Shawn Spencer is always moving on from one fun thing to another and hasn't kept a job for more than six months, having had fifty-seven in total since high school. With the art of observation drilled into him since he was young by his policeman father, he has an incredible eye for details. He uses this special gift to solve crimes just by watching the stories on the news. Soon, he's hauled into questioning by Detective Carlton Lassiter for being in on the crime, after as he goes in to pick up his reward check for one such helpful tip. The police believe that he was in on the crime, because the information he gave them could have only come from one place - the inside. Out of options, Shawn lies, saying that he is a man with an amazing gift - he is psychic. Detective Lassiter refuses to believe him, but Junior Detective Lucinda Barry does. After his alibi checks out, he is free to go.
Leaving the station, he is approached by the Interim Chief Vick, who tells him about a kidnapping case that the department could use a miracle on. The Chief hires him to help find Camden McCallum, Jr., the sole male heir to the McCallum textile fortune.
When Shawn realizes that he has a new (but false) career on his hands, he drags his best friend Burton "Gus" Guster, a pharmaceutical salesman, along on the adventure. Gus is less than thrilled, but joins the hunt on the McCallum case.
After doing some research, Shawn and Gus figure out the Camden used to be a wild party boy. About 18 months ago, he went straight. Shawn figures he wouldn't just change his ways without something happening to make him. Camden was at a park when he disappeared along with his dog, which he never did anything without. Shawn quickly figures it out - Camden kidnapped himself. Exactly 18 months ago, his father threatened to cut him off if he didn't clean up his act. At about the same time, Camden stopped hanging out with his best friend, Malcolm Orso. Camden and Malcolm have been planning this "kidnapping" from the beginning for the ransom money.
Shawn and Gus head to the Orsos' family cabin, where they spot Camden's dog. This is were Camden and Malcolm have been hiding. Now all Shawn and Gus have to do is lead the police there without arousing suspicion. At the police station, Shawn has a "psychic vision" that leads the police to the cabin.
At the cabin, the police find Camden and Malcolm dead in what appears to be a murder suicide. Shawn is not convinced and believes that there is more to the case than it seems. Shawn and Gus head to the McCallum home and meet Mr. McCallum, who now has a strange cut on his wrist. It was rumored that Mr. McCallum had tried to kill himself, but Shawn is not convinced.
Shawn decides to ask Henry, his own estranged father, for advice. Henry angrily tells Shawn that he has gone soft and that he is trusting someone he shouldn't be. That leads him to suspect Camden's sister, Katarina. After research, he discovers that she was not involved had nothing to do with it, but the bag she was carrying did – it once contained the ransom money. Someone had tried to pay ransom money - but why did two people end up dead?
Shawn discovers that Mr. McCallum had gone to pay the ransom, but recognized Malcolm Orso's car on the way to the drop. After realizing that the whole thing was a scam, he went to the Orso cabin to find Camden waiting there. They began arguing and it git heated - Camden fell, slamming his head on the table, and was killed on impact. Malcolm walked in and saw the body, so McCallum had no choice but to shoot him and cover his tracks, making it look like a suicide. On his way out, Camden's dog bit him on the wrist, explaining why it was cut and bandaged. Excited, he calls the police, but not on McCallum; on Gus and himself.
When the police get to the McCallum house, they arrest Shawn and Gus. As they are about to be led away, Shawn proves his theory is true by having a "vision" of consumine, a dog bite medication in McCallum's medicine cabinet (that Gus saw and recognized earlier when he went to the bathroom). Shawn and Gus have solved their first case, which, of course, is more than enough reason for them to open up an office for their new detective agency, "Psych".
- James Roday improvised the "pineapple" scene, and it became a recurring gag, and motif, for the show.
- A pineapple appears in this episode when Shawn offers to cut one up for the road to the lakehouse.
- As Gus mentions, "Psych" is a double meaning. While it is a proper noun referring to their detective agency, it also refers to the fact that, sike!, Shawn isn't actually a psychic.
- This premiere episode was the highest rated premiere episode on cable in 2006, receiving 6.06 million viewers.
- There are two versions of the Pilot around, the standard and the 'International' edition, the latter of which is almost twelve minutes longer, giving Lucinda Barry in particular more screen time, as well as making Shawn a crack marksman.
The gallery for Pilot can be found here.