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NYPD Blue is a Cop Show with Soap Opera elements that ran on ABC from 1993 to 2005. Originally a star vehicle for David Caruso (who left after the first season to pursue a movie career), the show evolved into an ensemble, with Det. Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) as the focus character.

The show courted controversy from the start with its liberal use of nudity (mostly sideboob and butts, with the occasional steamy love scene) and salty language (one of Sipowicz's first lines is calling A.D.A. Sylvia Costas a "pissy little bitch", and it was one of the first shows to use the word "shit" on network television). The Parents Television Council was formed primarily because of this show. It was also noted for resurrecting the careers of those (besides Caruso) who played Andy's partners (Jimmy Smits, and former child stars Rick Schroder and Mark-Paul Gosselaar).

The show was created by producer Steven Bochco, and is considered the Spiritual Successor to his earlier, similarly ground-breaking ensemble cop show Cop Rock, Hill Street Blues.


Tropes used in NYPD Blue include:
  • Anyone Can Die: Especially if they're connected to Sipowicz. two partners, his son, and a wife. And his boss, almost.
  • Ashes to Crashes: A detective who used to work in the squad died and his widow wants the squad to store half of his ashes there, because that was the man's last wish. "Just put the urn in the back of a file cabinet or something, it wouldn't be any trouble." But the Lieutenant refuses on the grounds that it isn't regulation. Sipowitz manages to get the ashes stirred into the plaster being used to repair the bathroom, so he'll be there forever.
  • Aspect Montage
  • Auction
  • Bad Boss: Lt. Fancy's short-lived (one episode) replacement.
  • Berserk Button: Andy Sipowicz was a veteran of The Vietnam War. So please, do not lie to him about having fought in that war if you weren't actually there.
  • Between My Legs: This shot is taken of Charlotte Ross in her infamous shower scene, showing the reaction of the kid that walked in on her through her legs.
  • The Boxing Episode
  • Buffy-Speak: The dialogue during the period where David Milch's drug problem was at its worst and he had Sipowicz ranting about a ringmaster whipping an ostrich.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant: Connie's Season 11 pregnancy.
  • Butt Monkey: Medavoy (who usually got the "Odd" case of the week).
    • Subverted in the episode where he's fueled by disgust for the sexually motivated murder case he catches, does a great job investigating it and interrogating the perpetrator, and gets a commendation.
    • Also subverted to a degree by the circumstances of his retirement at the end of the series.
  • Captain Obvious: Medavoy.
  • Characterization Marches On: It can be a little strange, after watching the later seasons, to look back at Season One and behold a Sipowicz who frequents prostitutes and strip joints. He even smiles, which later on seems to nearly break his face.
  • Chilly Reception: When Simone replaces Kelly, Sipowicz gives him an extremely cold reception. This was actually intentionally engineered by the writers -- they figured that if Sipowicz took an immediate, irrational dislike to Simone, it would leave the audience saying "Come on, Andy, give the guy a chance." It worked.
  • Costumer: One of the series' most reviled episodes.
  • Crime and Punishment Series
  • A Death in the Limelight: Simone.
  • Death Is Dramatic: Bobby Simone's death.
  • Deus Angst Machina: Sipowicz has had a dead wife, a dead son, two dead partners (and a third resigning in disgrace), and TWO cancer scares (his own and his youngest son's).
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Rick Schroder's character was murdered off-screen by his stripper girlfriend's ex.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Whilst the final episode makes it very clear that life and work will go on as usual for Andy Sipowicz, he is far better off at the end than he was at the beginning.
  • Fair Cop: Nearly all of the female detectives, with Baldwin Jones as a rare male example.
  • Fan Service: The show often pushed the boundaries of how much skin (or sexuality) you could show on network TV.
  • Geodesic Cast: Andy and his current partner, Medavoy and his, often a third female duo.
  • Long Bus Trip: Though it was never followed up, David Caruso's departure from the series was certainly open-ended enough that for a couple of seasons afterwards it wouldn't have been unexpected to have seen Detective Kelly walk right back through those doors.
    • Particularly strange was his complete non-appearance at Sipowicz's wedding. Apparently the writing staff were tempted to put John Kelly on a bus to hell following the way Caruso had treated them, as a Take That to the actor. But ultimately they felt that whatever problems they had to deal with as far as the actor was concerned, the character of Detective John Kelly deserved more respect than that, so they allowed him to have a dignified departure with no repercussions.
  • Lying to the Perp
  • Media Watchdog: One of their go-to targets.
  • New York City Cops
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Sipowicz (he gets better).
  • No Ending: Done deliberately.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Dennis Franz's Chicago accent coming from Brooklyn boy Sipowicz.
  • Not in Front of the Parrot: Sgt. Gibson's obnoxious parrot (made more obnoxious by Andy secretly training it to say nothing but "douchebag").
  • Pet Homosexual: John.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Blatantly unqualified Sgt. Gibson (though it was made clear that it was temporary and by default, due to a shortage of qualified Sergeants and Lieutenants).
  • Police Brutality: There's rarely an episode that passes without a suspect getting "tuned up". Sometimes it's as minor as a slap upside the head. Sometimes it gets pretty bad (and the suspect gets off because of it), especially early in the series.
  • "Previously On..."
  • Rabid Cop: Sipowicz (again, he gets better).
  • Radar Systems: The show was frequently rapped for its language and nudity, but rarely for the just as frequent violence.
  • Rape as Backstory: Sylvia, though it's not really an ongoing trauma.
  • Safe Harbor: One of the few shows on network TV to exploit this.
  • Seven Dirty Words: Used four or five of them regularly.
  • Sexy Secretary: Donna.
  • Soap Opera Disease: Bobby Simone had a a terminal case.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Sipowicz. Twice (at least Sylvia was his age).
    • Sylvia's actress, Sharon Lawrence, was seventeen years younger than Dennis Franz.
      • Which goes to show how egregious the case with the second wife played by Charlotte Ross was, that Sylvia is the one considered Sipowicz's age.
  • Vanity Plate
  • Whip Pan
  • Worst News Judgment Ever
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