Psych: The Best Running Jokes On The Series

James Roday Rodriguez and Dulé Hill in Season 8 of Psych screenshot
(Image credit: NBC)

If I had to rank shows solely for their level of chaotic good and comedic genius, Psych would come pretty close to securing that top spot. The series about a fake psychic who infiltrates the ranks of the Santa Barbara Police Department with his spastic and overly dramatic, but typically spot on, fake psychic visions lasted for a hilarious 8 season run and spurred on three TV movies. The entire Psych franchise is like one big inside joke that fans share with the characters, but as for the absolute best of the series’ running gags? You can find the top 5 jokes that recur throughout the series here.

James Roday Rodriguez as Shawn Spencer in Psych screenshot

(Image credit: NBC)

5. The Hidden Pineapples

Okay, so this one is light on the comedy, but heavy in the endearing factor. Psych did something truly special when they made a point of inserting a pineapple into each episode. The hidden fruits range from difficulty, and some are seriously hard to spot while others are basically shoved into the forefront of the camera.

James Roday Rodriguez's Shawn Spencer can be seen gifting a whole pineapple more than once with the prickly fruit cradled in his arms. The harder-to-spot pineapples include a Hawaiian pizza at a crime scene and a literal shadow of a pineapple on a window. Finding the fruit is a fun little easter egg for fans, even if it can be torture for those die hard fans on a mission to locate them all.

James Roday Rodriguez as Shawn Spencer dressed as Tears For Fears' Roland Orzabal in Psych Season 1 screenshot

(Image credit: NBC)

4. The Complete And Total ‘80s Devotion

Shawn and Gus are more different than they are alike, and the two ride or dies butt heads about ten times an episode. One thing they can agree on, though, is their love for the ‘80s. Shawn and Gus could give the Gilmore Girls a real run for their money with their obscure pop culture references, and they’d definitely win in a double or nothing ‘80s round with the mother/daughter duo.

The besties go all out for their references, and the writers of Psych are no different. From that epic Twin Peaks episode featuring stars from the original show to the serious love the show gives to Tears For Fears, the ‘80s might as well have an acting credit in the series. It also doesn’t hurt that Gus looks just like Bud from The Cosby Show.

James Roday Rodriguez and Dulé Hill in Psych screenshot

(Image credit: NBC)

3. “Gus, Don’t Be…”

Shawn Spencer is good at a lot of things, probably thanks to the countless jobs he has had in his life. Other than using his photographic memory for crime solving goodness, he’s a genius at poking fun of Gus in the most ridiculous ways possible. Probably the most nonsensical use of this very real super power he has is when he responds to Gus being Gus, but saying things like “Gus, don’t be a gloomy you.”

Honestly in Season 1 of Psych the “Gus, don’t be a”’s are pretty mild, with “Gus, don’t be a silly goose.” and “...a crazy hooligan” being a little quirky, but nothing super out of place. As the series goes on, though, Shawn really makes an art out of it by saying things like “Gus, don’t be this crevice in my arm.” and “...your jury summons that I accidentally threw away last month along with something called a W-2.” My personal favorite though, and one that is another perfect example of some serious ‘80s love is, “Gus, don’t be the comma in ‘Earth, Wind & Fire’”. 

Timothy Omundson as Detective Lassiter in Psych screenshot

(Image credit: NBC)

2. Lassiter’s “I Would Rather…”

I could compile a whole list of comedic moments and jokes from either Shawn or Gus, because they are both hilarious in different ways. Psych is full of funny people, though, and maybe the most lowkey funny character of them all is Detective Carlton Lassiter. The grumpy detective may have an axe to grind against Shawn’s shenanigans throughout a lot of the series, but he really does break out of his hardened shell quite often, and his “I would rather (insert unpleasantry)” when typically responding to something Shawn suggests, is probably his best set of consistent jokes. 

While “I would rather shower with a bear” may be one of the more mildly comedic examples of these lines from Lassiter, he does get a little wild with them at times. While “I would rather marry a vegan” is so Lassie, even though he does end up doing a not-so-Lassie thing and marries a criminal, “I would rather adopt a child” has got to be one of the funniest, most deadpan lines he utters in the whole series. 

Dulé Hill as Burton Guster in Psych screenshot

(Image credit: NBC)

1. The Many Aliases of Burton Guster

I can not fully express how happy my heart gets when I hear Shawn Spencer refer to his childhood friend as a nonsensical nickname and see Gus’ disdain for said name, and that goes double for when Gus decides to embrace the alias for the episode. This is probably the most recurring joke and the most recognized of the series, and for good reason: it’s brilliant. 

The only thing better than Shawn giving Gus a new nickname, is when he does it multiple times in the same episode. In some episodes Gus gets up to four or five new nicknames; here are some favorites: Count Chocula, Sh’Dynasty, Magic Head, Gus “Sillypants” Jackson, and the simple but effective Gurton Buster. 

Jimmi Simpson as Mary Lightly in Psych screenshot

(Image credit: NBC)

Honorable Mention: Jimmi Simpson’s Mary Lightly

Nothing gets me quite as elated as seeing Jimmi Simpson pop up in a favorite show, and Simpson gets a feature on each finale episode of Seasons 3 through 5 plus the musical episode in Season 7 and in the first two TV movies as an insanely random hallucination. His character Mary Lightly is weird and creepy, much like a good amount of Simpson’s other roles up to that point, and an absolute fanboy for the Ying Yang killer. 

For a character who is so scarce in the series, Mary Lightly is pretty important to the series as a whole considering he is a main character in Psych’s biggest mystery that spans multiple seasons. He also acts as a sort of foil for Shawn; both characters are chaotic, funny, and incredibly intelligent, but where Shawn is bubbly and beloved, Mary is socially awkward and people are put off by him. Whereas a lot of people may think Shawn is Psych’s weirdest character, that title has got to go to Mary; I mean, the man wore a monkey ascot and had a deep seated hate for Chad Michael Murray and his dead eyes.

The magic that the Psych cast brings on screen in the series can hardly be limited to just this list, as the series is seriously jam packed with comedy gold and some of the best running jokes that last the span of the entire series. While superfans have had to resort to binging Psych and its many run-on jokes on Peacock since the streaming platform acquired the beloved series. the streaming platform has now released a brand new Psych movie! Psych 3: This is Gus is now streaming on Peacock (as of November 15), and in staying on brand, fans will get to see some of these running jokes be put to use in the new movie.

Carlie Hoke
Content Writer

Constantly thinking about books, coffee, and the existential dread I feel from Bo Burnham’s Inside.  While writing I’m also raising a chaotic toddler, who may or may not have picked up personality traits from watching one too many episodes of Trailer Park Boys.