"I'm sick and tired of making excuses for you two! You’re an embarrassment to the department! You're off the case and off the force. Your badges, your windbreakers, now."
The Cowboy Cop
's eternally put-upon superior. Always strict and by-the-book. Can be comfortably relied upon to give a good McCloud Speech
, say that You Have 48 Hours
or demand that you Turn in Your Badge
, usually at the top of his formidable voice. Frequently worried that the mayor or district attorney will have his ass (and pension) for whatever destruction was caused. Will occasionally prove to have a heart by giving his men an inspirational speech. Can frequently be relied on to be the police department equivalent of A Father to His Men
. Of course in the By-the-Book Cop
's case, Da Chief would the exact opposite, he is rather flexible in terms of laying down the law and views the By-the-Book Cop
's attempts to find a solution with minimal violence as counterproductive and expects zero negotiations with criminals or terrorists while gladly accepting the Cowboy Cop
's methods if it means nabbing the most notorious. But will be quite proud of the cop if he meets up to the expectation stating how he found someone's idealism of justice pulling through and knows when to reel in the Cowboy Cop
when they go too far.
Depending on his milieu and personal tastes, he may be sporting a mustache
, wearing suspenders (belt braces), a pistol in a shoulder holster, or a cigar firmly planted in a corner of his mouth
. Frequently (though by no means always) a Reasonable Authority Figure
, but just as frequently a Mean Boss
. Sometimes a Private Detective
will have him as a Friend on the Force
. If they are not friends of the main characters/group, then they are usually The Neidermeyer
and exist only to have their authority stepped over while they bluster. Increasingly, Da Chief is a woman, ethnic minority, or some combination thereof.
Compare Da Editor
, who has a similar plot function and personality, but is the boss of the Intrepid Reporter
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Anime and Manga
- The anime Dominion Tank Police plays with this; The Chief is eternally furious with his subordinates for not being ruthless enough in the pursuit of evildoers.
- A very unusual Chief is Aramaki from Ghost in the Shell. He's a short elderly man known for his kindness and wisdom who never raises his voice or carries a gun. But he's also a Magnificent Bastard whose work consists mostly of dealing with all the red tape and the general political mess of the Japanese national security forces so his agents can do their work. He's also totally unflappable under pressure. When a group of half-witted robbers take him hostage, he openly berates them for the "mistakes" they make while committing the crime.
- Sector Chief Andrew F. Gooley held the unenviable position of direct superior to the Dirty Pair.
- Lt. Dastun from The Big O has a relationship like this with protagonist Roger Smith, mostly because Roger used to serve under him in the Military Police, and old habits are presumably hard to shake.
- The Chief from Fake has to deal with both Dee AND JJ whining at him on a regular basis. His bark seems to be worse than his bite though - Dee refers to him as a "baby seal" at one point (and is promptly yelled at for it, naturally).
- Eclipse from Kiddy Grade. She's also got G-class superpowers on par with Eclair and Lumiere.
- Chief Todo from Bubblegum Crisis.
- Kachou (literally "Section Chief" in Japanese; translated as "Chief") in You're Under Arrest!. Word of God has that Kachou is his real name (written differently, of course), it's just a coincidence.
- Captain Goto in Patlabor. Really, though, anyone above the rank of Officer follows this trope - all the Labor crews are mavericks. He subverts this at the same time, as he was originally assigned to Special Vehicles Section 2 for... being too damn smart for his own good in the past.
- Silent Möbius has two: Rally Cheyenne started as chief of the AMP, but eventually got promoted upstairs, at which point Mana Isozaki took over direct control.
- Kosaka from Witch Hunter Robin, to some extent (more of an Obfuscating Bureaucrat).
- Naruto: Tsunade, with Naruto in the role of the Cowboy Cop who plays by his own rules. Like wearing orange.
- Digimon Savers ' Captain Satsuma is intimidating just by his appearance alone: factor in his deep voice (in both versions!) and the fact he raises his voice when he gets pissed means he didn't get his nickname of "Oni no Ikkatsu" (lit. 'The Demon's Thunderous Roar') for nothing. When Masaru, Tohma and (by circumstance) Yoshino all broke the rules in episode 5? You didn't get in trouble, but you're lying if you didn't shrink back in your seat when he first hollered "YOU IDIOT!!"
- Detective Conan has Inspector Juzo Megure on the police force that fits this trope in form, if not in function. Megure's own boss, Superintendent Kiyonaga Matsumoto, also fits in whenever he appears. And if we go to the Osaka Police Department, the role is filled in by Heizou Hattori (in charge of investigations and paperwork) and specially by Ginshirou Touyama (in charge of field operations).
- Below Board has Captain Aldridge, who frequently acts as a cynical Foil to the idealistic protagonists. One might argue that he's a subversion of what this trope usually means, since he isn't a By-the-Book Cop, and is in fact more than willing to break the rules to serve his view of justice.
- Commissioner James Gordon fits this trope in relationship to his subordinate police officers, however not in relationship to Batman, who is not under his authority.
- Maria Hill back when she was director of S.H.I.E.L.D..
- Captain Cross in Powers has his cigar-chomping moments.
- Many Chief Judges in Judge Dredd have served this role, cigar chomping optional. Dredd himself takes on this role during The Pit arc, where he is (reluctantly) made Sector Chief for Sector 301.
- Pink Panther: Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus, actually attempted to kill his unrestrainable officer, Jacques Clouseau, when his antics got out of hand.
- As played by Frank McRae:
- Last Action Hero: Parodied in the form of Lieutenant Dekker, who delivers what is possibly the quintessential Turn in Your Badge speech — a two-minute-long tirade which rapidly degenerates into shouted gibberish (involving — among other things — Ferraris, the California Raisins, and The Diary of Anne Frank) while steam erupts from his ears.
- Da Chief in 48 Hours and Another 48 Hrs.
- The Police Chief of Loaded Weapon 1. The chief not only devolves into shouting gibberish "If you embarrass this department, your pants will be dancing with figs. Is that clear?". He also shouts when he's complimenting his agents or otherwise not angry with them. It's even lampshaded and invoked:
[Luger is yelling about wanting the case]
Captain Doyle: Wait a minute! I'm the captain here! I do all the yelling! But if it's that important to you, take the damn case!
- DieHard: Deputy Chief of Police Dwayne T. Robinson in the first film, Airport Police Captain Carmine Lorenzo in the second film and Captain Walter Cobb in the third film. The first two are jerkasses/Neidermeyers while Cobb is a classic Reasonable Authority Figure.
- James Bond: M, particularly in Licence to Kill, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.
- Parodied in So I Married an Axe Murderer, in which a police detective character expresses dissatisfaction that his job is not more like the movies — partly because his boss, far from the trope, is a pleasant, amiable and good-natured administrator with an easy-going temper. In fact, the chief is so amiable, he tries to help out by pretending to be infuriated. It's rough going at first, but he does improve.
- When the detective gives examples from movies such as the "commissioner is on my ass", the chief patiently explains that he doesn't report to a commissioner but to a panel.
- The Chief from the Lethal Weapon series.
- Beverly Hills Cop. Inspector Todd is Axel Foley's boss in the Detroit Police Department. He gives Foley a hard time about his Cowboy Cop activities, tells him not to get involved with the investigation into Tandino's death and warns him if he does he's out of a job and up on charges.
- Todd was played by Gil Hill, who really was a Da Chief in Detroit.
- And when Axel gets to Beverly Hills, he runs afoul of Da Local Chief in Lieutenant Bogomil, who really does run things by the book and is constantly being ridden by Chief Hubbard.
- The incompetent and rude Chief Lutz in the second movie.
- And yet when Todd is murdered in the third film, Axel once again goes rogue to bring down his murderer.
- The one from Exit Wounds. Notable because he punishes Steven Seagal's character for saving the Vice-President's life in a shoddy manner. Because in real life nobody is ever honored nation-wide.
- Bon Cop, Bad Cop has the extremely entertaining Capitaine LeBoeuf, who gives an epic Turn in Your Badge rant, with RAEG turned Up to Eleven, to a stoned Dave.
- Lieutenant "Mac" McMahon in Speed.
- Captain Howard in Bad Boys.
- Chi(ef) McBride played one in Undercover Brother. The Chief's very first interaction with Undercover Brother is a relentless browbeating typical of this trope despite the fact that they'd never even met.
Chief: Where the hell have you been?! This is a job, not some kind of damn summer camp! And I'm tired of you disrespecting me! Give me one good reason why I shouldn't fire your sorry ass!
Undercover Brother: Because I don't work for you?
- Commander Camparelli in Flight of the Intruder.
- A staple of Dirty Harry movies. They range from reasonable (Bressler from the first movie) to incompetent (McKay from the third movie and his Captain Ersatz, Briggs from the fourth). Subverted in Magnum Force where Da Chief is actually the Big Bad.
- Miller, who is Elaine's gruff superior at the police station in Angels Revenge. He doesn't approve of the Angels' hijinks or Elaine's involvement, but he eventually warms to the idea—when the Angels bring the captured drugs to his office while in their bathing suits.
- Averted completely most of the time in the Police Academy movies. Commandant Lassard is one of the sweetest guys on the force, and he's far more competent than he seems. Although, the Trope is played very straight whenever Captain Harris takes over, which has fortunately always been temporary.
- Ed O'Neill's character, Detective Paul Selitto, in The Bone Collector. Quite a shocker for those who know him only as Al Bundy.
- Completely averted in Super Troopers, where Captain O'Hagan is a good-natured chief who constantly closes his eyes to his state troopers' hijinks. Even when they start a fight with Captain Grady's local cops, O'Hagan is more annoyed at the bad timing than infuriated at the fight itself (he hates Grady and his goons as much as his troopers). It's heavily implied that, in his rookie days, he was just like his men.
- The Police Captain in Se7en trying to moderate the protagonists. He's surprisingly low key, especially as he's played by R. Lee Ermey, a man famous for screaming rants.
- Chief Clark in Alligator is another subversion, coming across as fairly intelligent and sympathetic.
- The police captain in Showtime who forces Robert De Niro's character (a By-the-Book Cop) to participate in a reality show after he shoots a TV camera. When a botched attempt at capturing the Big Bad results in a car chase and damage to the city, this is when the captain becomes Da Chief, chewing out both De Niro's character and his on-the-show partner played by Eddie Murphy (a patrol cop who wants to be a TV cop) and taking them off the case. When the latter asks the captain if he wants his gun and badge, the captain just tells him to get out of his office.
- Earlier in the film, a typical scene is shown where some police chief chews out Eddie Murphy's character. This turns out to be an audition.
- Interestingly, the captain says nothing after Mitch and Trey start a fight with the Big Bad in a club. Probably because an arms dealer isn't likely to invite scrutiny by filing charges against cops, especially with a camera following them.
- R.I.P.D. features a rather snarky female one at that.
- The chief in Blood Sucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh yells, throws office supplies, and tries to shoot Sweeney and Joe.
- "The Chief" in Split Second (named Trasher according to the credits), who spends most of his time trying to rein the violent and snarky Harley Stone in.
- Runaway: Played by G.W. Bailey, known for playing the equally acerbic Captain Harris in Police Academy. Not that the Chief of the Runaway Squad (who hunt malfunctioning robots) doesn't have cause for tearing strips off Sgt. Ramsey, as bad guy Charles Luther keeps getting away and police officers keep getting killed. Amusingly, it's also inverted at one point with Ramsay chewing the Chief out about a botched stakeout.
- Julius Root from Artemis Fowl.
- Commander Vimes from the Discworld books shakes the formula up a bit; he's a main character in his own right and has some definite Cowboy Cop tendencies, because if a "To Be Lawful or Good" dilemma comes up he picks Good every time. The Patrician has commented that maintaining an anti-authoritarian attitude while actually being authority is "practically Zen", but it's not really authority per se that Vimes has an issue with, just hereditary privilege and other forms of authority acquired without earning it; Vetinari made him the Duke of Ankh at least partly because he finds the ensuing paradox rather entertaining.
- The Patrician sometimes fulfills the role, though. Especially when he makes Vimes turn in his badge. (Pratchett has said on the alt.fan.pratchett newsgroup that, in American cop show terms, the Vetinari/Vimes conversations are closer to the never-seen conversations that lead to Da Chief telling the Cowboy Cop "The mayor is riding my ass on this one!")
- And Vetinari, being the Chess Master and Magnificent Bastard that he is, has on multiple occasions acted like Da Chief, specifically to trigger Sam's Cowboy Cop nature. This allows him to reap the benefits, while everyone including Vimes himself thinks it was his idea, and thus all the power players blame Vimes for the trouble (which, to be honest, he probably enjoys more than their praise).
- Literary example, and either a subversion or a case of Lampshade Hanging: In Jasper Fforde's Nursery Crime books, true crime stories are hugely popular, and many police procedures are determined purely on the basis of how good a story they would make. As a result, the main character's boss always behaves like a traditional Chief, knowing full well that he is fulfilling the stereotype. It is explicitly stated that he makes a point of suspending his officers at least once in every investigation.
- Also played straight with the character of Braxton Hicks in the Thursday Next series.
- Harold Peters Inskipp, commander of the Special Corps, in Harry Harrison's SF novel The Stainless Steel Rat and its sequels.
- The first time "Slippery" Jim diGriz (the titular Rat) meets him, it takes him a second to make the connection between the authoritarian head of the Special Corps (whose name is not public knowledge) and legendary criminal "Inskipp the Uncatchable". The two are, of course, one and the same.
- Both Commander Whitney and Chief Tibble serve the role of Da Chief to Eve Dallas in J. D. Robb's In Death novels.
- Don in the Night Huntress books, to some degree.
- Grijpstra and de Gier series by Janwillem van de Wetering: The Commissaris, a superficially sweet, elderly man with a pet turtle.
- Matthew Hawkwood: Chief Magistrate James Read fills this role in the novels, although he relies on a biting wit to keep in charges in line.
- Lord Gershom of Haryse is a medieval version in the Provost's Dog trilogy by Tamora Pierce. He's quite a Reasonable Authority Figure, actually, and walks a beat with his Dogs after every Dog funeral, but he doesn't tolerate insubordination or corruption above the acceptable level. Then he comes down hard.
- In Isaac Asimov's Caliban the protagonist is the chief of police, and occasionally feels the need to play up this trope. Even as he's shouting about how his trigger-happy officers only avoided ruining everything because they can't even shoot straight, his internal monologue notes that he deliberately doesn't soundproof his office so his subordinates can hear him blow up.
- A Harvest Of War: Cynetryth Payne, chief of the Draeze Provosts (police, fire brigade, closest thing to a military). She also tries to be a By-the-Book Cop.
Live Action TV
- One of the Beastie Boys played this role in the music video to "Sabotage".
- Bill Bailey does a riff on this trope on the Cosmic Jam DVD of his one man stage show.
- Homestar Runner: Dangeresque has an oppressive boss who constantly yells at him for breaking the rules.
- Ultra Fast Pony: In "Stay Tuned", Sir Lintsalot, Rocky, and Mr. Turnip take turns in the role of the superior who pairs Pinkie with a partner she doesn't like and threatens to make Pinkie turn in her badge if she can't get results.
- The Chief in Action League Now, with a case of No Name Given. Particularly irate in that his men are often incompetent and cause massive chaos WITHOUT getting the job done.
- Commander Joseph Walsh from Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. Voiced by the same guy as Stargazer. The Series 5 team is always just on the borderline of acceptability. His rival, Obstructive Bureaucrat (and Jerkass) Senator Whiner, is always looking for an excuse to shut the whole thing down. Still, Walsh knows that if he gives his Badass Crew 24 hours, they get the results. He and Zach both trade off on A Father to His Men moments, too. In Walsh's case, it's a bit more literal, as Shane actually is Walsh's biological son.
- In Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?, The Chief (as he's called), is a living computer, and in this case, he's a little nutty.
- In Batman Beyond, a now-elderly Barbara Gordon had her father's old position, and she was far more reluctant to work with Batman (meaning Bruce and Terry) than he was, at least at first.
- In The Batman, Gordon didn't appear until the last episode of Season Two. Until then, the one who would qualify would be Chief Rojas, a Jerkass type and a Mean Boss to the other police, who considered Batman as much of a threat as the villains he fought.
- A key component of Assy McGee.
- Junior Comissioner Vallejo in Fillmore! fits this trope perfectly.
- Chief Quimby from Inspector Gadget. While not being much of a blowhard himself, he nevertheless suffers greatly from Gadget's bumbling.
- Lin Beifong, daughter of earthbending champion Toph, is the chief of the Republic City metalbending police in The Legend of Korra. She cares nothing for Korra's Avatar status, especially since the first thing Korra did in the city was smash up a street.
- She proves to be less by the book, however, when she decides she's going to track down Amon and her missing metalbenders even if she has to go outside the law. Not quite as by-the-book as she first appeared.
- Her replacement Saikhan is a straight By-the-Book Cop. He follows orders, even if they're unethical and from people whose sanity can be called into question. He still has the city's best interest in mind.
- Commander Stargazer in SilverHawks. He'd be out there with the rest of them, though, if he weren't an older model, and therefore not powerful enough to take on the Mob alone. He's rather fatherly towards the Hawks, particularly Quicksilver and Copper Kid.
- The Simpsons:
- The family watch a show about a Cowboy Cop called McGarnagle, a beautiful parody of this trope (and a parody of Clint Eastwood, most specifically Dirty Harry).
Da Chief: You're off the case, McGarnagle!
McGarnagle: You're off your case, chief!
Da Chief: [Perplexed] What... does that mean, exactly?
Homer: It means he gets results, you stupid chief!
- And of course there's McBain's chief in one of his films where he's going after his arch foe (MENDOOOSSSAAAAAA!)
McBain: But Captain, I can't avenge my partner's death with this pea-shooter!
Chief: I don't wanna hear it, McBain. Tha-that cannon of yours is against regulation! In this station we do things by the BOOK!
(Holds up book of regulations...which McBain propmtly blows a hole through)
McBain: Bye, book.
- The South Park episode parodying cop shows/movies has a chief constantly yelling at the boys for collateral damage, frequently repeating the phrase "The Mayor is gonna have my ass!" This eventually devolves into "The mayor...my ass...bleh bleh BLEH!" The fun part was that the boys were completely innocent about the collateral damages. All times it was just that they happened to end up in the middle of different gang-fights.
- The Chief in Teamo Supremo.
- Captain Fanzone of Transformers Animated is this type.
- The animated Plastic Man pilot had Archie Bronson fill in this role perfectly, despite actually being the titular character's parole officer.
The mayor's gonna have my ASS!!!