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Self-disciplined, perceptive, and the self-proclaimed captain of the ship, family patriarch Frank Reagan is exactly what a New York City police commissioner should be. As the main protagonist of “Blue Bloods” since its premiere in 2010, Frank has overseen plenty of drama — all the way from high-profile murders to arguments around the family dinner table. The character is played by the iconic Tom Selleck, who is just as well-known for his filmography as he is for his epic mustache. Previously starring in hits such as “Magnum P.I.” and the “Jesse Stone” series, his action pedigree speaks for itself. It’s no surprise then that the straight-talking top dog makes for such a standout role.
Even though fans have watched him in almost every episode across the show’s 13 seasons, there’s more that fans still don’t understand about Frank. A complicated figure, his complex family history and full-on line of work mean he has amassed a lifetime of emotional trauma, making him equally as brilliant as he is difficult. As Selleck himself said in a 2022 interview with Country Living, “When I saw this script, it was character-driven in an age where there [are] just so many procedurals on… I’m sure not bored with it.”Neither are we, Tom. Here are Frank Reagan’s 7 best and worst moments that provide pretty good evidence.
Best: Frank’s wedding toast (Season 9, Episode 22)
It’s the union that fans have been waiting for, but Jamie (Will Estes) and Eddie (Vaness Ray) weren’t the only ones to steal the spotlight on the big day. Frank enamored his family and viewers in the Season 9 finale, “Something Blue,” by delivering an empowering and emotional wedding speech. The trio has had its fair share of ups and downs throughout the series, with Frank often at odds with Jamie and Eddie because of petty decisions. By the end of Season 9, Jamie has clearly gone from strength to strength in Frank’s eyes, with the opening of his speech lightheartedly poking fun at Jamie joining the Reagan family.
The real emotional punch is what he has to say about Eddie. Deciding to fly solo on her big day, Frank’s immediate acceptance of not walking her down the aisle goes a long way to show how much he’s evolved. “Eddie isn’t anyone’s to give away,” he says. “She is her own woman and her own life force, and I have seen it in action on the job. And we have all seen it in action at our dinner table.” Never have truer words been spoken by a Reagan.
Worst: Frank loses cool mid-interview (Season 5, Episode 7)
When Frank pays a visit to the CBS studio during the Season 5 episode, “Shoot The Messenger,” fans are already seeing him at his worst. Robert McCoy (Holt McCallany) immediately blindsides Frank with a policy change mid-interview, informing him that the DA will no longer prosecute minor crimes, including any involving marijuana. Instead of taking the new information in his stride, Frank flies into a fit of rage which is largely taken out later on Garrett Moore (Gregory Jbara). With such an esteemed history of being a high-ranking police officer, we’d expect Frank to know how to present himself on a public stage. But it gets even worse when he learns that Erin Reagan (Bridget Moynahan) and McCoy are dating.
Knowing he’s done wrong, it doesn’t take McCoy long to offer up an apology to Frank. It’s here we learn of Frank’s inability to apologize, either too set in his ways or too prideful to make meaningful steps forward. He’s also quick to remind Erin that he has never liked anyone she has ever dated, which isn’t an ideal vote of confidence from a family member you should love and respect. If Erin wanted Frank’s approval, she’d be hard-pressed to find it.
Best: Frank stands by Sarah (Season 5, Episode 18)
While Jamie and Eddie deal with a life-or-death takedown at a fake youth hostel, Frank has a much more wholesome story arc in Season 5’s “Bad Company.” This time we see him with Sarah Grant (Amelia Rose Blaire), who asks Frank to walk her down the aisle. It’s a touching sentiment that fans might not have seen coming, but Frank immediately earns this emotional respect. Sarah’s past is a complicated one, which involves her entire family being murdered when she was just 7 years old. Frank acted as the cop on that case, and once again stands by her side when Sarah confronts her family’s murderer.
It’s moments like these that you can’t help but unashamedly love Frank. He’s completely supportive and stoic when it comes to holding Sarah’s hand, providing both the emotional and physical aid she needs to get through a tough time. Even when he is told to leave the prison, he doesn’t budge. In her time of need, the two are able to put things from the past to bed, making this episode one of Frank’s most heartwarming outings to date.
Worst: Frank’s pride gets the best of him (Season 10, Episode 2)
It’s not unusual for fans to see Frank and Erin argue, but Season 10’s “Naughty or Nice” takes the conflict to an entirely new level. When Frank learns that the DA keeps a list of police officers who are deemed unfit to testify, he sees red. Considering the decision to be a “blacklist,” he goes in to fight it with all the right intentions — but handles it horribly. Fans immediately struggle to get on board with how he chooses to direct this anger, which mostly lands in Erin’s lap. Frank’s inability to calm down puts Erin in the middle of two huge opposing forces — her father and her boss.
Tension is the name of the game in this episode, and Frank remains brutish until the very end. He ultimately gets his own way, forcing the DA to reject their list by threatening to make his own that would name and shame. It’s easy to see where Frank is coming from as no set protocol was in place for being able to determine a “bad” witness. But Frank’s sour anger is a difficult aftertaste to shake off, leaving his family and team feeling the effects.
Best: Frank gives Inspector Clifford a second chance (Season 9, Episode 15)
If “Blue Bloods” teaches us anything, it’s that a dark past might not always be what it seems. In the Season 9 episode, “Blues,” Frank learns that a high-ranking member of his team might not be all he’s cracked up to be. When he was 15, Inspector Andre Clifford (Robert Ray Wisdom) was detained for robbing a liquor store, with the consequences only kicking in as an adult. Frank refuses to believe the claims, citing him as a high-quality officer who delivers good work. His hesitancy pays off in the long run and the pair is able to effectively communicate to find a resolution. When they first meet up after the news breaks, Frank stands by him and is the only officer to do so.
Frank’s thoughtful and considerate approach allows us to be reminded of a valuable lesson: why should a child’s petty mistakes ruin the rest of someone’s life? His respect for Clifford is obvious, hinting that he is the person Frank would like to see take over after him. Though they agree that being a commissioner is off the table, Clifford is able to keep his job as a cop, paying a huge service to Frank’s emotional capacity.
Worst: Frank’s romance with Whitney (Season 3, Episode 17)
A couple’s age gap is always a hot topic, but in the case of Frank and Whitney Robshaw (Sarah Wynter), there’s nothing to smile about. In the Season 3 episode, “Protest Too Much,” we find Frank weighing up whether he should pursue an acquaintance of Erin’s. As a long-term widower, it’s natural that Frank wants to find happiness in his life, along with a spark of romance. But chasing down someone that is his daughter’s age probably isn’t the best way to go. When the two meet, Frank has full knowledge of this, regardless of their instant chemistry. After the pair are photographed together, Frank is truly stuck in it.
It’s the photos that cause Erin to speak out, both in disgust and concern. She unleashes on Frank, leading him to decide that the romance isn’t the best idea after all. The situation can easily be framed as a creepy one, though the blame for who makes the ordeal worse could go either way. Even so, Frank is in a professional and personal position to know better, and both the encounter and following family arguments leave fans feeling uncomfortable.
Best: Frank learns to apologize (Season 6, Episode 3)
As we’ve seen across many episodes of “Blue Bloods,” Frank is a man who always stays true to his own conviction. That’s why it’s such a surprise to see him loosen the reins in the Season 6 episode, “All the News That’s Fit to Click.” After Jamie and Eddie deal with a news reporter being shot in a police car, the fallout becomes the responsibility of Frank’s team. It’s not too surprising that Frank and Garrett are quick to butt heads on how to handle things — as only two big fish in a small pond could. Viewers will know that tension between the two had been bubbling up since Season 5, with this avoidable event offering up the perfect chance for things to explode.
Typically, when things don’t go Frank’s way, he’ll make it known. Usually one to cause a fuss where it’s not needed, this episode is a rare sighting of Frank admitting that he’s in the wrong. He apologizes to Garrett and the two are able to stay on the same page when Garrett is offered a high-paying job. Deep down, Frank knows that Garrett leaving would be a huge blow to his team.
Worst: Frank loses passion for his job (Season 6, Episode 14)
When Frank gets involved in a case, you know it’s going to be explosive. Typically at the heart of grisly murders and epic high-speed changes, Frank’s journey in the Season 6 episode, “The Road to Hell,” feels a little off-color. The drama starts off with pretty low stakes, as Frank discovers his local church donation box has been robbed. In talking to Father Quinn (Jack McGee), Frank learns that the pastor is eager to bail out those in trouble and is likely withholding more information than he already knows. It seems mundane on the surface, but that might be because it’s supposed to be. Throughout the episode, it becomes clear that Frank has lost passion for what he does — something that has always defined his character.
Frank’s time spent at the family dinner table is normally amusing, informative, or heartwarming. This time, it’s a clear insight into where his head is at and he is openly struggling with his work-life balance. He wants to spend more time with his family, yet fails to make this happen. It’s a particularly low moment in Frank’s journey in “Blue Bloods,” even if it isn’t overly exciting.
Best: Frank supports Abigail in her recovery (Season 11, Episode 12)
When Frank is in top form, he’s the person you’d most like to be by your side. He’s clearly got his head screwed on in Season 11’s “Happy Endings,” as Abigail Baker (Abigail Hawk) makes her way back into work after being jumped on the street. Shaken, she heads back to the office where Frank immediately tells her to go home. Whether it’s putting his professional merit first or genuine emotional compassion, Frank’s instincts serve his reputation well. There’s an underlying need for Abigail to prove herself as a detective, especially when Garrett and Lieutenant Sidney Gormley (Robert Clohessy) are convinced she’s not in good shape. Even though Frank knows that she isn’t, he’s able to let her get to grips with things at her own pace.
There’s another valuable lesson we can learn from Frank’s decision-making — sometimes, it’s okay to give in. Abigail is wary of being seen as a victim when she comes back to work, but Frank recognizes that she is, and that’s okay. At the end of it all, Abigail is able to make a solid case arrest and all is as well as it can be in the world of “Blue Bloods.” Frank can consider his job done.
Worst: Frank hooks up with Melanie Maines (Season 2, Episode 16)
At the best of times, dating is a tough nut to crack. It’s always exciting when old flames return to the world of TV, but in the Season 2 episode, “Women with Guns,” that doesn’t end well for Frank. He runs into reporter Melanie Maines (Margaret Colin), who it’s inferred Frank has had previous dalliances with. Hitting the town once more, an unidentified man attacks Melanie with acid, leaving her in a touch-and-go state. It proves Frank can never fully let his guard down, even when his own decisions don’t benefit him. There’s no issue in his friends-with-benefits arrangement, even though it feels odd to watch — like seeing your own father go on a date.
Though nothing is directly his fault, it calls Frank’s judgment into question. It is later revealed that Melanie herself was behind the attack and pulled the stunt after learning her employer was about to fire her. If these are the kinds of people Frank willingly surrounds himself with, what does that say about his perceptions on a personal and professional level?
Best: Frank brings the Blue Templar to justice (Season 1, Episode 22)
The takedown of the fraternal organization, the Blue Templar, in Season 1 was a highlight for most of the Reagan family and showcased Frank’s ability to get a job done well. The finale episode, “The Blue Templar,” was the culmination of the family finally finding out who killed Frank’s son, Joe. An emotional rollercoaster from start to finish, the episode offers fans and Frank exactly what they have been looking for — closure. After a tormenting season, it’s heartwarming to see Frank get something he truly deserves, while also being able to refocus on his family. In moments like this, Frank is unquestionably a family man first and a police officer second, doing whatever it takes to protect them.
In a different light, this episode is also where we see Frank take complete charge. During the investigation, Jamie tries to square off against him after the case is pulled when the team finds out just how much The Blue Templar gets away with. In the interest of quality police work and his family, Frank keeps a firm hand on the case, resulting in the killer being caught and imprisoned. It’s a success story from its opening moments and one Frank should always be proud of.
Worst: Frank loses Joe (Season 1, Episode 1)
For Frank, his worst moment arguably takes place before “Blue Bloods” even begins. In the very first episode of the show, we learn about the dynamics that make the Reagans the hard-wired and dysfunctional family they are. Frank is primarily dealing with life as a widow and the death of his beloved son, Joe. A former police officer himself, Joe was killed in the line of duty while undercover one year before the show kicks off. It’s here that we establish a link to the notorious gang known as The Blue Templar — the backbone of Frank’s Season 1 arc. Every decision he makes is a move toward taking them down and Frank is clearly driven by grief.
Though we only see Joe via a photograph, his death and ongoing presence are felt in future episodes of “Blue Bloods.” While Frank is a man that always puts his work and family first, Joe’s death is something he is never able to fully move on from. As something that weighs him down, it’s not surprising that Frank can be viewed as a man with a chip on his shoulder. Even so, it’s safe to say that if Joe hadn’t passed, there would be no “Blue Bloods.”
Best: Frank’s graduation speech (Season 4, Episode 22)
If “Blue Bloods” is defined by anything, it’s the unmissable family dinner scenes that feature in each episode. Season 4 finale, “Exiles,” takes that one step further when Frank asks if he can test out his graduation speech in front of the family. Flipping between scenes around the dining room table and Frank behind the speaker’s podium, his passion for his line of work has never been more certain. He recognizes his colleagues as “the best in the world,” while considering it a “great honor and pleasure” to serve alongside the next generation. Frank’s sense of superiority clearly works in his favor here as he’s able to use the prestige of the graduation ceremony to welcome and include his serving officers.
Frank is also able to surprise the rest of his family by penning a more heartfelt speech. After asking the family to listen to what he has prepared, Erin and Jamie launch into impressions of Frank’s speeches that have been seen countless times. Watching the Reagans in the audience as Frank delivers the speech, it’s clear that there is a new sense of pride among them and that they appreciate the softer sentimentality of Frank’s character. When it comes to “Blue Bloods,” there’s no better way to prove your family wrong.
Worst: Frank harasses the public (Season 9, Episode 9)
You only need to turn on a news channel or go online to see how annoying some people can be. Yet while Frank usually takes minor difficulties in his stride, there is the odd occasion where he takes things too far. In the Season 9 episode, “Handcuffs,” Jamie and Eddie choose not to arrest a group of agitators who are disturbing the peace at a local housing complex. While they both believe the best course of action is to ignore them, Frank immediately disagrees. Using brute force, he orders a raid on the complex, bringing in big guns such as armored units and helicopter air support. It all seems too much for something so minor and the surrounding Reagan family is only too quick to point it out.
This episode is proof that if Frank doesn’t like something, he’ll stop at nothing to try and right the wrongs. His ability to make quick, concise decisions normally works to great effect, yet on this occasion, it’s more likely to create harm. While fans have already seen him lean into his more compassionate side and try to learn when he is in the wrong, this moment feels like a step back in his character development.
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