"Mackey's not a cop. He's Al Capone with a badge."
Why they're in front of bars and not behind them, no one knows. The dirty cop often appears as a villain in both Cop Shows
and Criminal Procedurals
, fascist, and often on the take from the local mob or worse, this cop makes most criminals and prisoners look like...well, saints.
All too often an example of Truth in Television
. May escalate to Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop
for entire precincts.
See Blackmail Is Such an Ugly Word
, Cut Himself Shaving
, Rabid Cop
, Noble Bigot with a Badge
, Prison Rape
, Corrupt Hick
, Lawman Gone Bad
, etc. If a cop's framed as one of these it's Police Brutality Gambit
. If a cop outright murders people, you've got a Killer Cop
If it is just a facade and the cop secretly has a heart of gold
, it's Noble Bigot with a Badge
For Real Life
examples, please limit them to instances where there was an actual conviction.
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Anime & Manga
- Akai and Kanie from Kite use their status as homicide detectives to lead the investigation of a series of professional murders away from the true criminals. They are also the employers of the true criminals. And that's not all they're mixed up in either. Akai in particular when it's revealed that he's been raping and brainwashing Sawa, one of the child assassins he and Kanie employ.
- Black Lagoon:
- It's quite plausible that the Triad leader Mr. Chang was one of these as a cop. Chang is a darker take on several John Woo characters, but his past as a cop seems to allude to Tequila from Hard Boiled. Since Tequila fought gangsters and Chang is one, it stands to reason that he wasn't that honest of a cop.
- Chief Watsup, the Chief of Police in Roanapur. Not only on the take from the various cartels that run the city but has also used his authority to get an unfair advantage when collecting bounties put out by the cartels.
- When Revy was a girl living in a slum, a cop apprehended her for the sole purpose of beating her up and then raping her.
- Ginza of Speed Grapher is mostly a Rabid Cop, given her habit of "self-defensing" people (she actually uses it as a verb), but she's kind of a dirty cop as well. She's shown essentially committing insider trading based on the crimes going on, and because of her jealousy of Kagura, she abuses her authority to obstruct Saiga, the hero. By the end of the series, she has a Heel Realization and ends up a better person.
- Mad Bull 34 is a bizarre example - as part of the Buddy Cop Show dynamic, Officer "Sleepy" John Estes takes the Cowboy Cop's tendency see justice done through venues outside the law to the extreme. He's running prostitution in his neighborhood, because the way he sees it that stuff will always be there and at least if he's in charge he can keep it from getting out of hand and it keeps the girls safe. That said, it's all part of a larger Batman Gambit. He's also really good at killing criminals. You won't want to watch him work, but you can't imagine what the city would be like without him.
- The title characters of Noir kill a few of these over the course of the series.
- In the Naruto pilot, the Inspector and his subordinate turn out to be one, killing Takashi, stealing the painting and framing Naruto for both.
- Monster has two of these: the two detectives who are hired by Johan to kill Nina's adopted parents and the ones from Prague, Commissioner Hamrlik, Chief Detective Batella and, Detective Janacek.
- In one episode of Nerima Daikon Brothers, Gagdet Detective Yukika tries to catch the eponymous group by cooking up a rumor that the chief of police is in league with the yakuza, and the money from their dirty deals is in a vault under the station, knowing they'll fall right into her trap. However, when the NDB tunnel in, they find that the chief of police actually is in league with the yakuza, much to Yukika's surprise.
- In the manga FAKE during Dee's backstory we learn that the man Dee considered as his adoptive father was a dirty cop and Dee resolved to become a better cop than he ever was.
- In the Crapsack World of Gangsta crooked cops like Chad and Cody are honestly some of the most goodhearted people around. Yeah, they hire mercenaries to slaughter local trouble makers for the placation of powerful Mafia families, but at least they're doing so to keep the peace and prevent widespread slaughter. Less noble policemen are noted to except bribes and clean-up unwanted corpses.
- Technically, he was a correction officer, not a cop, but if anyone in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds qualifies, it was Takasu. Among the unpleasant tropes that could be applied to him were The Bully, Politically Incorrect Villain, Bad Liar, Sore Loser, and Cheaters Never Prosper. In fact, he was such scum that his boss (Rex Godwin, the Big Bad of the first season, was disgusted with him, and fired him after his brutal treatment of inmates became known.
- Almost every damn cop in Sin City, with the notable exception of John Hartigan. The police commissioner is in the employ of the powerful Roark family, showing up personally to ensure that Marv takes the fall for Cardinal Roark's crimes. But Hell and Back shows that even he can pushed too far.
- The entire Gotham City police department is corrupt, with the exception of Gordon and one or two good cops. This becomes a major plot point in Gotham Central, a series set within the Major Crimes Unit of the Gotham City Police Department, the only consistently honest branch of the department. Since its members are all personally selected by the commissioner they have a modicum of integrity and competence, but the universal corruption of the rest of their force makes even their simplest of cases difficult since the other departments are stealing evidence, accepting bribes, and often committing the crimes themselves. This comes to a head in the Corrigan story arcs, where Jim Corrigan (The dirty cop of the series) is selling crime scene evidence on the black market, redistributing the heroin that is collected by the narcotics department, and eventually starts personally murdering other police officers that are trying to stop him. At the end of the series, though everybody knows he did it, his web of corruption has spread so far that the case against him is sabotaged and he gets off completely free until Final Crisis Aftermath where it comes back to bite him in the ass. The one time Internal Affairs and the MCU are actually able to build a case against him, they have to compromise their morals and let him go to save one of their own.
- Even the MCU isn't immune. Harvey Bullock may have been more of a Cowboy Cop most of the time, but everyone agrees he went too far when he gave one of his Mafia connections information on a man in witness protection so they would kill him. The man in question shot Commissioner Gordon, but still. In his pre-Crisis origin, Bullock WAS a dirty cop, on orders from the mayor to sabotage Gordon's career, but then came to respect him.
- Blüdhaven was even worse than Gotham. Criminals there who didn't share the profits from their crimes with the police were murdered. The police chief placed a bounty on Nightwing's head. The only truly honest cop - technically - in Bludhaven was Nightwing himself, who in his Dick Grayson identity, joined the force in order to bring it down. (The city was eventually destroyed when the Secret Society of Super-Villains dumped the monstrous Chemo into the place; Nightwing, Robin, and Batgirl survived because they were lucky enough to be out of town at the time, but pretty much every other resident wasn't so lucky, and the fates of other Blüdhaven-based heroes such as Tarantula are unknown.)
- Elsewhere in the DC Universe, Hub City (where The Question is the biggest heroic presence, if you can even call him one) is even worse than both of those. The FBI yearly analysis lists Hub City's police department as the most corrupt department in the country, and even the honest cops currently trying to improve the department have bad history; the current straight-arrow chief only became a crusader for integrity because of what he encountered when he was out shaking down local criminals and businesses for the bribes they owed him.
- In the Astro City "Dark Ages" story arc, Charles' partner Lannie takes weekly bribes from the criminals to overlook their activities. Charles refuses to get involved, rejecting the bribes but refusing to report Lannie to Internal Affairs. He gets shot in the back as a result.
- Marvel Noir:
- The Brotherhood in X-Men Noir, Chief Magnus' private task force dedicated to controlling the criminal element from within. Magnus is dedicated to the pursuit of justice, but as he says, "laws only work on the law abiding."
- Luke Cage Noir, meanwhile, has Officer Rachman and Tombstone, corrupt cops working for Randall Banticoff. Tombstone in particular was a gangster before (and after) he became a cop.
- The Archies encounter one in "Trap City, U.S.A."; while driving through a small town, their van is pulled over by the sheriff for speeding- They weren't, but the sheriff works on commissions, so pulls everyone over for a fine. He's also the judge, so fighting the violation in court's no good. The Archies are forced to do a concert to pay the fine, but manage to get back at the sheriff when Veronica spots her uncle, the state governor in the audience, and tricks the sheriff into making a Engineered Public Confession while Uncle George is listening. The story ends with the ex-sheriff hitchhiking out of town, at which the Archies offer him a lift- for a fee of $12 a mile.
- Judge Dredd: Ciudad Baranquilla, the primary Mega City in South America, is even more of a craphole than the Mega-City One police state in North America, being completely run by a corrupt Justice system which operates more like a mob by killing anyone they want, letting criminals run free, and extorting the poor majority living in the projects.
- In Sherwood, Texas, the Sheriff of Nottingham County is in the pocket of the local gangs. As the story is a Setting Update of Robin Hood, it should not surprise anyone that the Sheriff is corrupt.
- Harry took a rather cynical view of law enforcement in general in Harry Potter and the Mind:
"There are two general kinds of person who become policemen, or aurors. One group is made up of starry-eyed young people who see opportunities, and want to change the world into a better place. Another group is made up of those who want an easy government job, and like to be able to bully and boss people around, ignore red lights, and steal an apple whenever they like.
"After the young idealists are on the force for a few years, they find out that they cannot change the world after all. So they become embittered and hardened to suffering, or leave the force. So who does that leave waking the beat? The bully. The bully is not your friend."
- Officer Macendale from Ultimate Spider Woman is on the take from some powerful crime syndicates. However, he doesn't look the other way from crimes against mutants, because in his mind, they are as bad as he is, since they justify hate with talk of protecting humanity.
- The Departed: Colin Sullivan is Frank Costello's mole in the Boston police department.
- Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle:
- The Cherry Hill PD, hoo boy. They even respond to a call about a shooting (phoned in by Kumar so he can sneak into the police department and break out Harold), and arrest the nearest black man they can find, who was asleep in his home.
- This turns out to be Shooting themselves in the foot when the guy turns out to be a high priced lawyer who, after being on the receiving end of overwhelming evidence of police brutality is able to have all the cops arrested.
- Denzel Washington's character Alonzo Harris in Training Day. He frames and beats up suspects, has ties with criminals, kills people he doesn't like, betrays his friends for money, and uses his badge to intimidate everyone in the gang-run neighborhood he frequents.
- Hank in Me, Myself, and Irene is an subversion. While he's certainly a Jerkass he's not corrupt, and represents Charlie's repressed anger at the abuse he's taken over the years. It's Charlie finally accepting this aspect of his hidden personality that enables him to take down the real dirty FBI agents who are setting him up at the end.
- In Back to the Future, Doc is interrupted by a cop while rigging his lightning rod. The cop asks to see a permit for his "weather experiment." Notice that Doc reaches into his wallet to look for the permit. The deleted scene then shows that the "permit" is actually a Mr. Ulysses Grant.
- Rooster in Righteous Kill after it is revealed that he killed all the people and had Turk framed for it.
- In the movie The Fugitive, Frederick Sykes is an ex-cop and contract killer who happens to have one arm. It is also loosely implied that Kimble was framed by the Chicago Police Department in order to protect Sykes.
- In the movie Shooter, a local cop tries to kill Bob Lee Swagger as part of the frame-up.
- Every cop who is a main character in L.A. Confidential. No one is completely clean, not even the usually upstanding Ed Exley:
- Jack Vincennes takes bribes from Sid Hudgens to bust famous suspects for Hush-Hush, though he seems to take a Heel-Face Turn when Sid tries to set up a blackmail scheme by arranging a sexual encounter between the district attorney and an actor that Jack previously busted.
- Wendell "Bud" White beats up criminals on Capt. Dudley Smith's orders and kills the ones whom he truly despises during arrest while staging 'self-defense'. He also is a Wife-Basher Basher.
- Dick Stensland is a drunken thug who beats up unarmed prisoners on the basis of escalating rumors that they hurt some cops and deals in heroin on the side.
- The worst is Captain Dudley Smith, who has taken over Mickey Cohen's empire and staged the Nite Owl Massacre himself.
- The Dark Knight Saga:
- Most of the cops from Batman Begins (with the exception of Gordon). Flass is the most notable one, to the point of such pettiness as pocketing money from street vendors because he doesn't want to cough up a few dollars for some fast food.
- In The Dark Knight, Gordon notes to Dent that if he chose not to work with cops Dent investigated in Internal Affairs, he'd be working alone. Ramirez and Wuertz are on the mob's payroll and delivered Rachel Dawes and Harvey Dent to the Joker. It's implied that Ramirez had some moral issues with what she did to Rachel Dawes and the Commissioner's family but we never find out about Wuertz. In some of the promotional animated materials that bridge the timeline of the two films, Ramirez is shown to have a VERY sick mother that the mob is using to force her to be a dirty cop (offering much needed money for her bills and threatening her life if Ramirez doesn't cooperate).
- Completely averted by The Dark Knight Rises, where police corruption is nonexistent and the force is definitely much more competent, especially when they all rally together for a final fight against Bane's army.
- Any cop in Batman (except Commissioner Gordon), especially Lt. Eckhardt (an Expy of Bullock, more or less) who is hired by Grissom to kill Jack Napier.
- Every policeman in Hobo with a Shotgun: "At least he's only killing the dirty cops." "We're ALL dirty cops!!"
- American Gangster:
- A gang of corrupt detectives make life difficult for both drug lord Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) by demanding money, invading his mom's house and destroying her furniture, shooting his dog and assaulting his wife, and honest cop Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) by almost taking $10,000 in bait money and outright telling him not to arrest Frank to keep the drug/bribe business going. They're only stopped when Frank and Richie team up to catch all the corrupt cops that Frank knows, nearly 3/4 of the police force.
- In addition to the detectives, Richie's career is ruined when he and his partner don't keep a million dollars, making the other corrupt cops in his squad suspicious that they'll turn them in. This drives his partner to stealing and drug use, culminating in a fatal overdose on Frank's "product."
- A group of dirty cops in Assault on Precinct 13 (2005) with very superior firepower attack a lonely police station in order to silence the gangster who could expose them. However, they're staggeringly incompetent, carry their badges during the assault, and use police vehicles, leaving one to wonder how they expected to get away with it.
- The Negotiator: Lt. Danny Roman is accused of murdering a cop (his former partner and best friend) and suspects he's been framed by his fellow officers in a conspiracy. Commander Frost eventually confesses about a scheme to steal money from the police retirement fund, which Roman inadvertently got dragged into when his friend got killed for starting to catch on.
- In He Died with a Felafel in His Hand, the two Detectives who show up during the Shared house 48 arc are blatantly corrupt and try to justify it.
Melbourne Detective: I'll tell you how this game works Daniel. We're the cops, we get to ask the questions. You're the suspect, you get to complain about your civil liberties, perhaps get shot, maybe even killed. And it has to stay like that Daniel, otherwise everything falls out of balance. When things fall out of balance, you know what happens then don't you Daniel. Your spiritual values start to decline. You get your disintegration of your social structure, don't you? The system collapses. Petulance, flood, famine. It happened to the Romans, it happened to the Greeks, it happened to the Ancient Mesopotamians. And we don't want it happening to us do we Daniel?
- The customs official in The Dogs of War putting aside half the protagonist's belongings as "Airport Tax" and "Importation Tax".
- The Usual Suspects:
- Keaton in is the leader of the group of criminal protagonist, and as described by the Hero Antagonist cops was one of these. He had ties to organized crime and murdered several people.
- The villain protagonists conduct a heist that involves robbing corrupt NYPD cops and the cartels which are paying them.
- Kujan tries to portray himself as a good cop in contrast to Keaton, but he's all too willing to say that, if Verbal doesn't tell him the whole story, he'll call in every favor he has in the underworld to have Verbal killed.
- Scanners II: The New Order:
- Commander Forrester wants to seize power by building an army of psychic 'scanners' to keep everyone else in line. He uses the psychics for brainwashing and assassination to position himself into increasingly higher public offices. He kills the chief of police, compels the mayor to appoint him as his replacement and kills her as well when she finds out too much.
- Forrester's lackey Officer Gelson enthusiastically participates in his boss's plans to exploit the scanners and take over society.
- The Corrupt Hick police officer in The Final lets the jocks go in exchange for them handing over all of their weed... which he is later seen smoking. In a deleted scene, we see that he does the exact same thing with good-looking women, in exchange for sex.
- Played with in Fallen, where early on Hobbes explains to a new transfer that while he doesn't take bribes, he doesn't really care all that much if other cops do, since he figures they are still putting their lives on the line and out there doing good 90% of the time anyways. For a dash of irony, the transferee was played by the future Tony Soprano.
- A ring of dirty cops want to kill a witness in 16 Blocks.
- In Arnold Schwarzenegger's End of Days, it appears the entire NYPD are secretly Satanists. And not the fun, pot-smoking free-love Satanists either, but the "murder witnesses and abduct women" kind.
- Detective Kaota in Outrage works for Yakuza and is the one coming out on top of the affair.
- Hot Fuzz has the never-seen Uncle Derrick, who was arrested for selling drugs to students. Ironically, he inspired his nephew Nick Angel to become a genuinely good cop. One of the film's main villains, Frank Butterman, is also this. Though in his case, he's more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
- Once Upon a Time in America:
- Some of the earlier scenes featured an officer who keeps troubling the main characters (a group of children who are forced to steal to survive). It eventually turns out he takes bribes to ignore the actions of specific criminals while still prosecuting others. However, this is much less prominent in the later parts of the film when the children have grown up into vicious gangsters.
- There's also Danny Aiello's Chief Aiello, who's paid by a steel company to break a strike.
- Officers Warren and Norton in Bride of Chucky. They collaborate to plant a bag of marijuana on Jesse just because he's dating Warren's niece, Jade.
- In The Jerky Boys: The Movie, the two title characters find out that the entire Queens organized crime division is in league with a local crime boss, making it difficult to turn over evidence on said crime boss to the authorities.
- Anthony Quinn's character in Across 110th Street, who hides this by masquerading as a Cowboy Cop.
- The Mexico City police in Man on Fire is full of them. The kidnappers outright hire off-duty cops to assist in Pita's kidnapping.
- This trope is the main focus of Dark Blue, and provides several examples.
- Eldon Perry frames people for crimes, shoots suspects, and behaves like an all-around Jerkass. Later on he becomes repentant of his actions and atones with a speech that uncovers all of his and Van Meter's shady dealings.
- Perry's supervisor Jack Van Meter is one through and through, and oversees and orders all of Perry’s corrupt actions. He's even revealed to be the person Orchard and Sidwell answer to.
- Bobby Keough subverts it when he has serious moral qualms with the illegalities committed in the department.
- Towards the end of Wild Things, Ray Duquette is revealed as one of these. He was corrupt, beat hookers, murdered anyone he didn't like, and got Suzie sent to prison just for the hell of it.
- Major plot point of Cellular as it's revealed several Homicide Detectives are in on a corruption ring.
- In The Place Beyond The Pines, everyone on the force but Avery is involved in shady businesses.
- The boisterous protagonist Rick Santoro of Snake Eyes is an arrogant, corrupt detective who sees Atlantic City as his own Wretched Hive. He takes bribes, doesn't hesitate to use Police Brutality, and sleeps around on his wife. The conspirators even get him involved because they knew he could be bought if he found out too much. He draws the line at plain murder, though.
- In An Innocent Man, two of them frame the titular man, who has to then clear his name.
- NYPD Detective Jimmy Shaker in Ransom is the mastermind behind the kidnapping of Tom's son and planned to kill Sean all along.
- In Hellraiser: Inferno, Detective Joseph Thorne cheats on his wife with prostitutes, neglects his family, brutalizes his informant, steals evidence, does drugs, frames his partner...
- Detective Mark Hoffman of the Saw franchise who is also an apprentice of Jigsaw and the most ruthless antagonist of the series.
- In The Thieves, Wei Hong has several cops on his payroll. One reveals his presence by betraying his colleagues at a vital point during the climax.
- Non-Stop: One of Marks' fellow Air Marshals is found to be smuggling cocaine. This was used by the terrorists to blackmail him into making Marks think he is the one trying to hijack the plane. It's also hiding a bomb.
- Noburo Mori from The Wolverine. A minister of justice with ties to the Yakuza.
- Jake Gittes in Chinatown strongly implies that Mulvihill was one during his time with the police. In their first scene together, Gittes mentions that when Mulvihill served (during Prohibition) "the rumrunners never lost a drop," hinting that he was on the take.
- Les Ripoux, a series of three French comedies, is exactly about this; indeed, the title is French slang for "the rotten cops". At first, René is introduced as the classic corrupt cop and François as his incorruptible new partner, but François soon becomes just as corrupt and even more ambitious.
- Billy, in Cold Comes The Night, has his hands in prostitution and fencing car parts from impounded cars. Then, he steals cash from a hitman and starts killing to cover it up.
- It's probably fair to say that the majority of James Ellroy's characters are either dirty cops (or feds) or former dirty cops. Dudley Smith from L.A. Confidential is just the one most people know. Edmund Exley was also far more compromised in the book than the film. Although the books (where Dudley Smith is around until the end of White Jazz does subvert this a bit by having Exley make the bringing down of Dudley Smith his first priority as Chief of Detectives (although this is more because of personal dislike than anything professional). By the end of White Jazz, Exley is compromised, essentially having become the counter-Smith within the department. The entirety of the action is the protagonist being caught in the power struggle between the criminal empire Smith has built and Exley's own quasi-criminal means to achieving his ambitions. Eventually, Exley drops his hatred for Smith in favor of his political ambition and the protagonist ends the book, decades later, deciding to return to LA to bring both men's sins to the light. The protagonist, Klein, is himself quite the Dirty Cop, but the ultimate point is that his sins pale in comparison to either of theirs.
- Michael Connelly's mystery novels often use Dirty Cops as villains. Much of this is likely Truth in Television given Connelly's history as a reporter in LA.
- Blore, one of the villain protagonists of And Then There Were None is a former cop, whose crime is fitting up an innocent man, leading to his victim being sentenced to hard labor and dying in prison. Blore is presented as devious and amoral, suggesting this was indicative of his general behavior as a police officer.
- Discworld: Endemic in the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, especially in the past seen in Night Watch.
- Once he comes into power in the system, Vimes comes down heavily on major abuses such as corruption, but lets smaller offenses slide as a sort of Necessarily Evil. He absolutely won't condone Police Brutality, though (although he might fake it if need be). Even then, Vimes is fully willing to go Cowboy Cop and ignore the law when necessary, since he views justice as "protecting the innocent" rather than "obeying the law".
- Sergeant Colon is a rather good-natured version, mostly in exchange for food. In The Fifth Elephant, he gives a local restaurateur immunity from parking fines in front of his building in exchange for one of his famous lunches (and some information.)
- Between Night Watch and Men at Arms, the Day Watch under "Mayonnaise" Quirke was just another city gang. The Night Watch weren't even competent enough for that.
- The City Watch Diary 1999 has a transcript of a speech by Vimes which gives his definition of a Dirty Cop, and why Colon is on the right side of the line:
I know all the little tricks, all the cafés that’ll feed a copper for free, the places to stand out of the wind, the cushy jobs, the pubs where the uniform will get you a buckshee pint; I know the grease on which this city runs and I know the difference. I also know dishonesty when I see it and if I find you taking bribes your feet will touch the ground because I will cut you off at the knees, believe me.
- In the first book of The Echo Case Files series, the local police department is corrupt from top to bottom. Those cops not taking backhanders from organised crime are involved with a terrorist group.
- Subverted with Officer Shrift from The Phantom Tollbooth. Sure, he arrests people for no reason and throws them in jail, but he does it as a joke. Unless they really do something bad, they can leave any time they want.
- Margin Play: Some members of the Seattle Police Department are bent and are being paid off by the cabal of bad guys. Amber doesn't know how many or which ones, so she doesn't dare go to the police about the beating she received for investigating the real-estate scam.
- In the Provost's Dog trilogy of the Tortall Universe, the city guard/police force has a much looser definition of "dirty" than the modern one. They have an established protocol for collecting bribes ("happy bags") from local businesses and will collect personal bribes frequently, but you're only supposed to do it for minor crimes rather than things like murder. Police Brutality is also acceptable (although it's supposed to be limited to the times that you're really sure it will help your inquiries) and Cage Dogs engage in Cold-Blooded Torture during interrogations.
- In Illuminatus!, most cops are not angels and will accept at least minor inducements to look the other way. Chicago copper Otto Waterhouse accepts a ten-dollar bribe, discreetly wrapped around a sample of the product, to allow the Eris Tomato Juice Company to carry on giving out free samples without a licence, immediately outside the convention of a Religious Right Moral Guardian group. When he throws the empty cardboard cup away, the ten-note is gone. But the effects of the mind-altering drug he has just taken will linger on...
- One of the people after James Bond's head in Nobody Lives for Ever is an older corrupted German policeman Heinrich "Der Haken" Osten, who is rumoured to have been involved with the Nazis back in the forties.
- Several members of the Behaim Circle in Pact fill this role with a supernatural twist-even though they Cannot Tell a Lie, they manipulate other officers against fellow wizards, relying upon the Masquerade to prevent their victims from pulling anything drastic and countering any subtler attempts.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire Janos Slynt is this, although the fact that he's taking bribes is less noticeable than that he's starting selling promotions.
- Most of the police force in Devils Cape are corrupt. Dustin Bilbray is openly racist, and takes bribes. There's also Warren Sims, although he isn't corrupt by choice.
- The Sheriff of Nottingham might just be the Ur Example. The position of "Sheriff" in Norman England had a lot of power, because it gave the bearer responsibility for maintaining the law throughout the parish, and had proxy authority from the king himself. Later depictions just make him a typical robber-baron, but in the early examples of the legend, he really was a corrupt police chief.
- The Heart She Holler'': Being a Black Comedy set in The Deep South with literally one police officer, this is a given for The Sheriff. He constantly cheats on his wife with the town prostitute, because his wife has Barbie Doll Anatomy, and later sends her to jail for a murder she had nothing to do with. He only lets her go because being confined to his workplace gives her much more opportunity to nag him than when she lived at home.
- Walker, Texas Ranger: Several episodes had corrupt cops, mainly in background roles, but one — the Season 4 episode "The Brotherhood" — was the focus of an episode. A small-town police department is run by a police chief frustrated about the crime rate and the perception that criminals get off on technicalities, so they kill the suspects after they are freed by the court. At one point, the crooked officers turn things up another notch when they throw a lighted cocktail into a prison bus, killing several prisoners and the guards and badly burning the driver. The main focus of the episode was on a Marine Corps recruit named Ernesto Lopez, who had been accused of rape only for DNA evidence to exonerate him; Walker is unable to get to Ernesto before the overzealous cops do, and Walker is left to track down the two stooges. The chief eventually turns his gun on himself when he learns Walker is coming for him.
- Adam-12: Several episodes dealt with corrupt fellow officers of Reed and Malloy, the most notable of the lot being the 1971 episode "Internal Affairs – Blackmail," where one of Malloy's best friends is being investigated for blackmailing a witness.
- The Dukes of Hazzard: Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane, who invariably looks the other way as Boss Hogg engages in corrupt scheme after corrupt scheme, and then attempts to pin the blame on Bo and Luke Duke.
- Boss Hogg is Roscoe's brother-in-law and the one who appointed him sheriff, probably because he knew he could keep Roscoe under his thumb.
- In the first season, it was explained that Roscoe lost his pension in the county bond election and does Boss Hogg's bidding because he needs the extra money. That plot point was dropped later on.
- B.J. and the Bear and Sheriff Lobo: The title character of the latter series, who in the former show tried to put truck driver B.J. McCay out of business by pinning various crimes on him. In his own series, Lobo always tried to manipulate various schemes to his advantage.
- Monk had a couple of incidents with corrupt cops:
- A Noodle Incident in "Mr. Monk Gets Fired": we learn that the new commissioner has a personal vendetta against Monk ever since a cop friend of his was put in jail
- The Detective Mole type in "Mr. Monk and the Captain's Marriage": the killer is a police officer securing the scene, who is implied to be working for a known racketeer
- In "Mr. Monk Is On The Run," Parts 1 and 2, the one-time Sheriff John Rollins is this. He works for Dale "The Whale" Biederbeck.
- The Expanded Universe novel Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop likes this trope, as there are three: First is Paul Braddock, a former SFPD detective Monk, Natalie and Stottlemeyer encounter at a convention. Monk and Natalie later learn from Stottlemeyer that Braddock had a long history of physically beating up people, to the point that Stottlemeyer threatened to turn him over to Internal Affairs. Unsurprisingly, when Braddock turns up dead, Stottlemeyer gets blamed for it and is wrongly arrested, since they had an altercation hours before the murder at a wake (making Stottlemeyer the second "dirty" cop). The third is Nick Slade, Braddock's real killer, who turns out to have taken out a hit on an entrepreneur years beforehand.
- At least two on JAG; Royal Ulster Constabulary Inspector Vincent Hutchinson in "Trinity" who arranged the kidnapping of the infant child of an American naval officer and an IRA member, only to put the blame entirely on the IRA; and DC Detective Frank Coster in "The Stalker", who did not only stalk Mac, but killed her former boyfriend Dalton Lowne and kidnapped her.
- They've also been seen on NCIS, although usually as a one-off. In a flashback we find out that Tony left the Baltimore police department when he found out that his partner was dirty.
- NCIS: Los Angeles: There is a group of dirty cops who act as an escort service for drug dealers and other criminals. Turns out they drew the line at helping terrorists
- Firefly has the downright brutal Lieutenant Womack, who is a member of Allied Enforcement but who likes to smuggle human organs on the side.
- Andromeda: In "Lava and Rockets" Molly Noguchi and Dylan are stunned to learn that the police will accept a bribe in public. The reason is low taxes and a high crime rate.
- The Strike Team on The Shield can be seen as the poster boys for this trope, with the added twist of half the team (Curtis Lemansky and Ronnie Gardock) being good cops who fell in with the wrong crowd and largely stayed in the shallow part of the corruption pool, and Vic Mackey and Shane Vendrell, who killed fellow police officers in order to cover their own asses when they were in danger of being exposed. They also sell drugs they get from buy-busts, use torture to interrogate suspects and protect drug dealers they can control, all in the name of "keeping the peace".
- Being a bad guy on Damages seems to entitle you to at least one (and usually more than one) corrupt cop/FBI agent on your payroll who is willing to surveil, harass, or murder anyone who bugs you too much.
- They usually don't actually show up, but the existence of these is sometimes part of the reason why the clients on Burn Notice can't just call the cops. In "Unpaid Debts" they ran afoul of a group of them, and in "Question and Answer" Sam pretended to be one.
- The A-Team face off against a Similar Squad of cops who moonlight as assassins in "A Private Little War".
- The 1992 TV series Renegade had Donald "Dutch" Dixon, a lieutenant who framed the main character for the murder of another cop. Dixon also headed a squad of equally crooked cops.
- Brotherhood has Declan's partner Ralph after Michael helps him cover up an accidental shooting.
- Cold Case has Roger Mulverny, who abused his wife and used it position to make sure her pleas for help were lost. When she tried to leave him for a kind man, he murdered his daughter in front of her, causing her to give up her other daughter for the child's own safety and go into hiding. Forty years later, her boyfriend (also a cop) tearfully confesses that he and some of his other cop friends took him behind an alley and beat him to death. The investigating detective's reaction when they hear this story? They sweep the original dirty cop's death under the rug without even a single thought. That's one straight example, then two extremely sympathetic examples within five minutes of each other.
- Life On Mars has a number of episodes which revolve around Gene Hunt and his superiors' relationships with local gangsters or corruption in general. Ashes to Ashes Series 2 was a complete arc about the fight between Hunt and various corrupt Met officers such as Mac, which doesn't end with Mac's death part way through the series.
- The Shadow Line is full of them:
- DS Delaney, Jonah Gabriel's deceased partner. Because of the association, Gabriel himself is also teased as being one for a while.
- Sergeant Foley, who will sell information to virtually anyone so long as they can pay.
- And finally, Patterson, Commander Khokar, Commander Penney and Lia Honey are all involved in some way with Counterpoint. Making Gabriel about the only clean cop in the series.
- Criminal Minds has a cop who has a hero homicide complex, he sets ups a shooting so he can make himself a hero by being the first to respond. He attacked Garcia fearing that she could find out about his murders.
- Weeds has a number of dirty cops and Nancy even ends up married to a dirty DEA agent.
- Justified has Doyle Bennett who IS a corrupt cop, but only in matters concerning his family.
- Season 1 featured a corrupt sheriff who worked for a Miami drug cartel. He struck a deal with them so he could get revenge on a child killer. He is actually a fairly effective sheriff since he is able to crack down on illegal drug manufacture and sales in the county. The drug cartel is not interested in selling drugs in the county and helped him get rid of the local meth manufacturers who were their competition in other areas. Things go bad for him when the cartel asks him to help them kill Raylan.
- Season 3 had an election for sheriff where both candidates were in the pockets of criminals. The incumbent hardly hesitates before accepting a Briefcase Full of Money from Quarles. When Boyd Crowder realizes that the sheriff works for Quarles he recruits his own candidate to run for the position. Subverted in the end because Boyd's candidate pays back Boyd by warning him about an arrest warrant and then states that their deal is done and he is not doing more favours for Boyd.
- Season 4 had the Marshals searching for Drew Thompson, a fugitive from the FBI and the Detroit Mob who 30 years before faked his death. Raylan quickly discovers that the FBI agents assigned to the case are working for the Detroit Mob and as a result the US Marshal Office gets full jurisdiction on the case. The local sheriff is tentatively in Boyd Crowder's pocket but he is reluctant to help Boyd in the search for Drew and tries to show Raylan that he is not actually corrupt. The sheriff turns out to actually be Drew Thompson.
- Season 5 features Smug Snake sheriff Noone who has been the corrupt deputy for most of the other corrupt sheriffs and police chiefs on the show. He is finally promoted to acting sheriff and goes after Boyd on behalf of the Clover Hillers, a group of Corrupt Hicks. Boyd then forces him to turn against his employers and has him murdered.
- Against The Wall plays with this trope a lot. It is based around a protagonist in the Internal Affairs division always investigating cops or other law enforcement officials. Sometimes played straight, sometimes subverted.
- Homicide Life On The Street:
- The Arson Unit, of which Kellerman is the only cop NOT on the take. Kellerman spends almost the entirety of Season 5 bitching about how he's not dirty and then at the end of the season he goes and shoots Luther Mahoney, unjustifiably. And then he coerces his partners into covering it up.
- There's also at least two other storylines involving Police Brutality and murder of suspects by police.
- Law & Order occasionally brought up cops on the take.
- It even implied that one of its main detectives might be dirty. Fontana wore very nice clothes and flashed a big roll far too often for a simple detective.
- Back when he was "on the sauce", Briscoe was implied to be dirty (or at least surrounded by a lot of other dirty cops). By the time he joins the 27th Precinct, he only pretends to be a dirty cop in order to get his informants to trust him.
- CSI NY has done this repeatedly. Flack's mentor, Mac's first partner, Danny's old partner...
- Brass was originally an aversion of this, stating how he refused to be a dirty cop. But now, he is flirting with subverting it, ever since he covered up Ray Langston's unjustified killing of Nate Haskell by pocketing Ray's flex cuff at the scene.
- In Safe Cracker, you can bribe the bank guard with points to get past him... but he'll arrest you if your bribe isn't generous enough.
- "Payoff Panic" in Capcom's unreleased Kingpin requires hitting enough targets to pay off a Dirty Cop.
- When you start off as a nobody in Pizza Tycoon, the police are pretty much straight edge. Once you have learned some street smarts and have some respect in the community, you'll be able to pay your way out of trouble and into the police's favors.
- Edi E. from Final Fight took bribes from the Mad Gear Gang, controlled a part of the city, and got the crap beaten out of him by the heroes. He later double crosses the Mad Gear Gang by arresting it's members during the events of Final Fight Revenge.
- Also, Dave, the first Boss of the third game.
- Every Grand Theft Auto game has entire forces of dirty cops, some more dirty than others.
- Ray Machowski worked for the Yakuza in Grand Theft Auto III. Machowski even has Claude assassinate his partner, fellow dirty cop turned informant Leon Mc Affrey, who worked for the Leone Crime Family in Liberty City Stories.
- Samuel L. Jackson's character Officer Frank Tenpenny in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas uses his position to get rich off the drug trade and keep all the gangs in Los Santos under his thumb and on his payroll. He threatens to hurt Carl's loved ones to force him to eliminate a case pending against him and his colleagues for his corruption. He murders two of his partners for growing a conscience and trying to expose him. When the case against him is dropped due to lack of evidence and witnesses (which he destroyed or killed throughout the game), the outrage causes a city-wide riot. Unusually, he claims to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist trading in small crimes to prevent larger ones, but the events of the game don't bear it out.
- Francis McReary in Grand Theft Auto IV. Packie claims that Francis is even more crooked than himself, Derrick and Gerry.
- The Undercover Cops in the beginning of Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, however they're killed in "Bad Cop Drop", a very early mission.
- A group of NOOSE and FIB Agents in Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony, who intend to frame Ray Bulgarin by planting fake evidence in his truck. They're killed off in the mission "Going Deep".
- Grand Theft Auto V has corrupt FIB agents Steve Haines and Dave Norton. Agent Haines plays it straight, forcing the protagonists to do his dirty work to hinder the IAA and make him look good. Agent Norton is a downplayed version; while he takes a monthly kickback from Michael as part of their "off-the-books plea agreement", he is more of a Reasonable Authority Figure than Haines.
- The Blaine County Sheriff's Department are full of them, as they extort money from the drug dealers and prostitutes, and will staunchly defend that dirty money at all costs, taking it Up to Eleven by bringing in the military and tanks.
- Max Payne:
- B.B. from the first game turns out to be one of these, especially when it's learned that he killed Alex at the Roscoe Street Station and had Max framed for it.
- Winterson in the sequel, who has a love affair with the Big Bad.
- The entire UFE in part 3, being essentially the private army of the Big Bad and working with outlawed paramilitaries to abduct and organ-harvest the poor. Ironically, despite Rodrigo dismissing him as another of these, Da Silva is the only one we see onscreen who isn't.
- Doctor Peace in No More Heroes is a Dirty Cop, a Deadly Doctor, and a skilled assassin with many interests outside the law.
- Sumaru City's police force seems to have a bit of a problem with these, to put it mildly. One of them is a boss battle in Eternal Punishment.
- The Godfather: The Game doesn't just have beat cops, but also FBI agents on the take who will help you keep the other families under control if the vendetta escalates to open Mob War. In fact, if you want to pull off a decent caper in the game, you'd better pay off the cops beforehand so they'll look the other way.
- The Hitman series has several antagonists who are corrupt members of law enforcement.
- Codename 47 has the Hong Kong Chief of Police.
- Contracts has the last target, Albert Fournier.
- In Absolution, pretty much the entire sheriff's department of Hope, South Dakota, including the sheriff, Clive Skurky, is on the take from Blake Dexter. Also, in some of the Chicago levels, police officers work for the bad guys in some capacity.
- Batman: Arkham Origins: Pretty much the whole Gotham City Police Department is on the take somehow, with the rest being too afraid to stand up. Especially prominent in Commissioner Loeb and Branden.
- Resident Evil:
- In the first Resident Evil there's a rather unusual example: Albert Wesker was the team captain of Division A of the S.T.A.R.S. Precinct and presumably also their leader, and seems outwardly to be a model cop. However, he is in fact a double agent for the Umbrella Corporation, and more importantly is intending to lure the S.T.A.R.S. Teams to their deaths at the hands of B.O.W's both to silence them and to give the B.O.W's battle data, and later games reveal that he was in fact also planning to betray Umbrella as well.
- Resident Evil 2 has Police Chief Brian Irons, a wife-beater and multiple rapist who is on Umbrella's payroll and thus not only works to conceal their wrong-doings, but is also implied to discredit potential competitors and provide human test-subjects for them. He's also a lunatic who suffers a mental breakdown during the resultant Zombie Apocalypse, actively sabotages the efforts of his police to aid the human survivors, and finally takes to hunting them down and killing them himself. On top of all of that, the game also drops heavy hints that he may be a Serial Killer as well. And by hints we mean the human skulls in his secret taxidermy chamber. Made worse in Outbreak. One of the files in the first scenario notes that 8 blonde women, all ages 18-23, started disappearing and people were saying there were groans and screams in the sewers. The description matches his last victim in RE2, the Mayor's daughter.
- Agent Ross from Red Dead Redemption, who's hobbies include kidnapping people's families in order to force them to track down outlaws he should be tracking.
- Mass Effect:
- C-Sec officer Harkin, although he is fired from the force by the second game. Anderson mentions that the only reason he lasted as long as he did because humanity wanted a presence in C-Sec and it would look bad if he was busted for one of his numerous crimes. By the sequel, there are enough humans working in C-Sec that it was no longer a concern, so he was sacked.
- Captain Bailey is a deconstruction of this trope with a sympathetic POV. He's willing to take bribes from The Mafia... but only because it helps keep the peace and keeps his men alive. He authorizes rough interrogation of prisoners... but only because the crime rate in his district is awful and he feels the need to use extra force. He's also on Shepard's side for the most part and will bend the rules for him/her when he needs to.
- Officer Kaira Sterling from the Noveria corporate police is openly taking bribes to cover up Administrator Anoleis' corruption, and is more than willing to murder anyone who gets in the way.
: Do you know what we did to cop killers back on my world? Wrex
: Do you know what we
did to dirty cops back on mine
- L.A. Noire has the entire LAPD except for Cole Phelps and his partners. Except for his fourth partner, Roy Earle, on the Ad Vice desk.
- Dead Rising has Jo Slade working as a mall security raping women and beating them with her nightstick.
- Dead Rising 2 has Raymond Sullivan, who is working for Phenotrans all along.
- Tashmann from the first Drakensang game: the first time you see him he's trying to use his badge to hire a prostitute for free.
- In Devil Survivor, after a few days in Tokyo after a lockdown resulting from demon presence, a group of police officers begin abusing the power of demon-summoning objects called COMPs to rob and/or kill others. They eventually surrender their powers after being beaten twice, the second time when faced with the lord of death, Yama.
- All 3 of the player characters in Call of Juarez: The Cartel are dirty to some degree.
- LAPD Detective Ben McCall is on the lighter end of the scale; he steals petty cash from criminals to help pay for the medical expenses of the child of one of the many hookers in his jurisdiction that he's protecting, he otherwise has a very strong sense of justice (although he also has anger issues and is prone to Cowboy Cop behavior as well as the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique). By "street cop" standards he's practically a boy scout.
- DEA Agent Eddie Guerra is on the much more extreme end of the scale; he's secretly running a network of street dealers to sell drugs for him, in order to pay off his huge gambling debts. He also sets up an informant to be murdered because he was worried Internal Affairs was getting to the guy. It also turns out he was The Mole and helped the Cartel abduct key witness Jessica Stone, because they owned his gambling debts.
- FBI Agent Kim Evans is by all appearances an idealisitic Good Cop, but is (reluctantly) willing to commit crimes, obstruct the investigation, and outright murder witnesses when ordered to do so by the director of the FBI, supposedly for The Greater Good (although it turns out most of her crimes were the result of her being mislead by the director).
- George Sewell in Silent Hill: Downpour. Not only is he extremely corrupt and known for striking deals with inmates which rarely go their way, the ending reveals he killed Frank Coleridge (who attempted to get him tried for corruption) and framed Murphy for the deed. To make matters worse, in every ending (save for "Truth & Justice") he gets away with everything.
- Commissioner Kinsler is shown in Halo 3: ODST's data pads to be concerned with nothing but his own personal interest, even as the Covenant are invading New Mombasa. If you manage to collect 29 data pads, you'll find out that the cop whom you've been fighting alongside with is on Kinsler's payroll.
- In Mortal Kombat, it would really be wrong to say that Stryker is any worse than the other characters who are supposed to be good guys (all of them are willing to use lethal force). Still, his Battle Cry in the 2011 game is "Police brutality comin' up!" (Also, in that game, Stryker is unique in that he is the only character who appears to kill his opponent upon winning a match even if he does not successfully perform a Fatality; he throws a grenade offscreen, which results in an explosion, followed by a scream from the loser and a lot of blood.)
- Part of the backstory of Streets of Rage is that the police has been taken over by The Syndicate. This leads to the three protagonists, who are police officers, quitting to take on the syndicate by themselves. The one remaining uncorrupted cop provides them with occasional backup in the form of a bazooka and and a machinegun-equipped helicopter.
- Sleeping Dogs: Wei Shen, an undercover cop within the Sun On Yee Triad, is feared to be this by his superiors, who believe that he may go rogue and fully defect to the Triad. Given his belligerent attitude and his propensity for violent and illegal actions that often go beyond simply maintaining his cover (especially when It's Personal), these fears are well-founded. Subverted with the outcomes to Inspector Teng's investigations, the ending cutscene and the "Year of the Snake" DLC, which show that he really is a cop first, albeit a very reckless Cowboy Cop.
- Played straight with Superintendent Pendrew, who built his career off of cooperating with the Sun On Yee's current Chairman and sent Wei in undercover to erase all evidence of his corruption from the inside out before his upcoming promotion to Interpol.
- In Kirisawa's route of Metro PD: Close to You, the 2nd Unit's investigation into a drug ring becomes much more complicated when they come across indications that the Chief of the Detective Bureau is involved in the drug ring in some way. He is indeed dirty, and has been for a long time, including acting as a mole for the mafia back when he was serving under the command of Kirisawa's father.
- Ace Attorney:
- An interesting aversion is Detective Tyrell Badd. He's a good man, a good cop, and the third 'leg' of the virtuous thief Yatagarasu.
- Another interesting aversion is Dick Gumshoe... Although that might be because he's Too Dumb to Fool.
- And then there's Damon Gant who is a dirty police chief, and was strongly implied to be forging evidence before he killed anyone. There's something seriously broken about the Ace Attorney legal system.
- Apollo Justice introduces us to Daryan Crescend, who is an international affairs agent who smuggles cocoons into the country (for good reasons) and kills Interpol agents (not for good reasons).
- Valerie Hawthorne from T&T, who helped fake a kidnapping and frame an innocent man, though she did try to make up for it.
- Dual Destinies brings us a dirty bomb squad member in Ted Tonate, who sells the bombs he dismantles in the black market and offed a detective who caught him in the act.
- Dual Destinies also gives us Bobby Fulbright, who seems at first to be one of the nicest and most morally good cops in the series. Except he was killed and replaced by the game's Big Bad, the Phantom, before the game even began.
- In addition, Dual Destinies deals with the fallout of having so many corrupt members of law enforcement: the public has zero faith in the legal system, and as a result, the majority of the legal profession has no qualms about being dirty, as long as it gets a victory.
- Paradigm Shift has vampires working for the FBI.
- In the "Phoenix Rising" Story Arc from Sluggy Freelance, Officer Tod is actually a former mob enforcer. He's found a pretty sweet gig where, as long as he covers up the local Vigilante Woman's numerous murders, he can just sit back, do nothing, and collect a fat paycheck from the government.
- The LAPD's Rampart scandal, involving widespread corruption on the part of CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums), the unit that the LAPD put together to combat the street gang violence that was going on in Los Angeles at the time.
- Louis Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, detectives with the Organized Crime Homicide Unit of the NYPD's Major Case Squad who were also acting as both informants and assassins for the mob, murdering eight people on orders from the Lucchese crime family.
- Richard "Dick" Cain, a Chicago vice cop, investigator for the U.S Attorney's office, and head of the Cook County Sheriff Department's Special Investigation Unit. He was also an enforcer and hitman for the Chicago Outfit and a personal friend of its boss, Sam Giancana. After being drummed out of law enforcement for perjury in the mid-'60s, he operated as a full-time gangster, became an FBI informant in order to undermine his mob rivals (much like Whitey Bulger would do years later), and was eventually assassinated when the Outfit bosses learned that he was plotting to kill them and take over.
- One of the many shocking things that came out of investigation of organised crime in London in the 1960's was that so many cops and detectives were on the take from the Kray Brothers and the Richardsons. The Met was reorganised and reformed after this. However, the old mentality lives on: during more recent investigation into the scandal of illegal phone-tapping by sleazy newspapers, it emerged that many, many, British coppers were happy to accept "inducements" from News of The World and Sun reporters. The unhealthy relationship between policemen and sleazy hacks explains how quickly and unerringly embarrassing arrests involving celebrities get onto the front pages of the papers. Money goes one way and information goes the other.
- There were a lot of these in New York in the late 19th Century. They were eventually cleaned up by the determined efforts of a police commissioner named Theodore Roosevelt. He was known for personally walking the beats of his officers at odd hours to check to see if his people were doing their jobs, and if he caught them abusing their positions, he would sack them on the spot.