“Blue Bloods” has proven itself to be a show that stands the test of time. Over the course of its many seasons, the celebrated CBS series follows Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) and the rest of his family as they deal with life on the force. The show boasts a uniquely flexible tone, vacillating between hard-hitting crime story, emotional family drama, and even shades of comedy. With the help of their vivid chemistry, the cast of “Blue Bloods” manages to weave this tonal tapestry into a coherent whole. But that doesn’t mean “Blue Bloods” is flawless. Far from it, in fact — some episodes veer into seriously cringeworthy territory.
From terrible plotlines to odious characters, “Blue Bloods” has its fair share of flaws. Though fans love to watch the Reagan family, even their good will can’t mask these slip-ups. Childish jokes get no laughs, questionable narratives culminate in frustrating ways, and awkward mishaps are a dime a dozen. Which of these poorly thought-out scenes are the worst of the worst? Brace yourself — we’re about to find out. These are the most cringeworthy “Blue Bloods” moments, ranked.
12. Danny’s fake call (All the News That’s Fit to Click)
As far as “Blue Bloods” episodes go, Season 6’s “All the News That’s Fit to Click” is up there with the most chaotic. Jamie (Will Estes) and Eddie (Vanessa Ray) start the episode riding with a reporter who isn’t willing to let things go by. This leads to him getting shot in the back of the patrol car. Meanwhile, Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is left to deal with the fallout, made more complicated by the fact that the victim refuses to tell him anything. In an effort to hunt down the suspected shooter by luring them somewhere they can easily be arrested, Danny places a fake call. He claims to work with the New York Mets, and tries to offer the criminal a luxury suite at any home game of their choice.
This is a moment that, on paper, seems likely to land laughs. However, there’s little humor to be found in Danny’s delivery or choice of tale. Simply put, his deception is laughably unconvincing, even for something made up on the fly. In 2015, we already knew better than to answer voicemails from unknown numbers promising obviously fake prizes and rewards. Moreover, if the suspect isn’t a baseball fan, the victim will be toast! So why the heck does Danny think this is a genius plan? It’s so bad, it calls his investigative skills into question — something that doesn’t exactly do his already-tarnished reputation any favors.
11. Erin makes fun of Anthony (Your Six)
By the time Season 8’s “Your Six” airs, Erin (Bridget Moynahan) and Anthony (Steve Schirripa) have a pretty good thing going. Throughout the show’s run, this pair works together on numerous occasions. Little by little, they grow to lovingly tolerate each other’s banter. In this episode, the drama centers around Erin’s reconciliation with her ex, Jack Boyle (Peter Hermann). She keeps this firmly under wraps, but all is revealed when someone backs into Anthony’s car on the way to work. “That car is important to me, Erin,” Anthony fumes. “And now it’s smashed because some jerk was too busy playing kissy-poo with some tomato instead of paying attention to where the hell he was going.”
Not only is Anthony’s choice of words cringeworthy, Erin’s response is also unnecessarily demeaning. “I left my English-to-Brooklyn dictionary at home,” she quips. Although we can mostly forgive Anthony — he’s basically in a state of shock — Erin’s words are an entirely different kind of cringe. After all, it’s Jack’s car that hits Anthony’s in the first place. Erin has clearly gotten herself in too deep, and it’s not a good look on her. The only saving grace is the fact that Jack’s colleague was the one behind the wheel, meaning Anthony must eventually apologize with his tail between his legs.
10. The officers break out into song (Tangled Up in Blue)
“Blue Bloods” may be one show, but it contains multitudes. It’s a showcase of family fights, a stage for emotional theatrics, and an unexpected comedic masterclass. But something fans never expected the program to become is a musical. In Season 12’s “Tangled Up In Blue,” “Blue Bloods” takes on that very guise. When Jamie’s badge is removed after he’s caught driving under the influence, he makes it his mission to save his career — and his own well-being. Eventually, critical camera footage reveals he wasn’t actually part of a car accident. He returns to his role, and his officers are only too pleased to welcome him back. Breaking into a rendition of “Because I Got High,” Jamie slaps a grimace on his face and gets back to work.
This is an odd choice for a number of reasons. This song almost seems to make a mockery of the serious situation Jamie finds himself in, while the officers’ rendition of it is cringe-y enough to resemble one of the worst episodes of “Glee.” Simply put, it tries way too hard to be cool and funny. Such a drastic change in tone doesn’t really suit the characters or the show. What’s more, this storyline raises more questions than it answers, leaving Jamie’s potentially pro-substance line of thinking up for significant scrutiny.
9. Baez impersonates Erin (Something Blue)
Is picking on people’s physical appearances in the name of a good time still funny? According to “Blue Bloods,” it definitely is. In the Season 9 finale “Something Blue,” all eyes are on Jamie and Eddie’s wedding — yet the cringe in question comes from the rest of the Reagan family. When Danny and Baez (Marisa Ramirez) are sent to their latest crime scene, they’re confronted with an unknown dead man lying on a bed. After poring over the evidence they have (which doesn’t amount to much), the pair realizes they must go to Erin for a warrant. Both officers end up performing mocking impressions of Erin, going so far as to put on a fake pair of glasses and mimic her speech.
As far as humor goes, these scenes feel pretty low-brow and borderline mean. For a show that wants to take family, crime, and life on the force seriously, resorting to openly childish humor isn’t exactly the best look. Yet Danny finds the whole thing hilarious, which can either be explained by a brotherly need to humiliate his sister or just a really disappointing taste in jokes. We never know what to expect from an episode of “Blue Bloods,” but we do know that watching fully-grown adults pretend to be each other is something we’d rather not see again.
8. Banksy or Spanky? (Baggage)
Pranks never go down too well on “Blue Bloods,” even when they’re orchestrated by an unknown assailant. In the Season 5 episode “Baggage,” Jamie and Eddie discover an abandoned duffel bag and immediately call in the bomb squad. But in the end, the bag turns out to contain nothing but an inflatable piece of art. After some investigation, it turns out that the artist behind this piece is known on the street as Spanky. This moniker divides Garrett (Gregory Jbara) and Gormley (Robert Clohessy) regarding how serious the matter truly is.
As savvy fans immediately realize, the name Spanky is a play on the famously anonymous street artist Banksy. This isn’t exactly a clever bit of wordplay, rendering the name itself cringeworthy. But the bigger cringe comes from the police top dogs, who try their hardest to make jokes about the guerilla artist. Garrett and Gormley come off especially badly here, as they fight over who gets to claim the catch of the day. Superficial jokes like “Sorry, did you want his autograph?” leave a truly embarrassing aftertaste. In the end, Garrett is left feeling the heat as Gormley turns out to be right. Taken as a whole, the scene just doesn’t cut the mustard in terms of humor or character development. Stick to the hardline police work, okay boys?
7. Danny’s breakfast (Unfinished Business)
Out of the entire Reagan family, Danny has the biggest share of ups and downs. In the Season 4 episode “Unfinished Business,” he spends most of his time tracking down an army veteran with suspected PTSD with Maria’s help. Even before the bulk of the action kicks off, we see Danny as he truly is: A man in the midst of total chaos, led by a heart of gold. Intent on making his family breakfast, he promises his kids smiley-face pancakes. But he only pours out enough pancake batter for the eyes and a haphazard smile. These breakfast frowns definitely don’t turn upside-down.
It’s a heartwarming moment, but it’s also one that makes his kids cringe, and, by extension, the audience. The little ones even tell Danny that the pancakes look like they’re in a bad mood. Danny is left feeling like he’s unable to do anything right, and we can’t help but feel sorry for him. Granted, this is how the show wants us to feel. But the fact is, the scene is still incredibly difficult to sit through without cringing. Watching him try so hard to deliver something so mediocre is simply painful. Many fans can’t help but feel the urge to take the batter into their own hands and make the pancakes themselves.
6. An entirely cringeworthy episode (Times Like These)
When a show has been on the air for over a decade, as is the case with “Blue Bloods,” it’s hardly surprising that little details get lost along the way. But when it comes to Season 12’s “Times Like These,” the lack of narrative effort on display is simply excruciating. When Frank makes a public arrest that ends up going viral, the tension between him and Mayor Chase (Dylan Walsh) quickly escalates. Meanwhile, Eddie lies to Jamie about how she ended up in the hospital, and a black envelope makes its way through the family that nobody wants anything to do with. These arcs are all pretty weak unto themselves, but the fact that none of them ultimately make sense stands as the episode’s most cringeworthy facet.
As reported by Country Living, when “Times Like These” first aired, fans were quick to comment on their cringed-out confusion. The storyline between Frank and the mayor earned particularly scrutiny as a goofy and nonsensical detour. Many views also commented on how different the family acts in this episode, when compared to their usual personalities. When people are fans of a long-term show, they tend to remember its most important details. Such laziness makes a mockery of their support. As this entire episode is a cringeworthy moment in and of itself, it’s probably best for fans to draw a line through it altogether and do their best to forget.
5. Erin tries speed dating (Righting Wrongs)
Even at the best of times, dating can be an absolute cringe-fest. This is definitely the case for Erin in Season 4’s “Righting Wrongs.” In fact, she takes things a step further by trying out speed dating. For long-term fans of the show, Erin’s unluckiness in love doesn’t come as much of a surprise. She begins “Blue Bloods” as a divorced single mother, and proceeds to be linked to romantic interests Charles (Bobby Cannavale), Jacob (Fred Weller), and Jack Boyle. Speed dating ramps this process up. The act is cringeworthy in and of itself — has anyone ever not felt awkward while speed dating? Moreover, it doesn’t really seem like the type of event stubborn and confident Erin Reagan would attend.
As the night unfolds, a whole new type of cringe makes itself known. Erin is quick to blow off Robert McCoy (Holt McCallany), only to learn that he’s going to be the defense attorney on her next case. Not only does she have to suffer the trauma of failed speed dating, she then has to take the embarrassment into work. It’s a low moment, even for the Reagan family.
4. Eddie and Badillo’s conflict (Reality Check)
Fans have been rooting for Eddie and Jamie to get together since the earliest episodes of “Blue Bloods.” But after their marriage is finally cemented at the end of Season 9, their relationship takes on a whole new set of challenges. In the Season 12 episode “Reality Check,” their beef comes in the form of Eddie’s new partner at work, Badillo (Ian Quinlan). Often vocal about what bothers him, Badillo goes off-piste when he subdues three robbers on his own. This causes an argument between him, Eddie, and Jamie. We soon learn that Badillo saw his last partner killed in front of him, which prompts his undesirable behavior.
But this tragedy isn’t the only reason Badillo can be difficult. One of the reasons he has his back up is the relationship between Eddie and Jamie. It’s pretty cringeworthy to watch anyone try and insert themselves into someone else’s relationship — it’s even worse when it undermines a woman at work. Ultimately, Jamie just wants the pair to work it out, and Eddie seems to agree to a temporary ceasefire. Sometimes “Blue Bloods” feels incredibly progressive … but not in this case.
3. Danny’s comedy routine (Inside Jobs)
As any “Blue Bloods” fan knows, Danny is completely unpredictable. Able to turn in incredible police work in one instance and let himself down the next, his live-wire personality is something that keeps many viewers watching. In the Season 3 episode “Inside Jobs,” he tries to take on the role of comedian. His approach starts out as chivalrous, as he’s inducting temporary partner Candice McElroy (Megan Boone), who’s served three tours in Afghanistan. After Jimmy is thrown out of a moving vehicle with rats in his pants, they embark on the case. But while talking to the paramedic, Danny rolls out a horrible little comedy routine, asking if the deceased had any identification or last words.
This doesn’t make the best impression on his brand-new partner. Instead of backing off, Danny chooses to double-down on his efforts by posing with the dead rat and saying cheese. It’s a disgusting move, which surely turns the stomachs of a significant chunk of the audience. This scene is a classic example of the writers trying too hard to be funny. No actual laughs are landed as a result of this “comedy.”
2. Drag Race meets the NYPD (Manhattan Queens)
Start your engines, and may the best officer win! “Blue Bloods” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” don’t seem like a natural match, but the producers manage to make it happen anyway. In the Season 4 episode “Manhattan Queens,” Danny and Baez investigate the murder of drag queen Tiffany Lamp, who was bothered by a club manager jealous of her engagement. The episode stars Season 5 “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Jinkx Monsoon, who talks to Danny about the night Tiffany was killed. Unfortunately, Tiffany’s demise may well be the highlight of the episode, as things get increasingly awkward.
Danny proclaims that he’s a fan of the show, yet others make jokes about him being a manly man. Informants dress up in femme fatale costumes, while the episode’s victim is portrayed as a stereotypical man, complete with a trilby. What makes things even more confusing is that Donnie Wahlberg himself directed this episode. If there ever was an obvious demonstration of someone clearly misunderstanding how to represent a community on-screen, this is it.
1. Angela’s treatment (USA Today)
Like all shows that have been on TV for an extended amount of time, “Blue Bloods” often attempts to accommodate the changing world in which it exists. Sometimes, it manages to pull this off. But other times, it doesn’t — and when it doesn’t, it’s a hard time for everyone. In the Season 12 episode “USA Today,” Gormley, Garrett, and Baker (Abigail Hawk) feel threatened by a new member of staff. The officer in question is Detective Angela Reddick (Ilfenesh Hadera), who is swiftly introduced and almost immediately demoted. “Blue Bloods” has been repeatedly criticized as racist and sexist by outlets like Interrobang, and fans were quick to call out this episode as an ugly example of such bigotry.
Though what happens to Angela is a direct parallel of what can happen to real-life officers, her scenes are seriously cringeworthy. “Not cool how Det [Reddick] was treated,” one Twitter user commented. “I’m disappointed beyond words!” said another. All in all, this leaves a sour taste in viewers’ mouths. If “Blue Bloods” wants to adapt with the times, this isn’t the way to do it.