The beloved USA Network dramedy series Psych has stood the test of time in the way that many basic cable network series don’t. The series has a devoted following of fans known as Psych-os, who have been with the series from the very beginning and seen it through eight seasons and two films (and counting).
Though the series is a procedural in many ways, it’s also anything but that, filled with endless pop culture references, countless homages to significant works of film and television, and some of the most unique and lovable main characters in the history of crime solving dramedies.
8 Henry Spencer
For most of Psych‘s run, Henry Spencer is the series’ primary antagonist. He and his son, Shawn, have a contentious relationship with one another from the very beginning, due to decades of fraught history and misunderstandings and differences in their personalities. As a result, Henry often stands in the way of Shawn’s goals, even relishing in his ability to derail his plans.
Though Henry and Shawn’s relationship improves over time, most notably in the last two seasons, it’s still hard to look past Henry’s behavior in earlier seasons and his prickly, difficult attitude.
7 Juliet O’Hara
Juliet is a character who plays a major role in the series, but she’s also a character the series never really takes the time to understand or endear to the audience in any way. She’s a generic detective character, driven by a competitive nature and a poorly developed character history.
Viewers are meant to like her just because she’s there, and meant to support her relationship with Shawn just because it’s the one the show wants to support. Though Juliet is relatively inoffensive, there is nothing particularly outstanding about her character or the contributions she makes to the series as a whole.
6 Buzz McNab
Buzz McNab might technically be a recurring player in the world of Psych, but he’s the most significant of them, and one who undergoes quite the impressive character journey over the course of the series.
When Buzz first appears, he’s a clueless officer who provides comedic relief and frustrations for Lassiter in particular. But soon enough, Buzz becomes one of Shawn and Gus’s closest friends, a valuable asset to the crime solving team, and – eventually – a junior detective in his own right. Buzz is adorable and goofy, and consistently one of the nicest characters in the series.
5 Chief Karen Vick
When Psych begins, Chief Karen Vick is a stern, uncompromising, authoritative chief of police at the Santa Barbara Police Department. She remains authoritative and impressive all along, but over time, she begins to soften, allowing Shawn and Gus to do what they need to do as consultants, even if it means bending the rules on occasion.
She also begins to take on the role of a quasi-mother figure for the team at the SBPD, growing especially close with Juliet and Shawn both. Chief Vick is almost always the voice of reason in the most difficult of circumstances, and always represents a reliable leader for the team.
4 Woody Strode
In a series filled with quirky, unconventional characters, Kurt Fuller’s coroner Woodrow “Woody” Strode is arguably Psych‘s weirdest – and maybe its funniest, too. Fuller doesn’t join the cast until the series’ fourth season, but as soon as he does, it becomes clear that the show could never exist without him again.
Woody is unapologetic in every possible way, whether it comes to his habits or his hobbies. He sleeps and eats in the morgue, treasures about his 47 Twitter followers, and is always just happy to be included in the team when the chance arises.
3 Carlton Lassiter
At the beginning of Psych, Carlton Lassiter is almost as much of an antagonist to Shawn as Henry Spencer is. The man who would become known as Lassie is very rigid at first, set in his ways and traditional in his opinions.
Though he remains ever critical of Shawn’s methodology and inclusion in cases, Lassie gradually warms to the team’s fake psychic, even willingly engaging in one madcap adventure after another. Eventually, he marries, has a daughter, and works his way up to chief of police – and no one deserves it more.
2 Shawn Spencer
It would have been incredibly easy for a fake psychic detective series to not work. It would have been incredibly easy for the lead character, and lead actor, to be unbearable, corny, and impossible to take seriously. Thankfully, Shawn Spencer is never any of those things, thanks both to the series’ writing and James Roday Rodriguez’s performance.
Ever the perpetual Peter Pan, Shawn is unbelievably charming and childlike in equal measure. Even when he’s causing trouble, or getting into real danger, Shawn is a character that never once loses the audience’s support. In a television world filled with unlikable main characters, Shawn is anything but.
1 Burton Guster
Though Shawn may be the series’ main character, it’s Burton “Gus” Guster who is truly the series’ secret weapon, and its undeniable heart. As Shawn’s partner in both crime and crime solving, Gus is a best friend for the ages who has been by Shawn’s side day in and day out ever since they were children.
Whether he’s screaming and running away from the scene of the crime, or diving in head first as “Fearless Guster,” Gus is the definition of a best friend and a hero both. Thanks to Dulé Hill’s perfect comedic timing and total commitment to every zany bit, Gus is a character who stands the test of time – and not just because he was “the only black lead on a major cable network,” in Shawn’s own words.
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