Format Comedy-drama Detective Police procedural
Created by Steve Franks
Starring James Roday Dulé Hill Timothy Omundson Maggie Lawson Kirsten Nelson Corbin Bernsen
Opening theme "I Know You Know" by The Friendly Indians
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 79 (List of episodes)
Location(s) British Columbia
Running time 43 minutes
Original channel USA Network
Picture format 480i (SDTV)1080i (HDTV)
Original run July 7, 2006 (2006-07-07) – present


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Psych is an American detective comedy-drama television series created by Steve Franks and broadcast on USA Network. It stars James Roday as Shawn Spencer, a young crime consultant for the Santa Barbara Police Department whose "heightened observational skills" and impressive detective instincts allow him to convince people that he solves cases with psychic abilities. The program also stars Dulé Hill as Shawn's best friend and reluctant partner Burton "Gus" Guster, as well as Corbin Bernsen as Shawn's captious father, Henry.The series airs new episodes in the US on Wednesdays at 10PM ET/PT on USA Network. During the second season, an animated segment was added to the series titled "The Big Adventures of Little Shawn and Gus". Psych debuted on Friday, July 7, 2006, immediately following the fifth season premiere of Monk, and continued to be paired with the series until Monk's conclusion on December 4, 2009. It was the highest-rated US basic cable television premiere of 2006. The series has been picked up for a sixth season.


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Flashbacks begin most episodes. These flashbacks show that Henry Spencer wished that his son would follow in his footsteps and become a law enforcement officer. In preparation, Henry helps Shawn hone his powers of observation and deduction, often using games and challenges to test him. Each flashback also sets the theme for the episode, based on the challenge Shawn's father presents him.

Shawn originally becomes known as a psychic when, after calling in a tip on a crime covered on the news, the police become suspicious of his knowledge. Theorizing that such knowledge could only come from the "inside," they decide to arrest him as a suspect. To avoid being sent to jail, Shawn uses his observational skills to convince all present that he is psychic. The interim police chief warns Shawn that if his "powers" are fake, he will be prosecuted. With no choice but to keep up the act, he becomes a psychic consultant to the police. Pretending to have psychic powers allows him to engage in strange and comic behavior as he turns real clues into hunches and otherworldly visitations. He enjoys teasing lifelong friend Gus, a pharmaceutical representative, about Gus's eclectic interests.

Head detective Lassiter quietly respects Shawn's crime-solving skills but doubts his psychic abilities and is constantly exasperated by his antics. On the contrary, junior detective O'Hara and Chief Vick are far less antagonistic -- with Vick expressing belief in Shawn's abilities, while O'Hara is mum on the subject -- and usually willing to give Shawn the leeway he needs to solve cases. Henry and Shawn have a difficult relationship, but despite this, Henry reluctantly helps Shawn on various occasions.

Cast and characters

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The cast of Psych, from left to right: Maggie Lawson, Corbin Bernsen, James Roday, Kirsten Nelson, Dulé Hill, and Timothy Omundson.

Main characters

  • Shawn Spencer (James Roday) is a periodic consultant with the Santa Barbara Police Department, pretending to be a psychic. However, it is really his exceptional observational skills and eidetic memory that allow him to obtain his "visions." He refuses to take anything seriously. He has had romantic tension with Juliet since they met.
  • Burton "Gus" Guster (Dulé Hill) is Shawn's best friend and business partner. He also works in pharmaceuticals. Unlike Shawn, he takes his work very seriously, and usually tries to act professionally, yet usually ends up as invested in jokes and snacks as Shawn is. He is famous for his many aliases (usually given to him by Shawn), including "Magic Head," "Lavender Gooms," and "Control Alt Delete."
  • Carlton "Lassie" Lassiter (Timothy Omundson) is the head detective for the Santa Barbara Police Department. He is skeptical of Shawn's psychic abilities, and is extremely annoyed by Shawn's comic antics. However, he occasionally must come to Psych for help with his more difficult cases.
  • Juliet "Jules" O'Hara (Maggie Lawson) is a junior detective for the Santa Barbara Police Department, and is Lassiter's partner. Throughout the series she and Shawn share constant romantic tension, and the two start dating in season 5.
  • Chief Karen Vick (Kirsten Nelson) is the SBPD Chief. She is usually reluctant to hire Shawn and Gus for cases, but almost always gives in.
  • Henry Spencer (Corbin Bernsen) is Shawn's uptight and precise father and a former police sergeant. He is usually visited by Shawn with questions about various cases, but is usually reluctant to help. He has been rehired to the SBPD to be in charge of the department's consultants, much to Shawn's chagrin.

Recurring characters

  • Young Shawn (Seasons 1-5: Liam James; Seasons 5-present: Skyler Gisondo) is the younger version of Shawn Spencer. He is shown at the beginning of most episodes in flashbacks to the late 80's and early 90's, usually learning a life lesson from his father, which helps him later in the episode. He has also been portrayed in various episodes by Josh Hayden and Kyle Pejpar.
  • Young Gus (Carlos McCullers II) is the younger version of Burton "Gus" Guster. He is shown at the beginning of various episodes in flashbacks with Shawn. He was also portrayed by Isaah Brown during the first season.
  • Buzz McNab (Sage Brocklebank) is a naive but lovable cop who often provides Shawn and Gus with clues. Shawn gives him a "little boy cat" (who is actually a girl cat) that once helped him solve a case in season one. In "Shawn Gets the Yips" (4.05), McNab is severely injured when a bomb went off in his mailbox while he was getting his mail. Later in the episode, he returns to work with a severe concussion and on crutches, but alive; he remarks to Shawn and Gus that he had lost part of three toes, though. In the fourth season finale episode, "Mr. Yin Presents" (4.16), McNab is attacked and knocked unconscious by the unseen killer, otherwise known as Yin, but survives. He returns in season 5.
  • Madeleine Spencer (Cybill Shepherd) is a police psychologist who is Shawn's mother and Henry's ex-wife. In the episode "Ghosts" (3.01), she tells Lassiter that she has eidetic tonal memory, which is like Shawn's photographic memory but with sound. She appears in "Ghosts" (3.01), "Murder? ... Anyone? ... Anyone? ... Bueller?" (3.02), "An Evening with Mr. Yang" (3.16), and "Yang 3 in 2D" (5.16). She was portrayed over-the-shoulder by a different actress in "Shawn (and Gus) of the Dead" (2.16).
  • Abigail Lytar (Rachael Leigh Cook) is Shawn's high school crush, whom he let get away when he moved from, then back to, Santa Barbara and his parents got divorced. She first appears in "Murder? ... Anyone? ... Anyone? ... Bueller?" (3.02) and returns in "An Evening with Mr. Yang" (3.16), "He Dead" (4.02), "Bollywood Homicide" (4.06), and "You Can't Handle This Episode" (4.10). In "You Can't Handle This Episode", the winter half premiere of Season 4, Abigail departs for Uganda. She tells Shawn that it has been a life-long dream of hers and that she will be gone for 6 months or longer. Shawn clearly doesn't seem interested in going with her, so they share a goodbye kiss at the airport before Abigail leaves. However, she returns in the episode "Mr. Yin Presents" (4.16). After being kidnapped by Yin and saved by Shawn, she tells him she does not like danger and breaks up with him after the two share a final kiss.
  • Winnie Guster (Phylicia Rashad) is Gus' mother. She appears in the first two of the series' Christmas episodes, "Gus's Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy" (2.10) and "Christmas Joy" (3.09).
  • Bill Guster (Ernie Hudson, Keith David) is Gus' father. Although the character of Gus' father appeared in the first two Christmas episodes, Bill Guster was played by Ernie Hudson in "Gus's Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy" and by Keith David in "Christmas Joy".
  • Mr. Yang (Ally Sheedy) is a serial killer, first appearing in "An Evening with Mr. Yang" (3.16). She returns after a decade-long absence to target Shawn in her deadly game of cat-and-mouse. In the season four finale, "Mr. Yin Presents" (4.16), Shawn and Gus visit her in prison. She seems to have a deeper connection to Shawn, as the last scene of "Mr. Yin Presents" shows Yin, Yang's partner, looking at a picture of what is presumably a younger Yang, standing next to young Shawn. Her help is enlisted again by Shawn and Gus in "Yang 3 in 2D", the fifth season's finale, in which it is revealed that she is actually Yin's daughter.
  • Mary Lightly (Jimmi Simpson) was a department psychologist who was an expert on Mr. Yang. He first appeared in "An Evening with Mr. Yang" (3.16) and later in "Mr. Yin Presents" (4.16). He was stabbed to death in the season four finale by Yin while bravely trying to capture him alone. He appears on videotape in "Yang 3 in 2D" (5.16) as well.
  • Woody the Coroner (Kurt Fuller) is a police coroner that Shawn shares a mutual respect with. His wife cheats on him with multiple men, some of which he has approved. He is also apparently wanted in the Philippines. He first appeared in "High Top Fade Out" (4.07). He also appeared in "Thrill Seekers and Hell Raisers" (4.11), "The Head, the Tail, the Whole Damn Episode" (4.15), "Feet, Don't Kill Me Now" (5.02), "Not Even Close... Encounters" (5.03), and "Shawn 2.0" (5.08). His most recent appearance was in "Dead Bear Walking" (5.15).
  • Mr. Yin (Christopher Turner, Peter Weller) was a serial killer who was actually responsible for the Yang murders. He is also Yang's father. He first appeared in "Mr. Yin Presents" (4.16) targeting Shawn, and later returned for a second round in "Yang 3 in 2D" (5.16), in which he is murdered by his daughter.
  • Declan Rand (Nestor Carbonell) is a rich criminal profiler so good at his job that he poses a threat to Shawn. He turns out to be a fake criminal profiler and knows that Shawn is not a real psychic. His first appearance was in "Shawn 2.0" (5.08), and his most recent appearance was in "One, Maybe Two, Ways Out" (5.09). In "Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part" (5.10), Juliet announces that she and Declan broke up.


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The first season comprised fifteen episodes and ran on USA Network from July 7, 2006 to March 2, 2007.

The second season, comprising sixteen episodes, began airing on July 13, 2007. The second half of season 2 began on January 11, 2008, with the season finale airing on February 15, 2008.

The third season, comprising sixteen episodes, began airing on July 19, 2008 with the mid-season break episode (which was Christmas themed) airing on November 28, 2008. The second half of the season 3 began on January 9, 2009, with the season finale airing February 20, 2009.

Psych's fourth season, which was announced on October 10, 2008, premiered on August 7, 2009. The ninth episode, or "fall finale", aired on October 16, 2009. New episodes for season 4 resumed on January 27, 2010 and the entire season concluded on March 10, 2010.

Season 5 premiered on July 14, 2010 and had its "mid-season" or "summer finale" on September 8, 2010 and had its season finale on December 22, 2010.

Season 6 was announced to premiere in the fall of 2011.

Lengths and dates of series
SeasonEpisodesPremiere DateEnd Date
Season 115July 7, 2006March 2, 2007
Season 216July 13, 2007February 15, 2008
Season 316July 18, 2008February 20, 2009
Season 416August 7, 2009March 10, 2010
Season 516July 14, 2010December 22, 2010
Season 6TBAFall of 2011TBA


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The show uses White Rock, British Columbia, Canada for its Santa Barbara, California setting.Psych also incorporates Vancouver and various locations around the Lower Mainland of British Columbia as a backdrop. Santa Barbara is on a mountainous coastline without bays and just has the few Channel Islands miles offshore. Many of the overlooking helicopter shots and set up shots (in which the exterior of the Santa Barbara Courthouse is shown) are actually filmed in Santa Barbara. The animated segments "The Big Adventures Of Little Shawn And Gus" were created by J.J. Sedelmaier Productions, Inc. The music, effects and sound design for "The Big Adventures Of Little Shawn And Gus" were created by Fred Weinberg.

Production for Season 5 began on April 28, 2010 in Vancouver.

Theme song
The theme song for Psych is "I Know You Know" by The Friendly Indians, series creator Steve Franks' band. Some episodes in Seasons 3 and 4 and many in Season 5 use the extended full-length version of "I Know You Know", but most episodes use the usual, shortened version.

  • Re-done with a Christmas theme for the episode "Gus's Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy" (2.10) and used again in "Christmas Joy" (3.09) and "The Polarizing Express" (5.14).
  • Sung in Spanish for "Lights, Camera, Homicidio" (2.13).
  • Expanded into Bollywood-themed version of the song sung in Hindi in "Bollywood Homicide" (4.06).
  • Boyz II Men performed an a cappella version of the theme for "High Top Fade Out" (4.07).
  • In the season 5 premiere, "Romeo and Juliet and Juliet" (5.01), the main titles are translated in Chinese. However, the actual theme song itself is not edited.
  • Curt Smith of Tears for Fears guest starred in "Shawn 2.0" (5.08) and recorded his own version of the theme. Smith also recorded a song ("This is Christmas") for the episode "The Polarizing Express" (5.14).
  • Julee Cruise, who recorded the theme for Twin Peaks, recorded a slower, extended version of the theme for the Twin Peaks-inspired episode "Dual Spires" (5.12).

The Christmas and Hindi-themed variations of the song also include variations on the main titles. In particular, the Hindi and Chinese-themed episodes phonetically translated words into Devanagari and Chinese characters, respectively, in their title sequences. The theme in the Twin Peaks tribute is an almost shot-for shot recreation of the Twin Peaks theme.


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Critical reaction and ratings
Psych scored a 4.51 rating and an average of 6.1 million total viewers at its premiere, which made it the highest rated scripted series premiere on basic cable in 2006 in all key demographics (households, P18-49, P25-54, and total viewers), according to a USA Network press release, quoted from the Futon Critic.

From the San Jose Mercury News:

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Nominations and awards

  • Psych was the winner of the Independent Investigations Group Annual Award for "Excellence in Entertainment" for advancing the cause of science and exposing superstition. Accepting for Psych was staff writer Daniel Hsia.
  • James Roday was nominated for the 2006 Satellite Award for Best Actor - TV Series Musical or Comedy.
  • Psych was nominated for its first Emmy Award in 2010 in the category Outstanding Music Composition for a Series for the episode "Mr. Yin Presents". Adam Cohen and John Robert Wood were the composers for this episode.

DVD releases

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Seasons one through four are available on DVD in Region 1, while seasons one, two, and three are available in Regions 2 and 4. Seasons one through four are available for online streaming on Netflix and Hulu, and for download in the iTunes Store.

TitleEp #Region 1Region 2Region 4
Season One15June 26, 2007April 24, 2008April 30, 2008
Season Two16July 11, 2008June 7, 2010March 3, 2010
Season Three16July 21, 2009February 21, 2011March 2, 2011
Season Four16July 13, 2010July 18, 2011TBA
Season Five16May 31, 2011TBATBA


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William Rabkin has written and published five novels based on the series. The novels are written in third person narrative style.

TitleAuthorISBNPublication date
A Mind is a Terrible Thing to ReadWilliam Rabkin0-451-22635-6January 6, 2009
Mind Over Magic0-451-22744-1July 7, 2009
The Call of the Mild0-451-22876-6January 5, 2010
A Fatal Frame of Mind0-451-23159-7August 3, 2010
Mind-Altering Murder0-451-23252-6February 1, 2011

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