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'People who won't stop working while being questioned by the police' and other L&O tropes

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A show that's run as long as Law & Order and that has a formula is bound to be filled with a laundry list of the same character types and tropes and over. Stand up comic and SNL writer John Mulaney is a big Law & Order fan and he has this great bit about the same types of characters showing up in every episode including: "Guy who won't stop unloading crates while being questioned by homicide detectives'! That one always makes me laugh when I watch. These are the hardest working people I have ever seen! I don't know about you but I always find any excuse to take a break at work. You'd think talking to police would be a good excuse! I actually saw this type of thing first on "Cagney & Lacey". They're investigating a case and they have to ask somebody questions at his work and they have to follow him around the factory as he does his job. And they're always so blase about it! You're being asked about a MURDER!

Edited by VCRTracking
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People who lie about where they were or what they were doing because they are afraid of getting getting fired for stealing office supplies, or if kids they are afraid their parents will find out they aren't a virgin or went to a drinking party.  Because having people thing you are a rapist or a murderer are much better options.  These won't get you fired, nor will they get you disapproval from your parents.  Nope.  

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I like it when the detectives are trying to figure out who was involved in the crime and they get a description like "This guy Jimmy. He lives in an apartment over in the avenues." and the very next scene they're at Jimmy's place. I always want to see that part where they narrow it down from the 200 Jimmys who live in apartments over in the avenues.

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I like it when the detectives are trying to figure out who was involved in the crime and they get a description like "This guy Jimmy. He lives in an apartment over in the avenues." and the very next scene they're at Jimmy's place. I always want to see that part where they narrow it down from the 200 Jimmys who live in apartments over in the avenues.

 

I always got quite the laugh out of that myself, and that formula seemed to also carry over to CI and SVU, too.

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The people that continue to do their "work" while the detective are questioning them, never ceases to piss me off. As if the cops are soliciting or telemarketers. Sit your asses the FUCK down, stop with what you're doing, and answer their damn questions!

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LOL, I noticed this today with people eating. Like take a few minutes to look at the people who are talking to you!! Stop shoveling food in your face! 

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The last minute suspect.  After spending almost the entire hour pursuing X as the suspect, often prosecuting X and sometimes convicting him/her, they realize it had to be Y.  In addition, X was often covering for Y because X was Y's spouse, parent, child, etc and felt guilty that X did something that turned Y into a murderer.

 

Depraved indifference theory of murder.  Sometimes it seemed as if no one straight up murdered anyone.  What was particularly odd is that (E)(A)DA #1 would say s/he didn't know how they'd convict so-and-so, and (E)(A)DA #2 would would respond with depraved indifference.  Why (E)(A)DA #1 didn't think about that in the first place was puzzling given that they tried and convicted people under depraved indifference all the live long day.

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How many times did we hear "Are we done? I have to get to class." There's a drinking game. ;)

 

Well of course, they don't want to be late to "Stripper 101" at Hudson University.

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Now, it's been many years since I was in college and participated in my criminal justice classes, but, I think the phrase "depraved indifference" is a legal term, just like "Murder with Special Circumstances", etc. So it's not as if EDA 1 didn't think the crime was depraved indifference, so much as the second one thought of using that as a charge, it being a legal term. Kind of like the degrees of murder; Murder 1, Murder 2, Voluntary manslaughter, felony murder, etc.

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When "Community" did a Law & Order-style episode a few years ago, they did such a great job of hitting those tropes...my favorite was when they questioned fat Neil while working in the office...he was just moving files around from place to place, while being surrounded by endless stacks of more files. Typical of every overworked office worker they ever interrogated on L&O!

I think it was supposed to give that impression that New Yorkers have seen it all, and a homicide investigation is just one more thing in a typical day, ho hum. Haha.

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When "Community" did a Law & Order-style episode a few years ago, they did such a great job of hitting those tropes...my favorite was when they questioned fat Neil while working in the office...he was just moving files around from place to place, while being surrounded by endless stacks of more files. Typical of every overworked office worker they ever interrogated on L&O!

What made it perfect was getting Leslie Hendrix to reprise her role as M.E. Rodgers to autopsy the plant, and staying in character while she told them her findings.

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Well of course, they don't want to be late to "Stripper 101" at Hudson University.

Not for much longer. The Episcopal Church has decided that there are higher u$e$ for the seminary that doubles as "Hudson University" and is selling it, presumably to some Donald Trump-like developer who will tear it down and build condos. The value of the underlying land is said to be astronomical, hence the diocese's willingness to part with it.

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Was watching Blue Bloods reruns yesterday & they use Hudson University also. I had never paid that much attention before reading this thread. I have been watching a lot of L&O reruns - TNT, WE, wherever I can find it and with marathon watching I have discovered so many things I never realized before.

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This thread talks about that. Not only is Hudson University part of the L&O franchise and Blue Bloods, but apparently, it has also been mentioned on a very tonally different Castle, also based in NYC, and there are more. Just type in Hudson University on Wikipedia.

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Similar to the bartender who knows everyone who walks into their establishment - and the state of their romantic life too as a rule, is the sales clerk who remembers and can identify an individual or a couple some months after a purchase took place. They had never been there before or since, neither one was wearing a clown wig or making an outrageous fashion statement in their attire. There was no indication they were attempting to draw attention to themselves. Nevertheless, for some reason their presence in the store was noted by the salesperson.

 

The other one that has driven me mad since the days of Perry Mason, is the jury foreperson who must read the verdict from a slip of paper. Not in multiple charges  situations, just a straightforward guilty or not guilty for a single defendant. You have been cooped up for weeks if not months with your fellow jury persons listening to many, many hours of testimony. Followed by some time spent on deliberation. And you can't remember the end result of what you have been doing all this time? Sheesh!

Edited by dustylil

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Those John Mulaney clips are hilarious and so, so accurate. 

 

My favorite trope is definitely the bartender that remembers everyone that walks into their establishment. Also the one where the detectives gather evidence in a sketchy/illegal/unconstitutional way and they're surprised that the ADAs are mad at them when the evidence is suppressed in court. 

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Also the one where the detectives gather evidence in a sketchy/illegal/unconstitutional way and they're surprised that the ADAs are mad at them when the evidence is suppressed in court. 

 

Or the flip side--and I don't recall this happening under Stone, always McCoy, when McCoy would say/tell the to get him the evidence he needed to "win", then gets all blowhardy and sanctimonious when it's learned the detectives cut corners to do so. They were only doing what he demanded of them. Those are the times I want to just punch Jack.

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Or the flip side--and I don't recall this happening under Stone, always McCoy, when McCoy would say/tell the to get him the evidence he needed to "win", then gets all blowhardy and sanctimonious when it's learned the detectives cut corners to do so. They were only doing what he demanded of them. Those are the times I want to just punch Jack.

 

Yeah, I noticed it happened all the time under McCoy and Cutter. I've only watched maybe 3 episodes with Stone, but I you're right. It makes for good drama but it's not all that realistic.

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I like when the detectives try to talk to someone who won't stop walking while they talk. Someone on their way to work, a student on their way to class, who answers questions, but never stops walking. And then hails a cab and gets in, with barely a glance at the cops. 

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I'm always annoyed by the parents whose bratty spoiled teens do awful things, and not only do the parents not seem at all bothered by it, they try to keep their kids from telling what they know about the crime (that someone else committed -- I get parents invoking their children's 5th amendment rights).  Which is why I loved one episode where the bratty spoiled teen mouthed off to the detectives, only to get slapped upside the head by his father and told to cooperate.

Edited by beadgirl
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This is kind of random, and I wasn't sure where to put it, but I was watching an episode on this morning's TNT marathon (I believe it was called "Rapture"). In the episode, Lupo and Bernard visit Rapture-Con. Their conversation with the one of the organizers goes like this (I paraphrase)

 

Bernard: Rapture-Con?

Organizer: It's like the comic conventions, except for End Times fanatics. We're in the last days.

Lupo: So we've been hearing.

Organizer: I mean the last days of the convention.

 

I don't know why but that exchange made me laugh for a good 5 minutes straight.

Edited by Gillian Rosh
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The trope of the over the top crime that makes no sense.

 

One that sticks out in my mind is the one about Haitian children who are illegally adopted and brought to the US to be used as slaves.  Not a single family that had a Haitian kid took them into the family as a son/daughter.  Puh-leese!   Are you telling me not a single white family can love a non white child?  That's insulting to adoptive families everywhere!

 

Another trope:  Only hot female lawyers work at the D.A.'s office.  None of them are fat or plain.  They are also the most replaceable since Jack refused to go anywhere. 

 

Then there's the trope of the questionable (but treated as noble) last legal word from Jack after a case.  I refer to the episode in which a man (who was later found to have lied on his immigration papers by claiming he had not worked in a concentration camp during WW2) was convicted of murder with another man (who did the actual murder but they were tried together because the murderer was an anti semitic Nazi groupie).  The victim (who testified via videotape) claimed the immigrant was a notorious sadistic guard she remembered from the camp she was in.  It was never proven he actually was this person, but he was convicted anyway despite no actual evidence of his involvement in the murder either.  Jack remarks that "The jury could tell a guilty person when they see one".  That was a line that made me want to punch Jack!  Last I checked, you need evidence to prove guilt - not one's looks of guilt or innocence!

 

Next trope:  Staten Island is the Outer Mongolia of NYC and is to be avoided by sreetwise hardened cops at all costs.  Occasional swipes at it are practically mandatory despite no reasoning for this.

Edited by magicdog
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Next trope:  Staten Island is the Outer Mongolia of NYC and is to be avoided by sreetwise hardened cops at all costs.  Occasional swipes at it are practically mandatory despite no reasoning for this.

 

Well, that's pretty much true, even if you aren't a cop...

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Another trope:  Only hot female lawyers work at the D.A.'s office.  None of them are fat or plain.  They are also the most replaceable since Jack refused to go anywhere.

 

I suppose in fairness, Nora wasn't exactly setting off fire alarms.  I know she was the DA, but she was also a lawyer who works in the DA's office. 

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I suppose in fairness, Nora wasn't exactly setting off fire alarms.  I know she was the DA, but she was also a lawyer who works in the DA's office. 

 

That's because the DA is always old, the ADA is always young, and the EADA is always in the middle.  Of course, that does make some sense, though it's worth noting that when Claire Kincaid was introduced to the show, Jill Hennessy was literally too young to have a law degree without having skipped years of school.  From then, the ADA was always young, female, and thin.

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Actually, it looks like Jill Hennessy was exactly the age most people get their law degree--25--when she started. Too young to have the experience to be second chairing homicides in NYC but not too young to be a lawyer. Although I went to law school with a young woman who went to high school abroad, and she graduated LAW SCHOOL at 21 years old, due to where she went to high school and did her undergrad work. There are definitely exceptions, but one of my crim law profs used to say it terrified him that the DOJ is run by a bunch of 25 year olds with no life experience.

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Detectives work only one case and stay with it all the way to the end of the trail. Detective Brisco was working a case and putting in his retirement papers yet was there to clean out his desk after the killer was found not guilty at trail and then pleaded out on conspiracy when her partner was going to testify that she was part of her murder.

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I happened to flip to Fallon's show, and he had actor/singer Andrew Rannells (who I'd not heard of before) on, along with Ice T.  I came in the middle of Rannells telling a story about trying out for a part on one of the L&O series.  Apparently, he didn't get the part, but he said he hoped he would have been one of those people working at The Gap who won't stop folding sweaters while the detectives are questioning him about a murder...

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I always love the spouse/lover/family/etc. of the murder victim being super offended when the detectives would ask for their alibis for the time of the murder. "You don't think I could have murdered him?? I loved him!!" Just give the alibi so they can eliminate you as a suspect and move on. 

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My personal favorite is the youth who runs from the cops. That generally means he isn't guilty.

 

There are also the guys who are criminals, but did not commit the crime under investigation. You know they're innocent if it's too early in the show for the guilty person to be arrested.

 

Any verdict rendered at any point other than the very end of the show will be flawed somehow. There will be a retrial based on new evidence, or the judge will throw out the verdict because reasons.

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Or the flip side--and I don't recall this happening under Stone, always McCoy, when McCoy would say/tell the to get him the evidence he needed to "win", then gets all blowhardy and sanctimonious when it's learned the detectives cut corners to do so. They were only doing what he demanded of them. Those are the times I want to just punch Jack.

 

You mean there are times when people don't want to punch Jack?

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Another trope:  Only hot female lawyers work at the D.A.'s office.  None of them are fat or plain.  They are also the most replaceable since Jack refused to go anywhere.

Actually I was just summoned to jury duty a couple of months ago and the female ADA prosecuting the case was actually young and attractive! I was like "What world am I in?"

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Frequently, a scene starts at someone's apartment/house where the detectives/lawyers are just sitting down to a cup of tea or coffee that the questionee has prepared, usually as the questionee carries the mug from the stove/counter to the table.  The scene might take 30 seconds up maybe to a minute or so, and then they've clearly got the info they need, end of questioning.  

 

All I can ever think is, what did they they talk about the whole time they were coming into the place, sitting there waiting for the water to boil, then for the coffee/tea to brew, and then are they going to sit there and finish the whole mug and shoot the sh*t now after they're done questioning?

 

Also I don't know if this counts as a trope, but L&O overuses and abuses the same stock car horn sound effect as a scene transition.  

 

 

Usually right after a quiet interview scene like the kind above they'll hard cut to the detectives outside and the exact same jarring car horn.

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I like that Lt./Anita was always taking her detectives food or having them pay for her food if they were buying a hot dog or something.   She would always give them this look when they tried to take it back.  

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One time when she was lunching at her desk, Lenny actually picked up her fries and started eating them. She was speechless for a moment but the look on her face was worth a thousand words. I imagine the words were "Blowtorch, blowtorch, blowtorch..."

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Actually, it looks like Jill Hennessy was exactly the age most people get their law degree--25--when she started. Too young to have the experience to be second chairing homicides in NYC but not too young to be a lawyer. Although I went to law school with a young woman who went to high school abroad, and she graduated LAW SCHOOL at 21 years old, due to where she went to high school and did her undergrad work. There are definitely exceptions, but one of my crim law profs used to say it terrified him that the DOJ is run by a bunch of 25 year olds with no life experience.

Question: how long does it take to be a lawyer in the US? Here it's 4 years. If you start at 18, right after school, you'll get your degree at 22. 23 if yiu have to take the 1 year intro course that some univerdities have.

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Question: how long does it take to be a lawyer in the US? Here it's 4 years. If you start at 18, right after school, you'll get your degree at 22. 23 if yiu have to take the 1 year intro course that some univerdities have.

US Law School takes 3 years. And is normally done after someone gets an undergraduate degree in something else (which, in most subjects, takes 4 years if you study without taking breaks in the process or without being on an accelerated plan of study). And once you get your Law degree, you have to take a "Bar Exam" which, if you pass it, will allow you to practice Law in the US State in which you took it (&, depending on the terms of that State's Bar Association, sometimes other States as well if their Bar Association has/have reciprocity with other States regarding where your license is valid).

Edited by BW Manilowe

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Actually, you have to have a four year degree in order to be admitted to law school, so seven years minimum.  So most law grads are 25 (after finishing high school at 18) when they are entering the work force.

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What about the monologuing senior citizen? When the detectives are canvassing a neighborhood, they often encounter an older neighbor/landlord/store owner who won't provide any useful information but loves to go on about how this "used to be a nice neighborhood" that has become a non-stop crime scene. I thought the crime rate in New York City has actually decreased over the years? 

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The crime rate has decreased in NYC, and just about everywhere over the years. But the first half L&O's run was during the end of a relatively high crime period. Manhattan neighborhoods also have a tendency to change relatively quickly and sometimes it implicit that the complainer is actually upset at demographic shifts. And if you've ever seen the online comments on any news story you'll see that the old person complaining about how their town/city/neighborhood/block used to be nice, but is going to hell now exists in real life in spite of any facts to the contrary..

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