Detective Robert Goren

Detective Robert Goren is a fictional character featured in NBC's Law & Order: Criminal Intent, portrayed by Vincent D'Onofrio. Goren works as a detective (detective investigator first grade) for the Major Case Squad in the New York Police Department (NYPD). As created by Rene Balcer and interpreted by D'Onofrio, Goren is an intense, intelligent, and imposing man who uses his intuition and insight into human nature to size up suspects and pick apart the details of crimes. Goren's diverse background frequently supplies him with information he uses to solve cases.
Criminal Intent highlights Goren's abilities as a profiler and an interrogator. He is able to elicit confessions from calculating killers with his insight into their minds and his imposing physical presence. However, Goren shows a sensitive side as well, particularly directed at his mother, his partner Detective Alexandra Eames and female victims of the crimes he is solving. Goren's personal history and interpersonal relationships are explored primarily in the following episodes:

Anti-Thesis (S02E03) Mother Frances Goren
A Person Of Interest (S02E22) Mother and Father
Blink (S02E19) Father
Mad Hops (S03E11) Father
Semi-Detached (S04E01) Mother
In The Wee, Small Hours 2 (S05E07) Mother, Brother Frank Goren and relationship with Eames
Blind Spot (S06E14) Eames
Brother's Keeper (S06E14) Brother and Mother
Endgame (S06E21) Brother, Mother and Father

Early life
Goren's childhood contributed to his ability to understand criminal psychology and to empathize with the victims of crimes. He states that he knows what it is like 'to have your judgement, your sense of security undermined by your parents; because they were hiding a truth or denying it to themselves'. However, he never removes the responsibility for present actions from the criminals themselves. Further, Goren often openly flinches whenever his family is mentioned. Goren's arch-nemesis, Nicole Wallace often exploits weaknesses tied to his emotions regarding his family. Wallace used Goren's birthdate (August 20, 1961) and social security number (845-67-3906) to discover intimate details of his life with which she manipulates his emotional state. After taking the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) his senior year of high school, Goren was sent to the school counselor and for a talk with the 'school shrink'. He played basketball as a youth, but quit when he 'lost his love for the game', possibly due to the fact his father never paid attention to his efforts. His position on his junior varsity high school team was power forward.

Frances Goren
At one time Goren's mother, Frances was a librarian. (Criminal Intent's executive producer Rene Balcer's own mother was also a librarian) Frances suffered from schizophrenia and was an in-patient at Carmel Ridge (In episode Anti-Thesis the closed captioning displays the name as the 'Komman-Rich Center'). Frances first started showing symptoms of schizophrenia when she was 32 years old and Goren was 7 years old. Goren says she has been slipping away from him his whole life, but he can't let go.He calls her every day and visits her once a week. Frances appears on screen for the first time in the episode The War At Home (S06E08) when she is to undergo major surgery for lymphoma. She seemed to dislike her doctors, specifically Dr. Sylvest, as well as the hospital itself. She felt her other son Frank Goren kept her from having to endure the hospital, hospice or chemotherapy. Frank would 'take care of her'. Goren discussed the experimental treatment of radiation-carrying monoclonal antibodies with Dr. Sylvest, but given the expense and the fact that Medicaid does not cover it, Goren seemed to agree with Sylvest that it may not be the best choice for the family. In episode Endgame (S06E21) Frances dies.

Goren's Father
Until episode Endgame, the phrase 'Goren's father' was unambiguous. After that episode, two men could be referenced in that manner.

Mr. Goren
Mr. Goren was a gambler who was away 'a lot' and repeatedly cheated on Frances. (Rene Balcer describes Goren's father as 'a rake'). When Nicole Wallace characterizes his father as a bon vivant, Goren only replies that 'He liked a good time'. His father also gambled on horse racing. His father left his mother when Goren was 11. His parents later divorced. Goren now harbors a hatred of men who abandon their wives, especially if the wives are sick, and/or neglect their children. When blindsided by Wallace, Goren comments, 'She picked a man I already didn't trust. I already didn't respect. ... She, uh, picked a man like my father'. However, at the time Mr. Goren left the family, Goren blamed his mother for driving his father away. It may be that some of Goren's dislike stems from guilt over having felt this way in the past. Another criminal also tries to exploit this blind spot in Goren's analytical skills. Mr. Goren died a lonely man with just enough money left to pay for his funeral. Detective Goren was left to clean out his apartment.

Mark Ford Brady
In episode Endgame, Roy Scheider plays an incarcerated serial rapist and murderer named Mark Ford Brady. Scheduled for execution and anxious to give the state a reason to delay it, Brady arranges for Goren and Eames to interview him about victims not yet attributed to him. Goren pieces together a story showing from their teenage years, Brady and Frances Goren had a long-term, on-and-off relationship. Their relationship continued until Goren was 4 and his brother Frank was 7. Frank remembers Brady as 'Uncle Mark' but does not recall seeing him again after Frances and Mark got into a 'car crash'. Goren recalls that after that incident, his mother was never the same. Confronting Brady again in a death row interview room, Goren learns that Brady was on leave around the time Kennedy was elected, the month that he would have been conceived. Goren then faces the horrible possibility that this serial killer might be his father. Since Mark Brady was a rapist, his DNA would be available for a comparison test to settle the paternity issue. But in line with what some viewers see as Season 6's melodramatic tone, Goren confronts his dying mother during what many have viewed as an overwrought scene at her bedside. She reveals that she does not know who his father is: Mr. Goren or Brady. She dies that evening. Brady is executed that night. As of the end of Season 6, the question of whether Brady is Goren's biological father is unanswered. The episode Endgame does not raise the question of whether Goren rejected the possibility of a simple paternity test or whether that is an issue to be raised in a later episode.

Frank Goren
Goren's older brother (a weird Mycroft to Bobby's Sherlock Holmes if ever there was one), Frank Goren is presented as a man who has a gambling problem. In the episode Gemini (S03E02), it is mentioned that Goren is estranged from his brother and has a low opinion of him. However, Frances is very proud of Frank. She describes him as a 'scientist' although it is unknown whether this is true. Frances says Frank never caught a break, but that Bobby had all the luck. She seems to believe that Frank would take better care of her than Bobby does. When the brothers encounter each other on the streets of Manhattan, Bobby is shocked to find Frank is homeless and destitute. Frank did not know Frances was ill or seem to know that Bobby is a police officer. Frank refers to a homeless woman as 'his old lady' although they may not be legally married. Frank says that the 'church people' are good to him and credits them with saving his life. However, since Bobby arrested the Reverend Calvin Riggins around whom the Light of Heaven Evangelical Institute was centered, he may have indirectly removed Frank's benefactors. Bobby gives Frank 50 dolar (in cash), his overcoat, and his business card. Bobby tells Frank to call him if he ever needs any help. They agree to meet the following Sunday, which happens to be Frances' birthday. Frank does not meet Bobby at the agreed time or place. In vain, Frances waits for Frank to appear, sure that he would never forget her birthday. Bobby does not reveal that Frank is homeless or any details of his condition. Later, a body turns up in the morgue wearing the Bobby's overcoat, but it is a stranger. Frank apparently sold the coat, leaving Robert Goren's card in the pocket. In the episode Endgame we see Frank Goren again, now clean. He is the one who informs Bobby that Mark Ford Brady was a friend of their mother many years ago. 'Uncle Mark' came to visit them until Frank was 7 and Bobby 4. Frank seems unaware of how this information affects Bobby.

Military Life
After college, Goren served in the Criminal Investigation Division of the U.S Army. He was stationed in Germany and did a 6-week tour in South Korea. (The dialog says a 6-week tour in South Korea, but the closed captioning says a 6-month tour.) Although a specific timeline for his service has not been established, he was in Germany during 1987. Goren probably smoked while in the Army and has been seen smoking on rare occasions. Before joining the NYPD, Goren earned a Purple Heart. While Sergeant Goren was with CID in South Korea, he was mentored in criminal profiling by Dr. Declan Gage, one of the first criminal profilers. They met when the FBI loaned Gage out to advise on a serial killer in South Korea. The mentoring continued after Gage 'had his meltdown'.

Work Life
Before joining Major Case, Goren spent four years in the Narcotics Division, running three sting operations that resulted in 27 arrests and 27 convictions (Insider - S01E13). He has had great success in obtaining convictions within Major Case as well. He's disinterested in Narcotics now when Captain Deakins suggests Goren and Eames hand off a killing spree case to Precinct 15 to join the mayor's drug task force, Goren recognizes that it's a good chance to 'get noticed' but neither he nor Eames seem enthusiastic about the career opportunity (Jones - S01E05). Excluding hostage situations, between them Goren and Eames have handled nearly a dozen kidnappings and have not lost a single person (Homo Homini Lupus - S01E14). When Captain James Deakins is replaced as the head of Major Case by Captain Danny Ross, Goren loses a major supporter. Ross does seem to become convinced of Goren's ability and worth. Goren is partnered with Det. Alex Eames and has been since sometime in 2000. During the episode In the Wee, Small Hours 2 (S05E07) he learned that early in their partnership, Eames petitioned the department for a new partner. She later withdrew the petition. Letting her know the he is not offended that she once thought him erratic and unstable, Goren admits he is 'an acquired taste'. Goren was temporarily partnered with Detective G. Lynn Bishop in 2003-2004 while Eames was on maternity leave. They did not work together well as a team. Goren often compared Bishop to Eames, to Bishop's detriment. In general, he seemed uncomfortable with her. Although she respected his ability to close cases, Bishop did not appreciate Goren's somewhat aggressive style of questioning uncooperative witnesses. Goren's personal attachment to Eames was highlighted throughout this period; more than once he was shown to be actively missing her. Eames is practical, while Goren is often portrayed as intellectual, yet there is little evidence of conflict between them. Indeed, they display mutual respect and friendship. Goren himself said they have complementary skills. Goren is portrayed as having extensive book knowledge while Eames is portrayed as more computer savvy. Contrasting with the instability of his family, Eames is a steadying, and perhaps calming, influence. The episode Blind Spot (S06E14) elucidates Goren's attitude towards and feelings for Eames. She's, in many ways, the one person on whom Goren can truly rely; he is at his best when she's with him, and is most vulnerable when she is absent. While Goren has never crossed the line into open insubordination, he does occasionally push professional boundaries, either because he feels it will solve the case more effectively or because empathy leads him to believe that the most extreme punishments are not warranted. Eames once said that his willingness to test authority stems from his days as a lapsed altar boy.

Work Habits
Goren and Eames both tend to discuss the other, and call each other, by their last names alone. However, Eames does address him by the more intimate Bobby (the name by which he is known to his family) when it is clear he is under unusual stress. Although Goren appears to be the team leader, he is actually the junior partner in their working relationship.It's not uncommon for Goren and Eames to pretend to be a couple, married or not, when trying to obtain information from non-traditional sources. An interesting quirk is Goren's habit of cocking his head at odd angles while talking to people (side talking). D'Onofrio invented this kind of 'sideways-head guy' habit from a scene in the pilot episode where a suspect he was interrogating would not look him in the eye. It's such a strong identifier of his character that a woman who, while describing a psychic dream she had, labeled Goren as being 'the man with the broken neck'. The side talking (Goren Lean) or side peering has become an element of every episode in which he appears. Additionally, when questioning people, Goren will attempt to agitate uncooperative suspects by exploiting a weakness of theirs which he has noticed. For ex. if he believes a subject is a 'neat freak' he will deliberately move the subject's possessions around to create clutter, appearing to do so out of clumsiness or lack of respect, in order to rattle them. Goren often displays the traits of a high fuctioning autistic or autistic savant. Goren displays an uncanny ability to identify smells. His nose, his sense of smell, becomes a powerful investigative tool throughout the series.

Personal Life and Habits
As with the parent Law & Order series, and unlike the spinoff Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Criminal Intent seldom delves into the current romantic life of its main characters. Goren states that, while in the armed forces, he read the Quran in order to impress a Turkish girl to whom he was attracted. Additionally, he spent some time at Oxford chasing co-eds. When discussing the relationship between Nicole Wallace and Goren, Rene Balcer stated that Goren respects Wallace 'in some sick way' because she can identify his 'buttons' (holes in his psyche or intellect; his Achilles' Heels) and knows how to push them. Balcer says Goren is not romantically attracted to Wallace because 'she is a psychopathic serial killer'. However, the two show a great deal of on-screen chemistry. He drinks Glenlivet and likes Veal Parmesan enough to order it five nights in a row at Sal's Restaurant. (When the waitress commented on the repetition, he charmed her by replying that he really just liked the way that she wrote it down. She responded by grabbing the order from a passing server and serving him immediately).

Character Comparisons
Goren is often compared to Sherlock Holmes because both latch onto clues that seem minor but end up solving a case. Both possess the ability to come up with a complete theory of a crime based on little evidence, and then sustain that theory based on evidence. Nicole Wallace is probably a direct attempt to play on Holmes' antagonist Professor Moriarty. However, Goren displays more compassion and empathy than Holmes. Goren even displays sorrow regarding how Wallace's past damaged her, and destroyed 'that sparkling little girl' she once was. Goren's character owes a lot to another popular television detective, Lt. Columbo. He often mirrors Columbo's habit of stopping to ask a suspect 'one last' question before leaving. He also catches people off guard by pretending to be incompetent. While Goren is not as disheveled as Columbo, he certainly is not as formal as his fellow detectives. Both tend to appear unshaven and to wear an oversize trench coat. Rene Balcer further cites Georges Simenon's French Comissaire Maigret influenced Goren's development. He also says the character owes a lot to Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe for some attributes. And like Detective Dave Robicheaux, Goren believes in the power of libraries to aid detective work: 'I need to use my most important investigative tool, my library card (Dead - S02E01).And as factual persons, Rene Balcer cites the forensic psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz as a model for Goren's interview style and ability to get others to talk about themselves.


  • His full name is Robert O. Goren. His middle name has not yet been given in full.

  • He is left-handed.

  • He is 6 feet, 4 inches tall.

  • He appears to speak German and some Cantonese. He can read some Russian. He also knows some American Sign Language but not enough to conduct an interview.

  • He is allergic to cats.

  • He was vaccinated for anthrax after 9/11.

  • His NYPD badge number is shown to be '4376' in numerous episodes.

  • His office address: Major Case Squad, One Police Plaza, 11th Floor. (The Pardoner's Tale - S01E08). His office phone number: (212) 555-0146. (Phantom - S01E16)

  • He carries a brown zippered notebook, cell phone, cloth handkerchief, pocket knife.

  • He leaves Eames task of interviewing witnesses at fresh scene; examines physical evidence personally.

  • He can catch forensic evidence CSU techs miss.

  • He is extremely detail-oriented. He doesn't miss a thing, most of the time. But not always totally accurate with his profiles.

  • Shown smoking once, bumming a puff from a street person (Faithful - S01E04) but has said he quit smoking 7 years ago. (Pilgrim - S02E08)

  • He has experience dealing with the mentally ill and later on it is revealed his mother was schitzophrenic. (Faithful - S01E04) (Seizure - S01E17) (See Me - S02E13)

  • He likes to dance. (Jones - S01E05) (Unrequited - S03E12) (Pas De Deux - S03E13)

  • He takes an antacid after eating pastrami with mustard. (The Insider - S01E13)

  • He does not like confined or closed in spaces. (Cherry Red - S02E19) (Pravda - S03E05)

  • Goren's mother disliked most of his childhood girlfriends. (Smothered - S01E03)

  • He has a friend named Lewis, an auto mechanic/body shop owner specializing in classic car restoration. (The Pardoner's Tale - S01E08). Another friend named Max who is a rabbi. (Pilgrim - S02E08) Another friend named Stephen who is a linguist at Princeton. (A Murderer Among Us - S03E07)

  • He once dated Irene, a stockbroker, who is saving up to buy a house with (presumably new significant other). (The Enemy Within - S01E10)

  • He read the Koran while stationed in Germany to impress a Turkish girl who lived near the base. (Pilgrim - S02E08) And he once dated a girl named Lola, who had cats. (Goren to Eames: 'I had a girlfriend, Lola. She had cats...' Eames: 'You ate furballs for her?' (Cherry Red - S02E19)

  • He didn't vote for current governor (Pataki, Republican). (The Pardoner's Tale - S01E08)

  • He believes that idealy, children should have two parents. (The Extra Man - S01E06)

  • He supports pro-choice. (The Third Horseman - S01E11)

  • He likes the art of Lucian Freud, preferring it to Impressionist works. (Art - S01E02)

  • He knows how to make bouillabaisse (the French seafood-based stew). (Phantom - S01E16)

  • He reads 'Smithsonian' magazine, defining it as the perfect size for his treadmill.(Pilgrim - S02E08)

  • He tends towards calling appealing automobiles 'sweet'. (The Pardoner's Tale - S01E08) (Crazy - S01E12

  • His shoe size is 13. (Jones - S01E05)

(Taken from the sites: and

Major Case Square Of NY In R/L