The police procedural, “Blue Bloods,” follows Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) and his family, who have been part of the law enforcement world for generations. The Reagans are police officers and lawyers by trade, but they are a family first and take their bonds and traditions seriously. One of the ways they stay connected is by having Sunday dinner together. These “Blue Bloods” dinner scenes are integral to every episode, and fans probably can’t imagine the show without them. They remind viewers that, even in today’s busy world, it’s essential to make time for those who matter most.
These scenes are some of the only instances where most of the central characters are together in one place, which presents some unique challenges. In an interview with CBS 58, Selleck explained that these family meals are some of the most challenging scenes to get right and often take as long as eight hours to film. However, despite the labor-intensive nature of the dinners, they’re an important part of the show’s legacy and set it apart from other procedurals. Although there have been countless great Sunday dinner scenes across the show’s tenure, each season has one that stands above the rest.
12. Exiles (Season 4, Episode 22)
Season 4’s “Exiles” sees Frank giving a speech to police academy graduates, an event which he spends much of the episode agonizing over but pulls off well. The end of the episode also treats viewers to a unique sight at the weekly family dinner. Instead of showing up in their usual civilian clothes, the Reagans attend their meal in full uniform. The family has a relatively subdued dinner, which is rare in this household full of strong and passionate personalities. They congratulate Frank on his speech, but the dinner is free of intense arguments or outlandish jokes.
The conversation is definitely less exciting and memorable than many of the other great dinner scenes in the series. Still, the visual impact of seeing the whole family in blue is impressive. For the first time since the beginning of the series, audiences witness the Reagans not only united in their familial bonds but united as police officers. This family dinner highlights just how important the world of law enforcement is to the Reagans’ legacy, especially for the third generation. Clearly, all three siblings have proudly followed in their father and grandfather’s footsteps. Although Erin (Bridget Moynahan) became a lawyer instead of a police officer, she looks right at home among her siblings.
11. Absolute Power (Season 6, Episode 2)
Some of the Reagan dinners may seem overly idealistic, but the Season 6 episode, “Absolute Power,” gives viewers a more relatable picture of the family. This dinner is one of the few in which most people can genuinely see a reflection of their own families: post-work exhaustion and worries about the future guide the conversation. The meal isn’t as warm and fuzzy as many others and includes awkward moments and a relatively tense final moment for Danny (Donnie Wahlberg). There’s no primary emotional anchor for this scene — it’s a slice of life amid stressful situations for many characters. Although this may not sound like a great meal, it’s a refreshing look at the other side of the family’s connection.
More importantly, this family dinner is a source of updates for major storylines that unfold throughout the season. For example, Erin bemoans the finer point of securing a judgeship, and Frank warns her against being too quick to assume there’s no catch. Meanwhile, Danny refuses to divulge any information about the serial killer case he has been working on recently. Whereas many Sunday dinners merely provide a satisfying conclusion to the episode, Danny’s cagey attitude hints at the difficulties he will face later.
10. Confessions (Season 7, Episode 9)
In the Season 7 episode, “Confessions,” Jamie (Will Estes) finds himself on the opposite side of the law after spending a night in a holding cell after a fight. At that week’s Sunday dinner, the rest of the Reagans trade stories about their own experiences with spending time in jail. Nicky (Sami Gayle) expresses relief that she isn’t the only family member with a prison stint under her belt, and Danny readily admits to his experience in prison as part of a “Scared Straight” program as a teen. Even Henry (Len Cariou) proudly recalls a weekend spent in jail with friends after a protest.
Of course, not every Reagan is as forthcoming about their prison time. Frank argues that the disciplinary action he faced as a Marine didn’t count as jail time, and Erin boasts that she is the only family member with a clean record. However, Frank shares a surprise: he is well aware of a youthful transgression that landed her in lock-up. Naturally, Erin is horrified by this discovery and demands to know which of her brothers shared this information with her father. This conversation is another hilarious instance of the third generation behaving like typical siblings and reminds audiences that none of the Reagans are perfect.
9. Moonlighting (Season 2, Episode 9)
No one at Sunday dinner is exempt from occasional jokes at their expense, so surviving in the Reagan family is only possible with a good sense of humor. In Season 2’s “Moonlighting,” the family spends their meal making light of a weird habit from Jamie’s childhood. Unfortunately, he shows up with a badly bruised face, the newest development in a dangerous undercover case. His young nephews are naturally curious about seeing their uncle in this condition, and Frank and Jamie share a joke about not giving his assailants the information they want.
This joke quickly spirals into a story about Jamie swallowing his brother Danny’s quarter collection as a child, which gets the whole table laughing. Unfortunately for Jamie, that’s only the beginning of his family making fun of him with silly tales of his penchant for inedible snacks. Erin reminds everyone of the time Jamie swallowed a special locket of hers, and the Reagans explode into laughter all over again. According to Frank, young Jamie even swallowed the key to the family liquor cabinet. The family’s ability to find humor in even the darkest situations makes them relatable, and this family dinner is an excellent example.
8. Meet The New Boss (Season 9, Episode 2)
Since their engagement in Season 8, Jamie and Eddie’s relationship has become an enjoyable aspect of the series for many viewers. Of course, they are not a perfect couple, but the buildup to their wedding is a significant highlight of Season 9. Eddie (Vanessa Ray) establishes herself as an excellent addition to the family, especially because she can understand the family’s unique brand of humor. A great example of this comes in the season’s second episode, “Meet The New Boss,” when the Reagans subject Eddie to some good-natured hazing regarding her upcoming wedding.
After Eddie cooks the Sunday dinner, the Reagans call a “code blue” at the table and take turns explaining their visions for Eddie’s wedding. It sounds like the family has every moment of her big day picked out, right down to her wedding dress. Many people would feel intimidated in this situation, but Eddie holds her own. She stands up to the family and insists that she will have the wedding she wants instead of blindly following their wishes. After she gives this impassioned speech, the Reagans reveal that a “code blue” is just a test for new family members and that Eddie passed with flying colors.
7. Happy Endings (Season 11, Episode 12)
The Reagans are an opinionated group, which often causes hilarious arguments and the trading of sarcastic jabs. Jack Boyle (Peter Hermann) isn’t exactly beloved by the family after his divorce from Erin, which is evident in the Season 12 episode, “Happy Endings.” Erin and Jack surprise the rest of the family by appearing together at Sunday dinner, immediately garnering judgmental looks from most of the table. Erin looks nervous when they enter the room, and her brothers quickly confirm her fears.
It’s obvious that the Reagan men haven’t gotten over Jack’s treatment of their sister, and their passive-aggressive behavior is both on-brand and entertaining. For example, Frank makes a hilarious attempt at sounding excited to see him, but it’s clear that Jack has an uphill battle to win his way back into the family’s good graces. Soon, the sarcasm reaches new heights when Jack accidentally reveals that he and Erin took a trip to Pennsylvania together. The whole scene is cringeworthy for Erin, but it’s hard not to laugh at her discomfort while Jamie and Danny poke fun at Jack. Surprisingly, Frank finds enough of a sense of civility to let Jack say the evening’s grace, an honor that he readily accepts.
6. Risk And Reward (Season 3, Episode 5)
As the family’s original patriarch, the Reagans can always count on Henry to provide helpful advice and uncensored opinions about their professional choices. In the Season 3 episode, “Risk And Reward,” the family celebrates a momentous occasion: the 60th anniversary of Henry’s first day as a police officer. This scene reminds viewers that, although he is long since retired, Henry’s influence on his family runs deep and has inspired all of his children to pursue their present-day careers.
After Henry spends the day on a nostalgic ride-along with Jamie, the family gathers for a Sunday dinner of pizza, beer, and amusing banter. One of the funniest moments in this scene comes from young Sean (Andrew Terraciano), who earns surprised looks from his family when he innocently admits that he’d like to be a firefighter instead of a police officer when he grows up. Nicky points out that the family has spent a combined 115 years as police officers, which makes Henry’s 60 years feel like an even more remarkable accomplishment. In the end, Henry blows out candles on his anniversary cake, his children toast his achievements, and his grandchildren volunteer to help serve the cake.
5. My Aim Is True (Season 8, Episode 22)
Jamie and Eddie’s connection lends intense chemistry to “Blue Bloods,” and fans of the couple finally get their wish in the Season 8 finale, “My Aim Is True.” Although bringing non-family to Sunday dinners is rare, Jamie makes an exception in this episode so that he and Eddie can deliver big news to the rest of the Reagans. When Jamie is late for dinner, the family first assumes that the young police officer is just following his usual habits. He shows up and requests an extra seat at the table while looking like it’s just a typical day and keeping his family in the dark.
Eddie’s entrance moments later is one of the most memorable family dinner moments. She and Jamie join hands while standing before the still-confused Reagans and announce that they are engaged. While most of the family look overjoyed on their behalf, Frank nearly ruins the mood by telling Eddie that she will have to transfer to a new precinct after the wedding. However, the young couple did their homework. Since the NYPD regulations don’t expressly forbid married officers from working together, the two vow to be partners both in life and in the line of duty. This promise is a touching start to the next chapter of their life together.
4. To Tell The Truth (Season 1, Episode 18)
As a talented and compassionate nurse, Linda (Amy Carlson) fits perfectly into the Reagan family. However, her storyline quickly grows tumultuous in Season 1, when she becomes a kidnapping victim. After her husband, Danny, spearheads a nail-biting rescue in the episode, “To Tell The Truth,” that week’s Sunday dinner becomes an emotional affair. Whereas much of the episode focuses on intense action scenes, the family meal at the end gives fans an early reminder of the strength of the Reagans’ bonds.
The scene gives viewers just enough sense of the family’s relief without being over dramatic. Naturally, Linda makes a beeline to her two young sons the moment she walks into the room, and the reunion is undeniably heartwarming. Even though the family let the boys believe she had just left to spend time at a spa, they are thrilled to have her back home. The whole family celebrates Linda’s return with kind words, warm smiles, and loving embraces. Frank even gives a touching speech about how fortunate he feels to have his entire family together. Linda takes on the task of saying grace before the meal, which is fitting after her harrowing ordeal.
3. Guilt (Season 12, Episode 16)
Sunday dinners often serve as a way for the family (and viewers) to decompress from an episode’s dramatic events. In these instances, the conversation is refreshingly light-hearted and doesn’t focus on their work. For example, the Reagan family members are all proud of their Irish heritage, which becomes the dinner theme in Season 12’s “Guilt.” This episode is also the show’s 250th, so it’s only appropriate that the family have something of their own to celebrate. Fittingly, this episode’s dinner scene features some St. Patrick’s Day family customs, but it also feels like a typical day of togetherness.
This dinner scene is also special because it appears to be Eddie’s first time enjoying St. Patrick’s Day with the Reagans. The festivities begin with Sean passing out four-leaf clovers to all the attendants, who each drop into a glass of whiskey. Eddie jokes about how the family doesn’t have a single member named Patrick, a traditional Irish name. The Reagans reveal that Erin was almost named Patrick because Frank believed she would be a boy, which generates some good-natured laughs around the table. The end of this scene is a warmly memorable moment, with the whole family reciting a traditional Irish blessing and toasting their four-leaf-clover whiskey.
2. The Art Of War (Season 5, Episode 22)
After surviving a gunshot wound, Linda has to spend Sunday in a hospital for Season 5’s “The Art Of War.” However, the Reagans don’t let her absence from the dinner table keep her from participating in their weekly tradition. With Danny by her side, Linda participates in the Sunday dinner banter via speakerphone. This scene is definitely not a traditional family meal and is one of the only instances when the core family isn’t together on a Sunday. Still, it is one of the most memorable in the series because of the generosity and camaraderie the Reagans display during this trying time in Linda’s life.
Danny and Linda have a dinner of typical hospital food before them, but they soon learn that the rest of the Reagans have prepared a special surprise. At home, the family enjoys a meal of takeout and their usual red wine, and a bag of takeout arrives at Linda’s hospital room during the conversation. The pack also includes a bottle of red wine for them to share, completing the meal. This moment is a lovely reminder of how dedicated the Reagans are to each other, and the gesture clearly touches Linda.
1. Family Secrets (Season 10, Episode 19)
Introducing a new character in a season finale can be risky, but the choice to do so in Season 10 of “Blue Bloods” creates an unforgettable dinner scene. The death of the fourth Reagan sibling, Joe, occurred before the series began, but it remains a tragic backdrop for many family events. In the episode, “Family Secrets,” Sunday dinner brings the family a small piece of their deceased brother. This episode is the surprisingly early finale of the season, which was cut short due to COVID-19 restrictions (via TVInsider). However, this episode’s dinner scene is the most emotional of the series and is a fitting end to the season.
After discovering a previously unknown family member through a DNA test, Sean invites the young man to dinner and introduces him to the family. Sean calls him “cousin Joe,” and the Reagans learn that he is their brother Joe’s long-lost son. Naturally, the family welcomes Joe Hill (Will Hochman) with open arms, and the young man looks overjoyed to meet his uncles, aunt, and cousins. It’s an especially emotional moment for Frank, who gets to meet a grandchild he never knew existed. Joe quickly becomes a likable character in subsequent seasons and, fittingly, is an NYPD detective just like his father before him.