Veronica Mars

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
A long time ago, we used to be friends...

Lamb: Before we go in there, you should probably know something about Veronica Mars. We need to be careful with this one. She's... slippery.
Morris: Sheriff, we have interrogated Al Qaeda members at Gitmo. I think we can handle a teenage girl.

Veronica Mars was an hour-long teen drama that ran for three seasons on UPN (later CW) between 2004 and 2007. The brainchild of novelist Rob Thomas, the series combined the Amateur Sleuth/Kid Detective with a healthy dose of Film Noir and class warfare.

The main character is, appropriately, Veronica Mars, high school junior and possessor of an elaborate Backstory. Here comes the Info Dump:

The unincorporated town of Neptune, California, is "a town without a middle class": the "09ers," from the prestigious 90909 zip code, are insanely spoiled children of insanely wealthy parents, while everyone else... works for the 09ers, mostly as domestics at minimum wage (if that). Veronica, daughter of county sheriff Keith Mars, wasn't actually rich enough to be an 09er, but had enough connections to them to be sort of an honorary one: her best friend was Lovable Alpha Bitch Lilly Kane, her boyfriend was Lilly's equally popular brother Duncan, and she was also friendly Lilly's boyfriend and Duncan's best friend, Logan Echolls, son of movie star Aaron Echolls. The Kanes are practically royalty in Neptune; Lilly and Duncan's father, Jake Kane, is a software billionaire, and the largest employer in town; when his company went public, their secretaries became millionaires. It may just be a reflection of her friends' popularity, but Veronica's life is enviable.

Then it all comes apart. Duncan dumps Veronica so abruptly and so seemingly out of the blue that she has no idea she's been dumped until Lilly tells her, and days later Lilly is found dead, her head bashed in. Veronica's father accuses Jake Kane of committing the crime, and the town reacts badly, holding an emergency recall election and replacing Keith with his deputy, Donald Lamb. Veronica stands by her father through the bad publicity, and ends up ousted from the popular clique. Most of her former friends turn on her, none more so than Logan, who becomes, in Veronica's words, a "psychotic jackass" to the world at large in the wake of his girlfriend's murder. Soon thereafter, Lamb apparently cracks the case, catching Abel Koontz, a former Kane Software employee... but Keith and Veronica don't buy it. Keith hangs out a shingle as a Private Detective. Meanwhile, Veronica crashes a classmate's party--largely to spite those shunning her--and ends up roofied and raped. When she attempts to report it, Sheriff Lamb accuses her of lying and throws her out of his office. And, to add insult to injury, her mother turns to drinking and eventually vanishes, leaving Veronica a note saying she'll be back for her someday.

Veronica, now a social pariah, rebuilds herself as a hard-boiled detective, helping Keith with stakeouts and taking pictures of unfaithful spouses, and meanwhile solving mysteries for classmates. She doesn't have to like them, nor they her, but she can figure out who's leaving love notes, or find stolen laptops.

And that's before the first episode. As the story actually opens, Veronica reluctantly befriends new transfer student Wallace Fennel, and along with Wallace, Keith, and such allies as PCH biker gang leader Weevil Navarro and computer whiz Cindy "Mac" MacKenzie, she continues her side business... while also trying to figure out who really killed Lilly Kane, and who raped her.

The first two seasons each had an overarching Story Arc. In Season One, of course, the big question was "who killed Lilly Kane?". Season two opens with a bus crash that kills several of Veronica's classmates. Season Three, where Veronica goes to Hearst College, deviated from the formula in an attempt to attract new viewers. The big mystery format was abandoned, in favor of two short arcs and a hand-full of stand-alone episodes. The show was canceled at the end of the season, going out on an awesome (and heart-breaking) two-part finale.

In 2014, a film sequel was made, partly financed by fan contributions on Kickstarter. Several years later, the series was restarted on Hulu, with its eight-episode-long fourth season appearing all at once on July 19, 2019. It's described as the "final" season, but as of early 2022 the possibility of a fifth season was still being discussed.

Tropes used in Veronica Mars include:
  • Aborted Arc: The final third of season three was supposed to have been a mystery that heavily featured popular supporting cast member Mac.
  • Abusive Parents - Too many to count:
    • Most notably Logan who has a father who emotionally and physically abused him... and also slept with and then killed his girlfriend.
    • There's also the religious zealotry of the Mannings, who lock their seven year old daughter in a closet because she's "not ready to be tested."
    • There's also Big Dick Casablancas, who would have competitions with his oldest son to see who could make his youngest son cry.
    • Implied for Rodney and Gia Goodman's mother, but we still have no idea what she actually did.
  • Actor Allusion
  • Actor Shared Background - At the beginning of his trial, Aaron Echolls states that he has been voted People Magazines Sexiest Man Alive in 1987. The actor playing Aaron, Harry Hamlin, has been voted Sexiest Man Alive in 1987.
    • Also, Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna, who play Logan's parents are married in Real Life.
  • All Bikers Are Hells Angels - The PCHers. Although considering the dominant ethnicity of the PCHers, this is really more a case of All Bikers Are The Mongols.
  • All Girls Like Ponies - A Running Gag; whenever Veronica gets a present, she always makes some comment about how it's going to be a pony. She also loves unicorns, and defends herself with a toy unicorn agains Mercer when he attempts to rape her.
  • Alliterative Name - Meg Manning, Cassidy Casablancas, Gia Goodman. Cindy Sinclair and Madison Mackenzie, if they weren't switched at birth and kept the same name.
  • All of the Other Reindeer - Veronica and Cassidy, with vastly different outcomes.
  • Alone with the Psycho - Veronica with Aaron Echolls in the season one finale. Mac in the season two finale. Veronica with Mercer and Moe in the conclusion of the first season 3 storyline.
  • Alpha Bitch - Madison Sinclair. Lilly too, though she was shown largely as a more benevolent Alpha Bitch.
  • Anger Born of Worry - Both Veronica and Logan really dislike it when the other puts him- or herself in danger.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love - The so-called "epic love" speech from "Look Who's Stalking" definitely fits, even if it isn't actually Logan's first declaration of love (which is shown in season 2 premiere flashback and isn't angsty at all).
  • Anti-Villain - a few of the "bad guys" have sympathetic motives, such as Ryan in "Ahoy Mateys" (revenge for the death of the boy he loved) or Pete in "Weapons of Class Destruction" (revenge for years of bullying that put him in the hospital and turned his father against him).
  • Arc Welding - Sorta.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking - "Between here and Granger, you got rattlesnakes, coyote traps, scorpions, hippies doing mushrooms, all kinds of bad stuff."
    • Not to mention Lamb: "Well, well, what do we have here? An illegal gambling establishment. Underaged drinking. Public displays of affection. It's like Sodom and Gomorrah in here."
    • In "Weapons of Class Discussion", after Veronica figures out who is issuing the bomb threat, she confronts him over the phone.

Veronica: "He was suspended for holding you down and letting a tarantula crawl across your face... and stealing your lunch money."

  • Artistic License Law: Many, many occasions - Veronica's cross-examination at the Lily Kane murder trial being the most Egregious. Most episodes have at least one.
    • On at least three occasions when the Dean died, when the bus driver died, and when the Coach died someone asks Veronica or Keith to prove a death ruled a suicide was in fact murder because their life insurance policy won't pay in the case of suicide. In California, life insurance policies are required by law to pay in full in the case of suicide if the policy has been in place for 2 or more years. Less than two years refunds all premiums.
  • Ascended Extra - Oh, Dick Casablancas. He started off with one word in episode 2 - "Logan" - and his role just got bigger until he got a Promotion to Opening Titles for season 2.
    • It was rumored that the only reason why the actor playing Dick got booted up to full-time cast member was due to the fact that the actor playing Dick's brother Cassidy was brought on full-time for season two, as the Big Bad and that having him in the title and not the actor playing his on-screen brother, would make give away the season's twist ending).
  • Ass Shove - In one episode, Chip Diller was drugged and had an Easter egg stuck up his ass.
  • Ax Crazy - Lucky. Arguably Aaron and even Cassidy.
  • Badass Biker - Weevil, obviously.
  • Badass Bookworm - Who would have thought that Cassidy was capable of murdering at least 10 people, and probably more?
  • Bathroom Stall of Overheard Insults - "Carrie Bishop and Susan Knight. Go figure."
  • Batman Gambit - It's never explicitly confirmed, but it's pretty clear that in "My Mother, the Fiend", Vice Principal Clemmons manipulated Veronica into investigating a mystery for his own ends without her realizing it until it was all over. It's rather a Crowning Moment of Awesome for the character.
  • Betty and Veronica
    • Inversion. In season 2, Veronica is torn between Duncan (Betty, sort of) and Logan (Veronica).
    • In season 3, Veronica is torn between Piz (Betty) and Logan (Veronica).
    • There's an episode in season 1 called Betty and Veronica, although the episode in question is not an actual example of the trope
  • Big Bad - seasons 1 and 2; different in that you don't find out who the Big Bad is until the finale. Aaron in season 1, and Cassidy in season 2.
  • Big Damn Heroes - Logan's usual function. And if he doesn't get there in time for BDH, you better believe he'll get arrested just to beat the crap out of you in prison. Don't mess with his V.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family - several; the Kanes, the Echollses, the Casablancases, the Mannings...
    • Even the Mars family is not immune, although they are far better off than the aforementioned familes in this regard.
  • Bi the Way: Lily, at least according to Veronica's dream in "Not Pictured":

Lily: The guy's gone. We had a little screaming over fooling around with his ex.
Veronica: That bastard!
Lily: Oh, no no, it was, it was me. I kind of fooled around with his ex. I mean, you'd think that guys would dig that, right? (off Veronica's shocked look) What? It's college. It's expected.

  • Black and Gray Morality - Some of the things Veronica does are pretty gray morally (see: using Leo to steal evidence). Even the two most arguably moral characters in the show, her friend Wallace and her father Keith, do bad things; Wallace is in a car when it runs over a homeless person and never reports it doesn't report it until weeks later and Keith destroys evidence that would implicate his daughter and has an affair with a married client.
  • Black Best Friend - Wallace
  • Black Comedy Rape - Two Words: "Community soap."
  • Born Detective: Practically the poster child.
  • Break the Cutie - Parker. Veronica came pre-broken, Mac hardened after the events of season 2, and Dick is somewhere between this and Break the Haughty (goddamn Comedic Sociopathy).
  • Break the Haughty - Jackie. Dick, sort of.
  • Broken Bird - Veronica herself.
  • Brother-Sister Incest - subverted. Duncan and Veronica are not siblings, although both thought they were at different points.
  • Bus Full of Innocents - The bus crash.
  • California University - Hearst College
  • Calling the Old Man Out - Or woman. Given how common terrible parenting is in Neptune, it's not surprising this happens every once in a while:
    • In the season one finale, Veronica finally calls out on her mother about everything, the drinking, the abandonment... and kicks her out.
    • Logan gets a few of these; most notably the scene when he and his Dad are sharing a jail cell and Logan yells at him for Lilly's murder.
    • Trina calls out her BioDad in season 2, for, y'know, abandoning her at the prom of the school he taught at.
    • Dick gets a big one in season three, when he gives his dad hell for the way they treated Cassidy, and asks if it's their fault he's evil and dead.
  • Chained to a Bed - Cliff in "The Rapes of Graff"
  • Chekhov's Gun - All the time but rarely ever in the same episode. If there's some brief mention of something out of the main line in an episode then it will be used one or two episodes later e.g. A deputy mentions he's a bouncer at a club, three episodes later he is used as an explanation as to how Veronica was able to quickly get into the club.
    • Chekhov's Gunman: "A Trip to the Dentist" features Veronica asking a bunch of previously one-off characters questions leading her to find out what happened the night she was raped.
      • Duncan in "Not Pictured". It seems like he was only there for a flashback but it turns out he had Clarence kill Aaron
  • The Chessmaster - Cassidy in season 2. Seriously, he's behind everything.
    • Veronica herself is also quite good at it.
  • Come to Gawk: Any time someone's taped to the flagpole.
  • Continuity Lock Out - Why the network demanded season 3 have smaller arcs than the season-long ones of season 1 and 2. They made it too hard to attract new viewers.
  • Cop Boyfriend - Leo
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive - Jake Kane, to a point. Big Dick Casablancas eventually proves to be a clearer example.
  • Country Matters: Oh, if only this wasn't network television, Kendall Casablancas would've gotten whupped:

Veronica: Mrs. C! I trust you're well.
Kendall: Why, if isn't little miss teen getaway. Your dad and I were just dealing with a little trouble.
Veronica: Like, trouble, with a capital T, that rhymes with C, that stands for--
Keith: Veronica!
Veronica: I was gonna say cute.

  • Crapsack World - Neptune is a town divided into the rich section of town (the "09ers") and pretty much everyone else, as far as being a town where you are insanely rich or working low wage jobs for the incredibly rich. The town police is run by an evil jerk whose pettiness towards those who he doesn't like is matched only by his laziness, as well as filled with people who blindly support the wealthiest guy in town when he's accused of murdering his daughter. In addition, the county supervisor is a pedophile, the local business mogul is a Corrupt Corporate Executive, and the town's famous actor resident is an abusive psychopath and murderer.
    • Crap Saccharine World - Yet to people who don't live there, it probably just seems like any other Southern Californian town filled with Hollywood A-listers, pristine beaches, and millionaires.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass - Vinnie Van Lowe
  • Cute and Psycho - Cassidy, big time.
  • Cuteness Proximity - Veronica (and later on Logan) have at least one scene where they degerenate into babytalk when around Backup.
  • Daddy's Girl - Veronica and Keith Mars. Also Trina Echolls and her father Aaron, made all the more disproportionate because he physically abuses his son/her brother Logan.
  • Danger Takes a Backseat - Well played, Aaron Echolls.
  • Dawson Casting - Veronica is implied to be 17 years old at the beginning of the show. Kristen Bell was 24 when they shot the pilot. Also Teddy Dunn (Duncan) and Jason Dohring (Logan) are a couple of years older than their respective characters.
    • The unreleased season 4 pitch features in In-Universe example: Veronica now working for the FBI goes undercover as at a girl's reform school to catch a warden who is molesting the students
  • Dead Little Sister - Duncan, of course, and later in the series Dick, a gender-flipped version.
    • And age-flipped in Duncan's case, since Lilly was older.
    • Though they aren't related, Lilly acts as this for Veronica; their close relationship is her major motivation in the first season.
  • Deadpan Snarker - It would be a shorter list to name the characters with lines that weren't.
    • Backup, Mandy, Inga. No, seriously. That's about it. Every other character on the show is a deadpan snarker or tries to be. And Backup is a dog. And several people are convinced that he can have a very sarcastic face when he wants to.
  • Dead Person Impersonation - Kendall Casablancas, nee Shifflet, aka Priscilla Banks.
  • Determinator - Veronica
    • Heck, nearly the entire cast fits this trope.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything? / Rule of Symbolism-Veronica stabbing a rapist with a porcelain unicorn.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Tim Foyle's Xanatos Gambit, in a nutshell.
  • Double Standard Rape (Female on Male) - Partially averted, partially played straight. Veronica bluntly points out that what the members of Lilith House did to Chip Diller was rape and he is clearly traumatised by it. On the other hand he is such an Asshole Victim that it is very difficult for the character to invoke sympathy. However, the female rapists are still portrayed more sympathetically than he is.
  • Downer Ending - Oh, how to count the ways. Veronica's father is under indictment because he destroyed evidence of her breaking-and-entering. His successor has a good chance of being Vinnie Van Lowe, a corrupt rival private investigator whose campaign was financed by the local crime syndicate. Veronica's dating Piz, a milquetoast whose incompatibility with Veronica becomes crystal clear when Dick Casablancas emails a video to everyone on campus of the two having sex, leading to Veronica vowing reprisals against the man responsible for creating the footage versus Piz wanting to ride out the crisis, much to Veronica's shock and horror. And when Logan does avenge Veronica's honor by publicly beating up the man who gave Dick the video to circulate, the guy vows revenge against Logan. And given that the guy's father is a hired killer for the Russian Mob, Logan's longstanding death wish just might be fulfilled.
    • So Piz not wanting to piss off the son of a Russian Mob assassin makes him a 'milquetoast'? That 'incompatibility' could just as easily end up being the balancing factor Veronica needs to grow up and stop making enemies.
      • Yes, because Piz had no idea about the guy's identity.
  • Downtime Downgrade - Essentially happens with Logan and Veronica after season 1, would be an Off-Screen Breakup if not for a brief flashback. Averted after season 2 - they don't break up after summer, they do it on screen... a few times.
  • Driven to Suicide - Lynn Echolls, Cassidy
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him - Not only is Sheriff Lamb brutally killed off in the lamest of lame fashions, but afterwords EVERYONE forgets he exists, save for by a deputy newly re-appointed interim Sheriff Keith Mars promptly fires upon reassuming control over the department. A major moment for seasonal rotting, as far as you thinking that the violent murder of the sheriff would be a major thing that would hang over the department for quite some time.)
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?
  • Dysfunction Junction
  • Eating Lunch Alone
    • Veronica, until Wallace sits with her in the first episode.
    • And whoever Veronica needs to talk to will also be conveniently doing this most of the time.
  • Eating the Eye Candy - Veronica does it to a shirtless actor in "An Echolls Family Christmas".
  • Economy Cast - Neptune contains exactly two private investigators (Keith Mars and Vinnie Van Lowe) and one lawyer (Cliff McCormack).
  • Embarrassing First Name: Piz's first name is Stosh
  • Embarrassing Nickname - Poor Beaver - I mean, Cassidy.
  • Embarrassing Slide - In the pilot, Veronica does this with film instead of a picture when Lamb tells the courtroom that his (unknowingly switched) security tape will show the courtroom what happened.
  • Engineered Public Confession - Veronica records a confession with a camera hidden in her locker during "Like a Virgin".
  • Mr. Fanservice - Quite a bit; it is a CW show, after all. Examples include Logan, Duncan, Piz, and possibly Dick.
  • Evil Counterpart - Arguably Cassidy, who experienced similar things to Veronica (All of the Other Reindeer and Rape as Backstory), but they became very different people for it.
  • Executive Meddling: Besides ordering season three to have smaller arcs and stand-alone episodes, network executives forced show writer Rob Thomas to feature Paris Hilton as a character in the show's second episode (where she played the world's oldest teenager) and rewrite the entire ending to Meg's character (see What Could Have Been).
    • Also, according to the actor playing Wallace, UPN made it clear to Rob Thomas during season one that they would never allow him to pair Wallace and Veronica up romantically, due to the network thinking no one would watch a show where the main character (who was white) was dating a black man.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change - Flashbacks of Veronica during season one and Logan's stubble and unkempt appearance during his depression in Postgame Mortem due to his break-up with Veronica.
  • Fallen-On-Hard-Times Job: After Lianne walks off with Veronica's $50,000 bounty, the latter temps as a barista.
  • Fallen Princess - Veronica
  • Femme Fatale - In the third season, Hearst College Dean's wife Mindy O'Dell. Kendall Casablancas sometimes fills this role in the second season. Additionally, since Veronica Mars is basically Film Noir with the genders flipped, Logan Echolls and Dick Casablancas often fit this role as well, the former especially in season one.
  • Fidelity Test: Veronica plays a Fille Fatale to find out whether the jealous client's fiancee is cheating. He isn't, but it doesn't end well for them anyway.
  • Fille Fatale - Lilly gives an impression of having been this.
  • First-Person Smartass
  • Five-Man Band: By the third season...
  • Flashbacks a-go-go
  • Foe Cooties - Veronica can barely look at Logan on learning he slept with Madison Sinclair.
  • Freudian Excuse - Sheriff Lamb, Cassidy, Aaron, and while Logan's not really a villain, he fits the trope.
  • Gambit Roulette - The whole deal with kidnapping Duncan's daughter, Cassidy's far-reaching scheme, and the season three plotline where a teacher's assistant kills the head of the college in order to destroy the life of one of the professors at the college, as payback for him giving a bad reference for the assistant where he basically slagged him and cost him a teaching job at another college.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar - Watch just about any episode.
    • It still boggles the mind how this exchange got on network television.

Weevil: If you're lookin' for my trophy, it's back by auto shop.
Veronica: Lube job? Or....can you get a medal for stealing hubcaps?
Weevil: Is this 1970? Rims, baby.
Veronica: So you got a trophy for a rim job?
Weevil: Forget it. Look, I got some information for you.
Veronica: Finally, a Deep Throat to call my own!
Weevil: I'm not even going to touch that one.

    • The high school principal's last name is Moorehead. Make of that what you will.
    • Corny offers up some, uh, special baked goods. "The secret? It's all in the butter."
    • Dick Casablancas's less-"masculine" younger brother is Beaver.
    • Likewise, Woody Goodman. Whose creepy-as-hell computer password is "mr. good wood". *shudder*
    • An obscene gesture known as "The Shocker" was shown twice.
    • In wonder scene a girl is wearing a "I Heart Dick" shirt. It's talking about the character but still.
  • Girl Friday: Wallace is a Rare Male Example.
  • Gold Digger - Kendall Casablancas
  • Good People Have Good Sex - Pretty much everybody is shown having very enjoyable sex, except Cassidy with Mac, where he has erectile dysfunction. Guess who's the villain of season 2?
    • Justified because Cassidy's inability to have sex with Mac is actually a clue that he was raped as a child, which is how he is connected to the bus crash.
    • Averted with Duncan and Veronica, whose sex is "fine" at best.
  • Griefer - Veronica once needed to find a guy in a video game club, so purposely griefed his character in order to listen for his reaction in Real Life.
  • Guile Hero
  • The Gwen Stacy - Meg, also Kendall for Keith (oddly enough)
  • Heel Face Turn: This includes Weevil, Logan, and Dick.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Veronica and Keith become this, due to the horrific monsters they deal with over the course of the show's three seasons.
  • Hey, It's That Guy! - Oh, so many. Christopher B. Duncan as Clarence Wiedman; real-life married actors Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna as Logan's parents; Veronica's own dad is played by Enrico Colantoni; Kyle Gallner as Cassidy "Beaver" Casablancas; the longest run on television of Amanda Seyfried; Percy Daggs from the Nestle Crunch with Caramel commercials featuring Shaq and a bunch of shows; Kyle Secor as Jake Kane; the list goes on. Not to mention it's how Kristen Bell became Sarah Marshall.
    • Also notable: Kendall Casablancas is Cordelia Chase.
    • And Trina Echolls is Willow Rosenberg.
    • Oh, and that Jerkass boss is Joss-freakin-Whedon.
    • Remember Dean Rudolph, Veronica's tour guide at Hearst College in "The Rapes of Graff"? Michael Cera.
    • Maeby was also in "The Rapes of Graff".
    • And don't forget that the Dean from season three was Ed Begley Jr., Stan Sitwell from Arrested Development (among many other roles), and promoter of the electric car.
    • And the FBI agent in 2x11 is Lucy Lawless.
    • Who would have thought that Vicki Donovan would beat out Veronica for valedictorian
    • When did |Randy Taylor become a government agent?
  • Hey, It's That Voice! - Daran Norris plays the slightly shifty lawyer, Cliff McCormack.
  • High School Hustler - Veronica Mars
  • Hollywood Law - The Lily Kane trial was wallbangingly full of this.
  • Hollywood Nerd - It could be argued Mac falls into this category, and even Veronica to a certain extent.
  • Hot Chick in a Badass Suit - Veronica in the season 4 teaser (at least, when she's in the FBI office).
  • Humiliation Conga / Laser-Guided Karma - After Aaron Echolls is revealed as Lilly's killer in the first season finale. Keith and Aaron are slugging it out, but Aaron points out Veronica is locked in a fridge surrounded by flames, and as Keith goes to rescue her, Aaron uses this as a getaway. Having stolen Veronica's car keys, he hops in the car and has a look of relief, but that changes when he hears growling from the backseat. Veronica's pitbull, Backup, bites Aaron's arm and after a struggle, Aaron just manages to escape, stumbling into the street only to get mowed down by a flower delivery truck with a lily pictured on the side. Veronica, having escaped the burning fridge, tells the truck driver to call 911 and moments later, Aaron is arrested for Lilly's murder.
  • I Am What I Am - Invoked word for word by Veronica when people call her out for her nosiness and vindictive nature.
  • Incredibly Obvious Bug - Pretty much everything
  • I Never Got Any Letters - The thing that eventually brings Wallace around to his biological father.
  • The Ingenue - Hannah Griffith.
  • In the Blood
    • A rather sedate example - Cindy Mackenzie, who was Switched At Birth, seems to have inherited every one of her personality traits from her biological parents, and exactly none from the people who raised her for her entire life. The same goes for the girl she was switched with.
    • A more overt example is the implication that the men in the Echolls family are inherently violent and sadistic, which (according to Veronica) is a major source of worry for Logan as far as him continuing the circle of violence with any children he might have.
    • Veronica considers this with leads for the serial rapist in season three: "Dick, a rapist? Two in the same household?" He's not, by the way.
    • An overarching example in the series is Veronica, the Born Detective, born of Keith...a detective.
  • Insistent Terminology - "My Cassidy!" In fairness to him, it is.

Veronica: Dad, your hooker's here.
Keith: Escort, honey.

  • Interrupted Intimacy: An episode has an (adult) hacker's relationship with a student (minor) at the school revealed by Veronica and her camera as a blackmail scheme. She even says "There's something seedy in being the interruptus in somebody else's coitus."
  • Invisible President: In the season 1 finale, the Kane family throws a party where the Governor of California is a guest. Based on the episode's air date and a few chance remarks, it's pretty clear that the governor is intended to be Arnold Schwarzenegger, but his name is never mentioned and he never appears onscreen.
  • The Irish Mob - The Fighting Fitzpatricks.
  • Ironic Echo: In Season 2 Veronica mentions Nick and Jessica's breakup. In Season 3 "What's Left of Me" Nick's song about said breakup is playing on a radio.
  • Ironic Nickname - Lucky the Janitor. Also, when Veronica jokingly says "easygoing Veronica Mars, that's what the kids at school call me", Keith provides the page quote.

Keith: You know how fat men are sometimes called 'Tiny'?

  • It's All My Fault - Veronica after the bus crash and Parker's rape. Dick, of all people, after Cassidy's death.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Except Veronica breaks up with Logan because she doesn't want to deal with his enemies
  • Jerkass - Logan, Dick Casablancas, Don Lamb - and pretty much every adult male in Neptune, especially when they are rich.
  • Karma Houdini - Dick Cassablancas; manages to avoid ALL of the consequences of his various acts of douchebaggery, including purposely leaking a sex tape of Veronica and Piz, that was filmed without their knowledge to everyone in campus. Even though Veronica reminds him after the fact that she can destroy him, she never pulls the trigger. Similarly, neither does Logan disown Dick for this act of malicious evil lulz, even though a running theme for the third season was Logan growing tired of Dick's bad boy partying and Dick constantly trying to drag Logan back to his old "Screw the Rules, I Have Money" ways.
    • On the other hand, he is suffering emotionally in the aftermath of his brother's death and murder revelations, so perhaps that's punishment enough.
    • Madison Sinclair also counts. Does horrible things to Veronica, including (granted unknowingly) setting into motion Veronica's rape and subsequent pariahdom via purposely masterminding the smear campaign proclaiming Veronica a whore. But she never gets punished.
    • In a second season episode, a lesbian cheerleader poses as a blackmailer preying on Neptune High's gay students with the end goal of outing her girlfriend, who wanted to stay in the closet. It goes off pretty much as planned, with no negative consequences for the cheerleader at all. It is implied that the cheerleader's girlfriend will be told, and not be happy about it.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Veronica and Duncan are discussing Logan sleeping with an older woman.

Duncan: She's the same age as us
She's 25 (about the same age that Kristen and Teddy were at the time)

  • Let Them Die Happy - Veronica does this to Abel Koontz.
  • Lovable Rogue - Just about the entire cast - most notably Veronica, Logan and Weevil.
  • Love Hurts - Oh so much. Veronica's first love Duncan dumps her without any explanation and then, after rekindling their relationship, leaves her to escape the country and the law with his child from another girl. She and her Second Love Logan hurt each other pretty equally and consistently throughout the show even as they try to make their relationship work. And all the other guys were pretty much rebound.
    • And then there is Mac, who takes a long time to get over Cassidy, who turned out to be a murderer and a rapist.
    • And Keith Mars, whose wife turned out to be a long-time cheater and later an alcoholic.
    • Oh, and the titular song makes an appearance in season 2, sang by Courtney Taylor-Taylor, lead singer of the Dandy Warhols, who also sing the theme, in the cafe Veronica works. It plays when Veronica is shown photos of Logan having sex with Kendall, which is probably intended as Ship Tease for her and Logan.
  • Love Makes You Crazy - Got an hour?
    • Only an hour? Optimist.
  • The Mafia - Gangs gangs everywhere
  • Maybe Ever After - Could be argued for Veronica and Logan, considering their (and her boyfriend's) expressions in the cafeteria scene and the Word of God in the commentary that Piz won't be the winner of the Love Triangle.
    • If you count the Season 4 teaser as canon than neither won as Veronica would get a new love interest.
  • Meaningful Echo - "Who's your daddy?"
  • Meaningful Name: Dick. He usualy is one.
  • Missing Mom - A good part of the first season involved Veronica's quest to find her mother, as well as the emotional fallout from the abandonment.
  • Mistaken for Cheating - Happens a few time, both with clients' spouses and main characters. Notably, Veronica has trust/jealousy issues, especially in season 3.
  • Mock Millionaire - One episode introduces the richest kid in Neptune, who arrives to school in a limousine and lives in the biggest house in town. The twist ending is that he's the son of the butler, and thus is actually not rich.
  • Monkeys on a Typewriter - Veronica references this when she realizes that she knows Curly Moran after all.
  • Monster Sob Story - Say you didn't feel even a little bad for Cassidy. Go ahead, say it.
  • Motive Rant - Used a lot in the show, by the bad guys to explain their actions.
  • Ms. Fanservice - Kendall Casablancas. Although she may go fully into Hello, Nurse! territory, depending on your perspective.
  • Narrator - Veronica, natch.
  • Never Found the Body - Lynn Echolls and Kendall Casablancas.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead - one of the Fitzpatricks mocks Keith in one episode for speaking ill of the late Sheriff Lamb.
  • Never Suicide - Dean O'Dell
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: Aaron Echolls is an actor playing action heroes, and family men. In reality he's an abusive parent, philandering husband, and he murdered Lilly Kane.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
  • No Fourth Wall - Creator Rob Thomas once put his own books prominently in the background of one scene, and in the series finale, a character quips "Rob Thomas is a whore" (see below)... although in the context of the scene he's referring to the lead singer for Matchbox 20.
    • A phone call from Clarence Wiedman to confirm the completion of an off-the-radar job is answered with "CW?" followed by Wiedman's reply of "It's a done deal." Just after the show was picked up by the new CW network following the merger of its former home, UPN.
  • Noodle Incident -
    • In season two, when Cassidy pulled a prank on his brother Dick in revenge for Dick treating his brother like shit, Dick threatened revenge. However, Cassidy stops his vengeful evil older brother in his tracks when Cassidy reminds him of a mysterious "Sally" and what happened to her. This was ultimately clarified in an interview by Rob Thomas: Sally was a childhood pet that Dick had, who Cassidy killed in retaliation after Dick did something horrible towards him.
    • When Veronica calls Cliff for a favor in season two, both of them rattle off a few previous incidents where they helped each other out.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Israeli actress Alona Tal manages to hold an American accent for most scenes but in the scene where Duncan is dreaming about her, she clearly slips into an accent.
  • Opening Monologue - "I'm never getting married. You want an absolute? There it is." and so forth.
  • Outside Inside Slur: Hispanic students who excel in school are called Coconuts: brown outside, white inside.
  • Pac-Man Fever - Season 1 episode 4 constitutes one of the most painful examples ever seen. Also includes Totally Radical.
  • Papa Wolf - Keith. Also, hitting Aaron's daughter? Bad idea.
  • Parent with New Paramour - Twice with Keith Mars. The first is an attempted relationship with Veronica's guidance councelor, but he decides to call it off because Veronica is still coping with the loss of her mother after she abandoned them both. The second is with Wallace's mother, which lasts quite a bit longer. This one just weirds Veronica out for a while but she later warms to the idea when she sees how they're happy together.
  • Parental Favoritism - All over the place:
    • "Lilly always said her parents adored Duncan and tolerated her. If she couldn't please them, she'd go out of her way to piss them off."
    • Aaron Echolls, who dotes on his daughter and beats his son. Made even worse by the fact that Trina refuses to believe Logan's claims of abuse and accuses him of lying in order to make their father look bad.
    • Dick Casablancas Sr. is pretty blatant about favoring his eldest - which ends badly.
  • Perpetual Poverty - Pretty much half of Neptune, as far as perpetuating the class warfare subplot of season two and three. Veronica and Keith also fit this trope during the first half of season one but do ultimately rise out of it later on.
  • Petite Pride: Veronica, natch. Even provides the page quote!

Troy: Flat? (referring to car tire)
Veronica: Just as God made me.

  • Pet the Dog
    • Late in season one, Aaron acts like Lynn's death has changed him, starts trying to act like a kind father to Logan, and encourages Logan's relationship with Veronica as "good for him." It doesn't last.
    • In season two, when Sheriff Lamb finally believes Veronica about something, in this case the Mannings psychologically abusing their youngest daughter, Grace.
    • Late in season 3, when Dick finally shows some emotion over Cassidy's death.
  • Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The PCH, especially when Weevil is in charge. Though later we are given to understand they steal the ocassional car.
    • Veronica first meets Weevil after his boys are caught shoplifting and the entire gang intimidates Wallace into silence. They've also burned down a house.
  • Pitbull Dates Puppy - Veronica dating Piz
  • Playing Drunk: Duncan's poker strategy.
  • Plucky Girl
  • Police Are Useless - That is, unless said police officer is Keith Mars.
  • Posthumous Character - Lilly
  • Private Detective
  • Private Eye Monologue - Starts the whole series
  • Product Placement - A good deal of it, and more and more in season 3--the final episode parodied this with the "Rob Thomas is a whore" comment.
  • Prom Baby - Trina is revealed to have been a Prom Baby in season 2.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles - Many in season 3, although ironically most of them didn't get a bigger part for it. Also, Dick and Beaver in season 2
  • Punny Name
    • Tim Foyle
    • Gil T. Pardy
    • Carrie Bishop and Susan Knight
    • Veronica MARS lives in NEPTUNE.
      • And, as she notes in season 3, drives a SATURN and shaves with a VENUS razor. But don't make too big a deal out of it, or she'll shove something up URANUS.
  • Rape and Switch - Arguably the victims of Woody Goodman: one was gay, one was "on the fence", and one, well, no-one quite agrees about him.
  • Rape as Drama - Most of the time it's used.
  • Rape Is Love - Not quite the rape trifecta, as it only half-uses it: At first she thinks she's been raped and is pissed, then it turns out that she just had inebriated but voluntary sex with her ex-boyfriend who didn't know she'd been accidentally dosed with a date rape drug, like he'd been, which made it okay. Later it turns out the big bad of season 2 actually did rape her earlier, which ends up giving her a clue to his nefarious plot.
  • The Rashomon - Used in "A Trip to the Dentist" to explain the story of how Veronica was raped.
  • Real Life Relative: Married-in-real-life Harry Hamlin and Lisa Rinna play Aaron Echolls. Wallace's little brother who appears in a couple of episodes is played by Percy Daggs' real brother.
  • Really Gets Around - Lily was like this. Also, Parker (for a while).
  • Real Song Theme Tune - "We Used To Be Friends" by the Dandy Warhols. A slower, Darker and Edgier version replaced it in season three.
  • Reality Ensues - The series finale, where Veronica learns the hard way that her actions had very real consequences.
  • Red Herring Twist
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni - Frequently: Logan and Duncan, Lilly and Veronica (in flashbacks), Dick and Beaver...
  • Removed From the Picture - One boy's presumably dead dad got this treatment from his wife. Turns out he changed his gender.
  • Risky Business Dance: Appropriately enough, in "Russkie Business" (which also has an actor named "Tom Cruz").
  • Second Love: Logan and Veronica for each other. Possibly, Alicia for Keith.
  • Ship Tease - In 3x10, "Show Me The Monkey", the script ANVILS that Piz/Veronica will be moving further... cut to Veronica showing up at Logan's door. At which point, they have sex and tease the two getting back together before rebreaking the couple up and moving onto Piz and Veronica getting together.
  • Shirtless Scene - Weevil, Logan, Dick, Don Lamb, Cassidy...
  • Skinny Dipping: Veronica does this in the ending of season 1's "Wrath of Con" in memory of Lily.
  • Shout-Out: Many. Also, the cast in general and Veronica in particular make old literary and film references that really should be outside their reference pools.
    • Appropriately, there are many references to detective stories. Veronica loves giving aliases from Film Noir.

"So...Cagny and Pasty?" [Points to herself and Tim Foyle]
"I'm Crockett. This is my partner...Tubbs."

    • The references to The Big Lebowski are so frequent they may overlap with Author Appeal, to say nothing of the time a scene was briefly shown while Veronica and Duncan were watching it.
    • Erle Stanley Gardner, under the name A.A. Fair, had a series of books about a hard-boiled detective named Donald Lamb.
    • At one point Veronica puts a fortune cookie fortune on her mirror. The lucky numbers are 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42.
    • Television Without Pity's reviewer for the show claimed that clearly, Gia's comment about Leo being "kind of mumbly" was a Shout-Out to them and their comment, in Leo's debut episode, that he was a bit of a mushmouth.
    • In episode 1X20, there's a reference to "the Albacore Yacht Club", which is out of Chinatown
    • When she infiltrates Neptune High's rival school, she gives her name as Betty, and claims to be from Riverdale. The student looks blank and says he's never heard of it, lampshading the fact that the reference really should be too old for your typical high school student.
    • Lamb constantly references Wizard of Oz by telling people to go 'see the wizard'
    • Lamb says 'I smell bread' when he is toast
      • More likely a reference to an episode of Mash
    • The references to Jane Austen (Jackie hates it, Veronica claims to have thrown beer at someone who insulted Pride and Prejudice, the world will end when Logan makes an "Emma" reference) become almost a running joke if you pay attention.
    • There is a nice shoutout to executive producer Joel Silver in season 3. The film Mindy O'Dell and Professor Landry watch at the Neptune Grand on the night of Cyrus O'Dell's death is Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which Silver also produced.
    • Two characters have Embarrassing Nicknames that reference characters on other shows: Cassidy "Beaver" Casablancas, and Vincent "Butters" Clemmons.
    • Episode 1x18 "Weapons of Class Destruction" is largely a Shout-Out to Heathers, including a homocidal teenager named Ben plotting to blow up a school, and said teenager (really an undercover ATF agent in this version) bearing a remarkable physical similarity to J.D., the identical character from Heathers.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance - "That's Amore" playing while Aaron Echolls beats the crap out of his daughter's abusive boyfriend. Made even darker when you consider that Aaron murdered his son's girlfriend, who he had been having an affair with on the downlow and that said beating scene was Rob Thomas's way of laying the groundwork for Aaron being revealed as the murderer as far as showing him being capable of beating someone nearly to death.
  • Self-Induced Allergic Reaction - A suspect eats peanut butter cookies in order to trigger his nut allergy and escape from jail.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Rashard and Keith both insist on the term 'special lady friend.'
  • Straw Feminist - Lilith House doesn't care who actually is doing the raping, they just want to pin it on the Pi Sig fraternity so they can shut it down. They even have a member falsely claim to be sexually assaulted to further this agenda. How's that for commitment?
  • Straw Misogynist - At Hearst College, every single guy in the entire crowd booed the woman's speech while she recounted her own rape, about tighter security and stricter sexual harassment regulations even before she called for the shut down of every fraternity.
  • Story Arc - Several storylines spanned the whole of a season, while others took up large chunks of one
  • Strange Bedfellows - In season two, Veronica has to team up with Clarence Wiedman.
  • Stunt Casting - Paris Hilton in season one, Alyson Hannigan in season one (and two, along with Charisma Carpenter). Paul Rudd appeared in season three.
  • The Summation
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Subjective; it was widely rumored that Piz was created to fill the void with the loss of Duncan (who was written out when the creator decided to shift away from the original love triangle and give Veronica more options).
  • Switched At Birth - Mac and Madison. This leads to a Tear Jerker when Mac meets her blood sister and mother at Madison's.
  • That One Case: For both Keith and Veronica, the Lily Kane murder.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: Wallace asks Veronica how she knew the daughter of a record producer. She replies, "We used to be friends...a long time ago." Cue theme song that starts with the line "A long time ago, we used to be friends".
  • Those Two Guys: Dick and Beaver but only in Season 1
  • Techno Wizard - Mac; also uses a Magical Computer
  • Ten-Minute Retirement - In the season 2 pilot, Veronica claims to have given up investigating (after catching Lilly's killer), only to pick it right back up as soon as she finds out Wallace is involved in the problem she was previously refusing to solve.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: How Jacky's father is blackmailed into working security for a morally ambiguous casino owner.
  • Traumatic Haircut
  • Truth-Telling Session - A flashback makes it clear: never play "I Never" with friends, unless you want it to turn into one of these. With booze.
  • Turns Red - The season one final fight between Keith Mars and Aaron Echolls qualifies this.
  • Unbreakable Weapons - You'd think, given her reliance on it, Veronica might have run out of charge for her taser at least once. Though it did get taken from her at least twice.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee - Season 2. Pick an episode.
  • Valley Girl - Gia, Madison, Hallie.
  • The Vamp - Where to start, where to start...
  • Vertigo Effect - Last ep of season 2
  • Very Special Episode - The Season 3 episode that centered around a former child soldier from Africa meeting his long-lost father. The episode was intended to raise awareness of the existence of child soldiers and Invisible Children, an activist organization whose cause is to free and help them.
  • Vigilante Execution - Clarence Wiedman murders Aaron after his acquittal.
  • Villain with Good Publicity - Woody Goodman.
    • To say nothing of Aaron.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot - Two of note. The first is when Veronica finds out that Keith may not be her father, and so she may have also dated her brother. The second is when she finds out that Cassidy is a murderer... and Mac is with him.
  • Walking Away in the Rain - the series finale closes on this note.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World
  • We Used to Be Friends
  • Wham! Episode - "A Trip To The Dentist", "Not Pictured", "Mars, Bars"
  • What Could Have Been - Meg Manning's death: She was supposed to have died in the bus crash, but UPN demanded at least one survivor due to them not wanting to open the show's second season with a bunch of dead teenagers. So Meg (who was supposed to die) lingered in a coma with the plan being that Meg's mother would euthanise her possibly braindead daughter and Veronica (hiding in the room) would witness this and be busted by hospital staff members, after Meg was smothered to death when she comes out of hiding and removes the pillow from Meg's face. This got shot down too (though Thomas was allowed to film it as part of a stunt "alternate ending" that was posted on the show's UPN website). So instead, the episode that aired ended instead with the reveal that Meg was pregnant with Duncan's baby and her waking up just in time to give birth and die from a brain hemorage.
    • Similarly, Dick was supposed to be a suspect for the Hearst Rapist storyline and Rob Thomas even admitted that they had a retcon in mind to establish Dick secretly being on campus during the season two episode that started the arc, this was abandoned.
    • Season Four was supposed to have been a complete reformatting, complete with time skip and firing all cast members save for Kristen Bell. The relaunch would make Veronica a FBI agent, going on undercover assignments with a new milquetoast boyfriend agent and actor Walt Goggins as her supervisor/mentor.
  • Window Love: Mac and her biological mother in "Silence of the Lamb".
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Veronica gets this a lot. Most notably in season two: Veronica Mars finally gets the goods to destroy her mortal enemy Donald Lamb and help get her father elected sheriff once again, after obtaining an audio recording that has him extorting a bribe from a retired baseball player, who threw a playoff game to pay off his gambling debts. One problem: Wallace is dating the baseball player's daughter and the revelation would destroy her reputation at school. On top of this, Wallace has just discovered that his mother has been lying to him all of his life about his father being dead, when his father finally shows back up in Neptune to visit the son his ex kept him from seeing. But Veronica is too busy to lend a sympathetic ear to Wallace, as she's too concerned with finding the proper venue to play the audio recording for maximum damage. This causes Wallace to lose his trademark cool and verbally ream Veronica out over how distracted by revenge she has become and worse, how she doesn't care that her scheme will ruin the life of Wallace's girlfriend.
    • Considering Jackie "hired" Veronica to help track down who used her credit card and Veronica did, as well as tricking Veronica into revealing something personal, then humiliating Veronica on TV with said personal information and from Veronica's POV, bringing up her dead best friend in the same public humiliation--wouldn't anyone want revenge in that situation?
  • Witness Protection - In one episode, Keith gets hired to find someone who turns out to be a protected witness.
  • Working with the Ex - Or at least going to school with him. Or them.
  • Worst Whatever Ever: "Worst. Easter Egg Hunt. Ever."
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl - Subverted, in that most of the bad guys on the show are not afraid to raise a hand to a woman. (That's how you know they're bad guys.) On the other hand, there are relatively few female antagonists, and almost none who get unreasonably violent, so there's no way to know if male protagonists would go easy on a female antagonist in an actual fight.
  • You Look Familiar - the same person played Lucky in season 2, and Tim Foyle in season 3.
  • Your Cheating Heart - A lot of examples. Aaron Echolls, Lianne Mars, Jake Kane, Kendall Casablancas plus many clients' spouses. Notably averted with Logan while he's dating Veronica, even if she's constantly jealous of him.