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Rizzoli & Isles is a show on TNT set in Boston with two of the department's hardest working women cracking the city's most gruesome murders, based on a book series by Tess Gerritsen. These two friends are as different from one another as can be. Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) is a no-nonsense cop with an attitude and tomboy inclinations. Dr. Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander) is a brilliant though eccentric medical examiner, much more feminine and milder than Jane. As odd of a pairing as they may be, Jane and Maura are close friends who are always there for one another and have each other's back. Great potential to continue passing The Bechdel Test.
This show contains examples of:
- Ascended Extra/Ensemble Darkhorse: Rizzoli is actually a secondary character in "The Surgeon", the first book in the series, while Isles doesn't exist at all, and author Gerritsen had planned to kill her off before positive reader feedback changed her mind. Similarly, when Isles makes an appearance, she's a minor character until her role enlarges to be almost equal with Rizzoli in most books, or the primary character in several.
- Actor Allusion: While the detectives are investigating a college murder, Frost asks, "Where did you go to college, Korsak?" Korsak's answer: "Didn't, watched Animal House a few times." Korsak is played by Bruce McGill, who played D-Day in that movie.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: In the books that the series is based on, Jane Rizzoli is consistently described as plain or average looking. This is a significant characteristic, as she tends to have an irrational jealousy and dislike of beautiful women. But here, she's being played by the gorgeous Angie Harmon (though Harmon has played Jane as a little more rough and tumble as time went on).
- It's not as extreme with Maura Isles, who is described as "attractive", but as played by Sasha Alexander, she's far more stunning than one would have imagined.
- Even Detective Korsak. Hardly a male model in his TV incarnation, but still much better looking than he's described in the books.
- Badass Bookworm: Played for laughs. After a 30-second gun-handling lesson, Maura asks, "Jane? Do I look badass?" Um, no, not really. (In fact, she's far more likely to be a Cowardly Lion.)
- Bare Your Midriff: Rizzoli's workout outfit, particularly in the cold open of "I Kissed a Girl", and damn. You could bounce a quarter off her abs!
- Baseball Episode: The second episode starts with a softball game between Robbery and Homicide, which is interrupted by the dumping of a dead body from the nearby freeway overpass. Notably, both ladies are hilariously bad, though Isles is considerably worse; Rizzoli's attempts to teach her how to swing properly set up a Chekhov's Gun later on.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Rizzoli and Grant.
- Beware the Nice Ones: According to the show, many good cops on the Boston Strangler case have died young and/or snapped in an explosive manner.
- Brains and Brawn
- Burn the Witch: When someone starts murdering members of a coven in "Bloodlines", the first victim is burnt at the stake.
- But It Really Happened!: One of the favorite things Rizzoli & Isles likes to do is take the story of an infamous real-life Boston criminal and give it a fictional twist. Both Albert DeSalvo (the Boston Strangler) and James J. Bulger (the leader of the Winter Hill Gang and, at the time of the episode's airing, an FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive) have been given this treatment. In fact, Maura's biological father is a Winter Hill enforcer and another enforcer killed her half-brother before Maura's father got to him.
- California Doubling: The show is so obviously filmed in LA it borders on embarassing.
- Call Back: Oh, man, "I'm Your Boogey Man" is made of this trope. Somebody puts a road flare in front of Jane's apartment building, indicative of how she scarred Hoyt in "See One, Do One, Teach One." Later, we find that that somebody is a kidnap victim who Hoyt tortures to the point of suffering Stockholm syndrom (not to mention he killed her abusive husband). Having gotten Frankie, Jr., to fall in love with her, she captures both Rizzoli siblings. While Jane tries to explain to the victim that Hoyt doesn't love her and is just using her to get Jane, she lets her guard down long enough for a struggle to ensue between herself and Frankie, Jr., for the gun. While they are both down on the ground, Frankie, Jr., gets the gun and kills her with two shots to the chest, even though his wrists were duct taped. In "See One, Do One, Teach One," Jane and Hoyt's apprentice were on the ground going for a gun. Jane got to it first and, with her wrists duct taped, she killed the apprentice with two shots to the chest.
- Catch Phrase: Amongst the obscenely rich Fairfield family, "Brothers don't kill brothers." Garrett Fairfield, Maura's ex-boyfriend, obviously thinks half-brothers aren't protected by this saying.
- Cliff Hanger: Why do we have to wait nine months to see whether or not Jane shooting through herself to kill the corrupt cop took her own life? WHY?!
- Cop and Scientist
- Da Chief: Korsak, though he inspires fear in no one.
- The Determinator: If the Season 2 premiere is any indication, this trope describes Jane. After watching a soldier get blown up by a car bomb minutes after the soldier was honored for her heroics in Afghanistan, Jane ignores all commands to stay home and nurse her wounds from the Season 1 finale, as well as other roadblocks, to try and solve the case.
- Double Standard: In the books the series is based on, plain Jane is jealous and resentful of beautiful women and contemptuous of any man who is attracted to them. But she spends the first book lusting after her handsome partner and when he falls in love with the lovely Catherine Cordell, she accuses of him of "falling for the same thing every guy falls for - tits and ass". In a later book, when she meets the gorgeous FBI agent Gabriel Dean, she falls head over heels for him in seconds. So as a woman (and an average-looking one, at that), it's apparently perfectly okay for her to fall in love with someone attractive, but when a man does it, he's a shallow jerk.?
- Evil Foreigner: Det. Frost, who is black, looks at the founding member of the Fairfield family dynasty as this.
Jane: The guy made his money the same way so many other families did at the time: Shipping.
- Expospeak Gag: At least Once an Episode.
- Eye Scream: The Surgeon left Jane alone in a van with a road flare. When he comes back to finish her, she's playing opossum and he's curious as to why smoke is coming from underneath her. Jane then jabs the Surgeon in the eye WITH THE LIT END OF THE FLARE!
- Fan Service: Maura playing baseball in a water-resistant, skin-tight suit. It has, shall we say, quite the effect on guys.
- One for each gender in "Money for Nothing." For the men, Maura in a tight running suit. For the women, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, shirtless and in a swimsuit.
- Naturally, the episode "I Kissed a Girl" oozes of this trope. You have Jane flirting with numerous suspects and being kissed on the neck by murderer, Maura wearing a tight waitress dress that allows her to show off maximum cleavage and a baby bump, and Jane and Maura discussing lesbianism (Jane said she would "flip" sexual preferences for front row Boston Celtics tickets) and telling each other that they're not each others' type (riiiiiiiight!). Oh, and they are doing this in Jane's bed! But there is more than the Les Yay that qualifies for fan service. There's the yoga scenes. Maura is once again in a skin-tight workout suit, while Jane is in yoga pants and a training bra, showing off abs that you could balance a quarter on (keep in mind that Angie Harmon has three kids).
- How many times can Jane and Maura be seen wearing tight clothes on this show? They do it again in "Born to Run."
- Maura's fashion sense won't let Jane go to a fancy restaurant in her workaday outfit, so she has them trade their entire outfits. Not exactly Sexy Shirt Switch, but it's something. Also not that Maura is shorter than Jane, leading to the predictable.
- Fictional Counterpart: The Massachusetts Marathon standing in for the Boston Marathon.
- Friend to All Living Things: Korsak is constantly rescuing animals. In fact, this is how Josephine "Joe" Friday and Jane were introduced before Jane took in Joe.
- Fun with Acronyms: Rizzoli and Isles run in the Massachusetts Marathon representing Professionals for Underprivileged Kids of Excellence. Of course, somebody had to lampshade it...
Jane: I am NOT running as Lady Puke Gaga!
- GPS Evidence: Maura was able to crack a case by determining the poison used in the murder came from a flower native to Boston. Jane was able to track the killer because the flower was growing in the front yard of someone who was interviewed earlier in the episode.
- Hate Sink: Out of all the killers in the series, Charles Hoyt is the character that the audience will most likely hate the most, not least because of his truly sickening modus operandi.
- Heh, Heh, You Said "X": Jane seems to take great pleasure from the word "boubou", an item of West African traditional ceremonial dress.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Rizzoli and Isles, unsurprisingly, although the producers seem happy to milk the Les Yay angle as well.
- Hide Your Pregnancy: Sasha Alexander is pregnant with her second child. This is expected to happen during season one, but she's delivering during the hiatus before filming for season two starts. Though sometimes, they aren't doing much to hide it. For "I Kissed A Girl", Maura was in baggy shirts or scrubs for half the episode and skintight outfits for the other half.
- Hollywood New England: Mostly averted, but enter Donnie Wahlberg and you half expect him to say, "Chowdah." The weird part is that he's actually from Boston, but his regular accent isn't nearly that broad. It's more than made up by the extras, most of whom have very thick Boston accents.
- Hollywood Voodoo: Averted, in they're doing a religion that is similar to real voodoo, but not exactly the same. The practitioners perform exorcisms, and Maura says their practices are consistent with Catholicism in the Cape Verde Islands and other West African nations.
- Honest John's Dealership: Angela seems to be magnetized to these. First, there's the car dealership where she swapped out her old Buick for a lemon. Then we have her as a spokesperson for "Polynesian Anti-Aging Juice" (really 98% water and 2% non-harmful materials, according to Maura). She is effective as an advertiser, though. She sold two bottles to Korsak and one to a neighbor (however, said neighbor also fell for a Nigerian scam).
- Hotter and Sexier: As mentioned in Adaptational Attractiveness, Jane is described in the books as plain or average. The book version of the character also seems to have a great disdain for beautiful women. Of course, when the gorgeous Angie Harmon was cast into that role, all that stuff about her in the books got thrown out the window.
- Human Shield: See Cliff Hanger above.
- I Have Your Wife: Done by the villain in "My Own Worst Enemy".
- Impaled Palm: Jane still bears the scars from when The Surgeon literally pinned her hands to the ground. She gets her revenge later in the episode by putting a bullet into both of his hands at once, telling him, "We match."
- Informed Attribute: Jane describes herself as strong and athletic even though Angie Harmon has the lithe, muscular frame of a toothpick. She might be telling the truth, but she sure doesn't look it.
- Insufferable Genius: Three Words: Maura's Google Mouth. She doesn't do it on purpose, but it drives Jane batty nonetheless.
- Intelligence Equals Isolation: Maura reveals that her childhood wasn't exactly parties and ponies in "I'm Your Boogie Man." In her own words, "there was a lot of benign neglect" - her parents had their own lives to lead that frequently didn't involve the mundane details of parenthood, and they didn't much care what Maura did as long as she kept good grades. As a result, Maura buried herself in schoolwork, to the point that she gave them the brochures to send her away to boarding school. At ten years old.
- Irrational Hatred
- Jerkass: Grant in spades. Was a Jerk with a Heart of Gold for Jane.
- Lighter and Softer: The books that the series is based on are much, much grimmer.
- Lovely Angels: This show has this in spades, drawing favorable comparisons to the doomed pilot Nikki & Nora.
- Missing Episode: Apparently there are two, according to Twitter.
- Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate: The Surgeon and his apprentice.
- Murder by Mistake: The first victim in "Rebel Without a Pause" was hit by a ricochet of a shot intended for someone else.
- My Beloved Smother: Angela seems to be filling this role perfectly already. She seems to show favoritism towards Frankie, Jr., when she blames Jane for her own basketball-related nose break, even though Frankie, Jr., admits it was his fault. Later, as Jane is holed up in her apartment during the hunt for the Surgeon and his apprentice, Angela makes an unannounced visit with the intent of staying the night. She gives Jane grief for being a cop, making Frankie, Jr., want to follow in her footsteps. This causes Jane to spend the rest of the night at Maura's.
- Bonus points go to the set-up date with Grant in episode 3, which Angela engineered by telling Jane it was a dinner with family friends and Grant that it was a class reunion. So egregious, the two of them agree within minutes that the whole thing was a very, very bad idea.
- The welcome-home party in the season finale. Angela gives Jane and Frankie Jr. no end of grief about declining to attend the party she's thrown for their ne'er-do-well older brother Tommy, who is being released from prison. The whole thing backfires spectacularly and painfully; Tommy apparently decides to resume his profligate ways, while both Jane and Frankie Jr. are critically injured. Worse yet, while Angela is crying over Tommy, she has no idea what's happened to her other two children.
- Name and Name
- New Old Flame: Dr. Ian Faulkner, the never before mentioned love of Maura's life in the second season episode "My Own Worst Enemy." Ian is wanted for questioning by Interpol because he makes a habit of illegally smuggling much needed drugs into third world countries. Maura worked with him for two years in Ethiopia and loves him though she knows they can never be together. She helps him get drugs to smuggle to Africa and lets him leave at the end of the episode, but sheds a few tears over him.
- Non-Idle Rich: While Rizzoli is working class, Isles comes from money and is clearly not hurting for any cash as seen from her wardrobe, apartment, and car. Referenced again in "Money For Nothing," when she casually comments that "most of my money is tied up in charitable endowments."
- No Social Skills: Maura is a perfect example of this trope, and she's also sweet. Fortunately, the street smart Jane is always helping her.
Jane: Did you ever like the same boy as your best friend?
- The Not Love Interest: Maura for Jane. With levels of UST between them that many canonical straight TV couples never reach...
- Odd Couple: Yup, that would be the titular pair.
- Papa Wolf: Maura's biological father Paddy Doyle stabbed a rival mobster in the heart with an icepick to prevent him from killing Maura the way he'd already killed Doyle's son. On the dead man's chest was a blood-stained photo of Doyle holding Maura as a baby, pinned there with the icepick. Doyle's message: "Don't mess with my family." Doyle told Maura to call him with the murderer's name and he'd "send the man a message" but Maura couldn't do it, even if it meant she would be murdered. It's strongly implied that Jane Rizzoli's ex-partner Vince Korsak called Doyle to protect Maura.
- Patrick Stewart Speech: An odd one in "I Kissed A Girl". Maura explains her love of luxury items by saying that she buys the finer things in life as a tribute to human ingenuity and artistry that goes into making things like her finely knit cable sweater and her couture high heels. Truth in Television, many high-end and bespoke items are made with great care and hours upon hours of effort poured into them.
- Pretty Lech: Some of Maura's remarks can come across as this.
Maura: (regarding "Mega" Vega, a baseball player) I'd like to "mega" him.
- Product Placement: Thanks to a sponsorship deal between MillerCoors and Turner Broadcasting, Rizzoli & Isles is sponsored by MGD 64. MGD 64 is Jane's drink of choice.
- Hoyt is reading Tess Gerritsen's latest in the prison hospital. Gerritsen, of course, is the creator of the characters.
- Put on a Bus: Grant's job in Washington. Also possibly Agent Dean, as he got packed off to Afghanistan.
- Race Lift: Detective Frost is white in the books, African-American in the TV series.
- Recycled in Space: This show can be considered to be Bones WITH BOTH UST PARTNERS BEING FEMALE!
- Rip Tailoring: In "Don't Hate the Player", Isles swaps clothes with Rizzoli so Rizzoli can meet a suspect at a fancy restaurant. When Rizzoli complains that the shoes are too tight, Isles uses a scalpel to cut the ends of the shoes off, turning them into peekaboo toes.
- Rule of Perception: in "Rebel without a Pause", a laser beam -used to establish a bullet's trajectory- is visible in full daylight.
- Running Gag: Korsak loves to tell funny but disgusting stories (no confirmation on legitimacy) about the murders he's investigated to get Frost to puke.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules: Maura turning her back on the high society scene to work as a medical examiner. When Jane calls her out on her privileged background, she demonstrates quite convincingly that she "has [their] backs," using her connections to obtain several vital clues to the murder.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money: At least that's what one guy thought in "Born to Run." Almost a decade and a half ago, he and two of his friends gang raped and beat a 15-year-old and recorded the entire thing on tape and got off without a blemish on their record because the guy's rich father bought off the prosecutor. Flashforward to the present, the three guys are running in the Massachusetts Marathon, their victim has since committed suicide, and her younger sister is running in her memory with a gun equipped with a silencer in her fanny pack. The sister murders the two accomplices and tries to take down the rich rapist, only to be tackled by Jane. When the rapist thought he was in the clear, Jane arrests him for the rape because the statute of limitations hadn't run out, telling him, "Nobody to pay off this time."
- Sensitivity Training: Jane discovers she is an "equal opportunity offender" because she offends everyone when she is finally forced to go to sensitivity training in the second season episode "Gone Daddy Gone." None of the cops take the sensitivity training seriously. Jane spends most of the episode trying to hide from the sensitivity training instructor; Vince Korsak wants her to go only because he stands to get something out of it if she does go and a cop who had previously gone to sensitivity training is overheard insulting a suspect.
- Serial Killings, Specific Target: In "Rebel Without a Pause", a sniper misses their shot at their target on their first attempt and kills someone else. They do another random shooting to make the police think this a series of random attacks before making another attempt on their original target.
- Ship Tease: At least once an episode between Jane and Maura, most prevalent in "I Kissed a Girl."
- It reaches new heights in Season 2 episode 3 "Sailor Man", with Jane and Maura pretending to be a couple to get rid of an... unpleasant suitor for Maura. It works.
- Shoot the Hostage: By the hostage, namely Jane. Yeek.
- Shout-Out: Already quite a few to Dragnet. Jane set her phone to use the show's theme song as a ringtone when Frost calls. And in a gender-flipping version of We Named the Monkey "Jack", Korsak rescues a dog from a freeway and names her Joe Friday (Joe being short for Josephine).
- Rizzoli & Isles is one of many shows where many of the episode titles are shout-outs to popular songs. See the page for a list.
- Slap Slap Kiss: Seems to be the type of relationship Jane and Grant have. They were at each others' throats since Catholic school, but harbored romantic feelings for many years.
- Slash Fic: Go to Fanfiction.net, and you will see that almost every story is Jane/Maura. It's not hard to see why these two are constantly being shipped, with all the heavy-duty Les Yay and whatnot.
- The Sociopath: Charles Hoyt.
- The Spock: Very much Isles. Also nicely averts Typecasting, as "girly girl" Isles sounds and acts nothing like "tomboy" Kate Todd.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music: Nothing suspicious about it, Jane's ringtones are all appropriate. Each one is indicative of what she thinks of others. There's The Twilight Zone theme for Angela, the Dragnet theme for Frost, and "Piano Sonata No. 2" (the Funeral March) for Maura.
- Sympathetic Murderer: The girl who murdered two men during the Massachusetts Marathon and almost gunned down a third in "Born to Run." This is because her older sister was gangraped on tape 15 years earlier by the "victims," who got off because the survivor's father bought off the prosecutor. The rape victim eventually committed suicide and her father suffered a fatal heart attack as a result of the stress.
- That Came Out Wrong: Angela cannot text, apparently, because she sent Jane a message that said "Honey, I need a boner." She really wanted a loner. (Note that B is on the 2 button and L in on the 5 button, and 2 is right above 5 on most touchpads.)
- Take That: "This is not CSI: Boston, Jane!"
- They Fight Crime: One's a Badass homicide detective with a dysfunctional family. One's a blue-blooded medical examiner with No Social Skills. They're Heterosexual Life Partners. Together, They Fight Crime!
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The titular leads, respectively.
- Toyota Tripwire: Rizzoli's brother does this to a fleeing suspect in "Burning Down the House", so he can keep to the Exact Words of his promise to Rizzoli that he would not leave the car.
- Turtle Power: Maura's pet, Bass.
- Twitter: Jane, Maura, Frost, Korsak, Frankie, Jr., Angela and Frankie, Sr. all have their own real-life Twitter accounts. Oh, and so do Joe Friday and Bass.
- Typecasting: Two series in a row may not be enough, but Angie Harmon's last show had her as a tomboyish cop who is married to the job (the difference between Women's Murder Club and Rizzoli & Isles is that her character was divorced in WMC and single by choice on this show). This is also her third law show, but on Law and Order, she was an A.D.A., not a cop. Averted for Sasha Alexander, who was on a law show the last time she was on TV, but she goes from a federal agent who can hang with her male counterparts on NCIS to a more feminine ME with an advanced degree here. Donnie Wahlberg, on the other hand, seems to be type-cast into the cop role.
- Of course, Harmon played a tomboyish detective on Baywatch Nights.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Ramping up between Rizzoli and Grant.
- The titular leads. See Les Yay.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Det. Frost at the first crime scene in the pilot.
Det. Crowe: Poor guy should've stayed in robbery. Hangnails make him gag. He gives us a bad name.
- Vomiting Cop: Again, Frost. He seems to be getting better about it, though.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: We don't know if Jane was scared of snakes before, but we're willing to bet she was when she found almost an entire pit of them on the front seat of her car. Later, she looked disturbed when she saw a snake around a man's neck while she was observing a West African Catholic exorcism.
- Will Not Tell a Lie: Maura
- Will They or Won't They?: We have actually gotten to this point in the show. Between Jane and Maura. Needless to say, the show would lose a large chunk of its viewership and break away from the books' canon if they did, but it has just become too great to ignore. Jane and Maura have so much Les Yay and Unresolved Sexual Tension between them, they could pass for an all-female version of Benson and Stabler, Brennan and Booth, Castle and Beckett, or Tony and Ziva (or Tony and Kate in the early seasons, also involving Sasha Alexander).
- You Need to Get Laid: What Frost says to Korsak when Korsak begins geeking out over a victim's sailboat.