Throughout it’s eight-season run, Psych was known for being one of the funniest — and often, most bizarre — shows on television. A staple during USA’s “blue sky” era of programming, the wise-cracking hit series about a fake psychic detective was unapologetically campy and pop culture-obsessed.
But, as the series really came into its own and developed a cult following, Psych upped the stakes in both pure camp and love of pop culture as it began paying homage to best of cult — and even occasionally mainstream — classics like Twin Peaks, The Shining, and It’s a Wonderful Life.
When Psych returns for Psych: The Movie in December, we’re not just going to be reunited with our favorite rag-tag group of detectives. We will also be treated to another tribute, as Zachary Levi’s villainous Thin White Duke is a direct tribute to the late David Bowie, who creator Steve Franks and Psych star James Roday had hoped to have on the series during its initial run.
So in honor of Psych: The Movie‘s return and its tribute to Bowie, we rounded up some of the best tribute episodes from Psych‘s eight season run.
“Dual Spires,” Season 5, Episode 12
Of all the tribute episodes, Psych‘s tribute to David Lynch’s cult TV series Twin Peaks is easily one of the best. Shawn and Gus are invited to attend a cinnamon festival in an odd little town called Dual Spires — a direct play on Twin Peaks, of course — only to stumble into a new case: The murder of a teenage girl. Reuniting Twin Peaks cast members Dana Ashbrook, Ray Wise, Sherilyn Fenn, Sheryl Lee, Robyn Lively, Lenny Von Dohlen, and Catherine E. Coulson, the episode is chock full of references to the beloved hit series — down to the donuts and the theme sung by Julee Cruise.
“Shawn, Interrupted,” Season 6, Episode 5
In their tribute to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Shawn and Gus go undercover — as patient and orderly, respectively — at a mental hospital to determine whether a millionaire is faking it to escape jail time, after he’s found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity. It turns out Shawn may actually be more disruptive than R.P. McMurphy, as Molly Ringwald channels her inner Nurse Ratched and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest star Brad Dourif appear in the episode.
“Tuesday the 17th,” Season 3, Episode 15
Shawn and Gus are hired by an old friend to investigate a missing counselor at the summer camp the all attended as children. But, just as the entire investigation was revealed to be a rouse to test out the camp’s new murder theme, things turn into a classic Friday the 13th slasher flick. Shawn, Gus, Juliet, and the camp counselors now find themselves trapped at the camp with a murderer on the loose — and looking for revenge.
“The Amazing Psych-Man & Tap Man, Issue #2,” Season 6, Episode 4
In this ode to the superhero genre, a vigilante called The Mantis takes up residence in Santa Barbara and is targeting a local drug ring. Jealous of the attention The Mantis is getting, Shawn goes on a mission to unmask the vigilante. Like all superhero stories, The Mantis is seen at the scene of a murder and is quickly named prime suspect. Now, Shawn and Gus must really unmask the hero to not only solve the murder but find the missing drug money before the real evil villains get away.
“100 Clues,” Season 7, Episode 5
For its 100th episode, Psych paid homage to the ultimate whodunit: Clue. Shawn and Juliet are invited to a dinner party in an extravagant mansion. Naturally, Shawn and Gus attend the party only to find that all the guests at the dinner party are connected to a famous rocker who has just been released from prison after serving time for manslaughter. When the rocker reveals to his guests that his time in prison has changed him for the better, the lights go out — and when the flick back on, someone’s dead. Clue stars Martin Mull, Christopher Lloyd, and Lesley Ann Warren, along with Saturday Night Live original cast member Garrett Morris, guest star in the episode.
“Lassie Jerky,” Season 7, Episode 3
Psych took on Blair Witch Project and shaky-cam homemade “documentaries” as Shawn and Gus join two student filmmakers on a quest to find and document Bigfoot. When Gus falls onto a couple of dead bodies, Juliet and Lassiter are called to their remote destination. Unfortunately, night falls quickly, Lassiter steps in a bear trap, and the group finds themselves in the woods with Bigfoot and (maybe) a killer on the loose.
“Last Night Gus,” Season 6, Episode 2
Even Psych couldn’t escape the clutches of The Hangover trilogy as Shawn, Gus, Lassiter, Woody the Coroner, and Henry find themselves with no recollection of their night before. But piecing the night together gets a little bit more complicated when they discover their new murder victims are the men they encountered during their wild night out in Santa Barbara.
“Lock, Stock, Some Smoking Barrels and Burton Guster’s Goblet of Fire” — Season 8, Episode 1
Shawn and Gus head over to London in this homage to Guy Ritchie’s crime comedy Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels after Shawn is asked by Interpol to go in as part of an undercover sting to take down Interpol’s most wanted criminal. Meanwhile, self-proclaimed “Grint Grunt” Gus — donning full Gryffindor attire — is in London for a Harry Potter convention but gets dragged into the foray as an explosions expert named “The Wizard.” Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ Vinnie Jones appears in the episode, as well as Cary Elwes as Pierre Despereaux, Shawn and Gus’ art thief frenemy.
“Psych: The Musical,” Season 7, Episodes 15 and 16
Even Psych paid homage to the musical episodes, with an episode set around a musical. A local theater is being re-opened six years after burning down in a fire with a new musical about Jack the Ripper. Then, the man responsible for the fire breaks out of the mental institution’s he’s been in since and the SBPD team must turn to Mr. Yang, a fellow patient of the institution, to help them — but she’ll only do so as long as it’s in song. Ally Sheedy returns as the wildly bizarre Mr. Yang.
“The Polarizing Express” — Season 5, Episode 14
When Shawn’s buffoonery during an investigation causes a Czech crime lord to walk free, Santa Barbara Police Department faces an investigation leaving Henry fired from his role Police Consultant Liaison, and Psych fired as consultants. Henry and Shawn then have a falling out, which leads to Shawn imagining what life in Santa Barbara would be like if he’d never come back, a la It’s a Wonderful Life.
“Heeeeere’s Lassie,” Season 6, Episode 11
In this homage to The Shining, Lassiter moves into a new condo after the previous tenant is found dead of a suspected suicide. As Lassiter adapts to his new surroundings, he begins to have trouble sleeping due as strange things that keep happening. While Shawn and Gus investigate the supposedly haunted building, they don’t seem to be affected by strange occurrences, as Lassiter slowly descends into madness.
“Mr. Yin Presents…,”— Season 4, Episode 16
Psych’s ode to the films of Alfred Hitchcock might just go down in history as one of the most dramatic hours of the generally-goofy series. A sequel to Season 3 “An Evening with Mr. Yang,” the group discovers that deranged serial killer Mr. Yang has a partner who may be more insane than she is. Mr. Yin targets the group by casting them all as characters from various Hitchcock films — including Psycho, Rear Window, North by Northwest, The 39 Steps, and Marnie. Ally Sheedy and Jimmi Simpson reprise their roles as Yang and the oddball Yang expert, Mary Lightly, respectively.
Now that you’re all caught up to speed on the best of Psych tributes, grab a pineapple and start preparing yourselves for Psych: The Movie which airs on USA on December 7th!