Psych ended three years ago, but its witty crime-solving remains as delightful as ever. Shawn Spencer (James Roday) may be lying about having actual psychic powers, but thanks to endless pop culture knowledge, unstoppable charm, and his trusty friend Gus (Dulé Hill), he’s still able to solve the wackiest murders in Santa Barbara, a.k.a. the murder capital of the country. With the cast reuniting this week for Psych: The Movie, EW rounded up 10 of our favorite episodes that are always worth revisiting.
10. "And Down the Stretch Comes Murder" (season 2, episode 5)
Season 2 was Psych at its best. Where later seasons relied on pop culture homages or serious character development to keep the juices flowing, early episodes like this could pop off from the simplest ideas. Solving a murder at a racetrack brings Shawn and Gus face-to-face with a childhood bully, requiring them to figure out an unsolved mystery from their childhood at the same time they’re untangling delightful racing drama. Also, Shawn gets ample chances to roast his dad for wearing a too-colorful shirt at the track: “Wow, Dad, tell me you’re wearing that shirt because someone has to spot you from space.” —Christian Holub
9. "The Greatest Adventure in the History of Basic Cable" (season 3, episode 4)
Shawn, Gus, and the search for buried treasure are a match made in… well, what’s Santa Barbara’s version of heaven? Red Robin? When Shawn’s adventuresome uncle Jack (Steven Weber) returns to town to ask for his help in finding a pirate’s gold, the guys are pulled into a high-stakes scavenger hunt: They’re interrogated, tied up in a cabin, and nearly killed, and Gus loses a Puma. It’s a rollicking hour that helps explain where our fake psychic inherited his rebellious streak, and when the experience winds up poking holes in his hero worship of his uncle, Shawn gets the last word as only he can. —Kelly Connolly
8. "Last Night Gus" (season 6, episode 2)
In this hilarious spoof of The Hangover, Shawn, Gus, Lassiter, and Woody wake up after a night of partying with no memory of what happened the night before because someone spiked their drinks. Did they kill someone? Definitely maybe! The boys — because, let’s be real, that’s what they are — race against the clock to figure out what happened and hopefully prove they aren’t murderers. Shawn and Gus are funny messes when they solve crimes sober, so needless to say, watching them investigate a case hopelessly hungover is even funnier. Shawn’s frustrated monologue about his super memory failing him kills me every time I watch this episode:
“I’m not having any psychic visions, flashbacks, or recreation flashbacks, or recreation flashbacks with new psychic visions. Imagine you weren’t just a bland, gangly average human; that you could wink at someone and light up their world; that you could make a child think you have given them an ice cream cone without giving them the cone, and then watch them skip off into a beautiful meadow licking nothing but air!” —Chancellor Agard
7. "Extradition: British Columbia" (season 4, episode 1)
There is no such thing as the perfect crime, but there may be such a thing as the perfect foil for Shawn Spencer. International art thief Pierre Despereaux (Cary Elwes, obviously having a ball) is so irresistibly charming it’s hard to root against him, and he’s clever enough to keep the guys (and the audience) on their toes. When Shawn and Gus spot the criminal on a ski trip in British Columbia, it kicks off a cat-and-mouse game that spans multiple episodes, all delightful, but we’ve given the edge to Despereaux’s debut for the sheer Canadian fun of it all. Psych, which was set in California but filmed in Vancouver, finally got to put on a coat. —K.C.
6. "Heeeeere's Lassie" (season 6, episode 11)
As you will see, there are several extended homages on this list. Psych was adept not only at constantly dropping pop culture references in its dialogue, but also making those references real with episode-length tributes. Best of all, the show never let such homages get in the way of its own storytelling. This episode, for instance, makes several visual references to The Shining after Lassie moves into a possibly haunted condo, but also tells its own story using the eccentric neighbors without relying too much on what exactly happened at the Overlook Hotel. —C.H.
5. "Scary Sherry: Bianca's Toast" (season 1, episode 15)
An ambitious send-up of sorority-slasher films, the season 1 finale was the series’ first great episode and made it clear this show wasn’t going to be your typical case-of-the-week series. Directed by John Landis (Thriller) and co-written by Roday and Franks, “Scary Sherry” is the first time we see many of the show’s recurring bits: Shawn and Gus running away screaming from a crime scene, people confusing Gus for Bud on The Cosby Show, and Juliet getting lost in her undercover role. —C.A.
4. "Dual Spires" (season 5, episode 12)
In a September interview with EW, Steve Franks said he wanted every episode to be wish-fulfilment for the writer. It’s because of that rule that we got this moody and slavishly detailed homage to Twin Peaks, co-written by Roday, who is a Twin Peaks superfan. While the hour is filled with too many Lynchian references to count and guest appearances from the Twin Peaks cast, you can still enjoy the episode if you aren’t familiar with the ’90s series. As the show would prove time and time again, there’s nothing better than simply watching the writers and cast have fun with the things they love. —C.A.
3. "100 Clues" (season 7, episode 5)
In a way, wasn’t Psych always doing a Clue homage? For its 100th episode, the show went all in on the ‘80s cult classic that already shares its sense of humor, from its love of wordplay and loud screaming to that one guy who just can’t help but run around a mansion while solving a murder. “100 Clues” brings together three Clue alums — Lesley Ann Warren, Martin Mull, and Christopher Lloyd — for a dark, posh affair that riffs on the original movie, from its score to its multiple endings, without just remaking it. We’d bring a plus one (plus one plus two plus one) to this party any day. —K.C.
2. "An Evening With Mr. Yang"/"Mr. Yin Presents..."/"Yang 3 in 2D" (season 3/4/5 finales)
Psych was so delightful mostly because of its low stakes. Shawn and Gus’ witty repartee was never offset by more than one or two deaths to people per episode. But three different times, over the course of several seasons, things got real. Shawn got actual archenemies, and they threatened the people closest to him! Because Psych saved such stakes for when it mattered, these episodes felt huge. The particular highlight was the second act, an ode to Hitchcock films that had a lasting impact on Shawn and Jules — but all three together tell the full saga. —C.H.
1. "American Duos" (season 2, episode 1)
The second season premiere remains the best example of everything that made fans go, well, psych-o. Written by Roday and Franks and directed by Landis, this American Idol spoof sees Shawn and Gus go undercover at a singing competition in order to protect a curmudgeonly, Simon Cowell-esque judge Nigel St. Nigel (played by Tim Curry). Basically, it has everything that makes a great episode: sharp pop culture commentary; ridiculous high jinks, like Juliet going into hardass choreographer mode in order to teach the guys how to dance; and, of course, music. The absurd Tears for Fears/Michael Jackson showstopper that concludes the episode is pure gold and more than confirmed that this series refused to be tamed. —C.A.