Follow TV Tropes


Series / Rizzoli & Isles

Go To

Rizzoli & Isles (aired 2010-16) was a show on TNT set in Boston with two of the department's hardest working women cracking the city's most gruesome murders. These two friends are as different from one another as can be. Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) is a no-nonsense cop with an attitude and tomboy inclinations. Dr. Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander) is a brilliant though eccentric medical examiner, much more feminine and mild than Jane. As odd of a pairing as they may be, Jane and Maura are close friends who are always there for one another and have each other's back.

Based on the Rizzoli/Isles novels by Tess Gerritsen.


This show contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: Maura is held prisoner in an abandoned mental hospital in "Hide and Seek".
  • AB Negative: Averted in a case where it shouldn't have been in "Living Proof", when Maura declares that a type A pregnant woman couldn't be the biological mother of the type O baby she was carrying. Type A or B people can carry the O blood type as a recessive allele; to rule her out as the baby's genetic parent, she'd need to be type AB.
  • Abnormal Ammo: In "Knockout", the killer uses bullets made out of dental gypsum and bone fragments that break up inside the body of the victim, making a mess of their insides but leaving no bullet for a ballistics match.
  • Absolute Cleavage: An accidental example occurs in a scene where Jane is sitting in her bathrobe, discussing with Maura what to wear to a party, and doesn't notice that her robe has fallen open to her waist (she is wearing a bra underneath).
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • The books state that Jane is petite and fairly plain, to the point of having an irrational hatred of beautiful women. Angie Harmon, her actress, is a former model.
    • Detective Korsak. Hardly a male model in his TV incarnation, but still much better looking than he's described in the books.
    • Even the least extreme example, Maura Isles, has gone from simply "attractive" to downright stunning.
  • Adaptation Distillation: All of the events of the second book, "The Apprentice", along with the killing of Stark/The Dominator, happen in the pilot episode.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: As cited in Lighter and Softer, practically everyone is a much nicer or very toned down version of their book counterpart. In the books, Maura is an ice queen, Jane is brusque and abrasive, Korsak is a loud-mouthed jerk, Frost is a wimp, and so on. By comparison in the show, Maura is simply socially awkward, Jane is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold on her worst days, Korsack is a loud-mouthed Nice Guy, and Frost is merely squeamish around blood.
  • Agony of the Feet: The subplot of one episode centers around Jane being hobbled by a particularly painful ingrown big toenail. Another one has her mostly sidelined due to a sprained (Maura keeps insisting it's broken)ankle.
  • All Abusers Are Male: Though lampshaded the officers are far more likely to go after male relatives of the victim than female.
  • Alternate Continuity: Although there are occasional references to the storyline of the first two books in the series (The Surgeon and The Apprentice), for the most part, the TV show has wildly diverged from it.
  • Always Murder: Justified, as the leads are a homicide detective and the city's chief medical examiner, respectively.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Angela Rizzoli, so very much. It becomes even worse when she takes a job at the police station's cafe.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: From "My Own Worst Enemy":
    Jane: I killed Korsak with your Worst scalpel.
    Maura: [reading a text, not paying any attention]
    Jane: I contaminated all your DNA samples.
    Maura: [still staring at her phone]
    Jane: I snuck into your closet and I put all your shoes in different boxes.
    Maura: [looks up] What?!
  • Ascended Extra: Rizzoli is actually a secondary character in The Surgeon, the first book in the series, while Isles doesn't exist at all, and author Gerritsen had planned to kill her off before positive reader feedback changed her mind. Similarly, when Isles makes her first appearance in The Apprentice (2nd book of the series), she's a minor character until her role enlarges to be almost equal with Rizzoli in most books, or the primary character in several.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The victims in "Born To Run", were two men who, along with a third man, gangraped a 15-year-old girl which resulted in her committing suicide. The men never went to trial because the third man was well-connected. This led to the girl's sister killing two of the men and attempting to kill the third as revenge. Jane even says that she was tempted to let the killer finish the job.
    • The victim in "All For One" was a teacher who sexually abused his female students. When one of them tried to report him, he posted a picture of her flashing her bra on social media and she overdosed on drugs after the following slut-shaming comments. As revenge, her three friends ran him over with a car.
  • As You Know...: Our good detectives take a moment to explain to each other what Ritalin is.
  • Autopsy Snack Time:
    • Korsak is shown chowing down on a doughnut while watching Dr. Isles perform an autopsy in the first episode.
    • Jane does not like the idea of Maura keeping her food in the "dead fridge".
  • Babies Make Everything Better: In the first two books of the series, it's established that Jane doesn't particularly like children and isn't happy to learn that she's pregnant in the third book. One conversation with her mother near the end of the book is enough to make her do a complete 180° and decide to keep the baby, marry the baby's father, and despite some initial anxiety typical of a first-time parent, be a loving mother.
  • Bad Liar: Given how she loves to be so exact in facts, it's no surprise Maura is terrible at lying, even breaking out in hives when she tries to tell what she knows is a falsehood.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In "Money Maker," Jane and Maura check out a party at a fetish club mansion. We see a brunette and a dark blonde in loose dresses from behind with Maura complaining about the outfits...and then see her and Jane passing by those two call girls dressed as maids.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Rizzoli's workout outfit, particularly in the cold open of "I Kissed a Girl", and damn! You could bounce a quarter off her abs!
  • Baseball Episode: The second episode starts with a softball game between Robbery and Homicide, which is interrupted by the dumping of a dead body from the nearby freeway overpass. Notably, both ladies are hilariously bad, though Isles is considerably worse; Rizzoli's attempts to teach her how to swing properly set up a Chekhov's Gun later on.
  • Bathroom Break-Out: A witness in protective custody escapes this way in "Face Value".
  • Batter Up!: Chekhov's Gun in the Baseball Episode.
  • The B Grade: Maura hates giving grades because she is still upset about an A-minus she got in Biochemistry while in school.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Rizzoli and Grant.
    Grant: I didn't cheat off your catechism test.
    Rizzoli: I saw you looking at it!
    Grant: You saw me looking, but I wasn't looking at your test.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: According to the show, many good cops on the Boston Strangler case have died young and/or snapped in an explosive manner.
  • Black Sheep: We have the three Rizzoli siblings: Detective Jane, Officer Frankie... and Tommy the felon.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah: Discussed; Jane mentions how sometimes Maura goes off on a tangent when they're talking.
    Rizzoli: When I talk, do you hear, "Blah blah blah, Maura, blah blah blah"?
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: "Cuts Like a Knife" opens with a bride staggering into a wedding chapel, her dress soaked with blood from her cut throat.
  • Born from a Dead Woman: Maura once had to perform a caesarean on a heavily-pregnant woman who'd been fatally stabbed mere moments earlier, while Jane gave the already-dead woman CPR to keep blood moving long enough for the baby to be saved.
  • Brains and Brawn: Maura has an analytic, scientific mind and prefers to solve problems by thinking or doing lab work. Jane, while far from stupid, prefers being out in the field and doesn't shy away from physical action.
  • Bunker Woman: In "Hide and Seek", Maura is kidnapped and shackled to a pipe inside an abandoned insane asylum.
  • Burn the Witch!: When someone starts murdering members of a Wiccan coven in "Bloodlines", the first victim is burnt at the stake.
  • Call-Back: Oh, man, "I'm Your Boogey Man" is made of this trope. Somebody puts a road flare in front of Jane's apartment building, indicative of how she scarred Hoyt in "See One, Do One, Teach One." Later, we find that that somebody is a kidnap victim who Hoyt tortures to the point of suffering Stockholm Syndrome (not to mention he killed her abusive husband). Having gotten Frankie, Jr., to fall in love with her, she captures both Rizzoli siblings. While Jane tries to explain to the victim that Hoyt doesn't love her and is just using her to get Jane, she lets her guard down long enough for a struggle to ensue between herself and Frankie, Jr., for the gun. While they are both down on the ground, Frankie, Jr., gets the gun and kills her with two shots to the chest, even though his wrists were duct taped. In "See One, Do One, Teach One," Jane and Hoyt's apprentice were on the ground going for a gun. Jane got to it first and, with her wrists duct taped, she killed the apprentice with two shots to the chest.
  • Catchphrase: Among the obscenely rich Fairfield family, "Brothers don't kill brothers." Garrett Fairfield, Maura's ex-boyfriend, obviously thinks half-brothers aren't protected by this saying.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Maura says she can't, and it's true, at least under normal circumstances.
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse: In "Misconduct Game", Susie Chang is murdered as part of a complex plan to frame the forensics department for poor handling of a recent case. However, the homicide team discover that her body was transported to her apartment wrapped in a painter's tarp. This proves the crime scene was staged and clears Susie's name. The evidence recovered from the tarp helps them to identify culprit and the real motive behind the murder.
  • Chained to a Bed: In "Family Matters", a woman is tied to a bed and blindfolded by her husband in a hotel. While she is bound and blindfolded, someone enters the bedroom and beats her husband to death.
  • Character Blog: Jane, Maura, Frost, Korsak, Frankie, Jr., Angela and Frankie, Sr. all have their own real-life Twitter accounts. Oh, and so do Joe Friday and Bass. The Dirty Robber, the bar the characters frequent. Jane and Maura's tweets have a Les Yay vibe to them, and Jane has some interesting Twitter banter with lesbian entertainment reporter Dorothy Snarker from
  • Character Shilling: Jane and Maura's love interests frequently receive this treatment, especially Casey and Martinez.
  • Chekhov's Skill: At the start of season 7, Maura starts learning fencing to enable her to establish new neural pathways. This pays off in the episode "Dead Weight" where she uses her fencing skills to take down a fleeing suspect.
  • Class Reunion: In "Seventeen Ain't So Sweet", Jane attends her class reunion after being bullied into doing so by Maura. One of her classmates ends up murdered on the football field.
  • Clear Their Name:
    • In "Killer in High Heels", the entire team works tirelessly to prove that Maura is not a murderer when her date turns up dead and she has no memory of what happened.
    • In "Misconduct Game", Susie Chang is murdered and evidence planted to make it look like she had been falsifying evidence. Maura recuses herself from the case, and the rest of the team works to clear Susie's name and save the reputation of the forensic department.
  • Cliffhanger:
    • Why do we have to wait nine months to see whether or not Jane shooting through herself to kill the corrupt cop took her own life? WHY?! Like They Would Really Do It...
    • As well as the Literal Cliffhanger in a mid-season finale, when Jane jumped off a bridge in an effort to save the Driven to Suicide suspect who had fallen off—just as Jane managed to talk him out of jumping by telling him that she believed his claims of innocence (she'd found definitive proof that he was being framed). While it was highly unlikely that they'd kill off one of their titular characters, the actor playing the suspect—Jamie Bamber—is a Chronically Killed Actor, so his status was iffy until the next premiere.
  • Clothing Switch: In "Don't Hate the Player", Maura swaps clothes with Jane so Jane can meet a suspect at a fancy restaurant. Maura's elegant dress fits rather tightly on the taller Jane, while Jane's mannish suit hangs loosely on the smaller Maura. The next day, Maura comments that several women hit on her during her walk home.
  • Cold Sniper: The killer in "Bite Out of Crime". Korsak even mentions that snipers prefer to work alone when Frankie suggests he might have a partner.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: The main suspect in "Somebody's Watching Me" is Leroy, a conspiracy theorist who believes he is being spied on by aliens.
  • Cop and Scientist: Jane is a typical police officer, and Maura is very much a scientist. They work together on most of their cases and the show gives about as much screen time to both of them.
  • Cramming the Coffin: In "Stiffed", a family is lifting the coffin containing their grandmother out of a hearse when they drop it due to the weight. Grandma's body and the body of a naked man fall out. During the investigation, the team finds two more cases of second bodies concealed in coffins, and one of a body buried underneath a coffin.
  • Da Chief: Korsak, though he inspires fear in no one.
  • Daddy DNA Test:
    • Frankie once had a girlfriend that ran out on him sometime after he bought her a car. Understandably both Jane and Angela are not fond of her, and when she shows up again with a little girl in tow, they want proof that the girl in question really is Frankie's. Jane smuggles out a plastic cup to use for DNA testing, and Angela sneaks out something else. Eventually, they learn Frankie himself already ordered a paternity test - and it turns out that he isn't the father.
    • A test is eventually performed to find out whether Tommy or Frank Sr. is the father of Lydia's baby.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat: The Victim of the Week in "Over/Under" is stabbed to death by the killer who slips into the backseat of his van as it is going through a carwash.
    • Also happens at the start of "The Beast In Me".
  • Deadly Bath: The first Body of the Week in "Partners in Crime" is drowned in her hot tub after first having been stunned by being electrocuted.
  • Deadly Doctor: The Surgeon
  • Delusions of Doghood: In "Bite Out of Crime", the only witness to a murder has suffered a psychotic break and thinks he's a wolf.
  • The Determinator: If the Season 2 premiere is any indication, this trope describes Jane. After watching a soldier get blown up by a car bomb minutes after the soldier was honored for her heroics in Afghanistan, Jane ignores all commands to stay home and nurse her wounds from the Season 1 finale, as well as other roadblocks, to try and solve the case.
  • Diet Episode: Jane is ordered to manage an employee physical fitness plan during health cleanse week.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • "What Doesn't Kill You" revolves around the hunt for dirty cops in the BPD.
    • Bobby Marino in "The Gun Goes Bang, Bang, Bang".
  • Dog Walks You: In "Sister Sister", Jane is attempting to learn how to parade a Rottweiler for a dog show. The overenthusiastic dog takes off, dragging Jane along with him.
  • The Door Slams You: In "Love Taps", Nina stops a suspect who is attempting to flee on skateboard by kicking a gate into him as he tries to skate through it.
  • Doorstop Baby: In "Melt My Heart to Stone", Lydia leaves her baby on Maura's doorstep.
  • Dope Slap: Giovanni is a frequent target of this. In "Built for Speed", he is dope slapped multiple times in rapid succession by Jane and her mother.
  • Double Standard: In the books the series is based on, plain Jane is jealous and resentful of beautiful women and contemptuous of any man who is attracted to them. When her partner in the first book falls in love with the lovely Dr. Catherine Cordell, she accuses of him of "falling for the same thing every guy falls for - tits and ass". But she conveniently overlooks the fact that she herself has spent the book lusting after him, and in the second book, when she meets the gorgeous FBI agent Gabriel Dean, she falls head over heels for him in seconds. So as a woman (and an average-looking one, at that), it's apparently perfectly okay for her to fall in love with someone attractive, but when a man does it, he's a shallow jerk.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Rizzoli is a thoroughly unlikable secondary character in the first book in the series, while Isles doesn't even exist, and she herself is a minor character in the second book. Jane's mother also completely ignores her while doting on her brother before doing a 180° into a My Beloved Smother to Jane.
    • In the pilot episode of the TV series (based on the first two books), Jane is a broken character, scarred, traumatized and having flashbacks a year after being kidnapped and tortured by a serial killer. And then he escapes from prison and does it again. But the show soon settles down to quirky Victim of the Week plots, with only occasional episodes referring back to this.
    • Early episodes also feature Jane's neighbor Marissa, who knows Jane well enough to come check on her when she's having a bad day. Also Korsack has much thicker Boston accent and a much more antagonistic relationship to Frost.
    • In the pilot Angela mentions Tommy and Dad will be home soon. Later episodes establish that Tommy is in jail at this point.
  • Electrified Bathtub: In "Partners in Crime", the killer pushes a boombox into the hot tub of the first Body of the Week. This does not kill her but stuns her so the killer can hold her head underwater till she drowns.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Det. Frost's first name is Barold. He normally goes by Barry.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: How Jane feels about her own, which is Clementine.
  • EMP: In "Somebody's Watching Me", a Conspiracy Theorist used a homemade EMP gun to disable a drone. Frankie and Frost accidentally fry the electronics of two patrol cars while testing to see if it works.
  • Enemy Mine: In the early 90s, while Lt. Cavanaugh was in Drug Unit, Paddy Doyle became his informant and gave him information to use against the Colombian gangs moving cocaine into Boston. Except it turned out Doyle was playing off both sides...
  • Enhance Button: Apparently sophisticated enough to expand an image caught by a webcam reflected off of a person's eyeball.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Paddy Doyle doesn't like how the "new mob" handles business; he mentions how in the old days they would never have killed women or framed an innocent worker. He can't always live up to his standards, however - he killed Lt. Cavanaugh's wife and two year old child twenty years or so ago. Though he didn't mean for them to die, he was targeting Cavanaugh.
  • Everyone Knows Morse: That Maura, Jane and Korsak all know Morse code saves Maura and Jane's lives in "Dirty Little Secret". Trapped in a submerging car with a damaged mobile phone that can text symbols, Jane uses dots and dashes to text their coordinates (which Maura can recite) in Morse to Korsak.
  • Expospeak Gag: At least Once an Episode.
  • External Combustion: In "Bulit for Speed", the Victim of the Week is a street racer who is killed when his nitrous tank is replaced with propane and detonated with a remote detonator.
  • Eye Scream:
    • The Surgeon left Jane alone in a van with a road flare. When he comes back to finish her, she's playing possum and he's curious as to why smoke is coming from underneath her. Jane then jabs the Surgeon in the eye WITH THE LIT END OF THE FLARE!
    • Maura extracting vitreous fluid from the eye with a syringe. Frost in particular does not take to watching her do it.
  • Fair Cop: Jane and Frankie, the Rizzoli siblings, are, to slightly understate it, better than average-looking. This is in contrast to the novels, where it is made a point that Jane is plain, and feels insecure around beautiful women. Conversely, FBI Agent Gabriel Dean is described as very attractive in the books but can be considered around average in the show.
  • Fanservice:
    • Maura playing baseball in a water-resistant, skin-tight suit. It has, shall we say, quite the effect on guys.
    • One for each gender in "Money for Nothing." For the men, Maura in a tight running suit. For the women, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, shirtless and in a swimsuit.
    • Naturally, the episode "I Kissed a Girl" oozes of this trope. You have Jane flirting with numerous suspects and being kissed on the neck by a murderer, Maura wearing a tight waitress dress that allows her to show off maximum cleavage and a baby bump, and Jane and Maura discussing lesbianism.
    • There are the yoga scenes. Maura is in a skin-tight workout suit, while Jane is in yoga pants and a sports bra, showing off abs that you could balance a quarter on (keep in mind that Angie Harmon has three kids).
    • How many times can Jane and Maura be seen wearing tight clothes on this show? They do it again in "Born to Run."
    • Maura's fashion sense won't let Jane go to a fancy restaurant in her workaday outfit, so she has them trade their entire outfits. Also note that Maura is shorter than Jane, leading to the predictable.
    • Jane and Maura having to strip naked because of suspected virus contamination.
    • A scene where Jane and Maura are discussing what Jane is going to wear to a party. Jane is in her bathrobe — which has somehow come open to her waist, exposing her bra.
    • In the epsiode "I'm Your Boogie Man", Jane is awakened by a noise and runs outside in her sleepwear, brandishing a gun. She's barefoot and wearing a very tight tank top without a bra.
  • Fictional Counterpart: The Massachusetts Marathon standing in for the Boston Marathon. They still refer to "Heartbreak Hill"
    • In season 2 "Don't Hate the Player" the Boston Pilgrims are shown as a local MLB team. The Red Sox are there, too.
  • Fictional Video Game: "Vikings of the Realm" in "Virtual Love".
  • Fingore: Maura cuts the finger off a corpse to extract a print in "Throwing Down The Gauntlet". She also places the finger skin of a corpse over her own (gloved) fingers for the sake of a fingerprint.
  • Flipping the Table: In "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother", Korsak and Frost attempt to arrest a suspect at an underground gambling club. He flips the table as part of his attempt to escape.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Korsak is constantly rescuing animals. In fact, this is how Josephine "Joe" Friday and Jane were introduced before Jane took in Joe.
  • The Friendly Texan: Ep. 3.07, Maura is hosting a convention with other Medical Examiners, including Dr. Billy May Higgins, who we are told is from Texas. He's folksy, charming, and helpful, breaking up a fight between Maura's work-nemesis, Dr. Pike, and another M.E. named Dr. Popov, as well as helping use a new technique to raise a fingerprint off of a shell casing.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Rizzoli and Isles run in the Massachusetts Marathon representing Professionals for Underprivileged Kids of Excellence. Of course, someone had to lampshade it...
    Jane: I am NOT running as Lady Puke Gaga!
  • Gilligan Cut: In "Seventeen Ain't So Sweet", we cut from Jane telling Maura that there is no way she is going to her high school reunion, to Jane and Maura at Jane's high school reunion.
  • Girlfriend in Canada: In "Love Taps", the Victim of the Week works for a company that provides imaginary online boyfriends for women.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: In The Sinner, the third book, Jane learns that she's pregnant and even though the word is never spoken, she outright says that she can't keep the baby—she's not happy about the pregnancy, it's been established in the previous two books that she doesn't like children, and her relationship with the baby's father is uncertain. One conversation with her mother is all it takes for her to do a 180° turn and go from being miserable about the pregnancy to deciding to have the baby.
  • GPS Evidence:
    • Maura was able to crack the case in "Sympathy for the Devil" by determining the poison used in the murder came from a flower native to Boston. Jane was able to track the killer because the flower was growing in the front yard of someone who was interviewed earlier in the episode.
    • "Virtual love" had Maura do a spectroscopy on a hair left at the crime scene, which was sensitive enough to tell what kind of food the person ate. This person had recently eaten fermented whale meat, a common dish in Scandinavia, which pointed to a suspect who had just gotten back from Iceland.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: In "A Shot in the Dark", a recently released convict smashes a wine bottle over the head of a store clerk.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: In "Class Action Satisfaction", Jane and Maura have to take a decontamination shower after being exposed to a potential pathogen. After coming out of the shower, Jane tries to keep a medical waste bin between her and anyone else.
  • Hands-On Approach: In "Gumshoe", Frankie deliberately flunks his firearms proficiency test so he can get some 'hands-on' instruction from the sexy new firearms instructor.
  • Hand Stomp: "Love Taps" opens with the Victim of the Week dangling by his fingertips off a cliff face. The killer slowly grinds their foot on each of his hands till he loses his grip and plunges to his doom.
  • Hanging by the Fingers: "Love Taps" opens with the Victim of the Week dangling by his fingertips off a cliff face. The killer slowly grinds their foot on each of his hands till he loses his grip and plunges to his doom.
  • Has Two Mommies: Frost's Mom and roommate come to town. The others figure out they are a couple, but are afraid to say anything. It turns out that Frost knew all along, and was just waiting for his mom to say something.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": Jane seems to take great pleasure from the word "boubou", an item of West African traditional ceremonial dress.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Rizzoli and Isles, unsurprisingly, and according to Word of God. The producers seem happy to milk the Les Yay angle as well, and this has caused many fans to question the "heterosexual" part (there's a whole subpage about this).
  • Hollywood New England:
    • Mostly averted, but enter Donnie Wahlberg and you half expect him to say, "Chowdah." The weird part is that he's actually from Boston, but his regular accent isn't nearly that broad. It's more than made up by the extras, most of whom have very thick Boston accents.
    • Korsak has a New England accent when we meet him in the pilot but it disappears later.
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Averted, in they're doing a religion that is similar to real voodoo, but not exactly the same. The practitioners perform exorcisms, and Maura says their practices are consistent with Catholicism in the Cape Verde Islands and other West African nations.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Angela seems to be magnetized to these. First, there's the car dealership where she swapped out her old Buick for a lemon. Then we have her as a spokesperson for "Polynesian Anti-Aging Juice" (really 98% water and 2% non-harmful materials, according to Maura). She is effective as an advertiser, though. She sold two bottles to Korsak and one to a neighbor (however, said neighbor also fell for a Nigerian scam).
  • Hot Scientist: Maura to the nines.
  • Human Mail: In "A Shot in the Dark", Alice smuggles herself from Canada back into the USA inside a box.
  • Human Shield: See Cliffhanger above.
  • I Have Your Wife: Done by the villain in "My Own Worst Enemy".
  • I Know You're Watching Me: Hoyt, just before escaping from custody, looks up at the surveillance camera, and puts his palms up. He intends it as a message to Jane that he knows she's seeing it, and is daring her to come after him.
  • Impaled Palm: Jane still bears the scars from when The Surgeon literally pinned her hands to the ground. She gets her revenge later in the episode by putting a bullet into both of his hands at once, telling him, "We match."
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: In "There Be Ghosts", the first Victim of the Week is impaled on a length of rebar in a deserted hospital wing.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Jane helps a teenage witness survive while trapped in a warehouse with a hitman. She later loses the baby after the hitman hits her in the stomach with a pipe.
  • Informed Attribute: Jane describes herself as strong and athletic and Angie Harmon has a lithe, muscular frame. She may not look it at first glance, but the wiry kind counts.
  • Informed Self-Diagnosis: In "Dirty Little Secret'', Maura accurately diagnoses what is wrong with her injured leg and then talks Jane through what she has to do in order to relieve the pressure so she won't lose the leg.
  • Insufferable Genius: Maura's Google Mouth. She doesn't do it on purpose, but it drives Jane batty nonetheless.
  • Instant Drama, Just Add Tracheotomy: Maura performs an emergency tracheotomy on someone who is delivered to the morgue not quite dead in "This Is How A Heart Breaks".
  • Instant Humiliation Just Add Youtube: In "Somebody's Watching Me", Jane spills coffee on a woman in a coffee store. The incident is filmed, edited to make her appear a total bitch, and put on YouTube where it becomes a viral hit. The incident turns out to be a set-up to sue Jane and force her to sell her condo.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Maura reveals that her childhood wasn't exactly parties and ponies in "I'm Your Boogie Man." In her own words, "there was a lot of benign neglect" - her parents had their own lives to lead that frequently didn't involve the mundane details of parenthood, and they didn't much care what Maura did as long as she kept good grades. As a result, Maura buried herself in schoolwork, to the point that she gave them the brochures to send her away to boarding school. At ten years old.
  • Internal Affairs: In "What Doesn't Kill You", Internal Affairs investigates Jane in the aftermath of her shooting of Paddy Doyle. Her bending of the rules to protect Maura makes it look like she might have been in Doyle's pocket. Ultimately, Doyle's chief mole inside the police is revealed to be the head of Internal Affairs.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: A killer whispers a nursery rhyme while encasing a victim in plaster during the opening of "Melt My Heart to Stone".
  • Irrational Hatred: In the book, Jane has this towards beautiful women, because she herself is plain. It never occurs to her that these women have no control over how they look and even if they did, choosing to be attractive doesn't make someone a bad person.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Korsak’s ex-wife Melanie. Korsak raised her son as his own for ten years only for her to leave him and tell her son that Korsak abandoned them, while never letting Korsak speak to him. 5 years later she shows up out of nowhere and tries to manipulate Korsak into financing her yoga studio.
      • Later she calls him out on not accepting her calls when she needed him when her son got in trouble, despite the before mentioned abandonment.
    • Lydia doesn’t seem to show the least amount of remorse for sleeping with Tommy and his father at the same time, and then using Angela to help her with the pregnancy.
  • It Tastes Like Feet:
    • After drinking the coffee in the cafeteria, Jane tells Stanley he should take his dirty socks out of the coffee maker.
    • In "Love the Way You Lie", Frankie complains that a health drink tastes like "Sweat and rotten celery". Frost tells him to stop drinking it, and that he also should stop drinking his own sweat.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: In "What Doesn't Kill You", a Dirty Cop attempts to shoot Jane with a pistol that had been taken from evidence storage. It doesn't work because, knowing that someone was taking guns from the evidence, Jane had removed the firing pins from all the guns.
  • Jack the Ripoff: In "No One Mourns the Wicked" the killer recreates the M.O.s of previous serial killers.
  • Jerkass: Grant in spades. Was a Jerk with a Heart of Gold for Jane.
  • Jurisdiction Friction:
    • Averted for the most part. It's more prominent in "The Apprentice", where Jane does not appreciate the involvement of the FBI and Gabriel Dean in particular.
    • Some serious Jurisdiction Friction crops up in "You're Going To Miss Me When I'm Gone", when the NSA decides a homicide has national security implications and tries to stymie the team's investigation.
  • Karma Houdini
    • Season four, ep 3: Jane, her mother, and Maura conduct a plan to break up Lydia from her fiancé in order to stop her from taking TJ to a different city, where by all accounts he would have had a stable life. No regard is placed on the happiness of Lydia or her fiancé - who appears to be a perfectly decent guy - and no qualms are raised by anyone about the morality of their actions, not even from Maura. The episode ends with high-fives. However, it was shown the guy was lying to Lydia about wanting animals because he was allergic to Lydia's beloved dog, and his phrase "his own kids" seemed to imply he wouldn't see Tommy Jr as his own child after all.
    • The three girls in "All for One." Because of Massachusetts state law, they get away with running down their teacher when they all say that they were all the driver. However it sort of works both ways, since the teacher was a sexual predator who would trade grades for blowjobs and ruined their friend's life when she wouldn't comply, which wasn't the first time he'd done this. Now that he's dead, he can't be revealed and brought to justice, thus clearing the names of his previous victims. They don't show if anyone was willing to reveal this about him.
  • Killer Cop:
    • The series had a detective who killed a bunch of women with the same names as the original Boston Strangler victims. His purpose in so doing was to frame the person he believed was really the Boston Strangler. He had worked the original murder case and didn't believe that the person who confessed was really the killer.
    • Season four has a state trooper murder a student for trying to bust his drug trafficking at her college.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Serial Killer Charles Hoyt. Any episode in which he appears (even in flashback) is MUCH darker than usual. It doesn't help that Jane's still coping with her near murder at his hands.
  • Land Mine Goes "Click!": In "Bomb Voyage", Rizzoli, Isles and Korsak find themselves standing the middle of a field of improvised mines. While the bomb squad can extract Rizzoli and Isles relatively quickly, Korsak has trodden on the edge of a mine. Now he cannot move in case the mine shifts and goes off. The bomb squad eventually manage to get him out in one piece. The trope is justified by one of the bomb squad officers who explains that normally, the mine would go off directly when you step on it, but Korsak has somehow just shifted the mine enough that it will go off if he moves.
  • Laser Sight: The end-of-season cliffhanger for season 6 has the main characters leaving The Dirty Robber after Korsak's wedding. The dot of a laser sweeps across the group. The characters spot it, then the screen goes black and a shot rings out.
  • Letterbox Arson: In "Phoenix Rising", this how the killer starts the fire. This turns out to be Murder by Mistake as his actual target lived next door.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: Maura's leg gets badly injured after she and Jane are in a car accident in "Dirty Little Secret". Jane is then told that she'll have to cut Maura's leg open to reestablish blood flow and minimize clotting in a major artery. Jane doesn't want to risk further injuring or possibly killing her friend, but Maura informs her that she'll lose her leg for certain if she (Jane) doesn't at least try. Thankfully, Jane makes the life/limb-saving incision with no complications suffered.
  • Lighter and Softer: The books that the series is based on are much, much grimmer, as are the personalities of practically everyone.
    • Marriage and motherhood make Jane slightly less combative and abrasive as the series continues than she is in the first two books—as cited earlier, she goes from someone who doesn't like children to someone eagerly anticipating motherhood within the course of one conversation with her mother and is a loving mother from then on.
  • Like Brother and Sister: After Maura and Frankie kiss, they both agree they think of each other more like siblings than romantic partners.
  • Little Black Dress: Jane gets one in "Sympathy for the Devil". She is momentarily distracted by how good she looks in it when she sees herself in the mirror.
  • Living Doll Collector: The killer in "Welcome to the Dollhouse".
  • Lotsa People Try to Dun It: In "Sister Sister" the Victim of the Week is subject to two separate plans to poison her. The second poisoner was aware of the first attempt and deliberately timed theirs in hope that it would be masked by the first attempt.
  • Lovely Angels: This show has this in spades, drawing favorable comparisons to the doomed pilot Nikki & Nora.
  • Man in a Kilt: In "A Shot in the Dark", Kent arrives at Korsak and Kiki's wedding in Scottish formal wear, including a kilt. When his kilt twirls up while he is dancing, Maura starts making a comment about Scotsmen not wearing anything under their kilts. Jane interrupts her and looks away, with a slightly disgusted look. It's unclear whether she actually saw anything.
  • "Metaphor" Is My Middle Name: In "Two Shots: Move Forward", Korsak tells Jane to be careful. Jane replies "My middle name is Caution". Korsk's response is "I know your middle name. I wish it was Careful".
  • Mistaken for Gay: When Maura accompanied Jane to her high school reunion, several people assumed that they were a couple.
  • Mood Whiplash: The second episode of the first season has an oddly-uniformed Maura Isles running happily to first base when a body is dropped off an overpass onto the far side of the field.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: The Surgeon and his apprentice.
  • Morning Sickness: Played with in "A New Day". The scent of the morgue makes Jane nauseous because of her pregnancy. A few other things, including the smell of fish and kale, also make her feel ill.
  • Murder by Mistake:
    • The first victim in "Rebel Without a Pause" was hit by a ricochet of a shot intended for someone else.
    • In "Phoenix Rising", a killer set fire to the house next door of his intended victim because they had near identical vehicles parked in the drive. Two people died in the fire.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: "Partners in Crime" has a woman kill her husband because she was having an affair with her sister-in-law.
  • My Beloved Smother: Angela seems to be filling this role perfectly. She seems to show favoritism towards Frankie, Jr., when she blames Jane for her own basketball-related nose break, even though Frankie, Jr., admits it was his fault. Later, as Jane is holed up in her apartment during the hunt for the Surgeon and his apprentice, Angela makes an unannounced visit with the intent of staying the night. She gives Jane grief for being a cop, making Frankie, Jr., want to follow in her footsteps. This causes Jane to spend the rest of the night at Maura's. There was a set-up date with Grant in episode 3, which Angela engineered by telling Jane it was a dinner with family friends and Grant that it was a class reunion. So egregious, the two of them agree within minutes that the whole thing was a very, very bad idea. The welcome-home party in the season finale. Angela gives Jane and Frankie Jr. no end of grief about declining to attend the party she's thrown for their ne'er-do-well older brother Tommy, who is being released from prison. The whole thing backfires spectacularly and painfully; Tommy apparently decides to resume his profligate ways, while both Jane and Frankie Jr. are critically injured. Worse yet, while Angela is crying over Tommy, she has no idea what's happened to her other two children.
  • Naked People Are Funny: In "This Is How A Heart Breaks", Maura dates a sculptor who sculpts in the nude. The way the plot develops is less than funny, though.
  • Name and Name: The show is named after its two main characters.
  • Never My Fault: In "No One Mourns the Wicked", Doctor Victoria Nolan blames Korsak for 'making' her shoot her son when they were both trying to kill Korsak.
  • New Old Flame: Dr. Ian Faulkner, the never before mentioned love of Maura's life in the second season episode "My Own Worst Enemy." Ian is wanted for questioning by Interpol because he makes a habit of illegally smuggling much needed drugs into third world countries. Maura worked with him for two years in Ethiopia and loves him though she knows they can never be together. She helps him get drugs to smuggle to Africa and lets him leave at the end of the episode, but sheds a few tears over him.
  • Nitro Boost: In "Built for Speed", the Victim of the Week is a street racer who is killed when his nitrous tank is replaced with propane and detonated with a remote detonator.
  • Non-Idle Rich: While Rizzoli is working class, Isles comes from money and is clearly not hurting for any cash as seen from her wardrobe, apartment, and car. Referenced again in "Money For Nothing," when she casually comments that "most of my money is tied up in charitable endowments."
  • No Social Skills: It can appear as though Maura is a perfect example of this trope, but it's more her strict honesty policy and wide-ranging knowledge that doesn't include social interactions. Yet she is perfectly good at flirting and dating etiquette, not to mention being more empathetic than Jane. The street smart Rizzoli is always helping her in other areas, though she herself often lacks tact.
    Jane: Did you ever like the same boy as your best friend?
    Maura: No.
    Jane: Did you ever have a best friend?
    Maura: (beat) No.
    Jane: (laughing) You would tell me if you were a cyborg, wouldn't you?
    Maura: (thoughtfully) No, I don't think I would.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Does anyone on this show sound like they're from Boston? Particularly glaring with Angie Harmon's Texas drawl.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Maura for Jane.
  • Not My Driver: In "You're Going To Miss Me When I'm Gone", the Victim of the Week is murdered by a someone posing as their driver who stops the car on a deserted access road.
  • Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon: In "No More Drama in My Life", the Victim of the Week is an amateur actor killed when the killer packs ball bearings into the blank round being used in a prop gun during rehearsal.
  • Odd Couple: Yup, that would be the titular pair.
  • One-Hit Polykill: see Cliffhanger above.
  • Only Sane Woman: Jane qualifies, given how often the expression on her face resembles that of someone in the process of herding cats.
  • Oops! I Forgot I Was Married: In "For Richer or Poorer", Jane is puzzled when a man discovered unconscious at a murder scene has a photo of himself and Maura at a Las Vegas wedding chapel. Maura reveals that he was her college boyfriend and they got married in Vegas, before deciding the whole thing was a mistake and getting it annulled the next day. However, it turns out the lawyer handling the annulment suffered a stroke before he could submit the papers, so Maura is still legally married. At the end of the episode, she and her 'husband' get divorced.
  • Orgy of Evidence: In "Burden of Proof", Jane initially is convinced of the prosecutor's guilt. However, the sheer amount of evidence that turns up against him eventually convinces her that he is the victim of a very thorough frame-up. note 
  • Papa Wolf: Maura's biological father Paddy Doyle stabbed a rival mobster in the heart with an icepick to prevent him from killing Maura the way he'd already killed Doyle's son. On the dead man's chest was a blood-stained photo of Doyle holding Maura as a baby, pinned there with the icepick. Doyle's message: "Don't mess with my family." Doyle told Maura to call him with the murderer's name and he'd "send the man a message" but Maura couldn't do it, even if it meant she would be murdered. It's strongly implied that Jane Rizzoli's ex-partner Vince Korsak called Doyle to protect Maura.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: An odd one in "I Kissed A Girl". Maura explains her love of luxury items by saying that she buys the finer things in life as a tribute to human ingenuity and artistry that goes into making things like her finely knit cable sweater and her couture high heels. Truth in Television, many high-end and bespoke items are made with great care and hours upon hours of effort poured into them.
  • Pregnant Badass: Jane refuses to let her pregnancy keep her from doing her job. She is nearly shot pursing a suspect. Later, she actually gets shot by a sniper but it hits her bullet proof vest. Jane also saves a teenage girl from a hitman, but she later suffers a miscarriage after he hits her with a pipe.
    • In the books too. Jane continues working throughout her pregnancy, to the point where her water breaks as she's trying to subdue an unruly suspect in court. In true Jane style, she's reluctant to heed any advice about avoiding things that might be harmful to the baby—exposure to crime scene chemicals, etc, and takes polite and perfectly reasonable suggestions—"have a seat"—as sexist and patronizing.
  • Pretty Lech: Some of Maura's remarks can come across as this.
    Maura: (regarding "Mega" Vega, a baseball player) I'd like to "mega" him.
  • Prisoner's Dilemma: The episode "All For One" involves three suspects involved in a hit-and-run of a teacher at their high school. The three girls were all best friends along with another girl whom had attempted suicide after the teacher had pressured her into sex and then tried to get her expelled, leaving her in a coma. Since Massachusetts law only allows for the prosecution of the driver, the three suspects are interrogated separately to admit who was driving the car. Despite knowing they faced prison for murder, all three suspects claimed to be the driver to protect the other two when interrogated. This left the detectives unable to identify the driver and forced to let the girls go free, resulting in the three of them beating the Dilemma.
  • Product Placement:
    • Thanks to a sponsorship deal between MillerCoors and Turner Broadcasting, Rizzoli & Isles is sponsored by MGD 64. MGD 64 is Jane's drink of choice.
    • Hoyt is reading Tess Gerritsen's latest in the prison hospital. Gerritsen, of course, is the creator of the characters.
    • Dr. Scholls For Her has popped up quite egregiously in the most recent season.
    • Maura drinks coffee from a Dunkin' Donuts cup in Season 5.
  • Put on a Bus: Grant's job in Washington. Also possibly Agent Dean, as he got packed off to Afghanistan. The Bus Came Back at the end of season 2 for Dean, but due to the pickup of Billy Burke (Dean)'s NBC pilot Revolution he was Put on a Bus to Washington in 3x01.
  • Racist Grandma: From "Boston Strangler Redux". Rizzoli & Frost visit the elderly mother of a suspect.
    "Now why would a skinny greaseball, dyke detective be looking for my son? ... Holy Mother and all the saints! They sending us one of those affirmative action cops."
  • Race Lift: Detective Frost is white in the books, African-American in the TV series.
  • Raging Stiffie: In "This Is How A Heart Breaks", Maura realizes a 'corpse' is not dead when he gets an erection and she feels a pulse in his penis.
  • Rank Up: Jane's love interest 'Casey' Jones is a Lt. Col. in the US Army. After recovering from injury and returning to active duty, he is offered a promotion to Colonel. His decision to take the promotion and stay in the army is one of the reasons he and Jane break up.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil:
    • The serial killer Charles Hoyt liked to rape the female spouses of his male victims and make them watch before killing them both.
    • The two victims of "Born To Run" gang raped a 15-year-old girl which caused her to commit suicide. Jane has utter contempt for them and expresses that she is tempted to let the killer, who is the girl's sister, get her revenge by killing the third rapist whose connections allowed the men to avoid going to trial.
  • Rape Leads to Insanity: In "No One Mourns The Wicked", Dr. Victoria Nolan becomes a serial killer after being raped and getting pregnant by her own father. Mom and Dad were her first victims, and might have been excusable, given the situation. However, her body count rose, especially after she found her son, and started teaching him to become a serial killer as well.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: A tragic example, where Detective Frost had to be written to suddenly die off-screen in a car accident after the actor who played him, Lee Thompson Young, committed suicide. The funeral scene for the character becomes particularly hard to watch when you realize most of the actors are genuinely mourning.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: In the book, Jane wears nothing but pantsuits, to the point that her wedding "dress" is a white one. She's increasingly miserable as her pregnancy progresses and she has to start wearing dresses.
  • Recursive Canon: In one shot Hoyt is reading the latest Rizzoli and Isles novel, with its title clearly visible.
  • Retirony: Private First Class Abby Sherman is on the eve of becoming a civilian in "We Don't Need Another Hero" when she is killed by a car bomb.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Essentially the reason for the killings in "No One Mourns the Wicked"; Doctor Victoria Nolan is killing cops because she blames the system for never arresting her father for repeatedly raping and abusing her before she was fourteen, acting as though every cop would repeat that pattern and let her father's reputation define the investigation.
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: In "Love Taps", a woman ties her husband to a chair and soaks him in gasoline before attempting to immolate him by tossing a lit Zippo on him. Fortunately, Korsak manages to catch the lighter while it is in the air.
  • Right Behind Me: In "Doomsday", Jane is telling Frankie how she would make an excellent survivalist and would crawl over her own mother if it meant surviving. As soon as she realizes what she is saying, she says "She's right behind me, isn't she?". Sure enough, Angela is standing behind her.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: "Foot Loose" begins with a dismembered foot found at the beach, and references the British Columbia human foot discoveries directly. It then veers into a plot about alternative medicine fraud and a serial killer doctor that injects his victims with cyanide.
  • Rip Tailoring: In "Don't Hate the Player", Isles swaps clothes with Rizzoli so Rizzoli can meet a suspect at a fancy restaurant. When Rizzoli complains that the shoes are too tight, Isles uses a scalpel to cut the ends of the shoes off, turning them into peekaboo toes.
  • Rising Water, Rising Tension: In "Dirty Little Secret", Jane and Maura are trapped in a wrecked car that is slowly being submerged as the water rises around them.
  • Rival Turned Evil: Alice Sands, the Big Bad in season 6 (and part of season 7) attended the police academy with Jane. Alice was second in her class behind Jane, after having been the best at everything prior to then. This created her dangerous fixation on Jane. She dropped out of the academy and became a drug dealer. Years later she would return, determined to destroy Jane's life before killing her.
    • Potentially subverted as Jane never thought of Alice as a rival and all evidence suggests she didn't even actually know Alice before this storyline.
  • Rule of Perception: In "Rebel without a Pause", a laser beam -used to establish a bullet's trajectory- is visible in full daylight.
  • Running Gag:
    • Korsak loves to tell funny but disgusting stories (no confirmation on legitimacy) about the murders he's investigated to get Frost to puke.
    • Frost puking in general seems to be a Running Gag.
    • Rizzoli always asking "Is this from the good fridge or the dead people fridge?" before taking lunch from Isles.
    • Everyone misidentifying Bass as a "turtle." Tortoise! He's a tortoise!
    • Jane constantly tries to make Maura guess things, which the latter doesn't like to do.
    • Maura breaking out in hives whenever she tries to lie, or even withhold information.
  • Sarcasm Failure: On Maura. She knows the definition of sarcasm, but doesn't seem to actually pick up on it.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Maura turning her back on the high society scene to work as a medical examiner. When Jane calls her out on her privileged background, she demonstrates quite convincingly that she "has [their] backs," using her connections to obtain several vital clues to the murder.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: At least that's what one guy thought in "Born to Run." Almost a decade and a half ago, he and two of his friends gang raped and beat a fifteen-year old and recorded the entire thing on tape and got off without a blemish on their record because the guy's rich father bought off the prosecutor.
  • Secret Other Family: In "Family Matters", the Victim of the Week has wives in two different states. The wives team up in order to murder him.
  • Sensitivity Training: Jane discovers she is an "equal opportunity offender" because she offends everyone when she is finally forced to go to sensitivity training in the second season episode "Gone Daddy Gone." None of the cops take the sensitivity training seriously. Jane spends most of the episode trying to hide from the sensitivity training instructor; Vince Korsak wants her to go only because he stands to get something out of it if she does go and a cop who had previously gone to sensitivity training is overheard insulting a suspect.
  • Serial Killings, Specific Target:
    • In "Rebel Without a Pause", a sniper misses their shot at their target on their first attempt and kills someone else. They do another random shooting to make the police think this a series of random attacks before making another attempt on their original target.
    • In "Bite Out Of Crime", a sniper shoots a couple of random victims to cover the fact he is after one particular target.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: The morning after Rizzoli and Casey are reunited in "Partners in Crime", Rizzoli comes out to breakfast wearing nothing but a white business shirt and panties.
  • Shipper on Deck: A platonic example, Jane's coworkers seem to be this for her and Maura.
  • Ship Sinking: This interview has Sasha Alexander expressing a decidedly dim view of the idea of Jane and Maura being anything more than friends.
  • Ship Tease: At least once an episode between Jane and Maura, most prevalent in "I Kissed a Girl." It reaches new heights in Season 2 episode 3 "Sailor Man", with Jane and Maura pretending to be a couple to get rid of an... unpleasant suitor for Maura. It works.
  • Shoot the Hostage: By the hostage, namely Jane. Yeek.
  • Shout-Out: See the sub-page for a list.
  • Shower Scene: In "Class Action Satisfaction", Jane and Maura have to take a decontamination shower after being exposed to a potential pathogen.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Seems to be the type of relationship Jane and Grant have. They were at each others' throats since Catholic school, but harbored romantic feelings for many years.
  • Slash Fic: Go to FanFiction.Net, and you will see that almost every story is Jane/Maura. It's not hard to see why these two are constantly being shipped, with all the heavy-duty Les Yay and whatnot.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Played straight for Maura, and subverted for Tommy. And for Jane as well, pretending not knowing anything about chess when they were the one who taught Tommy how to play.
  • Sorry, I'm Gay: Maura doesn't know how to break up with a well-meaning but boring suitor, so she and Jane dial the Les Yay Up to Eleven and pretend to be lovers.
  • The Sociopath: Charles Hoyt.
  • The Spock: Very much Isles. Also nicely averts type casting, as "girly girl" Isles behaves nothing like "tomboy" Kate Todd.
  • Spock Speak: Isles frequently sounds like a walking copy of Stedman's. Good for at least one Expospeak Gag per episode.
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: Frankie is obsessed with spontaneous human combustion and keeps hoping that it will be the solution to one of the team's cases, despite Maura (and others) continually telling him there is no such thing. He thinks he has finally found it in "Dead Weight" when a cyclist seemingly explodes in the street, but there turns out to be another explanation: a bomb made from human fat.
  • Stage Mom: Two spectacular examples appear in "Don't Stop Dancing, Girl" where they become the prime suspects after the mother of rival dancer is murdered.
  • Staircase Tumble: The Victim of the Week in "Throwing Down The Gauntlet" is killed when she is shoved down a flight of stairs.
  • Stalker Shrine: In "Crazy for You", Dominick has an entire wall of creepy photoshopped pictures of Jane.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Jane Rizzoli played by the 5'9" former model Angie Harmon. It must be her gorgeous long bones...
  • Stealing from the Hotel: In the episode "Gone Daddy Gone", Angela returns from a trip to Atlantic City with a hotel robe, the contents of the minibar and a hairdryer.
  • "Strangers on a Train"-Plot Murder: Two angry spouses who wanted their significant others out of the picture trade murders. They show a remarkable degree of Genre Savvy, agreeing never to contact on phone or computer, leaving no traceable trail of their connection. They plotted together at an exclusive dog park where they walked their dogs. The identifiable dog hair left at a scene is what trips them up.
  • Suicide, Not Accident: In "Dangerous Curve Ahead", Frankie investigates a suspicious car accident only to discover the driver had deliberate run her car off the road; picking a point where the crash was guaranteed to kill her.
  • Suicide by Cop: In "Dangerous Curve Ahead", Alice Sands takes a teenager hostage at gunpoint, forcing Jane to shoot her in hopes that people will wonder whether it was in the line of duty or in cold blood.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: The person who murdered two men during the Massachusetts Marathon and almost gunned down a third in "Born to Run." This is because her older sister was gang-raped on tape fifteen years earlier by the "victims," who got off because the survivor's father bought off the prosecutor. The rape victim eventually committed suicide and her father suffered a fatal heart attack as a result of the stress.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Angela cannot text, apparently, because she sent Jane a message that said "Honey, I need a boner." She really wanted a loner. (Note that B is on the 2 button and L in on the 5 button, and 2 is right above 5 on most touchpads.)
  • Take That!: "This is not CSI: Boston, Jane!"
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Breifly between Jane and Maura in Season 3. They get better.
  • They Fight Crime!: One's a badass homicide detective with a dysfunctional family. One's a blue-blooded medical examiner with No Social Skills. They're Heterosexual Life-Partners. Together, They Fight Crime!
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: The titular leads, respectively.
  • Toyota Tripwire: Rizzoli's brother does this to a fleeing suspect in "Sailor Man", so he can keep to the Exact Words of his promise to Rizzoli that he would not leave the car.
  • Trapped in a Sinking Car: In "Dirty Little Secret", Jane and Maura are trapped in a wrecked car that is slowly being submerged as the water rises around them.
  • True Companions: In "All for One" three friends each give the exact same account for confronting their pedophile teacher, from how they set their phone to record, his actions, to deleting it later. They even each confess to be the one behind the wheel when the car struck him and killed him and the others were passengers. Because of this refusal to name anyone else behind the wheel besides the confessor, and Massachusetts State Law says only the driver can be prosecuted, there is no way to move beyond reasonable doubt. So the girls get away with it... although considering the nature of the victim, the team aren't exactly broken up about the inability to convict.
  • Tsundere: Should it happen again, it would be this trope... 2x07, "Crazy for You", Maura's rival Pike gets drunk and admits that he's loved Maura for years. When he's sober the next morning, he gets right back to his usual snarky, abrasive self, having completely forgotten the night before.
  • Turtle Power: Maura's pet, Bass. He's a tortoise!
  • The Unfair Sex: Angela’s and Frank’s divorce was shown to be mutual as they fought tooth and nail every time they were on screen together. Yet the show went out of its way to shift the blame entirely to Frank. He disappears for a season only to come back wanting an annulment so he can get married to a woman the same age as Tommy, only to then leave her when he finds out she is pregnant.
    • Strawman Has a Point in the later instance as he only dumped Lydia after finding out the baby might by his son's. Only for Lydia to instantly go looking for Angela for help.
    • Ultimate we find out that he cheated on his taxes and left Angela holding a $27,000 debt despite him being shown to be incredibly thrifty and understanding during his time on the show.
    • It came across more like he did his taxes and she expected him to do hers as well because she never signed the divorce papers.
    • They couldn’t even portray him having cancer sympathetically, as they suddenly had him be a verbally abusive drunk.
    • They even went so far as to eliminate one of the most heartwarming moments of the series. Back in season one Jane asked her father why he never pushed them to join the business. He replied that he knew they didn’t want to and it wasn’t his place to force them. However, it turns out Frankie. Jr couldn’t play baseball because his father worked him so hard he threw his arm out.
    • They even started insinuating that he was cheating on Angela by saying that Frankie. Jr had inherited his wondering eye.
  • Unknown Rival: In the sixth season, Jane finds herself being stalked by someone who sets fire to her apartment, sends threatening messages and arranges for Maura's abduction. It turns out to be Alice Sands, a former classmate of Jane's from the police academy who had long been used to coming in first thanks to her demanding father but ended up always behind Jane in training. When Jane graduated top of the class, Alice's father basically disowned her and her life went downhill, all of which she's blamed on Jane, who's amazed as she never even knew the woman in the academy and didn't know they were "competing". Even when Alice is arrested and goes on a rant about how she was stuck in Jane's shadow, Jane makes it clear that she doesn't even remember Alice from the academy, which does nothing to deter Alice's fixation.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension:
    • Ramping up between Rizzoli and Grant.
    • Many fans see it in the titular leads (there's a whole subpage about this).
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: One of the favorite things Rizzoli & Isles likes to do is take the story of an infamous real-life Boston criminal and give it a fictional twist. Both Albert DeSalvo (the Boston Strangler) and James J. Bulger (the leader of the Winter Hill Gang and, at the time of the episode's airing, an FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive) have been given this treatment. In fact, Maura's biological father is a Winter Hill enforcer and another enforcer killed her half-brother before Maura's father got to him.
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: Maura smuggles a vial of Hoyt's blood out of the prison in her bra. Nobody expects anyone to smuggle objects out of a prison most of the time.
  • Viking Funeral: Discussed Trope in "Stiffed". During an investigation into a murder at a funeral parlor, Korsac describes the custom to Jane, and she decides that is what she wants for her end-off.
  • Vomit Chain Reaction: Happens in "Dirty Little Secret", where Tommy's vomiting (after a floater is pulled out of the river) sets off Frost.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Det. Frost at the first crime scene in the pilot.
    Det. Crowe: Poor guy should've stayed in robbery. Hangnails make him gag. He gives us a bad name.
  • Vomiting Cop: Frost. He seems to be getting better about it, though.
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: Someone is delivered to the morgue not quite dead in "This Is How A Heart Breaks". Maura realizes he is alive when she feels a pulse in his penis. She saves his life by by performing an emergency tracheotomy.
  • Wax Museum Morgue: In "Melt My Heart to Stone", a body is found inside a statue that was accidentally broken. The killer had posed it to mimic an existing work of art and coated it with plaster.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Constantly. Sister Winifred, Riley, and Martinez all disappear with little to no explanation.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The main plot of the two-part episode "Burden Of Proof" & "Bridge To Tomorrow" is virtually identical to Presumed Innocent—an adulterous prosecutor's lover is murdered, all evidence points to him, only to have it turn out that he was framed by his angry wife. The first episode's even shares a title with the "Innocent's" follow-up novel.
  • Wicked Stepmother: The killer in "Sympathy for the Devil" is revealed as this; she murdered her stepson due to her anger over her husband not wanting to have children with her.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Maura
  • Will They or Won't They?: Between Jane and Maura. Word of God is that they won't, but many fans believe we have actually gotten to this point in the show (there's an entire subpage about this). Needless to say, the show would break away from the books' canon if they did, but it some feel become too great to ignore.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Even the detectives side with the killer in "Born to Run". Her victims raped her sister to suicide, gave her dad a fatal heart attack, and got away with everything via Screw the Rules, I Have Connections! / Screw the Rules, I Have Money! until she finally snapped and swore to subvert their Karma Houdini statuses herself.
  • You Need to Get Laid: What Frost says to Korsak when Korsak begins geeking out over a victim's sailboat.

Alternative Title(s): Rizzoli And Isles


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: