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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 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 
  • AB Negative: The culprit in "This Episode Sucks" was targeting people with O- blood because he suffered from a rare blood disorder and could no longer afford the frequent blood transfusions he needed. In the same episode, O- was referred to as "a rare blood type".
  • Absence of Evidence: Despereaux was able to do this because he never actually stole anything; he just made deals with museum owners so they could collect the insurance money.
  • 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.
    • An example of their complicated relationship: Henry once tells Shawn “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.
  • Acceptable Targets:
    • Shawn (and possibly the writers) has a vendetta against aloha shirts, and anyone who wears them whether they're a Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist or not. Possibly a Freudian Excuse because Shawn's father often wears them. The writers have a field day with it in "And Down the Stretch Comes Murder":
      Shawn: Wow, Dad, tell me you're wearing that shirt because someone has to spot you from space.
      Shawn: A little girl outside just started crying when she saw this shirt.
      Shawn: I'm worried someone's going to stare directly at the pattern and have a seizure.
    • Models in "Black and Tan: A Crime of Fashion" are portrayed as shallow and less than intelligent. Several characters make snide remarks on their airheaded personalities and how none of them had "an IQ over 30".
  • Accidental Aesop: Invoked during the Seas 2 episode "Zero to Murder in Sixty Seconds", where Henry gives Shawn a piece of advice, which Shawn uses to solve the case. As Shawn is getting increasingly excited while putting it all together, Henry tries to stop him.
    Henry: Shawn, don't you learn a wrong lesson while I'm trying to teach you a right one!
  • 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.
  • Accidental Pun: "You Daft Punk!" Note: This was said by a Simon Cowell parody.
  • Action Girl: Juliet O'Hara. Especially as the show went on.
  • 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. First there is 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. The second example is 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.
  • Affectionate Pickpocket: At the end of a Christmas Episode, a little girl/con artist thanks Shawn for helping her dad, and hugs him...and Shawn immediately asks for his wallet back.
    • Shawn then gives the girl's father some parenting advice. The father tried hugging Shawn, Shawn protested, and then asked for his wallet back. Again.
  • Alien Episode: The episode "Not Even Close Encounters" revolves around a lawyer who insists that he witnessed an alien abduction. Shawn and Gus, having been obsessed with ufology when they were kids, are all too eager to help investigate. The alien abduction turns out to have been a hoax set orchestrated by a corrupt energy company to discredit the lawyer, already known as an eccentric, who was in the process of exposing the company's shady land dealings.
  • All Just a Dream: Played with in "Right Turn or Left For Dead". After the events of the previous episode, Shawn begins to obsessively replay Lassiter's wedding back in his head, where the viewers get to see how things could have played out had Shawn not given Juliet his jacket. While both decisions lead to them working on the same case, there are some differences as to how the case is eventually solved. Additionally, not giving Juliet his jacket leads Shawn to propose to her at one of the crime scenes they visit to search for clues while giving her his jacket leads them to resolve their problems and get back together once the case is solved. However, what actually happens is that Juliet is still hurt by Shawn not being honest with her and tells him to move out.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Japadog is a real chain of Japanese inspired hot dogs. Amusingly enough, they aren't available in Santa Barbara but they are available in Vancouver where the show was filmed.
  • 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.
  • Amateur Sleuth: Subverted in the first episode. Shawn is suspected of complicity and has to come up with the psychic shtick to avoid jail because no one will believe he's hyperobservant and highly analytical.
  • Amazon Chaser: Lassie, apparently. He looks EXTREMELY proud when he finds out his fiancée Marlowe used Muay Thai to beat up the thugs holding her and then jumped out of a window to escape. When he later thinks she climbed out of a very high window and shimmied along a very small window ledge to the fire escape, he proudly announces "Our children are going to be Seal Team Six members!" Then, when Lassiter rushes in to save her and she hits him, he says "Was that a spinning back fist? God, I love you" and gives her a Big Damn Kiss.
  • Ambiguously Bi: 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 That's Terrible: Every character shows great contempt at the mention of a drug dealer who sold a teenage athlete the drugs he overdosed on. The characters never show this much contempt, even at people who have attempted to kill them.
  • 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.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: For some reason, the guy that openly claims to be a psychic is a nut after he is quoted as believing a UFO sighting. Justified by the fact that Shawn regularly "proves" his psychic credentials with close to a 100% success, and, even then, Lassiter is still skeptical.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The new interim chief announces he is changing things up by refusing to hire Psych, demoting Lassiter, and...painting the walls.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Zigzagged in the episode 'Santabarbaratown', where Shawn notes that color blindness is passed down from father to daughter. Since colour blindness is linked to the x chromosome, it will always be passed down from father to daughter note . Expressing this mutation, however, is fairly rare in females as they receive an X from their mother as well. So while a female being colorblind means her father must also be colorblind, a colorblind father does not guarantee the daughter will be colorblind. She also has to get a colorblind X from her mother, who may or may not be colorblind herself.
  • 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.
  • Artistic License – Religion: Father Westly in the The Exorcist parody episode violates the actual procedure of a Catholic exorcism pretty severely. For instance, he not only failed to have any medical or psychiatric experts examine the girl (which is a required step for all suspected possessions), but he apparently never even examined her himself (beyond noting her odd behavior) before deciding to conduct an exorcism. As with the above mentioned instances of artistic license this could be intentional as Father Wesley is mentioned to be something of a crackpot with questionable ethics and standards.
  • 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.
    • Also worth mentioning is the time he accidentally ingests speed during "Dead Man's Curveball". 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 McCoolname: Pretty much every time that Shawn introduces Gus. Gus does it himself once or twice.
    Gus: My name is Gus, but you can call me...John Slade.
    • Subverted just as often, also by Shawn.
      Shawn: I'm Shawn Spencer, and this is my partner Lavender Gooms/Ghee Buttersnaps/Coco Mickey.
  • Back for the Dead: Played straight with Despereaux in "Indiana Shawn", but then subverted.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In the first episode of season 8 when Shawn asks for Lassiter's help on a case, Lassiter acts annoyed and like he won't do it at first, telling Shawn that he actually has work to do, but gets excited by the chance to be able to do some detective work.
  • The Barnum: Shawn. Given his circumstances, can you blame him?
  • 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: Practically every episode.
    • 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 this problem undercover.
    • 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.
  • Berserk Button: Implied on Lassiter's Twitter page that puppy mill owners did something to piss him off enough for him to commit uncharacteristic police brutality (although, knowing Psych, it could really have been an accident).
    • Lassie might also just be a huge animal lover.
    • He's also pretty defensive about Ronald Reagan's presidency.
      Shawn: Punch me in the face!
      Lassiter: I'm not going to
      Shawn: Ronald Reagan was a horrible President.
      Lassiter: [without thinking] You son of a bitch! [BAM!]
  • 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.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Shawn Spencer is a complete jester who never takes anything seriously and seems harmless enough...until his loved ones are put in harm's way. Then he will hunt you down until you're "behind bars or dead". quoted from an episode where Shawn takes down the man who shoots his father.
  • 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).
  • Bittersweet Ending: "Mr. Yin Presents", the season 4 finale, could definitely qualify. Juliet and Abigail barely saved from death, Shawn officially breaking up with Abigail, and Juliet suffering psychological trauma...yet they survived. Oh, and they didn't catch Yin, Mary died, and Yang's still insane.
    • Not to mention the voiceover from Yang along with that very strange picture.
  • Token Black Friend: Gus is a subversion. He's the Straight Man, not "hipper" than Shawn, and frequently objects to Shawn's schemes, but gets drawn inexorably into them anyway. A big reason why the show works.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: A two-bit gangster in "We'd Like to Thank the Academy" uses a gold-plated pistol.
  • 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?
  • Book Dumb: Shawn, who is extremely clever and observant but doesn't apply those principles to his work-habits outside of the fake-psychic business. As a contrast, Gus is less gifted but a better student with some TV Genius tendencies.
  • Breather Episode: Following a string of atypically serious episodes dealing with Shawn and Jules' break-up, "Office Space" is a lighthearted and highly-comedic return to form.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Shawn.
  • 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 rebuild 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.
  • Buddy Cop Show: Shawn and Gus are not really cops, but O'Hara and Lassiter also fit the bill.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Shawn really loves antagonizing people that are clearly capable of inflicting physical harm upon him and would be all to eager to do so.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The two most notable are Shawn and Lassie. Shawn is a goof and doesn't take important matters seriously, and Lassie is extremely awkward and difficult to get along with. Still, both are respected for their abilities, and have continued to be be employed by the SBPD.
  • The Bus Came Back: Allison Cowley, Mr. Yin's apprentice, returns as The Man Behind the Man in the movie. So does Juliet's brother after the cliffhanger his episode from Season 4 had left off with.
  • 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.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: Mary in "Mr. Yin Presents" comments that Yin had a "very stylish fedora". Subverted because he ends up not being the criminal.
  • The Butler Did It: An enforced example from the viewers on the East Coast, as they voted for the butler to be the killer in the 100th episode. In contrast, the West Coast viewers chose a different suspect to be the murderer.
  • Butt-Monkey: Lassiter, frequently. Gus and McNab sometimes also.
  • By Wall That Is Holey: Happens to Shawn and Gus in "High Noon-ish".
  • 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.
    • The movie is replete with these. From a callback to the "11 point turn" in Season 2 all the way to Shawn's line "Should I slice this up for the road?" in the pilot.
  • Car Chase Shoot Out: In "Shawn Takes a Shot In The Dark", The Villain of the Week gets caught in a shootout with the cops while they're trying to arrest and stop him from getting away with Shawn, whom he has as a hostage.
  • The Casanova: Shawn's first scene as an adult has him in the middle of an intimate moment with a girl, who is never seen again and it's suggested he uses his Hyper-Awareness to seduce woman. The trait is downplayed in the main series, but he is shown flirting with various waitresses and "pretty girls of the week." He does eventually have long committed relationships with Abigail and Juliet by the end.
  • Cassandra Did It: The pilot.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • In "65 Million Years Off", Shawn makes several references to Holes, in which Dulé Hill had a minor role. May also double as an Actor Allusion.
    • Anthony Michael Hall has been in the show as of the last episode of season 7, and unsurprisingly, The Breakfast Club has been mentioned, most notably in the episode "Murder? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?". (This also brings up Shawn's jab at an FBI agent at the season 7 premiere about his "soft, peachy Anthony Micheal Hall-ish face".
    • 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 girlfriend.
    • 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 "Mr. Yang" and "Mr. Yin".
    • The new season opener after Henry is shot maybe even more so. Shawn was even less himself than the Yin/Yang episodes.
  • Chain of Corrections: Many times. It's always Gus doing the correcting.
  • Character Blog: Lassiter and Gus both have blogs. In Lassiter's case, the blog is actually written by the actor who plays him, and both blogs have quite a few nice character details.
  • The Charmer: Shawn practically owns this trope, which is probably why no one's killed him yet.
  • 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...
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land: "Dual Spires".
  • Color Wash: In "Right Turn or Left for Dead", most of the episode takes place in two different Alternate Universes, with the "good"/fake universe being washed in a yellow/orange happy light, and the "bad"/real universe being washed a dreary grey/blue.
  • Comatose Canary: Shawn, in one episode, is posing as a doctor. He admonishes the interns to speak positively around the coma patient, lest they frighten him into remaining comatose. This is a dodge to get them to speak layman to Shawn about the patient's condition.
  • 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.
  • Companion Cube: The Blueberry. Gus is very defensive of it.
  • Contamination Situation: In the season four episode "Death is in the Air", a deadly virus is stolen and released on a public place.
  • 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, who is also highly competitive and the biggest naysayer on the force as to Shawn's psychic talents.
    • Henry also fits this trope, since he 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.
  • Convenient Escape Boat: In "You Can't Handle This Episode", Juliet's secret-agent brother Ewen is introduced by having him jump obstacles and dodge bullet fire while being chased. He runs onto a public beach, jumps into the water, knocks a civilian off of a Jet Ski and zooms off to safety. All while having a conversation with Juliet on the phone.
  • Cool Car: "Shawn and Gus in Drag (Racing)" revolves around illegal street races and naturally features a bunch.
  • Cool Old Guy:
    • Henry's complicated.
    • Peters and Boone in the episode "Viagra Falls".
  • Cop/Criminal Family: A variation; 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 managed to prove his deception, it would cause a lot of damage to the department. The same series also has Jules, a good cop whose dad and brother were both criminals.
  • 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.
  • Corrupted Character Copy: The episode "Shawn And Gus In Drag (Racing)" is a Whole Plot Reference to The Fast and the Furious movies, with Tommy Nix (played by Adam Rodriguez) serving as the Dominic Toretto stand-in, being a Badass Driver who is the leader of a group of close-knit car thieves. However, it is ultimately revealed that Tommy has absolutely none of Dom's positive characteristics. While Dom treated his gang like family and hated betrayal, Tommy murdered one of his gang for trying to go independent and let another one take the fall for his crime.
  • 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.
  • Cowboy Cop: While internal affairs seem to think Lassiter is one, he is actually pretty by-the-book (or, at least, just takes his work seriously) except for being quick to claim a piece of the action.
    • The episode "High Noon-ish" reveals that a father figure of his was a faux sheriff in a faux Wild West park.
    • In "Let's Get Hairy", he pulls his gun on a stonewalling receptionist.
    • Lampshaded and subverted when Lassiter is paired up with an actual Cowboy Cop recruit (who has many other issues besides this). He's frustrated by the recruit's actions (which include firing a gun she's not ready to use—and trashing it when the recoil tosses it out of her hand—and being rough with a victim on the mistaken assumption that he's the suspect, even after she's been told otherwise). When he's finally rid of her (she has a heart attack, and is told to retire for health reasons—not that she would have gotten in anyways; she had myriad other health problems that would have made doing the job well quite difficult for her) and told that Da Chief thinks they're similar, he's horrified by the thought that this is what Internal Affairs and the rest of the department thinks of him. At least for that episode, he's shown making efforts to try and improve his image (if not actually reform).
  • Cowboy Episode: One episode had Shawn and Gus investigating a murder in an Old West theme park. They, of course, dress up in cowboy clothes and start playing Sheriff...the whole episode then became an exploration of various Old West tropes, even a By Wall That Is Holey example.
  • 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 reached into the birdhouse and pulled out a stun gun. Cue appropriate responses from Shawn and Gus.
    • Lassiter also falls under this trope. It turns out 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.
    • 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.
    • Lassie has 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 yet again, when he reveals that he's been building up a tolerance for chloroform over the last fifteen years.
  • 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!" also 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 Doll: The episode "Tuesday the 17th" includes a creepy doll as part of the Camp's props, modeled closely after the extremely creepy (and allegedly haunted) "Robert" doll in Key West, Florida.
  • 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."
    • 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.
    • Finally, in the series finale, Adrian Monk is given a passing mention as SFPD's resident consultant.
  • Crowd Hockey: In "Death is in the Air" with the vial of plague.
  • Cryptid Episode: The season 7 episode "Lassie Jerky" involves Shawn and Gus joining a pair of student filmmakers who are trying to film a documentary about Bigfoot in the woods of California. The Bigfoot they're tracking winds up being a ex-soldier in a ghillie suit who lives in the woods.
  • Curse Cut Short: In the episode "Tuesday the 17th".
  • Cute Bruiser: In the episodes Juliet is in straight combat she is shown to use brute force a lot more than most Action Girls. Takes it Up to Eleven in the movie after some karate lessons, kicking Allison Cowley's ass.
    • Not to mention the roller derby.
  • Cuteness Proximity: "Thrill Seekers and Hell Raisers" opens with Shawn and Gus in a pet store, talking about their shared love of bunnies. Gus admits it may seem creepy for their age, but "history will prove us right".
    • Lampshaded when Gus reveals he has news he knows will upset Shawn, so he wanted to get Shawn near the bunnies first to help take it calmly.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Lampshaded: a pair of students smart enough to hack into the police database that need money attempt to get said money do so by using the hacking skills to create a cover ID to rob places. The cast notes that they were really stupid.
  • Da Chief: Interim Chief Vick. Henry gets in on the act when he becomes the outside consultant liaison.
  • Damsel in Distress: Shawn has a tendency to act like this is the case when Juliet is in danger, forgetting what an Action Girl she is.
  • Dark Reprise: Lassiter's reprise of "I've Heard It Both Ways", sung after a new dead body is discovered that seems to be incriminating proof of the killer's identity. Oddly, it sort of doubles as a Triumphant Reprise of the song for Lassiter, as the first iteration was Shawn and Lassiter arguing and this reprise happens after Lassiter's theory appears to be the correct one.
    Lassiter: The only thing that's satisfying is that the smirk is off your face.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Subverted with Yang's death. Yang sees the light after dying to save Shawn and thinks she's going to heaven, but Mary says she likely will not be going to the Promised Land. He will, however, put in a good word for her.
  • Death Song: "Promised Land" from The Musical episode is one for Yang.
  • Deception Non-Compliance: In one episode, Shawn and Gus are discussing a case via webcam. The murderer (standing off-screen) forces Shawn to give Gus a false lead, which Shawn does while speaking very plainly and seriously. Gus realizes something is wrong, knowing that Shawn wouldn't normally talk without over-exaggerating or making a joke.
  • Defective Detective: Shawn's lackadaisical approach tends to cause people to refuse to take him seriously or consider him a nuisance to be shooed away so real people can get things done. He's something of an aversion, though, being for the most part a pretty well-adjusted (if oddball) guy.
  • Defiant to the End: Herb Wilkins the victim of the week in "Viagra Falls". His last words are him threatening to "squeeze the coward out" of his killers.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: In "Chivalry Is Not Dead... But Someone Is":
    Juliet: You disturb me. And your theory on this murder disturbs me. And you disturb me.
    Lassiter: You said that twice.
    Juliet: Yes.
  • 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.)
  • Depraved Bisexual: In "Mr. Yin Presents," Yang herself, who hits on both the female asylum attendant and Shawn.
    • "Yang 3 in 2D" has her saying she wants to host The View and make out with Elizabeth Hasselbeck.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: In the episode "The Amazing Psych Man & Tap-Man, Issue #2", Shawn tells Juliet "I know you know I'm not telling the truth. I know...". Ironic, when one realizes it's the only episode that doesn't have the actual Theme Tune.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: In "Shawn Rescues Darth Vader" Shawn becomes obsessed with the idea of getting hired by the British ambassador and using the subsidiary immunity to go on a minor crime spree. It doesn't pan out.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Selene comes off as one to Gus: both are into astronomy, do their research, and have the same kind of pick-up moves as one another.
  • 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 does this for laughs, but also to tease a Romantic False Lead for his Will They or Won't They? with Juliet. Once it was Henry, 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.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Mr. Yang is revealed as this through flashbacks when Shawn meets her at the end.
  • 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.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: "We'd Like to Thank the Academy." One of the villains, described as "a fabulous Emmett Smith," cocks his gold-plated pistol and says, "I don't even need to do that. I just like the effect."
  • 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.
  • Dreaming the Truth: Used in "Mr. Yin Presents." Shawn is able to remember a vital clue that he walked right past the killer in the movie theater the night before and saw he was wearing ankle weights. Subverted by the fact that the ankle weights clue was a Red Herring and Mary is actually Yin's next victim.
  • 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's real last name is "Rodriguez" and his father is Mexican.
  • Embarrassing Hobby: In the episode "Not Even Close...Encounters", a childhood friend of Shawn's, who has grown up to be a rich, successful lawyer with a hot girlfriend, is revealed to have a secret room in his house where he keeps an extensive collection of comic book and sci-fi memorabilia and toys. He begs Shawn not to let his girlfriend know.
  • 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 kidnapping of a millionaire...only to realize too late they are the kidnappers and he's just given them the plan.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Shawn usually gets one well in advance, but later has to set up the summation to maintain his role as a psychic.
  • 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.
    • Desperaux 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 hids the bowl with Shawn rolling his eyes at what's gonna happen.
  • Everything Is Racist: Gus claims that the Thornburg virus is racist because it's mostly found in Africa.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Possibly Mr. Yin when compared to Yang. Yang even calls him a monster in comparison.
    • Yin is definitely more evil. It turns out Yin is Yang's father and raised her to be a killer. It's also hinted that Yang never actually killed anyone and it was all Yin.
  • Exact Words:
    Shawn: "Say cheese or something."
    Jules: "Cheese or something."
  • Expansion Pack Past: Shawn, in partial rebellion to his father, has had fifty-seven prior jobs and has spent time in Argentina and Thailand among many other places.
  • Fake Crossover: With Monk in a series of USA Network commercials. Gus was also obliquely mentioned in a "Monk" novelization.
    • Also in the Psych novel "Mind Over Magic" Shawn complains that Gus isn't female, blond, and ready with a wipe after he touches something.
  • 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.
  • Firemen Are Hot
  • 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.
    • Also Gus's eating, at first both Shawn and Gus where bit of big eaters, but in Season 7, Gus had eaten a pit of 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 Lassister!) 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.
    • The movie appears to have dialed back on this (except for Gus' eating habits).
    • 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 rolled 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. Neither really had a choice in the matter.
  • Foot-Dragging Divorcee: Carlton Lassiter was in denial about his separation from his wife, and thought they were getting back together when she asked for dinner at their first-date restaurant. She confronted him with divorce papers and he gave a long, foot-dragging speech, but eventually admits he was aware he'd never been good for her. Having gotten that off his chest, he immediately signs the papers.
  • 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 timing too, with the apparent "happier" version much warmer (and has Shawn and Juliet as almost completely OOC).
  • Foreshadowing: The beginning of every episode involves 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.
    • "Tuesday the 17th" gets even darker than it already was once you've seen the Yin/Yang episodes. Especially the ending.
    • And especially since the episode following it is "An Evening with Mr. Yang".
    • Gus even refers to himself and Shawn as "Yin and Yang."
  • Found Footage Films: "Lassie Jerky" is a parody of the style, in which every shot represents someone's camera feed and references to The Blair Witch Project abound. Subverted in that Shawn is revealed to have edited together the footage at the end to present to Chief Vick.
  • 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.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the episode "Shawn Rescues Darth Vader" if you pause when the article detailing the release of Colin Hennessy comes up you'll find that the victim, Annabeth York, liked chocolate biscuits and listened to the advice of a voice in her head she called "Steve". It goes on to include a quote from Chief Vick where she says they'll be able to solve the case within an hour, not including commercials and if they're able to keep the snacks away from Shawn.
  • Fridge Logic: invoked A rare, in-universe example: The fact that there's no way Mr. Yang had the time to take Shawn's mom all the way to the drive-in and strap her with explosives bothers Mary for a year after the Season 3 finale. He comes to the conclusion that Mr. Yang had a partner.
  • 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 be this 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").
  • Genki Girl: Gus's ex. Also, Juliet frequently.
  • Gentleman Thief: Pierre Despereaux in the season 4 premiere, "Extradition: British Columbia".
    • Subverted in that he's not really a thief but an abettor to insurance fraud. The owners of fine art would steal them from themselves and blame the crime on Desperaux.
      • However, as "Extradition II" shows, he's every bit as capable as he originally claimed.
  • 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.
  • Get Ahold Of Yourself Man: In "This Episode Sucks," Gus briefly goes catatonic at the sight of blood. After several gentle attempts to bring him back to his senses, Shawn elects to slap him as hard as he can in the face... except right before he does, Gus snaps out of it and instinctively punches him instead.
  • 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 did this with Shawn, who was presented 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.
  • Give Me Back My Wallet: At the end of a Christmas Episode, a little girl/con artist thanks Shawn for helping her dad, and hugs him... and Shawn immediately asks for his wallet back.
  • Groin Attack: A Very Juliet Episode
  • Had the Silly Thing in Reverse: In an episode guest starring John Cena:
    Shawn: *holds up a rocket launcher* What is this?
    Ewan: That is an anti-tank weapon...and you're pointing it at yourself.
  • 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."
  • Has Two Mommies: Lassiter's mom has a female partner. Lassie apparently struggled with this initially, but it looks like he's come to terms with it since they both walked him down the aisle at his wedding.
  • 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]
  • Hey, You!: Henry insists on being called Henry.
  • Hikikomori: A one-shot character who only went out on Thursdays to the convenience store and to buy video games.
  • Homoerotic Dream: See Continuity Nod.
  • Hot Librarian: Maudette Hornsby in "Dual Spires".
  • 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.
    • To a lesser extent, in the movie, the word "dongle" is consistently thrown around...and misinterpreted by Shawn and Woody.
  • Hurricane of Puns: "Any Given Friday Night" opens with a category five storm of foot puns from Shawn.
  • Hyde Plays Jekyll: "Who Ya Gonna Call?": A man has multiple personalities, one of which is a woman. At one point the man is dressed like a woman, but the personality in charge is the man. He dressed like the woman to divert suspicion from himself.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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 
  • "I Am" Song: "Santa Barbara Skies" from The Musical episode is one for Shawn.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: References to pop culture, usually mixed with a Pun.
  • Idiot Ball: Shawn figures out that the profile on a dating website is using photoshopped pictures of a catalogue model. Somehow all the main characters think that must mean that the model himself owns the profile instead of the much more likely scenario that someone used his widely available pictures to make a fake one.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Non-romantic version delivered by Lassiter when he finds out that Juliet and Shawn have been dating behind his back, promising that if Shawn ever does anything to her, he will "discharge his pistol." While hooked up to a polygraph machine, no less.
    Shawn: You mean you'll shoot me.
    Lassiter: Repeatedly.
  • 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.
    • Ironically, 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 do this 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: Right there in the theme song, which was actually written and performed by the band of the show's creator.
  • Impossible Thief: Pierre Despereaux was able to steal a crown from out of a sealed metal box in less than a minute without causing any damage to it. Justified in that Pierre isn't a thief, he just likes the mystique that it brings, all of the "stolen" items were given to him by the owners so they could claim insurance money.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Shawn in the pilot, "Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark," and "We'd Like to Thank the Academy."
    • Also Juliet in the Friday the Thirteenth Tuesday the Seventeenth episode. She 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.
    • Not a weapon, but Shawn uses part of a fake beard as a zipline to escape from a fence in the movie.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Happens at least once, usually to shore up a case that's low on physical evidence.
    • In the season six finale, Henry retires after learning that half of his old partners were crooked, covering up murder and drug trafficking for some extra money on the side. As he's telling the last of their group what happened to the other two, his partner makes a comment that "$50,000 was a lot of money back then...". Henry never told him how much they were making.
  • Informed Flaw: Shawn constantly remarks on what a bad detective Lassiter is, but there are numerous indications that he solved plenty of crimes off-screen, and tends to fail only on the types of cases that require Shawn.
    • One episode actually has Lassiter on such a roll clearing cases that Shawn and Gus are desperate for a case that he can't that they can make some money.
  • Insanity Defense: One case involves Shawn going undercover in a mental hospital to prove someone tried innocent by insanity was faking.
  • Insistent Terminology: Crops up from time to time. A nice 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".
  • Inspector Lestrade: Carlton Lassiter.
    • Definitely a downplayed example however, as a running gag in the early seasons would either feature Shawn and Gus arriving at a scene to investigate and question people and either find Lassiter and O'Hara only minutes behind them or to arrive just as Lassiter and O'Hara are leaving. One episode even opens with Lassiter solving so many cases without the need of Psych that Shawn becomes genuinely worried for his livelihood.
  • In Spite of a Nail: The episode "Right Turn or Left for Dead" contains two different possible realities for the investigation of a case, which branch off when Shawn makes one small decision one way or another. Even though the two investigations follow the leads in a completely different sequence, the end result is the same: Shawn solves the case in a flash of insight at the exact same time in both realities.
  • Insult Backfire: Played with in Canada.
    Lassiter: I swear, I'm gonna leave you to rot in this backwoods, rain-drenched den of politeness. No offense.
    Canadian: None taken. I like your suit.
  • Interdisciplinary Sleuth: Gus's day job as a pharmaceutical rep occasionally helps solve the Mystery of the Week.
  • 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. Averted 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 actually marries one.
    • Also, Lassiter was the one who inspired Shawn's Fake 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 Began with a Twist of Fate: After Jules finds out that Shawn's not really psychic and dumps him, Shawn suffers a Heroic BSoD that causes him to fantasize about what might have happened if he'd made one different decision (offering Jules Da Chief's scarf instead of his own jacket, as the contents of the jacket pocket were responsible for Jules realizing that he was a fraud). The fantasy version of events and the reality veer off in wildly different directions.
  • 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.
    • To provide said context, 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.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: "The Polarizing Express", lampshaded.
    • Worth mentioning is that it's made clear that the "life without Shawn" bits are more of an ego trip combined with events outside the dream. Also inverted in the sense that rather than realizing everyone would be worse off without him, it helps Shawn realize he's mistreating the people in his life and couldn't do without them.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Inverted. After Abigail is kidnapped and nearly drowned by Yin, Shawn is ready to compromise and make a stronger commitment to their relationship, but she breaks up with Shawn because she can't make a difference in the world if she's dead.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Henry pulls a rare quadruple one in a 1989 flashback: When Shawn asks if he can get a home computer, Henry replies it's "another passing fad, like rap music, Madonna and L.A. Law."
  • 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.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Mary, the Mr. Yang expert from the Season 3 finale, is one of Mr. Yin's victims in the Season 4 finale.
    • Mary returns in the form of some bizarre home videotapes in the Season 5 finale, through which Shawn discovers the truth about Yin and Yang's relationship.
    • Yang in the Musical.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Mr. Yin and Mr. Yang.
  • 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 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." Just one example.
  • 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.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: "Last Night Gus" features a fugitive whose name is Leeroy Jenkins. He's appropriately hot-tempered.
  • 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 silentlynote . 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 also counts particularly when Henry gets shot. He drops much of the joking and becomes scarily competent.
  • Lie Detector: Used to question Shawn in the sixth season premiere about a case and his psychic abilities. Fortunately, his dad taught him how to beat a polygraph.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Shawn and Gus. Definitely.
  • 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.
  • Lotsa People Try to Dun It: Nigel St Nigel, a Simon Cowel expy, hires the main characters to investigate a series of attempts on his life. They soon join the list of people (including SBPD personnel) that wouldn't mind if the killer succeeded.
  • Love at First Sight: Lassie and Marlowe.
  • Lovable Coward: Gus, sometimes.
  • Loveable Rogue: Shawn. All the time.
  • Love Cannot Overcome: Shawn's ex-girlfriend, Abigail, says she can't take the stress of his job anymore after being kidnapped by Mr. Yin.
  • Magician Detective: A variation; pyschic private eye/police consultant, who's a fraud.
  • 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 of this - especially in the flashbacks to when Gus first met her.
  • Marshmallow Hell: Done to Gus in "Autopsy Turvy."
    • ...and subverted/avoided later with a smiling Henry.
  • 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.
  • 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. Nicely lampshaded by Gus. A more subtle version 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".
  • Misplaced Retribution: The killer in "Shawn Has The Yips" was a man whose son died from overdosing on drugs supplied to him by an infamous drug lord who targeted high school teenagers. While killing said drug lord was an understandable if not justified action, the man also blamed Lassiter for initially failing to have the drug lord arrested despite Lassiter doing everything within his power to put the drug lord away.
  • Missing Mom: We find out from an offhand remark by Henry 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.
  • Missing Trailer Scene: A variation for the season 5 premier. The joke shown in the commercials for one scene was entirely different in the show itself than for the commercials.
    Joke from commercial: I warn you: I have seen Kung Fu Panda 87 times!
    Joke from the actual episode: I have beaten all 7 levels of Shaq Fu on Nintendo!
  • Mistaken for Dying: Shawn, Gus, and Juliet think Lassie is dying when they misinterpret his strange behavior in "S.E.I.Z.E the Day". Turns out he was just panicking because Marlowe is pregnant and he's worried about getting hurt on the job and missing out on his kid's life.
  • 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 complement the male suspect on his appearance, including a comment about his "package", which earns him confused looks from everyone else.
    • Shawn and Gus went on a The Bachelorette-esque show and were more preoccupied with each other than the actual bachelorette. The bachelorette herself thought they were gay.
    • In the episode "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.
  • Mistaken for Pedophile: Happens when Shawn and Gus go to a park in search of a nanny for Chief Vick's new baby, escalating until Officer McNab arrives on the scene and has to escort them away.
  • Mistaken for Pregnant: Shawn discovers a positive pregnancy test in his car during the second movie and spends a good chunk of it freaking out over Jules having his child. It's later revealed that pregnancy test was actually Selene's (aka the girlfriend of Gus)
  • The Mob Boss Is Scarier: Subverted in a Christmas Episode, where a crowd is shamed into coming forward and telling the truth about the activities of a gang in their midst.
  • Moment Killer: Shawn and Juliet have a... complicated relationship. But 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 premier "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".
  • Mundane Made Awesome: In "Gus Walks Into A Bank" the arrival of the SWAT team is punctuated by slow motion low-angle shots of the team exiting the back of their mobile command unit and the hostage negotiator putting on his sunglasses and striding towards the camera, with the only sound being a heavy metal track ("More Human Than Human" by White Zombie). Once the negotiator starts barking out orders, Shawn says "and... cut" and suggests they do the scene again with a little less swagger.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: It happens in the high school reunion episode.
  • Musical Episode: Psych: The Musical in Season 7, a double-length musical episode that features the return of Yang.
  • 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."
  • Never Suicide: Once was attempted suicide, though. And another time it was suicide, but caused inadvertently by another person.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Shawn and Gus' childhood friend Dennis is a Formerly Fat software developer who still believes in aliens and is played by Freddie Prinze, jr. His wife Molly is also a nerd unbeknownst to him.
  • 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.
  • Noir Episode: "Santabarbaratown." Most overtly referencing Chinatown but it subtly hits almost every Film Noir trope, including them going to a sultry lounge the looks like a 1920's speakeasy.
  • The Nondescript: Discussed when Henry describes a woman he was set up with as nondescript and Shawn remarks that he's only heard someone say that when discussing a crime scene.
  • Noodle Incident: In the season 3 episode "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"
    • Allsion 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 Crowley'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.
  • Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon
  • 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.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Suspected by many fans from the beginning, but pretty much confirmed on-air in "Shawn 2.0." Declan Rand, a criminal profiler who rivals Shawn's deductive skills, does a quick profile of Shawn. The first thing he says is that Shawn is highly intelligent, but ashamed of this fact, and therefore hides it with movie references and clown-ish behavior. When he leaves, Gus and a dismayed Shawn admit that Declan was 100% correct.
    • Although it's important to note that Shawn doesn't want people to think he's a buffoon so they'll underestimate him. It's something he does to convince himself he's somewhat normal.
    • Also, the fact that he got a perfect score on the detective exam at age 15. The top department detectives, Lassiter and O'Hara, only got 97 and 98, respectively, and that was after years at college and the police academy.
    • In the first episode, it is mentioned in passing that Shawn was on his way to be valedictorian until he simply stopped putting in any effort, around the time his parents divorced.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Henry becomes something like this and Head-in-the-Sand Management to Shawn and Gus when he becomes the outside consultant liaison. A bit of Fridge Logic considering he knows Shawn's abilities and Shawn's high success rate though at the same time, he usually is only trying to rein in Shawn's wackiness.
    • By showing extreme reluctance in hiring Shawn at all in the stated belief that his antics - or simply not acting like a real detective, which he isn't - will make him a mockery... despite Shawn having solved dozens of high profile cases a year for five years and having toned down his theatrics considerably. Henry is not one to let someone rest on their laurels to maintain a good record, that's for sure. He's proactive in motivating them, in his own... unique way.
      • A popular belief is that Henry kept getting in the way in a misguided attempt to get Shawn to be more of a detective, and less of a fake psychic. It doesn't really work.
  • 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.'
  • Odd Name Out: In the 2011 Halloween episode, Jules, Shawn and Gus are looking for someone who has been draining people of their blood. When told the names of three suspects - two with normal names, one named "Lucian" - they stare at each other, and say "LUCIAN!"
  • 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.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: When Shawn is shot and survives, this (along with a picture of the shooter in a military uniform holding a rifle) is instantly enough for him to deduce the shooter was a military trained expert sniper, as there's no other way he could have shot accurately enough to make the shot nonlethal.
    • Especially when the shooter's only three feet away and "misses."
    • Yet at the same time, as the trope page mentions, there really isn't any non-lethal way to shoot someone (at least not in the ways most TV characters get shot).
    • Typically played straight when Jules and Lassie have to shoot someone. Once Juliet shoots someone in the hand.
  • One-Word Title: Named after the company the protagonist works for.
  • Only Sane Man: Juliet in "This Episode Sucks," which she exasperatedly points out almost word for word early in the investigation. Other characters tend to revolve in and out of this trope, depending on who has the Crazy Ball this week, but Chief Vicks is the other most likely canidate.
    • 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.
  • Opinion Flip-Flop: Between Juliet and Chief Vick:
    Karen Vick: I don't mean to sound like a hard-ass...
    Juliet O'Hara: You didn't.
    Karen Vick: I did.
    Juliet O'Hara: I didn't get that at all.
    Karen Vick: Well, actually, I was *trying* to sound like a hard-ass.
    Juliet O'Hara: Mission accomplished!
  • Orbital Kiss: A lengthy version between Shawn and Juliet.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: In one episode, Gus realizes Shawn had been under duress when they last spoke because he had been unusually serious and because he'd referred to their a capella group by its real name rather than the silly name he'd made up for it.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: Gus refers to one of the models in "Black and Tan: A Crime of Fashion" as being "one of the most popular models in the entire Santa Barbara downtown area."
  • Overprotective Dad: Henry tends to show signs of this, from early as season one episode two.
    Henry: This is a derivative of methyl parathion. High-grade stuff. Whatever you're into, I want you to get out quick. I'm not kidding.
  • 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.
  • Pac-Man Fever: Shawn's dad apparently plays Crackdown with an NES light gun.
  • Palette Swap: In "We'd Like To Thank The Academy", Shawn shoots two civilian cardboard cutouts in a training exercise. His justifications:
    "The first woman with the groceries was exiting a library that doesn't allow snacks. I know this because we've tried on several occasions. And the second woman was simply a replica of the first woman, but they painted her face brown, which is both offensive and suspicious."
  • Papa Wolf: Henry shows shades of this.
    "If Shawn really has been shot, there's no room I'm not gonna bust open to find my son."
  • Parallel Porn Titles: As Stumpy complains about the selection of porn on pay-per-view in the "Deez Nups" episode, he lists Chitty Chitty Gang Bang, Batman & Throbbin and Hannah Does Her Sisters.
  • Paralysis by Analysis: "Shawn Gets The Yips"
  • Passing the Torch: When Shawn's dad re-retires from policing
  • 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.
  • Pet the Dog: Invoked and parodied. "Barbie and Clyde" the robbers are perfectly willing to lie, cheat, steal, ransack... you get the picture. But
    "We do not kill people, and we're against animal cruelty!
  • Phony Psychic: It's the premise of the show
  • 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.
  • Playing Games at Work: In the first episode, Gus is doing this when he's introduced. Shawn notices immediately due to his hands being on the keyboard in the proper position for playing a First-Person Shooter.
  • Pocket Dial: Shawn's father learned that Shawn is considering confessing his feelings to to Juliet when Shawn butt-dialed his father in a Red Robin bathroom.
  • Poisonous Friend: 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.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The killer in "Cloudy... with a Chance of Improvement" was a news show host whose marriage was on the rocks. He believed his wife was having an affair with his co-worker due to her suspicious behavior. In reality, his wife was attending meetings with a marriage counselor which she didn't tell her husband about and by the time he discovered this it was too late.
  • Private Detective: Shawn and Gus, with their "Psych" psychic detective agency offices and all. 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 on a couple occasions. 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.
    • Dunkin' Donuts donuts 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.
  • Protest By Obstruction: In one case, an animal rights protester was a suspect in a murder case, but because she had chained herself in front of a restaurant in protest of their menu, she had an obvious alibi.
  • Pstandard Psychic Pstance: Shawn exaggerates this to the point of mockery, finding more and more outlandish ways to flail around to represent his "powers." 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!
    • Although it is notable that this 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.
  • Psycho Lesbian: The murderer in one of the season 5 episodes.
  • Psychopathic Womanchild: Marlowe seems to have transformed into this since her incarceration (combination of types D and F). 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. Full stop. It especially stands out when she's with Mr. Yin, her father.
  • Punk in the Trunk: Shawn gets stuffed in the trunk of a car in the mid-season 4 finale.
    • Gus gets his turn in "Shawn and Gus in Drag (Racing)"
  • Putting on the Reich: The Lassie-led SPBD in Shawn's dream in "The Polarizing Express". Complete with Vick having a really bad German accent, which Tony Cox blames on Shawn watching Austin Powers the previous night and having Perverse Sexual Lust for Frau Farbissina.

    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. Played straight in the third season finale, when the killer gives Shawn a time limit to save the victim, his mother.
    • Played straight in the movie, when the villain rigs Alcatraz to blow...not that it stops Shawn and Gus from their usual banter.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: In the season 3 finale, Gus' voice while he's slightly out of breath from chasing a train apparently sounds too fake to be real to Abigail on the phone.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Chief Vick's pregnancy in the first season. And 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.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Karen Vick. Certainly, when compared to Lassiter. It's implied she may be on to Shawn's bit, and tolerates it to solve cases.
  • 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.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Shawn and Gus. Lassiter and O'Hara. Henry and Maddie. Yang and Yin. This show is full of well-written foils.
  • Reference Overdosed: All the 1980s and 1990s pop culture jokes. See Psych.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Pretty much anything Shawn ever says or does, but calling your phony psychic detective agency that you're using to get yourself out of trouble with the cops "Psych" is certainly up there in the "requires large cojones" department.
  • Religious Bruiser: The Daredevil in one episode.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Done with Shawn's uncle.
    • Also done with 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.
  • Removing the Rival: The apparent suicide in the exorcism episode turns out to be this, although the responsible party didn't intend to kill the victim.
  • 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 was 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, by the way, and Juliet still can't help getting sidetracked by her jealousy.
  • Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: In "Mr. Yin Presents," the second member of the Yin-Yang killer team uses Alfred Hitchcock films to devise several themed ways of luring, capturing, or killing people. Mary Lightly was killed similarly to a scene from Psycho. The main cast had to go into a building as different characters from Hitchcock films, where Henry Spencer and Carlton Lassiter became trapped in a car (but survived); however, Juliet triggered a trap door that caused her to be captured. Later, she was tied in a chair that was attached to a clock tower, in such a way that at 4:30, a cable would be severed and she would fall to her death. At the same time, Shawn's girlfriend, Abigail, was bound beneath a pier while the tide was coming in. Both were saved in the nick of time.
  • Rule of Funny: Pretty much the entire show, with a thin veneer of reality on top.
    • In "Turn Right or Left for Dead," Shawn and Gus pretend to be Swedish, using hilariously awful fake accents (while talking a character who is actually Swedish) and he actually buys it.
  • Running Gag: Has its own page.
  • Ruptured Appendix: Shawn is hospitalized with appendicitis in "Let's Doo-Wop It Again." This happened shortly after James Roday really had to have his appendix removed.
  • Salt and Pepper: Shawn is white, Gus is black. Mocked in the "Ebony and Ivory" season 3 teaser.
    • Not to mention the fashion show episode, where they masquerade as Black and Tan, two (made-up) supermodels. Shawn's Black. Gus is Tan. How dare you assume otherwise.
    • Lampshaded in "Shawn Gets the Yips" when Shawn assigns all the characters items found in a restaurant:
      Gus: Let me guess. I'm the pepper, you're the salt..."
    • And in "High Top Fade Out" when Gus creates the false last names "Brown" for himself and "White" for Shawn. It's debatable whether Shawn's reaction was over this trope or the lack of creativity compared to Shawn's false last names.
  • Samus Is a Girl: 'Mr.' Yang is actually a 'Ms.'
  • Scare 'Em Straight: In one episode, Lassie's saddled with the deputy mayor's son, a juvenile delinquent. It's hoped that he'll be scared straight. By the end of the episode, Juliet finally succeeds where Lassie keeps failing, by whispering something to the kid. We never find out what she told him, but it works well enough for the kid to apologize to Lassie for his behavior.
  • Scary Black Man: Lassie tries to scare a punk kid straight by introducing him to a black convict. Subverted when the guy says prison is pretty okay.
  • The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction: The culprit in "Death is in the Air" hired a prostitute to get some vials of a deadly virus from a hapless deliveryman while he was incredibly drunk. Although his judgment in women while sober isn't much better...
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: (Close concept) In "Christmas Joy" Shawn, Joy and Gus go in different doors, Gus stops for a minute and looks around the hallway but doesn't see Shawn or Joy when they come out and quickly go back in.
  • "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.
  • Screaming Birth: Averted for Chief Vick, who gives birth over the course of several hours, without screaming, on a properly angled table.
  • 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. 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.
    • 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."
  • Shaming the Mob: Inverted. At the end of "The Polarizing Express," Shawn incites a crowd of tenants to testify against a Miami crime lord.
  • Sherlock Homage: Shawn and Gus are essentially farcical versions of Holmes and Watson:
  • Sherlock Scan: This is how Shawn is able to fake his psychic visions so that they are accurate.
  • Ship Tease: By now, Shawn has probably made some sort of romantic advance towards every member of the cast, except his parents.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: The season ending episodes since the first one.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Showdown at High Noon...ish: Between a (real) cop and a (fake) cowboy at a tourist trap town, no less.
    Lassiter: I'm the good guy, you toothless hillbillies! Although I really did just shoot that guy.
  • "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.
    • Also, 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.
  • Silver Fox: Lassiter.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Henry Spencer would often give Shawn an ultimatum to enforce his skills on him.
  • Sleeps with Both Eyes Open: In an episode Shawn walked into the chief's office and started talking to her before realizing she was sleeping with her eyes open (her kid had kept her up all night).
  • Small Reference Pools: Averted by the show itself, but in the town of Dual Spires, much to Shawn's annoyance, the only references they get are references to Everwood.
    Shawn: I'm on to you... like the townspeople of Everwood were on to the fact that Nina was a surrogate mother.
    Gus/Juliet: That's enough, Shawn.
    Ralph: (almost whispering) She was.
    Shawn: Thank you.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Played with in one episode. Shawn's objection has absolutely nothing to do with the couple getting married, but the opening it presents is the only opportunity he has to do The Summation and expose the criminal.
  • 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.
  • Spinning Paper: Invoked and parodied; in "The Adventures of Psych-Man and Tap Man, Issue 2", the effect is produced by spinning Gus's iPad.
  • Spoiled by the Format: If the "Killer of the Week" is identified when there are still 10 minutes of episode left, you know that Shawn got the wrong guy. Even Shawn has lampshaded this a couple of times.
  • Spoof Aesop: "Think Tank" has Gus note the lesson of not to spend money before you know if it is good or not.
  • 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.
  • Strangely Specific Horoscope: "Meat Is Murder, But Murder Is Also Murder" has Shawn going semi-undercover at the local paper as a horoscope writer. When Gus criticizes his horoscopes for being too specific, Shawn replies that he wrote them with specific people in mind.
  • Strapped to a Bomb:
    • Yang does this to Shawn's mother in the third season finale.
    • Chief Vick's daughter, Iris, is locked in a cell with a bomb a few feet away on a running timer.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: The seventh season finale, after the Shawn and company solved the case and feeling great about it, Harris Trout announces that he is suspending Chief Vick, taking over her job in the interim, disavowing Psych from future cases, firing McNab for his side job as a stripper, and demoting Lassiter from Head Detective. In just the span of three minutes.
  • Super Hero: The Mantis...sadly subverted. As he turns out to just wanna take out The Caminos just to get his hands on their money.
  • The Summation: Given a twist in that Shawn has to appear like a psychic, see Pstandard Psychic Pstance.
  • 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.
  • Surprise Inspection Ruse: Shawn often does this as a type of Bavarian Fire Drill. For example, in "Meat is Murder... but Murder is Also Murder", he pulls this off on a restaurant owner. When he points out that there was already a surprise inspection a few days ago, Shawn responds with "you weren't surprised enough". However, it turns out that the prior "surprise inspection" was carried out by the killer, who used the opportunity to swap his victim's mushroom risotto with one containing poisonous death cap mushrooms.
  • 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.
      • In the following episode, 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 (they weren't attempting a Ballistic Discount in that episode if that's what you're thinking). 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.
    • This also happens in the football episode, when 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. They even have a convenient logo.
  • Thematic Theme Tune: Appropriately describes, "I know you know/that I'm not telling the truth..."
  • There Is Another: Season 4 finale; Remember Mr. Yang? She has a partner...
  • They Do: Shawn and Jules.
  • They Fight Crime!: As silly as the premise is of "guy pretends to be psychic, people buy it, so he makes a living at it," that's the premise here. It is parodying TV psychics who in their turn are based on real life "psychics" who make a living of it, including being hired by the police.
  • 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.
  • Thrill Seeker: The aptly named "Thrill Seekers and Hell Raisers" has Gus dating a girl named Ruby who is quite the adrenaline junkie, a trait she shares with her group of friends. Their idea of grieving their dead friend is indoor rock climbing or paragliding. The killer of this episode is a negative example, openly admitting to getting a rush from tracking down and killing someone.
  • 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 and Took a Level in Jerkass: 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). Previously eccentric and a bit of a Genius Ditz Shawn is now as jerky as to 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.
    • On the Jerkass front, 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.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Pineapple, of course.
  • Training from Hell: A watered down version to be sure, 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.
  • Trigger Happy: Detective Lassiter seems all too eager to pull out his gun at a moment's notice. Considering just how many guns he keeps hidden in his house...
  • Trust-Building Blunder
  • 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.
  • Umpteenth Customer: One of the cold opens begin with young Shawn as the one millionth customer of a super market.
  • 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.
  • Undercover Model: A rare male case occurs when Shawn and Gus claim to be male models. Both played straight with Gus and subverted when nobody believes Shawn is a model, forcing him to claim to be a foot (and ankle!) model.
  • Unexpected Kindness: In the episode "Christmas Joy", Gus and his parents find out about Shawn's fling with Gus' sister Joy. This leads to an argument where everyone is mad at one another, and Shawn leaves their house fearing that he ruined the night. When he returns to make amends however, it turns out that the Gusters have already made up and are no longer mad at Shawn - Gus happily invites him inside and his parents let him spend the night with Joy.
  • Unknown Rival: In Despereaux's first appearance, Lassiter talks about how he and the thief have been in a cat-and-mouse game for years, Lassiter devoting much of his free time to tracking Despereaux down and just one step behind. When the thief is finally arrested, Lassiter is there to gloat on how he's finally the victor in their grand game. Needless to say, he's utterly deflated and more than a bit hurt when a baffled Despereaux states he has no idea who Lassiter is.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: In 4x14, "Think Tank", Shawn does one of these to get out of a limo with a killer in it. It is not explained why he could not just scramble out, nor where he learned that skill.
    • This is Shawn Spencer. Chances are, Henry made him learn it just in case.
  • Understatement: After getting caught in a bear trap, rolling down a hill, and falling into a river, Lassiter says that wasn't a good day.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Shawn/Juliet/Abigail. Shawn, who is tired of waiting around for Juliet goes out with Abigail.
  • 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.
  • 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 acapella version (the episodes feature Gus' college a capella 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.
  • Visual Pun: In the fourth season episode, "Showdown at High Noonish", Gus and Shawn take a case at a fake Old West town. Shawn is the Sheriff. Gus is a black smith. A black smith. He's black. And a smith.
  • 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.
  • Vomiting Cop: Gus...ish.
  • Waking Non Sequitur: In "The Polarizing Express." We get it, Gus doesn't.
    Shawn: Kareem! You took off your goggles.
    Gus: What?
    Shawn: What?
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Parodied in the episode where Shawn goes undercover in a dating show. One of the contestants didn't bring a single shirt for the entire 3 weeks of filming. When all the contestants are wearing suits he's just wearing a suit jacket over his bare chest.
  • Was It All a Lie?: When Juliet suspects Shawn isn't a psychic, she believes that everything he's said to her was all a lie.
  • The Watson: Between his extensive general knowledge, comparatively level persona, relative lack of observational prowess, and his status as usual recipient of The Summation, it's hard not to think Gus is somewhat inspired by the Watson. He also has medical knowledge, like Dr. Watson.
  • Wedding Smashers: Lassiter's wedding is interrupted by armed criminals. Fortunately, most of the guests are police officers so they all just pull out their guns and take down the bad guys. It's immediately lampshaded by the bad guys that it was a REALLY stupid idea to try and shoot up a cop wedding.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Henry isn't the easiest guy to impress and doesn't exactly conceal when he's disappointed, meaning that Shawn has spent most of his life either trying to impress his father or actively rebelling against him.
  • 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 Off for Real. 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."
    • "Daddy?"note 
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: An entire episode revolved around this where Shawn and Gus wake up in their office with Shawn wearing a gold chain, a shower cap, and sandals, Gus's car wrecked, and even more funny, Lassiter and Woody the coroner, are sleeping on their couch.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Despereaux. Shawn says this, word for word, after Despereaux escapes via grappling hook.
  • 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.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in the film where Shawn wears Gus' Hagrid costume to search a fence's stash. Still Paper-Thin Disguise, though.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Shawn and O'Hara. Semi-resolved, in the Bittersweet Ending of Season 3, when O'Hara finally kisses Shawn... while he's on a date with another woman. And then there's the summer finale of season five... while she's in a relationship with Declan.
  • 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.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: In "The Polarizing Express", a Vigilante Man is trying to bomb a crime lord for destroying the former's business, killing his fiancee, and ruining his life, all as "punishment" for refusing to pay extortion money. Fortunately, Shawn manages to defuse the situation by rallying all of said crime lord's extortion victims to testify against him and put him away for good.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Shawn and Gus according to "Shawn and Gus in Drag (Racing)."
    • Also averted; there's one episode where Shawn knocks a woman unconscious with a blunt object.
  • Worthy Opponent: Many criminals, but Despereaux calls him this. Yin and Yang both call him their "most admirable foe."
    Despereaux: I knew you were worthy.
  • 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.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: When Woody says he likes Juliet's "Fashion" shirt, she wants to change it immediately.


Video Example(s):



At the end of the episode, Shawn and Gus do a rendition of "Shout" by Tears for Fears (with some elements of Michael Jackson for flavah).

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / CoverVersion

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