Psych follows Shawn Spencer who has developed a keen eye for detail after being instructed by his police officer father to note even the most minute details of his surroundings. After Shawn calls in a tip on a crime to the police, he is accused of committing the crime. To try to clear his name, Shawn convinces the police that he is a psychic.
Shawn's relationship with his father is complicated and at times highly strained: Shawn's dad has even admitted that the only "constant" in Shawn's life was his childhood best friend, Gus, who has stuck by him loyally. Though often it may seem that Henry is intentionally aggravating or imposing his will on his grown son, it is usually revealed that his motives are genuine. When push comes to shove, Shawn's father is always there to back him up, whether it be providing advice on a case Shawn is stuck on or tracking down Shawn's kidnappers (both of which occur in multiple episodes), Henry is there.
Despite his obvious talent, Shawn has no interest in entering the police force, and after graduating from Leland Bosseigh High School in Santa Barbara, California, in 1995, takes up a string of random jobs selected strictly for his own enjoyment. He is shown to be a crack shot, hitting all of Detective Barry's bullet holes in a target with little experience and, at a later episode, disabling a suspect's truck during a chase while he was hanging from the hood of Lassiter's car. In his spare time, he entertains himself by calling in tips to the police hotline based on observations he has made on crime scenes shown in television news footage. After one such tip, the Santa Barbara police become suspicious of Shawn, whose information is so good that they believe it could only have come from an inside source. Desperate to avoid jail time, Shawn lies, explaining that he obtained the information in a psychic vision. Although initially skeptical, the department is impressed when he uses his "psychic" abilities to deduce that McNab was engaged to be married, that the secretary was "haunted" by her dead grandmother, that Lassiter was in a relationship with his partner (who only appears in the pilot episode and is immediately replaced in the next episode by his current partner Juliet), and to solve a vandalism case. They hire Shawn as a consultant. Burton Guster, Shawn's best friend from childhood hesitantly allows Shawn to recruit him, while Gus has pursued his career in pharmaceutical sales and they open their own psychic detective agency, "Psych".
Although Shawn and Gus often have disagreements, they have been friends since early childhood and the pair's bond as "unbreakable. It's one of those friendships that make people who don't have one ask, 'Why does Gus put up with Shawn?' It's not about putting up with one another. It's about knowing each other so well that things that might annoy someone from the outside don't annoy you anymore." Shawn knows exactly how to manipulate Gus, and often frustrates his friend with his antics, but has come to rely on him more in their case work as the series has progressed, Shawn has "evolved a lot" as a partner, moving away from "dragging Gus around by the collar against his will from case to case to case" toward a more equal partnership. Under Gus's influence, Shawn has "wisened up a little bit" and is learning to display a little more discretion at times. Shawn's growing maturity is especially notable in Season 3, Episode 16 "An Evening with Mr. Yang" the first of what would become a running plot concerning a serial killer who individually targets Shawn. In order to convince Shawn to play his game, Mr. Yang (who actually turns out to be female) kidnaps Shawn's mother. Shawn has trouble coping with the pressure of finding his mother and continues with his crazy antics but is unable to make any progress on the case. He opens up to Gus and viewers are able to witness a more mature version of Shawn rising to the situation. Shawn tells Gus that he needs his help, showing humility and maturity, and for the rest of the episode Gus, the normally calm one, becomes the crazy one so that Shawn is able to focus on the task at hand. At the end of the episode, after Shawn's mother has been found and Yang arrested, Juliet approaches Shawn informing him of how impressed she was by his maturity and says that she would like to go on a date with him. Shawn has been constantly hitting on Juliet for the past 4 seasons and every time Jules has refused to return his attentions. Shawn had at this point rather given up on Juliet and has moved on to Abigail, his high school sweetheart whom he is about to go on a date with at that very moment. Juliet says she understands, gives him a loving kiss on the cheek, and walks away. But after Abigail breaks up with him, saying she does not want to live a life of danger, he starts hitting on Juliet again, eventually falling in love with her. Shawn's seemingly random stream of consciousness often belies the far-reaching logical connections that his observational skills allow him to make. He explains the multiple-personality-afflicted Robert Dunn's condition to Gus by referencing The Flying Nun, which starred Sally Field, who played the similarly-affected title character in Sybil. He also hybridizes movie quotes voiced by James Earl Jones in two separate films (The Lion King and The Empire Strikes Back) when addressing a mountain lion: "Simba, I am your father." Running jokes on the show center around Shawn's love of Jerk Chicken and pineapples (even though he has a "distaste" for pointy objects), which he will often bring as a gift to people he is meeting for the first time; his frequent desire for Kit-Kat bars, his inability to set his cell phone to vibrate, even when spying or infiltrating the homes of suspects; his fondness for Val Kilmer; his love of Curt Smith and Tears for Fears; his comments on other people's hair; his difficulty in pronouncing certain words (such as "chassis"); mispronouncing or misquoting phrases (e.g. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Marzipan", "Abercrombie and Fletch") and after being corrected, claiming "I've heard it both ways" (this is usually intentional); his use of other people's property in his psychic "visions" (i.e. using O'Hara's scarf to cover his eyes, ripping out the paper tray of the printer belonging to Chief Vick, Gus's head); and, of course, the pseudonyms he makes up for Gus each time he questions a person of interest, often a reference to an obscure '80s movie, a combination of two or more celebrities' names, or something he created on the spot. Shawn is friends with the Santa Barbara Coroner, given they share a similar sense of humor.
A psychiatrist comments that Shawn has a narcissistic personality disorder, but this is up for debate, as Shawn always shares credit with others. After Shawn solves the case, Juliet says "Well played Shawn," and Shawn responds with "Well played everybody." Shawn very openly encourages Lassiter to go with his gut. Shawn very clearly wants Lassiter to solve the case. Shawn very obviously cares for the victims and wants to see justice.
Because Shawn isn't an official detective, he often has to resort to stealing, withholding evidence, obstruction of justice, tampering with evidence and witnesses, breaking and entering and numerous other crimes in order to solve a crime. Despite his high intelligence, Shawn does appear to have a poor grasp of history and other fields (assigned to write about a U.S. President, he wrote a paper on the fictional character from the movie "Dave" who he thought was real). He is also chided by Henry for not knowing all the details of a case beforehand (in one episode, Shawn is about to accuse an innocent man of murder before Henry stops him and reveals a detail Shawn would know from the case file he didn't read). Often, Shawn will accept a case without fully checking out the client or the details itself yet brush it off.
SHAWN ... IN HIS OWN WORDS
Capt. Crunch, Chief Inspector, The Amazing Psychman
What's an Anagram of Your Name?
What's on your playlist?
1. The Redwalls: Universal Blues
2. The 88s: Over and Over
3. Bob Schneider: The Californian
4. Luce: Never Ending
5. Sister Hazel: Absolutely
Favorite Album at Age 15:
The Smithereens: Blow Up
Three things I couldn't live without:
2. Aseptic packaging
3. Carbon Dioxide
What's your secret talent?
Anti-terrorist evasive driving.
What's the craziest thing I've ever done?
Told the truth.
Best American City:
Austin, Key West, New Orleans, Las Vegas – Please. Did you think I would choose only one?
Favorite Ice Cream Topping:
Describe Yourself in One Word
Now in Spanish:
Favorite Old Movie:
Name of Your Imaginary Band? What Instrument Do You Play?:
"The Shawn Spencer Situation" ... Lead Guitar
Dirty Little Secret:
I didn't read "The Da Vinci Code"
If You Had to Have a Girl's Name, What Would You Choose?
Your environmentally conscious invention:
The last thing that made me laugh out loud:
Gus. Walking into a screen door. An open screen door. Still not sure how he did it.
"Four out of five dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum."
Shawn Spencer Quotes
|Season 8 / Episode 10: - The Break Up|
Shawn Spencer: [saying his goodbye to Gus over a DVD video message] And so, I accept that this is my fatal flaw. I just can't quite engage all the way when I really need to. When it really matters, you know? When the chips are down. So I guess what I'm saying is that I'm sorry, Gus. I'm sorry that I can't do goodbyes. I tried so hard to tell you, man. I just... I just suck at the real stuff, you know that. You're gonna be fine. You're gonna be better than fine. I just can't help thinking that the only problem that you really had this whole time... is me. And I've kept you from the life you deserve, you know? The life that you've earned, the life that you'd have if I hadn't barged into your office eight years ago and said, "We're gonna play detective whether you want to or not." I love you, man.
|Season 8 / Episode 10: - The Break Up|
Shawn Spencer: [saying his goodbye to Lassiter over a DVD video message] Carlton Lassiter, Chief Lassie, The Lord of Sternbush. I am proud, honored, and baffled to call you my friend. But it's true. It's also true that you might be the only other person on the planet who loves Jules as much as I do, even though it's different. You've always had her back, and for that I feel I owe you more than the others, so, time to come clean. Regarding my methods and the way I solve cases, you're the only one that's ever suspected that, uh... The truth is, I am not- [Lassiter presses eject, snaps the DVD into pieces, and throws it into the garbage]
Shawn Spencer Photos
|Next: Burton 'Gus' Guster|