Blue Bloods: Why The Reagans Stopped Praying & 10 Other Things You Didn’T Know About The Family Dinner Scenes


Blue Bloods is a riveting, popular police procedural drama known for its iconic family dinner scenes, but questions were raised when the Reagan family stopped praying. Set against the backdrop of New York, the show delves into the lives of the Reagans, a family with a legacy in law enforcement. At the helm is Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck), the smartest Blue Bloods character, who navigates the complexities of crime, justice, and family dynamics. The series stands out for its blend of intense police work and the personal tribulations of a family deeply embedded in law enforcement.

Among the most beloved elements of Blue Bloods are the family dinner scenes. These gatherings, held at the Reagan family home, have become symbolic of the show’s heart and soul. Each episode, viewers are invited to the dinner table where Frank, his children Danny (Donnie Wahlberg), Erin (Bridget Moynahan), Jamie (Will Estes), and their grandfather Henry (Len Cariou), along with other family members, come together. These scenes are more than just a family meal; they are a vibrant tableau of lively debates, moral discussions, and the occasional light-hearted banter. However, they’re also a source of endless behind-the-scenes Blue Bloods facts.

Why The Reagans Stopped Praying
It Hasn’t Been Explained, But It Coincided With Linda’s Death

The Reagans’ tradition of saying grace before meals was a familiar and cherished part of the family dinners in Blue Bloods all the way up to the end of season 7. However, in season 8, fans noticed a significant change – the absence of prayer. No explicit reason was given for this omission, leaving viewers puzzled and sparking considerable backlash. However, this change coincided with the aftermath of Linda Reagan’s (Amy Carlson) death on the show, leading to speculation that the character’s passing resulted in a loss of faith within the family.

Viewers expressed their disappointment and confusion over the lack of the Reagan family saying grace on social media platforms. One fan tweeted, “The seat change I get since they had to write out Linda but stopping the prayer is unacceptable. #BlueBloods.” Another expressed, “Fell asleep. Didn’t realize that the prayers had been removed. Not good. What makes the family strong is their faith. But, hey don’t mind me.” This change, subtle yet significant, continued to be a topic of discussion among fans.

The Dinner Scenes Are The Only Time The Blue Bloods Cast Is Together On Set
The Actors Bond When The Camera Isn’t Rolling

The family dinner scenes in Blue Bloods hold a unique place not just in the narrative of the show, but also in the logistics of its production. These scenes are the only occasions when the entire main cast is together on set (via CBS). Organizing these scenes is a considerable logistical challenge, given the need to coordinate the schedules of all the actors, many of whom have roles in other shows and movies. However, the effort is well worth it, as these scenes are integral to the show’s appeal and its depiction of a close-knit family.

The authenticity and warmth that viewers see on screen are, in part, a product of these unique filming circumstances. More than just a professional obligation, these dinner scenes provide a rare opportunity for the cast members to bond and catch up with each other. Unlike other days on set, where actors might film in smaller groups or individual scenes, the dinner scenes bring everyone together, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie. This off-screen bonding is reflected on-screen, enhancing the portrayal of the Reagan family’s strong relationship.

One Dinner Scene Takes 6-8 Hours To Shoot
The Actors Are Also Required To Eat The Same Food For Continuity Purposes

The family dinner scenes are a testament to the show’s dedication to portraying the Reagan family’s unity and traditions. However, these scenes come with their own set of challenges, as highlighted by Tom Selleck. He revealed that filming a single family dinner scene can take a staggering six to eight hours (via CBS). This extended duration is necessary to capture the various angles, dialogue, and interactions among the large ensemble cast. The complexity of these scenes, involving multiple characters and interactions, necessitates numerous takes and adjustments, contributing to the lengthy shoot. Selleck noted:

We embrace family dinner, the only problem is it takes 6 to 8 hours and you have to just keep eating the same old food.

An additional challenge for the actors during these prolonged shoots is the need to continuously eat the same food, which can become monotonous and even uncomfortable over time. Selleck’s comment sheds light on the less glamorous aspects of filming such iconic scenes. The cast’s commitment to maintaining the energy and authenticity of their performances, despite these challenges, is a testament to their professionalism and dedication to bringing the Reagan family’s story to life.

Tom Selleck Called The Day-Long Shoot Miserable
Selleck Hates Eating The Same Food For Hours

The long hours spent filming the family dinner scenes can be challenging for the cast. Tom Selleck, in particular, has described these shoots as “miserable” (via People). This discomfort primarily stems from the need to continuously eat or pretend to eat throughout the day-long filming process. Selleck commented:

It’s nice to spend time with the entire cast once an episode, but filming an eating scene is miserable. Well, the eating part is. You have to eat the same foods over and over again to get all the shots. We’ll probably spend eight hours shooting this scene.

The repetitive nature of eating the same food, coupled with the need to maintain continuity and energy levels over several hours, can be taxing. Nevertheless, Selleck’s experience reflects the behind-the-scenes reality that contrasts sharply with the warm, familial atmosphere portrayed on screen.

The Wine At The Dinner Table Is Actually Grape Juice
The Scotch Is Actually Iced Tea Too

While many fans have debated what Frank’s favorite scotch is, Selleck isn’t drinking scotch at all (via People). Donnie Wahlberg revealed that to maintain professionalism and ensure the smooth running of the long shooting hours, what appears to be wine at the Reagan family dinner table is, in fact, grape juice. Similarly, the scotch seen in various scenes is actually iced tea. This practice is common in film and television production, ensuring that the actors can repeatedly perform scenes without the effects of alcohol, thereby maintaining the consistency and quality of their performances. Wahlberg explained:

Someone asked me if we get drunk because we have a lot of wine during the dinner scene, but, sadly, it’s just grape juice. Sorry, guys. And ‘Scotch’ is iced tea. I think they give us decaffeinated or we’d be bouncing off the walls.

The Production Ditched Real Silverware Because It Was Too Loud
The Silverware Was Replaced With Plastic Cutlery

One intriguing behind-the-scenes detail of the Blue Bloods dinner scenes is the switch from real silverware to plastic forks and knives (via CBS). This change was implemented after the production team realized that the sound of real silverware clinking against plates was being excessively picked up by the studio microphones. The clatter of metal cutlery was not only distracting but also interfered with the audio clarity of the dialogue. To resolve this, the production opted for plastic utensils, a seemingly minor adjustment that significantly improved the sound quality of these pivotal scenes.

This shift to plasticware, however, has also led to some humorous on-set moments. Selleck shared an amusing anecdote about a time when his plastic knife broke while he was cutting a chicken cutlet during a dinner scene. In a moment of frustration and in keeping with the light-hearted spirit often present on set, Selleck jokingly threw the broken knife across the set. He quickly assured that it didn’t hit anyone, highlighting the fun and unpredictable nature of filming the family dinner sequences.


Vanessa Ray Ate A Roll For 4 Hours
The Actor Realized Bread Wasn’t The Best Choice

Vanessa Ray, who plays Eddie Janko on Blue Bloods, shared an amusing yet telling experience from the filming of the family dinner scenes (via WFSB3). She recounted how, during one particularly long shoot, she found herself eating a bread roll for four hours straight.

This experience led to a realization for Ray: continuously eating the same item for hours on end was not only unappealing but also impractical for filming. Her experience underscores one of the more challenging aspects of these scenes – the need for actors to engage with their food in a way that appears natural, yet doesn’t become a discomfort.

Ray’s humorous reflection on this incident highlights the often-overlooked realities of filming such scenes. The actors have to balance the portrayal of a natural family meal with the technical demands of shooting, which includes repeating actions and dialogue multiple times. This incident serves as a reminder of the small, behind-the-scenes details that contribute to the authenticity and believability of the on-screen family dinners, even as they pose unique challenges to the actors.

The Props Department Decides What The Reagans Will Eat
Fish Is The Only Food That’s Ruled Out

The props department plays a crucial role in the Reagan dinner scenes. Tasked with the responsibility of deciding what the Reagans eat (via Yahoo), the department ensures that the meals are not only visually appealing but also suitable for the demands of filming. Prop Master Jim Lillis, familiar with the intricacies of these scenes, maintains a standard fare that typically includes potatoes, vegetables, a roll, and a salad. This consistency helps in maintaining continuity across scenes and episodes. Lillis revealed that for a scene involving pie, he had to prepare a dozen full pies, demonstrating the scale of preparation involved.

Managing food props for Blue Bloods is a delicate balance. The prop department must ensure there are enough duplicates of each dish for multiple takes, while also being mindful of waste. This careful planning is crucial, as scenes may need to be shot several times from different angles or may require retakes, necessitating a fresh set of the same meal. The team’s effort in managing these details is key to maintaining the realism and continuity of the family dinners. However, there’s one type of food that’s never served. Lillis commented:

We avoid [salmon]. That’s because the shoot may take hours. Fish is fragile.

Donnie Wahlberg Picked Up Selleck’s Trick To Avoid Eating
Though He Can’t Use The Trick When Selleck’s Using It

Donnie Wahlberg, who portrays Danny Reagan on Blue Bloods, shared an insightful tip about filming the dinner scenes, particularly about how to look engaged without overeating (via HuffPost). He pointed out that each actor develops their own technique for appearing active at the dinner table while managing the challenges of eating on camera. Wahlberg credited Tom Selleck for demonstrating an effective method to handle this situation. Wahlberg explained:

Everyone has a technique for looking active at the dinner table. I’m learning. The next show I do, or the next movie I do, if I have to eat, I’m going to use Tom’s trick. Tom picks up a roll or bread and butters it. So during all of his lines, he’s just like this [pretends to be buttering bread] so he looks like he’s having dinner.

Wahlberg expressed his admiration for this technique and his intention to adopt it in future roles that require eating scenes. This strategy of mimicking natural dinner table activities, such as buttering bread, is a clever way to maintain the authenticity of the family meal experience while avoiding the discomfort of eating the same food for several hours. Likely, Wahlberg isn’t allowed to steal Selleck’s trick during the family dinner scenes because it’d look strange if every character was simply buttering bread.

Bridget Moynahan Only Eats Cucumbers (After She Tried Out Mashed Potatoes)
Eating Mashed Potatoes For Hours Proved Taxing

Bridget Moynahan, who plays Erin Reagan on Blue Bloods, has had her own unique journey with the food she eats during the iconic dinner scenes (via Country Living). In the early seasons, she chose not to eat anything, likely as a strategy to avoid the challenges associated with eating on camera for extended periods. However, Moynahan later shifted to eating mashed potatoes, though that eventually became taxing too. Eventually, Moynahan found a more suitable and sustainable option: cucumbers. The actress commented:

I think the first couple of seasons I didn’t eat anything, and then I moved into mashed potatoes, which was really bad. So for a few years there, I was eating too many mashed potatoes for four hours. Now, I’ve moved to the cucumbers.

Donnie Wahlberg Was Exhausted During One Dinner Scene Following A NKOTB Tour
Wahlberg Took On-Set Naps

Wahlberg, known for his dual career as an actor on Blue Bloods and a former member of the famed music group New Kids on the Block, experienced a particularly challenging day on set due to his demanding schedule following a NKOTB reunion tour (via People). He recounted an instance where he had to transition directly from his music tour to filming the show. Immediately after getting off a plane, Wahlberg arrived on the Blue Bloods set to shoot a family dinner scene, which led to a number of on-set naps. Wahlberg explained:

The first dinner scene we shot for the new season was really tough because I got off a plane from tour [with New Kids on the Block] and came straight to set. And that scene took over five hours. Between every camera take, I took a nap on the couch. They would literally wake me up a second before the camera started rolling and I would run and take a seat at the table. I was just delirious. I don’t know how I remembered one line.

Wahlberg described the shoot as exceptionally grueling, lasting over five hours, which was particularly taxing given his already depleted energy levels. To cope with the exhaustion, he resorted to taking naps on a couch between camera takes. The crew had to wake him up moments before each take, ensuring he was in place and ready as the cameras started rolling. This highlights not only the rigorous demands of filming a television series like Blue Bloods but also the dedication and resilience of its cast members, who often balance multiple high-profile commitments.