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.
A Cop Show
which focuses on a partnership, usually (but not exclusively) 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 nearly always Strictly Professional Relationship
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
. You get it. The primary thing keeping them together — before Character Development
— is that together, They Fight Crime
. And they do it very, very well.
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 that even making jokes at the expense of the genre became cliche
An increasingly common variant is partnerships between a cop and a scientist
, a cop and a Boxed Crook
, or Androids and Detectives
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 Jack Slater's movie world assigns humorously mismatched partners to every cop except Jack Slater himself, who doesn't work with a partner because he's the bad-ass loner cowboy cop archetype instead.
- The Rush Hour movies. Jackie Chan plays a serious cop, skilled martial artist and very competent detective, who wants to follow procedure. Chris Tucker is the complete opposite.
- Tango & 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.
- In an interesting subversion of the norm for the by-the-book/loose-cannon story, Sergeant Nicholas Angel is both a stickler for the letter of the law and the United Kingdom's greatest police action hero. His partner, Sergeant Danny Butterman, meanwhile, is neither of those things, but is a much more useful officer in the community most of the time, because he has the social skills that Sergeant Angel lacks.
- 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. The third film did this as well with Moore getting herself killed at the end.
- 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 paintjob").
- 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).
- When the producer and her assistant visit De Niro's character's home and see its total lack of character, they complain that it doesn't fit into their perception of where "buddy cops" typically live. The assistant explains that their "research" indicates that buddy cops typically live at a house on the beach or in a loft downtown. The next day, the producer takes the liberty of completely redecorating his place, much to his chagrin ("It looks like a gay porn star lives here!").
- 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
- National Security has a slight twist. Neither Steve Zahn's (Hank) nor Martin Lawrence's (Earl) character is a cop. Hank used to be a cop until his partner was killed, and he was filmed supposedly assaulting Earl (he was swatting a bumblebee), causing him to be fired and jailed for 6 months. After getting out, the only job he can get is in security, working for the same company as Earl, who keeps trying to get into the police academy. Hank is trying to find out who killed his partner and track down the warehouse robbers, while Earl is tagging along for the action, which infuriates Hank to no end. Naturally, as the film continues, they resolve their differences and, by the end, both are cops. While neither is really a By-the-Book Cop, Hank uses typical police investigative techniques, while Earl goes for the more "street" approach (e.g. Hank is content to sit on the roof for a night-long stakeout, while Earl gets bored and breaks into the bad guys' apartment).
- 21 Jump Street is both this and a high-school film.
- The Hidden features one such couple, with officer Tom Beck being the emotional and down-to-earth one and FBI agent Lloyd Gallagher (really a Puppeteer Parasite inhabiting a human body) being the stoic, logic-minded but awkward one. Interestingly, because Gallagher has a very personal reason to go after the bad guy, he's both The Stoic and the Cowboy Cop of the duo.
- 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 Novels are an early novel example version of the trope. Gregory Powell and Mike Donovan are field specialists for U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, and are employed mainly on testing new or experimental robots in practical situations either on planets or space stations. They regularly get into complex and potentially dangerous situations when trying to solve robot issues in the field. The issues typically involve the Three Laws of Robotics.
- 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
- Alarm für Cobra 11
- Alien Nation
- Almost Human
- The Andy Griffith Show although not a cop show per se, included since two of the show's leads Andy and Barney were law enforcement officers, their work figured into many of the plots and they often worked together.
- Ashes to Ashes
- Black and White, an award-winning Taiwanese Series from 2009.
- Cagney & Lacey
- Car 54, Where Are You?? was one of the first Buddy Cop shows, and the first TV police comedy.
- Common Law
- Dalziel and Pascoe
- Dempsey and Makepeace
- Due South
- "The Streets of San Francisco" - where Karl Malden played the old, experienced cop vs the young loose-canon Michael Douglas 15 years before Mel Gibson made Danny Glover feel too old for this shit.
- Golden Boy
- The Good Guys
- Hawaii Five-0
- Houston Knights
- I Spy
- Keen Eddie
- Life on Mars (2006)
- Life on Mars (2008)
- The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
- Miami Vice
- Subverted big time in Moonlighting, where the two leads absolutely cannot stand each other. At all. They argue with each other in Every. Single. Episode (that they appear in; the episodes where they either don't appear or appear for a little while, are the only exceptions). The worst part? In later episodes, they possibly start having feelings for each other (or possibly not)...
- New York Undercover, notable for being the first police drama on American television to feature two people of color in the starring roles.
- The Professionals
- Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)
- Rizzoli & Isles
- The Sentinel
- Slightly averted in that only Jim is a cop. Blair is an anthropology student who's studying Jim's superhuman senses as part of his thesis, although he ends up helping to solve a lot of crimes as well (mostly by coaching Jim on how to best use his senses).
- Simon And Simon, although it's more of a "buddy detective'' show.
- Starsky & Hutch
- TJ Hooker
- White Collar
- Peter is a top FBI agent in the White Collar division. Neal is a former con man and forger who was caught by Peter several times and now helps the FBI track down people like him.
- 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.
- Parodied on MADtv with the "Seven Buddy Cops" sketch, which is a massive crossover starring Nick Nolte, Eddie Murphy, Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan, Owen Wilson, Tommy Lee Jones, and Will Smith giving shout outs to all the buddy cop movies they starred in while trying to solve the case of the dead prostitutes on the orders of Da Chief. Even Mel Gibson and Danny Glover (aka Lethal Weapon's Murtaugh and Riggs) make a cameo.
- 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.
- Ace Attorney:
- Prosecutors are the direct partners of their detective counterparts in the series, 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).
- The arcade game Chase H.Q., while not a straight example, has a Shout-Out to the Buddy Cop genre.
- Namco's arcade game Lucky and Wild, a combination of a driving game and light gun game where player one drives and shoots while player 2 just shoots.
- DOUBLE K, an AU Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann webcomic based off of what the show would be like if Kamina and Kittan were two cops partnered up Starsky & Hutch-style.
- Matchu has its Space Cops subplot, starring two aliens coming to Earth looking for an escaped fugitive from their homeworld and running afowl of one of the main characters. Complete with title sequence, episode card and commercial break.
- 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 Animal bobcat who operates on Toon physics/logic) and Lucky, who is an ordinary human.note
- Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble in the Bedrock Cops segments on The Flintstone Comedy Show.note
- American Dad! has done this a few times with Steve and Roger. The two of them enjoy watching buddy cop shows, and decide to form their own duo, and they eventually settle on Wheels and the Legman, the gimmick being that one of them is in a wheelchair and the other isn't. The two of them argue over which of them gets to be Wheels, which leads to them splitting up, both in wheelchairs, and getting their own partners. Steve gets Bill Elliot (Who's catchphrase is "You're on a roll, Wheels) and Roger gets a fat black girl dressed as an angel (Who's catchphrase is "You gonna finish that?"). After Steve deduces that Roger's partner isn't a real angel because she eats devil's food cake, Roger concedes and the two get back together with Steve as Wheels and Roger as the Legman.