Robert Goren

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We're pretty good at connecting the dots.One of Goren's most famous lines

Robert Goren is the main character of the NBC procedural crime drama Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He is an intellectually gifted, eccentric NYPD police detective who solves crimes by profiling criminals' motives and personalities. He is partnered with Det. Alexandra Eames.

He is portrayed


Character overview

A highly intelligent, emotionally intuitive man, Goren has a talent for forming complex psychological profiles and understanding the "why" of even the most unusual crimes. Goren himself has admitted his investigative style is unusual, stating that "I am an acquired taste". Even his partner, Alexandra Eames, was at first so puzzled by his methods that she asked for a new partner. She eventually came to respect his abilities, however, and the two became very close.


Early life

Goren grew up in a dysfunctional home; his father, William, was a gambling addict and serial adulterer who was frequently absent from home, and his mother, Frances, suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Goren resented his father, and was frightened by and ashamed of his mother's illness; 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".

An exceptionally bright young man, Goren took the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) his senior year of high school, and was afterwards 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.

He has an older brother, Frank, who as an adult becomes addicted to drugs and gambling, and is frequently homeless. Frank's son, Donny, suffers from paranoid schizophrenia passed down from his grandmother, and Goren at one point goes undercover in a prison psychiatric ward to save him from the abusive guards. When Frank refuses to help Donny, Goren disowns him. Frank is later murdered by Goren's beautiful Australian nemesis, Nicole Wallace, under orders from Goren's mentor Declan Gage.

While investigating possible additional murders committed by condemned serial killer Mark Ford Brady, Goren discovers that Brady may be his biological father, having had an affair with Frances during one of her husband frequent gambling binges. Frances, who is dying of leukemia, admits to Goren that she is not sure who his father is before she passes away. Goren later confirms that Brady is in fact his biological father.

He served in the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Division as a young man, and was stationed in Germany and Korea. During his service, he was mentored by Declan Gage, a famed criminal profiler. He then joined the NYPD as a detective in the Major Case Squad.

In Criminal Intent

Goren is partnered with Detective Alexandra Eames, with whom he shares a close, sibling-like bond. They investigate murders, with Goren using his gifts for empathy, deduction, and intuition to understand the killers' motives, predict what they will do, and manipulate them into giving away their guilt. He also uses his eccentricity and imposing physique to make murder suspects uncomfortable; he is particularly well-known for his habit of cocking his head at odd angles to maintain eye contact with people as he interrogates them.

While he is adept at outwitting criminals, he sometimes meets his match, particularly with Nicole Wallace, a beautiful Australian con artist and serial killer who is his intellectual equal and even manages a few times to get the better of him; she is referred to as Goren's arch-nemesis, his "White Whale". During their first encounter, Wallace researches Goren's background and throws him off guard by confronting him with details of his unhappy childhood. Wallace periodically returns to match wits with Goren, until she was supposedly murdered by Declan Gage, who had been killing the people whom he felt were holding Goren back in order to "free" him of his past. Although, five years after in 2013, Nicole reemerge as Madeline Haynes in Paris and begin her crime spree there, then was arrested for her crimes. However, she manages to escape justice by setting up the Koreans for the crime. It is later revealed that her DNA is not a match to Nicole Wallace's on file and the minister releases her from prison, meaning she most likely used forensic trickery to escape and assume a new identity.

Goren at first works under Captain James Deakins, and then Captain Danny Ross after Deakins retires. When Ross is murdered, Goren is suspended following a physical altercation with the killer. Eames is then promoted to Lieutenant - on the condition that she fire Goren. He resigns rather than force her into an uncomfortable position, but she ultimately resigns, as well.

The following season, however, Goren and Eames are back in their old jobs, for reasons that are never fully explained. (It is suggested, however, that their new Captain, Joseph Hannah, pulled strings to get them back on the force.) One condition of Goren's rehiring is that he undergo therapy. While he is at first uncomfortable with the idea of someone analyzing him rather than the other way around, he grows to trust his therapist, Dr. Paula Gyson, and grows both as a police officer and as a person thanks to the therapy process.

Years later, during an investigation with the NYPD's Special Victims Unit, Eames, once again promoted to Lieutenant, tells Lieutenant Olivia Benson that her partner had "moved on" from the Major Case Squad.

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