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A long time ago, we used to be friends...

Lamb: Before we go in there, you should probably know something about Veronica Mars. We need to be careful with this one. She's... slippery.
Morris: Sheriff, we have interrogated Al-Qaeda members at Gitmo. I think we can handle a teenage girl.
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Veronica Mars was an hour-long teen drama that ran for three seasons on UPN (later CW). The brainchild of novelist Rob Thomas and produced by Joel Silver, one of the producers of The Matrix, the series combined the Amateur Sleuth/Kid Detective with a healthy dose of Film Noir and class warfare.

The main character is, appropriately, high school junior Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell). She lives in the unincorporated town of Neptune, California, "a town without a middle class": the "09ers," from the prestigious (and fictional) 90909 zip code, are insanely spoiled children of insanely wealthy parents, while everyone else works for the 09ers, mostly as domestics at minimum wage (if that). Veronica, daughter of county sheriff Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni), was more of an honorary 09er: her best friend was Lovable Alpha Bitch Lilly Kane (Amanda Seyfried), her boyfriend was Lilly's equally-popular brother Duncan (Teddy Dunn), and she was also friendly with Lilly's boyfriend and Duncan's best friend, Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring), son of movie star Aaron Echolls. The Kanes are practically royalty in Neptune; Lilly and Duncan's father, Jake Kane, is a software billionaire, and the largest employer in town; when his company went public, their secretaries became millionaires. It may just be popularity by association, but Veronica's life is pretty good.

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Then it all comes apart. Duncan dumps Veronica so hard and so seemingly out of the blue, that she has no idea she's been dumped until Lilly tells her; days later, Lilly is found dead, her head bashed in. Veronica's father accuses Jake Kane of committing the crime, and the town reacts badly, holding an emergency recall election and replacing Keith with his deputy, Donald Lamb. Keith changes his profession to Private Detective, a trade both he and Veronica excel at. Veronica stands by her father through the bad publicity and ends up ousted from the popular clique. Most of her former friends turn on her, none more so than Logan, who becomes, in Veronica's words, a "psychotic jackass" to the world at large. Soon thereafter, Lamb apparently cracks the case, catching Abel Koontz, a former Kane Software employee... but Keith and Veronica don't buy it. Finally, Veronica crashes a classmate's party—largely to spite those shunning her—and ends up roofied and raped. When she attempts to report it, Sheriff Lamb accuses her of lying and throws her out of his office. And, to add insult to injury, her mother Lianne turns to booze and eventually vanishes, leaving Veronica a note saying she'll be back for her someday.

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Then, as the first episode actually begins, Veronica reluctantly befriends new transfer student Wallace Fennel (Percy Daggs III). She has by now transformed herself into a hard-boiled detective, helping Keith with stakeouts and taking pictures of unfaithful spouses, and meanwhile solving mysteries for classmates with the help of Wallace, Keith, and other allies including PCH biker gang leader Eli "Weevil" Navarro (Francis Capra), computer whiz Cindy "Mac" MacKenzie (Tina Majorino) and, occasionally, Duncan Kane, Logan Echolls and other 09ers. In the meanwhile, she pursues her own investigations: Who really killed Lilly Kane? Who was responsible for Veronica's rape? And what on earth is Lianne Mars up to?

The first two seasons were known for having a season-long Story Arc. The Driving Questions of Season One have just been covered. Season Two opens with a school bus crash that kills or injures several of Veronica's classmates, with the Marses suspecting foul play and attempting to unravel the complicated motivations behind it; additionally, Logan is implicated in the slaying of a PCHer, Felix Toombs, who was found dead after an altercation which left both Logan and Weevil unconscious. Season Three, where Veronica goes to Hearst College, deviated from the formula in an attempt to attract new viewers. The big mystery format was abandoned, in favor of two short arcs and a hand-full of stand-alone episodes. The show was canceled at the end of the season, going out on an awesome (and heart-breaking, but maddeningly inconclusive) two-part finale.

On March 13, 2013, a Kickstarter project was launched to help fund a concluding movie. The Kickstarter broke the record for fastest to reach a million dollars, in four hours and 24 minutes, and reached its $2 million funding goal less than 11 hours in. When the Kickstarter ended on April 12, $5,702,153 had been donated, and the previous record for most donations (87,000 people) was also broken with 91,585 fans sending in donations. As a result, Warner Bros. agreed to distribute and market the film, releasing it to theatres and for download on March 14, 2014 - a year and a day after the Kickstarter launched. Additionally, six months later a Web Video Spin-Off, Play It Again, Dick!, launched on CW Seed. It centers around Ryan Hansen's adventures in attempting to greenlight a Spin-Off of the show centered around his character Dick Casablancas and involves Hansen, Bell, Dohring, and others engaging in some unabashed Adam Westing.

In August 2018, it was announced that an eight-episode revival of the series had been ordered by Hulu, with Kristen Bell and most of the original cast set to return. The long-awaited fourth season finally arrived on Hulu in July 2019, preceded by the addition of the entire series (minus the movie) that same month.

Now has an episode guide, a character index and a page for the movie and follow-up novel series.


This show provides examples of:

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    Tropes A-D 
  • Aborted Arc:
    • The final third of season three was supposed to have been a mystery that heavily featured popular supporting cast member Mac.
    • "Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner" seems like it'll be the start of revealing some Hidden Depths for Lamb, possibly paving the way for some serious development, but the show quickly regresses him back to a one-dimensional jerk and never looks back. And for all we know, Grace is still in that closet at series' end.
  • Absurdly Divided School: Downplayed. The school, like the rest of Neptune, is divided heavily by social class, with the students of billionaires being favored in almost every circumstance. This was taken further with the school's "Pirate Point" program, which gave athletes and student council members privileges the others were not allowed to have, and when one student ran for president specifically to end this system, she gained a lot of supporters among the lower-class students but was opposed heavily by the richer students and most of the teaching staff.
  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: There's an episode centered around the corrupt antics of Neptune High's student council. The council, run by the school's wealthiest students, conceived a policy called "Pirate Points" to allow the councilmen and their cronies on the various sports and cheer teams to have take-out food delivered to the school for them to eat, while forcing the rest of the students, and those in clubs that were not liked by the jocks and student council, to eat the crappy cafeteria food. To keep a rabble-rousing ex-cheerleader from getting elected student council president on a platform of her abolishing the Pirate Point program, Alpha Bitch Madison Sinclair schemed to get popular student Duncan Kane elected president, under the logic that Duncan would keep the Pirate Point program going since he was too spaced out to care either way about how controversial the program was. In the end, after realizing the reform candidate was a narc for the local police and probably wouldn't carry out her vow to abolish the program, Veronica was forced to switch candidates and shamed Duncan (via pointing out how much of a hand-puppet he had become for Madison) into taking up the cause. Rather than abolish the system, he opts to reform it into a more egalitarian program, expanding it to include all clubs and teams at school as well as all students on the honor roll.
  • Abusive Parents: Too many to count:
    • Most notably Logan, who has a father who emotionally and physically abused him... and also slept with and then killed his girlfriend.
    • There's also the religious zealotry of the Mannings, who lock their seven year old daughter in a closet because she's "not ready to be tested."
    • There's also Big Dick Casablancas, who would have competitions with his oldest son to see who could make his youngest son cry.
    • Implied for Rodney and Gia Goodman's mother, but we still have no idea what she actually did. Played with about their father, Woody, who is a child molester, which leaves Gia in a Fate Worse than Death by the movie, but it's not made clear if he abused Rodney.
  • Action Dad:
    • Keith Mars, Veronica's private detective and formerly the town sheriff, goes berserk when first season's villain tries to burn Veronica alive.
    • The domineering, abusive and murderous Aaron Echolls seems oblivious that his daughter is being beaten up by her boyfriend, even appearing interested in starring in a movie he wants to pitch. However, at the start of what looked to be a pleasant dinner he administers one of the most comprehensive beatdowns ever seen on TV, before calmly concluding "I've decided I'm not interested in appearing in your movie." It would appear that the same protectiveness doesn't apply to Logan, though.
  • Affably Evil: Clyde Pickett from season 4 is a former bank robber who became Dick Casablancas Sr.'s fixer after they did time together in Chino Prison. He quickly becomes friends with Keith, despite him being a prime suspect in the bombings. It turns out he did pay Weevil's gang to commit petty crimes to drive down real estate prices, but he wasn't behind the bombings. Still, he and Keith part on reasonably amicable terms.
  • All Bikers Are Hells Angels - The PCHers. Although considering the dominant ethnicity of the PCHers, this is really more a case of All Bikers Are The Mongols.
  • All for Nothing: Many times, befitting the noir world.
    • Abel Koontz falsely confessed to Lilly's murder and was paid off by the Kanes who thought their son, Duncan, was guilty. As a result, he got millions, which he couldn't enjoy as he was in prison and dying of lung cancer. However, Veronica figures out that this was all to help his daughter, Amelia to live in wealth and luxury. By the time Veronica finds her, though, Amelia has been murdered by her boyfriend and literally Stuffed into the Fridge, so Koontz outlives her.
    • Veronica wastes her chance at the Kane Scholarship by walking out of her last final to see justice done for Lilly...which doesn't happen as Aaron gets away with it.
    • The Kanes, too, handsomely paid off Abel to confess to Lilly's murder, as they believed Duncan was guilty. He wasn't, which just led to her real killer going free for much longer.
  • Alliterative Name: Meg Manning, Cassidy Casablancas, Gia Goodman, Vincent Vanlowe. Cindy Sinclair and Madison Mackenzie, if they weren't switched at birth and kept the same name.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Veronica and Cassidy, with vastly different outcomes.
  • Anchored Ship: With Veronica and Duncan in season 1 (eventually they get back together and then break up for good) and later with Logan and Veronica, which ends with no definite resolution, mostly due to the show's cancellation. However, they are firmly this in Season 4, until Logan's death.
  • And Starring: "And Enrico Colantoni."
  • Anger Born of Worry: Both Veronica and Logan really dislike it when the other puts him- or herself in danger.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: The so-called "epic love" speech from "Look Who's Stalking" definitely fits, even if it isn't actually Logan's first declaration of love (which is shown in season 2 premiere flashback and isn't angsty at all).
  • Animal Wrongs Group: Subverted in a third-season episode. Veronica suspects a group of committing a crime, but finds out they're generally pretty good people. She also tricks a Ted Nugent Expy into wearing a shirt saying "Meat is Murder".
  • Anti-Villain: a few of the "bad guys" have sympathetic motives, such as Ryan in "Ahoy Mateys" (revenge for the death of the boy he loved) or Pete in "Weapons of Class Destruction" (revenge for years of bullying that put him in the hospital and turned his father against him).
  • Arc Welding: Arc Patching, if not Arc Welding, was done when the season 2 bus bombing storyline wrapped up. The perpetrator was revealed to also have raped Veronica at Shelly Pomroy's party, a storyline thought to be wrapped up in season 1 as being not rape, but semi-consensual sex between two people who had been independently, involuntarily roofied. This explained Veronica's chlamydia, despite her having only two (or, as The Reveal made plain, actually three) sexual partners and presumably using protection, the existence of which was used to paint Veronica as a slut and therefore untrustworthy in the trial of Aaron Echolls. The blatant illegality of delving into her medical records for some reason not resulting in a mistrial is another debate entirely.
  • Arc Words: Keith's Catchphrase, "Who's your daddy?", turns into this in Season 1 when Veronica suspects he's not her father. Luckily, he is.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • "Between here and Granger, you got rattlesnakes, coyote traps, scorpions, hippies doing mushrooms, all kinds of bad stuff."
    • Not to mention Lamb: "Well, well, what do we have here? An illegal gambling establishment. Underaged drinking. Public displays of affection. It's like Sodom and Gomorrah in here."
    • In "Weapons of Class Discussion", after Veronica figures out who is issuing the bomb threat, she confronts him over the phone.
    Veronica: "He was suspended for holding you down and letting a tarantula crawl across your face... and stealing your lunch money."
  • Artistic License – Law:
    • Many, many occasions - Veronica's cross-examination at the Lilly Kane murder trial being the most egregious. Most episodes have at least one.
    • On at least three occasions when the Dean died, when the bus driver died, and when the Coach died someone asks Veronica or Keith to prove a death ruled a suicide was in fact murder because their life insurance policy won't pay in the case of suicide. In California, life insurance policies are required by law to pay in full in the case of suicide if the policy has been in place for 2 or more years. Less than two years refunds all premiums.
  • Artistic License – Religion: In the third season, Piz starts ranting on his radio show about how even though he is a Catholic school boy, the concept of Purgatory completely baffles him. He then goes on to completely incorrectly explain it as the place for people not good enough for Heaven (a common misconception among non-Catholics and Catholics alike, so maybe this is Truth in Television?). Purgatory is the place of purification for souls on their way to Heaven in which the temporal effects of their sins are cleansed.
  • Ascended Extra: Oh, Dick Casablancas. He started off with one word in episode 2 - "Logan" - and his role just got bigger until he got a Promotion to Opening Titles for season 2. It was rumored that the only reason why the actor playing Dick got booted up to full-time cast member was due to the fact that the actor playing Dick's brother Cassidy was brought on full-time for season two, as the Big Bad and that having him in the title and not the actor playing his on-screen brother, would give away the season's twist ending).
  • Ass Shove: In one episode, Chip Diller was drugged and had an Easter egg stuck up his ass.
  • As You Know: Used in the season 2 finale, in which the Big Bad and Veronica take a 5 minute timeout before he tries to kill her, for them to confirm yes, she knows everything. Veronica Mars is smarter than me, so I was thankful and disbelief-suspending, for the explanation.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Aaron Echolls - no ax, all crazy. Examples: his eyes in the rearview mirror in the season 1 finale, locking Veronica in a fridge and trying to burn her alive because she had the tapes that proved he was having an affair with the underage girl he then murdered, frequently emotionally and physically abusing his son, and beating his daughter's boyfriend to a bloody pulp then cheerily asking Logan, "how was school?"
    • Logan Echolls has been shown to possess similar tendencies and was described as 'psychotic' in the first episode, during which he bashed in the headlights of Veronica's car because she had inadvertently caused his own to be taken away by getting him arrested. He is shown to have a short fuse throughout the series, although the show ended before he could properly follow in his father's footsteps.
  • Back Story: The series had a massive backstory that explained how Veronica, a formerly girly high school student, became a hard-boiled sardonic detective. Apparently all it takes is: 1) having the Sheriff be your father; 2) have your best friend murdered under mysterious circumstances; 3) have your father disgraced by the rich locals after he fails to close the case; 4) lose face with your peers because you stand by him; 5) go to a party with your peers only to get roofied and raped. The result? A jaded, cynical 17 year-old girl with an appetite for getting the truth—the perfect storytelling recipe for awesome.
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • Veronica, a straight-A Teen Genius, who is also not afraid of a fight and more than capable of masterminding a few revenge plots.
    • Who would have thought that Cassidy was capable of murdering at least 10 people, and probably more?
  • The Bad Guys Are Cops: Although Veronica's rape is a huge Break the Cutie moment for her, it's implied that her faith is really lost when Lamb laughs in her face when she tries to report it. The Neptune police are also famously corrupt.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: The River Stix.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • It's never explicitly confirmed, but it's pretty clear that in "My Mother, the Fiend", Vice Principal Clemmons manipulated Veronica into investigating a mystery for his own ends without her realizing it until it was all over.
    • Cassidy uses one, asking Veronica to investigate his step-mother for adultery, knowing that this will lead Veronica to discover his father's real estate scams, and reveal it to the world, which in turn will cause his father to flee the country, moving all of his father's money into his (and Dick's names) in trust funds. Then he asks his mother to move back in with them/take them with her, knowing this will make her decide to sign off on the trust funds to give him early access.
    • In the third season, Tim is a big fan of these. First, he frames Veronica for cheating on her essay, with the knowledge that she will clear her own name, but he left enough clues that she would discover their mentor's dirty secret in the process, hoping it would scare her away from him. Later, he kills the Dean, knowing that Veronica will investigate and find enough information to incriminate the Dean in the process.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Keith Mars got in serious trouble for doing this, since impersonating government officers is illegal. His daughter gets away with it on multiple occasions, however.
  • The Beard: Inverted trope in "Donut Run," in which it is vital to Veronica and Duncan's ploy that the FBI believe they have broken up.
  • Beard of Sorrow:
    • Duncan near the end of the first season. Unless he's actually entering the Beardness Protection Program — at the time that he grows it, he's both depressed and running away from home.
    • Logan grows one in the third season after Veronica breaks up with him.
  • Berserk Button: Yeah, trying to harm Veronica with Keith or Logan around is probably not the best idea.
    • Especially noticeable when Keith loses it at Aaron Echolls' lawyer in Season 2 for insinuating V is a liar and/or promiscuous.
    • Cassidy Casablancas hates being called "Beaver" and nearly always complains about it when he can. Even before it turns out he's completely insane.
  • Betty and Veronica: The show has a tendency to overlap love triangles, so that everyone is an Archie and everyone is a Betty or Veronica at certain points.
    • In season 2, Veronica is torn between Duncan (Betty, sort of) and Logan (Veronica). Duncan is also torn between Meg (Betty, Too Good for This Sinful Earth) and Veronica (Veronica). She and Logan become an Official Couple, while Duncan leaves with his and Meg's baby after her death.
    • In season 3, Veronica is torn between Piz (Betty) and Logan (Veronica). Logan also becomes the Archie between Veronica (the Veronica) and Parker (Betty).
    • There's an episode in season 1 called "Betty and Veronica"; however, the episode in question is not an actual example of the trope, although it does contain several Shout Outs to the trope-naming comics.
  • Big Bad: Seasons 1 and 2; different in that you don't find out who the Big Bad is until the finale. Aaron in season 1, and Cassidy in season 2.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Season 1 only had one Big Bad. Season 2 has...many.
    • Who killed Felix Toombs and framed Logan for it? Thumper on the Fitzpatricks' orders, but Thumper also repeatedly threatens Weevil and takes the gang from him.
      • The Fitzpatricks, however, are the Bigger Bad. An extremely violent Irish crime family who are working with Thumper to kill Felix and frame Logan.
    • The bus crash: Cassidy Casablancas is the actual answer, and given that he also raped Veronica before the start of the series, he qualifies in several different ways.
    • However, Cassidy is also a victim of Woody Goodman, the pedophile mayor who torpedoed incorporation and raped multiple children, including two of the bus crash victims. It's kind of a crowded season.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Keith Mars gets one at the end of season 1, literally walking through fire to rescue Veronica.
    • Wallace tackled Lucky in the high school cafeteria, because he was threatening and about to shoot Jackie. And he gets shot. With blanks. But still, nobody except Lucky knew that.
    • Logan's usual function after Season 1 with his Relationship Upgrade with Veronica. And if he doesn't get there in time for BDH, you better believe he'll get arrested just to beat the crap out of you in prison. Don't mess with his V.
    • Veronica gets one at the end of the first sub-arc of Season 3, rescuing the latest rape victim with a unicorn.
  • Big Damn Movie: Is a go!
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Several; the Kanes, the Echollses, the Casablancases, the Mannings...
    • Even the Mars family is not immune, although they are far better off than the aforementioned families in this regard. Still though, a father shunned by the community, a drunk mother who ran away, and a daughter who's almost disturbingly wise beyond her years can't quite be described as healthily functioning.
  • Bilingual Backfire: In season 4, Logan is recalled to active duty after serving as Congressman Maloof's personal bodyguard for a few weeks. As he says his goodbyes, Maloof's wife comments in Arab that she'll miss "seeing that young man's body around". Logan matches her comment by replying in Arab that he'll try to keep in shape.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Some of the things Veronica does are pretty gray morally (see: using Leo to steal evidence). Even the two most arguably moral characters in the show, her friend Wallace and her father Keith, do bad things; Wallace is in a car when it runs over a homeless person and never reports it doesn't report it until weeks later and Keith destroys evidence that would implicate his daughter and has an affair with a married client.
  • Black Best Friend:
    • Wallace. He gets his own story in season 2...which results in him leaving the show for several episodes...and is promptly written into the background of season 3, although he got a few storylines in Season 3.
    • Weevil might also count as a sassy latino associate, but he's got enough of his own motivations that he might count as independent of Veronica...except he needs her help frequently to get him out of jail. The show tried a little harder than most shows to make the minority best friend more three-dimensional.
  • Black Comedy Rape: "Community soap."
  • Blah Blah Blah: Quoth Wallace to Veronica, in one episode, "Course, you're not listening to a word I said. So I might as well have said, 'blah blah blah, blah, blahbity blah blah."
  • Bland-Name Product: Skist, the soft drink choice of Veronica.
  • Book-Ends:
    • A few elements bookend the first season. Keith Mars kinda skeeves out Veronica by saying "Who's your daddy?" ("I hate when you say that"). He also tells her, before going on a stakeout in the pilot, to take back-up (Backup is their pit bull); when Aaron Eckel's tries to steal his car for a get-away in the season finale, he's surprised by Backup in the back seat.
    • The second season begins and ends with Pietà Plagiarism, first with Veronica holding Logan, then Logan holding Veronica.
    • The pilot features Weevil beating up Logan and telling him to apologize until Veronica says she doesn't want his apology. This is mirrored in the series finale with Logan beating up Gory until Veronica makes a similar statement.
  • Born Detective: Veronica is practically the poster child. Raised by her sheriff-turned-PI dad, she was already running her own PI business in High School (it was well-known that the girls loos doubled as 'her office' during school hours). A lawyer-friend of the family would leave cases open on the desk she had at her father's office while he was with clients in case she decided to 'take a look'.
  • Break the Cutie: Parker. Veronica came pre-broken, Mac hardened after the events of season 2, and Dick is somewhere between this and Break the Haughty (goddamn Comedic Sociopathy).
  • Break the Haughty:
    • Jackie goes from being a spiteful, self-obsessed rich girl to a humble, empathic, and understanding person after she loses her social position once her dad is accused of the bus crash.
    • Dick, sort of.
    • Logan starts out as a Jerkass who torments Veronica whenever he gets a chance, and then nearly every tragedy that could possibly happen to him happens. He's probably the best example of a Jerkass Woobie on recent television.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Subverted. In the season 2 finale, Kendall just gets a several-million-dollar windfall as the result of Cassidy's suicide. She then walks into Keith's office with a briefcase and tries to offer him a job. When he refuses, she shows him the contents of the briefcase — which the audience doesn't get to see — and he agrees to take it. A few episodes into season 3, we learn that the briefcase actually contained a van Gogh painting, not cash.
  • Broken Bird: Veronica herself is the clearest example, but Cassidy is a villainous Rare Male Example, and Mac becomes one after Season 2.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: subverted. Duncan and Veronica are not siblings, although both thought they were at different points.
  • Bus Full of Innocents: The second season revolves around the Bus Full of Innocents crashing.
  • The Butler Did It: Or more accurately, the butler's son did it.
  • Butt-Monkey: With his mother committing suicide, his dad being an abusive jerk, being framed for murder twice, and a whole other things, man, does it suck being Logan. However, the person this applies most to is Cassidy. And it's not easy being Veronica, either.
  • California University - Hearst College.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Or woman. Given how common terrible parenting is in Neptune, it's not surprising this happens every once in a while:
    • In the season one finale, Veronica finally calls out on her mother about everything, the drinking, the abandonment... and kicks her out.
    • Logan gets a few of these; most notably the scene when he and his Dad are sharing a jail cell and Logan yells at him for Lilly's murder.
    • Trina calls out her BioDad in season 2, for, y'know, abandoning her at the prom of the school he taught at.
    • Dick gets a big one in season three, when he gives his dad hell for the way they treated Cassidy, and asks if it's their fault he's evil and dead.
    • Wallace sings out his with "Papa Was a Rolling Stone."
  • Camera Sniper: At least half the episodes have this, though that's unsurprising considering the character is a private eye.
  • Canada, Eh?: The girls are pressured to join a dorm-wide party where everyone decorates their rooms like a different country. They give a Take That! to the whole thing by picking Canada, with the country spirit consisting of a picture of a moose, saying "Eh," and playing Barenaked Ladies songs.
  • The Cartel: A Mexican cartel plays a role in the plot of season 4, when a nephew-by-marriage of the boss is killed in an explosion in Neptune, California. At the behest of his nagging ex-wife, he sends two sicarios into Neptune to track down and kill the bomber. It's also shown that Weevil's gang and the PCH'ers have ties to this cartel.
  • Casting Gag:
  • The Cast Showoff: Kristen Bell singing One Way or Another in "Clash of the Tritons".
  • Celebrity Paradox: In season 4, Vinnie Van Lowe likens teaming up with Mars Investigations to The Avengers. Ken Marino played Joseph Manfredi in Agent Carter.
  • Character Name Alias: It plays a similar name game with other notable fictional detectives. Keith Mars has memorably introduced himself as "Adrian Monk" and as "Carson Drew, and my daughter Nancy". Veronica, infiltrating a rival school, went by the name Betty, saying she was Horny, the mascot for the Rhinos, the team at her old school...Riverdale. On one occasion, Veronica went to a church group and pretended to be pregnant. Her chosen alias was Hester.
  • Character Title: Also prominently features the Mars family as opposed to putting the father in the background.
  • Chekhov's Gun: All the time but rarely ever in the same episode. If there's some brief mention of something out of the main line in an episode then it will be used one or two episodes later e.g. A deputy mentions he's a bouncer at a club, three episodes later he is used as an explanation as to how Veronica was able to quickly get into the club.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • "A Trip to the Dentist" features Veronica asking a bunch of previously one-off characters questions leading her to find out what happened the night she was raped.
    • Duncan in "Not Pictured". It seems like he was only there for a flashback but it turns out he had Clarence kill Aaron
  • The Chessmaster:
    • Veronica pulls off several of these to catch criminals. The plan she uses to allow Duncan to escape the USA with his child crosses into roulette territory.
    • There's also the epic scheming of Cassidy Casablancas. Not only did he kill a dozen people, keep any attention off him for months, manipulate and blackmail his way through the stock market, he's also the only person I can ever remember lying to Veronica's face and not having her suspect at all. And he's just 16. He's good dammit.
  • Christmas Carolers: Seen at a Christmas party.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Mallory Dent, in the opening credits as a main character for the first handful of episodes and then never seen again. Hand Waved into Put on a Bus some time later with a vague reference to the character being on maternity leave.
  • CIA Evil, FBI Good: Inasmuch as Veronica sought an internship with the FBI in Season 3 and in the planned fourth season, she would have become an FBI agent.
  • Cigarette Burns: While talking to his daughter's abusive boyfriend, Aaron Echolls shows him some scars on his hands. He recounts how his alcoholic and incredibly abusive father (something Aaron himself inherited) put out a cigarette on his hand when Aaron tried to stop his dad from beating his mother. He then gives the guy a better view.
    • Trina taunts Logan over his claims as a child that Aaron was "the big bad wolf... cigarette burns and broken noses..."
  • Clear My Name: Veronica spends a lot of her time doing this. Usually it's either her or Eli being accused, but other people get their turns occasionally.
  • Cliffhanger: Season One ends on several cliff hangers. Aaron Echolls has been arrested, but it's unclear how Veronica's relationship will be affected. The audience knows that Logan had an incident on the bridge where he contemplated suicide, although the characters don't.
  • Come to Gawk:
    • This is the subtext of the second season when a parent commits a crime, their children have to walk the walk of shame. In "Ain't No Magic Mountain High Enough", Jackie is volunteered to sit as target in the water balloon carnival booth, in a bikini, being pelted with cold water by people who hate her.
    • It's also a common occurrence for people to be stripped naked and duct-taped to the high school's flagpole.
  • Confessional: One second-season episode has Logan and Weevil trying to convince Veronica to bug a confessional, as they're convinced that the priest is involved with a drug ring. She refuses, but agrees — with reservations — to plant a camera with no mic, so they can see if any drugs are being handed off. note 
  • The Conspiracy: Season 3, and it's a big one. While there is an actual rapist running around, the whole head-shaving thing had nothing to do with him. That was a Wounded Gazelle Gambit set up by the local Straw Feminist group using the rapes as a cover and shaving girl's heads themselves to discredit the Greek system and get them thrown out.
  • Continuity Lockout: Why the network demanded season 3 have smaller arcs than the season-long ones of season 1 and 2. They made it too hard to attract new viewers.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • The solution to Veronica's rape. Initially, she and Duncan had only had drugged sex, which Veronica had no memory of the next morning. Except, nope, Cassidy's story about being encouraged by Dick to rape Veronica was true, and he actually went through with it, just a short while before Duncan found Veronica.
    • The fact that the Big Bad of Season 2, Beaver/Cassidy, was able to just happen upon Curly Moran being beat up by the PCHers who promptly got out of town.
  • Cool Loser:
    • The lead character is witty, attractive, fashionable and generally benevolent. Veronica's unpopularity is ostensibly due to her father's insistence that local hero Jake Kane was a murderer. It wasn't until later on, when she becomes more than a little infamous for her ability to figure things out, that she regained some respect — her 10-Minute Retirement at the beginning of the second season proves that. Once again, Buffy-style, at the end of the second season, she's given a minor ovation from her classmates as she accepts her diploma. In Veronica's case, it's arguably on purpose. She's pissed at them for essentially abandoning her when she needed her friends the most. The ones she eventually forgives are generally the ones who had their own issues regarding Lily's death (Logan and Duncan are pretty much the list). The theme song was well-chosen.
    • Wallace Fennel, Veronica's best friend is also an example of this. He's at best marginally popular, despite being the star on the basketball team, very nice, funny and dating the super hot daughter of a baseball legend. In Wallace's case, it's at least partly intentional. As he said, he'd rather hangout with the chick who cut him down when duct-taped to the flag pole than the people who just stood and laughed at him.
    • Mac is a brilliant hacker, funny, and charming, but seemed completely friendless before she and Veronica got to know each other.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • Jake Kane, to a point. He employs at least one professional assassin as his head of security, but otherwise he doesn't seem to be engaging in particularly cut-throat business practices and became a billionaire on merit.
    • Big Dick Casablancas eventually proves to be a clearer example. His entire real estate business was based on a scam, selling low-price properties at much higher values by virtue of a truckload of fraud and bribery. When it's exposed to the Feds, he immediately flees the country.
    • ...and he's still one years later in Season 4. He's behind the bombings just for the money, although he didn't plan for anyone to be killed.
  • Corruption of a Minor: In a third season episode, Veronica's client is a young man who was forced to join a militia in Africa at the age of six.
  • Country Matters: Oh, if only this wasn't network television, Kendall Casablancas would've gotten whupped:
    Veronica: Mrs. C! I trust you're well.
    Kendall: Why, if isn't little miss teen getaway. Your dad and I were just dealing with a little trouble.
    Veronica: Like, trouble, with a capital T, that rhymes with C, that stands for—
    Keith: Veronica!
    Veronica: I was gonna say cute.
  • Crapsack World: Neptune is a town divided into the rich section of town (the "09ers") and pretty much everyone else, as far as being a town where you are insanely rich or working low wage jobs for the incredibly rich. The town police is run by an evil jerk whose pettiness towards those who he doesn't like is matched only by his laziness, as well as filled with people who blindly support the wealthiest guy in town when he's accused of murdering his daughter. In addition, the county supervisor is a pedophile, the local business mogul is a Corrupt Corporate Executive, and the town's famous actor resident is an abusive psychopath and murderer.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Yet to people who don't live there, it probably just seems like any other Southern Californian town filled with Hollywood A-listers, pristine beaches, and millionaires.
  • Creepy Children Singing: Near the end of the second season, there's a closing-episode montage set to Alejandro Escovedo's "Falling Down Again", which features children singing in the chorus and laughing during the fade-out, playing in conjunction with the imagery of Thumper chained to a urinal, struggling while the stadium is being demolished.
  • Crime After Crime: Played with, or perhaps subverted in season one, in which the Kanes commit various counts of conspiracy (mislabeled in the show as obstruction of justice) in order to conceal that Duncan did not kill Lilly. Well, technically, they thought he killed her and that's why they covered it up. In their defense, they did find him in a position where he was covered in her blood.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Vinnie Van Lowe
  • Cult: A subversion of the usual stereotypes appears in the first season. Secrecy (sort of), organic diet, isolation, authority clash... and they're actually decent people, whose "secret crop" is Christmas poinsettia flowers. The kid VM "saves" is "deprogrammed" back into a jerk, though she learns about his real soft spots and he remembers her somewhat fondly from her time infiltrating the cult, making him a useful source of information in a later episode.
  • Cure Your Gays: One episode involved a high school boy whose parents sent him to a camp that was supposed to "de-gay" him.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Veronica (and later on Logan) have at least one scene where they degerenate into babytalk when around Backup.
  • Daddy's Girl:
  • Danger Takes A Back Seat: Well played, Aaron Echolls.
  • Date Rape:
    • Part of the backstory told in flashbacks. Veronica is roofied during a high school party end of her sophomore year and wakes up partially unclothed the next morning. She tries to report what happens and Sheriff Lamb calls her a slut and kicks her out of the station. Which explains why she hates him so much. At the end of season 1 she finds out she was drugged when Madison (who had just been drugged herself) spit in her drink. Duncan rescued her at first getting her to a safe room. Then he was drugged and put in the same room. Duncan in his state thought she had consented. Logan was the one that brought the drugs to the party. Then at the end of the 2nd seasons she find out that mass murderer Beaver had raped her that night. In season 3 she can't understand why Logan goes as far as he does to protect her as she investigates a serial rapist, who targets her but is scared off by Logan
    • The mystery in Season 3 runs off this perpetuated at Hearst College.
  • Dead Animal Warning: Subverted. After the bus crash at the start of season two, Keith investigates the wreckage of the bus to find a dead rat taped under one of the seats. Keith and Veronica initially conclude that the rat was a message to someone who was planning to rat out someone else. But later, Keith figures that the purpose of the rat was the stench forcing certain students off the bus to protect them.
  • A Deadly Affair: Aaron Echolls nearly becomes a victim when one of his mistresses becomes a Woman Scorned when he tries to ignore her and stabs him in public. However, he turns out to be a perpetrator of this as well, when he turns out to be the one who killed Lilly Kane to cover up his affair with her.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It would be a shorter list to name the characters with lines that weren't. Backup, Mandy, Inga. No, seriously. That's about it. Every other character on the show is a deadpan snarker or tries to be. And Backup is a dog. And several people are convinced that he can have a very sarcastic face when he wants to.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Veronica spends much of the first season conversing with her murdered best friend Lilly Kane. Duncan, Lilly's brother, also speaks with her. In the second season episode "I Am God" Veronica dreams she's speaking to the victims of a bus-crash.
  • Deceptive Legacy: One of the cases of the week the eponymous character receives is to track down a classmate's father. It turns out that his mother told him that his father was dead to hide the fact that his father has had a sex change.
  • Defiled Forever:
    • In the third season, Max doesn't care at first that Wendy (/Fiona/Sharon) is a prostitute, but once they start living together and people start talking about her past and trying to hire her as a stripper, he starts having more and more of a problem.
    • Beaver's freakout about anyone finding out that Woody is a child molester also has shades of this.
  • Derailing Love Interests:
    • Troy, Veronica's first boyfriend, got derailed big time. He was Put on a Bus then briefly returned only to reveal that he was dating someone else and committing drug trafficking, albeit not rape.
    • Meg, almost literally. After Duncan chose to be with Veronica, she's behaving like a massive jerk - admittedly with a good reason - then she gets blown up in the bus crash. Although she survives, she doesn't live much longer.
    • After Meg was derailed to make room for Duncan/Veronica, Duncan himself then got derailed later in Season 2. After he and Veronica decide to be together, Duncan learns that Meg is pregnant with his child, and then has to go on the run, literally never to see Veronica again, rather than face a custody battle with her abusive religious-freaks parents.
    • Logan got derailed to make room for Piz in Season 3 when he slept with Madison Sinclair, Veronica's worst enemy.
  • Determinator: A few characters potentially, but Veronica herself definitely fits the best. Let's list all the things that happen to her throughout the show: her boyfriend dumps her without notice, her best friend is murdered, she's rufied and raped, she's framed for cheating multiple times in an academic context (which is an efficient way to sabotage an academic career), she's locked in a burning fridge, attacked with her own tazer, and roughed up by an Irish mobster. That's not to count the relentless bullying an emotional isolation the rest of her school puts her through. And her response to all this? Find out who's responsible for [insert travesty] and make them pay.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?/Rule of Symbolism: Veronica stabbing a rapist with a porcelain unicorn.
  • Did You Just Have Sex?: In season two, immediately after Veronica sleeps with Duncan she bumps into Logan who says she looks different and asks if she's changed her hair. At home her father makes a similar comment and she wonders whether he's really such a good detective that he can tell she's had sex.
  • Discriminate and Switch:
    • When Veronica's Black Best Friend Wallace moves in with his new roommate, the roommate acts uncomfortable. He explains, "I specifically said I didn't want a roommate who was...uh, you know...better looking than me."
    • In an earlier episode, Veronica has implied that one of her teachers, Mr Woo, is gay, and he plays with this trope:
      When you get out into the real world you'll realize that not all well dressed, articulate, and organized men are gay. Some of them are just... (beat) Asian.
  • Disney Death:
    • The ending of the second season of has the season's Big Bad Cassidy detonating a remote bomb aboard a plane that presumably has Veronica's dad on it. However, it turns out that her father drove home and he wasn't on the plane.
    • Mac in that same episode. Looks like Cassidy might have killed her, but he didn't.
    • Also in the same episode: Cassidy's suicide isn't shown, we just hear the car alarm going off, which is also a Disney Villain Death.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul":
    • Cindy Mackenzie much prefers her nickname, Mac. Piz is never called by his first name (Stosh), and Dick is never called Richard, but Rule of Funny is probably in effect with the last one, because he doesn't seem to mind being called it.
    • Inverted by Mac's boyfriend, Cassidy. Everyone calls him by his Embarrassing Nickname, Beaver, when he wants to be known by his given name.
  • Double Entendre: We'd insert all the double entendres the show uses in here, but fun as it is we don't want to be doing this all day, and frankly it could be too long for the page to handle. Many of them are seriously Getting Crap Past the Radar—including a not-too-subtle Curse Cut Short involving Country Matters. You have to wonder if someone fell asleep on the job there.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male - Partially averted, partially played straight. Veronica bluntly points out that what the members of Lilith House did to Chip Diller was rape and he is clearly traumatised by it. On the other hand he is such an Asshole Victim that it is very difficult for the character to invoke sympathy. However, the female rapists are still portrayed more sympathetically than he is.
  • Downer Beginning: At the beginning of this show, Veronica's dad has been voted out of office, her alcoholic mom has abandoned them, and none of her former friends are speaking to her...and those are just the things that are actually shown in the first episode. If we count things that are talked about and then shown later, we also get Rape as Backstory and a murdered best friend.
  • Downer Ending: Oh, how to count the ways with the Season 3 finale. Veronica's father is under indictment because he destroyed evidence of her breaking-and-entering. His successor has a good chance of being Vinnie Van Lowe, a corrupt rival private investigator whose campaign was financed by the local crime syndicate. Veronica's dating Piz, a milquetoast whose incompatibility with Veronica becomes crystal clear when Dick Casablancas emails a video to everyone on campus of the two having sex, leading to Veronica vowing reprisals against the man responsible for creating the footage versus Piz wanting to ride out the crisis, much to Veronica's shock and horror. And when Logan does avenge Veronica's honor by publicly beating up the man who gave Dick the video to circulate, the guy vows revenge against Logan. And given that the guy's father is a hired killer for the Russian Mob, Logan's longstanding death wish just might be fulfilled.
  • Downtime Downgrade: Essentially happens with Logan and Veronica after season 1, would be an Offscreen Breakup if not for a brief flashback. Averted after season 2 - they don't break up after summer, they do it on screen... a few times.
  • Drama Bomb: The bus crash in the opening episode of the second season.
  • Dramatic Irony: The entire defense of Aaron Echolls is this since the audience is well aware of what was on those tapes and know how the confrontation that ensued between Veronica, Keith, and Aaron actually went down. To the audience, the fact that Aaron and his lawyer tell Blatant Lies and it works, makes the entire trial infuriating and Aaron's Karmic Death all the sweeter.
  • Dramatic Necklace Removal: Veronica wears her best friend Lily's necklace to a dorm-room casino when she's searching for Logan when everyone in the room is robbed, and the masked robber pulls it off her neck. When she finds the robber, she takes Lily's necklace back in like fashion from the robber's daughter.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • "Clash of the Tritons", Logan's mother having taken all she can from her cheating husband, abandons her car on a bridge and jumps to her death - apparently. Logan refuses to believe it, and they Never Found the Body.
    • A season and a half later, the Big Bad Cassidy Casablancas leaps to his death after having his crimes and Freudian Excuse (sexual abuse which he was trying desperately to keep secret) made public.
    • Logan in the season 1 finale, but unlike the previous 2 examples, he wasn't able to go through with it.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him:
    • Not only is Sheriff Lamb brutally killed off in the lamest of lame fashions, but afterwords EVERYONE forgets he exists, save for by a deputy newly re-appointed interim Sheriff Keith Mars promptly fires upon reassuming control over the department. You'd think that the violent murder of the sheriff would be a major thing that would hang over the department for quite some time, but no.
    • Logan in Season 4, too. He's happy on his wedding day. Until Veronica realizes that the Big Bad left one more bomb behind which explodes on Logan, killing him in the span of about two minutes.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?:
    • Veronica overcomes or utterly humiliates the Rich Bitch, Jerk Jock, or local idiot sheriff every single episode, but they're right back to acting completely dismissive of her the next day, often reaching the point of Bullying a Dragon. It's like they want her to dig up their deep personal secrets. Lampshaded by Veronica in the series finale:
    Veronica: After all these years, do you not instinctively fear me? Maybe you should write yourself a note.
    • Keith too, though he doesn't really overcome it completely. He defeated Aaron Echolls but still can't get much respect from the community, except in the early part of Season 2.
  • Dysfunction Junction

    Tropes E-G 
  • Eating Lunch Alone
    • Veronica, until Wallace sits with her in the first episode.
    • And whoever Veronica needs to talk to will also be conveniently doing this most of the time.
  • Economy Cast - Neptune contains exactly two private investigators (Keith Mars and Vinnie Van Lowe) and although the rich and powerful muster many lawyers, about the only one to appear in more than one episode is Mars family ally and Public Defender Cliff McCormack.
  • Egg Sitting: Veronica has to "raise" a baby-like doll with her boyfriend Duncan for a sex-ed class. It's not clear if they fail or succeed, but Veronica definitely isn't shown to be a reliable parent. Also, the doll serves as Foreshadowing for the reveal that Duncan's ex-girlfriend is pregnant.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Piz's first name is Stosh. Mac's first name is Cindy. Both use the first syllable of their last name instead.
  • Embarrassing Nickname:
    • Cassidy "Beaver" Casablancas. A nickname so loathed, protesting against it was one of the last things he did before killing himself. Presumably nicknamed as such because his father and older brother were both nicknamed Dick and liked to torment him.
    • The Principal's son, Vincent, is nicknamed Butters by his peers. And he isn't bitter about it at all.
  • Embarrassing Password:
    • Mayor Woody Goodman's password is stated to be Mr. Good Wood (without the period, of course).Considering this is only an episode before we learn he is a child molester, this is also a disturbing password
    • Veronica comments on how adorable it is that criminology TA and wannabe amateur sleuth Tim Foyle's password is Dick Tracy.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The series begins with Veronica's monologue while she's spying on a couple. The kind of character Veronica is becomes especially clear when she says "$40 an hour is cheap compared to the long-term financial security sordid photography can secure you...your offspring...your new lover." Cynical, jaded, witty, and sexy. Veronica in a nutshell.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Aaron Echolls physically abuses his son Logan, cheats on his wife, and murdered a teenage girl that he slept with after she threatened to tell on him, but he cares a great deal about his adopted daughter Trina. Enough to unleash a severe beating on her abusive boyfriend when he finds out what the guy did to her.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes:
    • Logan and Duncan both certainly have a type: Lilly, Veronica, Meg, Hannah, Parker...
    • In "Weapons of Class Destruction", Veronica investigates a guy who turns out to have a thing for blondes. She notes that at least she's his type.
  • Everyone Went to School Together:
    • Veronica's mother went to school with Love Interest Duncan's mother and father: explored in "My Mother, the Fiend" and a plot point in other episodes.
    • Veronica's teacher and Trina's mother. They all seemed to be in the same year.
    • And Trina's biological mother and Lianne, Veronica's mother.
  • Evil All Along: Cassidy starts by raping Veronica and then lying about it (which isn't revealed until later on), but he becomes truly evil in Season 2. He kills a bus full of his classmates, a witness who could turn him in, and 3 people on a plane. This wasn't revealed until the finale but yes he was evil.
  • Evolving Credits: Mrs. Dent disappears from the credits partway through season 1. Note that this was the only time the credits ever changed during a season; every other actor was credited for every episode even if they did not appear in those episodes. This includes a character who was Killed Off for Real mid-season.
  • Executive Meddling: A rare case where even the creator admits that the network's involvement was beneficial. The original script for the pilot had Veronica and Keith estranged at the end of the episode after Veronica discovers the postcards her mother has been sending hidden in his safe. The network gave Rob Thomas a note saying "Her best friend is dead. She's been raped. Her mom has deserted her. She's a pariah at school. You can't take her dad away, too." Thomas describes himself as "eternally grateful" for this intervention.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Flashbacks of Veronica during season one and Logan's stubble and unkempt appearance during his depression in "Postgame Mortem" due to his break-up with Veronica.
  • Expies: Most of the main characters seem to be this for Sherlock Holmes. The premise is largely the same, though the stories are very different.
    • Veronica=Sherlock
    • Wallace=Watson
    • Logan=Irene Adler
    • Cassidy=Moriarty
    • Keith=Mycroft
  • Face on a Milk Carton: Played straight in an episode where Veronica and her dad are investigating the "Mooncalf Collective", a hippie group near their town. After returning home, VM pours herself a glass of milk and recognizes a teen she met at the Collective, giving her dad the evidence he needs to bring the authorities into the matter (The story takes place ~2005, making it an anachronism).
  • Fake Guest Star: The series always had an interesting relationship with leads v. guest stars. The actor portraying Ms Dent was listed as main cast in Season 1, despite only appearing for a handful of scenes over four episodes (and disappearing from the credits, though not promotional materials, after seven). In Seasons 2 and 3, new one-season-arc characters Jackie, Piz and Parker were promoted to leads above some recurring co-stars who played equally significant roles in all three seasons. Season 1 recurring characters Dick and Cassidy were promoted to lead cast in Season 2, though it's rumoured that Dick was only promoted to disguise the fact that Cassidy's promotion was due to him being the Big Bad of the season, as his role didn't really expand until Season 3. Meanwhile in all this, Tina Majorino as "Mac" appeared in at least as many or more episodes than Dick, Cassidy and Jackie, played a more significant role in the main plot than two of the three, yet wasn't promoted to lead credits until Season 3, along with Michael Muhney as Don Lamb, another actor who'd been with the show since the first season.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: After Lianne walks off with Veronica's $50,000 bounty, the latter temps as a barista.
  • False Confession: This is a major part in the Lily Kane murder mystery in the first season: Disgruntled former Kane Software employee Abel Koontz confesses to the murder of Lily Kane, but in reality the Kanes agreed to pay for his daughter's future so that he would take the fall (He's dying from a disease, so he doesn't particularly care what happens to him), because they believe that their son Duncan killed Lily in an epileptic fit. Because of his confession, Sheriff Lamb ends the investigation, saying they found the killer, causing Veronica and her disgraced-Sheriff-now-PI father to investigate it themselves.
  • Family Business: Albeit unofficially, Keith Mars's private eye business, which he runs with his daughter Veronica.
  • Femme Fatale:
    • In the third season, Hearst College Dean's wife Mindy O'Dell.
    • Kendall Casablancas sometimes fills this role in the second season.
    • Additionally, since Veronica Mars is basically Film Noir with the genders flipped, Logan Echolls and Dick Casablancas often fit this role as well, the former especially in season one.
  • Fidelity Test: Veronica plays a Fille Fatale to find out whether the jealous client's fiancee is cheating. He isn't, but it doesn't end well for them anyway.
  • Film Noir: The show somehow effectively used this style in a San Diego high school setting. And gender swapped.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: The series tended to reveal its season-long villains in this manner.
  • Flashbacks a-go-go
  • Foe Cooties: Veronica can barely look at Logan on learning he slept with Madison Sinclair, let alone date him.
  • Forced Out of the Closet: Veronica investigates blackmail letters that certain students have been receiving, including one girl whose gay status would be revealed if she did not pay up. When Veronica figures things out, she discovers that the perp was a gay student who just wanted to out her girlfriend so they could be together in public.
  • Freudian Excuse:Does this with several characters:
    • Logan isn't exactly a villain, but he does have a home life worthy of one: his famous father sleeps around and is physically abusive, his mother commits suicide, and his sister is an emotionally void, aspiring (and failing) actress whose primary motivation in life is to improve her career without working at all.
    • For that matter, Logan's father—a murderer himself—claims that it was his father's abuse which made him who he is.
    • Even more blatantly, Cassidy Casablancas is a psychotic mass-murdering teenager due largely to the physical and emotional abuse of his father and older brother.
    • The show also has a Lampshade Hanging. In the first-season episode "Drinking the Kool-Aid," a boy joins a cult, and his rich parents ask Mr. Mars why he'd go when he was provided for. Mr. Mars says that it's often rich kids who leave, and the boy's father sighs (paraphrasing): "Yes, I know what you're thinking. Spoiled rich kid, no material need denied, no spiritual need fulfilled. That's not us."
    • Subverted Trope by Meg, whose parents are crazy fundies, but is still a very nice person.
    • In the same episodes where we find out about Meg's parents, Sheriff Lamb also indicates his dad abused him, and combines it with a Pet the Dog moment.
  • From Bad to Worse: The pilot episode embodies this trope as Veronica lays out her backstory. In the space of a few months, her boyfriend dumped her, her best friend got murdered, her mother left the family, she became a social pariah in her school, her father got recalled from his job as sheriff, and then, just to top things off, she got drugged and raped by someone at a party. And this is all before the show even started.
  • Fundraiser Carnival: Neptune High had a Winter Carnival to raise money for the senior trip. Justified in that it's a very affluent school district.
  • Fur and Loathing: Veronica wears a coat with a faux-fur collar while talking to some animal rights activists, realizes it, and takes it off. One of them sneaks behind her and moves to chop the collar off; Veronica catches her, shrieking "It's fake!" (This is probably important to actress Kristen Bell, who is herself one of the sane-ish kinds of animal rights activists.)
  • Gambit Roulette: The whole deal with kidnapping Duncan's daughter, Cassidy's far-reaching scheme, and the season three plotline where a teacher's assistant kills the head of the college in order to destroy the life of one of the professors at the college, as payback for him giving a bad reference for the assistant where he basically slagged him and cost him a teaching job at another college.
  • Gang of Hats: The PCH Bike Club are all Latino bikers from the wrong side of the tracks, all high schoolers (or at least high school age).
  • Gender-Inverted Trope: Wallace is a male Girl Friday, and Logan often acts as a male Femme Fatale.
  • George Jetson Job Security - The journalism teacher seems to be Neptune High's equivalent of Defense Against the Dark Arts. Ironically, Ms. Dent was originally planned to be a major character, going by her inclusion in the opening titles.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar - Watch just about any episode.
    • It still boggles the mind how this exchange got on network television.
      Weevil: If you're lookin' for my trophy, it's back by auto shop.
      Veronica: Lube job? Or....can you get a medal for stealing hubcaps?
      Weevil: Is this 1970? Rims, baby.
      Veronica: So you got a trophy for a rim job?
      Weevil: Forget it. Look, I got some information for you.
      Veronica: Finally, a Deep Throat to call my own!
      Weevil: I'm not even going to touch that one.
    • The high school principal's last name is Moorehead. Make of that what you will.
    • Corny offers up some, uh, special baked goods. "The secret? It's all in the butter."
    • Dick Casablancas's less-"masculine" younger brother is Beaver.
    • Likewise, Woody Goodman. Whose creepy-as-hell computer password is "mr. good wood". *shudder*
    • An obscene gesture known as "The Shocker" was shown twice.
    • In another scene a girl is wearing a "I Heart Dick" shirt. It's talking about the character—when the camera pans down, it reveals that the full text is "I Heart Dick Casablancas"—but still.
    • Kendall: Oh, quit standing there so smug. Tomorrow you're just gonna call me at two in the morning saying you want some company. For your information, that really doesn't satisfy me, Logan.
      Logan: Really? You always come.
    • See Country Matters above for a Curse Cut Short that the radar most likely didn't catch.
  • Going by the Matchbook: In a flashback, we see that Lily has quite a collection of matchbooks with Hispanic names and phone numbers written on them. Of course, she's never been to the bars or met the guys, she just left them around the house for her mother to find....
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Unusual "bad adultery" from a protagonist. Keith, Veronica's dad, begins an affair with a married woman (he himself is married to an alcoholic who fled, stealing $50,000 from him). Veronica is crushed, and confronts him. She calls him on his hypocrisy when all of his excuses are exactly what every guy they've caught in their Private Eye business says. He breaks it off.
  • Goodbye, Cruel World!: In a third season episode, Veronica is given a Criminology assignment of planning 'the perfect murder'. She suggests faking a suicide note from the victim, using a generic phrase such as "Goodbye cruel world", typed on a computer so the note can't be analysed. Shortly afterwards, the dean of the college is murdered in exactly this way.
  • Good Parents: Averted with most parents on the show, who range from neglectful to downright abusive, but Veronica's father Keith stands out as one of the greatest dads in television, making her a Daddy's Girl. He lets her help him in his P.I. business all she wants is always supportive when she's down, puts his own personal life on hold when he finds a new paramour because she's still not over her mother Lianne abandoning them, and will destroy anyone who even considers hurting his little girl.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Pretty much everybody is shown having very enjoyable sex, except Cassidy with Mac, where he has erectile dysfunction. Guess who's the villain of season 2? Justified because Cassidy's inability to have sex with Mac is actually a clue that he was raped as a child, which is how he is connected to the bus crash. Averted with Duncan and Veronica, whose sex is "fine" at best.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Though a number of characters die throughout the series, it's usually not seen onscreen; instead, someone walks in on either the body or, on two occasions, on the murderer firing gunshots at an offscreen target.
  • Got Volunteered: Logan volunteers his father to donate money to a soup kitchen. He does so publicly enough and with grand enough reception that his father can't back out without looking like an ass. However, behind closed doors Aaron brutally beats Logan in response.
  • The Gwen Stacy: Meg for Veronica and Duncan, also Kendall for Keith (oddly enough)

    Tropes H-M 
  • Half-Arc Season: Two ways. Its first two seasons, though technically full arc seasons, had a lot of Mystery Of The Week with little or no movement on the season-arc story. Its third season had two distinct shorter arcs, one six episodes long, with beginning, middle, and end; and the second nine episodes long. The last five episodes of the season are standalone (excepting the last two episodes, which were aired together). The advantage, in a show like VM, is that some of the Mysteries of the Week can actually be key revelations in the arc, but this fact is not obvious until the end of the episode.
  • Head-in-the-Sand Management: Apart from her father, the closest anyone comes to a Reasonable Authority Figure is Vice Principal (later Principal) Clemmons. Everyone else is a complete ass.
  • Heel–Face Turn: This includes Weevil, Logan, and Dick.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: Veronica and Keith have their pitbull Backup, and in Season 4, Veronica and Logan have a dog called Pony.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Veronica and Keith become this, due to the horrific monsters they deal with over the course of the show's three seasons.
  • Hollywood, California: Neptune, California is represented by San Diego. More properly, Oceanside, a middle-sized city just north of San Diego, just without copious numbers of US Marines, since the real life Oceanside is just south of Camp Pendleton, one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the world. Oddly enough, the show was filmed in the suburb Chula Vista at Hilltop High School. However, Oceanside High School was used for exterior shots, so there's definitely plenty of evidence for faux-Oceanside.
  • Hollywood Game Design: There was an episode where two geeks make a world-class video game in their dorm room, all by themselves.
  • Hollywood Law: The Lily Kane trial was wallbangingly full of this.
    • When Duncan Kane had to kidnap his daughter? Not a chance in HELL the grandparents could have gotten custody away from the biological father, even if he hadn't been from a gazillionaire family - well, maybe a CHANCE, as 2/3 of the remaining gazillionaire family members had been investigated and/or tried for interference in the murder investigation of their daughter, because they believed their son, the father, was guilty due to a medical condition which causes uncontrollable, unpredictable and violent blackouts. Also, the mother was also from a gazillionaire family and big in their church.
    • The trial of Aaron Echolls at the end of season 2 had the defense attorney asking about Veronica's sexual history and confidential medical info, then directly introduce hearsay from an absent third party (directly, as in the lawyer himself told the jury that the absent person had said X).
      • Reality Is Unrealistic. California evidence law was the first to be codified and differs in several ways from most states, especially when Proposition 8 in 1980 made a lot more fair game. If Veronica Mars's sexual history was relevant, even just to show bias, it would be allowable so long as not to prove consent to a rape. Hearsay from an absent third party may also be used on cross-examination to a witness, provided it meets certain qualifications. However that's usually a stupid idea as attacking character of a witness allows the defendant's character to be attacked. But bringing in Veronica's medical records should've brought a mistrial and sanctions (if not disbarment) against Aaron Echolls' lawyer, as those are wholly confidential.
    • Speaking of Aaron Echolls' trial, it's not said why he wasn't charged, say, with kidnapping Veronica, assaulting Keith, and trying to kill them both by setting some guy's house on fire. Did the local prosecutors just forget about HOW the police arrested Aaron in the first place? Even a competent forensic investigation at all would have blown huge holes in the story he gave to the police (that he got into Veronica's car with her permission, she crashed, and they walked to the guy's house and called for help, after which Keith arrived and attacked him unprovoked. The homeowner, the only uninvolved witness, "mysteriously disappeared" (read: was killed) before the trial), like, if Keith attacked unprovoked why are Aaron's fingerprints all over the gas can which started the fire? Why was there a fire in the first place? And it is somewhat unlikely that Veronica would have climbed inside and locked herself into an old refrigerator, and set it on fire. There would certainly be hair and blood inside the fridge from Veronica. There are a lot more things than that too.
  • Horror Hippies: Subverted. When she and Keith need to investigate a Cult-like group a boy from her school got involved with, they learn that the group is populated with animal loving, hard working, peace loving hippie types who are inspiring the boy to be a better person than the Jerkass he was before. Veronica and Keith expect that they have a darker side and it was played very dramatically when Veronica ended up hanging out with them herself, but this isn't the case; the group really is as genuinely kind as they seem, and any danger they presented was all imaginary.
  • How Unscientific!: In the episode "Normal Is the Watchword" our titular heroine is saved by a hallucination of (or possibly the actual spirit of) her dead best friend Lilly. Lilly had appeared frequently the previous season (as Veronica tried to solve her murder), but it had certainly been implied she was not a literal ghost, just Veronica's way of working through her emotions and thoughts. At least until "Normal Is the Watchword", when Lilly's sudden and unexplained appearance distracted her friend from getting on a doomed bus. It is later implied that Veronica may be suffering from a neurological condition brought on by various traumas.
  • I Am What I Am: Invoked word for word by Veronica when people call her out for her nosiness and vindictive nature.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Veronica gives a Gender Flipped version of the speech to Jackie:
    "If you think I am gonna let you break Wallace's heart for sport, you have grossly underestimated my wrath."
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: Subverted amusingly in one episode. Veronica actually tries to do this when she thinks she has found an Animal Wrongs Group by advocating outright terroristic tactics, but it doesn't work out because the activists are the sensible, law-abiding sort who don't believe in extreme methods.
  • I Love the Smell of X in the Morning:
    Veronica: I love the smell of testosterone in the morning.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug:
    • Pretty much everything. Sometimes this is played with, though—when Veronica is dealing with particularly savvy characters, she plants two bugs, an obvious one that they find right away and a more inconspicuous one that they don't bother looking for because they think they've already found the bug.
    • Then there was the time in season 2 when the incredibly obvious bug Veronica planted in Sheriff Lamb's office was... an actual bug.
  • I Never: An episode in the first season had flashbacks featuring the main character and her former friends ditching going to homecoming and drinking champagne in a limo while playing "I Never."
  • The Ingenue - Hannah Griffith.
  • In the Blood
    • A rather sedate example - Cindy Mackenzie, who was Switched at Birth, seems to have inherited every one of her personality traits from her biological parents, and exactly none from the people who raised her for her entire life. The same goes for the girl she was switched with.
    • A more overt example is the implication that the men in the Echolls family are inherently violent and sadistic, which (according to Veronica) is a major source of worry for Logan as far as him continuing the circle of violence with any children he might have.
    • Veronica considers this with leads for the serial rapist in season three: "Dick, a rapist? Two in the same household?" He's not, by the way.
    • An overarching example in the series is Veronica, the Born Detective, born of Keith...a detective.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    Veronica: Dad, your hooker's here.
    Keith: Escort, honey.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: An episode has an (adult) hacker's relationship with a student (minor) at the school revealed by Veronica and her camera as a blackmail scheme. She even says "There's something seedy in being the interruptus in somebody else's coitus."
  • Intrepid Reporter: Veronica Mars is called exactly this from 1.14.
  • Invisible President: In the season 1 finale, the Kane family throws a party where the Governor of California is a guest. Based on the episode's air date and a few chance remarks, it's pretty clear that the governor is intended to be Arnold Schwarzenegger, but his name is never mentioned and he never appears onscreen.
  • Involuntary Charity Donation: Logan tells a news crew that his father Aaron will be donating five percent (or less - we're never told his income exactly) of his next paycheck to a homeless shelter. His father severely beats him for this.
  • Ironic Echo: In Season 2 Veronica mentions Nick and Jessica's breakup. In Season 3 "What's Left of Me" Nick's song about said breakup is playing on a radio.
  • Ironic Nickname:
    • Lucky the Janitor's life has been profoundly unlucky. He was molested by Woody Goodman, he grew up as a Jaded Washout, he becomes a janitor, and then has a total breakdown when Woody's star rises, and he goes on a school shooting and gets killed.
    • Also, when Veronica jokingly says "easygoing Veronica Mars, that's what the kids at school call me", Keith provides the page quote.
    Keith: You know how fat men are sometimes called 'Tiny'?
  • It's All My Fault:
    • Veronica after the bus crash and Parker's rape.
    • Dick, of all people, after Cassidy's death.
  • It's for a Book:
    • Veronica used "it's an assignment for health class" (or some variant thereof) to cover all kinds of activities, including collecting a DNA sample from her dad. Somewhat justified in that she's a good actress and usually plans out her requests beforehand instead of making them up on the spot.
    • The series actually inverts it in the third season. The final assignment from Veronica's former FBI agent criminology professor? A paper on how you'd commit the perfect murder. When the Dean ends up dead in a manner that copies elements from Veronica's paper, she is seriously wigged.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies:
    • Except Veronica breaks up with Logan because she doesn't want to deal with his enemies.
    • Duncan and Veronica's relationship after much Will They Wont They, eventually concluded when Veronica helped Duncan to kidnap his and Meg's baby, so he could take her to Australia rather than risk her falling into the hands of Meg's abusive, religious extremist parents, bringing Duncan and Veronica's relationship to a definite end.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: In a rather gruesome scene in season 2 of Veronica Mars, Weevil has Logan kidnapped. Two PCH bikers proceed to play Russian Roulette with Logan's hands and knees until he tells them whether or not he killed Felix Toombs.
  • Jerkass: Logan, Dick Casablancas, Don Lamb - and pretty much every adult male in Neptune, especially when they are rich.
  • Jerk Jock:
    • Logan in his early appearances before Character Development hit in. Ostracizing Veronica, wrecking her car with a baseball bat, organizing bum fights...
    • The series notably averts this in one episode where a girl cheats on her football playing boyfriend with an artist. The "star athlete" turns out to be genuinely decent and caring, the artist... not so much.
    • Also averted by Wallace, the star basketball player who is, with the possible exception of Meg (Alpha Bitch aversion cheerleader popular girl who is the nicest person around), the best person in the entire series.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Dick Casablancas is responsible for Veronica's rape, as he encouraged his brother to rape Veronica, yet the characters don't seem to care and the writers seem to have forgotten about it.
    • In a second season episode, a lesbian cheerleader poses as a blackmailer preying on Neptune High's gay students with the end goal of outing her girlfriend, who wanted to stay in the closet. It goes off pretty much as planned, with no negative consequences for the cheerleader at all. It is implied that the cheerleader's girlfriend will be told, and not be happy about it.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty:
    • Kind of with Dick. He never faced consequences for anything he actually did wrong but, years after Cassidy raped Veronica at least partly thanks to Dick, Dick did end up genuinely distraught and in serious pain after Cassidy's suicide. Whether or not that was enough was very divisive.
    • Veronica got away with a lot of illegal stuff throughout three seasons. She broke in places, abused her dad's authority, and endangered his position. Until the end of Season 3, when she broke into The Castle and the series concluded (for a decade, anyway) with the extreme Downer Ending that Veronica was going to face consequences, her dad was going to lose his position, and she was in serious legal trouble. (Although this is ultimately a dropped thread in Season 4 and the books.)
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Celeste treated Lilly coldly and rudely, but she's also extremely rude to Veronica and is a constant thorn in both Keith and Veronica's side, which gets even worse after Season 1, once Veronica and Keith have unmasked her daughter's killer.
    • As if it isn't enough that he drugged Veronica, Dick encouraged Cassidy to rape her by telling him that "you don't know where she's been." As if it isn't enough that Cassidy raped Veronica and gave her an STD, he got it from being molested. His constant mockery of Mac and Beaver also have a strong streak of this.
    • Talking of "bad enough"...Lamb refused to report Veronica's rape, but he's also viciously rude to her almost every single time they're together, and calls her a slut about it.
    • In addition to sleeping with and murdering his son's girlfriend Lilly, Aaron violently abuses his son.
  • Knee-capping: This was threatened when Logan was being tortured. His tormentors were playing Russian roulette with him, pulling the trigger after each "wrong" (i.e. not what they were looking for) answer given. After two "wrong" answers, they moved from his arms to his knees.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Intentionally done by Veronica. When one of the characters in the programme that Veronica hates tells her that they were dealing with some trouble, Veronica says, "Trouble with a capital "T", that rhymes with "C", that stands for..." When her father objects she replies, "What? I was going to say "cute."
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Veronica and Duncan are discussing Logan sleeping with an older woman.
    Duncan: She's the same age as us.
    Veronica: She's 25. (About the same age that Kristen and Teddy were at the time.)
  • Let Them Die Happy - Veronica does this to Abel Koontz.
  • Lie Back and Think of England:
    • V suggests this as a way for Mac to get through prom with her goober of a date.
    • Mac is excited/nervous about getting a hotel room after prom; Veronica says this jokingly to calm her down.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Mac and Beaver. At the time, it was a Woobie moment for Beaver, since the scene strongly suggested that Beaver was subconsciously cock blocked by his brother, Dick (who lived up to the pun). Let's just say when we find out the real reason, it's significantly less Woobie-ish.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Averted, where the titular heroine is a loner in season 1. Later seasons acknowledge the trope's effect, however, as Veronica sporadically feels guilty about the fact that she really operates better alone.
    • The Big Bad of Season 2, Cassidy, is a pretty big loner and also a violent rapist and murderer.
  • Long Hair Is Feminine: The Veronica of flashbacks, when she was a fairly stereotypical high school girl, has long hair; present-day Veronica, having become a Guile Hero by way of Break the Cutie, favors a much shorter, more severe cut.
  • Lovable Rogue - Just about the entire cast - most notably Veronica, Logan, Weevil, and Mac all qualify.
  • Love Hurts:
    • Veronica's first love Duncan dumps her without any explanation and then, after rekindling their relationship, leaves her to escape the country and the law with his child from another girl. She and her Second Love Logan hurt each other pretty equally and consistently throughout the show even as they try to make their relationship work. And all the other guys were pretty much rebound.
    • And then there is Mac, who takes a long time to get over Cassidy, who turned out to be a murderer and a rapist.
    • And Keith Mars, whose wife turned out to be a long-time cheater and later an alcoholic.
  • Love Makes You Crazy - Got an hour?
  • Luke, I Am Your Father:
    • Subverted when paternity tests confirm that Keith Mars is indeed Veronica's father, not her mother's highschool sweetheart Jake Kane.
    • And then played straight with Logan's adopted sister in an interesting way that somehow managed to avoid the usual cliché of the trope.
    • Also played straight at the end of the second season episode "Green-Eyed Monster" with Wallace and Nathan.
  • Mad Bomber:
    • Played with in Season 2. Bombing isn't Cassidy's only speciality due to some extreme villain capabilities, but he did blow up a bus, a plane, and he rigged Woody Goodman's car.
    • In season 4, Neptune is plagued by a series of bombings committed by a deranged serial killer who even starts playing Criminal Mind Games with the authorities. It turns out that there's actually two separate bombers: the first, Perry Walsh, was hired by "Big" Dick Casablancas to further a Real Estate Scam, the second, Penn Epner, is a copycat who started his own series of bombings based on what he mistakenly believed to be the original bomber's modus operandi.
  • The Mafia - Gangs gangs everywhere
  • Mail-Order Bride: Subverted in an episode. A woman claiming to be a Russian emigrant looking for an ex-boyfriend she met through the Internet turns out to be a member of Russian mafia searching for a witness.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: In the first season, episode 7, that the case of the week involves a pregnant woman fighting with her boyfriend, who isn't the father, makes Veronica think that maybe she's not her father's daughter. This latter point will be a continuing point in the first season.
  • Maybe Ever After: The show ended this way, with hints of possible feelings lingering between Veronica and Logan while she was dating Piz at the time. In this case, the lack of resolution might simply be a result of the series being canceled. The 2014 movie then reaffirmed their feelings for each other.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Veronica Mars, whose name means "true image", which ties in with her being a Born Detective and having a pathological obsession with finding the truth (which often comes with taking a picture of it since she's a Private Detective).
    • Plus, the Mars family lives in Neptune, and Veronica drives a Saturn. A character makes the connection in an early season 3 episode.
    • Wallace means foreigner in Norman French—in the pilot episode of the series, Wallace is the new kid in town.
    • Dick Casablancas usually is a dick.
  • Media Watchdog: Many fans joke that the storm of double-entendres present in the dialogue simply overloaded the censors' filthometers and they gave up.
  • Misery Builds Character: Via Word of God, this is why Logan is killed off at the end of Season 4. Many people aren't happy.
  • Missing White Woman Syndrome: Brought up when Weevil mentions that shortly after the murder of Lilly Kane, a little girl from his neighborhood named Marisol Reyes disappeared, but she didn't warrant the same amount of media coverage or therapy sessions for the students. (Weevil was fogging the issue, not wanting to bring up his own affair with Lilly. At the same time, Lilly was the daughter of a minor celebrity. Also, Reyes simply disappeared, whereas Lilly was brutally murdered.) Notable because due to the nature of the show, the point of Weevil's tirade was ignored on the fanbase, who thought that the introduction of the Reyes case was going to be an important part of the Kane case. It wasn't. Also, this would have reflected badly on Keith Mars, since he would've been sheriff at that point.
  • Mistaken for Cheating - Happens a few time, both with clients' spouses and main characters. Notably, Veronica has trust/jealousy issues, especially in season 3.
  • MacGuffin:
    • The rat in Season 2. Veronica thinks that it's a reference to her "ratting" on Aaron Echolls, but it isn't. It mostly seems to be a method of getting the 09ers out of the bus but it's never explicitly cleared up.
    • "Veronica Mars" being written on Curly Moran's hand. In theory, it's a way of throwing everyone off the scent of his connection to Cassidy Casablancas.
    • The briefcase is a classic example. It apparently contains a priceless painting, but it never becomes that important.
  • MockGuffin: In the second season episode "I Am God", Veronica is haunted by dreams of the bus crash (the season-long mystery she's trying to solve), and in particular of a drawing of a scythe hanging over nine tombstones, with the words "I Am God" written underneath. She thinks it's a key to how the bus crashed, but it turns out to just be an album cover for an indie rock band.
  • Mocking the Mourner: After the bus-crash kills several Neptune High students, the parents of one of the victims starts getting harassed by someone who keeps trying to trick them into believing their son is a ghost; not only do they hear audio recording of his voice, but they smell his cologne, see things getting moved around, etc. It's not upfront mockery, but a sinister act of psychological warfare concerning their murdered child.
  • Mock Millionaire:
    • One episode introduces the richest kid in Neptune, who arrives to school in a limousine and lives in the biggest house in town. The twist ending is that he's the son of the butler, and thus is actually not rich.
    • There's also Richard Casablancas, who turns out to have been running a real estate con all this time. When his son hires Veronica to track Richard's gold digger wife, the con ends up being exposed, and Richard flees the country. However, this is an unusual example because his sons, Dick and Cassidy, don't seem to actually suffer at all for their dad's lack of money, because they had legit trust funds apparently.
  • Monkeys on a Typewriter - Veronica references this when she realizes that she knows Curly Moran after all.
  • Mood Dissonance: An episode does this beautifully - a major character is stabbed in the stomach by an ex-lover at a Christmas party while everyone is outside smiling, watching snow fall, and listening to a choir sing happy Christmas music. As described by Veronica: "Christmas in Neptune is, was, and always will be about the trappings - the lights and the tinsel they use to cover up the sordidness, the corruption."
  • Motive Rant - Used a lot in the show, by the bad guys to explain their actions.
  • The Movie: Long desired by its fans, it is the goal of a Kickstarter campaign brought forward by Rob, Kristen, and other castmembers, and happened!
  • Mr. Fanservice: Quite a bit; it is a CW show, after all. Examples include Logan, Duncan, Piz, and possibly Dick.

    Tropes N-S 
  • Name of Cain: Duncan and Lilly and their parents, Jake and Celeste. It fits both Duncan (suspected of murdering his sibling) and Jake (due to his general moral dubiousness) particularly well. And it's the Kanes who set up Abel Koontz to take the fall for the murder; this Meaningful Name is lampshaded by an episode title.
  • Narrator: Veronica, natch.
  • Necro Cam: They use one of these sequences at the end of season one, where Veronica finally pieces together what actually happened. She presumably explains her theory to Duncan while the audience sees the footage of her idea being performed.
  • Never Found the Body - Lynn Echolls and Kendall Casablancas.
  • Never Suicide:
    • Subverted with Logan's mother. It really was just a suicide. (Probably. They never did find the body.)
    • Played straight with Dean O'Dell, whose murder is an elaborate suicide set-up to eventually implicate his unfaithful wife and her lover.
  • No Fourth Wall:
    • Creator Rob Thomas once put his own books prominently in the background of one scene, and in the series finale, a character quips "Rob Thomas is a whore" (see below)... although in the context of the scene he's referring to the lead singer for Matchbox 20.
    • A phone call from Clarence Wiedman to confirm the completion of an off-the-radar job is answered with "CW?" followed by Wiedman's reply of "It's a done deal." Just after the show was picked up by the new CW network following the merger of its former home, UPN.
  • No Holds Barred Beat Down: Aaron Echolls delivers an extensive one to his daughter's abusive boyfriend. to the tune of "That's Amore". It lasts long enough to go from being awesome to being uncomfortable to watch. As it should.
  • Nominal Importance: Inverted. Almost all major and minor characters have first and last names that may be known by greater fans of the show. However, given that the large arcs of the show tended to included a large number of characters, this may not be surprising.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • In season two, when Cassidy pulled a prank on his brother Dick in revenge for Dick treating his brother like shit, Dick threatened revenge. However, Cassidy stops his vengeful evil older brother in his tracks when Cassidy reminds him of a mysterious "Sally" and what happened to her. This was ultimately clarified in an interview by Rob Thomas: Sally was a childhood pet that Dick had, who Cassidy killed in retaliation after Dick did something horrible towards him.
    • When Veronica calls Cliff for a favor in season two, both of them rattle off a few previous incidents where they helped each other out.
  • Not Blood Siblings: In season 1, Veronica finds out that her mother and the father of her ex-boyfriend Duncan Kane were High-School Sweethearts who may have continued their relationship as an extra-marital affair... meaning that she and Duncan may or may not be half-siblings. This revelation leads her to pull her car over and puke on the side of the road. Luckily, the paternity test that her father has done proves that she and Duncan aren't related. A few months later, they resume their relationship. Though according to Word of God, Duncan was SUPPOSED to be Veronica's half-brother for real, but the network wouldn't let them put Actually-Blood-Siblings sex on the air. So it was originally meant to be a complete (and squicky) subversion of the trope.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Wallace to Veronica. Of course Executive Meddling said it would never happen. Weevil and Dick could also qualify as the same.
  • Not So Great Escape: Veronica often gets caught during her investigations, hiding once in the leg space of a desk and another time in a closet.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: In the final scene of the series, Veronica walks away into the rain, signifying the consequences of the series finale being rather crappy (her Dad's facing charges that could land him serious jail time for protecting her, and their primary opponent for her Dad's old job as Sheriff is a corrupt puppet of the Mafia). As the camera pans out, we get the impression that Veronica is upset not only because she inadvertently got her Dad in trouble, but because she knows she'll never change her ways.
  • Oh, Crap!: Season 2 has one, when Keith tells Woody: "Most adults keep their hands off other people's children." Steven Guttenberg makes the BEST "Oh crap" face.
  • One Born Every Minute: Used, but instead of out-conning the conmen, V just steals their hard drives and holds them ransom for the cash they swindled her client out of, plus her fee for recovering it.
  • Only Friend: Logan and Dick serve as this for each other in season three. Veronica and Wallace are an example in early season one.
  • Opening Narration: "I'm never getting married. You want an absolute? There it is." and so forth.
  • Opening Shout-Out: At the beginning of an episode, Veronica describes another girl with, "We used to be friends, a long time ago." This segues immediately into the opening credits, which begin with the Dandy Warhols singing, "A long time ago, we used to be friends ..."
  • Outside/Inside Slur: Hispanic students who have predominantly white friends are called Coconuts: brown outside, white inside.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Two notable examples in season 4: one is a Mexican sicario who puts his gun down the back of his pants when he answers the door; a none-too-bright hillbilly does the same thing a few episodes later, only he shoves the gun down his crotch.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Keith Mars, who previously gave off the impression of a Non-Action Guy, goes berserk when the first season's villain tries to burn Veronica alive. He even walks straight through the fire to save his daughter, spending several weeks in a hospital afterwards.
    • The domineering, abusive and murderous Aaron Echolls seems oblivious that his daughter is being beaten up by her boyfriend, even appearing interested in starring in a movie he wants to pitch. However, at the start of what looked to be a pleasant dinner he administers one of the most comprehensive beatdowns ever seen on TV, before calmly concluding "I've decided I'm not interested in appearing in your movie." It would appear that the same protectiveness doesn't apply to Logan, though.
  • Parental Betrayal: Aaron Echolls and to a much lesser extent Veronica's Mum who abandons Veronica twice and the second time she does it she takes Veronica's college fund for good measure.
  • Parental Hypocrisy: There must be a booming business in high school exposing the hypocrisies of parents for their children.
  • Parental Favoritism - All over the place:
    • "Lilly always said her parents adored Duncan and tolerated her. If she couldn't please them, she'd go out of her way to piss them off."
    • Aaron Echolls, who dotes on his daughter and beats his son. Made even worse by the fact that Trina refuses to believe Logan's claims of abuse and accuses him of lying in order to make their father look bad.
    • Dick Casablancas Sr. is pretty blatant about favoring his eldest - which ends badly.
  • Parents Know Their Children: Mac's birth mother, who immediately recognizes her on first sight despite only knowing that she is a girl, due to Mac accidentally being Switched at Birth.
  • Parents Walk In at the Worst Time: Aaron Echolls accidentally walks in on Logan and Veronica making out. He politely makes an excuse and leaves, and later, when Veronica has to hide from Logan's friends (their relationship is still a secret), even offers to drive Veronica home, and tells her he approves of her with Logan.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish":
    • Subverted in the Veronica Mars episode "Like A Virgin". Veronica reports that her account's been hacked, and the system administrator gives her a spiel about password safety. Whereupon she reveals that her password was "GJ7B!X" (with possible variation in case).
    • Subverted again in "Mars vs. Mars." Keith changes the combination to his safe to something of personal significance, then leaves it in a location that would be highly visible to a trained PI. When trained PI Veronica finds all the password and opens the safe, it no longer contains files but instead an ink packet that explodes onto her.
    • Played straight, however, in "Happy Go Lucky". Woody Goodman's password is "mr good wood." And we learn that he's a pedophile that episode.
  • Perpetual Poverty - Pretty much half of Neptune, as far as perpetuating the class warfare subplot of season two and three. Specific examples include:
    • Veronica and Keith also fit this trope. Although they do ultimately rise out of it later in Season 2, they're back in again at the end of Season 2, as Veronica has no college savings, as she spent them on all her mother's rehab (which didn't stick).
    • Veronica and Logan, in Season 4, so much. While Logan has had money stolen from his trust, his parents were both famous, and even assuming that he lost all of the money he inherited, he's still in the Navy and should be making good money. He can barely afford to live in Neptune, he and Veronica struggle to make rent, and he bikes everywhere because he can't afford to keep a car.
  • Perp Walk:
    • This rarely involves an actual arrest, but the jerk of the week usually gets some kind of public shaming... that occasionally involves getting taped to a flagpole.
    • There is episode where Veronica herself is arrested by the sheriff in front of the school. "Gosh, I hope they use that photo in the yearbook" indeed.
  • Pet the Dog
    • Jake Kane appears to be your standard Corrupt Corporate Executive asshole, but he is overcome with emotion at seeing the "real" Lilly (mischievous, misbehaving, vibrant, bubbly) on the memorial video.
    • Late in season one, Aaron acts like Lynn's death has changed him, starts trying to act like a kind father to Logan, and encourages Logan's relationship with Veronica as "good for him." It doesn't last.
    • In season two, when Sheriff Lamb finally believes Veronica that the Mannings psychologically abused their youngest daughter, Grace.
    • Trina is extremely scornful and rude about Logan's abuse allegations against Aaron, but she is absolutely furious when she finds out about Kendall and Logan's May–December Romance in Season 2, and she is not shy about showing it.
    • In season three, when Vinnie saves Veronica from a beatdown at the hands of the Fitzpatrick clan.
    • Late in season 3, when Dick experiences a Despair Event Horizon over Cassidy's death.
  • Photo Booth Montage: In a first season episode, a girl manipulates her blackmailing, emotionally abusive boyfriend into doing this so that she and Veronica can doctor the photos to make it look like he is gay, and thus get him kicked out of the navy.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Notably averted; Weevil and his PCH bike club actively engage in biker gang activities, although they aren't as violent as real life gangs.
  • Platonic Life-Partners:
    • Veronica and Wallace. They're best friends, confide in each other about (almost) everything, and spend an inordinate amount of time together. However, neither of them ever shows any romantic interest in the other and they both date other people.
    • Same gender examples include Dick and Logan, who live together in the movie, in addition to being best friends throughout their time at Hearst.
  • Please Wake Up: Duncan's parents found him cradling his sister's body. They thought he had killed her, but he'd found her and was begging her to wake up.
  • Police are Useless - That is, unless said police officer is Keith Mars.
  • Porn Names: An escort site had, among their employees, a lady named "Bambi Gasm".
    Mac: (in posh accent) Of the Boston Gasms?
    Cassidy: One would hope.
  • Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy: It wasn't an intentional scam, but the apparent appearance of Logan Echolls' dead mother turning out to be his sister using her credit cards had much the same effect.
  • Previously On…: They used these to good effect—usually the Previouslys would help with something that had emotional pay-off that episode instead of making it blatantly obvious what clue in the A Plot was going to be revealed next.
  • Private Detective: Both Veronica and her father. Usually working the same case, sometimes just parallel versions. And Vinnie van Lowe.
  • Privileged Rival: Most of the villains are villainous because they have the money to bribe, cheat, and scam their way through the court system which effectively kneecaps the only thing Veronica can do (sleuth, get evidence, get them in court).
  • Product Placement - A good deal of it, and more and more in season 3—the final episode parodied this with the "Rob Thomas is a whore" comment.
  • Professional Sex Ed: In the third season, a boy meets a cute girl at a convention and has his first sexual experience with her. Later, it turns out she was hired by his friends.
  • Profiling: A character accused of stealing because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time is described as having been "lurking" in the area. "Lurking? You mean, 'standing while black'?"
  • Promotion to Opening Titles - Many in season 3, although ironically most of them didn't get a bigger part for it. Also, Dick and Beaver in season 2.
  • Punny Name
    • Tim Foyle
    • Gil T. Pardy
    • Carrie Bishop and Susan Knight, who feature most prominently in the episode that also involves Mr. Rooks.
    • Veronica MARS lives in NEPTUNE. From season 3:
      Piz: Well, a Saturn for a Mars.
      Veronica: In Neptune, yeah, the planets really aligned for this one. Now, move Uranus
  • Queer Flowers: Lilly is implied to be bisexual. In an Alternate Timeline where she wasn't killed, her boyfriend in college breaks up with her for fooling around with his ex-girlfriend. Meanwhile, she open-mouth kisses Veronica in the show's timeline, and Lilly tries to get Veronica to dress more provocatively at least once.
  • Quick Nip: Subverted with a poker game where one of the players periodically takes a swig from a bottle of Jack Daniels he keeps with him. Later in the same episode, Veronica (a very small blonde teenager, and the ex-girlfriend of the player in question) grabs the bottle and takes a long draw, much to the shock of everybody present. She then remarks on his abysmally low alcohol tolerance, and explains that the bottle contains tea.
  • Rape and Switch: The victims of Woody Goodman. Of the 4 we know about, one was definitely gay, another was sexually "on the fence" (as another character put it), and one... well... it's subject to Alternate Character Interpretation, but there's definitely subtext. The fourth victim we know about (or was strongly implied) doesn't have his sexuality brought into the whole thing, but he was less important than the first 3.
  • Rape as Drama - Most of the time it's used.
  • Real After All: It is clear that our titular heroine's dreams and conversations with her dead friend Lilly are happening in her head, and after Lilly's murder is solved they stop. However the second season episode 'Normal is the Watchword' has Lilly briefly appear and save Veronica's live by distracting her at a key moment - the implication being that her (Lilly's) ghost intervened directly.
  • Real Estate Scam:
    • Neptune, CA, real estate mogul Dick Casablancas built a significant part of his fortune on overvalued properties, deliberately using false advertising and such. It's only after Veronica accidentally does an on-site inspection (while performing an investigation on Cassidy Casablancas' behalf into his stepmother's infidetelity) and notices the discrepancy that she informs the authorities, forcing Dick Sr. to destroy all his documents and flee the country. She tries to get one of her favorite teachers, who invested heavily in the company, to get his money back, but he refuses because his money is already effectively gone, and he doesn't want to save himself by saddling someone else on the market with the loss.
    • This is also picked back up again in Season 4, again with Dick Casablancas and his associates from jail, who plan to blow up large parts of the boardwalk in order to drive down property prices and make a killing for themselves.
  • Really Gets Around - Lily was like this. Also, Parker (for a while). Aaron Echolls slept with (at least) three guests at their previous Halloween party (and possibly one serving girl he simply forgot about) at a party his wife attended!
  • Real Song Theme Tune - "We Used To Be Friends" by the Dandy Warhols. A slower, Darker and Edgier version replaced it in season three. And a cover version in Season 4 by Chrissy Hyde.
  • Reality Ensues - The series finale, where Veronica learns the hard way that her actions had very real consequences.
  • Rearrange the Song: The series used The Dandy Warhol's "We Used to Be Friends" for its theme. The third season, which moved from high school to college, switched to a dramatically different remix of the song - it was much slower and more electronic than indie rock. Allegedly, it was meant to have more of a noir feel to it.
  • Record Needle Scratch: Played straight when Veronica is listening patiently to her dad saying that he met someone and hoping that she's ok with it... until he drops that it's her best friend Wallace's mom. Cue record scratch.
  • Red Herring: Par for the course for a detective show. Veronica always has to run down one or two false leads. Taken Up to Eleven in the second season, in which she has to investigate every single victim of the bus crash in order to find out who was really behind it.
  • Red Herring Twist
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • The Casablancas brothers: Dick is stupid, impulsive, never thinks things through, loud, and sex-obsessed. Beaver is intelligent, quiet, reserved, manipulative, secretive, and completely ruthless.
    • Logan and Duncan. Duncan (blue) is reserved and somewhat emotionally restricted, whereas Logan (red) is pretty much the dictionary definition of Hot-Blooded.
    • And, in flashbacks, Lilly and Veronica. Lilly was the brash, wild one (red), whereas Veronica was sweet and demure (blue) before (things changed).
  • Relative Error: In the last season, Mac's newly introduced animal-rights-activist love interest turned out to have a female housemate, who triggered this trope.
  • Religious Stereotype: Played with when one of Veronica's investigations involves the conservative preacher father of a friend. The preacher's assistant fits the fundie stereotype to a T as well as being the villain of the episode. On the other hand the friend's father turns out to be both honest and compassionate.
  • Reminiscing About Your Victims: Parodied and subverted.
    Veronica: I once shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.
    Dean: Oh, how'd that go?
    Veronica: ...It was kind of a let down.
    • A straighter example occurs in Season 2's finale, Not Pictured, where the Big Bad Cassidy reminisces about exactly why they killed each person they did, implies that he killed Mac and reminisces about Keith and Woody.
  • Removed from the Picture - One boy's presumably dead dad got this treatment from his wife. Turns out he changed his gender.
  • Rescue Romance:
    • Played with in "Silence of the Lamb"; Leo, a rookie deputy at the police department, actually rescues Keith, Veronica's father, from the Monster of the Week, but Veronica becomes smitten nonetheless.
    • Played straight between Logan and Veronica in Season 1. Having previously been sworn enemies, they share a very passionate kiss (kicking off their Official Couple status) after he rescued her from a Mad Bomber in the middle of Season 1.
  • Retcon:
    • In "President Evil," Weevil demands to know how Veronica could date Logan after "how he treated Lilly." The show, to this point, has given us no indication that Logan ever treated Lilly like anything less than a princess, even though Lilly cheated on Logan with both Weevil and his own father. However, this could also be a case of Never Speak Ill of the Dead or just Weevil's own Moral Myopia.
    • Cassidy was never intended to have raped Veronica. His story about what happened that night was supposed to be true, until Rob Thomas thought it added more emotional weight to the Season 2 finale.
    • Veronica is digging around to find out what happened during Jake Kane's time at boarding school in Season 3. However, he went to Neptune High with Veronica's mother Lianne and his future wife Celeste, which was one of the major running threads throughout Season 1 and even kicked off one of the main mysteries, if he could be Veronica's father.
  • Revenge: Veronica is a revenge addict. When she starts to run short on targets for personal revenge she looks for other people to get revenge for.
  • Riding into the Sunset: A symbolic variation. Veronica walks away into the rain, signifiying the consequences of the series finale being rather crappy (her Dad's facing charges that could land him serious jail time for protecting her, and their primary opponent for her Dad's old job as Sheriff is a corrupt puppet of the mafia). As the camera pans out, we get the impression that Veronica is upset not only because she inadvertently got her Dad in trouble, but because she knows she'll never change her ways.
  • Right Behind Me: Subverted. The title character is asked about the hated Celeste Kane, and sarcastically describes her as a paragon of humanity. Meanwhile Kane has appeared right behind her.
  • Ripped from the Phone Book: Wallace's estranged father Nathan Woods rips out the page of a phone book while looking for Alicia Fennel's address.
  • Running Gag:
    • RATNERRRRRRRRR!
    • "Do you know a good lawyer?" "I know a lawyer..."
    • "IS IT A PONY?!?"
    • UNICORNS!
    • People getting taped to the flagpole.
    • Wallace and hacky sack. "It's a white man's sport!"
    • Favors, generally requested from or by Veronica and lampshaded increasingly heavily over the course of the series.
  • Running Gagged: Cassidy Casablancas is constantly being tormented by his nickname, Beaver, and Veronica consistently starts calling him Beaver before switching it out with Cassidy; Logan also makes a series of "Dick and Beaver" jokes about sleeping with Kendall...then, come the end of Season 2, Logan accidentally calls him "Beaver" when trying to persuade Cassidy not to kill himself after it comes out that he crashed the bus and killed multiple people. This seems to be the final straw for him, and he emotionally tells Logan that his name is Cassidy before jumping off the roof to his death.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Practically everyone on the show is guilty of some version of this. Veronica herself constantly exploits any and all connections she has in law enforcement. Usually justifiable, considering she lives in Neptune.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Pretty much the mindset of every 09er kid in Neptune (and their parents). It comes to a head in Season 2 and in the movie where class tensions reach their peak, enough that Keith wants Veronica to be anywhere any other than Neptune.
  • Shoot The Shaggy Dog Story:
    • Season 3. The Castle appears to be a cult, Veronica breaks in to expose Jake Kane, but she can't use anything she finds, she's in legal trouble which means her whole future hangs in the balance, and she ruined her dad's career.
    • Season 4 even more so. Veronica goes backwards and forwards whether she wants to marry Logan, including fantasizing about Leo and going down a self-destructive path. But she finally decides for them to be together...only to miss one of Penn's bombs, killing Logan in the process and leaving Veronica an emotionally broken shell of herself who gets out of Neptune because she decides it can't be redeemed.
  • Second Love: Logan and Veronica for each other. Possibly, Alicia for Keith.
  • Second Year Protagonist: The series starts in Veronica's junior year, but When It All Began and many flashbacks are set in the previous year, while freshman year isn't mentioned much.
  • Self-Deprecation: Season 3 had quite a bit more Product Placement put in it by creator Rob Thomas than previous seasons. In the second-to-the-last episode ever, after two Product Placements in a row, this conversation happened:
    Mac: Hey, did anyone else hear there's gonna be a Matchbox 20 reunion show?
    Piz: So? Rob Thomas is a whore.
    Mac: Yeah.
  • Self-Induced Allergic Reaction - A suspect eats peanut butter cookies in order to trigger his nut allergy and escape from jail.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • Cervando, one of the victims of the bus crash, manages to have three different last names in various episodes where he's mentioned.
    • The date of Shelly Pomroy's party (where Veronica was raped) changes by several months when it's brought up in season 3.
    • In the series finale, Veronica hints to Jake Kane that she knows some deep, dark secret about his time at boarding school. Except he went to Neptune High, and the show even had a whole storyline about the Kanes and Marses' history there.
  • The Sheriff: As Neptune, California, is an unincorporated town, there is a Sheriff's Department for the county, not a police force. Keith Mars is the ex-sheriff, ousted for political reasons. He was replaced by Sheriff Lamb, who was pretty much just short of being a full-on manifestation of Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop. He's never shown taking bribes, but when a high school student reports that she's been raped, he laughs her out of his office.
  • Ship Tease - In 3x10, "Show Me The Monkey", the script ANVILS that Piz/Veronica will be moving further... cut to Veronica showing up at Logan's door. At which point, they have sex and tease the two getting back together before rebreaking the couple up and moving onto Piz and Veronica getting together.
  • Shirtless Scene - Weevil, Logan, Dick, Don Lamb, Cassidy...
  • Ship Tease: Played for laughs between Dick and Mac.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The show can get almost Anvilicious in its views of doing what's "right" versus doing what's legal. Some examples:
    • It's okay to steal evidence from law enforcement to conduct your own investigation if you know the cops are a bunch of failures.
    • If your illegitimate child is at risk of falling into the custody of abusive people, you're better off fleeing the country with her without even giving a custody hearing a try.
  • Slut-Shaming: Season 3's serial rapist arc. The worst perpetrators are the {{Straw Feminist}}s.
  • Society-on-Edge Episode: The second-season premiere largely features the townspeople losing their senses after a long string of privileged rich people get away with crimes they obviously committed. Later, Veronica and Logan (one of the aforementioned rich people) narrowly dodge a drive-by shooting—violence which the series typically avoided until the first season's finale.
  • So Happy Together:
    • In "You Think You Know Somebody", Troy and Veronica serenely hold hands and walk down the hall right before he turns out to be a drug dealer who never told her about his shady past.
    • In "Ain't No Magic Mountain High Enough", Mac and Beaver are totally cute the entire episode. The season ends with Beaver being a sociopathic molestee who may or may not have used Mac as The Beard.
    • Veronica and Logan go through a great deal of romantic problems in Season 4, only to end up happy together after a Time Skip, even getting married. Then, at that very moment, Veronica realises that Penn planted another bomb.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • "That's Amore" playing while Aaron Echolls beats the ever-loving crap out of his daughter's abusive boyfriend. Made even darker when you consider that Aaron murdered his son's girlfriend, who he had been having an affair with on the downlow and that said beating scene was Rob Thomas's way of laying the groundwork for Aaron being revealed as the murderer as far as showing him being capable of beating someone nearly to death.
    • The music is in the scene itself, but in episode 1x10, "An Echolls Family Christmas", Christmas carolers were singing while Aaron Echolls was getting stabbed with an ice pick. (It always seems to involve Aaron, doesn't it?).
    • In 1x06, "Return of the Kane", we get "Ventura Highway" playing over Aaron beating Logan with a belt.
  • Spiritual Successor: It's basically Buffy the Vampire Slayer set in a film noir world.
  • Spoiler Opening: Averted in the second season, where Duncan's brief cameo in the season finale, where it's revealed that he ordered the execution of Aaron Echolls, was a surprise largely because he hadn't been removed from the opening credits after he was written out. As if to make up for this, in the third season finale the reveal that Jake Kane is the head of The Castle (Neptune's secret society) is undercut by having Kyle Secor listed as a Special Guest Star at the start of the episode.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers:
    • Logan and Veronica. They try it out several times, but each time circumstances contrive to keep them apart, usually their clashing personalities and Logan's self-destructive behavior. This is subverted by the 2014 movie, however.
    • Duncan and Veronica are the best example since not only can they never be together, they can't even so much as contact each other without the risk of spending the rest of their lives in prison. Veronica herself lampshades this
      Veronica: True love stories never have endings.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Rashard and Keith both insist on the term 'special lady friend.'
  • Straw Feminist - Lilith House doesn't care who actually is doing the raping, they just want to pin it on the Pi Sig fraternity so they can shut it down. They even have a member falsely claim to be sexually assaulted to further this agenda. How's that for commitment?
  • Story Arc - Several storylines spanned the whole of a season, while others took up large chunks of one.
  • Surprise Incest: Duncan Kane broke up with Veronica because his mother told him she was his half-sister. After the first season finale revealed Veronica and Duncan weren't related, they got back together (until Duncan got Put on a Bus).
  • Switched at Birth - Mac and Madison. This leads to a Tear Jerker when Mac meets her blood sister and mother at Madison's.

    Tropes T-Z 
  • Tap on the Head: In the first season finale, several people get rather badly knocked about. Keith, after a knock-down drag out with Lily's killer and a bad encounter with a fire, ends up in the hospital, as does the killer (who also gets hit by a delivery truck and attacked by a pit bull). Meanwhile, Veronica was knocked out by a car wreck and beaten unconscious by the killer but the doctor just sends her home for some restnote .
  • Telegraph Gag STOP: There’s a blackly humorous one of these in the episode "Lord of the Bling"; at Lynn Echolls' funeral, Aaron asks Logan if he's heard from his half-sister Trina:
    Logan: She sent a telegram. "Heartbroken. Stop. Can't make it back from Sydney. Stop. Underwater scene shoot tomorrow. Stop. Entire crew said prayer for Mom. Stop. Love you. Stop."
    Aaron: Logan...
    Logan: Stop?
  • 10-Minute Retirement - In "Normal Is The Watchword" (the season two premiere) Veronica claims to have given up investigating after catching Lilly's killer, only to pick it right back up as soon as she finds out Wallace is involved in the problem she was previously refusing to solve.
  • That One Case: For both Keith and Veronica, the Lily Kane murder.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: Wallace asks Veronica how she knew the daughter of a record producer. She replies, "We used to be friends...a long time ago." Cue theme song that starts with the line "A long time ago, we used to be friends."
  • This Song Goes Out To TV Tropes:
    • In "Clash of the Tritons", Veronica dedicates her karaoke version of "One Way or Another" to a secret society she’s trying to catch.
    Veronica: This song goes out to my friends in the Tritons.
    • Subverted when a little girl who is dying to see Logan get back together with Veronica calls a radio station and asks Nick Lachey's "What's Left of Me" to be dedicated to her, from him. Funny, of course, because neither him nor her are exactly the romantic type... and yet this cheesy song somehow rings true.
  • Tracking Device: Used over and over again in order to track and find nearly anybody.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: How Jackie's father is blackmailed into working security for a morally ambiguous casino owner.
  • Trivially Obvious: It's a Running Gag that when anyone asks a Neptune resident if they know a good lawyer, the response is always, "I know a lawyer."
  • Troubled, but Cute: Logan, Weevil, Veronica...
  • Truth-Telling Session - A flashback makes it clear: never play "I Never" with friends, unless you want it to turn into one of these. With booze.
  • Turns Red - The season one final fight between Keith Mars and Aaron Echolls qualifies this.
  • Unbreakable Weapons - You'd think, given her reliance on it, Veronica might have run out of charge for her taser at least once. Though it did get taken from her at least twice.
  • Undercover as Lovers:
    • Veronica did this to Logan at the Neptune Grand once to look for his mother.
    • Inverted by Veronica and Duncan, though, in "Donut Run." Veronica and Duncan pretend to have broken up so that Veronica and Duncan kidnap his newborn baby.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Jake Kane. The Mars family catches the real killer of his daughter Lilly, but he procedes to ruin their live in the Season 3 finale.
  • Uninvited to the Party:
    • In the backstory, Veronica crashing a party she wasn't invited to ends in tragedy. She was uninvited in the first place because her popularity spiraled downward due to the circumstances surrounding the Lilly Kane murder investigation. Everyone hated her so much that, when she crashed the party to try and make a point, she ended up being drugged and raped, traumatizing her for the rest of the series and emphasizing just how unpopular she is, as well as how much she wants to have her normal life back.
    • In Season 2, in a parallel to Veronica's own situation pre-series, Jackie Cooke is unofficially "uninvited" to the winter carnival by Alpha Bitch Madison Sinclair, over the mistaken belief that Jackie's father, Terence, had something to do with the school bus crash. Jackie shows up anyway, which results in her being so hated and reviled by the rest of the school that she's forced to sit in the dump tank and being forced into freezing water, while wearing a bikini, in the middle of December.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee - Season 2. Pick an episode.
  • Valley Girl - Gia, Madison, Hallie.
  • The Vamp - Where to start, where to start...
  • Vertigo Effect: The last episode of season 2, when Veronica figures out exactly what's going on.
  • Very Special Episode - The Season 3 episode that centered around a former child soldier from Africa meeting his long-lost father. The episode was intended to raise awareness of the existence of child soldiers and Invisible Children, an activist organization whose cause is to free and help them.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: In order to avoid spoiling anything, suffice it to say there are several of these, although some turn out to be red herrings and not true villains at all.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot:
    • When Veronica finds out that Jake Kane may be her father, which means that her ex-boyfriend Duncan may be her half-brother.
    • When Veronica finds out that Cassidy is a murderer... and Mac is with him.
    • Veronica also uses this trope to her own benefit by pretending to throw up to keep a possible rapist at a distance.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Ms. Dent disappeared without explanation eight episodes into the first season due to budget constraints (and the fact that her character didn't really have much to do). Her exit is explained as maternity leave in a throwaway line a few episodes later.
  • We Used to Be Friends: The series used "We Used to Be Friends" as its Real Song Theme Tune, and it shows: as we learn in the first episode, following the murder of her best friend Lilly, Veronica's boyfriend ignores her (actually, that happened a couple of days prior), her former friends turn against her, and she gets roofied and raped. Thus begins her descent into Film Noir.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "A Trip To The Dentist" reveals the true circumstances of Veronica's rape and plenty more. She wasn't raped; she and Duncan had consensual sex, just under the influence of GHB. And she finally learns that Duncan knew, thanks to Celeste, that there was a good chance Veronica was his half-sister.
    • "Not Pictured" is one wham after another: Cassidy/Beaver was molested by Woody, so he blew up the bus and killed Curly Moran. And he gave Veronica a STD after he raped her. All of this after he got together with Mac, breaking her heart. Then he commits suicide. And Aaron Echolls is killed after escaping justice for Lilly's murder.
  • Wham Line:
    • "Quite a reputation I've got, huh? You wanna know how I lost my virginity? So do I."
    • Duncan lands two whams on Veronica with one line in "A Trip To The Dentist":
    Because you're my sister. And I knew it.
    • In-universe, for Veronica: "I'd be a willowy blonde too if my dad was a plastic surgeon."
  • Wham Shot:
    • In the Season 1 finale, Veronica finds Lilly's sex tapes hidden in the wall. Watches them, and Aaron Echolls pops up as the mysterious man having sex with Lilly.
    • In the Season 2 premiere, Veronica walks into work and is told her boyfriend is there the camera pans to reveal...Duncan.
    • From "Not Pictured" Not Pictured: Cassidy Casablancas
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: A non-humorous example: The first episode has Veronica waking up from a party in bed without her underwear after being roofied at a party. It takes until the end of the season (and more than a year of in-show chronology) until she figures out exactl what happened that night.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A few rather serious points are just... left there. Perhaps the writers were thinking they'd have time to get around to them, but some never even get mentioned again, when they really should have:
    • No one cares about the murder of Aaron Echolls?
    • Why the hell didn't the FBI charge Veronica as an accomplice to kidnapping?
    • Alicia Fennell, who was dating Keith (and they were in the process of repairing their relationship), disappears partway through Season 2, only reappearing in the Season 2 finale to say goodbye to Wallace.
    • What about the murder of Kendall Casablancas?
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Veronica gets this a lot. Most notably in season two: Veronica Mars finally gets the goods to destroy her mortal enemy Donald Lamb and help get her father elected sheriff once again, after obtaining an audio recording that has him extorting a bribe from a retired baseball player, who threw a playoff game to pay off his gambling debts. One problem: Wallace is dating the baseball player's daughter and the revelation would destroy her reputation at school. On top of this, Wallace has just discovered that his mother has been lying to him all of his life about his father being dead, when his father finally shows back up in Neptune to visit the son his ex kept him from seeing. But Veronica is too busy to lend a sympathetic ear to Wallace, as she's too concerned with finding the proper venue to play the audio recording for maximum damage. This causes Wallace to lose his trademark cool and verbally ream Veronica out over how distracted by revenge she has become and worse, how she doesn't care that her scheme will ruin the life of Wallace's girlfriend.
    • Veronica gives this to Keith when he sleeps with a married woman and then proceeds to hand out every excuse they've heard from their marks.
  • Witness Protection - In one episode, Keith gets hired to find someone who turns out to be a protected witness.
  • Working the Same Case: The show has a habit of cleverly combining Veronica and her dad's cases, sometimes pulling dismissed plot threads into one cohesive reveal of the season's Big Mystery.
  • Working with the Ex - Or at least going to school with him. Or them.
  • Worst. Whatever. Ever!: "Worst. Easter Egg Hunt. Ever."
  • Would Hit a Girl: Most of the bad guys on the show are not afraid to raise a hand to a woman. That's how you know they're bad guys.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Logan Echolls finds out that his late mother's trust fund is running low unexpectedly. He's told that it's going to run out in fourteen months at this rate, but it turns out that it's only losing ten thousand dollars a month more than expected. The idea that his losing one-hundred and forty thousand dollars means he'll be broke in a little over a year doesn't mesh well with his continuing stereotypical rich-kid lifestyle nor the subtext suggesting that he noticed the missing money because he's actually being financially responsible.
  • You Know What You Did: Subverted when Alpha Bitch Madison Sinclair claims that she and Logan had had sex. True to trope, Veronica believed this unquestioningly, and confronted Logan about it. They had.
  • You Look Familiar - the same person played Lucky in season 2, and Tim Foyle in season 3.
  • Your Cheating Heart - A lot of examples. Aaron Echolls, Lianne Mars, Jake Kane, Kendall Casablancas plus many clients' spouses. Notably averted with Logan while he's dating Veronica, even if she's constantly jealous of him.
  • Your Favorite: Subverted. Logan's "loving" father Aaron makes him a birthday dinner of his favorite food. Except it is his sister's favorite and Logan is deathly allergic to it. Aaron responds by getting mad at Logan for not appreciating his efforts.


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