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Episodes of a Crime and Punishment Series focusing on a particular subculture. Accuracy is optional, as the only research that goes into the episode is reading the paper...especially when even the paper wasn't right. This is also common on Medical Dramas with the subculture having a connection to the Patient of the Week.

The most important aspect of this trope is how the subcultures are always presented in a horrifically stereotyped manner. They aren't just average people with non-mainstream interests. Rather, they are total creeps with no social skills unrelated to their hobby, which dominates their whole lives. For example, if it's a sexual subculture, they'll wear fetish gear to the supermarket and make inappropriate come-ons to the main character. If it's gamers (Video Games or Tabletop Games), they'll play to the point of addiction, live with their parents well into their 30's, possibly imitate the violence they commit in the game, and are probably virgins. If it's Neo-Pagans, they'll wear ridiculous Goth or New Age clothing and talk about casting spells and "cursing" people they don't like. To real people within these subcultures, the misconceptions and poor research on these shows can be either a source of Snark Bait or a Berserk Button.

Examples of Sick, Sad Subculture of the Week include:


  • Religion, as it's presented in media, could fill a subtrope of this by itself. The idea that most religious people ascribe to a belief system but don't make their lives revolve around it will almost never be brought up. A church parishoner will gun down a reporter about to expose a church secret if it's "God's Will" that it be done.
    • This goes double for any non-Christian religion, since in American media (and to an increasing extent in Europe) being non-Christian is automatically suspect. All Buddhists will be introspective sorts who drop pearls of Eastern wisdom at random. All Muslims will be fantical fundamentalists ready to kill in the name of Allah. Neo-Pagans will look like crazy cat ladies and offer up curses, charms and hexes. Similarly, atheists will all be sour, immoral and arrogant.
  • The Bill featured a guy playing an "Assassins" style game using a realistic looking paint gun in public. People who play these sort of games do not use realistic weapons. One guy from the Oxford University Assassin's Guild did that and encountered some armed police.
    • The 'armed police' problem also happened with Sheffield University's Assassin's Guild.
    • Humans vs Zombies players have had basically the same problem.
    • All this has led to something called Deathgame, practised in Sweden, where you "kill" your opponent(s) with fruits and vegetables.
  • The CSI New York episode dealing with Water Wars. Again, someone uses a realistic looking water pistol.
    • They also dealt with Le Parkour.
    • There was also the 'Down the Rabbit Hole' episode which dealt with Second Life. This spanned over two episodes rather than the usual one.
    • And one about "vampire cults" who drink each others' blood. Surprisingly, no vampires committed the crimes. The episode treated vampirism like an unpopular but venerable religion.
    • Yet another episode involved the owners of adult dolls (although it turned out that the doll ownership was irrelevant to the murder). Basically, CSI New York, like all of the CSI shows, is pretty much in love with this trope.
  • The famous CSI Episode "Fur and Loathing", set at a furry convention began it all. The portrayal of furries caused considerable controversy in that fandom. The episode was even a Jump the Shark moment for some, who saw it as the start of a freak-a-week format. Many other cases in CSI have dealt with some sexual fetish, subculture, sexual fetish, hobby, sexual fetish or sexual fetish. And they're pretty hung up on kinks too. Specific examples of the latter include:-
    • An episode where the victim, a powerful casino owner, was an adult baby in his spare time.
    • Almost as well-known as "Fur and Loathing", "Slaves of Las Vegas", which introduced viewers to Lady Heather and her BDSM club. Lady Heather actually became a well developed (if only sporadically recurring) character.
    • More recently, they pulled off a murder-at-the-Star-Trek-convention storyline, albeit with the serial numbers filed off. Trekkies, Trekkies everywhere...
  • The CSI: Miami episode dealing with videogames, in which the characters had to actually play the game in question to find out its plot, which was necessary for them to solve the cause. Why they don't just look up its plot online is anyone's guess. There's also a notable level of New Media Are Evil in the episode. Basically, a video games company decides that a good advertising tactic for their GTA clone (which somehow still had "levels" and "points") is to give teenagers submachine guns and have them rob a bank, with bonus points if there's a police officer inside and for rape. Feel free to facepalm.
  • Bones does this quite often. There has been episodes about comic book, role-playing teens, pony play fetishists, and karaoke singers (with actual former American Idol contestants).
    • Mostly averted in the episode dealing with black metal, though. Some of the stranger excesses of the subculture are brought to the fore, but Bones's psychiatrist is revealed to have a history in the scene and Booth compares the distaste over it to his dad's distaste for punk. The most significant error they make is that, while virtually everything regarding extreme black metal is true to a degree, the death metal subculture really isn't as violent or cult-like as the Norwegian black metal scene that clearly inspired the events of the episode. Furthermore, few death metal bands wear corpse paint, or use fake names, and only a handful are satanic.
    • This tendency reached its nadir when they applied the same zero-research attitude to Wicca, an actual religion.
    • This also gets annoying when Sweets (the psychiatrist) "analyzes" the subculture in question, and ends up pretty much generalizing the entire subculture and assuming everyone who's a part of it thinks and acts exactly the same.
  • This trope would be incomplete without mentioning "Next Stop, Nowhere," a.k.a, "the punk rock episode of Quincy." In the 80's hardcore punk subculture, the episode spawned the slur "Quincy Punk," applied to scene members and bands who personified the sloppy, antisocial, mohawked stereotype. This was at a time when hardcore was about dressing normal, playing tight, and maintaining a positive or at least thoughtful attitude.
  • In one episode, only one cop on Law and Order had heard of foot fetishes.
    • The franchise as a whole (The Mothership, SVU, and CI) tends to treat sports fans this way.
  • One Pushing Daisies episode focuses on a murder at a rent-a-friend agency. The actual customers are portrayed sympathetically, but Ned eventually decries the whole enterprise as useless, because while the patrons may enjoy it for a time, "deep down they never stop thinking of themselves as weirdos who need to be fixed".
  • Most crime shows can attest to having had a vampire-related episode at some point of time. Criminal Minds even did some namedropping by referencing Twilight.
    • Series/Criminal Minds at least didn't portray the subculture as the cause of the culprit's murderous ways; it was made very clear that the killer was suffering from a rare mental illness that provoked obsession with blood-drinking, and had likely had it since childhood.
    • Hilariously, an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer did this with a vampire wannabe cult (mind you, in a show where vampires were very real). At one point, Angel (the resident good guy vampire) is complaining about how these kids know nothing about vampires, don't know how they dress... and pauses as a guy walks by dressed exactly the same as him. At the end of the episode, Buffy has to save the vampire wannabes from the real vampires, who mostly just want to kill them and feed off them.
    • Supernatural also did an episode about vampire wannabes. It starts off as a funny Take That against Twilight, but, this being Supernatural, suddenly gets a lot darker, when Dean discovers the vampire themselves are pushing the recent vampire obsession, to get more willing victims for a vampire army...
  • An episode of The Mentalist featured a young Wiccan (a new-age form of witchcraft) who naturally came under suspicion when one of her peers was killed in a ritualistic fashion. An especially aggravating case as half the facts spouted about Wicca were blatantly wrong. Neopagan religions often appear in shows like this, and rarely do the writing staff seem to feel any compulsion to actually research them first.
  • A sixth-season episode of House used bloggers as the Freaks of the Week. Seeing as everyone and their grandmother has a blog these days, seeing it portrayed as a crazy new subculture was... odd.
  • The late-60's revival of Dragnet used the hippie counterculture as recurring freaks-of-the-week in a number of poorly researched episodes. The most infamous of these is the "Blue Boy" episode, for its spectacularly narm-y take on LSD. Joe Friday references in dialogue the notorious urban myth about teenagers tripping on acid blinding themselves by staring at the Sun.
  • One episode of Law and Order Special Victims Unit had the detectives practically declare an adult HAD to be a pedophile... because he collected Transformers.
    • Special Victim's Unit seems to have a particularly strange deficiency in this area. As well as the example above, the cops who are supposed experts in this field often seem ludicriously ill informed about even the most general sexual behaviour and cultures. In one episode, several of them express incredulity over the theory cited by a colleague that a man might be gay even though he has a wife. And in another episode the idea that someone could be bi-sexual rather than straight out gay seems to be bizarrely unheard of, sparking more astonishment from the characters.
  • In Nip Tuck the client/patient of the week was often part of some strange subculture.
  • Arguably the whole point of the MTV reality show True Life is to subvert this, they visit the lives of people involved in various subcultures regularly.
    • More often than not, it winds up as a double-subversion.
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