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  • Acceptable Professional Targets:
    • Gym teachers appear on this show as creepy perverts and rapists with a strange regularity.
    • Social workers are portrayed as unprofessional and unafraid to break the law for their own gain or power.
    • The detectives have nothing but bad things to say about private investigators in "The Runaway Bunny," even referring to a cop who became a PI as having "turned to the Dark Side."
    • A notable aversion occurs in "It's Raining Men" where one of the side characters is a right-wing news reporter who turns out to be closeted. As Cold Case is a left-leaning show you'd expect him to be vilified, but he's portrayed as a perfectly reasonable guy and even hands over some essential evidence with minimal fuss. The worst it gets is another character calling him "crazy," which he responds to with a good-natured chuckle.
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  • Acceptable Religious Targets: Some episodes such as "Churchgoing People" and "That Woman" depict Christians rather negatively. Unfortunately, even in episodes where religion wasn't even the main plot point have a rather dismissive view of Christianity/God. One of the victims from "The Road" was a young woman who was devout Christian that gave her life to the Lord, which the killer was more than willing to exploit; i.e., "If God loved you so much, why won't he do anything to rescue you?" Sadly, this broke the girl so badly, it killed her in a short amount of time.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The killer in "The Hen House" can be seen as either an attempted Atoner tragically pushed back into doing evil again, or simply a murdering, identity-stealing, Nazi scuzzball through-and-through.
    • The victim in "Boy Crazy" - transgender, or just a tomboy? Given that she never expresses a desire to actually be male but isn't fully comfortable being female either, non-binary is also a possibility.
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    • The head bow of the victim in "Maternal Instincts" before her ghost fades away; was it done in disappointment over her kidnapped son being reunited with with biological family or shame over her past actions and behavior that led to her death and caused his subsequent particularly unhappy life?
    • The killer in "Roller Girl". A Wrong Genre Savvy Dogged Nice Guy whose, or a Stalker with a Crush who (albeit accidentally) killed his best friend after she rejected his advances and got away with it ?
  • Base-Breaking Character: Celeste from "Stand Up & Holler". She is either one of the most tragic killers of the show because of the circumstances who led her to wanting to kill herself with a can of beer full of Liquid X alongside Becca's cruelty towards her after that experience or a murderer worse than Becca due to giving the spiked beer that the latter used to pour Rainey's throat with in the first place and left her best friend die thereafter.
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  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: There's a scene in "Justice" where Vera catches a gigantic Jerkass Ball and starts making rape apologist comments that seems to exist for no reason other than the writers needing someone to sound ignorant to make a point. The scene is never mentioned afterward and everyone goes back to being friends again. Even stranger is the fact that in other episodes dealing with rape, Vera is typically the most disgusted, even more than Rush and Miller, due to his botching a high-profile rape case earlier in his career. He's also inexplicably and relentlessly rude to Josie Sutton when she joins the team, despite her consistently showing herself to be a competent detective. For some strange reason he's adamantly opposed to working with anyone new and determined to think that because she's female and attractive, she's going to cause trouble—much like the above example, when vague references are made to her involvement in a sexual harassment incident, he insinuates that she was the one at fault. He never apologizes for his behavior, yet he never acts this way again—he never treats Lily like this and when Detective Miller joins the staff, has no conflict with her.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: The father and the victim in "Knuckle Up." While it is understandable for the father to want what’s best for his son, anyone who has lived with a parent like that - especially the kind who calls you every hour - knows just how frustrating it is. However, as the victim himself eventually realized, going all Blood Knight was an incredibly stupid thing to do.
  • Complete Monster: See CSI Verse.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • Granted, given this show is more fantasy-driven than fact-based, but some common police procedurals and conduct displayed here are blatantly disregarded and are downright illegal in real life. One very prevalent example was in the sixth episode of the series, "Love Conquers Al" where the killer's so-called best friend, Will Harrell, constantly stonewalled detectives regarding his knowledge of/involvement in the murder of a teenaged high school track star. At the end of the episode, he was seen still working at the garage as he was before, but in real life, he would have been arrested both for being an accessory after the fact and obstruction of justice.
    • A similar case is the accomplice's secretary in "Start Up", who knew for years that her boss had given the killer the poison he used to kill the victim, but kept silent due to her fear of him. The boss is arrested as accessory, but she isn't.
    • Cole Austen from "Knuckle Up". After watching his friend beat a businessman to death, he and the rest of the gang ran off with him, leaving the victim. He should have been arrested as an Accomplice by Inaction, but isn't, seen visiting the docks in the end of the episodes.
    • Similarly, Shirley and the other girls in "The Promise". While they are no doubt sympathetic, having been mercilessly bullied by the fraternity, they let Deidre set fire to the house, resulting in the death of Laurie. Only Deidre is arrested at the end.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy:
  • Designated Hero:
    • Audrey Metz, the victim in "World's End", who is portrayed as a liberated woman ahead of her time for... cheating on her husband and little else.
    • Scotty Valens, namely in "Shattered".
    • Nick Vera, too.
  • Designated Victim: The killer in "It Takes A Village", his only real tormentor was his sadist teacher who he purposefully goaded every chance he got. The other kids only attacked him because they were forced to share his punishment over and over again. Yet they were the ones he wanted revenge against and not once did he acknowledge his culpability in the incident.
    • This one varies based on how one interprets the character and the situation. We're never told what it is Malik did to trigger the punishment, so it's not clear whether Malik was genuinely badly behaved and pushing the counselor's buttons or whether the counselor was picking on him for normal kid behavior. He does clearly cross the Moral Event Horizon by taking his own suffering out on innocent children, but it's unclear what his culpability was in the original incident.
  • Designated Villain / The So-Called Coward: In universe in both "Family" and "Bad Reputation", the fathers were called cowards by their children for not letting honor before reason dictate their actions despite the fact that doing so would have made a bad situation far worse.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The mall shooters in "Rampage" are disturbingly popular.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • A number of the one-off victims have small fanbases of their own, particularly Sean "Coop" Cooper ("Forever Blue") and Carrie Swett ("That Woman").
    • Even if the killers on the show, particularly the Serial Killers, mostly manage to avert being portrayed in a positive light, George Marks is considered the most memorable. His ruthlessness, ability to actually outwit the detectives and being played by the quirky John Billingsley made him a standout character and a villain that the show later continuously tried (and failed) to recreate.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending:
    • "Family" can be seen as this. Yes, the killer and the kidnapper do end up being arrested for their crimes, but the fate of the mother and daughter is unlikely to end well; the girl is still damaged from her years of growing up without a father, her knowledge of mother abandoning her at birth (and in a garbage can, no less) and being exposed to the harsh world of foster care (or it was in her case). The mother, on the other hand, lives hand-to-mouth in a group home, virtually has no skills to come by and is seen as still emotionally wrecked by the end of the episode, even with the Hope Spot between the two women reuniting and all.
    • This also applies to the victim's daughter in "Gleen". Her mother was viciously murdered when she was only five years old, it still deeply affects her in the present day, twenty years later, and even with a caring and well-rounded supporter at her side (in the form of her father's fiancée), she outright admits to Lilly that she may as well kill herself if it's found out that her father was the one who killed her mother. He did and Lilly does end up arresting him, but out of respect to her, she can't bring herself to put the cuffs on him in front of her.
    • The bastard father from "The Brush Man" is finally arrested for murdering the salesman who tried to intervene with the abusive situation of the man's family. However, this still does little to undo the 40-plus years of torment he inflicted onto his wife, who's nowadays an alcoholic and his son, who hasn't accomplished much with his life due to all of his underlying issues.
  • Evil Is Cool: Averted. The show goes out of its way to show nearly every killer, including the somewhat sympathetic ones, as a wangsty, pathetic person making threadbare excuses for themselves. Even prolific Serial Killers like George Marks, Paul Shepard and John Smith, who might be Magnificent Bastards in another show, are depicted as ultimately sad, scared little men desperately trying and failing to seem bigger than they really are.
  • Evil Is Sexy: The above said, a decent amount of killers and Asshole Victims are quite seductive and alluring, including Sherry Fox-Stephens in "Sherry Darlin," Caroline Hargreave in "The Runaway Bunny," Becca Abrams in "Stand Up And Holler," Lauren Williams in "Blackout," and Mike Delaney in "Justice."
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Doing the right thing will often get you killed.
    • "A Dollar, A Dream", "Stalker", and "World's End" all revolve around a loved one going through financial problems either losing their job or livelihood somehow and their child/wife telling them that they aren’t allowed to have problems. The first two involved that loved one getting killed, the last ended up killing his wife. While portrayed sympathetically all of the murders stem from the fact that they couldn’t instantly bounce back from a problem despite trying their hardest. However, a helping of Laser-Guided Karma was dished out in those episodes. The eldest daughter in "A Dollar, A Dream" spent the rest of her life as an emotional mess while her sister was adopted by a loving family. The daughter in "Stalker" had to watch her entire family be killed after attempting a double suicide with her brother (who may or may not have wanted to do it). And the wife in "World’s End" was strangled to death by her husband after abandoning her husband and son to their death to be with her lover, and her murderer got away with it for the longest time out of all the other killers in the show.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Lilly and Scotty, who had a clear Unresolved Sexual Tension in the early seasons (even lampshaded by John Smith, who bluntly asks Scotty, "You get a piece of that? Bet you think about it from time to time.") Lilly and Stillman and Lilly and Kat also have their fans, as do Kat and Vera.
  • Genius Bonus: Episode S4E23 episode is titled "The Good Death", which deals with the premature death of a terminally ill man who was later discovered to be mercy killed by his wife, through an act of euthanasia. The term "Euthanasia" originated from the Greek term that means "good death."
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • "Late Returns" was based on the real-life murder of Chandra Levy, an intern to a California Congressman Gary Condit, whom she was also sleeping with. The public opinion of the time pointed the blame at Condit, and the scandal ruined his career. Several years after the episode aired, Condit was found to be completely innocent.
    • In "The Plan", the closing montage shows that the military academy's swim teacher is now a woman. Presumably she was hired because it's been revealed that the last teacher, a man, was a pedophile, but the recent rash of teacher/student sex cases means it isn't really any less likely that she isn't one herself. Not to mention the show acknowledges female pedophiles exist, with the season 4 episode "Blackout".
    • Also, in "Love Conquers All" (which is based off of the real-life 1995 Texas Cadet murders), the victim based off of the murdered girl, Adrianne Jones, could be seen as unsympathetic because she cheated on a guy with a girlfriend, although her knowledge of if he had a girlfriend when they got together is left ambiguous. As it was revealed in the real-life trial of one of the killers, David Graham, he never slept with her and on top of that, didn't even get a ride home with him that night. He only said that to screw around with his girlfriend's head since she was so paranoid about him cheating on her. Graham later admitted that he did have sex with Jones; the only reason he lied about it was on his defense lawyer's advice.
    • Watching season three episode "Death Penalty: Final Appeal" and season five episode "Spiders" ends up this due to the actors in the episode (Michael Jace playing a character who was innocent of the crime he was executed for in the former and Johnny Lewis playing the younger version of the killer in the latter) committing murders in real life.
    • One season four episode has Valens catching a pedophile watching children at a park and later he is seen beating said pedophile up and suffering no consequences for it. A later episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has Amaro (who is also a Cowboy Cop portrayed by Danny Pino) in a similar situation, only this time he is arrested, charged and finds himself in danger of losing his badge.
    • The frequency of mass shootings in the United States can make "Rampage" harder to watch now than when it first premiered.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Anytime Biggie says the word "Management" in the episode "Metamorphosis" is hysterical if you've seen Carnivàle (where Michael J. Anderson plays virtually the same role and Management is a sinister figure).
    • 5 years after "Thrill Kill", an episode about a man who went crazy and killed three kids because of a harmless prank, Ugly Americans produced a season finale involving someone going crazy over a harmless prank and killing everyone involved.
    • Tessa Thompson appeared on the show as a character who was interested in women a full thirteen years before the actress herself confirmed it.
  • Hollywood Homely:
    • The main victim, Martha, in "Lonely Hearts". We're repeatedly told that she's extremely unattractive and has no chance with men, and even the detectives, in a surprising display of insensitivity, comment that her traditionally-handsome boyfriend "must've had some kind of fetish." In reality, while she's somewhat overweight and by no means supermodel-gorgeous, she comes across as an adorable Manic Pixie Dream Girl type apart from being an accomplice to a Serial Killer, that is and in the scene she first meets her lover she has a flower in her hair and is fairly pretty.
    • Also the victim's daughter and murderer in "Blackout", who is continually put down as "plain" by her drop-dead-gorgeous mother. This is what the actress looks like when not made up to look frumpy. However, this was probably deliberate on her mother's part, however, given that she was pathologically narcissistic, to the point where she molested her own son, and attempted to seduce her grandson, in order to satisfy her need to be the most alluring woman in every room.
    • Brown hair and drab clothes are apparently enough to make the killer in "The Crossing" the dowdy, matronly alternative to the glamorous, willowy, red-headed victim, even though they're about the same age. She was never described as homely, though. In her case it would seem to be more of a reflection of personality (contrasting to Darcy's vibrancy and independence) than an attempt to present her as unattractive.
    • The (innocent) frenemy of the victim in "Factory Girls", depicted as pitifully jealous of her popularity at their workplace, as well as her happy marriage, to the point where she blatantly tries to interfere in the relationship by making herself look like the better option. All because she's considered an Old Maid at only 22 (by the standards of when the episode is set) and regarded as a Plain Jane when she is clearly no less attractive than any of the other women seen throughout the episode.
    • The victim in "The Sleepover" is considered unattractive and nerdy by the other girls who consider her unpopular. In reality, she's adorkable, and quite cute.
    • Tina in "Rampage" is referred to as a butter face (as in everything is hot "but her face") by her meathead ex boyfriend. She even calls herself a "hit and run queen". Oh yeah, for those of you who haven't seen the episode this is the aforementioned "butter face".
    • The killer in "Soul" gets this too, despite actually being quite pretty and like the character in "The Crossing", suffering from nothing more than plain clothes and a lack of makeup.
  • Ho Yay: The show has many acknowledged gay couples but "One Night" has an ambiguous relationship between Justin (who was almost a victim) and his friend Valentino that is often interpreted as this.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Alpha Bitch Brandi in "The Sleepover". Is it any wonder that she's a bully with parents like that? Her brother Neil, who committed the secondary murder in the episode, is a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
    • "Cargo", an episode with a genuinely kind and sympathetic victim gives us a heartbreakingly tragic killer in the form of Kateryna. True she did knowingly destroy her best friends chance at a happy life to gain her own freedom and then when that didn't work, she killed a man, but Good Lord this girl has been through absolute hell! Its also worth mentioning that she had later tried to kill herself showing that she certainly wasn't feeling guilt free. Her arrest at the end definitely feels like a Kick the Dog moment.
    • Karen Watson in "The Good-Bye Room". She initially comes across as a violent and crass girl, having been expelled from her school for beating another girl with a rock. Throughout the episode, she is repeatedly scoffs at her friend Hillary for looking forward to giving birth to her child, which she personally saw as a nuisance. When Karen finally gave birth to a boy, however, she fell in love with him on sight and was heartbroken to have to give him up for adoption with only fifteen minutes to say goodbye. Hillary attempted to reassure her, hugging her and telling her that he was going to a wealthy lawyer's family and that he would be well taken care of, but Karen only repeated again and again that she "wanted him back in his bassinet". In the present, it's mentioned that she spent decades searching for her son, joining multiple adoption search groups. At the end, she chases after Hillary when the latter tries to escape from the institution, jealous that she got to keep her child, and then briefly goes insane and beats her to death with a rock. Back in the present, Rush tracks down Karen's son for her but then arrests her for Hillary's murder.
    • Cy Tisdale in "The River". Sure he's a louse who has no problem ripping off people or even robbing them to feed his gambling addiction, but good lord this man has had a crappy life. The victim (and Cy's only friend) acknowledges this as a reason why he can't keep going on the way he has leading Cy to have to Mercy Kill the only person who gives a damn about him.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Alessandro from "Sabotage" is initially very sympathetic, for a Serial Killer... until it's revealed who he sent his final bomb to: his preteen niece, as he wanted his brother, whom he viewed as responsible for the Trauma Conga Line he had endured, to know the pain of losing a child as he had. Considering that the people he targeted were people who were trying to help him the best way they could given the restrictions they were under his first murder was this as well, especially since his first victim was just a teen doing his job.
    • In "Jurisprudence", Doherty having Kat transferred, simply as Revenge by Proxy to spite Stillman.
    • While Tina Bream guilt tripping her husband for the kidnapping of their son even though everything from his kidnapping to them being unable to retrieve him was entirely her fault would make Unintentionally Unsympathetic. What crosses her over to this is that she was told exactly how to find her son, but since it involved going to a pedo site she waited for her husband to do it so she wouldn’t be implemented in a crime. When they found out he was dead after convincing her husband into killing the kidnapper she continued to guilt trip eventually turning him into a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • Narm:
    • In "Andy in C Minor", the tension between deaf and hearing people is about as bad as 1960s racial tension, complete with everyone trying to pull apart two lovers because they belong to different worlds.
    • It's hard to take the end montage of "Dead Heat" seriously when some of the people would flash back to them wearing those ridiculous jockey uniforms.
    • The hurricane of poker puns exchanged between the victim and his mercy-killer in "The River" causes his death scene to lose a bit of its bite.
    • The victim's utter devotion to disco in "Disco Inferno", to the point where he throws away a dental scholarship to be a professional dancer, in light of what eventually happened to that fad.
    • Any episode where moderately old people try and fail to act REALLY old, for instance, "Family 8108".
    • The villain in "That Woman" and her bizarre obsession with her high school chastity club, to the point that she's never had sex at all in ten years, not even with her own husband, which costs her her marriage.
    • Some people find the theme song unbearably silly because it takes itself too seriously. It starts with a womn wailing, followed by a heavy, overbearing orchestra. Then it ends with jungle flute noises, for some reason.
    • Thanks to Anachronism Stew and Writers Cannot Do Math, some episodes that would have been otherwise more serious tend to get undermined. Examples include the victim and her classmates in "Stand Up and Holler" being, at most, sixteen years old ten years prior (meaning they're either high school sophomores or juniors) yet are attending their ten-year reunion or how the victim and his first wife in "Two Weddings" apparently having access to MySpace in 2000.
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize:
    • "The Sleepover" Daveigh Chase
    • "World's End" Ralph Waite
    • "The Hen House" Peter Graves
    • "Red Glare" Orson Bean
    • "Free Love" Dale Dye
    • "Creatures of the Night": it's not even a spoiler that Barry Bostwick did it.
    • "Knuckle Up", Robert Picardo did it, and he wasn't even considered a suspect.
    • "Soul" Loretta Devine.
    • "Jurisprudence" Steven Culp.
    • "Forensics" Reed Diamond.
    • Ronny Cox appears as the victim's husband in "Slipping". He's just as evil here.
    • "Metamorphosis" has an example of this that doubles as a Casting Gag. The direct killer is Carel Struycken, whose crime was then covered up by none other than his former Twin Peaks co-star Michael J. Anderson.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • A pre-fame Summer Glau and Mae Whitman among others have showed up as oneshot victims; Jennifer Lawrence appears as the present-day version of a teenage girl in another episode. TJ Thyne appears as the Asshole Victim's gay lover in as Season 1 episode two years before gaining fame as Dr. Jack Hodgins in Bones. Shailene Woodley makes an appearance in a Season 5 episode as a sister of a Amish murder victim. Kim Coates plays against type in a season five episode.
    • "Jackals" features a pre-Mike Ehrmantraut Jonathan Banks as John Clark, leader of a brutal biker gang. Yeah, he did it, one of the few episodes where the prime suspect was in fact the culprit. The same episode features a pre-Neal Cassidy Michael Raymond-James as a biker.
    • David Henry of Wizards of Waverly Place appears in "Fireflies" as the doer.
    • In "Triple Threat", there was an opera singer called Nadia Koslov. A few years later, a certain "dreamer" would become somewhat well-known. The woman who played both parts was Elena Satine.
    • Future Thor: Ragnarok star Tessa Thompson played a cross-dressing lesbian bootlegger in the episode "Best Friends".
    • Black Panther (2018) stars Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan portrayed characters in season six's "Street Money" and season five's "Wunderkind", respectively: the former was the victim of the episode while the latter was the killer.
  • Rewatch Bonus: This happens frequently as new evidence and/or the revelation of the killer puts previous flashbacks in a new light. For example, in the opening sequence of "Forever Blue", this is said about the Cowboy Cop victim:
    "Isn't is about time he got married?"
    "You gotta go on a second date for that."
    • In that context, it makes him sound like a womanizer. However, once you realize that he's gay, you realize that he never went on a second date, not because he couldn't be satisfied by only one woman but because he couldn't be satisfied by any woman.
    • In "Blood On The Tracks", Jack, Johanna's own husband, mistakes Sarah for her while they and their friends are reviewing slides from their college days, driving home how much they resemble each other. This is never mentioned again during the episode, but later, after the detectives have figured out that Johanna is the murderer and has been impersonating Sarah for decades, one recalls that we only saw Jack's death, not Johanna's and that Johanna was present in every one of "Sarah's" flashbacks. It also mentions that "Sarah" abruptly cut off the other friends after that fateful weekend and never saw or spoke to them again. Of course not. They would have recognized her and blown her scheme..
    • "Stay By Me" by Ben E. King is played in "The Good-Bye Room", when Hillary's boyfriend reassures her that he'll marry her after she delivers their baby. A few flashbacks later, it's revealed he's cheating on her.
    • "Shuffle, Ball Change". The victim's brother is clearly very shaken upon being told that his brother's remains have been found. It seems like a perfectly normal reaction..... until we learn that HE'S the killer and that he's actually panicking at the realization that after 20-something years, his horrific deed has finally caught up with him.
    • "November 22nd". When we see Patrick Lennox's daughter, Hillary Rhodes, in the present, she mentions Patrick by his first name in the present. This seems like casual dialogue, but foreshadows her not actually being his daughter.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Frankie Rafferty due to her and Scotty's relationship causing a Romantic Plot Tumor of season 6, the reveal that she was cheating with him on her not-quite-yet divorced husband and pulling in mounds of The Unfair Sex to not answer for it.
    • Moe Kitchener also seems to have very few fans even for a villain, owing largely to his Hate Sink personality and his arc being dragged out.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • Debatable. However, most long-time viewers agree that Season 7 was the point at which the series went downhill. Both Lilly and Scotty went out of character and turned rogue against Moe Kitchner and Hector Cruz respectively over several episodes causing Arc Fatigue or that some episodes were merely retellings of older episodes.
      • Also, the show's budget was significantly cut at this point resulting in less episodes taking place in past eras and more episodes revolving around cases only a few years old. This didn't sit well with fans who felt that the era-specific episodes were part of the show's major appeal.
    • Some also point to Season 6 with the Scotty-Frankie storyline as another point of decline.
  • Squick: Most of the scenes showing the victims' bodies come off as this.
  • Strawman Has a Point:
    • When Moe Kitchener fills a complaint for harassment against Lilly for stalking him. When you think about it, she has no evidence but a Dying Dream to prove he was the one person that tried to kill her in "Into the Blue".
    • When Patrick Doherty points out that Stillman's repetitive actions to protect his team when they keep Jumping Off the Slippery Slope are more counterproductive than anything.
    • Patrick Bubley is portrayed as unreasonable for wanting to perpetuate the Cycle of Revenge against the Latino Gang Bangers that killed his brothers; while this is true, the fact is that the cycle only began in the first place because the cops assumed his brothers were Gang Bangers themselves and put little effort into their cases, and this aspect of the plot goes strangely unaddressed in the episode.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Not that it is very important, but Thomas F. Wilson plays a person of interest in an episode about the 1973 murder of a college student... who was already 'old' in 1973, and died before the investigation was reopened in the mid-2000s.
    • James Hoffman's young sister Alexa in "Knuckle Up". She only appears in the opening flashback and in the present, discovering James fighting in a web video and accompanying her father Darren about everywhere he goes. Alexa seemed to be a Morality Pet of sorts for James, especially when he mentions her while Calling the Old Man Out. She could have made an interesting suspect but aside from finding the video, she had little to do with the plot.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • The killer in "It Takes a Village," rather than targeting innocent children for Misplaced Retribution, could've easily been a sort of Vigilante Man targeting abusers for Revenge by Proxy regarding the guy actually responsible for the killer's own abuse — which would've certainly helped with the Unintentionally Unsympathetic-ism.
    • "Schadenfreude" had a storyline with the wife of a prominent surgeon being killed in her home and the potential of a viable and unique suspect in the widow of a patient that died on the doctor's watch due to medical error. Instead, they just went with the lazy (and seriously overdone) the best friend did it out of jealousy plotline.
    • "Breaking News" and "The Dealer", two episodes from season six, had storylines where the female victim who in spite of being competent in their respective fields (of journalism and car dealing), were still in a sexist world and threatened by their male counterparts. Obviously, it would make perfect sense to let said sexist coworkers be the culprits, (particularly in the latter episode, where it would have paid to see virtually any of those assholes be the doer), yet they pulled a out of left field and rather convoluted twist that left some viewers unsatisfied. To wit, the reporter's non-sexist mentor killed her due to her finding out about some corruption at a nuclear waste station he knew about and wanting to report on it and the car saleswoman's "sympathetic" coworker, an older gentleman who's not treated any better on the job than she is, killed her in the heat of the moment.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • The best friend from "Soul". Granted, everything probably could have been avoided if she had just confessed that she was in love with her friend much earlier, but she still comes off as sympathetic since even though she was talented enough to be a singer, she was insulted in a room full of music producers on how fat and unattractive they viewed her and how they won't even consider her for a career (all while her friend said and did nothing to defend her to them then or later) and he ends up impregnating one of the producers' sexy secretary and then telling his friend about it. In spite of his Oblivious to Love status (as well as other things) and that she still killed him in the heat of the moment and left his body on the street, she was genuinely sorry for killing him, even paying for his tombstone in the end and it shows that women don't like being "friend-zoned" any more than men do.
    • Cameron's parents in "Rampage". The way the detectives treat them would have you believe that they are Abusive Parents whose negligence drove their son to his murderous ways. The few scenes we see of them however show them as normal people who, as the dad pointed out lost their son too. The bit where they find out that not only is their only son dead but that he was also the shooter is truly heart breaking. Adding to that they are immediately labeled as Monsters by the media. At the very worst they could be considered Too Dumb to Live or Genre Blind in their choice of weapons but not evil. The ending montage shows them eating together but not saying a word. You can't help but want to give them a massive hug. Talk about every parents worst nightmare!
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Several examples throughout the series; one very common type is a character who, while not the killer or even usually an antagonist at all, played a major role in initiating the chain of events that climaxed in the murder. It's also common with the Sympathetic Murderer, who is often not really that sympathetic at all. Examples include:
    • The killers from "The Hitchhiker" and "Dog Day Afternoons".
    • The killer in "The Letter". Yes, his girlfriend was being violently gang-raped by his friends. But he didn't do anything to stop them and, even considering that, suffocating a person so she doesn't have to live with the trauma of being raped seems like...a decision that should not have been left up to him.
    • Brandi, the Alpha Bitch from "The Sleepover" (and some would say her brother, as well.) While both have Abusive Parents, there's a strong streak of Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse in the horrible things both do just to cover it up.
    • Leah, the victim's female "friend" from "Wishing".
    • Audrey Metz, the victim in "World’s End". It's less that she deserved to die for cheating on her husband, and more that it's portrayed as a feminist victory although it is totally avoidable in every way.
    • The girlfriend from "Family" who even as a Broken Bird status still dumped her baby in a garbage can.
    • The fathers from "Jackals" and "Blank Generation". One was imprisoned for a despicable crime (stealing benefit payments from disabled and dead veterans) instead of being on the outside and protecting his daughter and the other was an Insufferable Genius / Jerkass whose cold, unloving attitude drove his son to join a dangerous cult.
    • Speaking of fathers, there is also the father from "Justice". His 18-year-old daughter was raped and when she came to him and told him what happened, his response was "Nice girls don't invite boys up to their room." As a result of his words, the poor girl ends up eating her gun. It's only then that he's remorseful and says to the (sympathetic and willing to help, but her superiors didn't take the matter seriously) officer, "Why didn't anyone help my little girl?"
    • The victim in "The Key" manages to avert this, at first but later in the episode dives headfirst into this trope. She's the only person in her inner circle of friends not to want to screw around with somebody's partner but her hubby disagrees so she decides to give it a go and falls in love with her fellow adulterer but decides she doesn't need a man in her life. Sounds fair right? Well see the thing is, during these revelations she discovers that shock horror, her new man and best friends husband isn't interested in staying loyal to her. How does she retaliate? By bumping and grinding against his fifteen year old son. Oh and it gets better she's actually surprised when aforementioned son gets the wrong idea!
    • The so-called best friend from "Kensington".
    • The mother and the killer from "Time to Crime", but particularly the mother. The former cheats on her hard-working husband out of "loneliness" with a slimy, serial cheating arms dealer and still tried to get him back even after learning that he cheated on her, causing the murder in the first place. The latter ended up killing his younger sister in a drive-by shooting when he tried to shoot the dealer instead of shooting him the moment he received the gun from him.
    • Scotty at times. There were so many bad things that happened to the people in his life (his mother's attack, his brother being molested as a kid and being haunted by it and what happened to his fiancee), but these things happened to them instead of him. In addition, a lot of the bad things that occurred in his life, such as his suspension, were of his own doing.
    • Ariel in "The Sleepover" as well given the fact that not only did she not tell anyone what happened but spent all those years as Brandi’s supplier.
    • The eldest daughter in "A Dollar, A Dream" came across as incredibly spoiled always blaming her mother for not being able to fix the horrible situation they were in. when she found out her mother was killed she changed her stance from her mother abandoned her and her sister to her mother killed herself to get away from them. It can be seen as a form of Laser-Guided Karma that her life turned out completely different from her sister's.
    • James Hoffman in "Knuckle Up". After discovering the academic rigging in the school, he became disillusioned and joined the fight club. When his father confronts him about it, James lashes out at him, blaming him for chasing their mother away and scraping his neck. Somewhat Averted at the end of the storyline, where he regrets his actions and is killed for refusing to cover up the murder of a businessman.
    • The killer in "It Takes A Village" barely avoids this. In fact the only reason he isn’t this is that the kids decided to cut off his finger instead of just beating the crap out of him and even then its hard to feel sorry for him given that he kept intentionally goading his teacher, that and his motive rant makes him come across as having a serious god complex.
    • The hypocrisy and sheer patheticness of the killer and victim in "Lonely Hearts" make them this. Especially since they, not the con artist, were the one who escalated it to that point.
    • Done in universe in "Strange Fruit" while one of the suspects questioned didn’t have anything against the wife of the killer personally, the fact that she was ignorant of the goings on in her own home made him not like her.
    • The killer in "Officer Down" do to being Too Dumb to Live, though this may have been intentional as the cops had to force themselves not to shoot him.
    • Nick on occasion. The events of "Flashover" in which a man he wrongfully accused of murdering his children some years ago has been killed in prison and then causes him to go into a downward spiral involving drunk driving, finding out his ex-wife has remarried and had children with someone else and temporarily getting suspended come off as Laser-Guided Karma more than anything else.
    • The (innocent) frenemy of the victim in "Factory Girls". We're supposed to empathize with her unrequited love for the victim's husband. Except that she blatantly tried to interfere in their marriage and made an advance to him when his wife was barely cold in her grave. Despite him adamantly rebuffing her, at the time of the episode, she has spent 60-something years pining away for the man, even proudly declaring "To this day, I would jump for him if he wanted me." Surely she must have received offers from numerous other eligible men during all this time, all of which she turned down in the faint hopes that he might someday change his mind. Overall, she just comes across as pathetic.
    • Both of the parents in "Baby Blues" who were too wrapped up in their own lives (her job and his affair) to care adequately for their daughter, tried to blame their son for the murder (who was only seven at the time of her death) and the father leaving the family after said daughter's death.
    • The best friend from "Detention". Even with an Alcoholic Parent and him knowing that the death he caused was an accident, he still went on to become an addict to "honor" his friend and tell everyone under the sun that he committed suicide.
    • The victim's boyfriend in "Our Boy Is Back". We're supposed to sympathize with him for having lost his girlfriend and having been suspected and harassed by Vera for the past five years. Except (a) Vera actually listed some perfectly valid reasons for thinking he was the killer, and (b) When they finally do test his DNA and realize that it isn't a match, Lily realizes that the real reason for his refusal is that he didn't want it known that he wasn't sleeping with the victim. This supposedly innocent victim of an overzealous detective was actually a self-centered jerk who cared more about protecting his studly reputation than finding the man who raped and murdered his girlfriend.
    • The mothers Sandra Riley and Tina Bream from "Revenge". One blatantly ignored her husband molesting her son as well as kidnapping other kids to molest because she enjoyed being Hot Guy, Ugly Wife. While she eventually felt guilty it was only after the boy was killed and even then she never went to the police. While the other constantly enjoys Playing the Victim Card repeating blaming others for her son’s death eventhough both his kidnapping and their failing to retrieve him was entirely her fault. Not to mention causing her husband to be consumed by guilt.
    • Betty Sue Baker from "Pin Up Girl". Even with her troubled upbringing where she has to strip to support herself and her alcoholic, abusive father, the fact that her best friend/cover girl Rita herself also had a similar childhood and was able to make something of her life undermines this. Also, while her friend gave her numerous outs for her situation—i.e., "I can give you money", "You can stay with me", etc.—she still had no real desire or common sense to better her situation, blaming her for the Jerkass she had a date with who only went out with her to get an autograph from Rita, then shot her out of jealousy and tried to "atone" for her crime by becoming a goody two-shoes nun who ostensibly cares about people (and which she tried to invoke right before she was arrested.)
  • The Un-Twist:
    • "8:03 AM." The cases are reopened because it was discovered that the murders took place at exactly the same time on the same day, and Kat hoped that a connection could be discovered. Turns out there was none; it was a total coincidence, although the victims did know each other, something that wasn't apparent in the original investigation.
    • Also occurs in "Debut" and "Hubris", in which the killer turned out to be... exactly who everyone thought was the killer. The only reason the cases become as long and involved as they do is due to the villains' attempts to deflect suspicion off themselves.
    • "The Brush Man": The killer is the only suspect who has nothing positive to say about the victim.
    • Used interestingly in "Creatures of the Night". They know who did it from the beginning; the real challenge is proving it before the guy walks due to a ridiculous deal he took when he confessed to prior crimes.
  • Wangst: Many of the doers' confessions and rationale for the stupidity of their actions come off as this. Special mention though goes to Dale Wilson in "Fireflies" and Gibby Hanes's tearful admission in "8:03 A.M.".
    • The killing couple in "Love Conquers Al", who apparently believed their high school romance to be one of the all-time greatest love stories in history.
    • Or the guy in "Saving Sammy", who thought killing his girlfriend's parents was a good idea.
    • Lyle in "Wilkommen", who literally killed to get a part in a musical.
  • What an Idiot!: While the revelation of who the doer was in "Time to Crime" was heartbreaking, to say the least, that doesn't really change the fact that he was a complete and utter moron. Dude buys a gun that he intends to use to kill someone from the same person he intends to kill, then instead of, say, shooting him right there, he waits until the guy is in the middle of a crowded park, then fires randomly into said crowded park, and not only misses his target, but hits his own sister by accident.
    • Perhaps he knew that shooting the guy right then and there would immediately focus suspicion on him, whereas shooting at him via a drive-by might leave the case unsolved? (the guy was well known as a local criminal and there would have been no shortage of suspects). Maybe he had second thoughts about killing the guy and only the realization that he was going to continue to be a problem for him spurred the killing?
    • Most likely as he himself said he was just copying what he saw from a television show. While incredibly intelligent he was still just twelve years old the thought of shooting the guy right then and there probably never entered his mind. Also he was looking for an alibi. He chose that night because both his parents were out but knew he was home.
    • The Asshole Victim in "Justice" taunting the younger brother of the girl he raped while he was holding him at gunpoint.
    • The victim in "That Woman" following her friend into the woods despite discovering they all planned to kill her.
    • The victim in "The Promise" following her friend back into the house, despite the Jerkass frat boys still being in there and having suggested burning the house down in revenge for their humiliation.
    • The agent in "Witness Protection" sleeping with his client’s wife as well as not telling him he was living near one of the people he thought he was testifying against.
    • A guy in "Ravaged" tries to rape a woman in front of her already snarling rottweiler. And then he is surprised the dog attacked him.
    • A lot of victims, when not overcome by rage or concern, continuing to talk to their increasingly furious and/or hysterical would-be killer rather than backing off ("The Dealer", "Libertyville", etc).

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