Every police force in the US always contains two officers who are direct polar opposites, but are forced to work together, before eventually getting on quite well.
— Hollywood Rule Book Vanity Fair
A Cop Show
which focuses on a partnership of two males, as opposed to a Cop Show
which focuses on a single officer/detective or an entire squad, or Lovely Angels
, the Distaff Counterpart
. If the primary officers are a man and a woman it's Just Partners
A Buddy Cop Show that tightly focuses on the emotional lives of the two protagonists frequently Ho Yay
among its fans, c.f. Miami Vice
. If the characters spend leisure time together off the job, they're Heterosexual Life Partners
. The buddies are often an Odd Couple
, occasionally one black and one white
. In terms of personality, they tend to follow a distinct formula-one is a straight-laced stickler for protocol, the other is an unpredictable loose cannon. One By-the-Book Cop
, one Cowboy Cop
. The primary thing keeping them together - at first, before the Character Development
- is that They Fight Crime
. And they're good at it.
Movie versions abound, or at least they used to: Bad Boys
, Lethal Weapon
, Die Hard With A Vengeance
, etc. It was so common at one point, even making jokes at the expense of the genre is a dead horse
An increasingly common variant is partnerships between cops and scientists
See also: Criminal Procedural
, Forensic Drama
, Cop Show
, Police Procedural
, Wunza Plot
Anime and Manga
- Parodied in Last Action Hero where the police station in movie world assigns humorously mismatched partners to every cop.
- The Rush Hour movies. Jackie Chan plays a serious cop who wants to follow procedure, Chris Tucker is the complete opposite.
- Tango And Cash
- The Other Guys
- Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg's attempt at creating a British version, as he believes that Britain is lacking in the genre.
- As a bonus point, his character (a no-nonsense By-the-Book Cop) has never watched an American buddy cop show or film. His easy-going partner Danny is the one who has always dreamed of living one and convinces Pegg's character to watch those films.
- Lethal Weapon
- Dragnet (1987)
- Alien Nation
- The Presidio - Although neither Inspector Austin nor Lt. Colonel Caldwell particularly like each other, they are forced to work together because neither has the jurisdiction to pursue the full case alone.
- Bad Boys
- Die Hard With A Vengeance... to an extent.
- Cop And A Half
- A subplot in the first Dirty Harry. Subverted, as Harry's partner quits in the second half of the film, just as it seems like they're becoming a team.
- Men In Black staring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.
- Showtime has Robert De Niro, a serious by-the-book detective, and Eddie Murphy, a patrol cop wishing to play a detective on TV, put together as part of a reality show. Understandably, the former hates the idea, while the latter loves it. At the end of the film, they reconcile their differences and become real partners, while the show continues with two new (female) cops, who start arguing even before they're on camera.
- For bonus points, the studio tries to coach the "buddy cops" using William Shatner, who keeps referring to himself as TJ. Robert De Niro's character likes to point out how stupid some on-screen actions are, such as Fingertip Drug Analysis ("What if it's cyanide?") and car hood slide ("The holster scratches the paint").
- At the same time, the reason De Niro's character is even on the Show Within a Show is because of an extremely reckless action atypical of the character (he shot a news camera that was filming his wounded then-partner instead of trying to help)
- Theodore Rex has Whoopi Goldberg play a cyborg cop who teams up with a man-sized T-rex to stop a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
- End Of Watch
- Loaded Weapon 1
- Discworld partnered Cuddy, a dwarf, and Detritus, a troll. Of course, Discworld being a narrative universe, they eventually became best friends. Then subverted when Cuddy is killed suddenly. Detritus has gone on to become arguably the fourth most powerful cop in the city, behind Angua, Carrot, and Vimes.
- Isaac Asimov's Robot series, with Elijah Baley and Robot Daneel Olivaw. Lije and Daneel are partners in the first book and remain good friends throughout the rest of the series, but each book of the trilogy examines a different facet of the relationship between robots and humans at a societal level.
- A subplot of Tad Williams' Otherland features Australian detectives Calliope Skouros and her partner Stan as they investigate a long-unsolved murder believed to be the work of a Serial Killer named John Wulgaru, who ends up being the series' Big Bad. The subplot uses all the standard Buddy Cop tropes and spends a fair bit of time lampshading them.
- In the anthology Zombies vs Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier, there's a story called Prom Night. In Prom Night, the kids are running the (now barricaded) town they live in because of a Zombie Apocalypse that was Only Fatal To Adults. Tahmina and Jeff play the role of cops, keeping down crime and shooting any zombies that pop up. The story mostly focuses on their interactions with each other and their (mis)adventures as teenaged cops, and there's a bit of a Running Gag where Jeff constantly jokes about how stuff would be good material for when they get their own TV show. although it's implied that whatever they're doing to the zombies at the burning ground isn't really working or is generating something else, so it's unlikely at best that things will ever be back to normal
- Spoofed in a Conan O Brien sketch, which paired the extremely tall Conan with the extremely short Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich as buddy cops. Reich informing a perp "You have the right... to be my bitch!" was possibly the Crowning Moment of Funny.
- Spoofed in the Les Nuls sketch "Magnum Choucroute." Talk about mismatched: one of the cops is actually a jar of sauerkraut.
- Community parodies this in "The Science of Illusion" when Annie and Shirley become temporary campus security guards. They end up getting into an argument about which one of them should be the By-the-Book Cop and which one should be the Cowboy Cop despite the fact that both of them are equally suited to both roles, and Genre Savvy Abed, who is following them around, ends up invoking a whole load of tropes based on this.
- In Noah's Arc, the movie Wade had written appears to be one of these (based on the lines we overhear and what Wade and Noah discuss).
- Also parodied on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson—Geoff often refers to his idea for a cop show called Bone Patrol with G.P. and the Fergs.
- It's not uncommon for players of Feng Shui to design Karate and Maverick Cop characters to fit this mold, with the Karate Cop being the By-the-Book Cop type, and the Maverick Cop being the rule-breaker.
- The 2056 juncture has its own little twist on this particular genre, the "buddy cop romance". These movies basically take the homoerotic elements that Buddy Cop movies often have and carry them to their logical conclusion.
- Prosecutors are the direct partners of their detective counterparts in the Ace Attorney universe, which makes Gumshoe and Edgeworth fill this trope during their cases in Investigations.
- There's also an unnamed Show Within a Show that Gumshoe likes featuring a strong prosecutor/detective bond that's almost as good as the one Gumshoe (thinks that he) shares with Edgeworth.
- Policenauts, essentially a Sci-Fi version of Lethal Weapon.
- The House of the Dead: Overkill is all about this sort of relationship between Isaac Washington (foul-mouthed Cowboy Cop) and Agent G (enigmatic professional secret agent).
- Ozzy And Drix, which takes place inside a boy's body, and is based on the much-maligned movie Osmosis Jones.
- Funky Cops
- The Critic, in the episode "Sherman of Arabia," heavily mocked this genre with Beverly Hills Robo K9 Cop and a Half 2, wherein Cowboy Cop Dirty Harry is partnered with, to quote the IMDb...
: ...a woman, a cute little kid, an ugly old dog, a dinosaur, and a leprechaun. Leprechaun
: I'll be your lucky charm!
[Leprechaun explodes] Not Schwarzenegger
: You think you've got problems? I'm partnered with a pig, an alien, Siamese twins, a sofa, and a second rate mime.
(The mime also exploded.)
- Fillmore!: A Buddy Hall Monitor Show.
- Adult Swim's Stroker And Hoop
- Bonkers has the titular character (a washed-up cartoon star in the form of a Funny Animals bobcat who operates on Toon physics/logic) and Lucky, who is an ordinary human.