Sometimes the police can't help you
. They are too caught up in paperwork, legal procedure, jurisdiction and other things that it may be weeks or months before something gets rolling. It's not always their fault, as those same rules are theoretically what protect you from being unjustly harassed by the police.
So sometimes you just don't have the police option when things go bad. Maybe you have a strict time limit
, maybe the bad guys are monitoring the police channels and will know something is up, maybe the bad guy is so squeaky clean
the regular procedure can't touch him anyway. When that happens your only option is to find someone or a special group of people who operate on the grey side of the law.
If not a basic part of the premise where the heroes are the ones hired out, these guys tend to be fairly shady individuals who you don't want to become friends with.
Compare Recruiting the Criminal
- Taken operated under the idea that they had a small window of opportunity after Kimmie was kidnapped by a prostitution ring and she was lucky her father Bryan had all the skills necessary to track her down. Bryan does consult some friends in the Paris government for help, only to find some pushback in legal matters as well as some internal corruption.
- Burn Notice is all about how Michael has the skills needed for extra-legal help and because of being Burned that is about the only job he can get. A lot of the time a client is in a situation where they will face legal problems for taking a bribe or something similar if they go to the police, so often this involves getting the bad guy to do something illegal in front of the police so the client stays clean.
- The A-Team operated under this, as stated in their Opening Narration.
- The premise of Leverage, helping people who are normally outgunned or out financed against the bad guys.