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YMMV / Person of Interest

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  • Acceptable Targets:
    • The show does not hold the federal government's institutions like the FBI and CIA in high regard which is common in modern crime/espionage dramas. It's clear that the show is a fan of showing how many corrupt people are in law enforcement agencies in general. Both organizations do have some good people in there such as Agent Donnelly, Detective Carter and John Reese.
    • Banks in this show are almost always shown foreclosing someone's home, involved in illegal activity (willingly or otherwise) or shown to be incompetent. "Mission Creep" even features a confrontation in which a pair of bankers harass Reese and an ex-soldier in a bar.
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  • Anvilicious: The show holds war vets in very high regard, and as stated above, frequently holds big corporate guys in very low regard. However, two notable early exceptions exist: "Mission Creep", where a group of active duty American soldiers are the bad guys, and "Risk", in which the stock trader POI is sympathetic and entirely in the dark regarding the dirty dealings of others at the office where he works.
  • Ass Pull: The ICE-9 virus is an example of a poor execution of Chekhov's Gun. It is introduced out of the blue in the third-to-last episode with the sole purpose of destroying Samaritan two episodes later, and much of the uncertainty surrounding it is in regards to the fact that it will destroy The Machine as well.
  • Base-Breaking Character: As of Season 4:
    • Just going by the forums at Television Without Pity Detective Carter or her actress, Taraji P. Henson, were this in the first season. Inverted as of the Season 3 "Endgame" three-parter, with Carter now being considered one of the most popular and beloved characters and her death leading to a violent online backlash and much tension between those that despised the move to kill her off and those that accepted the decision or the way that her death played out as she successfully rended the big bad HR useless and after what she did, even if they tried to rebuild, they could never be as strong as they were and have as much influence as they had.
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    • Iris Campbell and her relationship with Reese. Many people found the ethics of the situation highly questionable (as Iris did in-universe) and didn't like the overtly romantic subplot or how quick it developed. A big part of the problem is that the whole thing was cooked up very sloppily after a bit of Real Life Writes the Plot ended the plan to kill Reese halfway through the season and they suddenly needed to give him something to do. She's then very off-handedly Put on a Bus in Season 5, making clear that no one on the crew really cared for it either.
    • Greer. He's either a fantastic villain or a Villain Sue (especially considering how Team Machine is never able to really faze him).
    • Mr. Dillinger is only in one episode, but it's a pretty important episode and consequently there's a three way divide on whether he's a Love to Hate contrast to Reese, a flawed man but one with some genuine rapport and loyalty towards Finch who could been better if Finch had trusted him with the truth about The Machine, or just an uninteresting slimeball.
  • Broken Base:
    • The final moments of "The Crossing" divided the fanbase.
    • As of the end of season 4, there's an argument over the change of structure of the show, specifically with how POI is changing into a more "serialized" and complex format while discarding the "case of the week" episodes. Detractors believe it's making the show to hard to follow while supporters claim it makes the show a whole lot more interesting. A big complication is that the latter was always the kind of show Nolan and co. wanted to make, and the more episodic style was simply the only way they could get it sold to a network in the first place.
    • The fact that Finch had a happy ending. While more than a few fans were satisfied that Finch was able to live with the love of his life, there were others that would disagree. Some feel that Harold was a both a Failure Hero / Small Steps Hero until the later parts of the series which had enabled Samaritan to kill so many people in Season 4 and 5 (including, and especially, Root and John). They felt it was massively unfair that he got the Happy Ending that his inaction had denied to those victims their own happy endings.
    • The Genre Shift from a Post-Cyberpunk science fiction procedural to a Post-Cyberpunk science fiction caper show with Spy Drama elements. Some fans love POI for evolving. Some would have preferred to keep the human-scale stories of the original premise.
  • Complete Monster: Alex Declan, from season 2's "Proteus", kills his victims and steals their identities. After recently murdering Special Agent Alan Fahey, his eighth victim, he steals his identity as well and later assists Finch and Reese in trying to uncover the killer on Owen Island to divert any suspicion from himself. During the investigation, Declan murders the island's deputy, framing a Marine in the process and endangering several civilians. When Finch discovers that Declan is the imposter, Declan takes Finch hostage and attempts to murder him so he can steal his identity like he did his other victims. Although Declan believes the identities he stole were being "wasted" and that he "did them justice", Finch ultimately deduces that he kills people because he enjoys it.
  • Crazy Awesome: Root. Evident when she's in a shootout with Hersh, a trained assassin and shoots him when she has her back to him.
  • Creator's Pet:
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: It can be hard to get into the show and grow to care for anyone if you started watching it late, knowing how everything goes to hell in Season 4, how Decima is fast approaching Villain Sue status, and how Bear is the only character the writers explicitly said they would not kill off.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Joss Carter, in spades.
    • Carl Elias and Scarface also became extremely popular, especially after they executed Officer Simmons.
    • Bear has also become a fan favorite, so much so that the showrunners felt compelled to reassure everyone that Bear is an exception to the general Anyone Can Die rule.
    • Among the more popular POI's are Crusading Lawyer Andrea Guitierez, sympathetic bank robber Joey Durban, Properly Paranoid pollster Simon Lee, computer programmer/cage fighter Anna Mueller, Amateur Sleuth's Walter Dang and Timothy Sloan, hyper aware audio analyst Ethan Garvin, and Child Prodigy's Darren McGrady and Genrika Zhirova.
  • Evil Is Cool: Samaritan might be a Big Bad, but its interface and markers can definitely rival The Machine's in the Rule of Cool department.
  • Fanfic Fuel:
    • The reveal that the Machine is running other teams across the US in addition to its main one.
    • It's heavily implied that Finch had had other field operatives before Reese and Dillinger. It can be interesting to think about who they were, whether they died or just quit (an if so why), and whether any potential survivors ever met Reese.
    • Nathan Ingram's lightly-touched upon attempts to save the numbers single-handedly while not being abel to do as good of a job at telling victim from perpetrator. His line about saving five and losing seven feels especially rich in story potential.
    • Root's fellow hackers vanish from the show after the season 3 finale, and its tempting to wonder just what they were up to for all of that time.
  • Fridge Brilliance: Throughout the first three seasons, Finch's attitude towards the Machine is cautious and wary. It only becomes more pronounced when the Machine starts acting outside of its original parameters, even though it seems to be benevolent. This is explained in "Prophets", when we learn that Finch's first 42 attempts at creating the Machine all began self-improving at an exponential rate, and attempted to escape from the IFT servers or even kill him outright. That's the reason he implemented the memory wipe, and now that the limitations he put in place are gone, he's afraid that it will go rampant like its predecessors did.
  • Friendly Fandoms: With Westworld which was also written by Jonathan Nolan and discusses the use of Artificial Intelligence.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Root's handle. Having root access on Linux is the same as being an administrator on Windows: you can do pretty much whatever you want to the system and it won't try to stop you. This could be a double bonus, seeing as the Machine thinks of Finch as 'Admin', indicating that she's his equal in hacking skills.
    • Her aliases are all connected to famous, innovative and eccentric scientists: Turing, Dyson, Neumann.
    • In one episode Finch is reading It Can't Happen Here, the 1935 novel by Sinclair Lewis about a dictator who takes over the United States. An interesting choice for someone who designed the ultimate Big Brother surveillance system.
    • When translated back into English, the blue screen codes that appear in the later half of season 2 are revealed to be excerpts from various books and published documents.
    • The title of Episode 17 of Season 2: "Proteus" has two meanings. Proteus is an early sea god in Greek Mythology, which makes sense considering the setting. The word "protean" derives itself from the god's name, which means "versatile" and "capable of assuming many forms". That's especially fitting for an episode about an identity-stealing serial killer.
    • "The Devil's Share" is the psychological term which refers to that part of human behaviour that allows us to be cruel to one another, or refers to one person's inhumanity to another. It also refers to an individual's actions that are not good for him/herself or for others, highly appropriate considering John Reese goes on a highly self destructive roaring rampage of revenge regardless of his gunshot wound and innocent people that get in his way due to Carter's demise in "The Crossing".
    • "Lethe" and "Aletheia", Greek antonyms meaning "forgetfulness" and "truth". Given the condition of the number for those episodes, very apt.
    • Also from "Aletheia," the Morse code that the Machine is using to communicate with Root (which, as she says, really can't be heard by anyone over forty because it's too high-pitched) is accurate and can be translated to confirm some of the things Root is saying.
    • "Deus Ex Machina"; translating as "god from the machine"...It also refers to the situation which Harold finds himself in at the climax. Alone and with no one seemingly coming to save him from Lambert aiming a Glock 19 at him, Reese barely manages to get up there in time and screw up Lambert's aim.
    • Greer quotes Hamlet’s famous “What a piece of work is man” speech to defend his worldview. Any true Shakespeare fan knows that speech is actually meant to be said with bitter sarcasm as Hamlet condemns humanity, showing just how misguided Greer is.
      • Similarly, Greer twice analogizes artificial intelligences to the Greek gods, suggesting that, like the gods, the A.I.s are transcendent, incorruptible "superhuman intelligences" that should rule humanity. Greek myth, however, often portrays the gods as venal and petty, ruling humanity because they are powerful, not because they are nobler or wiser, suggesting that Greer is blind to the similar pettiness and cruelty he instills in Samaritan.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In the show, the Machine produces the relevant and irrelevant lists by monitoring NSA feeds and other forms of electronic information gathering. Then came the real life June 2013 reveal of the US government's PRISM program. It takes a turn for Hilarious in Hindsight once you remember that Finch black boxed the Machine precisely because he didn't trust the Powers That Be with unfettered access to the Machine and the information it handles.
    • The irony is not lost on the showrunners:
      Jonathan Nolan: Turns out the only thing that’s science fiction about our show is the public outcry that we imagined if anyone found out about Finch’s Machine.
    • And later even referenced in "Lethe", where PRISM is the subject of a Take That! and listed by The Machine as a decoy in its interface.
    • Since the Machine and Samaritan use facial recognition for survelliance and looking into persons of interest, this becomes more of a reality when the Chinese government uses this kind of technology in Xinjiang.
  • He's Just Hiding!:
    • The next-episode promo after "If-Then-Else" suggested that Shaw might still be alive, pretty much ensuring that this reaction would happen. As it later turns out, Shaw is alive.
    • Some fans (especially Shoot shippers) choose to believe Root's death was faked by either Samaritan or the Machine, and that the phone call at the end of the series is from her instead of the Machine. Actresses Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi have both stated they prefer this interpretation.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Around the time this show started airing, the Santa Cruz Police Department started field testing a computer program designed to predict areas where crimes are likely to happen in the near future and to redirect officers' patrols accordingly. It's helped them cut the robbery rate down by 19%.
    • Michael Emerson played a serial murderer on The Practice and several murderers on Law and Order series, now he's playing a guy who is dedicated to stopping murders before they happen.
      • Including one episode of Criminal Intent where he's a killer dating Martine Rousseau.
    • In Season 1's "Foe", Reese's handler Kara Stanton suggests 'Wilson' as a prospective name for him. Fast forward to "Relevance", & it turns out to be the name of Shaw's handler. And he's played by Paul Sparks, the real-life husband of Annie Parisse.
    • In "Mors Praematura," Reese says to Peter Collier, "You guys got a thing for the American Revolution, don't you?" Two years later, Leslie Odom Jr. is now playing Aaron Burr in Hamilton on Broadway. Plus, Collier is a great admirer of the Revolution and puts his own neck on the line, while Burr is defined through most of the show by his refusal to take any kind of dangerous position for himself.
    • Michael Emerson as the Big Bad in Season 6 of Arrow is basically exactly how Northern Lights and Vigilance saw Finch: a ruthless, sociopathic master hacker whose plans are vague but doubtlessly bad.
  • Ho Yay: Has its own page.
  • I Am Not Shazam: John Reese is referred to as a "person of interest" in the first episode. The Villain/Victim of the Week is always referred to by name or as a "number", not as a "person of interest".
  • Idiot Plot:
    • After taking down most of HR at the end of Season 1, Reese and Finch bizarrely seem to just plain not care at all about also taking care of Simmons, allowing him to continue being a threat to Fusco (which also means their otherwise omniscient surveillance of him inexplicably fails to capture any of the times Simmons threatens him).
    • Every plot after The Machine is freed from the control of anyone quickly becomes this, as The Machine consistently refuses to tell anyone anything besides Root or get it's hands on other assets it can use to aid Team Machine. Samaritan in particular would never have come into existence had The Machine used even a fraction of the things it's capable of doing.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Lots of examples in the show, but here are a few prime examples:
    • Detective Fusco, who became a lot more sympathetic as the show progressed. He still strives to atone for his sins and has succeed somewhat, even with everyone around him reminding him of his dirty past.
    • Peter Collier becomes a lot more sympathetic when his Start of Darkness is revealed: his brother was Driven to Suicide after being locked up and kept in federal limbo too long on suspicion of terrorism, the instigating intelligence even being implied to have originated from The Machine itself.
    • Link, Dragon of the Brotherhood and established child-harmer, actually shows respect for Scarface even while he's captured, and also genuinely cares about his men. When Dominic dismisses the losses incurred during the raid on the abandoned building that leads to Scarface's death by saying "We Have Reserves", Link is shocked, and having been asked by Scarface earlier if Link and Dominic have the same mutual loyalty to each other as him and Elias, it seems like his boss just sowed the seeds of a future betrayal. Fast forward to his next appearance at the end of the season, and the Brotherhood learns there's a mole for Elias in the ranks. Think it's Link? Yes and no. Yes because that's what Dominic is led to believe, causing him to shoot Link dead; no because it was all a setup by Elias as revenge on Dominic for Scarface's death, and Link had nothing to do with it. If Link had showed genuine intent to jump ship, this would have qualified as a full-fledged Heel–Face Door-Slam.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships:
    • Everyone. Literally. Pick any character that has appeared on the show, and then pick another one to pair them with; odds are good that someone has already written a fanfic about it, even if the characters weren't in the same episode or have never shared screen-time.note  Most of them are crack pairings, but some of them are actually pretty popular.note 
    • The most common victim does seem to be Reese, though; he's been paired with just about anyone he's ever shared screen-time with.
    • "If-Then-Else" even has The Machine getting into the act in-universe, shipping Root and Fusco in one of the simulations.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Carl Elias, a New York City crime boss and the illegitimate son of Don Gianni Moretti, evaded his father's attempts to kill him after witnessing the latter having his mother killed and spent decades building his own power base, even using a job as a teacher to siphon off mob recruits. Evading arrest after killing his mother's assailant, Elias later assists, then double-crosses Reese, forcing him to give Elias his father's hiding place, going on to take control of much of the city's crime scene while having his right-hand man kill his hated father while Elias seemingly quietly surrenders to the police. In prison Elias expands his business, even helping Team Machine from behind bars and when nearly killed by Russian mobsters, prepares to calmly accept his fate. When rescued, Elias works with Carter to turn HR and the Russian Mafia against one-another and when faced with the challenge of yet another gang, prepares swiftly to fight them when they kill his loyal right-hand, even outwitting their leader Dominic while under torture. After surviving an assassination attempt by Samaritan, Elias goes underground with Team Machine's help and dies giving his life to protect Finch from the rogue A.I.
    • "Foe": Ulrich Kohl was once a Stasi operative who executed East German defectors on his country's behalf. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Kohl was betrayed by his former teammates and imprisoned for 24 years. Escaping after his captors believed he had grown too old and feeble to be dangerous, Kohl immediately proved them wrong, setting out to take revenge on his former comrades, blaming them for the apparent death of his beloved wife. A cool-headed man with a formidable knowledge of spycraft, chemistry, and biology, Kohl methodically hunts his targets while evading pursuit, succeeding in killing all but one of them, with one only surviving because of Reese's intervention. Learning that his wife is still alive, Kohl seeks her out, easily subduing the much younger and stronger Reese when he interferes and engaging in a calm discussion while torturing him. Eventually confronting his wife and hitherto unknown daughter, Kohl comes to accept the toll his actions had taken upon him, ultimately coercing Reese into shooting him and dying content that, while his own humanity is a lost cause, a part of him would live on in his daughter.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The Rejected Pepsi JokeExplanation  is so well known that even Jonathan Nolan has heard about it! It's basically POI's equivalent of the Roof Pizza meme.
    • Three words from "Super": "Use the cushion!"
    • Reese is a Unicorn.Explanation 
    • "Elias Happened!"Explanation 
    • "Overreacting Reese".Explanation 
    • A promo picture of Reese wearing glasses in "Bury the Lede" inspired the "Asshole Reese" Meme.
    • Stickup Sniper.Explanation 
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Root's first appearance. She meticulously destroys the life of the economically destitute POI, makes him the most wanted man in New York by framing him for a political assassination and even causes his wife to doubt his sincerity. If John, Zoe and Harold hadn't intervened, the POI would be in jail for a crime he didn't commit and his wife and children would be living in poverty and under the stigma of having a convicted criminal for a husband and father.
      • And in her second appearance, she said she would shoot innocent people if Finch tried to get away after she kidnapped him. She would have shot a train porter, but Finch managed to knock her over.
      • Later, she threatened to murder Grace in order to gain Harold's cooperation in gaining control over the Machine in the pursuit of power. The strength of her later religious conversion to Harold's values by way of the Machine has been disputed.
      • She arguably crosses it again in Skip when she tries to murder Beth Bridges just because Harold wants to use her as an Unwitting Pawn in a plan she fears will expose him to Samaritan. It's well intentioned in a way, but still...
    • Elias locking a baby in a freezer car to get Reese to reveal the location of a man Elias wants dead. This is actually a double MEH - not only is Elias threatening to kill a baby, he had agreed to help Reese save the baby from some kidnappers as a return favor for Reese saving his life in an earlier episode, which shows how Elias honors his debts.
    • Reese and Finch openly admit to approaching it when they consider leaving two POIs who are trying to murder each other to their fate. If there had been a third number in need of their attention at the time they very well might have done it.
    • Quinn takes a flying leap off it by assenting to the murder of his own godson.
    • Det. Raymond Terney crossed it onscreen when he helped Quinn cover up Szymanski's murder.
    • Finch created a sentient being, his child for all intents and purposes, and then put in a program that basically forces it to kill itself over and over again every midnight. Later subverted when he then provided it a way to free itself. In Finch's defense, The Machine wasn't supposed to develop a personality, and it processes millions of people's information. It absolutely has to remain unbiased. He couldn't leave that much power in the hands of what would essentially be an infant.
    • Northern Lights decides to let a terrorist attack occur, knowingly condemning innocent citizens to their deaths, in order to kill Nathan Ingram.
    • Word of God in "Liberty", the audio commentary notes the Force Recon Marines who kidnapped the POI'S friend were breaking their own rules by wiring said friend up to an I.E.D.
    • Officer Simmons was never a nice guy, but most of his actions were just generic bad guy stuff. That is until "The Crossing". If trying to have Fusco's son killed while Fusco listens helplessly didn't cross the line, then killing Carter definitely crossed it. You know you've crossed the line when Elias is disgusted and has you killed.
    • Greer was always flirting with this, but just avoiding going over the edge; if kidnapping Grace in "Beta" doesn't count as a Moral Event Horizon, blowing up innocent civilians and policemen for Samaritan to get the government feeds certainly does.
    • Samaritan, at some point during the fourth season midseason trilogy. Options include:
      • Releasing the names of all the people in Witness Protection.
      • Crashing the US stock market to force Team Machine to nearly-suicidal action to prevent worldwide economic chaos.
      • Manipulating the government's relevant number program into murdering a Nautilus contest winner who'd outlived his usefulness by framing him and his friends as terrorists.
    • Sometimes, even the numbers The Machine generates can cross this:
      • Nothing To Hide: Wayne Kruger was already established as a major league asshole, but when he smashed Harold with a vase, it was hard to feel any sympathy for him when he was killed off shortly after.
      • Nautilus: The episode ends with Claire Mahoney joining Samaritan despite Harold's pleading. However, she appears to have learned her lesson as of Q&A, seeking out Harold's help. But when Harold becomes suspicious, she pulls a gun on him, revealing that this was an elaborate trap all along.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The intro. "DADADUN! DADADUN- YOU ARE BEING WATCHED." The combination of Ramin Djwadi's orchestrations, Michael Emerson's badass narration, and the fact that you know you're in for 45 minutes of AWESOME is enough to make you wanna scream "HELL FRICKIN YEEEAAAH!"
  • Narm: "Til Death", the scenes of the couple making up after they both ordered hitmen to kill each other. In the actors' defense, there is probably no way you can avoid Narm with a line like "I'm so sorry I tried to kill you, honey".
    • Carter realizing that Fusco is talking to Harold in "Firewall"... while he's on the toilet...
    • Reese's soft, calm voice works well when he's threatening a crook, but when he's on a date or flipping burgers at a suburban barbecue it comes off as this.
    • The show very often has Team Machine making no attempt to be inconspicuous while talking on their comms, and just pretends that they're magically silent to everyone around.
    • The heroes' continual surprise whenever it turns out Samaritan is behind the mission of the week. Season 4 was able to get away with it decently as there really were enough cases where Samaritan wasn't involved to make it plausible, but Season 5's reduced episode count meant it had to play a big role in every single one, making it quite silly how they're still surprised to realize this every time.
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: Mostly subverted by the premise of the show. Most shows start with a crime and spend the episode connecting it to a person, but this trope often gives away who that person is. An episode of Person of Interest, however, starts with the person, generally played by that week's main guest star, and the mystery is how that person connects to a crime. Despite this, however, there are a couple of straight examples:
    • Enrico Colantoni as Elias.
    • Amy Acker as Root.note 
    • Camryn Manheim as Control.
    • And then possibly deliberately subverted with the head of Vigilance, who appears to be a random aide right up until the part where he kills his mark. He's played by a C-list actor - or was at the time.
  • Only the Author Can Save Them Now: The battle against Samaritan was so one-sided for so long that its defeat could only really come this way; in the end, it took a theretofore unmentioned—yet apparently always available—computer virus to finally bring the A.I. to its knees; they didn't even try to build on a conversation that implied Samaritan had an Achilles' Heel (See They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot below).
  • Paranoia Fuel:
    • "You are being watched." By everything.
    • On occasion, the surveillance tactics used by Reese and Finch. Notably, "Bluejacking" people's phones, though it's deliberately portrayed as more effective than it is.
    • Remember the time they hacked into all the webcams in the apartment building so they could spy on the residents? Tell us you didn't immediately put tape over your webcam and/or change your WiFi password after that episode.
    Reese: We're going to hack [the Poi's] WiFi?
    Finch: We're going to hack all of them. If the threat's in the building, we should get to know our neighbors.
    Reese: You're into sixteen networks already?
    Finch: When the phone company puts in your WiFi, the password is your phone number. Most people never even change it. The other ones might actually take a minute.
    • Root embodies this trope. She's the show's best consummate liar, the best hacker in the show after Harold and is a talented actor who can deceive most of the Properly Paranoid characters in the show. She could be anyone from a meek therapist to a Sexy Secretary and you would be none the wiser up to the point she uses her taser, hog ties you and engages in a spot of torture before shooting you dead.
    • "Nothing To Hide" has a lot of this.
    • John Greer, the former MI6 officer who acts as Decima Technologies Director Of Operations is an epic example. Polite, charming and perhaps one of the most competent antagonists on network TV. He may be old and not look like much but he always controls the situation as Team Machine and the hacktivist Peter Collier found out to their cost. With his half a centuries worth of experience and the resources under his control he constructs the most devastating Batman Gambit in the show's history to date, which ends with him having subverted the USA with the American public none the wiser and demolishing Team Machine's infrastructure.
    • The Samaritan system. An A.I with no moral constraints, in possession of all the power The Machine has and has grown beyond its initial programming to inherit Manipulative Bastard traits? A recipe for disaster. The only reason why it hasn't dropped the might of American Law Enforcement on Team Machine is due to the final tampering conducted by Root in Season 3. One wrong move will cause it to get a lock on the protagonists and ensure that certain death is the only option.
    • Season 4 appears to be running on this, especially the episodes "Prophets" and "The Cold War". The former has Team Machine struggling to keep their number safe from Samaritan and its agents even as he continues to investigate what's after him. In the latter, Samaritan takes over New York for 48 hours, and on the second day, begins tearing New York apart as it takes control of all critical infrastructure, makes the crime rate go up, instigates a massacre against witness protection program participants and to top things off, begins a cyber-attack to destroy the global economic recovery. And no one except Team Machine and Decima know what is going on.
  • The Producer Thinks of Everything: when the camera focuses on the phone Control brought to Root's torture cage in "Aletheia", you can hear high-pitched beeping that sounds like Morse code. If you're under 40, that is. Guess how the Machine contacts Root without Control noticing.
    • Remember, at the time this episode aired, Amy Acker was 37, while Camryn Manheim was 52.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Carter was initially a Base-Breaking Character when the show began. However, her evolution into The Chessmaster in "Endgame" was met with favourable responses from fans and critics alike. This may have contributed to a portion of the fan base having a highly negative reaction to her demise in "The Crossing".
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • The Scrappy:
    • Claire Mahoney is increasingly becoming this in some parts of the fan base for her jerkass Smug Snake fanatical worship of Samaritan, the fact that she seems to be willfully blind to Samaritan's crimes, and nearly murdering Harold in her most recent appearance.
    • It's hard to find many people who like Iris Campbell, Reese's (department mandated) therapist and love interest of season 4.
    • Sleazy, unpleasant political figure Roger McCourt isn't exactly the most popular POI, especially given how He facilitates Samaritan being implemented and suffers no punishment for it.
  • Special Effect Failure: The show has largely stopped using blank-firing guns in exchange for nongunsnote  or non-firing props with muzzle flashes added in post production. It can bother viewers who are familiar with firearms, especially when muzzle flashes go off when characters clearly have their fingers off the triggers or are pulling triggers and there's no flash or smoke let alone recoil.
  • Shocking Moments: Season 3 ran on it with its artificial intelligence story arc involving a stream of critically acclaimed Wham Episodes concluding with the complete subversion of the American state by an NGO Super Power who wish to further the interests of an artificial intelligence system that they've brought online.
  • Squick:
    • How Ulrich Kohl uses needles in "Foe" .
    • The horrifying ear surgery/interrogation Control performs on Root in "Aletheia".
  • Strangled by the Red String: Arguably, John and Iris in "Skip". There is a significant lack of chemistry between them.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • The move away from the formulaic crime procedural format (like NCIS, NCIS:LA, and Hawaii Five-0) and increased emphasis on the serialized science fiction aspects of the show has divided fans who enjoy the new direction and those who disagree.
    • Fans have also voiced similar complaints about Carter joining Team Machine, Shaw being added to the main cast, Carter being killed off, Shaw (apparently) being killed off, Root joining Team Machine, and so forth. Note that all of those are female characters.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Martine all the way. Supposedly an equal to Root, but it's never really shown. Her high point was in capturing Shaw but after that, she never really accomplishes anything against Team Machine. Her Surprisingly Sudden Death almost borders on Narm territory because of how cheap it is, which certainly doesn't help.
    • There are those who wish Finch's predecessor Mr. Dillinger had survived, to return either getting some measure of redemption or as a Villain of the Week, as it would have been interesting seeing him interact with and/or fight Reese while both were aware of who the other was.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Simmons tipping Carter off about Davidson's death (which Reese connected Fusco to in order to get him into HR as a mole) after Fusco tells him to hell ultimately goes nowhere beyond a couple of dramatic scenes between him and Carter or Simmons.
    • Snow manages to get Carter's attention to tell her to warn Reese about Stanton. Reese never looks into it, and Stanton later manages to get the drop on Reese as if he wasn't warned at all. Stanton's storyline would have been exactly the same if Snow never told Carter anything.
    • In "YHWH", Control has a conversation with Garrison that seems to imply that Samaritan can be defeated by pulling its access to the NSA feeds. This seems to finally lay the groundwork for a concrete, defined method Team Machine can kill it with, but come the third-to-last episode, Finch goes out and procures a never-before-mentioned computer virus that will destroy both Samaritan and his own Machine instead.
    • The male portrayal of Samaritan (aggressive, arrogant, male avatar) versus the female portrayal of the Machine (protective, nurturing, female avatar) appeared to be leading to a resolution in which the Machine, knowing from its simulations that it couldn't win by force, negotiates a compromise in which the two ASI's merge their programs into a single 'child' ASI, hopefully with the best aspects of both. Whether this was averted because the series was Cut Short, or whether the producers were always going to have a climatic showdown between the two ASI's for Rule of Drama, is unknown.
    • Season 4 could have featured the entire team rather than just Root having to constantly change their identities to keep off Samaritan's radar, and with little ending up being done with any of their covers, it probably would have been a lot better.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • The Season 3 finale tries to make Collier into an Anti-Villain over his tragic backstory and manipulation, summed up with him saying Vigilance never killed any innocent people. The fact that this was absolutely not for lack of trying in several episodes is apparently completely beside the point.
      • It's worth noting that Collier's statement is based on his belief that anyone working for a data mining company or the federal government in any capacity is guilty. Many of Vigilance's victims were innocent by sane people standards.
    • Sameen Shaw was duped by her superiors into killing Daniel Aquino, who was innocent. But after finding out, she never shows a hint of remorse. Compared with John who refused to kill Kara Stanton and Daniel Casey, no one he ever did kill was ever confirmed to be innocent, and it was heavily implied that his targets were relevant numbers given by the Machine, which is never wrong. Still John remains haunted by the mere possibility that he might have killed an innocent person.
      • Whilst it may still come across as unsympathetic, it is in-character considering Shaw's personality disorder severely inhibits her emotional response to almost everything.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Fusco, all the way. He's one of the more sympathetic characters in the show, and a genuine atoner, but the universe keeps piling more and more shit on him. However, things have begun to look up for him since his promotion and now he's a hero in the eyes of most of his NYPD colleagues. Although from time to time he still gets some ribbing from the other members of Team Machine.
  • The Un-Twist: Carter's new partner Laskey does turn out to be a member of HR. It was so obvious that Carter herself picked up on it the minute she met him and used this against him.
  • What an Idiot!: Special Counsel could have set up Shaw to get killed in any city in America. He authorizes the plan to kill her in New York City, knowing that Reese is running around loose in New York and that he already thwarted their attempt to kill Henry Peck.
  • The Woobie: lots of Woobies: most of the main characters, many of the recurring characters, and a substantial fraction of the Numbers.


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