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Video Game / Police Quest

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Protecting the city of Lytton since 1987. Or 1983; we don't know.

Police Quest is a series of adventure games developed and published by Sierra. Similar to an interactive Police Procedural, the first three games had players take the role of Sonny Bonds, a police officer in the city of Lytton, California.

Reporting for his shift at the beginning of the first game, Bonds soon becomes aware of a drug ring operating in Lytton — masterminded by one man, Jessie Bains. Known as the Death Angel, Bains is aggressively moving in on the territory of Lytton's local dealers, and things are getting messy. Enlisting the help of a local Hooker with a Heart of Gold named Marie, Bonds is assigned to an elaborate sting operation that ends with Bains behind bars and Sonny and Marie returning to day-in, day-out normality.

This doesn't last, however, because in the second game, Bains escapes from prison, capturing (and later killing) a prison guard in the process and making it deadly clear that he will kill anyone that helped put him in. As the bodies start to pile up, Bonds, promoted to homicide detective, discovers Bains has targeted Marie (now a retired Hooker with a Heart of Gold, and Sonny's girlfriend). Proceeding into the latter stages of the game, Bonds tracks Bains to his hideout, saves Marie, and (eventually) proposes to her.

Several years later, Sonny and Marie are happily married, but there's more trouble to come from the Bains family. The Death Angel's brother has sworn revenge, and it's up to Sonny, now a Detective Sergeant, to protect his beloved Lytton, which has grown into a city. This one pulls out all the stops, with situations ranging from dirty cops to sexual assault. (Strangely enough, the revenge plot ends up being an afterthought.)

Police Quest 1-3 were produced by Jim Walls, a retired California state trooper, and the situations Bonds encountered were true-to-reality, following police procedures to the letter. If you stepped out of line during a bust, the judge would toss your case out of court. If you went crazy with your gun, or didn't properly care for your vehicle, that was it — game over.

Starting with Police Quest: Open Season (non-officially known as PQIV), the series came under the helm of LAPD Chief Darryl F. Gates (Walls having moved on by that point). Open Season was the last to focus on a specific, named detective — this time, LAPD Homicide Detective John Carey. Working from Parker Center, the player now has to cope with much more violent, graphic crimes. The player is introduced to Carey on the first screen, with a dead cop in an alley by a dumpster — a dumpster which, when opened so the Criminal Investigative Division can photograph it, reveals the body of a six-year-old boy.

The later games in the Police Quest series were Police Quest In Name Only — and only for the first two installments, after which it is most often known as the S.W.A.T. series. This series frees itself from the limits of a set character by placing the player directly in the role of a 'SWAT Pup' — a trainee, on his first real assignment. Like the first games, the SWAT series adhered strictly to police procedure. The player is trained in the basics of SWAT teamwork ('basics', because SWAT teams don't generally make their full tactical procedures known to the public), and is expected to obey the rules. Even attempting to fast-forward through the first game's opening cutscene (where the Element Leader gives his welcome speech) has the Element Leader take you to task for interrupting him, and warns you very firmly that you should not do it again. Ever.

Sonny Bonds does return to the Police Quest series, though, in Police Quest: SWAT 2, as a selectable team member, and in SWAT 3: Close Quarters Combat, where he is now SWAT leader, which seems a natural progression for him by then. In SWAT 4 Sonny has a cameo as a veteran member of SWAT and trainer of new SWAT recruits. The SWAT sub-series is peculiar in that the first entry was primarily an Interactive Movie, the second an overhead Real-Time Strategy game, and the latter two tactical FPSs, notorious since any downed civilian, suspect or bystander, costs points from your total score. SWAT teams really are the babysitters of the populace.

You can play the first game free and legally in HTML5, here.

Currently, you can purchase the Police Quest collection, containing I (including the VGA remake), II, III, and IV, as well as Police Quest SWAT 1 and 2 (there is a bundle you can purchase for $5 off) on For the record, both collections contain all the manuals and supplemental material to help you figure out your way in the game.

Jim Walls later moved on to Tsunami Games where he produced the Spiritual Successor, Blue Force. Decades later he started a Kickstarter for the Police Quest-like game, Precinct, however, it was cancelled due to lack of funding. He did say in recent interviews that he still wants to get the game produced in some way in the future.

For a page on the last three SWAT games, see Police Quest: SWAT 2, SWAT 3, and SWAT 4.

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    General Tropes 

This series contains examples of:

  • The '80s: Very much evident in the first three games:
    • The first game references the crack epidemic of the period, with Sonny drawn into the war on cocaine traffickers. Conflating it with a Satanic cult in III is also very much a part of media of the day.
    • While less clear in the first game, the more detailed graphics in II, and especially the move to VGA in III, show very 80s fashions and clothing. All of the car models are 80s or earlier vehicles, the lack of cell phones (such as usage of a pay phone in the first game, or people leaving Sonny messages in his desk inbox when he's not in his office), the continued use of revolvers by the police, and other examples of technology such as the rudimentary computers greatly affect the plot and gameplay.
    • The driving rock soundtracks in II and III have a synth rock sound right from the mid and late 80s.
  • '80s Hair: Less noticeable in the first game, though Jack is clearly sporting a very 80s pornstache, but by II the graphics are more detailed and 80s Hair abounds, while Keith inherits Jack's 'stache. Marie sports a very 80s perm in III (even though the 90s have arrived by then).
  • Aborted Arc: Pretty much every location, plotline, and character from the first game is dropped for the second, except for Marie and Bains.
    • Dooley is still around, having been promoted from Sergeant to Lieutenant, and he is now running the narcotics division. Another character from the first game appears in the second before he gets killed.
    • The Gremlin arc from the first game is also wrapped up in the second, albeit only if you read the relevant file in the computer, which reveals that Sonny's former Narcotics partner, Laura Watts, was the Gremlin, as it shows up as a reprimand in her file.
    • Keith, on the other hand, is a minor character in the first game and becomes your partner in the second.
    • PQIV has the murder case of Bobby Washington and the supremacist couple. See Anti-Climax in the Police Quest IV section.
  • The Ace: Over the course of the games, we see Sonny take on a variety of roles within the police department. He starts out as a patrolman and earns a temporary reassignment (which is treated the same as a promotion) to Narcotics, which includes a stint as an undercover officer. In the second game, he's been transferred to Homicide and has a scuba certificate. He's actually promoted to detective sergeant in the third game, and at the beginning he takes a temporary reassignment to patrol sergeant to cover for another sergeant. And finally, he appears in the SWAT series, starting from SWAT 2, where it's explained that he's loaned to the LAPD to train with SWAT in order to set up a SWAT team in Lytton. He's basically done just about everything there is to do in police work, and not only that, he's excelled at everything he's done, and it's implied that he's never put a foot wrong. He's basically the model police officer.
  • All There in the Manual: The manual and all other materials that are included with new copies of the game are what you need in order to find your way around. These include hints, tips and strategies of progressing in the game, including a reference sheet to teach you poker. Either that, or you could consult a guide instead.
  • Art Shift: PQI was a graphic text adventure that was quirky in its own right. PQII went for a style akin to a Buddy Cop Show. Japan got a more manga-inspired PQII. PQIII and the remake of I went for a more realistic look, especially, in PQIII, to highlight how depressing it gets when the story kicks off. PQIV, especially with the change in designers AND since Sierra was experimenting with other FMV games like Phantasmagoria, utilized digitized graphics to make the game look even more realistic, darker, and more depressing (though it ended up being almost as silly as PQI and II in some scenes). PQ SWAT wasn't as dark but still utilized digitized graphics and FMVs heavily. The rest of the SWAT games took up 3D models from then on.
  • Artistic License – Law Enforcement: Zigzagged in the Police Quest series. The first three games are meant to have you follow proper police procedure as listed in the manual such as arrest procedures, when to use your sidearm, gathering evidence and so on. Yet the hero Sonny Bonds is shown doing tasks that would usually be handled by specialized investigators or officers. In the third game, Bonds even goes first into a crack house after the SWAT team breaks the door down and then waits outside.
  • Big Good: Sonny Bonds. According to the Lytton Tribune in PQI, he's been nominated for the Officer of the Year award "due to outstanding effort and commitment in crime prevention." Lampshaded by a fellow officer.
    "Hey, Sonny! That story in this morning's paper sure made you look good."
  • By-the-Book Cop: Enforced. Half the puzzles in the games consist of knowing the proper police procedure and following it. Though they do get gradually less strict compared to the original graphic text adventure, the spirit of "you have to do this by the book" is present throughout the series. The most prevalent example of this is the traffic stops in the first game: you can let the sexy woman in the red convertible go without a ticket for running a red light, but you won't get any points that way. And you can't arrest the obviously incredibly drunk man until you prove that he's drunk with the proper test.
  • Character Development:
    • Marie went from a simple-minded hooker with a heart of gold, to an honest-working middle-class woman, to a considerably more intelligent and loving wife of Officer Sonny Bonds. The remake of the first game made her much less simple.
    • Sonny went from a well known By-the-Book Cop, to a Cowboy Cop who still manages to do things by the book, to a SWAT officer, to a SWAT team leader, to commanding a SWAT team.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In PQI-IV, your handgun. It does not have much use other than helping to uphold the peace (in the first game, you can put it in the gun locker at the jail and leave it there for the rest of the game), and is generally used more as an Appeal to Force. The gun gets the most use in the second game which is also the only time that Bonds shoots to kill. Justified in that you are an officer, and cannot unjustifiably go around and shoot people, even if they are about to assault you with a melee weapon or otherwise. note 
    • In PQIII, after getting a new computer access card, Mike will lament about a tracking device that hasn't been returned. You'll need to get one yourself to track a car you will have to chase.
    • In PQIV, there is a bulletproof vest, which the first victim's wife had packaged away and will give you later on. A gun fight happens later in the game where putting on the vest will absorb one bullet, giving you a free hit-point.
      • Also, when you look inside the trunk of John's car in the beginning of the game, you will notice the shotgun there that you cannot carry with you. You use it in the same scene where you can put on the armor.
  • City of Adventure: Lytton, the location used in the first three games. Its described variously as being a relatively small city, whose crime rate is only just beginning to catch up with that of bigger ones... but on the same token, it certainly seems to have more criminal activity than is typical for a town of its size.
    • Though the fourth game sets it in the non-fictional city of Los Angeles, California.
  • Copy Protection: Progressing in the game requires one to have the instruction booklet for suggestions and what to do in certain situations. (Nowadays, all you need is a walkthrough you can find on gamefaqs.)
    • PQII has a more straight forward means. Every time you start the game, it will ask you to identify the person on a mug shot. The names to accompany these mugshots are found in the manual (and in the files in the cabinet which is in the Homicide room).
  • The Coroner: PQII and III have Leon. While he possesses a sick sense of humor, he is said to be good at his job. He is given a lot more screen time in PQIII, highlighting his quirkier qualities.
  • Cowboy Cop: By halfway into each game, including PQIV, the game starts focusing less on procedure and more on Rule of Cool, and requires you to do things a little out of what a normal officer would. Not that we're complaining, as the games still attempt at playing the By-the-Book Cop to its effect, while providing some memorable scenes in the process (such as the terrorist hijacking scene in PQII, and the raid in PQIII).
    • It tends to be justified or handwaved as well: in the first game, for example, the shift comes when you transfer to the Narcotics division, which still plays by the book, but also uses undercover and sting operations, unlike the patrol division. Generally, when the game switches to more of a proactive policing role (investigation and so on), rather than a reactive role (patrolling and response), that's when the rules get a little less constraining.
    • In PQIV, the Lieutenant, and even Hal Bottoms, actively discourage John from invoking this trope, even though it is practically required to progress.
  • Creator Cameo: Jim Walls appears in PQII whenever you have a game over to inform you as to why you didn't do so well.
    • He makes a more frequent appearance in PQIII as the narrator.
    • PQII gives you the option to contact Al Lowe, another creator from Sierra. He detects Sonny as a potential customer and advertises Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking For Love In Several Wrong Places. You can even tell him if it's good or bad, and he'll respond accordingly. He also informs you that he is working on a third game, which had been finished since then.
    Al Lowe: If this sounds like a promo, it is. But then why else did you call me?
    • Darryl Gates appears on one of the floors in Parker Centre in 4. He's also an adviser for the player in SWAT 2.
  • Darker and Edgier: For Sierra's adventures as a whole. While not without moments of levity, it's still much more serious and deals with darker themesnote  than the whimsical King's Quest and often affectionally parodic Quest for Glory. To say nothing of the outright comedies like Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry.
    • Each game gets progressively more serious, including the VGA remake of PQI, released around the same time as PQIII. Despite this, Police Quest IV: Open Season manages to top them all in its portrayal of truly sick criminals, not to mention having even more darker themes than the third game.
    • The SWAT games escalates as well with each installment. SWAT 4 even has a scene where the cultists are revealed to have had sacrificed infants for their god.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The narrator of the Police Quest games shows shades of this, though he snarks a little less with each installment, and hardly does it at all in PQIV (due to it being much more dark - see Darker and Edgier above).
    • The Narrator in IV does get quite snarky if you do things like clicking the notepad on your car in the first scene("There's no need to record the fact that you drove your car here") or the putty knife on random objects("Feeling handy? Like Mr Fix-it Carey?") or the plastic bags on Lucky Mini Mart shelves("Are you shopping detective? Get back to work")
    PQI: Great. Another chapter in your life of big-time crime stopping — parking space hogging!
    • Dr. Aimes, the police psychiatrist from PQIII:
    "Lovely. I get to peer into the mind of yet another scumbag."
  • Depending on the Writer: Sonny Bonds's height, weight, hired date, badge number, and even birth date has been changing with each game. There are many other variables, and who knows who is correct on this.
    • As of Police Quest: SWAT 2, Sonny was 41, which means he was born around 1958.
    • The dates in the original game aren't even consistent with the current year, jumping between 1983 and 1987.
  • Developer's Foresight: You can visit any location and interact with some people earlier than the plot dictates.
    • In PQII, you can contact Al Lowe (see Creator Cameo) and Sierra hotline numbers (see Breaking the Fourth Wall in the PQII section).
    • Using the computer to search for swear words yields some hilarious results.
  • Digitized Sprites: The third and fourth games, as well as the remake of the first, used this technique with video-captured actors, as did most of Sierra's games around the same time. The artists left the sprites largely untouched to give the game a more realistic look.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Can happen a lot in the game, often resulting in missed opportunities to earn more points, or getting a game over. Examples include failing to look up license plate information before making a stop in the third game (lost extra points) and using either the lighter or pesticide, not both, in the fourth game (game over). The most tragic of all is SWAT 1, where failure to plan out mission 3 could result in the player dying the moment the mission starts.
  • Drives Like Crazy: The people of Lytton. Failing to look both ways, press the button at the crosswalk, or approach a vehicle automatically results in you getting run over. There are also traffic violations and even a stolen vehicle you will have to contend with.
    • You can drive like crazy yourself in the original game, as long as you can manage your speed and turns well enough (making it that much easier to speedrun). Also possible with the remake and PQIII, where you can choose to drive really fast. You just have to be quick to stop when you have to and get in the right speed for turning. It helps to have a map.
  • Drugs Are Bad: A common thing to see in these games.
    • Jesse Bains is a drug smuggler who also likes to murder people. Naturally, the police wants him off the streets.
      • So is his brother in the third game, though a lot more low-class by comparison, down to having his own crack house.
    • In PQIV, You are dealing with a gang who likes to run drug deals as well, though unlike the previous three games, this isn't the central focus of the plot.
      • While not a central theme, in IV in South Central you can see a DARE billboard in the background(put there at the request of Darryl Gates) as clicking Hickman's medication on certain characters gets an anti drug response(Richard Marx say "I just say no" Barbie Can say "oh no no no no" and the Ragin Records owner says he can't take drugs because it messes him up and could hurt his business).
    • Arresting the Domestic Abuser in the first callout in SWAT 2 will yield a quantity of PCP, implying that the drug was a factor. On the terrorist side of things, Basho is vehemently against drugs due to what happened to his own son.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Sonny Bonds suffers quite the emotional turmoil across the first three games, but each one gives him a genuinely happy ending.
    • Same for John Carey.
  • Edutainment Game: Police Quest I (the original game) is said to have been used to help train newer police officers in using proper police procedure. See Shown Their Work below.
    • Heck, the reference material included with both versions of PQI teaches you how to play poker. It has a reference of winning cards by rank, teaches you basic terms, and how the game is played specifically.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: As a lot of Sierra's games, this is the case. A particularly egregious example: If you forget to inspect your squad car properly, you get a flat tire. This is game-ending, as, instead of being on patrol and seeing all the plot-critical elements, you're stuck waiting for a tow truck.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: In PQI thru IV, you have the option to adjust the game speed, which also decides how fast the character can move. The strange and hilarious part about this is that not every element will follow suit. For example, in PQIII, the speed will affect how fast Sonny moves, but everyone else will move normally.
  • Game-Over Man: Jim Walls in PQII and III will personally offer his insight on any game over you accomplish, with a few exceptions.
    • The remake of PQI added a laughing skull in most of the game over scenes.
    • In SWAT, most of the failure screens involve the sergeant scolding you harshly.
  • Genre Shift: In chronological order...
  • Guide Dang It!: Open Season had several of these. Without the proper documentation provided with the games, you'll end up saying this as well.
  • Have a Nice Death: The game, or Jim Walls, will inform you how you screwed up, usually followed by what happens next.
    • Averted with Police Quest SWAT. Getting killed in combat simply shows your funeral. Non-death game over sequences do play this straight with reprimands for poor behavior, including those that lead to game overs.
  • Hide Your Children: There are no children anywhere in Lytton. According to the newspaper reference material provided with Police Quest VGA remake, there is a program in place to keep the children protected, which may explain why you almost never see them in the games, with the one exception in PQIII, and averted in PQIV since it takes place in Los Angeles and makes the material irrelevant to that.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Marie Wilkans, a friend of Sonny's from high school, who agrees to help out with an investigation, and later becomes his girlfriend and his wife.
  • Hot Pursuit: Happens in PQI and III a couple of times, including a fast speed one in III. You have the option to do it in II also.
  • Idiot Ball: There are plenty of moments where this can be invoked, and you don't need to be a police officer to say "What an idiot!" to yourself.
    • For example, in PQI, try firing your gun while it's holstered, or leaving the gun locker open while your gun was in it. In PQII, try approaching airport security with your gun drawn, or shooting in the firing range without ear protection.
    • A rather funny one in PQIII where you approach a car you pulled over from the driver side, instead of taking the safe route and approach the vehicle from the passenger side. And yes, this can happen even after a pursuit that ends with the evader getting in a crash.
    • This has been downplayed with PQIV, but there are still some moments you can invoke, such sexually harassing a female officer by touching her, disregarding the many warnings she gives you for doing it repeatedly, or simply drawing your gun when it isn't necessary (although every time this is done, you will get a warning from the narrator before the game allows you to do this).
    • In PQII, Marie clinches onto this when you go rescue her by screaming how relieved she is for being rescued... then Bains enters the room. The solution is to tell her to calm down before unbinding her. Justified because she's spent the last two days in the clutches of a man that she knows is going to kill her, and she gets overly emotional when Sonny shows up literally out the blue.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: There are almost no children present in Police Quests I thru III. In the first game though, Jack mentioned his teenage daughter named Kathy who has been using drugs she bought from a suspect in high school. Later in the game, Sgt Dooley informs you that she eventually died from an overdose. The suspect, also a teenager, looks exactly the same as any adult.
  • In Name Only: The SWAT series bears virtually no resemblance to the original Police Quest series, despite bearing its name. This ended with SWAT 3, which dropped the name.
  • It's Personal: In every Police Quest game before the SWAT games.
    • PQI has this to a certain degree. During the briefing of the sting operation, Sgt Dooley informs Sonny that Jack's daughter had died due to an overdose from the same drugs that Bains has been selling. The narrator cements this after you get the news.
    • PQII has this as Jessie Bains's motivation for murdering the people involved in his case, and kidnapping Marie. Naturally, Sonny takes this personally too.
    • PQIII has Bains's brother, who decided to assault Marie, resulting in her being comatose. Sonny, naturally, swears revenge, and is a little more aggressive about it in the game.
    "I will get that bastard, Marie. I SWEAR IT!"
    • PQIV has John Carey wanting to find out who murdered his friend in the beginning of the game.
  • Jerkass: A lot of the offenders are not nice people. The only ones who seem nice are in Police Quest III: The drunk driver who is hilariously cooperative, and the horny man who is in a rush to get with his date to the point that he politely asks to get his ticket done and over with.
    • One particular example is a Latino man who was driving slowly in the left lane. Despite obstructing traffic, he refuses to accept responsibility and decides to fight the ticket in court. Thankfully, Sonny's patrol car has a speedometer calibration chart, which is enough to make the judge find in favor of the police department.
    • The first person you pull over in the series is a beautiful woman who's only too eager to show some skin and make promises to get out of a ticket. The second you insist on writing her a ticket, she becomes incredibly abusive. Lampshaded in the VGA game, where the narration points out that you're just doing your job, trying to keep the streets safe for everyone, and boy does everyone take it out on you.
  • Karma Houdini: Among The Gremlin's pranks was spraying a memo to Sgt. Dooley with mace. When he read it, the effect was pretty much the same as if he got sprayed in the eyes with the stuff. Fast forward to the second game, and a computer search through the personnel files reveals not only the identity of the culprit, but that the individual was punished by being given a written reprimand and being forced to write an apology to Dooley. And after that, Laura was able to retire at the age of forty.
    • In PQIII, you can review files on Pat Morales, and even a psychiatrist's personnel file on her to reveal that she has a slew of cases on her before the game started. To begin with: she has tampered with evidence and gone against protocol several times, leading to a prior investigation by Internal Affairs, but she was left untouched due to lack of evidence. Sonny can find actual evidence to finally have something done about her.
    • In the finale of the SWAT 2 terrorist campaign, the terrorist mastermind (Basho) betrays the player character (Dante) and is subsequently killed or arrested. Okay, good. But Dante and anyone else who escaped in the private jet are apparently forgiven for multiple instances of murder and kidnapping, just because Dante renounces the criminal life.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: In the first game, Donald Colby got away with several drug deals harming high school students, including one that got Jack Cobb's daughter killed by overdose, after Donald testified against Bains in exchange for a suspended sentence. In the second game, however, Donald's warranty expired after Bains murders him.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em:
    • In PQIII, after gunning down a couple of Bains' men, he'll surrender himself without putting up a fight.
    • In PQII, there is a mugger who will go after Sonny. Just call Keith on the two-way radio (or show the mugger your badge, or your gun), and he'll high-tail it. It doesn't take Keith long to catch him though (but only if you use the radio).
    • In the first game, the customer of a drug dealer will surrender immediately the moment you order him to freeze and come out with a gun, while the dealer runs (though if you keep Laura informed, she'll intercept him as the game requires). The remake, however, subverts this as the customer does make an attempt to escape, but gets held up when Sonny gets closer and orders him to freeze once again.
  • Last Lousy Point: There are a lot of easily-missed pieces of evidence that aren't required to win, but are needed for 100% Completion.
    • In the first game, failing to check the VIN on the blue Cadillac will lock you out of 100% completion.
    • The second game has a couple: failing to find the bomb-making guide, failing to read the mugger's rights (even though your partner has already done that), failing to closely examine the note you find on Marie's door, and, the most easily missed, not checking the bulletin board at the beginning of the game to discover you're behind on your shooting scores.
  • Look Both Ways: You can walk towards the middle of the street in PQII, resulting in Sonny getting run over. You can also do this at the crosswalk at the airport without pressing the button with predictable results. In PQIII, never approach a stopped car from the driver's side. This gets hilarious as you'll be run down by the same car every time.
  • Lawman Baton: In PQI, you need to check the inside of your patrol car to find your PR-24 nightstick. Use of the PR-24 is the correct way to deal with the biker gang in Wino Willy's.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: Throughout the series Bonds handles loads of tasks which should be done by a specialized investigator or officer. Probably the biggest example of this is near the end of the third game, where you call in a SWAT breach team to help in taking on a group of criminals who have barricaded themselves in a crack house. All the SWAT do is plow down the door with their motorized ram, and Bonds proceeds to enter the house by himself while the SWAT waits outside.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Sonny is issued a different sidearm for each game in which he appears; a .357 Magnum revolver in the original game, a 10mm 1911 based pistol in 2, and a 9mm Beretta in 3. In his appearances in the SWAT spinoffs, he uses a 1911 in SWAT 2, which is also the default sidearm in SWAT 3.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot:
    • PQI's plot starts with an investigation of what seems to be an accident. It doesn't take much investigating to find out that the driver was shot, though, and his death and the police's subsequent investigation ends up uncovering and destroying a burgeoning drug empire. Downplayed in that the police already knew about the drug empire, but didn't have any information on who was behind it. The accident gives them a link to follow when they discovered the deceased man was targeted because of his connection to (and betrayal of) the kingpin.
    • PQIII has a scene of Marie getting attacked by a couple of thugs, and investigation reveals that one of them was Jessie Bains' brother. More importantly, the investigation into the attack leads Bonds to uncover another (much less upscale) burgeoning drug empire, as well as a seriously Corrupt Cop.
    • PQIV starts off with John solving a murder case of a fellow police officer and a child. After a shootout that eventually exposed the child murderer, it turns out that they had nothing to do with the officer's murder. John later learns and pieces together that it was committed by a demented, mentally deranged serial killer.
  • Morality Pet: Marie becomes one for Sonny in PQII and PQIII. Although this is surprisingly subverted, considering that even though Sonny rescued Marie from Bains (who had murdered his fellow officers and witnesses at that point), he only killed Bains in self-defense. Again in III where Marie got put in a coma by Bains's thugs, and yet the most aggressive he got was eyeing at a potential suspect, and charging into a crack house alone, and even then all his kills were in self-defense.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Jessie Bains, the Death Angel! He lives up to his name quite often according to news reports. And he fails to disappoint in PQII.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: In PQII, the only time Sonny doesn't go crazy from randomly firing a gun is when he shoots at a shaking bush at the Cotton Cove. This gives Sonny a game over, because he had not ascertained it really was Bains (who it was), and it could have been a little boy playing for all he knew.
    • In PQIII, if you take the key from a fellow officer's purse, and she returns to find it missing, the game ends with a unique game over screen.
      "BUSTED! You died of embarrassment!"
    • In the same game, staying in a woman's locker room long enough has Morales catching you inside, giving you a similar game over screen.
      "Breaking and entering doesn't look good on a policeman's record, Sonny!"
    • In PQIV, if you investigate a certain suspect's apartment without checking under the door, a dog will jump out to kill the player. Instead of the normal game over music and regular dark fade, there is a red fade that happens almost immediately, and the game over tune is replaced by the sound of Carey getting mauled by that dog.
    • Walking out of the locker room wearing only your towel in the first game will cause Laura to walk past and pass comment. It's also possible to strip off at any point during the game and cause an instant game over.
  • Obnoxious Entitled Housewife: Open Season has Rosa Garcia. When her son, officer Rene Garcia, dies, she complains to detective John Carey about how useful he was, was saving himself for a good girl, and is mad that some pervert killed him and exposed his body. She even demands that the detective finds the person responsible and punishes him and insinuates that he doesn't understand the weight of the situation because he doesn't have a son. Additionally, she is mentioned to have been giving the Lieutenant an earful beforehand and Carey's partner Hal Bottoms calls her one tough bitch.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: Some parts of the game require you to have your user manual handy. Failure to pass these parts may have the game remind you to have your manual.
  • Playlist Soundtrack: Open Season has two music tracks playing in the Bitty Kitty Club that switch one after the other - a happy dance-oriented one and one that's still upbeat and more like rock.
  • Police Brutality: Yeah, no. Invoking this trope yourself is a quick way to get yourself a Game Over. In each game, you have to go by the book and use the right amount of force each situation calls for. Not that it'll stop the criminals you're arresting from (wrongly) accusing you of this.
  • Police Pig: Many antagonistic characters throughout the series call Sonny Bonds or the Lytton police in general pigs. Tawnee V. Helmut in the first game's remake even mocks the protagonist with several things associated with pigs (a sty, rolling in mud, and oinking) after receiving a ticket. Conversely, in the fourth game only Yo Money references those animals, calling Dennis Walker "a boil on a pig's butt", which is not meant to disparage the new protagonist John Carey and he immediately apologizes for any potential insult from that line.
  • Pygmalion Plot: Not exactly an example of the trope being played straight, but close. In the first game, Marie is a hooker who's in love with Sonny. In the second game, Sonny has "helped her turn her life around" by somehow convincing her to give up prostitution and (presumably) get a legal job. While Sonny was clearly attracted to her in the first game, he doesn't enter into a serious relationship with her until after he's changed her. Perhaps justified, since it wasn't the safest line of work and he probably didn't want to have to worry about her getting arrested all the time, not to mention he would have lost his badge for compromising his integrity.
  • Rank Up: Sonny goes from patrol officer to detective in the first game, whether he applies for the promotion or not. In the intro for Police Quest III, he gets promoted to Sergeant. Other characters get off-screen promotions between games as well; Dooley was a uniformed sergeant in the first game and is a Detective Lieutenant in the second (though he loses his private office).
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: YOU, as Sonny Bonds!
    • And, by extention, most of the police force, obviously.
    • The judges in the first and third games as well.
      • PQI: As long as you have the evidence to prove Taselli and Hoffman are the same person, she/he will provide a warrant to keep him in jail. He'll escape anyway, unfortunately.
      • PQIII: She is more down the earth with Sonny, and is willing to grant Sonny's request to send in a motorized ram to bust down a door of a crack house, and a SWAT team who'd accompany him later.
  • Red Herring: There are some events that can happen during the story that have nothing to do with the overall plot (such as a terrorist hijacking in PQII, and the speeder in the PQI remake), other than the fact that these offenders had the misfortune of being caught by Sonny Bonds.
    • PQIV is worse than PQII about this. Mainly that the murder of Bobby Washington and the attempted murder on John by the white supremacist couple have nothing to do with the main story other than having bodies pile up during the time.
  • Retcon: The PQI VGA remake was released in 1992, a year after the third game. Woody Roberts (the bartender in the first game) appears in PQII as a dead man inside a trunk. However, the remake changed the character's name and gender. There are no updates to PQII that reflect this change.
  • Schmuck Bait: In PQI, after you arrest the drug pushers, you get a prompt saying it would be a good idea to question them before you take them to jail. Doing so without reading their Miranda rights first (which you are NOT prompted to do) will net you a game over. However, if you choose not to question them, the game will continue (but you get fewer points).
    • Players who read the manual and remember proper procedure for questioning suspects won't fall into the trap, of course.
    • PQII has you riding in the plane where the Captain asks everyone to put on their seat belts. Wanna see how serious they are about that?
      • "Remember, no partaking of the spirits" (he means alcoholic drinks, and yes, you have the option to drink them, and get drunk too).
    • Sonny can conduct a briefing in PQIII. He'll finish by reminding his fellow officers to "think about making right hand approaches on your car stops." You will make a few stops later, and make him go against his word, if you want.
  • Scoring Points: As per adventure games, PQI through IV have a point system where you can accumulate points for performing certain actions, and how many points you can get determines how correctly you handle a situation or perform an action. In some cases, you can even lose points.
  • Serial Killer: PQIII and PQIV have them.
  • Shown Their Work: The manual for each game includes pages full of comprehensive knowledge on crime information, procedure, radio codes, and so on, even if not all of it is relevant for that specific game. The first game was even used as a simulator for-up-and coming police officers. It helps that the lead designer will happen to be a retired police officer, either Jim Walls or Daryl F. Gates.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the original version of the first game, when you pull someone over, one of the locations you could end up is the disco from Leisure Suit Larry.
    • Larry himself is sitting around the airport in the second game. You can talk to him.
      • Also, going crazy (by just firing your gun when it isn't necessary) shows King Graham and mentions the plot device from Kings Quest IV.
    • In PQIV, the vehicle tow front desk guy will tell you to let Beavis know that Butthead sent ya. Notice how both of them love to laugh.
    John: Uhhhhh, Beavis, I was told to tell you that Butthead sent me?"
    "Beavis": Ehh? Ah ha ha ha!
    • And later:
    "Hahahaha, tell him Bucket said 'book em Danno.' Ahhahahaha"
    • "He looks like Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers."
    • One game over in the PQI remake (specifically, shooting the biker) will have Sonny spend the rest of his life as an "alcoholic shoe salesman".
  • Smooch of Victory:
    • In PQI original, Marie will kiss Sonny in front of city hall in the ending.
    • Again when you save Marie from Bains in the second game.
  • Sorry Ociffer: In the first and third games, you pull over a drunk man who is a textbook example of this trope, "ociffer" and all. Though he can become hostile in the first game if you give him the chance, the one in PQIII will be hilariously cooperative.
  • Spiritual Successor: Many argue that L.A. Noire is this.
    • Older still was the Jim Walls produced Blue Force.
    • Precinct (a new police simulator on Kickstarter) was supposed to be this but was canceled due to lack of funding.
    • For SWAT 3 and 4, it's argued that they are the successors to Rainbow Six 3 and below.
  • Stop, or I Will Shoot!: Played straight, but read your manual carefully and follow procedure exactly, or you're done. Yes, procedure contains "stop or I will shoot", but that's not all there is to it.
    • One pivotal scene in the first game has you pulling over a known violent suspect, wanted in at least two murders. The procedure here is actually very involved: you have to call for backup, wait for him to arrive and - critically - get into position, order the suspect out of the car, order him to get on the ground (twice, the first time he ignores you and he will shoot you if you don't order him again; you can skip this requirement by using the right commandnote ), and search him after you handcuff him. Fail to do any of this, and you're a dead man. Oh, and don't forget to read him his rights.
    • In SWAT 3 and 4, you will be saying this a lot! You have to get the suspect to surrender, even if he/she has a gun. Only when it's pointed at you or you hear a shot is when you're allowed to take a shot.
  • Super Drowning Skills
    • In PQI, you can fall into a river and flow away, drowning soon after.
    • PQII has a few instances where you can fall into a river, a lake, or even a sewer and drown. The river death can be avoided by calling in a dive team (see Oxygen Meter in the Police Quest II section), and the sewer is justified since it is sewer sludge you are submerging into.
    • PQIII gives you the option to wrestle a crazy man in a lake. Doing so has him forcing this trope down your throat.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: PQII ends with a shoot-out against Jessie Bains. What follows is Sonny's leave of absence for three days as Internal Affairs reviews if your actions were in self-defense. Thankfully, it was deemed to be so, and they decided to award Sonny, and even give him a two week vacation with pay for the trouble... unless you pulled the trigger first in the shootout. In that case, your actions were not in self-defense and Sonny instead gets arrested for murder.
    • PQIII took some liberties as to how the end scene is played off, and then once you complete that scene correctly, the narrator (Jim Walls) then informs you that "All that's left to fight is the paperwork." Not that Sonny minded, considering what he had to go through at the time.
    • SWAT 1 has internal affairs coming in anytime you had to use a firearm, even if the mission was a success. This is done to review if the shot you took was justified. Accordingly, justified shots has you reinstated and commended, while unjustified shots has you arrested, ending the game.
      • Using a flash bang on a woman with a bad heart, rather than stunning her, has her die immediately.
    • SWAT 2 would suspend an officer for shooting a suspect as well, even if it was justified.
    • When playing the terrorist campaign in SWAT 2, any terrorists who are severely wounded during a mission will be labeled "maimed", and cannot participate in any further missions. It's not like they can just go to a hospital, after all.
  • Symbol Swearing: The non-voiced games use symbols to censor swear words. This becomes less relied on in PQIII, and is averted in PQIV, where they simply minimize the swearing and use it sparingly, or even just use other words.
  • Toilet Humor: In the first and second games, you can talk to some cops who are on the toilet while in the locker room. Their responses range for sardonic to annoyed and can all be summed up as "I'm having a hard time in here, so leave me alone" and the second game allows the player to use the toilet. Averted in the third game and the VGA remake of the first game.
    • The third game actually lampshades the fact that the player is probably expecting some kind of toilet humor, by including a toilet that can be interacted with, but not actually used. Continued interaction will lead to the game basically telling you to stop obsessing over toilets.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable: Certain mistakes can prevent you from completing the game normally, such as not adjusting your sights in PQII (hope you saved beforehand!) and not investigating Marie's hospital bed for a discrepancy in medicine dosage or getting internal affairs involved in PQIII.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: In PQII, you can learn about a fellow officer's drug problem and talk to him about it, resolving in him swearing off of them for good.
    • In PQI, after hearing about Kathy's demise, you can call Jack's family to offer them your condolences.
    • A subversion in PQIII. You are required to give a homeless woman a lunch bag, only it's someone else's bag.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: There are several situations where you can shoot a criminal. In almost all of them, that is the wrong response and will get you a Game Over. The few exceptions to this rule appear in the second and third games. In two cases in the 2nd game, Sonny will be ambushed by a gun wielding Jessie Bains and must return fire in self defense. In the third game, Sonny is storming the hideout of drug runners and several armed suspects jump out from behind cover, and the correct response is to shoot them.
    • Lampshaded in the remake of the first game if you decide to shoot the biker in Wino Willy's.
    "You pull out your revolver and shoot the unarmed biker right between the eyes. (No, we're not going to reward your violence with animation of blood and brains hitting the back wall.)"
    • In SWAT 1, shooting anyone without a justifiable reason will result in internal affairs getting involved, and eventually having you arrested for murder. Victims can include Lucy, the old lady in the first mission, and a injured hostage in the third mission.
  • Violation of Common Sense: You can fire your gun without drawing it first, with predictable results. On the other hand, you can leave your gun at the jail locker for the entire game and proceed unarmed.
    • In SWAT 4, you fail on points for shooting a suspect regardless of whether they were going to attack you, one of your team, or surrender. Sadly Truth in Television. Though police and SWAT officers are entirely justified in killing someone who attacks them with lethal force, the game distorts the responsibility of the police to the public's perceived standard (and, in some ways, what professional organizations like SWAT are supposed to do) to protect and serve while doing as little harm as possible.
      • It gets ridiculous when the suspects CHARGE at you with the guns and you are still not able to shoot them. Slightly less once you realize you can only open fire when suspects fire their guns first, whether at civilians or you, or even just aiming their weapons. Bizarrely your snipers don't cause any penalties at all.
  • Waiting Puzzle: Some instances in the series requires you to wait to progress. Remember, this is a Sierra adventure game, and there are parts where waiting can give you a game over, render the games unwinnable, or (at best) losing the chance to earn extra points...
    • PQII did avert this for the motel raid, where an officer brings Sonny a search warrant moments after it is requested via radio, and backup will arrive the moment you leave your car after calling for it.
  • What the Hell, Player?: In PQ4, try giving the candy bar to Hal.
    • Some of the game over screens will warrant this at you, mainly for excessive force or mishandling a situation, like shooting an unarmed man who's only crime is acting like a maniac, or trying to take up going into a fist fight.
    • In PQI VGA, if you lose a card game (which you can invoke automatically if you want, that is ''don't play but lose anyway''), and the chief will have a word with you before sending you to the game over screen.
    • Also, if you don't report in at the station in PQII, or even if you play normally while driving your personal car instead of the unmarked police sedan, a patrol car will stop you and order you back, earning you a word with the head of Homicide. Thankfully, the game does not end there - unless you had already done it before.
    • If you try to pull out your gun on anyone where it isn't called for, the narrator will naturally call you out for it. You can pull it out after the second time, but you are then given a game over.
    • Strangely, if you sexually harass a female cop, she will firmly inform you that you are committing sexual harassment and order you to cease immediately. The strange part is that she will give you about five warnings before finally netting you the game over screen, AND how she seemed to have been under-reacting.
    • Your fellow officer in PQIII will give this to you for not siding with her (which you are required to not do, since at that moment she wants to arrest a pregnant woman who is about to give birth). Turns out the officer was trying to get you fired.
    • SWAT 1 loves this trope. Bad behavior incurs negative reactions from your fellow officers. Failing to meet protocol or staying with your team has you removed and scolded by the sergeant, and giving civilians the silent treatment has them rightfully offended at you.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: As a cop, just shooting anybody (even if there is that smallest justification to doing so, at least for this franchise's context) is an easy way to lose your career, and by extension, the game. You're only allowed to do this if they have a gun, otherwise you must disarm the suspect or use your nightstick.
    • The SWAT games are a little more lenient. SWAT 3 and 4 do allow this, but you'll get penalized for shooting anyone, even if they point the gun at you. Strangely, taking control of the snipers and dispatching a suspect with their rifles grants you no penalties.
  • Wretched Hive: In the first game, Lytton is turning into one.
    • In the third game, Lytton turned into a city fairly quickly, and is starting to become this again.

    Police Quest (including VGA remake) 

Police Quest (and its VGA remake) contains examples of:

  • All Bikers Are Hell's Angels: The bikers who are hogging the parking spots in front of the café next door very much look and act this way. You have to convince them to leave with as little force as possible. Which requires beating the shit out of one with a nightstick in self-defense.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The VGA version at least gives the player the option to skip the poker segments near the end of the game. You have to play and win to get all the points, but that was a nice bone to throw players not interested in mastering poker.
  • Betting Mini-Game: You are required to play a game of poker against three other characters twice. In the remake, you have the option to skip this and choose to win, or even lose. Of course, you won't win the points you get for playing and winning legit.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In the original, if you told your backup the room number of Bains's room before going in, they will make it just in time to save Sonny. Subverted in which it buys Sonny enough time to shoot Bains himself. Not so flashy in the remake though.
  • A Birthday, Not a Break: Jack, Sonny's fellow officer, talks about how his life is screwed up (his daughter is doing drugs - foreshadowing a related event -, he has a drinking problem, and his wife is ready to leave him). Subverted shortly after as his depression fades with the surprise party and the gag dancer showing up to lift his spirits. Things do not get better for him, though: his daughter later dies of a drug overdose, and the second game personnel files show that he quit.
  • Bribe Backfire: Helen Hots (the woman who ran the red light) will attempt to buy you off with sex if you don't give her a ticket. Telling her no is the correct course of action. She will immediately and flamboyantly lose her temper. Of course, you could accept the offer for sex, which the narrator berates you for. You can follow up with it later, only to discover she is the wife of a big-shot member of the police force, which is very bad news for you.
  • Briefer Than They Think: Because there's no day-night cycle and no break from any of the action, the game appears to take place in less than a single day, with the first patrol shift starting at 1pm, the second shift at 7pm, and the sting happening at night. With all the events going on, many players feel the timeline is quite a bit longer.
  • Butt-Monkey: The mysterious Gremlin has made Sergeant Dooley the target of several amusing (to everyone but him) practical jokes. Though the audience only gets to see two first-hand (the live chicken left on his desk and the memo soaked in mace), Dooley's reaction makes it clear that the prankster is a serial offender.
  • But Thou Must!: If the player doesn't stick in the application for a transfer to narcotics, the division will request him to be promoted anyway.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': If you neglect to walk around your car before leaving the station, you will get a flat tire.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Taselli/Hoffman has a tattoo of a flower above his left nipple. This is important for preventing a judge from giving him bail (by showing that Taselli and Hoffman are the same person, and since one is wanted by the FBI in multiple murders, giving him bail would just let him get away), and for identifying his corpse after Bains kills him and dumps in the river after Taselli escapes prison.
    • Opening Sonny's locker at the start of the game reveals two outfits in addition to his uniform. The first set is Sonny's off duty civilian attire, which he wears to The Blue Room for Jack's birthday. The other is an old pair of jeans and a white t-shirt that becomes his outfit as a detective.
    • Defied with Sonny's service revolver. While you gain points for taking it from the locker and loading it, it never gets fired throughout the game. The Derringer concealed in the trick cane does get used, but without the player's input.
  • Chick Magnet: Sonny receives several suggestive comments from his female co-workers with one officer in particular wanting desperately to *ahem* partner up with him. One traffic stop attempts to seduce him in order to get out of a ticket, though actually taking her up on it is a bad idea. Finally, by the end of the game, Sonny hooks up with his old school friend, "Sweet Cheeks" Marie Wilkans.
  • Color-Coded Speech: In the VGA version, some characters have a different color for the speech window than white while speaking. This gets a frightening effect when you discover one of the characters in the game is the Death Angel, causing their window to go from brown to red.
  • Continuity Snarl: Occured due to the decision to replace Hotel Delphoria's male bartender Woody Roberts with a female bartender named Alexandra Parker in the remake. This causes a continuity error since Police Quest II also features Roberts when he gets killed by Bains for testifying against him. This was Hand Waved by saying that the remake —despite otherwise being nearly identical to the original— exists in its own continuity; Police Quest II is therefore not its sequel.
  • Cutscene Boss: The final shootout with Bains requires no player interaction, though it is Sonny who fires the deciding shot.
  • Drinking on Duty: Defied. Doing so will give you an instant game over. On the other hand, a beer or two is OK if you are off-duty (e.g. Jack's birthday party) or are undercover.
  • Dye or Die: In the first game, part of your disguise for going undercover (as a pimp!) involves a blond dye job. Apparently Sonny (or Marie) liked the look: he keeps it for the second game, going back to brown in the third.
  • Evil Laugh: Heard on the game over screen in the remake.
  • Funny Background Event: The narrator of PQI enforces this by pointing out (twice) that a fellow officer uses the shower all the time because he's too cheap to use his own.
  • Gender Flip: The bartender at the Hotel Delphoria is a male in the original version of PQI and a female in the VGA remake.
  • Good-Guy Bar: The Blue Room is the local hangout for Lytton PD cops off duty. The place is even owned by a former LPD officer.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: The first half of the game is "a day in the life of a patrolman", with occasional links to the overarching plotnote . The second half of the game is the setup and execution of a drug sting, and has a significantly different feel from the first half.
  • Handy Cuffs: A drunk driver will ask if you can handcuff him on the front because he isn't feeling so good. Do this, and he will knock you out shortly after (or immediately in the remake).
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Sonny can fire his gun while it's still holstered with predictable results.
  • Jiggle Physics: In the original PQI. Not in the traditional sense, because the AGI engine certainly couldn't handle that, but a closer look at Marie's sprites shows her chest bouncing nonetheless.
  • Jive Turkey: Jefferson, the janitor in the first game. Understanding what he says may take some concentration.
  • Little Useless Gun: Averted by the derringer hidden in the cane that Sonny is given when he goes undercover. He ends up using it to shoot Bains non-fatally in the climax.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The two illegal poker games near the end of the game, which require luck (or Save Scumming) to make enough money. You can skip them in the remake at the cost of points.
  • The Mall: You never go inside, but if you look at it on the map the game points out if some hostile foreign power for some reason wanted to decimate the town it would destroy the mall on any weekend.
  • Meaningful Name: A minor character is named Helen Hots. She's the only character in the game to have a fully rendered human portrait, and is also the only character who you can ask for sex from (even though it will never happen).
  • Minor Insult Meltdown: Helen Hots, the first person you pull over in the game, tries to talk her way out of a ticket by seducing you. When you (correctly) remain professional and write the ticket, Helen delivers a series of insults and threats to Sonny that get increasingly unhinged, to the point that when you're walking away, the narrator lampshades the ridiculousness:
    You're doing your job, you're trying to promote safe driving, and then people like her have to rain on your parade.
  • Mood Whiplash: An infamous aspect of both versions. Due to Al Lowe being brought on board as a writer to "make it less depressing", there are a few instances where the change in tone shifts pretty hard. The racy Helen Hots episode, the Gremlin placing a molting chicken on Dooley's desk as a prank (which Jim Walls claimed to have happened while on the force), one officer making a lewd joke about the difference between oral and rectal thermometers (the taste), and a scantily-clad dancer at Jack's birthday revealing herself right after Jack complains about how the Death Angel had personally affected his daughter, all present humorous interludes in an otherwise serious story.
  • Morton's Fork: The fate of Jason Taselli. You end up jailing him and it's a race against time to get a No Bail warrant to keep him locked up. Fail to do so, he gets bailed out and escapes. Succeed, however, and he will jump a guard and escape anyway. Not that it matters in the end, as either way, Bains murders him for being too much of a liability and dumps his corpse near the Clearwater River.
  • Motorcycle Dominoes: You can knock over the parked bikes in front of Wino Willy's for a few laughs. "Someone has to answer to four angry people!"
  • Mutual Kill: When pulling over Taselli, getting out of your car before waiting for backup will make him get out and shoot you. If you're quick enough, you can shoot him too, but he'll still get you anyway. If your backup is with you, making a wrong move will prompt Taselli to pull his gun on you and get shot by your backup officer - though too late to stop Taselli from shooting you.
  • Poor Communication Kills: A non-lethal example is not keeping Laura informed during a drug bust, which can result in the dealer running away.
    • During the sting operation at the end of the game, your backup gives you a fake pen with a small transmitter in it. When you're following the Big Bad back to his room, you need to make sure they know which room it is before you go inside, because Bains is about to find out that you're a cop and kill you, and your backup needs to distract him so that you can take him down instead. Failing to do that will get you killed for trying to do everything on your own.
  • Press X to Die: In many cases, typing "remove clothes" will lead to an instant game over. Even if you are in the locker room or in the shower.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Sonny carries a .357 revolver as his police sidearm (the game was developed and released before the shift by police forces to semi-automatic handguns).
  • Rule of Three: There are 3 bars in Lytton, the Blue Room, Wino Willy's and the Hotel Bar. Sonny must visit all three at some point in the game.
  • The Stoic: In the remake, Sonny has even more speaking parts, and his portrait is shown in a weird, robotic looking expression that never changes even when he's disguised. Try to imagine him talking like a robot the whole time.
  • Take Off Your Clothes: Can be invoked on command, where you can walk out of the locker room in nothing but a towel, or even type in the right command to immediately strip. You will get a game over either way. You can even give your clothes to the front desk!
    "Sure, we'll take it. But you'll never get it back!"
  • Threat Backfire: The bikers will intimidate Sonny, and one will proceed to take him on. Intimidating them back with the nightstick will make them cower away. In the remake, the leader still won't have a problem wanting to beat you down, but Sonny does actually fight back with the night stick (taking him down with one strike), convincing the biker that assaulting an officer (especially an armed one) isn't a good idea.
  • Useless Item: Enforced with messages, which the game will throw away immediately, forcing you to note the contents down or commit them to memory. The only truly useless item in the game is the briefcase, which only serves to hold your ticket book, notebook and pen (if you put the briefcase back in your locker, the game automatically returns all three items to it, so you must keep the briefcase on you through most of the game).
  • Violence is the Only Option: Downplayed with the bikers at Wino Willy's. If you try to talk to them, the head biker will murder Sonny's sorry ass. You will have to beat the head biker up with the nightstick to "persuade" him and his gang to leave. Shooting him, however, will give you a game over.

    Police Quest II: The Vengeance 

Police Quest II: The Vengeance contains examples of:

  • 100% Completion: Getting all the points in the game requires you to go out of your way to do things completely unrelated to your investigation, most notably accessing confidential personnel records with your captain's login information to find out that a colleague is under investigation by Internal Affairs and letting him know, so that he can go into rehab instead of getting fired. There is no hint in the game that you must do this for points.
  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: Featured in the endgame. It's played down as the air is less than fresh. There are pockets of methane gas in some sections that kill you if you stick around too long. And the gas isn't visible, only the messages about teary eyes and difficulty breathing let you know of its presence. One of the pockets is too large to navigate safely, and will suffocate you if you can't find some way safely past it.
  • All There in the Manual: Going through the personnel files on the police station computer is not necessary to complete the gamenote , but it does tie up loose ends from the first game, including the identity of the Gremlin.
  • Ascended Extra: Keith, a minor character from the first game, becomes your partner in the second.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Bains really wants to kill anyone that helped put him behind bars. He succeeds in killing the bartender from the Hotel Delphoria, Woody, as well as Donald Colby.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: You can call Sierra customer support and let them know that you'd like help. Then the guy on the line will inform you that it actually isn't a support line and tells you to use a real phone instead.
    • You can also attempt to call the BBS line, which then tells you to call this number in real life if you actually have a modem to learn about Sierra products and promotions.
  • Buddy Cop Show: This game has shades of this, though it's downplayed.
  • The Cameo: Larry Laffer is waiting in the airport, just past the metal detector.
  • The Chase: Downplayed. After getting ambushed by Bains at Cotton Cove, you have the option of rushing to your car to chase him down. The chase will quickly go south, given that you lost sight of Bains before you even started the engine, but it does count as informing dispatch to be on the lookout for Bains car.
    • Immediately after your investigation at Cotton Cove is completed, you overhear another chase happening, when a patrolman runs across Bains car. Bains loses him in traffic, but it's enough to point you to the airport, your next destination.
  • Chekhov's Skill: You are required to attend to the firing range and practice shooting and making sure your gun is aligned. You then engage in a couple of gun fights that require you to have those sights fixed before hand, especially the last one with Jessie Bains.
    "It appears that all the firing range practice has paid off."
    • Interestingly enough, at the beginning of the game, Bonds actually has less-than-acceptable firing scores, which is what necessitates the shooting range practice.
  • Cold Open: The game starts with another normal day at the office. Bonds shows up, gets his stuff from his locker, and works on his weapons training in order to pass his upcoming competency test. He's also told that Bains somehow managed to get a retrial, and he spends some time reviewing the file in preparation. Then Bains escapes, and the chase is on.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover has Bains holding Mary hostage and he has a full-beard, but in-game he only has a mustache.
  • Cultural Translation: The Japanese version has a closer to manga art style.
  • Damsel in Distress: Marie is kidnapped by Bains halfway into the game. It's possible to not notice this (although the game won't properly progress until you do).
  • Death by Irony: Try going through the metal detector at the airport while drawing your gun.
    • This is if you don't show the guard your badge, of course. If you do, then he will let you through and allow you and Keith to keep your guns, apparently confident that cops won't try to hijack the plane.
  • The Determinator: Jesse Bains will make good on his end statement in the original PQI and go after everyone involved in his conviction. Including Marie. His having gotten shot at the end of PQI won't stop him at all.
    • Sonny is essentially the Light Side mirror of Bains in this department. Based on the narration and his few spoken lines, Bonds is methodical, professional, and properly detached throughout the entire game, but he will not stop for anything to bring Bains down and protect Marie.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The events take place over two days, with Bains breaking out of jail and escaping on the first day, and his Roaring Rampage of Revenge happening on the second day until Sonny guns him down.
  • First Day from Hell: Luis Pate, a correctional officer who recently started working at the Lytton jail. He had the misfortune of being Bains' Human Shield and means of escape. He then gets killed off, as Bains assumes his identity in order to rent a car and catch a flight.
  • From Bad to Worse: It starts bad when the chief of homicide informs you that Jessie Bains has managed to get a retrial based on an appeal about improper jury instruction. It gets worse when he informs you that Bains has escaped from prison and taken a correctional officer hostage. When driving to the jail house, Keith laments that "s#!* has hit the fan."
    • It gets even worse as the dead bodies pile up, Marie gets captured, and you learn that Bains has a hit list. Bonds is the last name on the list, presumably because Bains wants Bonds to suffer.
  • Goodies in the Toilets: One of the toilets at the airport has a gun in its tank that Bains discarded after he used it to assassinate a few victims. It must be found and picked up as evidence.
  • I Have Many Names: Jessie Bains has many alias including: Death Angel, Frank Magpie, Frank Sloan and William Cole. He adds "Luis Pate" - the jailer's name - to the list to try to throw Bonds off his pursuit.
  • I'll Kill You!: You can find a note in a trunk that contained the corpse of Woody from the first game that says "You're a DEAD man, Sonny Bonds!"
  • It's Personal: Clearly, Bains feels like his quest to kill everyone that testified against him is this. And while he's a Silent Protagonist, Bonds feels the same way in trying to stop him, especially after Marie is kidnapped. However, the game makes it clear that Bonds needs to not succumb to this in order to succeed: he needs to be methodical, meticulous, and most important of all, he needs to act only in self-defense, because if he makes it personal, Bains will get away or Sonny will go to jail.
  • It's Up to You: Your partner Keith doesn't do a lot except for smoking and following you around. The worse offender is when you decide not to stop the terrorists - you get a message chewing you out for doing nothing. What about Keith?! He was sitting next to Sonny and didn't pull his gun either!
    • Somewhat a theme of the whole game, really. Sonny does rely on other people, but ultimately, it's up to him to find the evidence in the river, to go into the hotel room after SWAT gasses it, and to take down Bains in the end.
  • Last Lousy Point: Pretty standard for Sierra, and there's a number of things you can miss: most easily, you can incorrectly gather evidence, or miss evidence entirely (the scene at Cotton Cove requires so many different pieces of evidence to be collected and processed that you'll definitely miss at least onenote , and the trip to the airport immediately after is even worsenote . However, there's an incredibly minor subplot involving a Narcotics detective that's under investigation by Internal Affairs for drug use, which requires that you, without any prompting whatsoever, break into the personnel records for the department, find his file and learn about the IA investigation, and then warn him about it so that he checks into rehab at the end of the first day, instead of getting fired. The morality of this action (actively interfering in a criminal investigation) is never examined, and you'd damn well better do it if you want all of your points.
  • Leitmotif: Bains has his own leitmotif that plays whenever he's around or you discover something bad that he did.
  • Middle Eastern Terrorists: Sonny has to take out two Arabs who are trying to hijack his flight to Steelton in order to flee to Egypt.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Pulling your gun and shooting in the sewers is an extremely bad idea as the air is filled with methane gas. However, if you try to open the manhole cover, Bains shows up and shoots you dead, and there aren't any explosions.
  • The Stoic: Bonds is completely unflappable, through vehicle dialogue with Keith will imply that Bonds is either fuming with anger or scared for Marie. Even at the end of the game, after fatally shooting Bains, the first thing he does is slowly and carefully check the body for a pulse, though the narration notes that his hands are shaking.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Bains escapes and starts targeting people involved in the case from the last game.
    • When looking at a certain note: "This is definitely NOT Marie's handwriting!"
  • Oral Fixation: Your partner Keith smokes constantly while the captain of the homicide division keeps slurping ice cream. Pistachio flavour, specifically.
  • Oxygen Meter: There comes a part where you need to swim underwater, and use proper equipment too. You also need to check the oxygen tanks to see if they're full of air before going under water, or you'll automatically surface and leave your diving mate alone, thus missing some evidence. And yes, you do have limited air, so save beforehand and act quickly!
    • In the sewer, walking into an area filled with methane will generate a message stating you are having trouble breathing. Then a second warning says your vision is starting to go out. Soon, Sonny passes out fatally. Concentrated methane really IS that dangerous.
  • Rage Against the Legal System: Bains wants revenge on those who put him in jail, namely Bonds and the three witnesses who testified against him.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: At the airport, there's a woman with long golden hair wearing blue jeans and a pink jacket. She has her back turned away from you. When you talk to her, you find out it's actually a bearded man and irritatedly ask you: "What's your problem man?!" Or, if you type "look at man", he'll turn about and actually turn out to be a woman. The character is a linked joke to Larry Laffer, who is sitting nearby and comments on the character.
  • Red Herring: When the clues point you towards the airport on the second day and you start checking flight passenger lists, there's a listing of Jessie Bains going to Houston, Texas. It's a trap: the actual name you need to look for is "Luis Pate", the correctional officer that Bains killed on the first day.
    • Even earlier than that, the first day will have you follow Bains to the airport and find the car that he was using, implying that Bains may have hopped on a plane and flown the coop. But a quick check with the booking agents will reveal that no one using any of his available aliases or looking like him booked a ticket. He went to the airport to dump his stolen gun and rent a car.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: Sonny's sidearm seems to needs its sights adjusted on a daily basis. Which is probably why he's switched sidearms again for the third game. There's several possible reasons why, but given the action of the second day, it's logical to assume that the sights get knocked out of whack a couple of times and need to be readjusted.
  • Revenge of the Sequel: Police Quest 2 - The Vengeance.
  • Romance Sidequest: Marie will ask Sonny to meet her at a restaurant. If you accept, you will gain points, and have an opportunity to earn extra points. You can play off the date casually for the maximum points, or kiss Marie three times to have them ditch the place entirely for some private time together, but you won't get the max points. You do need to kiss her twice for an important clue later, however.
  • Say My Name: Before Metal Gear Solid, there was one game over that involved Sonny getting run over by a car and Keith shouting to him.
    Keith: Gee, Sonny, did YOU see THAT?! Sonny. Sonny? SONNY?!
  • Steel Ear Drums: Big aversion. Always wear your ear protection before you fire your gun at the range. Otherwise, Jim himself will shout at you as to why he has to shout.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: When you finally manage to track down Bains's base of operations in Lytton, you call for backup, which brings in two SWAT officers armed with heavy weapons and tear gas. The fact that Bains isn't in Lytton anymore makes it a Negated Moment of Awesome.
  • Take That Me: The opening has creator Jim Walls wanted "for excessive verbosity".
  • Take Your Time: Played With. The game starts with you showing up at work. You don't have to go right into the station. You can actually get in your personal car and drive to anywhere in the game you want before you even need to go there. Eventually a patrol car catches up with you and tells you to get to work.
  • Taking You with Me: After Sonny guns down the terrorists, one of them activates a time bomb before dying.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": The captain's passwords to his secured computer files are named after ice cream and their related flavors. He really shouldn't put them down on a piece of paper so everyone can see them on his desk.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Donald Colby. Good job getting into witness protection! So what's your new name? Oh, same as your old name? Well, at least you're not making a big deal of it. Oh, you started a new business? With your name? And sent business cards and advertisements to the city where the guy who wants you dead is located? Huh.note 
  • Trigger-Happy: Averted. Even if you know that Bains is about to ambush you at Cotton Cove, you cannot fire first. Bains has to shoot at you first, and then you can return fire. If you shoot first, Bains will end up killing you with his second shot. If you wait until Bains shoots first, he'll miss with the second shot and you'll scare him off with your return fire.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: The chief of police love to eat ice cream, even at work.
  • Wire Dilemma: PQII has a plane hijacked by terrorists who claim to have a bomb on board. After dispatching them, you are then tasked to defuse the bomb. Thankfully, it isn't that well made, considering the manual you can get from one of their bodies titled "BUILDING YOUR OWN BOMB."
  • Witless Protection Program: Escaped convict Jessie Bains is getting his revenge against the protagonist Sonny Bonds, the cop who arrested him, and the three witnesses who testified against him. One of the witnesses, Donald Colby, is under Witness Protection, and Bonds even gets a warning to him and the police of the city Colby is in. Nevertheless, Bains manages to kill the witness. Of course, it didn't help that Colby still used his real name and even opened a business under it, allowing Bains to easily track him.
  • You Are Too Late: Sonny didn't make it to Marie's home on time to save her from Bains...
    • Subverted with one of the witnesses. Sonny DID warn him about Bains, and can even call the local PD to keep an eye on him and tap his phone in case Bains calls him. The witness reassures you that he's under a witness protection program and is well hidden. Bains still got to him, unfortunately.

    Police Quest III: The Kindred 

Police Quest III: The Kindred contains examples of:

  • Ambidextrous Sprite: While played straight for the rest of the series, a glaring aversion is with Pat Morales, who always holds her purse with her left arm, and it is reflected as such, no matter the angle.
  • Avenging the Villain: Michael Bains is after Sonny and his wife for the death of his brother Jessie. He also takes up his brother's drug trafficking.
  • Ass Shove: Implied where the crazy guy in his underwear was keeping his knife.
  • Backtracking: At the end of the game, you discover a crack house. No one will answer the door, so you'll drive all the way to the court house to get your search warrant. Then you have to drive back, and still receive no answer. So you drive to the court house again to arrange a raiding, and finally, you can start off the finale.
  • Based on a True Story: In the introduction, Jim Walls informs you that some of the events in this game are based on actual events that occurred during his career.
  • Beard of Evil: Michael Bains's partner, Steven Rocklin, has one.
  • Berserk Button: Morales doesn't like it when things don't go her way.
  • Big Damn Heroes: An internal affairs agent can save Sonny right on time if Sonny requested an investigation on Morales.
  • Black Comedy: Leon, The Coroner. He gives the bodies cute names, and, when you examine Steve's body, you discover he has left a note for Sonny on the tag, having anticipated his peeking around when Leon is out.
  • Bookcase Passage: A fire place blocks a secret path inside a crack house.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Pat Morales reveals herself to Sonny at the end of the game that she is in Bains's ranks and decides to kill him! This can be prevented if Sonny managed to get internal affairs involved.
    • The key maker and army recruiting station at the mall? And the reporter that showed up at the scene of the crime? Turns out they will all be a big help to you in the game.
  • Connect the Deaths: A Game-Breaking Bug in this puzzle, which was present in the early versions of the game, often caused the game to become Unintentionally Unwinnable and earned it Fanon Discontinuity status with many fans.
  • Continuity Nod: You start the game as a patrol man just like the first game, even though you are a sergeant for the homicide department. Justified: Lytton PD is low on traffic cops and just needs Sonny for a day to help out. A couple of the busts are even similar to the first game with minor twists (for starters, most of your offenders not being total jerks).
    • The chief of homicide still loves his ice cream, according to Mike (who had to fix a piece of hardware due to an ice cream spill). You will also hear that familiar tune from PQII the moment you see a picture of Jessie Bains.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Marie ends up comatose, and the doctor encourages Sonny to bring in anything relating to her and interacting with her in hopes that she will wake up (and it also helps a lot if you make sure she's receiving the correct IV dosage). Doing all you can do will eventually wake her out of it, smiling at Sonny. If only it weren't for the fact that you still had a shift to cover...
  • The Determinator: Bains' brother, Michael, attempts to have his revenge on Sonny for killing Jessie (in self-defense, of course). This is inverted however, since he gives up the moment he saw Sonny shoot at his men.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: There's a really evil example of this that can occur in PQIII: One of the first actions you do in the game is to evaluate a fellow officer due to her belligerent behavior. If you don't choose to sustain the complaint put against her here, you can breeze through the rest of the game perfectly, only to have her gun you down immediately before the end of the game.
    • It also occurs literally right before the ending in the same game. If you don't bring Marie's inadequate treatment to the attention of the hospital, she remains a vegetable.
  • Dirty Cop: Pat Morales, a hot-tempered police officer. According to a police psychiatric report, she hates authority figures in general and has low self-esteem which she tries to cover with a belligerent attitude. She was also suspected by Internal Affairs to have destroyed evidence on three separate occasions, but was let off due to lack of evidence for such. It turns out that Morales is a member of the Sons of Darkness cult, acting as their insider within the Lytton Police Department. She is also a Functional Addict to cocaine. Morales finally paid for her crimes when she was about to shoot Bonds with a dead cult member's gun, only to be shot in the head by a detective from Internal Affairs at the last second.
  • Easter Egg: You can find Jim (also known as James) Walls's name on the computer. He's apparently part of the Designer division of the Lytton Police Department. He's also lost some weight too. Go Jim! Also, he has the code name Ice Man.
  • Executive Ball Clicker: Criminal psychologist of the LPD Dr. Sidney Aimes has a Newton's cradle on his work desk, which the game mentions is for "mindless executives". Using the hand icon on it makes him ask "Would you mind not playing with my balls, please?"
  • Face–Heel Turn: Bains' brother used to serve in the army, but turned to drug dealing and setting out for revenge when he learned that Sonny killed Jessie.
    • Pat Morales has done this some time before the game began.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Morales, according to her file and the complaint made on her. She also demonstrates this when Sonny arrives to learn about the refusal to sign and simply asked about the situation, earning her getting frustrated with him as well.
  • Ironic Name: The name Morales, means right and proper, or, literally, morals. Her behavior suggests otherwise.
    • Ironic Echo: A look at her file on the computer suggests many other things...
  • Let's See YOU Do Better!: When interviewing Morales and trying to get the truth behind the complaint from her, she'll then tell you to try to be in her shoes before telling her how to do her job. Which you have been. And you did do better, since it got you promoted to Narcotics, then Homicide, then Detective Sergeant. And while you're helping out with the Patrol division, you again do better.
  • Mood Whiplash: In PQIII, you can beat the game, all triumphantly going to the hospital to check on Marie. If you haven't been visiting at the appropriate times, the game will cut the ending music and go straight to game over before telling you that she's a vegetable.
  • Naked Nutter: Brian Forbes, a guy who's only wearing his undies - and has a knife hidden in them - who's causing problems at Aspen Falls due to babbling about Bathonians, being clearly in a deranged state of mind.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Sonny's encounter with the naked Bathonian (and his paranoid delusions) is fairly lighthearted. If he didn't have many ways to kill your character, that is.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: The message was displayed in the end credits.
  • Pixel Hunt: For a Sierra adventure game, it's inevitable that this will show up, though it's easier to make out compared to other examples. You will need to get batteries for your flash light and use it to find a piece of evidence under the car. Otherwise, it's unwinnable.
  • Properly Paranoid: Pat Morales has exhibited aggressive behavior according to a report (which you have the option to interview her) and her file, and will later show that behavior by berating a pregnant woman she stopped on the road, and berating you briefly for not agreeing with her. You will need to make a copy of her locker key to have access to her locker. Inside are some drugs. This is when you know perfectly that this is not going to end well.
  • Proud to Be a Geek: The head tech guy, Mike, loves to talk about the technology he can give you. Sonny does not care to hear about this, but ends up having to anyway.
  • Religion of Evil: Michael Bains runs it. The killings appear ritualistic and connected to one another (in which the victims have satanic carvings). They also deal drugs too. The only exception is the assault on Marie, which has been done for personal reasons.
  • The Reveal: The fact that Morales isn't on the up and up in any way at all. You find bags of cocaine she stole from the crime scene, behavior consistent with the case files against her. Learning about this pretty much makes it inevitable that her pulling a gun on you will occur at some point.
    • Another twist is finding a photo of the Bains brothers!
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Michael Bains experienced PTSD after hearing about Jessie's death, eventually getting discharged due to psychological instability.
  • Something We Forgot: Forget to search the "Bathonian" (the crazy man at Aspen Falls) — even if he is in his underwear — and turned him into the jailer? He ends up murdering the jailer, and gets you sent to the game over screen. Oops.
  • Super Strength: The "Bathonian", if he does fight you, will kill you with a single punch, and has the superhuman strength to drown you with ease, likely because he is under the influence of some sort of narcotic. You will have to perform other procedures to subdue and arrest him.
  • Take That Me: When you distract Mr. Stumps by shoving a whole roll of toilet paper into the toilet, you can walk back into the men's restroom and talk with him to get this line.
    Mr. Stumps: (in reference to the clogged toilet) Bet it was that Officer Walls again.
  • Tempting Fate: "Thanks Sonny. Hope the rest of your patrol is less exciting."
  • Trouser Space: Really make sure you search the (nearly naked) "Bathonian" on your first arrest, or he will do a literal ass pull and kill one of your fellow officers with a super-secret knife. If the knife is found, it is lampshaded by a jail guard:
    "You mean to tell me you fished that outta this guy's shorts? You've got some guts, Bonds."
  • Unwinnable by Design: A cruel example. If you don't sustain the complaint against Morales in the very beginning, then at the end of the game she'll shoot you.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: If you pull over a black car speeding, the driver will yield but go up to you and inform you that he is an agent that's been pursuing a drug runner, and berates you for stopping him.
    • If you utilize the in-vehicle terminal to identify the vehicle, AND back off, you won't have this problem. Just make sure your sirens are not on when you do it.
  • Worst Aid: A near-fatal example: The third time Sonny visits the hospital, he is told by Marie's doctor that all they have for her to come back is hope. You will need to examine the clipboard on her bed, which reveals that her IV dosage is off. Calling the nurse and inform her about it, in which the doctor makes the necessary adjustment and lampshades this trope.
    "I don't understand this at all. I can't believe our staff could make such a serious error!"
  • Wunza Plot: Sonny Bonds is a By-the-Book Cop who assesses most (if not all) situations according to procedure and is known for having played a key role in capturing a serial killer and drug runner, and then killing him in self-defense when he broke out, and has gained the reputation of being cop-of-the-year following Bains' arrest. Pat Morales is a female Cowboy Cop who is a loose cannon who doesn't always do things by the book and believes in harsh justice and that her partner is too soft. Sonny fights crime. She doesn't!

    Police Quest IV: Open Season 

Police Quest IV: Open Season contains examples of:

  • Aerosol Flamethrower: Captured and stripped of his possessions by the killer, Carey must create one with a lighter and hairspray to vanquish him.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Mitchell Thurman has this.
  • Anti-Climax: A jarring example. The first third of the game builds up the investigation about the murder behind a cop: Bob Hickman, and a child: Bobby Washington. Emo called John about information he'd like to share about the murders, only to get caught in a shoot out. After the scene, everything is suddenly resolved off screen, as Emo survives in the hospital and reveals that Spiff wanted to use Bobby to ship his guns, killed him in cold blood, and tried to kill Emo to shut him up. Spiff will be charged swiftly for a couple of attempted murders, and the murder of Bobby. The only thing that wasn't so anti-climatic is that Spiff is not responsible for Bob's murder.
    • The conclusion with Dennis Walker and his girlfriend also ended as quickly as it came.
    John: Geez, the feds are talking with Walker right now. Apparently, he is a real special case.
    • Also, the final part of the game just ends. You find who the killer is, which becomes more obvious at this point, follow a linear path, and the game just ends with Mitchell killed while in the process of murdering(?) his newest victim, and the game abruptly ends with John in city hall, with the mayor loving him and giving him the medal of valor, and credits! Not even a "I did it, Bob" line of any kind? This should just be called Anti-Climax: The Video Game!
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "I'm sorry too. I'm sorry that this city is full of dirt-bags, creeps, and losers!"
  • As You Know: The beginning of the game has Sam Nobles inform John all about him and Bob together for the past five years, and talking about how John is practically a god-father to Bob's daughter.
  • Bitch Alert: Yo Money's manager. The first thing that leaves her mouth is accusing the police department of planting the body there to hurt Yo Money's sales. She will also actively berate John for asking helpful questions.
  • But Thou Must!: A reporter will stop John to ask some questions, which he cannot answer. You cannot do anything about it besides shove her to the side, which earns her reporting physical abuse and giving the LAPD a bad name.
  • Call-Back: There is apparently a server in the LAPD named SONNY.
  • Camp Gay: There is a male prostitute that attempts to flirt with John the moment he arrives at Pine Hollywood Avenue. He also attempts to break open your car, but walks away when he sees you.
  • Captain Obvious: "Griffiti is often left behind by gangs."
  • Catchphrase / Verbal Tic: "You're <insert emphasis if any> damn lucky <insert why>. Damn lucky." -Hal Bottoms
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • Sherry Moore is pretty much just a pretty face working at the morgue. Oh, and she ends up revealing everything about the case in an interview to a reporter, who in turn reported her story on national television, and as a result, it got the whole townspeople in fear and even buying out gun stores! Naturally, John is not happy, and neither is the chief.
    • Lassundra Washington apparently witnessed Bob Hickman's murderer. She mentioned a woman in a red dress when you talk to her after Spiff's been apprehended.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: There is a Character named Dennis Walker in the apartment that will use the word "Fuck" if you ask him about the music. He will use the word "Fuck" if you touch his stuff or if you show him your items from your inventory.
  • Cool Old Guy: Beavis, the tow guy. Or is it Danno?
  • Da Chief: Lieutenant Block. Funny enough, it's the only Police Quest games that has this trope played out.
  • Desk Jockey: Hal Bottoms. See Old Cop, Young Cop below.
    "They're (the criminals) just god damn lucky that I'm a desk jockey. When I was on the street, I'd whip their collective disrespectful butts.
  • Deus ex Machina: In Mitchell's apartment, you can find a decapitated head and a bathroom with an empty medicine cabinet. Check those areas again, and suddenly, there is a lighter inside the head's mouth, and a hair spray can in the medicine cabinet. And Michael is in the next room down.
  • Don't Try This at Home: When you combine the aerosal can with a lighter, the narrator says this word for word.
  • Dropped-in Speech Clip: The floppy version has one of Adolf Hitler's speeches playing in Dennis Walker's house, since he is a Neo-Nazi member of the Aryan Brotherhood. It has been removed from the CD version, even though a much more spacious CD would have less problems with storing audio, though this is presumably because the characters speak and it wouldn't want the audio to clash.
  • Dull Surprise: John Carey sure doesn't sound upset when he's supposedly expressing shock and upset that his fellow cop and best friend is dead. Then again, it could be said that he simply had no idea what he should be feeling.
  • Exactly What I Meant to Say: Carey can question another 'witness' on the first scene named Raymond, who will constantly tell him that "I ain't seen nothin'"
    John Carey: *questioning for the third time* "So Mr. Jones, what you're telling me is you don't have anything to tell me. Is that correct?"
    Raymond Jones: That's straight up. Ain't seen nothin'. Done nothin'. Know nothin'."
  • Fake Longevity: While it's excuseable to have to note anything relating to criminal activity just so you can fill out a report later, where is the excuse in forcing a player to loosen out every slug lodged into a wall, while hearing the same line "You loosened a slug from the wall" followed by a DING! for every slug loosened off? Fifteen times? Also, you will have to bag every single slug afterward. The game is also picky where you click your mouse at.
  • Force Feeding: John can literally force feed a dog some pills to knock him out.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Open Season came out just before the appearance of high-end 486 processors. These apparently messed up the internal clock so badly, that it became impossible to pass certain points in the game without dying (specifically the neo-nazi courtroom scene). Fortunately, even before a patch came out, Sierra realized that slowing the game to a crawl before such crucial scenes would solve the bug, and made this knowledge public.
  • Generic Graffiti: There is some of this in the opening of the game and you can investigate which Gangbangers it belongs to. Also attempting to use the chalk on any wall will cause the narrator to accuse you of being a graffiti artist.
    "Lieutenant Block doesn't want his walls covered in graffiti."
    "Graffiti at the Police Academy? Not a chance in hell!"
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Later, the city counsel and the mayor begin to question John Carey, and by extension, the LAPD's competence in dealing with a Serial Killer. In fact, John gets bombarded by questions by the general public the moment he steps up in city hall.
  • Hypocrite: Depending on your interpretation of Hal Bottoms. Of course, he might just be trying to look out for John considering what happened prior to this line..
    "Playing cowboy will only take you so far in this damn job. If you wanna make it as long as I have, you're gonna have to curb your appetite for action."
  • Implied Love Interest: Some pieces of dialogue involving Chester implies that John is trying to hook up with her. She can be monotone and blunt towards John's otherwise friendly and caring remarks.
    • Of course, Sam (at the Short Stop) pretty much told John that he and Chester might have been an object before.
    Chester: Sam, I think you had enough to drink.
  • In-Series Nickname: Hal refers to John as Junior, likely due to how he's the older partner compared to John.
  • Intrepid Reporter: There is a reporter who is actively trying to learn of the murder cases. John can shove her to the side, and give her quite a word, though this earns quite a lecture from his chief.
  • Irony: Look inside the LUCKY MINI MART dumpster...
    • Try throwing Hickman's funeral notice in the garbage can at the coroners office.
  • Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: Attempting to take a flyer advertising a bake sale from the wall in Lt Block's office will meet with the narrator telling you "Remove and face certain death".
  • Jump Scare:
    • How does PQIV begin? If you open up that dumpster...
    • IN PQIV, if you enter a suspect's home without checking who's inside, a dog will ambush the player at blazing speed, followed by the screen fading red and the audio being the player being mawled. It happens so fast too.
    • There is a decapitated head waiting for you in the fridge. And yet, the narrator finds a way to downplay this.
  • Lemony Narrator:
    • Also, in attempting to do something that could be considered criminal, the narrator will prevent you from doing it (most of the time; he won't stop you shooting the candy machine) and make a comment about you being a Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop.
  • MacGyvering: In this series of Guide Dang It! moments:
  • No-Gear Level: John is knocked out by Michael at the end and had his whole inventory confiscated. Thankfully, a can of aerosal and a lighter is not far off.
  • Non-Linear Sequel: In a change from the original trilogy, the setting is moved to Los Angeles and focuses on a new protagonist.
  • Not a Date: When Chester invites John to a bar, John jokingly asked if she was asking him out. She returns with "Not in your wildest dreams."
  • Note to Self: It is more important to use the notebook on any piece of the crime scene, evidence, victims, and witnesses. You will also be recording what you recorded onto different forms for extra points.
    "Recording information of the crime scene ensures accurate reports later."
  • Not What It Looks Like: When John had to shove the reporter out of the way, he attempts to explain to others that it wasn't what it looked like. No one bothers to believe him.
    • Later, John will walk into Sam "checking up" on Sherry. Sam claims that he was check for a chest cold.
  • Off the Record: Barbie politely refuses to talk to John, officially out of fear that her business may get in trouble. When he plead that they'll "talk like friends," she warms up to him.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: Hal Bottoms, who is a veteran cop who got pushed to a desk job and takes care of whatever paper work he has to do for John. He also refers to John as Junior.
  • Old-Timey Cinema Countdown: When Carey is offered to watch a movie in the Third Eye Theater, the film screen shows 5 and 4 (and potentially even a 3, depending on game speed) before the screen goes black and it starts.
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: A nightmare inducing example.
  • Product Placement: There is a D.A.R.E. ad in the lobby of the police department.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The elevator music in the Parker Center is the same music heard at the La Costa Lotta health resort.
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: The stray dog is fiercely loyal to his master. If at the apartment, he's willing to kill. If at anywhere else, he just waits patiently.
  • Shirtless Scene: There is a stripper in the background who appears to be topless. Appears because her top is so pixelated, it's hard to tell.
  • Shoplift and Die: Try to steal from a store in Open Season, and the shopkeeper will stop you. Persist anyway, and you'll be gunned down.
  • Shoot Everything That Moves: You can do this early in the game including Valerie however it won't be possible later on except for certain places like the cigarette machine or the real killer.
  • Shoot the Dog: You can choose to shoot the dog. Obviously, the game won't let you get away with that. Overlaps with Force Feeding, but that one is justified.
  • Shout-Out: You can find a scrap of newspaper in Morales' patrol car. On one side, there's an ad for a topless bar - on the other, one for a movie theater that just so happens to be showing Dirty Harry.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: You can get one out of your trunk during a shoot-out.
  • Side Quest: The local police academy is holding a marksmanship challenge, which is good if you want to earn extra points and kill some time.
  • Sir Swearsa Lot: The game is best known for the profanity used in this game. For example, the character Hal Bottoms will use the word "Goddamn" and "Bitch" in the game. Also Dennis Walker will use the word "Fuck" and "Shit" if you touch his stuff or show him items from your inventory.
  • Standard Cop Backstory: Talking to Chester at the Short Stop reveals that she became a cop because her dad was one.
  • Take Our Word for It: For a heavily tortured man, Bob Hickman sure looks well perserved. Brutually inverted for the little boy though...
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: Invoked. Several developers working for Sierra at the time have stated on record that the decision to hire former Police Chief Daryl Gates, hot off the Rodney King controversy and the L.A. Riots, as a consultant for the game was by all appearances motivated by the hope that his own infamous reputation would attract some additional publicity to the project.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: That guy at the rainbow cafe who told you the police is unwelcome inside? He's working undercover, and had to blow it to provide you cover during a shoot out.
  • Villainous Crossdresser: Mitchell Thurman.
  • Wham Line: "Darling, I think that red shoe would fit you better than it would fit me."
  • What Happenedtothe Mouse: After killing Mitchell Thurman in self-defense, the fate of the female victim is never truly revealed, and the game seems to imply that she did survive. What happened to her, who is she, and if she even survived is left ambiguous.
  • White Gangbangers: We only got to see two, but Dennis Walker and his girl friend both happen to be this, and really racist too. Both of them also attempted to kill John, for presumably... helping Yo Money?
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: "What kind of name is Emo?"
  • Would Hurt a Child: Bobby Washington (the child in the beginning) was found murdered and hidden in a dumpster.
    "He's just a child, Sam. What's happening on our streets?!"
    • Emo Jones expresses some mild sympathy about Bobby Washington, likely because he loves baseball as much as Bobby did and may have bonded with him at some point. He is ultimately the one who is able to help John close the case on the murderer, and he nearly got killed doing so.
      • Spiff.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Police Quest IV Open Season, Police Quest III The Kindred, Police Quest II The Vengeance, Police Quest In Pursuit Of The Death Angel


Police Quest 4 - Torch

Combining the lighter with the hairspray creates a torch which is used by John to stop a dangerous psycho.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / AerosolFlamethrower

Media sources: