"I know what you're thinking. Did she serve up six bottles or only five as part of her lap dances? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a 1944 Magnum, the most expensive wine in the joint, and will blow my bikini clean off if we have it in stock, you've got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, hunk?"
A Dirty Harriet scenario is when a female law enforcement officer goes undercover in a role only a woman is expected to take, like stripper or prostitute. This allows for the natural tensions of undercover work and of course allows a reason for her to wear little clothing
. There is a good deal of variation in the trope, allowing for non law enforcement characters, non sex work infiltration, and occasionally non females (but still able to pass as one or serving in the role).
Note that while this does
happen in reality, it's very controversial, and legally and morally delicate. It has a very high chance of going spectacularly wrong and can easily turn into the sort of situation where a would-be arrestee is suing the city or the state or the feds for entrapment or worse. The real-life prostitution stings shown on various cop documentaries usually entail the undercover officer doing just the absolute minimum to make it absolutely clear that the client is really buying sex, and once money has changed hands excuse herself while her colleagues (who have been monitoring the situation from the next room or a parked car) storm in and make the arrest.
This also appears in Spy Fiction
. See also Fair Cop
The term has also been used to describe female police officers depicted in film, TV and literature as being just as deadly as their male counterparts (or, specifically, Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry
. But that is not what this trope is about.
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Anime and Manga
- Code Geass: In season two, Action Girl Kallen is forced to work as a bunny-girl at an upscale casino as part of the Black Knights' plan to recover the amnesiac Lelouch/Zero. She's almost dragged off for a "bunny hunt", but Lelouch intervenes.
- Episode 15 of Samurai Champloo.
- Minnie May in Gunsmith Cats filled this role as she had experience as the real thing, and easily passed the "audition" because of it.
- Nina in Monster resorts to this in order to find her brother.
- In Cat's Eye, police officer Mitsuko Asatani was once disguised as a bartneder wearing Playboy Bunny suit.
- Trinity Blood has a fleeting scene where Catholic nun Esther is used as a bait to catch a criminal. Blatant fanservice, that.
- Tomcats: When Michael first meets Natalie, he's a bit surprised that she's a prostitute. He's even more surprised when he gets his face slammed against a wall, put in handcuffs, and finds out she's really a cop.
- In Miss Congeniality the titular character is an FBI agent that infiltrates the Miss United States pageant to find out who's threatening it.
- Averted in Stir Crazy. When a paralegal goes undercover at a strip joint, she does so as a waitress.
- Pam Grier's character in Coffy goes undercover as a call girl for a local drug dealer/pimp in order to infiltrate the criminal underworld, although she's a vigilante, not a police officer. In the follow-up movie Foxy Brown, Grier plays another vigilante character doing the same thing.
- District 13: Ultimatum opens with one of the leads going undercover as a dancing girl in order to stage a major sting against a series of crime bosses. The twist? Both the movie's leads are male. But it must be said that Cyril Raffaelli looks stunning in a dress.
- In X-Men: First Class, in order to infiltrate a Hellfire Club private party, Moira MacTaggert strips down to her undergarments and pretends to be one of the call-girls. Done fairly well as it's shown that she's not all that comfortable with it and is acutely aware of how vulnerable she is.
- Undercover Heat. Police officer Cindy Hannen (Athena Massey) goes undercover in a high class whorehouse to catch a murderer. She discovers that she's very good as a prostitute.
- In Khalnayak Ganga (Madhuri Dixit) goes undercover as a dancer to try to catch Ballu (Sanjay Dutt) and save her boyfriend's reputation. She gets in waaay over her head, however, when Ballu develops feelings for her.
- In The Warriors, Ajax ends up getting arrested when he attempts to rape one of these. She then proceeds to cuff him to a park bench and call for back-up.
- The Roger Corman sexploitation movie Stripped to Kill and the inevitable sequel. A Serial Killer is killing strippers, so a policewoman becomes a stripper to lure him out.
- Discworld: Nobby Nobbs. Yes, he's a man, or at least male. It's complex.note In fact, Nobby's looks are so astounding that a footnote made sure to point out that although narrative law would normally demand a Attractive Bent-Gender moment, the trope withered and died in the face of Nobby Nobbs.
- Even better: in one instance, his partner for that operation is the very attractive Sgt. Angua, a werewolf. Nobby can't imagine she'd be the bait (and feels a lot safer with her as backup rather than the other way around).
- In one Stuart Macbride's Aberdeen detective novels the fanservice aspect is averted. The officers posing as streetwalkers are plain and unattractive, because an attractive street-corner prostitute would make people suspicious.
- Holly Lisle's Last Girl Dancing is a textbook example of this trope: the protagonist is a female cop who goes undercover as a stripper to find a serial killer.
- In Shatterglass, part of Tamora Pierce's The Circle Opens Quartet, a serial killer stalks the female yaskedasi, or members of the entertainment class. Quite a few police officers (of both genders, but mostly women) go undercover as yaskedasi, but this is played straight when someone else comments that the grimly staring few who can't dance, juggle, or sing really stick out.
- Dexter's sister Deb did this at the start of the first book, when she was working in vice. The tone of the books is much more negative than that of the show and Dexter as narrator spends some time on how incredibly unattractive Deb, a beautiful woman, managed to make herself look in such skimpy clothing. She wasn't trying, either, she has no fashion sense. By contrast, Deb in the show has a perfectly good fashion sense.
- In Assassins of Gor Elizabeth Cardwell goes undercover in Ar as a slave girl. Of course, this being Gor and she being female, she immediately starts heading in the direction of Becoming the Mask.
Live Action TV
- The New World of Darkness sourcebook Tales from the 13th Precinct features a vice cop who gets sent on this type of assignment by default.
- Anachronox: Stiletto Anyways makes her first appearance as a stripper before it turns out she's undercover as an assassin, killing three mobsters halfway through the performance. Afterwards, the bar owner thinks it's a great act and wants to hire her full-time.
- Dead or Alive: Likewise Christie went undercover as an erotic dancer in order to get close enough to assassinate her target in her Dead or Alive 4 ending.
- A T-rated variation in Jak II: The Underground is allied with local crime lord Krew, but since Torn doesn't trust him, so he sends Tess to work at his saloon as a barmaid (and nothing else) to pass his secrets along.
- Inverted in Lula 3 D: Lula is a porn producer and prostitute who goes undercover at a strip bar to track down kidnapped actresses.
- In Final Fantasy VII Tifa Lockhart does so to get data from Don Corleo, then Cloud and Aerith do it too to free Tifa.
- Played with by Mass Effect 1. One of the early Citadel missions involves a young woman working in Chora's Den, a sleazy, mobster-owned strip club in the Wards (The heavily populated, urban sections of the Citdael). She is working at the club to pass on information to the local police, and she very specifically points out that she only serves drinks on the bar. Of course, she then complains that she could be earning more money by dancing.....
- Mother 3: While she wasn't necessarily hired as a stripper, Kumatora worked as a waitress at a night club in order to locate and rescue the amnesiac Duster.
- In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, one of Jensen's old partners will be undercover as a prostitute.
- In Grand Theft Auto V, it's possible to get caught in a sting operation when picking up prostitutes.
- Parodied in South Park, when a (male) police detective goes undercover as a (female) streetwalker to bust a prostitution ring... and gets a bit too deep into the role. To the point of marrying the (also male) leader of the ring and only revealing that he's a cop after the honeymoon.
- Cartman goes undercover as a hooker when deputized by Barbrady so he can learn to read.
- Catwoman poses as a stripper in order to get close to Rough Cut in DC Showcase: Catwoman.