"I wished I was one of those private eyes in books; they've all got a friend on the force."A Friend on the Force is a regular police officer whom a Private Detective or Amateur Sleuth is friendly with that provides assistance to the Private Detective. The Friend on the Force often acts as the official with the authority to arrest the criminals that the Private Detective identifies. The usefulness of the relationship is sometimes mutual. The friend might ask the private detective to help him with certain shady things that he as an official cannot do, either because he is too high profile and recognisable, or it will break regulations and he wants to avoid trouble with the Internal Affairs. Compare to Inspector Lestrade, which is a detective that is incapable of solving crimes without the help of a Great Detective—though it's pretty common for a FOTF to double as a Lestrade. Superheroes usually have enough clout to enlist The Commissioner Gordon. A supertrope for Sleuth Dates Cop.
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Anime and Manga
- The Big O's Roger Smith has Dan Dastun.
- Jet Black from Cowboy Bebop still has friends inside the ISSP.
- Gunsmith Cats: Rally Vincent has Roy Coleman.
- Mazinger Z: Kouji Kabuto has Inspector Yamitaro Ankokuji.
- Hajime Kindaichi of The Kindaichi Case Files have won the trust of Inspector Kenmochi and, to a lesser extent, Inspector Akechi. Whenever a clueless district officer tries to stop him from snooping around, Kindaichi could always get their reference to force them to allow him continue the investigation.
- Michael Tree in Ms. Tree has Lt. Rafe Valer, her late husband's former partner.
- Lt. Roberta Bliss is this to Jennifer and Gabe in The Maze Agency.
- Sable has Captain Josh Winters in Jon Sable, Freelance. Winters will sometimes slip into The Commissioner Gordon role.
- Prior to her death, Detective Jeanne DeWolff was this for Spider-Man.
- Inspector Mike Henderson, member of Metropolis police, Metacrimes Division during Supergirl's Gates/Igle run. He helped Supergirl discover the identity of Superwoman during the Who Is Superwoman? story arc.
- In Drowntown, Leo goes to an old acquaintance of his, Inspector Mickey Hammond, for information. Hammond isn't actually very friendly (or at least, they're Vitriolic Best Buds), but Leo points out that some of Hammond's successes were thanks to Leo's help (and that this help could be withdrawn in future).
- In Chrysalis Visits The Hague, the judge Colm Mullan acts as one to the lawyer protagonist Estermann, since they're dear old friends. The relative illegality of this is Lampshaded.
- Private eye James Evans (a.k.a. Harry Potter) has a few of these in Inlaqueo, including Hermione Granger and a couple of Aurors.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Private detective Eddie Valiant has Lieutenant Santino, who calls him in on the Acme murder and shows up at the end with the rest of the police. (One may come to conclusion that the Valiants and Santino graduated together from Police Academy).
- Rear Window. When LB Jeffries suspects one of his neighbors has murdered his wife, he calls in his old war buddy Doyle, now a police detective, to investigate.
- Shame has two - DEA Agent Rothmiller and Captain Nunez. Rothmiller is a subversion. He's really working with Mendoza, the Big Bad.
- Bright: Inverted. Daryl Ward is a LAPD officer being chased by terrorists, gangsters and corrupt cops because he is carrying the MacGuffin with him. He asks the help of his friend Deputy Rodriguez, a sheriff from outside of his department, because he is not involved in the crooked cops' scheme and he is the only one that can be trusted to contact the federal agents for help.
- Inspector Tobias Gregson for Sherlock Holmes, with whom he is more friendly, and who is the counterpart of Inspector Lestrade. Hopkins probably counts as well, though he is more of a Protegé on the Force.
- The Dresden Files has Lieutenant Murphy. Because of the nature of the world she rarely gets to make any arrests on cases he's involved in, but the cases still get closed... one way or another.
- Ellery Queen helps his father, the chief of police. One wonders why they even have police detectives when Ellery can (and does) solve all the cases.
- Nero Wolfe's relations with Inspector Cramer are more cordial than friendly. Sergeant Purley Stebbins, though, has been known to spend the evenings playing cards with Archie Goodwin and the boys.
- Hercule Poirot has Inspector Japp.
- The Maltese Falcon: Sam Spade is friends with detective Tom Polhaus. His relationship with Lieutenant Dundy is much more antagonistic.
- Lord Peter Wimsey has Inspector Charles Parker, who later becomes his brother-in-law.
- In the Coruscant Nights Trilogy, the hero Jax Pavan, who "finds things" and has a rather complicated, never defined job that does involve investigation, has a slightly antagonistic but ultimately friendly relationship with Pol Haus, a police prefect on Coruscant. Of course, there's never anyone to lock up, since Pavan's enemies strongly tend to be Dark Jedi who vanish, Inquisitors working with the Empire, and Darth Vader. Mostly Haus and Pavan just meet to trade information. Haus suspects that Pavan is a Jedi, but ultimately bails him out.
- In George C. Chesbro's In the House of Secret Enemies, Detective/Criminologist Dr. Robert Frederickson (Mongo to people who knew him from the circus) has a big brother, Garth, on the New York City Police Force. A much bigger brother.
- John le Carré's George Smiley has Inspector Mendel, whether nearly retired or fully retired.
- McGowan from the Andrew Vachss Burke books, at least until he retires. The quote comes from a book that occurs after his retirement, so Burke cannot count on his help any more.
- In The Hardy Boys books, Bayport Police chief Ezra Collig is an old friend of Fenton Hardy, though he makes few arrests himself. In a lot of books, one-off cops are typically the ones who actually arrest the criminals.
- In the Nancy Drew books, Chief McGinnis (the chief of police in River Heights) is a close family friend of Carson and Nancy Drew, and Nancy and Chief McGinnis turn to each other for help in many of the books.
- On the East Coast, Mike Hammer is friends with Captain Pat Chambers, NYPD.
- On the West Coast, Shell Scott is friends with Captain Phil Samson, LAPD.
- Philip Marlowe from the novels by Raymond Chandler has Bernie Ohls, chief investigator for the DA's office.
- Benjamin January has Lieutenant Shaw.
- Phryne Fisher has Detective Inspector John "Call me Jack" Robinson.
- Marîd Audran has Lt. Okking. Okking generally tolerates Audran, and sends cases his way when the police don't want to be bothered, but there might be enough money to interest Audran. Audran hates cops, but tolerates Okking, and calls him by preference when something turns up that requires a police presence.
- Stephanie Plum has Eddie Gazarra, her childhood friend and cousin-in-law, who she frequently goes to for information when she's not on speaking terms with Morelli. She's also friendly with Carl Costanza, although he isn't quite as much help.
- The Bourne Series turns the Big Bad of The Bourne Identity into Bourne's helper in the next two books, Supremacy and Ultimatum. It's Alexander Conklin.
- Geoph Essex seems to toy with this trope without ever playing it totally straight. In Lovely Assistant, Jenny has Detective Monaghan, who is originally the Columbo-like cop questioning her about all the weird stuff going on, but turns out to be a useful guy to know. In Jackrabbit Messiah, Lieutenant Springer seems to start out as Amity's (and Jack's) Friend on the Force, but kind of cuts the cord as she heads off on the big adventure with them.
- The Great Merlini: Merlini and Inspector Gavigan were friends before the first novel started.
- Philo Vance has two. John Markham (technically District Attorney, not a policeman) brought Vance in for the earliest novels because the two had a long-standing friendship. A couple novels in to the series, Sergeant Heath (NYPD Homicide Division) has warmed to Vance enough to count as well.
- Mick Oberon has Pete, the werewolf cop. Mick lets him into Elphame during the full moon so he won't hurt anyone.
- In The Sword-Edged Blonde, one of the Eddie's old mercenary comrades is now head of law enforcement in a city where Eddie needs to find a certain criminal. They naturally help each other out, but don't end up fully in accord — there's a supernatural aspect to the criminal which Eddie doesn't want to reveal. The friend indicates that he'll probably get over his irritation eventually, but right now, it would be best for Eddie to leave town.
- In the Zachary Nixon Johnson series, Captain Tony Rickey of the New Frisco police is a close friend of Zach's, and sometimes helps him with his cases.
- In Newshound, FBI Agent Jonathan Stone functions as this for his sister Heather, who uses him to cut through administrative red tape and as an occasional source of information.
- Smaller & Smaller Circles: At the NBI, Ading Rustia is this to Saenz. Also the Director by extension.
Live Action TV
- This was Kate Lockley's role in the first two seasons.
- Lampshaded at one point in season 3. Pressed on where he got some info, Angel reveals that he hired a detective agency with some friends on the force. The rest of the team bemoans how pathetic that looks for their own detective agency, don't they have their own friends or something? Angel agrees it's not ideal, but reminds them that Kate got canned (mainly as a result of her association with Angel Investigations cluing her in on The Masquerade, and how bonkers she sounds to other cops as a result).
- Charmed: The most prominent one is Lieutenant Darryl Morris, who helped the sisters throughout the series, except in the first and last seasons. The first season had Darryl's partner and Prue's boyfriend Andy Trudeau, and the last season had Homeland Security Agent Murphy and Paige's boyfriend Henry Mitchell, a parole officer.
- Marvel's Netflix shows
- Daredevil (2015): Sgt. Brett Mahoney from the 15th Precinct is a childhood friend of Foggy Nelson's, and thus a major ally to Nelson & Murdock. As one of the few cops in the precinct not to be on Wilson Fisk's payroll, he's also the one reliable cop the firm turns Hoffman over to when he sells Fisk out. In season 2, Brett also becomes a somewhat reluctant ally towards Matt Murdock's alter ego Daredevil.
- Jessica Jones (2015): Jessica gets two. The primary one is Will Simpson, who works with Jessica to take down Kilgrave until an attempt on his life from Kilgrave causes him to go insane. The other is Detective Oscar Clemmons. Once he sees Kilgrave's powers for himself, he is fully willing to help Jessica. He also admits to Simpson that he might have a point in claiming that Kilgrave is too dangerous to stand a normal trial, but he also points out that it still doesn't give Simpson nor himself the right to take the law into their own hands by killing him. Too bad Simpson disagrees.
- Luke Cage (2016): Detective Misty Knight has a somewhat rocky relationship with Luke Cage throughout the season, though she is usually a friend more than foe, eventually fully warming up to Luke after she learns the full details of Luke's messed up half-brother.
- Diagnosis: Murder: Dr. Sloan's son is a homicide detective. A relative on the force.
- Magnum, P.I. has Lt Tanaka. He also knows an (inevitably pretty) lawyer at the District Attorney's office and several contacts at the naval base.
- In the Marcus Didius Falco series, Falco's best friend, Petronius, is a member of the Vigiles.
- Monk: Lieutenant Disher and Captain Stottlemeyer.
- Les Petits Meurtres d'Agatha Christie: Reporter Alice Avril thinks Commissaire Laurence is this for her, but he originally considers her a nuisance and doesn't get much better.
- Psych: Carlton Lassiter and Juliet O'Hara. Although Lassiter at least is less a 'friend' and more 'somewhat reluctant and slightly resentful ally'.
- Shawn's dad Henry, being a former cop until Season 5, had all kinds of friends on the force, through which he would track Shawn's case and sometimes provide useful leads/background information. Now that he's back on the force as the SBPD external liaison, these don't come into play as often.
- Spenser For Hire: Spenser has several police contacts.
- Simon & Simon: Rick and A.J. Simon have "Downtown" Brown, a plain-clothes/undercover cop.
- The Rockford Files: Jim Rockford is friends with Sergeant Dennis Becker.
- Toby from The Listener has Detective Charlie Marks, though she's often inclined not to listen when he comes to her with evidence and can't explain how he got it because he found out by reading minds. Of course this changes once she finds out.
- And since she died, they found a Suspiciously Similar Substitute for her in the form of Sergeant McCluskey. It is subverted in later seasons when the police hire Toby as a full time consultant. Then it is inverted when Toby starts dating a reporter and becomes her Friend on the Force.
- Torchwood has PC Andy.
- Castle has Kate Beckett for the title Rick Castle, a mystery author who assists the police in exchange for inspiration for his stories. They both have loads of UST, which eventually is resolved. To the point where she gradually becomes his Girlfriend, Fiancée and eventually Wife on the Force.
- Leverage has FBI agents Taggart and McSweeten and Massachusetts State Police Detective Captain Patrick Bonano.
- Campion: Albert Campion has Detective Inspector Oates, a competent cop who often takes Albert's arrests and investigations.
- Due South: Ray performs this function for Benton who has no jurisdiction in Chicago.
- Tracker had Mel's on again-off again boyfriend Detective Vic Bruno. She makes use of him a few times during the series. (Trust,A Made Guy)
- The BBC Sherlock version of Lestrade is much closer to this than the trope he named. He's also the only friend Sherlock has on the force, as every other police officer he knows would rather Lestrade not keep involving this weirdo who keeps human eyes in his microwave ( which leaves him powerless when Moriarty's manipulations convince the entire police service Sherlock's a fraud). Luckily, things get better for him.
- Mr. Lucky has Lieutenant Rovacs, though Rovacs isn't always happy about the arrangement.
- Elementary has Tobias Gregson. Gregson in this version is a captain in the NYPD instead of a Scotland Yard inspector (Gregson does mention his temporary assignment to Scotland Yard post-9/11, where he met Holmes). Gregson tends to trust Holmes, as long as the latter has at least a hint of evidence to back up his claims and will often trust Holmes over his own detectives. The one time he got pissed off at Holmes was when the latter started questioning Gregson's star-making arrest and accusing him of planting evidence. Gregson is visible straining himself to avoid decking Sherlock. It turns out it was Gregson's then-partner who planted the evidence, but the guy was still guilty.
- Also, Gregson is revealed to have known from the start that Sherlock is a recovering drug addict but has kept it quiet, figuring Sherlock would tell him when he was ready. The reaction on Sherlock's face when Gregson asks "Do you think I'm an idiot?" is priceless (not of mockery but of shame).
- Averted in Moonlight. When asked by Beth why a private investigator like him doesn't have this trope, Mick points out that, being a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire is tough enough without a cop who knows him constantly noticing odd things about him (like the fact that Mick doesn't age or stays in the shadows). A flashback reveals that Mick had a cop friend ten years ago, who has now retired and lost sight. This is the only reason Mick still occasionally visits him. Beth herself, being a reporter, has her boyfriend working in the DA's office and then an assistant DA after her boyfriend is killed.
- Blood Ties has Mike Celluci, Vicki's ex-partner and ex-boyfriend. Now that Vicki has left the force and has become a PI, she often crosses paths with Mike. She has to hide a few things from him at first, like the fact that Henry is a vampire and that many of her cases involve the supernatural, but eventually he figures it out and it becomes his turn to hide that from his superiors and colleagues. Eventually, this ends up getting him suspended, although the show was cancelled before we got to see the resolution.
- Vega$ had Lt. Dave Nelson played by Greg Morris of Mission: Impossible fame.
- Matt Houston had Lt. Novelli in the first season and Lt. Hoyt for the rest of the series.
- Arrow: Despite starting out hating him, Detective Lance eventually comes to see the Arrow as the hero that Starling City needs, and by Season 2 is now this trope. And with his promotion to Captain in Season 3, he's now also The Commissioner Gordon. Until he learns of Sara's death, which he irrationally blames on the Arrow's mere existence, turning him back into Inspector Javert.
- Detective Lance's daughter Laurel serves a similar function (and similarly goes back and forth in her support/disapproval of the Arrow) as a "friend in the DA's office." until she takes up her sister's mantle and becomes the superhero Black Canary
- Republic of Doyle has Constable Leslie Bennet, who provides information to Jake Doyle and serves as a person he can call in to arrest criminals he encounters in his private detective endeavors
- FBI agent Fitzhugh plays this role in The Wire. He is a friend and major ally for Jimmy McNulty and regularly goes out of his way to help the struggling and often powerless BPD. Unlike the local detectives, the overwhelming resources and prowess of the Bureau make him a real law enforcer working for a real agency.
- Gabriel Knight isn't a detective, but he does do some sleuthing with the help of his good friend Detective Mosely. He also uses Mosely to get information for his novels.
- Tex Murphy has Mac Malden.
- Lewton, the Private Detective in the Discworld Noir computer game, has Nobby Nobbs as his buddy on the force. Which only really goes as far as Nobby giving him several useful pieces of gossip and convincing Vimes to arrest Carlotta at the end.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has Detective Gumshoe, who starts out as an annoyance but later becomes essentially a friend to Phoenix (while remaining an annoyance). He even helps Phoenix a bit on the sly in the second and third games, despite technically being on "the other side".
- Gumshoe serves this purpose in a more formal capacity in Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, since he's Edgeworth's partner. Likewise, Detective Badd was the partner to Prosecutor Faraday in more ways than one. No, not that way. A different way.
- The first game has some notable instances where Gumshoe helps out, usually when it's Edgeworth's wellbeing on the line. In Case 1-4, Gumshoe goes out of his way to help Phoenix as much as he can in relation to the Gordon Lake shootings, because Edgeworth is the one on trial and Gumshoe really wants to get the guy off the hook. In Case 1-5, Gumshoe agrees to let Phoenix into Damon Gant's office after finding out that Edgeworth is seriously considering retiring over how badly this case has gone. This helps Phoenix get the decisive evidence for the case, even though poor Gumshoe gets fired over it.
- Inverted towards the end of L.A. Noire, where Jack Kelso plays the part of Cole Phelps' friend off the force, as an investigator for California Fire and Life.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution: Adam Jensen has two friends on the force, one who you can get a favour from and accidentally get fired (although if you convinced him to do the favour you can get him a job at the company you work for...if you extorted the favour he'll just try to kill you) and the the other he does a favour for.
- Armando Bailey is this for Shepard. Given that Shepard is effectively investigator, judge, jury, and executioner if necessary s/he doesn't need Bailey to get things done per se, but s/he will turn to Bailey for information.
- In Mass Effect 3, Jondum Bau acts as one amongst the Spectres that Shepard belongs to. He admits that unlike the Council, the other Spectres saw the evidence and took the warnings about the Reapers very seriously, so they've been secretly getting prepared for the invasion ever since Shepard first discovered the threat back in the first game.
- In the first Streets of Rage, you play as one of three ex-cops. When the A button is pressed, you call in a friend still working in the precinct to deliver either a napalm strike or rain down gatling fire, taking out all enemies or hurting all bosses on the screen.
- Persona 4 has Adachi, who helps out the protagonists a few times (capturing Rise's stalker, giving hints about the investigation to the protagonist, etc); Persona 4 Golden even adds a social link for him. Oh, and he happens to be the guy who carried out the first two murders, framed the first suspect (actually a copycat who only killed one victim) and tricked the second suspect into nearly doing more (by letting him think shoving them into the TV World would keep them safe - had the Investigation Team not rescued them...). The protagonist's uncle (and Adachi's boss) has hints of this, but mostly tries to keep him from interfering with the investigation.
- Pokémon arguably has one in the form of Looker, an agent of the International Police (and apparently their only effective member). He appears first in Platinum, where he makes the arrests after you've cleared the path. He returns in Black & White, where he enlists your help in finding the Seven Sages so he can arrest them. His latest appearance is in X & Y, where he is sent to Kalos to arrest Dr. Xerosic.
- In the Dragon Age series:
- In Dragon Age: Origins, Sergeant Kylon of the Denerim Guard serves as this for the Warden, joking that even if he believed the official line that the Wardens killed King Cailain at Ostagar, he's not stupid or suicidal enough to try to attack them.
- In Dragon Age II, Aveline Vallen is this for Hawke's company, as a member and later Captain of the Kirkwall Guard. She often comes to Hawke with independent work that would stretch the guard's numbers too thin, stops patrols venturing too near the mansion where Fenris is squatting, but doesn't shy away from arresting Isabela for starting bar brawls.
- In Crossing Kevin's Crossing, the narrator befriends Officer Eric, a police officer the narrator met at the coffee shop.
- The SWAT Kats have Felina Feral, the one Enforcer who is willing to work with them, despite her uncle (who happens to be head of the Enforcers) being their sworn enemy.