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YMMV / The Mentalist

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  • Acceptable Targets: Deconstructed with the character of Richard Haibach, who is on the receiving end of this trope as the main cast knows him only as an ex-con whose crime was child molestation, and treats him accordingly with utter contempt. They basically harass him in every one of his appearances and do everything from accusing him of child murder to using him as bait for dangerous killers culminating with him being kidnapped and tortured as part of a (failed) plan by Jane to catch Red John. The result is that he snaps and goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the whole team, whereupon his backstory as a victim of abuse of his own is expounded upon, resulting in a very unusual example of a pedophile getting a sympathetic treatment...albeit, perhaps from the audience more than the cast, who still hate his guts by the end of it, especially after he targeted them and killed some of their friends.
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  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: Bosco. Because he was a jerk to Jane, mainly because he suspected that Jane was putting Lisbon and her career in danger, and/or flirting with her (and in Bosco's book, these were pretty equal crimes), he was not a fan favourite. Add forty-five minutes of Lisbon looking beautiful and distraught after his shooting - hey presto, everybody cries when he snuffs it after admitting that he loves her.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Is Jane a guy who likes to mess with people for the giggles and because it's fun, and does police work out of boredom and altruism? Or is he a guy warped beyond all repair by his family's murder who messes with people and hunts out murderers to inflict pain?
    • Red John/ Sherriff McCallister. Just what are his backstory and motivations? What led him to become a serial killer? Why is it that he seems to have absolutely no remorse for his actions, but instead views them as Necessarily Evil despite most of them being petty murders of unimportant people? It's revealed throughout the course of the show that he does not view himself as weak, unhappy, evil or in need of redemption, and that he does not feel himself deserving of punishment for his deeds, so what does that make him? Is he some sort of Knight Templar or Well-Intentioned Extremist with a goal we don't know about? Does he suffer from Blue-and-Orange Morality, Black and White Insanity, or a little bit of both? Or is he just plain bonkers with delusions of grandeur? And did he start killing people before or after he became a sheriff?
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  • Angst? What Angst?: Everyone that has worked for Red John seems to treat his gruesome actions as well as the actions they do for him with the same amount of emotion as if he simply asked them to pick up something from the grocery store.
  • Arc Fatigue: It takes five seasons for Jane to compile a concrete list of 7 suspects. It's all paid off now.
  • Ass Pull:
    • Shettrick is Volker's mole. Unlike other Moles in the series, this time the writers just pull her out their asses.
    • For many, The Reveal that Red John was Sherriff McCallister falls into this. Mostly because so little evidence over the course of the series pointed to him (except for evidence in season 6, the season he was revealed, which should mark it as Ass Pull), and because it doesn't easily jive with what we did know about Red John (like his height and hair, which are pretty different to what they had been described as). Not to mention, any motive or backstory Red John had was dismissed by Jane as irrelevant, so we learn little about him beyond the fact that this man was Red John. Many of his impressive and nigh impossible psychic feats are given no explanation, and there are also logistical questions that push the trouble of his identity into Fridge Logic territory, such as how he could keep showing up and killing in Sacramento, where the team is based, especially in his last season, when he's supposed to be a small-town sheriff from Santa Monica, hundreds of miles away.
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  • Author's Saving Throw: That damned reset buttony season four premiere. It basically negates all the epic Gambit Pileup in the season three finale.
  • Awesome Music: Rigsby's class reunion entrance to Ini Kamoze's "Here Comes the Hotstepper" in "Rose-Colored Glasses."
  • Base-Breaking Character: Red John: the best Myth Arc since The X-Files, or the most annoying Arc Fatigue since How I Met Your Mother?
  • The Chris Carter Effect: The Red John Myth Arc has become far more elaborate and convoluted than originally intended. While Bruno Heller supposedly knew who Red John was going to be from the start (although even that notion is contested by many), the character went from a particularly devious Serial Killer who knew how to cover his tracks, to a Serial Killer connected to a few other killers, to a Serial Killer with a shadow army of fanatically devoted, loyal-unto-death brainwashed followers. In season 6 they took his catchphrase ("Tiger, Tiger") and decided to turn what initially looked like a cult into a sophisticated, national wide criminal organization that nobody had heard of, and made Red John a possible member, then a possible senior member, and finally into the apparent mastermind of the whole thing. Oh, and he's repeatedly performing "psychic" feats that make Jane look like an amateur that are never explained or referenced again. Beyond a certain point, he's basically a comic book supervillain, and you have to start wondering why he ever resorted to anything as trivial as serial murder in the first place. The Reveal that he is Sherriff McCallister only raised further issues, as many clues that were dropped about Red John through the series turned out to be irrelevant (his height, for instance, as the actor in question is taller than Red John was stated to be) or never mentioned again, while practically all of the clues that pointed to him were only dropped in the very season he was revealed in.
  • Complete Monster: Of the many criminals Patrick Jane is tasked with going up against, these are the worst:
    • Red JohnSheriff Thomas McAllister—is Patrick Jane's nemesis and a sociopathic Serial Killer responsible for torturing and killing dozens of women. When Jane, then a phony psychic, insulted Red John while offering to help the police catch him, Red John murdered Jane's wife and young daughter. Years later, Red John, although retired, commits a number of murders to silence loose ends or torment Jane. Some of his worst crimes include kidnapping and brainwashing Kristina Frye into believing that she's dead; trying to force Jane to kill his best friend and Love Interest, Teresa Lisbon; killing a woman because Jane had a happy memory of her; and beheading the therapist who helped Jane recover after his family's death. The mastermind of the Blake Association, a criminal conspiracy and protection racket for corrupt law enforcement officials, and leader of his own group of psychotics and serial killers, Red John regularly kills his minions or drives them to suicide when he has no further need of them. A raging narcissist driven by an intense need for attention, Red John revels in the power he feels by holding thousands of lives in his hands.
    • "Blood Money": The sociopathic Serial Killer Cale Sylvan makes his living as a hitman to get paid for his disgusting hobby. Connected to the "mysterious" deaths of seven people, Sylvan's most recent victim is District Attorney Kelly Flower, who he took the time to videotape begging for her life as a trophy to keep for himself. Although arrested, Sylvan is released and later found in his murder house, with a terrified captive man he plans to kill, and after Sylvan's own death, multiple bodies are found in the yard of the property.
    • Season 5: Thomas "Tommy" Volker is a greedy executive responsible for slaughtering over 300 Amazonian tribesmen for refusing to relinquish their land to be used for his geothermal project. When a journalist links him to the massacre, Volker manipulates an old friend into sabotaging her car, having the journalist suffocated, the evidence stolen and his "friend" left as the fall guy. After CBI Agent Teresa Lisbon convinces Volker's secretary to provide evidence against him, Volker has his assassin strangle her to death while he looks on, smiling, and planning to have the same done to another employee of his who planned to go public with Volker's crimes. Later having his own assassin killed in a drive-by shooting, along with two innocent bystanders, for becoming inconvenient, Volker also plans to kill another of his own goons for being interrogated by the police and attempts to personally murder a young boy who witnessed one of his own crimes when even his own hitman is too disgusted to do so. Loyal to no one, Volker is a disgusting man who embodies avarice.
  • Designated Hero: Jane.
  • Epileptic Tree: Countless theories on who Red John is.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Jane and Lisbon.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Or rather Europeans love Simon Baker. The show does extremely well in France and used to be huge in Spain too.
  • He's Just Hiding!: In a show with a fair amount of Faking the Dead, this is inevitable even for cases where the deaths do seem to stick.
    • La Roche is last seen bleeding out form a gunshot, as Rigsby tries to save him but seems to get more upset. The next episode mentions him as dead, but the main characters limited reaction to this and the fact that they might have seen an advantage in letting his attacker think he'd died do cast a little doubt on it.
    • After Stiles and Haffner were apparently blown up when Mc Alister faked his own death , but the fact that one death was faked in that incident doesn't necessarily mean that the others weren't, as while if Stiles and/or Haffner survived then they might have had reasons off their own to run -as members of Visualize, and with Red John running around- or been sen as potentially valuable prisoners for the Blake Association, with both organizations potentially having had the recourses to plant more bodies and DNA.
    • Some fans who don't think Red John is psychic wonder if Lorelai was really dead in order to explain how she appeared on a Dvd, where Red John named Jane's seven final suspects, supposedly before Jane even started making his list.
  • I Knew It!: In 6x09. Who didn't see "Kim's" and Abbot's sudden but inevitable betrayal coming? They're federal, it's what they do.
  • Jerk Ass Woobie:
    • Patrick Jane, arguably, yes he is quite the jerk, but considering that his wife and daughter were murdered by a serial killer, you do have some sympathy with him.
    • Richard Haibach. He's a former child abuser and eventually goes on to kidnapping and murder, but he was sexually abused by his own father and he and his sister are implied to have had a crappy life overall, and he is frequently harassed by the CBI- especially Lisbon- for things he actually did not do, including crimes as serious as child murder. The reason he actually becomes a killer is because Jane once framed him as being Red John and as a result he was kidnapped and brutally tortured, so naturally he has a grudge.
    • Leslie Sloop from "Throwing Fire" is an alcoholic serial adulteress. She's also outlived her son (who choked to death on a balloon at the age of three), watched her husband cope with it better than she does, and then finds him murdered. By the time she appears in person, she is on the verge of suicide and is barely talked out of it by Van Pelt and Rigsby.
    • Dreyer Whelan from "Red Badge" is an utter dick towards Lisbon thoroughotu his brief interview scene but the reasons for this make him more sympathetic. His six year-old daughter was raped by a man who he (somewhat justifiably) felt the police should have already arrested and stopped. Whelan is stated to be either divorced or widowed, and years later is still seeing a therapist about the trauma (and apparently recovering less well than his daughter, the actual victim).
    • Paul Kraeger in "Bloodshot" was an adulterer, but he was one who lost the child he deeply loved when his wife left him (due to Jane exposing the affair in a psychic act), suffered a breakdown and has spent the next decade homeless. The fact that his vengeful son is the culprit of the episode, and ends up dead as a result adds to his status.
    • Rachel Bowman from "Ball of Fire" is an Ax-Crazy murderer and kidnapper who wants to cause Jane as much physical and mental pain as possible before killing him. She also had her mother die giving birth to her, was raised by a father who was extremely close to her, and in the backstory, was callously manipulated by Jane to trick her father into confessing to murder, with him later dying in prison. The fact that she's explicitly shown to be suffering from some kind of mental disorder (mentioning taking her meds) also makes her seem a bit less cold-blooded.
    • Bob Kirkland has a somewhat unpleasant manner and is capable of great ruthlessness and Cold-Blooded Torture, but he grew up in a very abusive, home with only his brother (who later disappeared and was probably murdered by Red John) to care about and has dedicated a large part of his life to a goal which he ultimately fails to achieve, or even come close to, something he is made aware of, and which gets him killed.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: One very common reaction to the end of the season six premiere where Red John captures and seemingly kills Lisbon, smearing his trademark smiley face on her face in blood as he calls Jane with her phone to taunt him.
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize:
    • Subverted in an interesting way in both "Blood In, Blood Out" with Jon "Why squirrel hate me?" Sklaroff and "Red Letter" in Rick Hoffman. Sklaroff's character is guilty of some drug charges and Cho pretends to kill him to get the real killer to confess. Hoffman's character isn't the killer, but is running a human trafficking ring through his anti-human trafficking organization.
    • Seemingly lampshaded in "Blinking Red Light." Jane tells Lisbon to go with her gut and pick the suspect who looks like he did it. She immediately chooses William Mapother. Subverted in that he was innocent; double subverted when the killer turns out to be played by David Paymer.
  • Older Than They Think/Serial Numbers Filed Off: The novel The Analyst by John Katzenbach features a mysterious murderer who signs with a bloody circular symbol, leads a little cult of helpers among which there is a seductress who is close to him, and fights a mind games war against the protagonist, who is also a professional of the mind with blond hair who got his life shattered after losing his wife. It even features a skeptical, dark-haired female police inspector who helps him for a time. The book was released in 2002, six years before the premiere of The Mentalist.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Patrick's deceased wife and daughter, Charlotte and Angela.
    • Thomas Volker one of the few villains to pull a Karma Houdini. Which doesn't last, however.
    • Bradley Whitford as The fake Red John.
  • Relationship Writing Fumble: Jane and Lisbon are a possible case. One that the writers went with in later seasons...
  • Replacement Scrappy: The new CBI Special Agent in Charge, Hightower, is an epic bitch to the team. She broke up Van Pelt and Rigsby, scolded Lisbon continuously, and hang Jane's fate on the team. By Season 3, she was getting better, though. In fact, she saved Jane's life.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Dennis Abbott was hated for his role in breaking up the team while Jane was trying to get to Red John. He is now universally adored by the fandom due to his blatant, shameless shipping of Jane and Lisbon.
  • Special Effects Failure: In "The War of the Roses," when Erica Flynn is supposedly sunning herself on a tropical beach, she's clearly just sitting on a soundstage in front of a rather cheap green screen effect.
  • Stoic Woobie: J.J. LaRoche. His mother was gruesomely raped and killed herself three months after. There are strong hints that he chased the rapist and tore off his tongue, and, according to Jane, he's been punishing himself with remorse ever since. Still one of the most stoic characters in the series.
  • Villain Ball: The only reason Jane ever gets in a position to defeat Red John is due to the latter possessing one of these. Despite knowing all too well that Jane wants him dead for what he did to Jane's family, a combination of Worthy Opponent, The Only One Allowed to Defeat You, and We Can Rule Together leads Red John to keep Jane alive—and in a position to one day kill him—instead of killing Jane first out of self-preservation.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Many believe that Brett Partridge was funny enough and had sufficiently interesting interactions with Jane to add him to the core characters in the CBI. Instead, he was a sporadic character who was only used as an incredibly unsubtle Red John Red Herring.
    • In the end, Red John himself — courtesy of his Ass Pull (see above) identity and Anti-Climax Boss death in the Season 6 finale.
  • What an Idiot!: The killer in Red-Handed is completely aware that whoever has the victim's lucky poker chip would immediately become a major suspect as well as the fact that Patrick is investigating the case yet he bets said poker chip on a game against Patrick. He's arrested less than two minutes after.

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