Think every family in the Crime And Punishment genre is on the bad guys' side? This family is different. The Reagan family is a cop family, not a robber family. A four-generational family with a retired Police Commissioner from Ye Goode Olde Days as the great-grandpa, current Police Commissioner Frank Reagan as The Patriarch, his sons who are all cops and his daughter who is a DA. And their children (two of which have declared they are seriously considering joining the NYPD). They live together, quarrel but stick by each other. Because the family that arrests together stays together.
They have different personalities. Grandpa Henry is a hardbitten chief from the old days. Frank is an incorruptible patriarch and responsible leader, who knows how to keep peace between his children and how to encourage them without giving undue favoritism. Danny is a ruthless but competent cop who always catches the bad guys. Erin is a stickler for points of law but she can also manipulate the law to her advantage when seeking a conviction. And Jamie is an idealist who feels a call to serve and protect. They are all loyal to each other and they all serve the cause of keeping order in the city of New York.
- 20% More Awesome: Rossellini promising Erin that he'll turn over a new leaf. "I'll change -- fifty percent."
- Actor Allusion: Frank's mention of being a Marine with service in Vietnam; during Magnum, P.I.'s run, Tom Selleck often wore a cap with the legend "VMO-2", which was a Marine Forward Air Control squadron out of Da Nang.
- The Aggressive Drug Dealer: Noble Sanfino trying to push some new party drug on Jamie, only to OD himself. He gets revenge by giving his dealer a near-fatal dose of his own product.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Roland Gates outed as an undercover cop.
Gates: I got two kids, man.
Shooter: Too bad for 'em.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Erin gets weak in the knees when she meets art aficionado "Frank Weller." And she gets even weaker when he turns out to be an art thief who is using a fake alias. Frank is less than thrilled, but Erin tells him to mind his business.
- Always Gets His Man : Frank and Danny.
- Amoral Attorney: DA Rossellini has his eyes on the Mayorship, and is happy to manipulate Erin in order to get it. And if the Mayor goes, Erin's father goes.
- Ancestral Weapon: Frank's Fitz Special revolver, which was handed down from his Grandfather to Henry, and then to him.
- Arranged Marriage: Sammy Khan wasn't shot because of his anti-terror credentials, but because a traditionalist Muslim already had dibs on his wife.
- Ask a Stupid Question: In "Leap of Faith", Danny thinks some small-town detectives could have been more thorough with the investigation of the first late Mrs. Bines.
Danny: And where was Mister Bines during all this?
Detective: Oh, right, I forgot to tell you. He was at the arsenic store.
- Asshole Victim: The son on of a Russian mob boss is shot at his own engagement party. ..While cheating on his fiancee in the wine cellar. No great loss.
- The victim in "Mercy" is revealed to be a pedophile with a taste for Ukrainian hookers.
- An off-duty Danny prevents the shooting of an unarmed man in "The Job"... only to realize the victim's a pedophile, recently paroled.
- Awesome McCoolname: Mobster Johnny Tesla.
- Bad News, Irrelevant News: Danny and Jackie explain to a perp that they found his gun; he's headed for death row. The good news? "We decided to drop the credit fraud charges."
- Badass Family: Very much so. The best example of this is when Danny's wife is kidnapped by a drug lord: the family bands together and figures out where she is, allowing Danny and ESU to be Big Damn Heroes, and Erin finds the mole in the DA's office.
- Lampshaded when Danny's son asks fearfully if a burglar could target them.
Grandpa Henry: Are you kiddin'? He'll get one look at this table and run the other way.
- Badass Mustache: Probably goes without saying since Frank is played by Tom Selleck.
- Beam Me Up, Scotty: Danny's reaction to his son asking if he's "sweating" a perp "in the box."
Jackie: You've been playing those video games again, haven't you?
- Best Served Cold: The Phantom arriving in town to exact revenge on Task Force Apache, the cadre of cops and informants who sent him to jail.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: Sonny Malevski.
- Big Brother Mentor: Ironically enough, not Danny, Jaime's actual brother; but Sergeant Renzulli, his training officer.
- Big No: Danny, when a fellow officer and family friend is shot. ("The Life We Chose")
- Bittersweet Ending: Innocence. The wrong man was convicted of rape; while he's exonerated 18 years of his life are gone. Meanwhile the real rapist can't be prosecuted due to the 5-year statue of limitations, and has raped again... but this time, he's on Frank's radar.
I'll be watching you. And so will the thirty five thousand police officers in this city.
- Black Dude Dies First: The undercover cop in "The Life We Chose."
- Black Widower: "Leap of Faith."
- Bling of War : NYPD uniforms.
- In a small subversion, the most prominent decoration is a simple black bar, with the letters "WTC", awarded to 9/11 first responders.
- Blunt Yes: A suburban detective, chafing at Danny's questions.
"Since you're New york City Police Detectives, and I'm just a hick cop whose job consists of chasing drug dealers off he golf course."
Danny: That sounds about right to me.
- Blood Spattered Innocents: In "Whistle Blower", the titular informant in shot in front of his wife.
- Book Dumb: Renzulli. "'Rhetoric?' I'm not familiar with the vernacular."
- By-The-Book Cop: The father, Frank Reagan.
- Jamie is even more so.
- Call Back: Frank and Jaime's conversation while fishing in Episode 1 of Season 2, a callback to the pilot.
- The Cameo: Frank grudgingly attending a performance by Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood. (To promote Bennett's second duet album)
- Cassandra Truth: In "Hall of Mirrors," a woman with OCD is convinced that a prowler keeps nudging her furniture around.
- A literal one in "Leap of Faith," wherein God "speaks" to the sister of the murder victim.
- Christianity Is Catholic: Justified. At least some are after all. They're also Irish.
- Clint Squint: How Danny sizes criminals up.
- Combat Pragmatist: Jamie's new partner, Luisa Sosa. When facing a guy bigger than her, she doesn't engage in Good Old Fisticuffs like Jaime: she pulls out a collapsible steel baton and hits him. Hard.
- Conflicting Loyalty: Jamie is asked by the FBI to spy on a secret society for them that might include Danny.
- The Consigliere: DCPI Garrett Moore.
- Converse with the Unconscious: Frank and his old squadmate, John McKenna, just as he's taken off of life support.
- Cool Shades: Frank Reagan sports these.
- Cowboy Cop: Danny Reagan.
- Great-Grandpa Henry seems to indicate that he was a Cowboy Cop in his time. Of course back then there was more "flexibility" in what was allowed anyway.
- Surprisingly, Frank led a unit of cowboy cops some 15 years ago. One of them, Billy Flood, snapped under the stress and was sent off to the loony bin, later resurfacing as a criminal.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: When Bianca hits on Jamie, he suddenly finds himself afoul of her jealous ex and her mobster brother.
- Crime-Time Soap
- Cut Himself Shaving: In "Family Ties", a Russian gangster blows off a finger injury. "Slammed it in a door."
- Da Chief: Frank.
- Dating Catwoman: Erin has a habit of this.
- Dead Big Brother: Jamie was motivated to join the force partly because his brother Joe died in the line of duty.
- Diabolical Mastermind: The Phantom.
- Dirty Cop: Danny discovers that one of the would-be bank robbers is an ex-cop, Billy Flood.
- Dirty Harriet: Jackie going undercover to catch a killer with a predilection for webgirls.
- Donut Mess with a Cop: Danny gets competitive with another parent at his son's school.
Father: Cop, huh? I bet your dad likes donuts.
Sean: He LOVES donuts!
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: When Jamies rescues a baby from a burning building, Renzulli is hailed as the hero to protect the undercover sting.
- Engineered Public Confession: The killer in "Hall of Mirrors." One wiretap later, and he's toast.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The theme of the episode Brothers,
- Even Evil Has Standards: According to Henry, in the good old days even mobsters would help in the hunt for cop killers.
- Evil Matriarch: The murder in "Family Ties" was a coordinated hit by the bride-to-be's mother. Having married into the Mafiya, she wanted her daughter to have no part of it.
- A gang banger's mom in "The Life We Chose."
Ms. Hernandez: [to Danny] Some cops got shot? Too bad. What you call -- "hazards of the occupation"?
- External Combustion: The fate of a Russian florist who knew too much.
- Fan Service with a Smile: In her teens, Erin worked as a roller-bunny at a cocktail bar (specifically Roxy's). Frank was apparently aware of it (his mustache twitches in amusement at the memory) but he let it slide.
- A Father to His Men : Do you have to ask?
Frank: 271 line of duty deaths since I joined the force.
- Fence Painting: In "The Uniform," Jamie is stuck doing this to pay for his student loans. Renzulli gamely grabs a brush to help him. "I don't see enough of your mug already?"
- Fighting Irish: Danny.
- Food Slap: Danny gets a caesar salad to the face while cornering a perp at his day job -- a short order kitchen.
- Friendly Enemy: Henry and Happy Jack, a retired mobster; in the Good Old Days they considered each other as Worthy Opponents.
- Frank paying a condolence call on a grief-stricken mafioso who lost his son.
- From the Mouths of Babes: What the Reagan children are for.
- The Fundamentalist: The culprits in "Lonely Hearts Club", who are actually the mother and sibling of one of the victims, who were interviewed at the start.
- Though from the way they acted, the son seemed have talked his mother into it, and he seemed to be in it For the Evulz.
- Gentleman Thief: Jacob Krystal, though he claims to be liberating stolen art.
- Get Out!: Guilt-stricken Erin tries to pays a call to her informant's widow, and is sent packing. Rather than feel even guiltier, Erin zeroes in on the wife's total lack of interest in the case.
- Going Commando: Linda in "Night on the Town".
- The Good Chancellor: Frank Reagan is this in spades, behaving like an idealized Roman magistrate. He is completely incorruptible, loyal to his position, and never plays favorites even when it comes to his own family.
- Good Cop, Bad Cop: Danny and Jackie lampshade this in "The Life We Chose".
- Good Guns, Bad Guns: An Uzi-toting biker performing a drive-by in "Hall of Mirrors."
- Groin Kick: Danny gets grouchy when he has to chase people.
Joey Sava: What're you gonna do?
Danny: What am I gonna do? This. [POW]
- Guile Hero: If Frank can't shoot them himself or put other cops in a position to shoot them, he's perfectly willing to outwit the bad guys instead. He even ran a Xanatos Gambit on a foreign ambassador whose son was a rapist in "Privilege".
- Both Danny and Erin have a little bit of this in them too.
- He-Man Woman Hater: A smug rapist who got off scot-free, and isn't shy about voicing his gender political views. After a heated meeting with Erin, he intones, "She lies. They all lie."
- Hello, Attorney!: Erin Reagan-Boyle. And Charles Rossellini, to be honest (Hey, it's Bobby Cannavale).
- Hollywood Heart Attack: Poor Henry is hit with one on Thanksgiving. You think that's going to stop Henry Reagan from having dinner with his family? Ha!
- Hollywood Law: In "Lonely Hearts Club," Jackie goes undercover as a hooker and arrests everyone who answers her ad.
- She didn't arrest everyone who answered; they were searched and sent on their way. She wanted to arrest them- especially the senator since he preached "family values"- but Danny forcefully reminded her to focus on the Serial Killer they were trying to catch.
- In "To Tell the Truth", Danny and Erin have difficulty convincing an eyewitness to testify against a gangster. To remedy this, the cops leak his location to the underworld, then wait for the gangsters to strike before swooping in to "rescue" him.
- Jamie and his new partner, Sosa, stake out a park bench and wait for someone to take a bag of stolen goods ("Critical Condition"). Jamie squirms over what he views as "borderline entrapment."
- Honey Trap: The victim in "Family Ties" was supposed to be photographed kissing a hired blonde. The mother of the bride decided to cut out the middleman and shoot him instead.
- Hostage Situation: A trio of Bank Robbers get more than they bargained for in "Critical Condition." Danny gets the obligatory reference to Dog Day Afternoon.
- Hot-Blooded: Danny.
- I Have Your Wife: In "My Funny Valentine," a teenager fakes her kidnapping to spite her wealthy dad. The plan goes awry when a co-conspirator decides to ransom her for real.
- "In the Life We Chose", The Phantom takes Barber's family hostage to get him to show himself.
- I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Thief extraordinaire Jacob admits he's pursuing Erin because he "loves a challenge."
- I Will Show You X: "Hey, I got a good 'shared sacrifice.' How about we outsource 911 to Bangalore?"
- Impersonating an Officer: A shifty-looking Auxiliary Officer with an itchy trigger finger ("The Uniform").
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Jamie has shades of this.
- Informed Attribute: In "Black and White", Frank blackmails the Mayor, insults an activist preacher to his face, and leaks a taped confession to the press. At the end, Frank's lawyer praises him for his political savvy (!) and urges to run for Mayor.
- Iron Lady: Erin's frown can reduce the mafia and even her brothers to quivering fear.
- It Runs in The Family: Nicky browbeating Erin into letting her stay out until 11:00 (Grandpa Henry: "I was out on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific at her age!"). Frank wryly observes that she "made a very convincing argument."
- It's Personal: In "Officer Down", a cop dies in the line of duty. It becomes personal for every single cop in New York.
- "Hall of Mirrors": an undercover cop is shot.
- And of course, "Dedication", in which Frank is shot.
- Frank considers the death of any cop a personal grievance. ("The Life We Chose")
- "Silver Star" is personal for both Frank and Danny, as both were Marine vets, and so was the victim.
- Ivy League for Everyone: Jamie is a Harvard boy.
- Justified Criminal: Billy Flood's motive for robbing the bank: paying for him 8-year old daughter' heart transplant.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Jamie.
- Knight in Sour Armor: Danny.
- Law Enforcement, Inc.: A shady private security outfit has approached Henry with a job offer. So far, he's turned them down.
- Let Me Tell You a Story: [insert Grandpa Henry moment of badassery here]
- Loan Shark: Sgt. Renzulli gets in deep from betting on horses. Frank bails him out, with the explicit proviso that it's one-time only.
- Loophole Abuse: In "The Job", Danny nails a suspect by casing his house until the garbage truck arrives. Trash doesn't require a warrant!
- Love Cannot Overcome: Jamie's girlfriend left him because she couldn't stand loving a cop with Chronic Hero Syndrome.
- Linda seems to have finally had enough when her son witnesses a shooting.
"I'm tired of playing second fiddle to the NYPD."
- The Mafia: Jamie going undercover to befriend a hotshot mafioso. In Season 2, he poses as a stockbroker to gain access to the mob's investment firm.
- The Mafiya: "Family Ties."
- Make It Look Like an Accident: Perp not talking, huh? Hey, let Danny have a look at that cool katana on the wall, would ya?
- Malcolm Xerox: Rev. Darnell Potter.
- Manly Tears: Frank gets choked up while recounting 9/11 in "The Job."
- Married to the Job: Danny, to Linda's resentment.
- The Matchmaker: Nicky is interested in pairing her mom off with her boss, DA Rossalini. She also lobbyied for Erin to date the art thief.
- Mayor Pain: Hand-wringing, mincing Frank Russo is a Type B. Fortunately, he seems to hold little to no authority over his Commissioner.
Reagan: I have to take this call, Your Honor.
- Subverted by his successor, Mayor Poole.
- Meaningful Echo: "Where were you on 9-11?" ("The Job")
- Meaningful Name: Tom Selleck is known to be a staunch Republican in Real Life. Three guesses who the family's last name was inspired by.
- Mouthy Kid: Nicky has her moments.
- The Mentor: Sergeant Renzulli, Jaime's training officer.
- Mistaken for Cheating: Garrett interprets Frank's strange absences (at the psychiatrist's office) for hiding a new girlfriend. He even offers to help cover for him!
Garrett: Too young? Too old?
Frank: More like the type that asks too many questions.
- Most Writers Are Adults: The show's idea of a realistic message posted by a teenager on a Facebook-type networking site is "B-T-W homes that video made me L-M-A-O"
- Mysterious Past : Both Danny and Grandpa Henry.
- Myth Arc : Jamie and The Blue Templars. Started out as the main thrust of the series but was quickly shoved to the back burner, appearing mainly in Book Ends in the episodes where it's mentioned at all.
- Nepotism : Zig Zagged . The Reagan clan is encouraged by family tradition. However there is no string pulling for them per se and they all become competent at their work.
- New Meat: Jamie. He's slowly leveling his badass and becoming street smart under Renzulli's mentoring.
- New York City Cops: The obvious focus of the series.
- Nice to the Waiter: Frank to an apologetic cleaning lady who broke a cup. Of course, it was a gift from the Mayor, so...
- Not So Different: Between Danny and the victim of the week in "Silver Star", as he sees it.
- Once an Episode: The Reagan family holds a conference over dinner.
- A variation in "Thanksgiving": When Henry is in the hospital, the family brings the dinner to him. And the seating arrangement is the same.
- Order Versus Chaos: A subtle theme throughout the series, with Frank and Jaime disagreeing with Cowboy Cop Danny.
- Our Founder: Frank is a fan of President (and former NYC Police Commissioner) Teddy Roosevelt. A big picture of TR hangs in his office.
- Our Mayors Are Different: Season two's Carter Poole is a Mayor Personable/Mayor Minority twofer.
- Papa Wolf / Four-Star Badass : In one episode Frank personally shoots a serial killer who is attempting to rape and kill Erin.
- Henry certainly applies. When Frank was shot, the entire family was in the waiting room. After revealing that has a gun, Henry sits in front and the show proceeds to time skip a few hour. You don't think much of it, until you realize that Henry is the only one who's relatively alert. Meaning that he was guarding his family, as the only way to get to them was to go through him.
- And then there was the time Henry pulled a gun on an EMT to save his son from meningitis.
- It's also discussed earlier, as when Jamie is under an Internal Affairs investigation, Frank resists the temptation to tell IA to let him slide. Henry helps out by letting him know that the same thing happened to Frank when he was Commissioner, but he let IA go through because he knew Frank would be cleared. He was, and so was Jamie.
- Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Danny and Linda's marital strife spills over into a family dinner during grace. Danny compliments his wife's prayer, "especially that part about making good decisions."
- Patrick Stewart Speech: Grandpa Reagan in "The Job." He knows God has a plan.
- Passed Over Inheritance: An obsessive compulsive woman is convinced there's a rapist creeping around her apartment. Turns out it's just her deadbeat brother, hoping to inherit her cash.
- The Patriarch: Frank.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Renzulli.
- Police Brutality: Danny has a somewhat shocking tendency toward this and sometimes the audience can't tell how far he will go. Given that it's usually towards quite despicable criminals, it comes off as Pay Evil Unto Evil.
- In "Whistle Blower", an incriminating video of a cop assaulting an old man goes viral.
Garrett: There's even a music video version now. Set to "Another One Bites the Dust." Wanna see it?
- Politically-Incorrect Villain: A crooked developer rants about "union bloodsuckers."
- In "The Job", a suburbanite father is waging a one-man war against "halfway house dirtbags."
- A pair of junkies holding up an immigrant family ("Parenthood"). "I know you people don't use banks. Where's the money, chica?"
- Principles Zealot: Erin, the daughter is an assistant DA and always getting in arguments with the other members of the family about the tension between legal protection, and law enforcement efficiency. An old problem that will always remain and is well handled in the show.
- Protect This House: A father shoots dead the burglar who attacked his family, which is good enough for Danny. Not so much for the law, however, because a) the suspect was shot outside of the home, and b) the shooter is an illegal immigrant.
- Promoted to Opening Titles: Jackie in mid-Season 1; Linda and Nicky in Season 2.
- A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Billy Flood, one of the finest officers in Frank's unit.
- Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: Reed tries on Frank, holding Erin's hostage. Frank's response is to just shoot him.
- A perp in Season 2 gets the drop on Jackie and tries to invoke this on Danny, who acts as if he's going to play this straight... and then Jackie slips out of the perp's grasp, grabs her gun back, and Danny's gun is back on target.
- Reality Ensues: In the pilot, Danny beats the shit out of a child molester to find a kidnapped girl. The child molester slides because his lawyer successfully argues that his confession admitted under torture be thrown out, forcing Danny to find other evidence to put him away.
- Real Men Love Jesus: Like true Irish-Americans, the Reagans are good Catholics.
- Reasonable Authority Figure : Frank Reagan would put Cincinnatus to shame:
(to the mayor) "I serve at your pleasure... but I work for the people of New York."
- Reformed Criminal: The barber from "The Life We Chose."
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Danny Reagan is Red Oni to his partner Jackie's (fairly subtle) Blue Oni.
- Retired Badass: Great-Grandpa Henry.
- Retirony: Frank's friend John was leaving for a vacation when the World Trade Center was hit.
- Roland Gates is shot on the eve of his daughter's christening.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: Subverted by Henry, who points out that Frank would have more firepower with a Glock. Frank concedes the point, and states his reason why in a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming:
"I like carrying your gun, Pop."
- Roof Hopping: Danny vs. a hood in "The Uniform."
- Rule of Drama: It's unlikely that a guy who despises politics (and politicians, and publicity, and reporters) as much as Frank Reagan would be appointed NYPD Commissioner.
- Salt and Pepper: Frank Reagan and Mayor Poole.
- Sassy Black Woman: Danny locks horns with a power-mad nurse in "Leap of Faith."
- The Scapegoat: After Danny's wife Linda chews him out over not mowing the lawn, the world becomes this trope. Culminates in a still-agitated Danny gunning down a fellow cop. ("Friendly Fire")
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections: Inverted in "Parenthood," when the Mayor's daughter Ariel joins a protest and his caught up in the ensuring dragnet. Ariel doesn't demand special treatment, but her parents politely suggest, separately, that Frank had better let the matter drop.
- Averted with Jamie, of course. With his family connections, he could have made Detective by now.
- Semper Fi: Henry, Frank and Danny are all Marine veterans who've seen combat (Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, respectively).
- Serial Killer: One of Danny and Jackie's Perps of the Week was a Serial Killer that preyed on call girls.
- Serious Business: Danny recalls almost beating up another dad at a little league game.
- Shame If Something Happened: As Jamie picks up his brother's old case, Sonny Malevski keeps reappearing to turn up the heat.
- Shoot Him! He Has a Wallet!: Danny shoots a man who seems to be holding a gun. It turns out the guy was an off-duty police officer and was about to show them their badge. Danny is in serious trouble while Internal Affairs investigates whether it was an honest mistake or negligence.
- Shut UP, Hannibal: Erin delivers one to an Amoral Attorney in Innocence'.
"How does it feel to be defending a rapist?"
- Sickbed Slaying: Narrowly averted with a counter-terror agent who survived his shooting.
- Slobs Versus Snobs: So far, there is recurring tension between the Reagans who 'did good' and their friends who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. In a toss-up, the underprivileged tend to side with criminals.
- So Happy Together: The victim of "Whistle Blower" is shot on his anniversary.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The serial rapist obsessively plays a vinyl record of "Ave Maria."
- The Southpaw: Danny shoots left-handed.
- Smug Snake: Sonny Malevski.
- Stop or I Shoot Myself: In the Season One finale, Sonny Malevski, member of the Blue Templar and the guy who killed Joe pulls this when Frank shows up to arrest the Blue Templar. Frank's response?
"We all die, Sonny, it's just a question of when."
- Swallow the Key: Frank Reagan didn't raise no fools. When confronted by some mob brokers, Jamie gulps down the thumbdrive he used to hack their finances.
- Taking the Kids: Erin got Nikki after divorcing her husband, a defense attorney. To this day, Nikki is convinced on some deep level that defense lawyers are heroes and DAs are evil.
- Tap on the Head: Oh, right -- Danny doesn't appreciate people pointing guns at Jackie, either.
Perp: I give up.
Danny: Too late. [punches his lights out]
- That Was the Last Entry: While listening to Joe's old iPod, Jamie uncovers a recording of his late brother preparing to infiltrate the Blue Templar.
- Therapy Is for the Weak: Frank sourly tells his shrink that Reagan men don't go for prescription drugs. Or shrinks, for that matter.
- Toyota Tripwire: A perp decides to rabbit and escapes on a scooter. He nearly mows down Danny, but doesn't quite clear Jackie's front bumper. Ouch.
- Turbulent Priest: The clergy are naturally one center of power in town and municipal politics makes them a competitor from time to time. Mostly it's downplayed.
- Walker Family Dinner: What the family meals sometimes turn into.
- The War On Straw: The show does not take a romanticized view of the NYPD Commissioner's office. Frank has butted heads with protesters and union reps. Zig-Zagged in "Leap of Faith", which seems to portray the archdiocese as a standard Corrupt Church shielding a anarchist priest. Though Frank initially opposes hs nomination for sainthood, after performing his own investigation, he decides things weren't so black and white in the Vietnam days. He even comes to the Priest's defense when the archbishops show signs of buyer's remorse.
- The War on Terror: Mentioned from time to time. Frank was a 9/11 first responder and saw the towers go down; he suffers from Survivors Guilt as a result. He also has a peeve about people exploiting the tragedy to further their careers. Danny was a Marine who fought in Fallujah.
- In one early episode, the entire department goes on high alert for a bomb threat by homegrown Islamic terrorists.
- In "Hall of Mirrors" an undercover cop who infiltrated a terrorist cell is shot in a drive-by.
- In "Moonlighting", Frank broods over a quote from Donald Rumsfeld regarding the Iraq War ("the known unknowns").
- We Used to Be Friends: Jackie and her high school friend, Anna, ended up on opposite sides of the law.
Jackie: What happened to you?
Anna: [icily] I grew up.
- What Do You Mean It's Not for Kids?: An in-universe example. One weekend, while watching the twins, Henry and Frank have tickets to a Broadway play. It was about Christianity and bringing it to Africa, or so Henry heard. The name of the musical? The Book of Mormon.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Nicky pushes this trope hard.
- You Are Not Alone: Frank reminds Danny of this at the end of "Silver Star", when Danny muses on how he could have ended up just like the victim, a homeless vet.
- You Should Have Died Instead: The wife of a slain informant discovers that Erin was the one pulling his strings. "So because you suck at your job, I'm a widow and my kids don't have a father." Of course, this is rendered moot when it turns out the wife was cheating on her man with someone he was investigating, who was the actual killer, and that it was the wife who blew his cover, if unintentionally, not Erin.
- Your Cheating Heart: In "Whistler Blower", Erin's informant is murdered while spying on a white-collar criminal -- the same criminal who is sleeping with the informant's wife. So much for wearing a wire.
Mrs. Milo: [to Erin] I don't know what fancy place you come from, but from where I come from, there is nothing worse than a rat!