." Notable that the singers-to-temple is just an exaggeration of Shawn's natural mannerism when he's focusing on a memory. You can see him do it in the first flashback from the pilot.
    • In one episode, he figured out some evidence from a photo and stated it calmly. When Jules asked him how he knew he said that he got it psychically, but didn't have enough energy to do the usual "hands on head" thing.
    • In "Thrill Seekers & Hell Raisers" Gus participates in the summation, and Shawn helpfully puts his hand next to Gus' head.
      • This is similar to the season one episode where Shawn insisted on rubbing Gus' "magic" head while getting his psych on.
    • Lampshaded in an episode when Shawn deduces something about his father and gets into his psychic position.
      Henry: You're trying that on ME?
    • And again by Gus in "Feet, Don't Kill Me Now":
      Gus: [after Shawn does the "hand to head" thing] Dude, I know you're not psychic.
      Gus: [about a minute later, when Shawn does it again] Dude, you're doing it again!
  • Psychopathic Womanchild:
    • Marlowe seems to have transformed into this since her incarceration. It's paid off handsomely: she won the respect of quite a few of Santa Barbara County's most vicious female criminals (even remaining friends with one of them after her parole) and is now an accomplished fighter who can perform jumping kicks and break people's noses. Through it all, she remains (or at least tries to make people believe she remains) a sweet, slightly goofy girl who is quite comfortable allowing Carlton to think he needs to protect her.
    • Yang is a giggly, childish psycho. It especially stands out when she's with Mr. Yin, her cold father her forced her to become who she is.
  • Punk in the Trunk:
    • Shawn gets stuffed in the trunk of a car in "Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark." Naturally, Henry prepared Shawn for this scenario.
    • Gus gets his turn in "Shawn and Gus in Drag (Racing)" when he's taken as a hostage by the murderer.

    Tropes Q to Z 
  • Race Against the Clock: The SBPD often gives Shawn a deadline to solve the crime or get out of the way so that the real police can investigate.
    • In the third season finale, the killer gives Shawn a time limit to save the victim, his mother.
    • In the movie, the villain rigs Alcatraz to blow...not that it stops Shawn and Gus from their usual banter.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Chief Vick's pregnancy in the first season became part of the plot due to Kirsten Nelson's pregnancy.
    • For several episodes in season 2, Lassiter had his arm in a sling. The reason for this was never revealed, but was implied to be something embarrassing. It was actually caused by Timothy Omundson's real-life injury.
    • Lassiter only gets a single scene in the first movie as a result of Timothy Omundson suffering a mild stroke. This is written into the second film, as Lassiter undergoes a mild stroke as well.
  • Red Herring: Happens every so often, with Shawn (happily) and Gus (reluctantly) having to exonerate them.
    • A common occurrence in Psych is that they start focusing on a particular suspect, only to find him/her dead by the time they go out to catch him/her.
    • A notable example is in the Season 4 finale: Mr. Yin wears ankle weights to make Shawn believe Mary is the killer.
  • Drake (played by Mekhi Phifer), the sudden fifth member of Gus' old a capella quartet, Gus' sister (who's never mentioned before, not even in the previous Christmas episode when both of Gus' parents are falsely accused of murdering a neighbor), and Gus' ex-wife.
  • In "Lassie Did A Bad, Bad Thing," several SBPD detectives who apparently work in the same building (notably Drimmer and Ocampa) are seen for the first time even though Lassiter, O'Hara, and Vick act like they all have an extensive history with them.
  • Subverted with Lassiter's friend Stumpy. Lassiter tries to convince everyone that he and Stumpy have been pals forever, but they actually lost touch in high school. Lassiter was just embarrassed at his lack of guy friends.
  • Retirony:
    • Shawn spends all of "Bounty Hunters!" ducking whenever someone says that they are going to retire. When asked what he is doing he explains that that's when somebody usually gets shot, right?
    • In the season six finale, Henry retires due to finding out that two of his partners from his days in the force were crooked, and he could no longer put his heart in it. As he tells this to his last remaining partner, a tragic case of I Never Said It Was Poison happens, and the last partner shoots Henry as they're walking along the beach to keep him quiet.
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: Shawn once spoke of Juliet as being "an enigma wrapped in a little blonde riddle."
  • Romantic False Lead: Abigail Lytar is one of these. However, O'Hara only reacts negatively to her when Shawn brings her on a case (You Can't Handle This Episode) because he brought her on a case. For her part, Abigail's not thrilled to get to see a dead body. Abigail has since been put on a plane to do volunteer work in Africa, but says she'll return sometime in February. And she did... only to fall into the hands of Mr. Yin. Although Shawn rescues her, she breaks up with him, unable to deal with the danger Shawn's profession puts him and his loved ones in. Juliet also expresses some jealousy when she discovers that Shawn's relationship with Abigail has progressed to the "he has a drawer, she has a toothbrush stage" when she and Gus are checking out Shawn's apartment. They are there to figure out how Shawn got himself SHOT, yet Juliet still can't help getting sidetracked by her jealousy.
  • Rule of Funny: Pretty much the entire show, with a thin veneer of reality on top.
  • Running Gag: Has its own page.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Subverted in "Tuesday the 17th"; the monster is meant to ATTRACT people to the camp. Played straight with episodes like "Scary Sherry: Bianca's Toast", "Let's Get Hairy", "The Devil Is in the Details... And the Upstairs Bedroom" and "Not Even Close ... Encounters" where the villains were using staged supernatural phenomena to cover up their crimes.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Shawn and Gus, at a seance ALL THE TIME. They even lampshade that they do this all the time in the movie.
    Shawn: I think it's time for us to do what we do best. screams
  • Second Episode Introduction: Juliet doesn't appear in the pilot and is introduced in "Spellingg Bee"
  • Secret-Keeper:
    • Gus and Henry are in on Shawn's shtick from its inception. This allows both to function as The Watson and explain how he figured it out.
    • Also Declan and, oddly enough, Curt Smith from Tears for Fears.
    • Starting with "Deez Nups", Jules keeps the secret.
    • It's implied Chief Vick knows he's not a real psychic. She often has a sarcastic tone when asking him for psychic insights, and Shawn frequently fails to pretend he's having a vision when he's talking to just her alone.
  • Serious Business: Shawn is a walking inversion; he regularly cracks jokes while investigating murders, much to Gus' dismay. And Lassiter's. And Juliet's and Vick's and Henry's... Lampshaded in "An Evening With Mr. Yang" when Gus calls Shawn out for wise-cracking during a particularly horrific case. Shawn, in a moment of genuine fear, confess to Gus that he's terrified by the case and the wise-cracking is the only thing keeping him from completely losing his shit. Gus spends the rest of the episode making forced jokes despite withering stares from Jules and Lassiter, throwing himself on the humiliation grenade to keep Shawn from losing his grip.
  • Sex God: Weirdly enough, it turns out Lassiter is one. A former lover of his mentions that the reason she is still hung up on him after a one night stand is because his passion, stamina, and imagination makes him a "god among lovers."
  • Sherlock Homage: Shawn and Gus are essentially farcical versions of Holmes and Watson.
  • Sherlock Scan: Shawn's hyper-aware scans are how he is able to fake his psychic visions so that they are accurate.
  • Ship Tease: Shawn has made some sort of romantic advance towards every member of the cast, except his parents. And even that happened during the season 1 bloopers reel.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss:
    • Halfway through season five, Psychic, Shawn is giving Fair Cop, Juliet advice about her upcoming two-week, ridonkulously romantic vacation with her boyfriend, and she shuts him up. Unbeknownst to him, she had overheard his previous confession of love to a third party.
    • During the high school reunion episode, Shawn confesses to Abigail where he was the night he "stood her up" before she shuts him up—if only temporarily.
  • Sickening Sweethearts: Carlton Lassiter and Marlowe are lovey-dovey all the time after getting together, even while she's in prison.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: Henry Spencer would often give Shawn an ultimatum to enforce his skills on him.
  • Special Edition Title: The Christmas episodes feature some additional Christmas-themed special effects as well as sleigh bells in the music, "Lights, Camera... Homicidio" is in Spanish, "Bollywood Homicide" has a Hindu rendition of the theme, "High Top Fade Out" is sung by Boyz II Men, and Shawn 2.0 has a version sung by Curt Smith of Tears For Fears.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Downplayed. Selene follows Gus to the morgue and has done extensive research on him, choosing him as a partner. Gus is weirded out at first, but eventually comes to like it.
  • Standard Office Setting: When Phony Psychic detective Shawn and his partner Gus visit Gus's other job at a pharmaceutical company, it is shown to be mostly rows of white cubicles. Lampshaded when Shawn mocks Gus for working somewhere so boring and ordinary.
  • Stand-In Parents: Shawn gets his uncle Jack to stand in for his dad at school. Shawn's dad finds out and is irritated rather than hurt. Especially since Jack really is (apparently) cooler than he is. Except Jack isn't cool, he's an Indiana Jones wannabe who suffers from a serious case of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.
  • Steal the Surroundings: Subverted. A group of safecrackers stole a safe, but it wasn't to steal what was in it, but so the lead cracker could figure out how to open that kind of safe.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: In "Woman Seeking Dead Husband, Smokers Okay, No Pets" (1.4) Shawn somehow got into Lassiter's back seat while his car was parked and Lassiter and Juliet were in it on a stakeout.
    Shawn Spencer: "Shouldn't you be wondering how I managed to get in here and lounge for two minutes without either of you noticing?"
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: In one episode, Shawn and Gus have hired an Asian-American assistant. The duo assumes that he knows about the Triads simply because of his ethnicity. While he finds it offensive, he begrudgingly admits that he does know enough to get the case started, seeming genuinely disappointed that he was able to help.
  • Strapped to a Bomb:
    • Yang straps a bomb to Shawn's mother in the third season finale.
    • In the movie, Chief Vick's daughter, Iris, is locked in a cell with a bomb a few feet away on a running timer.
  • The Summation: Given a twist in that Shawn has to appear like a psychic while delivering his solution to each case.
  • Summation Gathering: The Summation is typically given in a parlour scene worthy of Agatha Christie, in front of cops, the killer, and one or more people related to the victim.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • In the season 3 premiere, Gus is confronted by his superior because of all the times he skipped out on work to work on cases and nearly has to quit Psych to keep his job, until Shawn is able to blackmail a higher up to get Gus' boss off his back.
    • In one episode, Lassie is framed for killing a criminal being put in eyewitness protection; when investigated, an Internal Affairs agent brings up his separation with his wife, his rivalry with the victim, and the fact that he discharged his gun in multiple inappropriate moments. This all makes him look guiltier.
    • In the season 4 "Mr. Yin/Yang" episode, Shawn's girlfriend, Abigail and Juliet are kidnapped by Yin and placed in death traps. After they are rescued, Abigail breaks up with Shawn because she doesn't want to be endangered again by his enemies and Juliet is traumatized after nearly dying and gets a desk job for a few months to recover.
    • In the season 7 premiere:
      • Gus and Shawn sit on a mine hidden in their couch and have to sit for a long time until bomb squad arrives and defuses the bomb; when they get up, they suffer from "jelly legs" after blood was cut off from their legs due to sitting for so long.
      • Later, Shawn tries to pull down the bad guy's house down by chaining the Blueberry (Gus' blue Toyota Yaris/Echo) to the house's support beam and wrecking it Lethal Weapon 2-style. However this fails for two reasons: 1.) The car used in the movie to pull down the house was a heavy duty pickup-truck; instead Shawn and Gus used a small hatchback style car, which breaks in half due to not being supported for that kind of force. 2.) The house's support beam was reinforced to the ground by concrete and not to a loose hillside.
    • Juliet breaks up with Shawn when she finds out that he isn't psychic; given the trust issues she has with her father, step-father, and her brother, it makes sense why she's so upset.
    • Shawn and Gus attempt to calmly get the villain of the week (a woman who killed three people because she didn't want to be sent back to her abusive step-father) to surrender, because they feel sympathetic for her due to what she when through; she seemly complies, only to attempt to murder Shawn and Gus because despite having a tragic past, the woman is a mentally unstable psychopath who does not want to go to jail.
    • Juliet gives Shawn an ultimatum to confess to Chief Vick that he's not a psychic or she won't get back together with him. After the episode's case, Shaw proceeds to do just that, only for Juliet to stop him and lie to Vick that Shawn was going to take the blame for something she did during the case; Juliet later talks to Shawn and tells him that what she asked him to do was unfair and selfish since the fallout would ruin Shawn, Gus, and many other people's careers and reopen all the cases Shawn was involved in. Still, despite understanding Shawn why lied to her, she wants to work out their trust issues before they get back together again.
    • Gus quits his job after he becomes tired of his boss' abusive behavior to him and his co-workers. However, Gus then realizes that he needs to get his job back since he has to pay his (and Shawn's) bills and he can't wait to look for another job. This ends up with Gus finding his boss' corpse and accidentally messing up his office, making it look like he killed him.
  • Shawn and Gus use a disguise from last season in a season 8 episode to sneak into the police station; they are immediately detained because cops aren't as lax as the security at a gun club. Plus, they were both wearing half of a fake beard.
  • Suspect Existence Failure: Many, many times. Pretty much, it's a coin toss whether or not the Red Herring will make it through the episode alive.
    • One episode had Shawn suspect a fashion mogul of killing her husband right up until she died at his funeral. He then commented "Okay, probably not the wife." Ultimately subverted when it's learned that she actually did kill him. She died from the delayed effects of him poisoning her.
    • As the show reaches its later seasons, this trope starts occurring almost Once per Episode.
    • Even the movie does it, when the Thin White Duke (Billy McGoldrick) is killed, though The Man Behind the Man is revealed seconds later.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • Parodied by (who else but) Shawn. When investigating an oil rig, the captain of the Coast Guard finds them and asks what they're doing. Shawn replies "NOT eating candy, I can tell you that". For the record, they really weren't.
    • Also, from "Earth, Wind, and... Wait for it..."
      Arson Investigator: Can you please just tell me why you think it's Dan?
      Shawn: Well, it's not like I stole his cell phone or anything, because I totally don't do that sort of thing.
  • Tagline: "Fake psychic. Real detectives."
  • Take That!: Has its own page.
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    • After easily cracking a case, Shawn goes out with a beautiful woman. He realizes just as she invites him back to her place that he has made a mistake. His comments that the case was "too easy" and "I can't believe how quickly I nailed this!" make it sound like he is calling her a tramp, and she leaves.
    • In the football episode:
      • Gus (who is masquerading as a team manager/doctor/masseur) says that he won't massage the football players because he only uses his hands "to touch [him]self."
      • In the same episode he tells a football player he admired that "I slept on your face for years!"
    • When Shawn notes that he and Gus are being played as pawns in a game, Gus replies, "I'm no pawn, Shawn; I'm a queen!"
    • In "We'd Like to Thank the Academy":
      Lassie: The hell, Conforth, you can't beat me on the field so now you're trying to beat me off?
      Shawn: You may wanna rephrase that, sir.
    • Memorably, Lassiter about the SBPD in the first season: "We don't have balls."
    • The season 6 finale (ahem) plays with this a bit:
    Henry: This is my son, Shawn, and his partner, Gus.
    Witness: Nice. I voted against Prop 8.
    Gus: (scoffs) We're partners in a detective agency.
    Shawn: But we're also lovers in the nighttime.
    Gus: Will you stop it?
    Shawn: We're like The Insiders, but even more gay.
    Gus: The Insiders were not gay. And neither are we.
    • This:
    Shawn: All I have to do is make sure Bethel is in front of those cameras when he exposes himself.
    Gus: Right idea. Wrong choice of words.
    • This came with a touch of Brick Joke: In one episode, Gus angrily declares that he just wants to return to the spa retreat he'd booked for himself. Quote, "I will be naked, and unashamed, under my robe, while they rub Little Shawn down!" 'Little Shawn' was a name he'd given the biggest stress pain in his life. The ladies that had pulled up next to him at the traffic lights, needless to say, take it the wrong way.
    • Lassiter in "Deez Nups" tells someone "If you don't reveal yourself, I will whip out the enormous piece I have under my robe!"...with the mailman standing a few feet away.
  • Theme Serial Killer: Yin and Yang are killers operating on such a themed basis that they even have a convenient logo.
  • Thematic Theme Tune: Appropriately describes, "I know you know/that I'm not telling the truth..."
  • This Bear Was Framed: This is a somewhat regular thing, where it seems like once every few seasons there is an episode where an animal is falsely accused of being "the killer" and in danger of being "put down" for it (in one it was a puma, another the trope-naming polar bear, and in still another a shark), but the series sleuths uncover evidence that a person did the killing and then covered it up by making it look like a death by animal attack.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Well not "badass," but Gus manages to pull off a Shawn style "cover" on his own in the season 5 opener.
    • Marlowe Viccellio emerged from prison with some mad Muay Thai moves as her newest talent, and also learned how to break a grown man's nose with a single punch.
    • Juliet has taken karate lessons by the movie and can flip up and deliver a roundhouse kick to her opponent's face.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: In the fifth season, Genius Ditz Shawn is now as dumb as to assume his former assistant knows about the Triads because he is Asian and stupid enough to cut what he himself describes as the cable between the pedals and the engine of a truck.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Juliet gets noticeably colder towards Shawn and Gus in season 4, due to her own Character Development as a more serious cop and Shawn's rejection at the end of season 3.
    • Shawn gets hit pretty bad by this in season 5, though signs of it pop up in season 4 (mostly by starting to abuse Gus in ways that would have long term consequences, such as making expensive charges on his credit card).
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Gus's parents see Shawn as this to him. Given that Shawn is a lazy, irresponsible jerk who frequently mooches off of Gus and gets the both of them into trouble, it's hard to disagree with them.
  • Training from Hell: A watered down version, but Shawn's father Henry relentlessly drilled Shawn from very early in his childhood (to the exclusion of a normal childhood, save Gus — which isn't saying much) to have the uncanny attention to detail and eidetic memory which now allows Shawn to convincingly fake having psychic abilities. In episode 4x09, we learn that the training didn't stop there. Henry taught young Shawn how to escape from being locked in a car trunk... by locking him in a car trunk.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Though everyone is usually working on the same case, if Jules and Lassiter happen to be working on a major case while Shawn and Gus take a smaller, weirder or seemingly less important case, you can expect that the smaller case is in some way a cover-up of the big case.
  • Unbelievable Source Plot: Parodied. Shawn is gifted with excellent non-supernatural observational skills but rather than demonstrate these skills, opts to convince the police he is psychic. Only one of the cops doubts his powers are really psychic and is ridiculed by his colleagues for not believing.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Shawn/Juliet/Abigail. Shawn, who is tired of waiting around for Juliet, goes out with Abigail. This is the point at which Juliet has her epiphany.
  • Unseen No More: Shawn and the rest of the crew frequently refer to Dobson, an SBPD officer, for eight years, but never actually interact with him. In the series finale, Dobson is seen for the first and last time for less than a minute.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Depending on the writer, Shawn's antics can easily qualify. When he gets poisoned in one episode, it's played for laughs. "I heard you were barely poisoned."
  • Variations on a Theme Song:
    • S2-E10, S3-E9, S5-E14 - A Christmas variation on the theme song.
    • S2-E13, S7-E4 - The theme song is sung in Spanish.
    • S4-E6, a Bollywood variation on the Theme Song.
    • S4-E7, S6-E13 - The Boyz II Men a cappella version (the episodes feature Gus' college a cappella group.)
    • S5-E8 - Curt Smith recorded a version of the song.
    • S5-E12 - The Julee Cruise version of the song.
    • S6-E4 - A superhero-themed version.
    • S6-E11 - A theme song tribute to The Shining.
  • Vehicle-Based Characterization: Shawn owns a motorcycle, while Gus drives a company-issued sedan. This highlights how Gus is a (relatively) more mature Straight Man to Shawn's Manchild tendencies. In the series finale and ensuing movies, the pair of Heterosexual Life-Partners switch to a driver's ed car equipped with two steering wheels.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Shawn and Gus are a downplayed version of this trope, in that they're less 'vitriolic' and more 'affectionately snarky'. Each is very quick to make sarcastic comments about the other and frequently engage in childish bickering, but they're also utterly inseparable.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The season 4 finale definitely counts: Mr. Yin, the even more psycho partner to serial killer Mr. Yang, kidnaps Juliet and Abigail seemingly just to screw with Shawn. Mary, the Yin-Yang expert from the Third Season finale gets killed. Shawn manages to save both women, but Abigail breaks up with him and Juliet seems to have a breakdown as she falls crying into Lassiter's arms. And finally, the last shot of the episode implies that Yang knew Shawn when he was younger.
    • The season 5 finale even more so. Mr. Yin returns for revenge, almost killing Shawn and Gus in the process. Yang is revealed to have a Freudian Excuse for her obsession with Shawn. It turns out that she is Yin's daughter and she always thought of the Spencers as a model of what a real family is. Then, it is revealed that Yin has taken on a new apprentice. After overcoming all odds to make it out alive, the episode ends with Lassiter discovering that Shawn and Juliet are together.
    • "Neil Simon's Lover's Retreat": Moments after Shawn and Juliet seemingly laugh off the idea of marriage in their near future despite going on vacation together, Gus is given the Game Boy stolen from Shawn earlier in the episode, which he had been obsessing over in what appeared to be typically immature fashion. But after hearing a strange rattling inside, Gus opened the battery compartment to discover the engagement ring Shawn had stored there.
    • Season 6 continues the trend. Not only were ALL of Henry's team when he was a cop corrupt, one of them SHOOTS HIM at the very end of the episode.
    • In "Deez Nups": After Shawn gives Juliet his jacket to wear, she finds one of the clues that Shawn used in one of his many "visions" and begins to realize Shawn isn't actually psychic.
    • "Psych The Musical": Yang is killed off.
    • "1967: A Psych Odyssey": The Chief is transferred, and Lassie becomes the new chief. However, the mayor won't let Juliet advance to Head Detective, so she accepts an offer to be transferred with the Chief.
  • Wham Line:
    • "50 grand was a lot of money back then."note 
    • "Daddy?"note 
  • Whole-Plot Reference:
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him??: Depending on whom you ask, the episode "Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark" came about either because an executive asked why the gun-carrying bad guys never shot Shawn, or because executive producer Kelly Kulchak is a fan of Hurt/Comfort fic.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Really closer to Paper-Thin Disguise, Shawn and Gus tend to run into closets and come out wearing something appropriate to the situation they're about to enter, but their unfamiliarity with the fine details of the situation they're entering usually ends up with people looking crosswise at them.
    • At one point they even SHARE a fake beard.
    • In the film, Shawn wears Gus' Hagrid costume to search a fence's stash. Still Paper-Thin Disguise, though.
  • Wish-Fulfillment: Shawn (and sometimes others as well) will tend to end up acting out various fantasy jobs; he gotten to play football player, male model, telenovela actor, cowboy etc...
  • With This Ring: A thief snatches the ring just as Shawn proposes. It isn't recovered until the end of the first movie.
  • Woman Scorned:
    • The killer in "Cloudy... With a Chance of Murder" was the victim's secretary who was angry that he never showed any interest in her despite being a notorious womanizer.
    • Marlowe's parole officer. Lassie had a one-night stand with her years previous and never called her back so she takes it out on Marlowe. Lassie tries to circumvent her restrictions, then rubs it in, which just makes it worse. Juliet gets an I Told You So moment when reminding him that she advised Lassiter against hooking up with her because she was "crazy".
    • This was the motivation for the killer in "Heeeeere's Lassie". She had severe mental issues from being left at the altar twice and was in love with the two previous tenants of Lassiter's new apartment. When they made it clear they did not have mutual feelings for her, she drugged them into madness and they committed suicide. She tried to do the same to Lassiter out of fear that he could uncover her crimes.
  • Women Are Wiser: Juliet and Chief Vick are consistently portrayed as being far more mature than any of the male characters.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy:
    • A promo features Lassiter thinking he is in a serious detective drama, complete with sexual tension between him and O'Hara a la Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
    • Lassiter was convinced he and Despereaux were locked in a massive cat and mouse chase with the thief trying his best to outwit the dogged detective. Instead, Despereaux has no idea who the hell Lassiter is.
    • Gus thinks he's the main character.
    • Looking for a (suspected) vampire:
      Marlowe: There's Eddie, Jake, and Lucien.
      Shawn, Gus, Jules: (in unison) Where's Lucien?
  • You, Get Me Coffee: Lassiter has demanded coffee from McNab multiple times. In "Viagra Falls", Henry's cop buddies incessantly ask this from Juliet.


"Gus, don't be..."

Shawn tells his best friend not to be a creative variety of nonsensical noun phrases.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / MadLibsCatchphrase

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