The following article contains discussions of police brutality.
With its 13th season just getting started, fans of the long-running procedural Blue Bloods can't help but look back on all the excellent episodes from the first decade on the air. With its interesting family dynamic and uniquely character-driven story, Blue Bloods' best episodes prove why the show stands apart from other cop dramas.
From early episodes like "The Blue Templar" to newer stories like "Family Secrets", Blue Bloods has been one of the most consistent procedurals over its lengthy run. Though most episodes are terrific in their own way, only the very best earned high scores on IMDb.
With an ensemble cast, many of Blue Bloods' best episodes weave a complex series of narratives that all tie back to a central theme. "Forgive and Forget" saw Jamie bravely stand up for a cop who was being harassed by their co-workers. Meanwhile, Danny attempts to convince Erin to file charges against an offender who died.
A lot of the stories on the show tackle complicated and emotional issues, and "Forgive and Forget" was no exception. The disparate stories go a long way in developing both Danny and Jamie's characters, and it shows two very difficult dilemmas from completely separate perspectives.
Generational differences are another theme explored through the ongoing narrative of the show, and "Loose Lips" put the importance of change at the forefront. Jaime finds himself in danger after being targeted by an ousted domestic abuser, and Henry is scrutinized when a tape surfaces that features some less-than-flattering comments.
Even Blue Bloods' smartest characters are flawed individuals, and though they mostly try to do what's right, they often make mistakes. The episode does a brilliant job of shining a light on growing from mistakes and shedding outdated beliefs, and Henry's past is rightfully scrutinized.
The best procedural shows stay relevant by tackling stories that are significant in the real world, and the episode "Excessive Force" dramatized a truly hot-button political issue. Frank is put in a difficult position when he is tasked with heading up an investigation into a police brutality accusation against Danny.
The conflict of interest aside, "Excessive Force" really ramps up the drama within the Reagan clan. The family nearly splinters apart as they all fall on different sides of the issue, with Frank trapped in the middle. Though the story could have used more time to breathe, it certainly made for a gripping hour of TV.
As close-knit as the Reagan family is, they rarely let outsiders into the fold, and the episode "The End" seemed to justify their suspicions. A shocking revelation rocks the family as they discover that their newest member, Joe, is actually an undercover agent for the ATF.
The first episode in a two-part season finale, "The End" sets up a powder keg of emotion that is just waiting to go off. Shows can sometimes buckle under the excessive weight of an overlong story, but season 11's penultimate episode deftly balances its plot points and carries over into the finale.
Ranking highly among the show's stellar season finales, "Justifies the Means" is an action-packed episode of TV. After the revelation that Joe is a member of ATF, the Reagan family must get involved to stop him from being killed after his cover is blown.
Blue Bloods usually deals with street-level police issues, but the two-part season 11 finale brought things to another level. Despite its over-the-top setup, the family bond is still at the heart of the story, and it was exciting to see characters like Danny spring into action like never before.