Acceptable Targets: Reporters and people with left-wing political views (however mild) are not exactly given a fair or positive portrayal in this show. This has led to annoyance among a decent size of the fanbase, who have accused the show of being right-wing propaganda and for being racist as well, considering most of the suspects and eventually bad guys are either African American, Hispanic or Muslim. Its also compounded by the blatant hostility the show has to modern civil rights activists by portraying them as misguided at best or corrupt and self-interested at worst, not helped by the writers belief that racial minorities are incapable of holding any legitimate critique of the police — they all have be to be exaggerated or manufactured.
Danny, being a major example of the Cowboy Cop trope, is subject to this a lot within the fandom. The show seems to encourage this, since some of the showrunners worked on The Sopranos, and probably wanted to include at least one morally grey character. Basically, opinion on Danny is divided between those who approve of his policing methods and those who find them excessive:
Those who agree with Danny feel that his willingness to break procedural rules is justified given what he goes up against, and at worst view his harsh actions against as merely an example of Pay Evil unto Evil. This is somewhat borne out by these kinds of offenses being committed against the worst people he's dealt with on the show, several of these were out of desperation, and that there are also many examples of him exercising restraint and doing things by the book even when dealing with some really nasty people.
Those who disagree with Danny's methods often view him as dangerous, reckless, and view him as having a disturbing disregard for New Yorkers' civil liberties, and many view him as being a Knight Templar who often comes unnervingly close to becoming as bad as the people he fights. One reviewer pointed out that when Danny decides that a suspect is guilty, he goes after them with reckless and extremely aggressive tactics... but what happens if he ever mistakenly becomes convinced that an innocent person is guilty? Not to mention the dubious legality of some of Danny's methods.
Given that Grandpa Henry virtually always (loudly and vigorously) agrees with Danny during debates at the dinner table, opinions on Grandpa Henry have lately also become divided along the exact same lines, with Danny's supporters admiring Henry's opinions, and Danny's detractors disagreeing with them. This is likely intentional, due to Henry being a police officer back when that sort of thing was more common.
Around season three or so (and even moreso by Season 5), the show appears to have become much more aware of the Unfortunate Implications caused by Danny's methods (and Henry's support of these methods), and there have now been several episodes where various characters call Danny out for his tactics, and where Danny and Henry (in separate episodes) wind up in hot water for their Cowboy Cop tendencies/views. Even Frank and other family characters have now given Danny and Henry a What the Hell, Hero? speech. Frank has also noted that the decline of methods used back in Henry's time is unquestionably a good thing, because back then officers could and did rough up people who turned out to be innocent, and that the public nowadays is more trusting and cooperative than it was in the past.
This is borne out in the season 4 episode "Secret Arrangements", where Danny is one of several cops being investigated by the D.A.'s office. Frank thinks that while Danny doesn't go over the line, he steps on the line, and that his son has always been quick-tempered, impulsive, takes his job personally. Sergeant Gormley tells Frank that Danny is incredibly aggravating and drives him nuts, "but if you've got any others like him at home, please send them my way." At the end of the episode Frank talks to Danny about the newest revisions to the NYPD's interrogation guidelines, detailing recent additions used by their best detectives, as well as methods that would no longer be used or tolerated. Danny snarks about which section he's likely to be in, and Frank responds that he's actually in both. In summary, Danny's an excellent cop and one of the NYPD's best detectives, but he needs to rein himself in.
Is Jamie really happy with his status as a patrolman, despite his past disappointment with being stuck while his classmates were already making detective, especially since he proved his mettle by helping to bring down the Blue Templar and infiltrating a crime family and getting one of the key members to testify, all in the first two seasons? Or is he mad at Frank for hampering his way up the career ladder just to avoid any accusations of favoritism so his refusal to take any exam that might give him a promotion is his way of passive aggressively saying "screw you" to his old man?
Is Frank really the By-the-Book Cop he claims to be since his refuses to properly deal with Danny's out of control behavior when all the evidence points to the contrary and since he absolutely refuses to believe New York City's minority population's grievances against police profiling have any genuine merit?
Or does he secretly agree with them but keeps silent to keep the rank-and-file from mutinying against him? Keep in mind that the police union was fully prepared to give him a vote of no confidence in "Family Business" for making a public apology for an officer killing an innocent man in an accident.
Does Frank really love all his children equally or are Danny and Erin secretly his favorite, while Jamie is The Unfavorite? Keep in mind that Frank showed Jamie No Sympathy when he was complaining about being investigated by Internal Affairs because of one of Rev. Potter's bogus allegations, while he was considerably more compassionate when Danny found himself in the same situation, even though Danny finds himself under investigation quite often because of his anger problems, tendency to outright break rule, and his refusal to learn his lesson.
Anti-Climax Boss: Thomas Wilder, Danny's Big Bad of Season 6, who has murdered over 20 college-aged women and kidnapped Nickynote but he doesn't kill her , is killed by Danny in the middle of an open field on their final showdown.
Anvilicious: Not all cops are bad. This is extremely notable because the early seasons often dealt with misbehaving and corrupt officers. But after police related deaths involving racial minorities began to get more public scrutiny in real life, the writers responded by doing more and more stories where officer related deaths are usually justified, charges of corruption are over-blown, and anyone who thinks otherwise is often wrong and trying to carry out an unjustified vendetta against the police — black characters like Rev. Potter get with this the worse.
Ass Pull: Jamie suddenly no longer being bitter over his continually being passed over for promotion and being content with just being a humble officer. It comes out of nowhere and contradicts everything about Jamie before.
Awesome Music: "Theme from New York, New York" as performed by Frank Sinatra, plays during the Pilot, introducing the Reagan family as well as Jamie's graduation from the NYPD Academy and Frank's commencement speech.
Broken Base: The show's rather flippant attitude towards civil rights is very divisive in the light of the troubling number of controversial deaths surrounding police and African-Americans. It doesn't help that the main civil rights spokesman on the show, Rev. Potter, is corrupt and usually has to resort to cliche straw arguments and fabricating confrontations in order to continue his war on the NYPD, or that the show seems to support real life controversial methods like "Stop and Frisk" (which In-Universe Frank only agreed to stop supporting after Jamie pointed out that many cops were using it as a crutch), or an having entire episode dealing with the "Blue Wall of Silence" while still having all In-Universe critics of the police be obnoxious strawmen of whom Potter is the most recurring.
"Re-Do": Richard Reed, a vicious Serial Killer and rapist of women, is a misogynistic sadist who thinks all women are his to use and abuse. He later has his conviction overturned because a lab tech screwed up the protocols. With help from his fan club, he terrorized his surviving victim into silence and decided to let one of his fanboys have her. Even his own kin are not safe as Richard beats his sister and ties her up for saying something she "shouldn't have." Later he slits a janitor's throat and attempts to perform his usual MO on Erin Reagan, the ADA who convicted him, before she is saved by Frank. Void of any redeeming qualities or mitigating factors, he stands as one of the very worst the Reagan family went against.
"The Life We Chose": The Phantom, real name Donald Washington, is a cold-blooded crack dealer and murderer. In the beginning of the episode he ruthlessly shoots detective Cruz and kills Detective Gates, who pleads that he has three kids and to which the Phantom replies "Too bad for them". This shocks even his own cohort who was only planning on robbing them. The Phantom would later kill his cohort when he didn't need him anymore. He later goes after other members of Task Force Apache, the police sting that sold him out planning on killing all of them to keep his drug dealing business running smoothly. Greedy and wishing to make his vile business run smoothly, he cares for no one but himself and is an utter psychopath.
"Working Girls": Uri Denko is a ruthless Arms Dealer who Erin is prosecuting. A cold-blooded sadist who has no problem executing a man's wife in front of him in their living room over a business dispute. He would later threaten the man's children in a courtroom outburst to scare him into not testifying but still has him killed anyway after the threats scare him into running. He then puts out a hit on the surviving witness and hounds her mercilessly even going so far as going after her grandmother back in Russia as well. A sociopath of the highest order, he would step on anyone who gets in his way.
"The Bitter End" & "This Way Out": Santana is a vicious leader of the Los Lordes gang. He and his gang are responsible for turning the Bitterman projects into a hellhole and hounding the residents, making them scared for their lives to the point that one young mother commits suicide with her son to get away from him. After her death and Detective Danny Reagan's attempts to take them down, he declares war on the police department and arranges for ambushes, one of which kills Jamie's partner and friend Vinny. He later takes advantage of a mentally-impaired man by having him shoot Mayor Poole by having him think it would be a harmless prank. The shooting would leave Poole paralyzed and in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. After his girlfriend is arrested with his drugs, he panics and puts out a failed hit on her in prison. Santana shows that under his calm and collected demeanor is someone who cares only about himself and would step on anyone who gets in his way.
Season 6: Thomas Wilder's killing fields are discovered, where Danny Reagan finds the corpses of three women who have been beaten, raped and murdered. Hunting down clues, it is revealed Wilder has raped and murdered at least 18 women, with only one survivor who still suffers from what he has done to her. Later murdering her as well, Wilder continues killing in his spare time and even murders his own mother. Latching on to Danny Reagan, Wilder kidnaps his niece Nicky to kill her, too, and when Danny saves her, Wilder tricks Danny into shooting him unarmed just so his death will haunt Danny further.
Critical Research Failure: At the beginning of "Hall of Mirrors", there is a cricket game being played in Central Park with remarkable accuracy, except that there aren't any wickets. It's funny as hell.
Most of the Reagans sans Erin and Sean in "Strange Bedfellows". A cop killer is up for parole, which naturally upsets them. Aside from Sean, they believe cop killers don't deserve the right to a parole hearing and deserve to die in jail. When Sean rightfully asks about the Double Standard regarding cops and how it seems they're being treated as more important than civilians, they go into a spiel about how attacking a cop is equal to attacking the law, failing to realize that simply makes it sound like the death of a cop is more important than the death of a civilian. Frank even goes as far as to make a backroom deal to ensure the parole board throws away the criminals case, which Erin rightfully calls him out on, yet Frank has no remorse for it, simply saying he made a judgement call, and that it was the right one.
Danny. Hes rude to suspects, his fellow officers and even his own family, overzealous, confrontational always willing to use brutal force on suspects, refuses to take any responsibility for his actions and can be very hardheaded. The show does go out of its way to make the illegal things he does a good thing and that you have to be tough to be a police officer. The latter part is true but at the same time? It doesnt excuse his assholish behavior and more importantly his VERY borderline illegal actions which in real life would have gotten him kicked out of the NYPD.
Frank can be this as well to many viewers. He does talk about honor and obeying the law but some of the things he has done over the course of the series like messing up a mans chance for parole because he killed a cop, sending a parade of cops to an apartment complex because he felt the people disrespected the department, his insubordination towards numerous mayors, refusal to take criticism and his rather ambivalent attitude towards numerous legitimate complaints and concerns about how the NYPD treatment of people or color?? Makes him resemble more of the likes of Darryl Gates and Frank Rizzo than the hard but fair leader he thinks himself to be.
Designated Villain: Reverend Potter is portrayed as the second coming of Minister Louis Farrakhan or reverend Al Sharpton for his aggressive witch-hunts against the NYPD and the Reagan Family. Even though at times he does go far in his approaches to prove the problems that the exist between the Black Community and the NYPD and Franks very apathetic attitude on the issues, they DO exist. Despite this though hes shown as an aggressive and lawbreaking guy whos just using his witch-hunts to cover up and deflect attention away from his own crimes. It doesn't help that he never shows his face on the several occasions where Danny outright tortures suspects.
The Season 3 episode where Frank has to deal with a bigoted right-wing talk show host doing a show in the city. Mayor Poole and Rev. Potter want to cancel the show via Loophole Abuse, but Frank allows the show to happen ... making sure that the security detail is assembled of African-American and Latino officers just to piss the host off. Beginning in 2016, more and more white supremacists feel emboldened to spread their hate — culminating in a 2017 rally in Charlottesville, VA where one bigot ran his car into a crowd of peaceful activists protesting a white supremacy march.
One season 4 episode has the NYPD being subject to controversy after an officer is alleged to have shot an unarmed teenage boynote the boy ran away while two of his pals were firing potshots at Jamie and Edie; as it turns out the boy was armed with a gun and a bystander picked it up. It aired ten months before the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri under similar circumstances.
Another season 4 episode involves a death in police custody caused by an officer using an illegal chokehold; the DA refuses to press charges against the officer (though Frank fires him). This was about a year before Eric Garner died.
Every single Linda scene, given her fate. Also Frank's conversation with Danny about how grateful he was that he'd spent so much time with his wife before her terminal illness in "Home Sweet Home".
Frank is shot at the beginning of "Dedication" in a drive by. He lives.
Season 1's arc with Jamie has him asking questions about the Blue Templar, with everyone including Danny and Henry giving him the brush off or the runaround — as if the writers wanted the audience to think that they were big parts of the Blue Templar, and thus partially responsible for Joe's death. They're not.
The girl who kills herself and her baby to avoid a Fate Worse than Death by the Big Bad gang in "The Bitter End." And you even get to see the dead bodies afterward. (*Shudder.*)
Nicky getting kidnapped by a serial killer Impersonating an Officer; what makes this creepier is that Nicky had every reason in the world to trust a cop, even one she didn't know personally. She's their boss's granddaughter after all.
Not to mention that this is a story arc that's been going on for the whole season. We (and Danny) know what kind of depravity this guy is capable of and are just as terrified as her family at the thought that Nicky is going through that.
Robert Sava's preferred method of executing people is by leaving them to slowly suffocate in an airtight barrel, which is then placed in a room with dozens of other identical barrels.
Replacement Scrappy: The New Mayor in Season 8, who's just the latest in a long line of left-leaning city officials whose sole narrative purpose is to disagree with certain police policies and be proven wrong by Frank, and she's more abrasive than Mayor Poole was; she's just a another liberal strawman offering nothing new to the narrative.
Luke Wheeler is the ex-cop turned would-be bank robber in "Critical Condition".
Tasha Zapata is a rape victim that Erin convinces to testify in "Protest Too Much".
Strangled by the Red String: A rare positive example with Jamie and Edie, who get engaged after a Near-Death Experience finally makes them acknowledge their feelings for each other, opting to skip over all that pesky dating. Which actually makes sense, as they've been friends and partners for years and don't really need to date, as they already know everything about each other.
Strawman Has a Point: Reverend Potter is an Attention Whore who does take any opportunity to manufacture confrontations with the NYPD and Frank's family, but he's right on two counts: Danny is quick to resort to force and often goes too far (though somehow Potter has never caught him at a legitimate case of Police Brutality), and the existence of the Black Lives Matter movement in real life meant to demonstration the discrimination of police against non-whites.
Unfortunate Implications: This review critique of the show points out how the show reinforces negative stereotypes about racial minorities by often having them portrayed as untrustworthy by having them manufacture fraudulent claims about police brutality.
Unintentionally Sympathetic: The writers never want us to sympathize with critics of the police, but given the NYPD's obstinate attitude to any charge of misconduct and there refusal to properly address their concerns, and Danny's wild conduct, the opposite often occurs.
Danny Reagan whenever he is framed for performing corrupt actions. While the audience is supposed to feel sympathy for him given he's a good cop being railroaded by someone else, it's hard given the fact that Danny has committed Dirty Cop actions (i.e., waterboarding, putting a gun to the back of an unarmed suspect, threatening to pull a suspect's medical tube, etc.), but has yet to face his comeuppance. His sympathy points are lost furthered given his statements on how people should be held accountable for their actions, but that doesn't apply to him.
Sarah Grant in "Bad Company." Giving No Sympathy to her family's killer is quite understandable... initially. But continuing to do so even after learning he didn't intentionally do it (he was an untreated schizophrenic at the time) and is now lucid enough to be The Atoner? Another thing entirely. And the icing on the cake? She ultimately tells him that the only way to make up for it is to commit suicide and "get it right this time," mocking his history of Bungled Suicide. Needless to say, it can be awkward and difficult to see her so happy and unfazed at her wedding afterward.
In the Season 8 premiere, an off-duty officer shot an unarmed suspect (though high on drugs and had a criminal record) for attempted shop-lifting; Frank and his circle (sans Garrett) consider it a justifiable shooting, the new Acting Mayor (formerly the Public Advocate) does not, and she tries to fire him over his rather blasé response to it — the victim was a criminal so she deserved to die in lieu of a being put on a trial; as acting mayor she does not have the authority to so, per the city charter.
Frank again in "Handcuffs". A viral video surfaces of Eddie and her partner being taunted by some residents of a housing complex who are trying to egg them into a fight; Eddie and her partner wisely don't take the bait. Frank is furious at this blatant disrespect and his response is a textbook case of Disproportionate Retribution - he orders two armed raids on the complex, something which both Garrett and Jamie call him out on - his response to them doesn't help, he threatens to have security remove Garrett from his office and merely tells his son that the NYPD's authority should not be questioned.
Frank, again in "Sleeping Partners". He's naturally upset that a cop killer is up for parole, but he goes too far by sending Sid to intimidate the killer into withdrawing himself from consideration. Erin rightfully calls him on interfering in what's supposed to be an impartial process but since the man was a cop killer, he's unrepentant.
Officer Jamie Reagan — He has been put through a lot: His fiance left him, he was tricked into a Suicide by Cop, he watched his first partner Vinny bleed to death, and he has strong feelings for his second partner Eddie, but they are forced to pretend they don't have them otherwise they'll be assigned new partners. There's also the fact that many cops think he's an Entitled Bastard because his father is the PC, something that is not true, but because of the relation, he has yet to be promoted to detective (despite being qualified), and thus has taken a level in jerkass. Then after he decides that his brand of cop is necessary exactly where he is, he gets told by several people that he needs to be more like his brother. Even when he finally does get promoted to Sergeant, said brother doesn't deal very well with his little bro outranking him.
Detective Alex Fuentes from "Burning Bridges" — He is a good cop who was outed as a gay man after stopping an attack outside of gay bar. As a result his homophobic partner (who Fuentes has been friends with and has even been there when his partner went through marriage troubles) wants a new partner (which Gormley does). And while with Baez, Fuentes informs her that his own family has disowned him. Things gets better with his partner but still...
Ernie "Goodnight" Mason from "Not Fade Away" — Ernie has spent the last 12 years in for a crime he didn't commit. After being released, he learns his ex-wife is with the man who set him up. His son, who is in boxing, doesn't want anything to do with him. He is nearly shot, which convinces him to leave New York since he has no one left. And when he changes his mind to get the real killer, he is killed. The day after his son won his first match and when said son was looking like he wanted to spend more time with his father.