43 Horrifying Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Watching Every Episode of “Forensic Files”

Forensic Files is the true crime show you see late at night while you’re home visiting family or when you stay in a hotel. Unless you’re me, in which case you seek out every episode and watch them in your downtime. To relax??? Anyway, don’t do that. It’s not a show anyone should binge-watch. It’s horrible and the world is terrifying enough.

On the other hand I have learned a lot from watching Forensic Files. About myself, about life, about humanity, and especially about what not to do as a woman in the world. And so you don’t have to see what I’ve seen, here are 43 of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned from watching every episode of Forensic Files.

1. As a woman don’t work at night but also don’t be home at night but also don’t be out at night.

2. Don’t be a woman and also someone’s neighbor.

3. Set up an notification system to alert you if a life insurance policy is taken out in your name.

4. A great way to set off every social alarm is to keep showing up at the work where you got fired.

5. Take preventative measures in your bedroom in the case of an unexpected (deliberately set) fire. Possibly a pull slide?

6. Never go to sleep.

7. The best way to 100% prove you didn’t have sex with someone is to scream at the person questioning you, “WHAT? SEX?”

8. Things not to keep in your house: knives, plastic bags, lamps, wire, medication, motorcycle parts, stairs.

9. At the very end of the day we are all just a set of teeth.

10. “Beautiful, quiet community” is code for hunting ground.

11. Anyone that knocks on a door is a con artist.

12. I have a disturbing apathy toward arson.

13. Considering what you’re likely to find, off trail hiking is the most goth activity you can do.

14. It’s the boyfriend/husband.

15. “Mysterious” often means, “Very obvious, actually, if you asked literally one question.”

16. If someone asks you to go on a horse ride with them on a rocky trail they’ve definitely flicked you off as your back is turned.

17. The “act as if” rule originated from criminal sketch artists.

18. If you ever feel bored with your job there’s a person whose entire life has been dedicated to spreading out large piles of dirt onto a table and staring at it.

19. Mitochondrial DNA testing is the GOAT.

20. Dating as a divorcee is two times more dangerous than its non-divorcee counterpart.

21. No, really, it’s the boyfriend/husband.

22. Don’t hang out at the “local bar.”

23. Pop into someone’s criminal record if you’re deciding to marry them. If there’s a missing person or murder associated with their past consider not marrying them.

24. Animals will disrespect you in the afterlife.

25. People lie but directional blood patterns don’t.

26. Oh, it’s the wife also.

27. If you’re going to anger anyone make sure it’s not someone with a giant portrait of themselves in their house.

28. A good practice to get into is to initial every item of jewelry you own, unless you plan on committing a crime, in which case don’t initial anything.

29. Just as a general rule never go alone with someone on a boat.

30. There’s like a 30% chance the person you’re married to has an entire other family so well-established it’s complete with its own resentments.

31. If a show from the ’90s can get gender pronouns right so can we in 2016.

32. Once again dogs are the only pure things on earth.

33. Don’t be a jogger, gardener, waitress, radio DJ, sex worker, stay at home mom, working mom, student, dancer, nurse, doctor, office assistant, writer, or internet user.

34. No one should compare a murder to a banana split made up of distinct parts but especially not an attorney general?

35. “Family man” means latent sociopath.

36. Never let anyone fix a drink for you, especially the person you once loved unconditionally.

37. There are people who have the capacity to snack on Reese’s Cups as they commit murder.

38. “Classic love story” is code for unthinkable capacity for hate between two people.

39. Don’t print out your gay affair emails and keep them in your desk.

40. If you find your partner’s gay emails just be like, “It’s chill about the gay thing let’s explore this together,” rather than flying into a rage.

41. Don’t fight near a flight of stairs.

42. I’m now too desensitized to violence to not be considered a ruined person.

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Los Angeles based writer. Let's keep it clean out there!

Erin has written 208 articles for us.


  1. This is all very excellent life advice. I binged all of Criminal Minds once. There are a lot of episodes of Criminal Minds. Anyway from that I learned that literally everyone is a murderer and despite what your sarcastic friends told you at sleepovers in high school sometimes murderers DO ring the doorbell.

    • The number of times you thought we were about to get murdered but calmly sat there quietly accepting our fate!

      • I’m glad I gave the appearance of calm. Because inside I had already spotted at least five objects I could use as weapons to protect you, Stacy, and the cats should my suspicions be correct.

  2. I have also watched every episode of Forensic Files, and all of this is accurate.

    I recommend The FBI Files as a follow-up show for when there are no more FFs left to see. Or Snapped, if you want to be brainwashed into thinking only women commit crimes.


  3. “At the very end of the day we are all just a set of teeth.”

    I’ll take Goth Things to Embroider on a Pillow for 400, Alex

  4. the fuck am i supposed to do with this entire desk drawer full of printed-out emails about my gay affair NOW?!?!

  5. If someone knocks, and you go to the door and ask “who’s there?”, and they answer ” Candygram!”, DO NOT open the door, it is the Land Shark!!

  6. I watch these as bedtime stories when I can’t sleep sometimes (I don’t know) and I tell you what, Forensic Files sure loves it some perimortem sexual assault. This is obvious if you’ve ever watched it, and becomes all the more apparent when you are looking through the episodes to try to find one without it. I can handle the rich widow getting thrown over the stairs but pass pass pass on the other ones.

    The New Detectives is another Netflix option that is maybe slightly less this way but not by much.

  7. I also learned (and recommend) that you do not binge watch when you live in a big, empty apartment all by yourself.

  8. I made the mistake of watching Criminal Minds while house sitting. Luckily I had a very fierce yellow lab who definitely wasn’t getting older and softer and rounder to protect me (this is all sarcasm) so I wasn’t scared.
    What I learned from Criminal Minds is that if you’re a woman you could die at any moment. Fun!

  9. Yes me too sad to say have watched all the episodes of forensic files, and now I’m on nightmare next door, and now find my self checking to make sure every door and window are locked every night, my hubby thinks I’m crazy…

  10. One time I was pretty sure there were intruders in my house and I reacted by awaking no one, calling zero police, hiding in my locked room with the volume on my iPod turned to “deafening”

    So, you know, it’s nice to know just how useless I’d be in a crisis.

    • (there were no intruders, I think it was one of those things where you are awake but still dreaming? I thought my parents were fighting at 3 AM, which was Odd, so I went to investigate, but then both voices were men, and when they heard me approach they stopped talking for a tense two seconds, followed by heavy footsteps in my direction)

      (it was at this point that I ran, locked myself in my room, quietly awaited death)

      • Ah, hear no evil , so no evil is there……unless the evil insists that it IS there! Then run like hell, and hide like a chameleon! Sounds like a plan I might choose.

  11. Also my mother watches these types of shows every day and has, as a result, lost all faith in the investigative abilities / basic intelligence levels in your average police force

    “the case was finally solved when, ten years later, an investigator decided to listen to the tape in the portable cassette recorder found next to her body… And Heard THE KILLERS CONFESSION”

    — Summary of how an actual cold case was solved

  12. Forensic Files used to be my “going to sleep” show before I cut off cable. My new place has cable provided so when we flipped through the channels and I recognized that familiar narrator’s voice saying “human remains” I knocked the remote out of my girlfriend’s hand with glee. I am home again!

    • It’s not just meeee! My girlfriend thinks I’m so weird for being lulled to sleep by this. At least I’m not the only one.

  13. ACK.

    I am a heavy sleeper when there is a whiny dog knocking over laundry baskets, but when there is a Weird Noise I am the first out of bed flicking lights on and peering wild eyed around corners.

    Gf loves to tell the story about hearing weird noises in the bushes one night and she was so freaked out and I yelled “I’m coming out there with my baseball bat!” And it was my tiny hippie neighbor who had dropped something and was zero percent trying to break into our house. I felt really bad and apologized several times.

    For context, I have never hit anyone with a baseball bat ever, ever, ever, but sometimes when I get scared I developed the strategy sometime in my early 20s to like, yell I’LL CUT YOUR FUCKING FACE OFF, which startles people, because I am a quiet femmey person who dresses like an elementary school art teacher and 97% of the time does not yell that shit at people. Just like, girlfriend acts like a scared rabbit and I get all like I WILL SAVE YOU WITH YELLING

    • The thought of someone yelling “I’m coming out there with my baseball bat!” to a tiny person doing something innocuous is so funny to me!
      Also I am one of those people who reacts to frights with violence and I have come terrifyingly close to punching my gf in the nose when she jumped around a doorway to scare me one time in the dark. I am very blonde and femme-presenting so no one expects me to be the kind of person who physically threatens people when they get in my space. I know where you’re coming from!

      • Yeah I mostly don’t! It’s literally just when weird noises are happening in the middle of the night! Or if people are actually up in my airspace being icky, but that’s pretty rare. I’ve never been that way toward gf, mostly just creepy dudes. And unidentified rustling in the bushes.

  14. I’ve never understood people that have two entirely separate families, that they are actively part of. I barely have the energy to part of one family, and I’m a childfree daughter & sibling, not married with kids.

    I watch these shows and spend half the time yelling at the screen and the other half texting my crime loving friend about how people could think, “hey, I don’t want to be married anymore, so clearly murder is the better option, not divorce.”

  15. I have a thing for crime documentaries. There is a show on Hulu called “Deadly Women”, there are 9 seasons (over 100 episodes). Each episode features reenactments of four different female murderers. Something about lady murderers is extremely intriguing to me. I choose not to explore why I have these feelings… Anyways this show is definitely worth the watch. There are women of all ages and sexualities. From young girls who kill their parents or grandparents to women who have murdered their past 5 husbands.

  16. Another crime show, “Partners in Crime”, which is on Netflix, features The Hello Kitty Murder in its first episode. A fourteen year old girl from Hong Kong reported to the police that she was being haunted by the ghost of a women she had helped torture. The officers were skeptical but followed the girl to the flat where the torture and murder had taken place. While they didn’t find a ghost they did find organs and teeth in the fridge. However the most shocking discover was the boiled skull of the victim sown into the head of a large, stuffed Hello Kitty mermaid toy.

  17. A few years back a middle aged man broke into my home. I would have been terrified except for the fact my four very large dogs attacked him immediately. I have never seen a grown more scared in my entire life. He was very obviously drunk and apologized before running out. My dogs are not aggressive, the man was unscathed but definitely traumatized, as was I. I am grateful that I have my dogs here to protect me. I feel quite safe. Although I’m pretty sure my black lab could be easily disueded with food.

  18. #42
    Welcome to the club, Erin.
    We take bets on true crime shows, horror movies and violent sci-fi, but not with money(we’re not monsters). Gently bicker about which impact weapons (improvised and traditional) would be best and what situation that best might be.

    There are red velvet cake products.

  19. Your opening sentence made my partner and I laugh because it was exactly right! Just got back from visiting my sister’s family. So many forensic files watched in the hotel room…

  20. These are completely spot-on. I’ve been known to tell people I never want to get life insurance because then I’ll get murdered. #ForensicFilesLogic

  21. This shows gives me nightmares. My sister once made me watch a marathon over one of the university breaks to torture me. Not a fan.

  22. This is phenomenal. I tell my husband that I will only allow a $15,000 life insurance policy to cover burial expenses. Anything more and I am pretty sure he is plotting my death.

    Damn you forensic files!

  23. This. THIS is pure bliss. Thank you. Never live in a remote location or country town either.

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