‘Blue Bloods’: Frank Reagan Actor Tom Selleck Does One Thing the Same for Every Family Dinner Scene

by Josh Lanier

Even most hardcore Blue Bloods fans missed it. The show famously features a family dinner scene in every episode. And Tom Selleck, who plays the Reagan family patriarch, does the same thing for every meal. Got any guesses as to what it is?

Well, it’s as ubiquitous as his mustache. Frank Reagan always wears a sweater. Regardless of the season, Reagan’s sartorial selection for supper stays constant. Selleck has never said why he wears the sweaters or if it was even his idea. And Blue Bloods showrunner Kevin Wade hasn’t commented on it either. But it makes sense, doesn’t it?

Frank Reagan has an old-world sensibility about him. He loves his family dinners. And him, at the head of the table, bedecked in a V-neck sweater, looks almost like a Norman Rockwell painting. It paints a picture of a tradition that predates Frank, and one that will continue after he’s gone.

In fact, Blue Bloods producer Leonard Goldberg said the idea for the family dinners after a friend gave him a book of some of Rockwell’s most famous works, he told TV Guide in 2011.

“It included his famous Thanksgiving Saturday Evening Post illustration, which shows a rural family seated at the table as the mother brings in the turkey. Our family was going to be an urban family [without a mother], but that painting was our family. There would be a police story — to keep CBS viewers happy — but it really would be a character piece.”

Reddit user Navitach was the first to spot the trend.

Selleck Assumed CBS Would Cut the Dinner Scenes

Tom Selleck loved the Blue Bloods pilot script when he read it, but he figured the network would remove the dinner scene. It was 8 pages. As a rule of thumb, a script page usually equals about a minute of television. So eight minutes spent on one scene seemed ripe to hit the cutting room floor. But show creator Leonard Goldberg knew something Selleck didn’t.

“When I met with Leonard, I knew Leonard and I read the script for the show. I read the script I said,’ You know what I really like about this thing is the family dinner scenes. But it’s like eight pages long and the network is going to cut that out,’” Selleck recalled during a 2017 Q&A. “And he said ‘No, that is a set piece of the show.’ So that was a deliberate design of Leonard’s from day one.”

Len Cariou, who plays Henry Reagan on Blue Bloods, remembers when Goldberg pitched the idea of the family dinners. Cariou thought it was a novel idea, and one that wasn’t done on television very often anymore.

“That will be the glue that brings it all together,” Cariou remembered Goldberg saying. “We’ll see what Donnie does and what Will does and what Pop does and what Tom does. Then we’ll get it all around the table. And try to educate the kids to give them a little perspective.’ So it was really interesting to me that that was his inspiration.”