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Every episode of Blue Bloods shows the main characters facing new cases and dilemmas. For example, Frank (Tom Selleck) has to deal with a possible new NYPD scandal, Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is solving a new case with his partner, and Jamie (Will Estes) is learning how to be a sergeant.

Where does the inspiration for the cases and situations come from? Here is everything you need to know.

The stories come from the experiences of real law enforcement

Gregory Jbara as Garrett Moore and Tom Selleck as Frank Reagan
Gregory Jbara as Garrett Moore and Tom Selleck as Frank Reagan | Patrick Harbron/CBS via Getty Images

Some shows use headlines relating to the biggest cases in the nation as inspiration. Blue Bloods, however, uses a different kind of resource for inspiration.

“So many of our storylines are pulled straight from experiences from law enforcement,” Vanessa Ray told Long Island Weekly. “We’re not a ripped-from-the-headlines kind of show. We’re definitely more of a personal experience kind of show. We tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may. We don’t tell you what to think.”

Law enforcement isn’t just used as inspiration. They are on set as technical advisors to make sure everything from their costumes to how the characters handle situations is realistic. Will Estes talked about their reaction to his character, Jamie Reagan getting promoted.

He told Newsweek that the advisors “got a kick out of it when I first came onto the set in a sergeant’s uniform.” Estes continued, “They said, ‘You look like a sergeant,’ so, if they like it, that’s one of the biggest compliments.”

Writers then make sure there is some kind of conflict for the characters

Although most of the characters are trying to do right by the law, they are often conflicted. That seems to be a goal when it comes to writing the cases.

Legal and police cases drive the episodes,” executive producer Kevin Wade told TV Insider. “But we’re careful to choose stories where there’s a built-in dilemma for our characters, and they consult one another as to whether justice is in fact black or white.”

There could be a risk that the stories then may skew a certain way since they’re coming from law enforcement, but the executive producer says he doesn’t aim to make “propaganda” for the NYPD. “We take the issues, throw them into the middle of the table and let everybody have a fork full.”

Tom Selleck is proud that the show doesn’t rip from the headlines

The Frank Reagan actor has talked a lot about what he loves about his latest TV role. On of the things he’s proud of is how it approaches inspiration differently.

Tom Selleck also told TV Insider that he has a “certain pride that [we] don’t rip stories from the headlines—that’s lazy.” Instead, the show focuses on “police-related issues that the public grapples with in the culture. This is a show that presents arguments on both sides of a heated contemporary issue.”

The show take stories from real law enforcement that wouldn’t be widely known like other shows. Inspiration is probably easy to find given law enforcement is already on the set to keep things realistic.

Read more: ‘Blue Bloods’: How Do Real Police Officers Actually Feel About the Show?

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