12 Must-See Episodes of "Psych"
Created by Steve Franks, Psych follows the hilarious and often dangerous adventures of Shawn Spencer, a carefree guy from Santa Barbara with a photographic memory who has been trained by his cop father to notice the tiniest details and make incredible deductions. When the police begin to suspect him because he calls in so many spot-on tips to the station, he claims to be a psychic in order to avoid arrest and is subsequently asked by the chief to consult on cases.
The show stars James Roday as Shawn; Dulé Hill as Burton Guster, Shawn's "straight man" best friend/crime solving partner/pharmaceutical salesman; Timothy Omundson as Carlton Lassiter, the police department's head detective and Shawn's biggest rival; Maggie Lawson as Juliet, Lassiter's smart, beautiful and kick-butt partner; Corbin Bernsen as Shawn's overbearing retired-cop father and Kristen Nelson as the stern but lovable Chief Vick.
The great thing about this show is its incredible range. While it is often goofy and hilarious, it can also be deep, occasionally dark, and it offers character development, especially in the latter seasons, and it seems that there is nowhere the show is not willing to go, and nothing too sacred to satire. From Bruce Campbell starring in a zombie-themed episode, to The Breakfast Club based episodes, parodies of scary movies like Friday the 13th and The Shining, and enough 80s and pop culture references to make your head spin, Psych is a show guaranteed to always make you smile. If you're new to the show, or if you're simply wanting to re-watch some of the best episodes to relive old times, here are twelve of the best episodes ever that you must see!
They are listed in chronological order, not in order of greatness: because as hard as it was to pick twelve episodes out of over one hundred, it's just about impossible to say which ones of the twelve are better than others!
- Shawn's dysfunctional relationship with his dad is revealed when he finds out that not only has his dad moved back into his old house in Santa Barbara from Miami, but that he's been back for a year without letting Shawn know. It's great to see Shawn's feathers ruffled when he is reunited with his dad and forced to play "The Hat Game" in order to get advice from his dad for the case.
- Shawn and Gus are hilarious. Shawn sneaks into Gus' apartment and makes himself a cup of coffee, and Gus runs into the room, pharmaceutical sales case held up, ready to whack whoever's intruding. Not to mention, Gus' Lamaze breathing when he gets frustrated with Shawn's antics and Shawn's faux-serious response, "Just let me know when the contractions are two minutes apart."
- We get to see Shawn's incredible marksmanship when he goes to the shooting range with Lassiter's soon-to-be-transferred partner, Lucinda. Her face is priceless when she discovers that Shawn didn't miss, but instead matched every single one of her bullet holes on the target sheet. This is one of the precious few moments of the show that we get to see this incredible skill.
Pilot - Season 1, Episode 1
The pilot episode is a must-see because it sets the stage for eight seasons of psychic-ness, crime solving and shenanigans. This is where we find out from the flashback at the beginning of the episode about Shawn's amazing deductive skills.
After Shawn lies to the police, telling them he's psychic, Chief Vick asks him to consult on a case where Camdem McCallum, son of one of the richest men in Santa Barbara and heir to the McCallum fortune has been kidnapped. Shawn drags Gus onto the case and in this extra-long pilot episode, they find themselves working against Head Detective Carlton Lassiter to figure out who the kidnapper is.
At the end of the episode, Shawn reveals to Gus that he's leased a building to become their new private psychic detective agency: "Psych". Gus is not impressed, but he goes along with it anyway.
And thus, the stage is set.
Gus: You named your fake detective agency "Psych"? Why not just call it, "Hey, We're Fooling You and the Police Department, Hope We Don't Make a Mistake and Someone Dies Because of It"?
Shawn: First of all, Gus, that name is entirely too long. It would never fit on the window. And secondly, the best way to convince people you're not lying to them is to tell them you are.
- The scene where Shawn and Gus take Nigel St. Nigel to Henry's house is one of the funniest in Psych history. Henry Spencer isn't a man to walk on his tiptoes around anyone, even the rich and famous, especially if they're rude like this particular house guest. Nigel insults his homemade table, his steaks, and wears Henry's fluffy white bathrobe without permission, causing the two to almost come to blows and the audience to nearly break a rib laughing.
- Emilina Saffron's infatuation with the awkward Lassiter is brilliantly done and absolutely hysterical. She really is a funny character, pitiful as she and her unfortunate drug addiction is, and she is the dead opposite of Lassie - which is what makes their one-sided "romance" so great (especially when Lassiter begins to reciprocate just the tiniest bit).
- Juliet's dance lesson and Shawn and Gus' subsequent performance. Juliet is so fun and peppy, but she doesn't take any crap from either of her pupils, and she absolutely exhausts Shawn and Gus when teaching them how to dance. And their performance of "Shout" at the end was brilliant, right down to Nigel St. Nigel's closing comment, "Why don't you save us all the trouble and just euthanize yourselves?" This episode is the epitome of what Psych is all about!
American Duos - Season 2, Episode 1
There are a lot of things in this episode that make it awesome, from the American Idol spoof theme, Shawn and Gus's rendition of Tears for Fears' "Shout" dressed as Roland Orzabal and Michael Jackson respectively, to a drug-addicted American Duos judge with a strange attraction to Lassiter, to the crazy stalker fan who does a "solo" duet act. But there is one penultimate factor that makes this episode one of the best is the hilarious Tim Curry starring as Nigel St. Nigel, the obnoxious, self-absorbed, rude, and just plain mean judge of the show whose life is constantly threatened by an unknown enemy. This already awesome concept is just made better by Shawn and Gus' going undercover as contestants on the show in order to find out who is trying to kill Nigel St. Nigel - a task made all the harder when everyone, even Shawn and Gus themselves, can't stand the man!
Nigel St. Nigel: You're stiff. Inarticulate. Slightly jaundiced. Asymmetrical. You smell. The one on the right, there's something in your teeth. All in all, I'd say there's absolutely nothing worthwhile about either one of you.
Singer: But... we haven't even sang yet.
Nigel St. Nigel: Apples and oranges. Anybody else?
Emilina Saffron: [slurred] I like 'em.
Nigel St. Nigel: Well, of course you like them, you've been asleep for the last forty-five minutes. Zapato?
Zapato Dulce: Well, I...
Nigel St. Nigel: Good. Moving on.
- I think it's because Shawn is such a closed-off person when it comes to emotions, but it's always great to see a deeper, more emotionally driven side of him where he isn't making stupid jokes and acting like a jerk in order to hide his true feelings. This is exactly what this episode does, especially at the end when he finds out exactly how his parents' divorce came about, and the flashback of Shawn's arrest at the beginning - as ridiculous as teenage Shawn being played by James Roday with an earring and a bad wig was - along with the strained relationship with him and his father, just made this episode perfect.
- The plot twist and the culprit - don't worry, I won't spoil it - make this surprising episode one of the best. It might just blow your mind.
- Lassiter's being forced to see a psychologist and said psychologist being Shawn's mom, and the look on his face when he finds out who her son is just great!
Ghosts - Season 3, Episode 1
Shawn's perfect little world seems to be falling apart as his mother comes back for an unexpected visit and his dad is fawning all over her, not to mention, Gus' boss has given him an ultimatum: leave Psych, or lose your job at the pharmaceutical company. And Gus chooses his "real" job over Psych. But then a higher-up at Gus' work starts experiencing strange occurrences at his house, and he comes to Shawn and Gus asking them to find out what's going on with this haunting. Shawn eagerly accepts, determined that in their solving the mystery, the boss will let Gus keep his job at Psych and everything will be back the way it was.
Chief Vick: It has come to my attention, Detective, that you've discharged your weapons in the last four cases you've worked.
Lassiter: Thank you.
Chief Vick: That wasn't a compliment.
Lassiter: I'm just trying to keep the streets safe, Chief.
Chief Vick: The last incident was at a cat show.
Lassiter: Well, let me just go on record as saying that I would never shoot a cat.
Chief Vick: I guess I could find some solace in that.
Lassiter: Unless it was approaching in a threatening manner... or refused to stop upon my command. I would probably just fire a warning shot to make my point, but that's really a field decision. I can't commit to it at this juncture.
- Shawn's blind adoration and faith in his uncle is adorable. Even at 30-ish years old, he still looks up to his swashbuckling uncle, and when Jack shows his true colors, it's heartbreaking but awesome to see Shawn's hero-worship for the man sink a bit. This is one of those character development moments that makes this show what it is.
- Every moment of Henry, Shawn, Gus, Lassiter, Vick and Juliet in the interrogation room is pure gold. So funny!
- I love when Shawn shows he's not as dumb as he likes to make himself out to be when he figures out a major clue using the Argentina Spanish dialect he picked up when he lived there for a while. He's not just a pretty face and an endearingly large nose, after all!
The Greatest Adventure in the History of Basic Cable - Season 3, Episode 4
Another family member of Shawn's is introduced in this fabulous, National Treasure-Indiana Jones-esque episode of Psych. Shawn's Uncle Jack is a treasure hunter and adventurer, and he comes to Santa Barbara with a bunch of goons on his tail, enticing Shawn and Gus with tales of Bouchard's buried treasure and the riches and adventure they'll find if they go after it. Henry gets dragged into the hunt too, reluctantly, and soon they're all neck-deep in a treasure hunt that involves the treasure of a "syphilitic sea dog," shoe-eating quicksand, the Mexican government, and some really bad guys with guns. This is absolutely an episode you don't want to miss.
Chief Vick: Now, Mr. Spencer...
Shawn and Henry: Yes?
Chief Vick: Oh, I meant the older... sorry, not "old", less...
Shawn: Handsome? Less hair? Less friends on Facebook?
Henry: Less nose?
- The "bromance" between Shawn and Lassiter in this episode showcases what a complicated relationship the two have and the begrudging respect that is between them - even if neither one of them will admit it.
- The depressed Lassiter driving Henry crazy was one of the greatest moments in all of season three. Lying on the couch, watching reruns of Cops, drinking out of the carton and getting on Henry's last nerve is hilariously appropriate for this episode.
- We get our first real dose of "Shawn whump" in this episode, and it's great to see an injured and kidnapped Shawn still shooting his mouth off at the bad guy and then getting pistol whipped. Upon further reflection, I realize that sounded kind of terrible. I'm just saying that putting Shawn in this kind of situation is a nice change of pace, and that it really shows how brave and/or stupid he is to respond the way he does in his predicament. Plus, I like whump.
Lassie Did a Bad, Bad Thing - Season 3, Episode 11
When Lassiter is framed for murdering a prisoner in the police station, Shawn takes it upon himself to prove the detective's innocence and get his job back. This proves to be more difficult than he anticipated, however, with a depressed Lassiter skulking around their investigation and all the evidence pointing to him, but Shawn is determined to make this right and help Lassie, which is kind of mind-blowing for Lassiter considering the ongoing feud between the "psychic" and head detectives.
Shawn: Of course we'll help you. You're like our brother.
Shawn: Weird kid who lives down the street and eats nothing but mayonnaise on Saltines?
- When Shawn calls Juliet to tell her about the strange goings-on at the camp and she arrives to find him hiding in the closet. He then tells her to go back out and come in again, so he can appear more manly and not be hiding when she walks in. Cute and hilarious!
- The fight scene at the end with Shawn, Gus, the bad guy, and a pool noodle at the abandoned pool in a violent storm is wonderfully done - funny, scary, and exciting!
- The Lassiter sub-plot in this episode is heartbreaking as he goes to meet with his ex-wife with the intentions of trying to win her back and instead he finds out she's asked to meet him in order to get him to sign the divorce papers. It feels like the crazy knife-wielding guy from Camp Tikihama has plunged that knife right into your own heart as you watch! Poor Lassie!
Tuesday the 17th - Season 3, Episode 15
In this clever parody of Friday the 13th, Shawn and Gus are approached from an old camp buddy, Jason, who wants to reopen their old Camp Tikihama. He tells the eager Gus and slightly jealous Shawn that one of his counselors has gone missing and asks them to look into the disappearance. What follows is a hilariously scary sequence of events in which people begin to disappear one by one, a creepy, bicycle riding caretaker is found dead in the lake, and a machete wielding masked psychopath tries to take out everyone at camp. Yikes!
Gus: You must be out of your mind if you think for one second I'm going out there. I've seen enough slasher movies to know that when a brother goes out to the woods, he doesn't even sorta come back.
Shawn: LL Cool J made it all the way through Deep Blue Sea.
Gus: That was in the water, Shawn. With sharks. And Sam Jackson's ass still got swallowed whole.
- Vulnerable Shawn is dominant in these three episodes, and as I've mentioned before, seeing Shawn without his suit of armor (humor and sarcasm) is always a treat. James Roday plays angry, hurting, and scared Shawn perfectly, and it's always well worth it to see the facade of invincibility slip away.
- The seriousness and darkness of these episodes is pure gold. Yes, even though there are some truly hilarious moments, all three of these are much darker and foreboding than other episodes, which is what makes them, in my opinion, so compelling. We're getting to see the other side of the Psych universe, and it's fascinating.
- Through the development of this trilogy, we get to see Shawn and Henry's relationship strengthen and progress in ways that father and son never dreamed. As a sucker for father-son goodness, these episodes are prime examples of how even the most dysfunctional relationships are not beyond hope as Shawn comes to depend, confide in, and count on his dad more and more and Henry strives to protect and comfort his son during the impossibly dark times. Beautiful character and relationship development.
The Yin/Yang Trilogy - Season 3, Episode 16; Season 4, Episode 16; Season 5, Episode 16
I know, I know. I'm cheating. I'm rolling three episodes into one. But they are, after all, a trilogy, and you can't have one without the others, so I'm sticking with my guns on this one. If you never watch any other episode of Psych, these are the three episodes that you MUST SEE!
An Evening With Mr. Yang: Shawn's amazing psychic detective track record has been discovered and he is targeted by the notorious serial killer, Mr. Yang, who only surfaces when he feels he has a worthy opponent. Everything Shawn knows is tested in this episode as the people he cares about are targeted and he tackles a case scarier and more overwhelming than he's ever had before.
Mr. Yin Presents...: When a waitress who served Shawn his pie at a diner is found dead, it's revealed that Mr. Yang has a partner, Mr. Yin, who now goes after Shawn and his loved ones using the theme of Alfred Hitchcock films. This ultimately leads up to a heartbreaking choice: Juliet and Abigail are both in mortal peril, but he can only save one of the women he cares most about in the world.
Yin 3 in 2D: In the finale, a girl who claims to have been kidnapped by Mr. Yin comes to the station, and Shawn is thrown headfirst yet again into the deadly world of the deranged serial killer. At the culmination of the plot, Shawn and Gus find themselves prisoners of Mr. Yin in an impenetrable house and their only hope for survival the one who started it all: Mr. Yang.
Shawn: Yeah, forget that. I'm-I'm not going.
Juliet: What do you mean?
Shawn: I'm nobody's puppet, OK? I'm done I'm done playing his little game. I solved his puzzles, I talked to a rat, I even chased a train. I'm-I'm finished.
Mary Lightly: But no one's ever gotten this far. That's why he's still playing. It's a sign of respect.
Shawn: No, it isn't, Mary. You said it man, with your fey name, and your weird Ken Burns haircut, he's too good. Isn't that right? He's better than me. We never had a chance! He's gonna kill that girl either way.
Juliet: Maybe, maybe not, Shawn, but I know this: you don't just give up.
Shawn: Tell you what, Jules. Uh, the next time a serial killer calls you out, personally, uh, you can pick up your little pom-poms, and you can rally the troops to "never say die." I'm out. Now get out.
- SHAWN WHUMP!!! ... Ahem. Yes, there is quite a lot of Shawn whump in this episode. Again, it's always intriguing to see Shawn in a situation in which he has absolutely no control, he's scared, vulnerable and injured, but he still makes sarcastic comments and ultimately drives his abductors crazy.
- Henry and Lassiter's team up is hilarious. I love how determined Henry is to find Shawn, how worried he is about his son - you can just see it in his eyes as well as his words and actions. Lassiter's concerned too, and you can also tell, although he hides it a little better. It's sweet, nevertheless.
- The whole car chase/rescue scene, no matter how unrealistic some parts might have been, was stellar: Shawn and Gus' back-and-forth about who was going to be Paul Walker, Shawn's daring leap from the back of the kidnapper's truck to the hood of Lassie's new car, the amazing showcase of his shooting skills as he takes out the bad guy's engine with a few well-placed shots from the hood of a car going 70 mph, and especially the touching father/son reunion at the end (short as it may be) completely make this episode a success. The only complaint I have is we didn't get a hospital scene. Dang episode time limit.
Shawn Takes a Shot in the Dark - Season 4, Episode 9
In this dark, exceptional episode, Shawn bites off more than he can chew in a case involving an ice cream truck (yum!) and ends up getting shot in the shoulder and kidnapped by the bad guys. Held hostage by the mean bad guy and the somewhat mean but mostly sympathetic bad guy in an abandoned gas station, Shawn has no choice but to wait for rescue. And rescue is on its way - Henry and Lassiter team up as well as Juliet and Gus in order to find their wayward psychic before Shawn ends up getting shot (fatally this time) because of his bad habit of shooting his big mouth off at the bad guys. This is an incredibly intense episode!
Shawn: Whoa! Look at you, buddy! You're like Vin Diesel!
Gus: That makes Jules Michelle Rodriguez and you Paul Walker.
Shawn: This is no good!
Gus: Don't worry, Shawn! You're going to be all right!
Shawn: I know, I'll be fine! I just really don't want to be Paul Walker! Not even for one day!
Gus: You could be Lucas Black from Tokyo Drift, but then we wouldn't be in the movie with you!
Shawn: That's weird. I'll... I'll just be Walker. Get ready, buddy, I'm going to jump on your hood!
Gus: You must be out of your damn mind! This is a company car! Jump on Lassiter's!
- Pierre Despereaux. Enough said.
- Shawn's determination that Despereaux isn't dead is so well played. I love that Shawn has never been able to handle death and his reaction to the reality of the death of someone he cares about is touching and heartbreaking. James Roday plays this side of Shawn exceptionally.
- The fact that Shawn spends much of the episode dressed up as Indiana Jones is endearing, and absolutely awesome. Can we say fan boy?
Indiana Shawn and the Temple of the Kinda Crappy, Rusty Old Dagger - Extended Version - Season 6, Episode 10
Pierre Despereaux is a charming art thief played by the amazing Cary Elwes, who appeared first in season four, then again in season five, and who appears once more in season eight. Shawn has a bit of a man-crush on him. And who wouldn't? He's ridiculously cool! In this episode, Despereaux takes Shawn and Gus along on an Indiana Jones style adventure for the hidden treasure of a long-dead painter. But when plans go sour and Despereaux appears to have been killed, Shawn, who can't handle death, takes it upon himself to prove that his thieving hero is still alive, and to find the treasure.
Shawn: This can't - this can't be right.... He's dead. He's... ah... I've never - I've never lost anyone close to me before. In my entire life. ... How stupid sad is this? People die. It's awful. And unfair. And...and... Gus is going to die!
Gus: I'm not going to die, Shawn.
Shawn: You are. Soon. Definitely before me if statistics prove correct. Which is so wrong, because I'm practically asking for it.
Gus: [sobs] People are going to miss me so much.
Shawn: My dad said this would happen. I guess I was wrong, and I should say that now because God knows your minutes are severely limited. [sobs into the shoulder of the minister officiating the funeral]
- The narrator. The whole musical framed as if the story is being read to us from a book by an unknown but hilarious narrator who does hysterical things like accidentally ripping a page of the book and then Scotch taping it back together because it will drive him crazy if he doesn't! The narrator is revealed at the end, and this just makes the whole thing better!
- The singing is exceptional. The actors and actresses are the ones singing, and they are all so very talented. Not only this, but the orchestra - all original music, by the way - is incredible and the songs very catchy!
- Yang returns! This just solidified the fact that this is one of the best episodes in Psych history!
Psych the Musical - Season 7, Episodes 15 & 16
Yes, I know. Technically, I'm cheating again. But not really, since these two are really just one big, extra long musical episode. That's right. Musical episode. Packed with music, singing, dancing, and murder, this incredible musical follows the story of "Z", a dishonored playwright who has been locked up in an insane asylum after his Jack the Ripper play was ruined when he burned down the play house with a critic still inside. When he escapes and Shawn and Gus are hired to find him, Shawn's not convinced that Z is a killer and he sets off to find the truth, clear Z's name, with the help of Yang, who was Z's confidante in the asylum.
Gus: I'm just saying, the show seems a little white.
Ben Skyler: It's set in London. In 1888.
Gus: So what are you saying? Black people hadn't been invented yet?
- Lassiter's motivational speech to the police department is just hilarious. Apparently, his name is Carlton Danger Lassiter. But not really, because his middle name is Jedidiah... and he's going to protect Santa Barbara until he goes down in a firestorm... hailstorm... whatever-storm of bullets. Priceless.
- Lassiter and Marlowe are having a baby! Lassie's going to be a daddy!
- Shawn's idea to become a life coach and his subsequent attempts to get Lassiter back on his feet are so funny, and wonderfully done! Seize the day!
S.E.I.Z.E. the Day - Season 8, Episode 2
Lassie's having a baby! Well, his wife Marlowe is, but that's neither here nor there. In this rib-tickling episode, Lassiter finds out that he's going to be a daddy and begins to fall victim to bouts of terrible fear as he doesn't want his little baby to become fatherless. Meanwhile, as Shawn and Gus help him solve a series of murders that seem to point to an angry guy going on a rampage against all the people who have wronged him, Shawn gets the wrong idea and thinks that Lassie's got a terminal disease. When he convinces Gus and Juliet of his conclusion, everyone starts walking on eggshells around the nervous Lassiter, causing things to just get crazier.
Shawn's life coaching advice: Guess what the S in SEIZE stands for?: SEIZE S stands for Speak Up, because everyone knows that words are much louder than actions... E stands for Eggs. As in “you gotta brake a few, in order to make an omelet, or pancakes, or muffin tops, or dijonnaise, ’cause there is eggs in everything, and I right Gus? ... I stands for I don’t know. Or mhmm. Because sometimes, believe it or not Lassie, is super sweet to not know... Z stands for Zebra. You need to embrace your stripes, because they are black and they are white, and they are zig-zaggy... E stands for Eighties. I’m talking about the 1980′s. The greatest decade in all time. Fashion, republicans, Apollonia, Vanity. So the next time you’re looking around this stink farm and you are thinking to yourself “My beard is delicious, but my life is horrible," I want you to go into the abscesses of your mind and think about the eighties, ’cause you know what you are gonna find? You’re gonna find a hot dog on a stick.
- The Shawn and Henry moments - especially where Shawn hugs his dad and Henry says, "I love ya, kid." Perfect!
- The way that Shawn says goodbye to everybody, and the reactions that he gets. Lassie broke the DVD before Shawn could tell his secret! I knew he and Shawn were buddies! And this mysterious Dobson we've heard about the whole show but have never seen turns out to be played by Shawn's (and James Roday's) hero, Val Kilmer. How awesome is that?
- The way that (almost) everybody ends up back together, albeit in a different city in the end is just wonderful. This is one of the only shows that has had a truly happy ending that ties up all the loose ends and gives everyone a happy ever after - even Buzz McNab! This is a beautiful, funny, sweet, wonderful, perfect ending to this incredible show. This episode is most definitely one of the best and a must, must, must-see!
The Break-Up - Season 8, Episode 10
Unlike the pilot episode, this one isn't listed simply because it's the last episode. This is a must-see episode because it is one of the best episodes of Psych ever. Shawn has decided that he's going to close up Psych and move to San Francisco to be with Jules, but he can't figure out how to tell Gus. As he's trying to figure out how to "break up" with his best friend, he and Gus work on their last case with the department to try to figure out who killed a guy who left his business partner and best friend for a better opportunity (sound familiar... Shawn?), who killed a hit man, and who killed some other random guy, and how they are all connected. While it's a good mystery, it's not one of the best on the show, but it's the characters, the development, the tears and the laughs, that make this final episode one of the greatest of all time.
Shawn: Gus, you're clearly not accounting for the possibility of the Lost City of Atlanta.
Shawn: Well I've heard it both ways.
Gus: And they're both wrong.
Shawn: One of them was yours!