Blue Bloods has been on air for over a decade and is one of CBS’s most popular shows for countless reasons. The family-focused law procedural follows the Reagan family, a renowned and respected family in New York law enforcement that has committed their lives to serving and protecting. The interpersonal dynamics between family members is the defining trait of the show, making it unique among cop shows. With 13 completed seasons, there are plenty of unexpected twists and turns that have happened in the series. However, among all the surprising storylines and plot points of the series, the Season 10 finale features one of the most shocking reveals that the series has ever had. This unexpected character introduction reframed not only how the audience sees the Reagans, but also how the family sees themselves. Joseph Hill (Will Hochman) is initially introduced as a remarkable up-and-coming police officer, but it’s soon revealed that he’s not just another cop, but another Reagan.
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Who Are the ‘Blue Bloods’?
While discovering an estranged family member is, by its very nature, a large surprise, it’s even more significant in the context of the series. The tight-knight family bond of the Reagans is the foundation of the entire series, as they are arguably one of the most connected families on television. This is highlighted by the weekly Sunday dinners that the family members all gather for. These Blue Bloods dinner scenes happen in every episode and are heartwarming demonstrations of their family traditions and community bond, making them some of the most important moments in the series.
In addition to their weekly meals, the Reagans are deeply connected through their professions and desire for justice. They are the eponymous “blue bloods” because of their family’s prominence in New York law enforcement, ranging in their position from a patrol officer all the way up to the Commissioner of the NYPD. Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) is the wise patriarch of the family, who not only sits at the head of the dining table but at the top of the NYPD as Police Commissioner. His three living children are prominent faces in law enforcement as well. Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) is the eldest of the Reagan children and a classic old-school, hot-headed detective.
He has three younger siblings, Erin, Jamie, and Joseph. Erin (Bridget Moynahan), while not a cop, still works in law enforcement as a New York County Assistant District Attorney. Jamie (Will Estes), the youngest of the group, started out as a beat cop before getting promoted to Sergeant. Joseph Reagan, the last of the siblings, was killed prior to the start of the series. Justice for his death was one of the major plot points in the first season, but his relevance continued throughout the rest of the series. All the way from Frank’s own father, who was also a former police commissioner, to the children of the main three siblings, Blue Blood‘s Reagan family is close across multiple generations, not just between siblings or parents. With that much emphasis on family bonds and weekly demonstrations of their adherence to tradition, the addition of a new family member that no one knew about was the most shocking reveal to the characters, just as much as it was a surprise to the audience.
Joe Hill Shook the ‘Blue Bloods’ Family in Season 10
Keeping in mind the context of how interconnected the Reagan family is makes the introduction of Joe Hill the most unexpected moment in the series. In the Season 10 finale, “Family Secrets,” a family friend of Frank Reagan revealed that her child was actually the son of Joe Reagan. This reveal was unprecedented and stupefying to everyone who found out. It wasn’t like one of the family members got married or had a child, which are family additions that you can at least build up towards. Instead, Tom Selleck’s Frank discovered that his deceased son had a child without anyone knowing. Paula, Joe Hill’s mother, confided that Joe Reagan knew nothing about his son prior to his death.
Joe Hill was an NYPD detective, following in his family’s footsteps without even realizing it. Joe first gains attention for his heroic work on the job, earning him great press and an exemplary reputation. He initially served as part of the Brooklyn North Firearms Investigation Unit, though his mother requested to Frank that he be assigned to a safer assignment. Frank ultimately turns down her request, with respect to Joe and the line of service, but also expresses his desire to introduce him to the rest of the family. Joe is invited to the iconic Sunday dinner at the end of Season 10, before becoming a prominent recurring character in Season 11. Joe is forced into the limelight and contends with the reality of being part of the NYPD’s de facto first family.
Joe Hill Is What ‘Blue Bloods’ Needed
The addition of Joe to the series was such a shakeup of the show’s DNA because of a combination of how unexpected it was and how deeply personal his inclusion felt. This was a new blood relative that was a part of the “blue bloods” of the NYPD, but he wasn’t raised with the rest of the family. For the past decade of the series, and even the years prior to that, he had been serving the NYPD without being a part of the family. In the background of the series, he was out there but was separated from a group of people who would have welcomed and supported him.
Joe’s narrative arcs rejuvenated the cop procedural by providing a new perspective on the Reagan family from what viewers had grown accustomed to. He helped reexamine what it was like to join the family, learn about their traditions, and how to manage the expectations that come from their reputation and history. While we were familiar with the ins and outs of Sunday dinner and their family dynamics, all Joe knew was their reputation. His estrangement from the rest of the family was also a gut punch to Frank, who reserved pride in his family’s connections. Knowing that he had a grandson who grew up without his father and extended family was a deep wound to his heart.
While Joe was prominent throughout Season 11 of the show, he would eventually depart from the public eye as he took on an undercover role that would see him depart from the series. However, though he may not have stayed as a regular part of the cast, his integration and connection to the family have been made permanent. Ultimately, the reveal of Joe Hill was the most unexpected in the series, but his inclusion and welcome into the family stands as one of the most exciting storylines on Blue Bloods.