A type of Perp Sweating frequently used in Crime and Punishment shows.
One cop behaves in a very threatening and menacing way towards the suspect, while the other appears sympathetic, helpful and protective. The suspect is expected to be cooperative with the "good cop".
Sometimes the Genre Savvy suspect makes fun of this technique. Thus, an increasingly common variation is known as Bad Cop/Worse Cop, which is based on a reversal. The first cop behaves menacingly and threateningly, and the second cop appears initially to be sympathetic then, usually in a whisper, indicates his partner and tells the perp, "He's the good cop," before revealing a far harsher and more threatening attitude toward the perp. In the end, they're just two sides of the same coin, even if one is the "lesser evil".
Two cops arguing about who gets to be the Bad Cop is a common extension of the trope.
This is Truth in Television. It's a classic interrogation technique, but real cops generally use it only on frightened or naive suspects, because cooler heads tend to recognize it and feel insulted. In real life, this technique is used to imply that the "Bad Cop" will eventually cause some real injury to the suspect, and that cooperating with the "Good Cop" is the only way to avoid this. This makes it a legally risky maneuver because of the potential for the interrogator to say something genuinely coercive.
Not to be confused with the Canadian film Bon Cop, Bad Cop.
The Other Wiki has an entry on Good Cop / Bad Cop.
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Muhyo And Roji: Jyo acts quite polite to the pair when they're called in for questioning about a disappearance, while his partner is less trusting. Muhyo suspects that it's just an act and he doesn't believe in magical law. It turns out that Jyo is desperate enough to solve the case that he would trust them, and was being sincere.
In Durarara!!, Kadota initially seems to be the "bad cop", when he interrogates a thug by beating him up. But then, after he turns the guy over to Walker and Erika, it's clear that Kadota is the good cop and they are the bad ones.
Pokémon does this in one episode, with Cilan and Meowth in the respective roles, trying to interrogate the current Monster of the Week: a Scrafty.
Gintama takes this to eleven when they combine it with 'Carrot and Stick' and invert good/bad and carrot/stick to accommodate the twisted mind of a sociopath. You see, to a serial killer, the goodness of the good cop will come off as offensive. One person has to be the bad cop and offer him the 'carrot' and then follow that up with a personality change into good cop and offer the 'stick' - because serial killers prefer sticks to carrots. Follow?
Similar to the Pink Panther example below, Gargoylemon of Digimon Xros Wars attempts to be both the good cop and the bad cop, alternatively threatening the captured heroes and offering them DigiNoir. Humorously, they're so busy eating they don't even notice.
Invoked in the anime adaption of Log Horizon. Shiroe played bad cop to Krusty's good, and it's all done very intentionally. Shiroe explains he intentionally invoked this trope by name to Minori, who realizes it's all a front. She's worried about him as a result; he's less concerned.
In one volume of Paul Chadwick's comic series Concrete, two police detectives interrogate suspects about a suspicious accident on a movie set. With the first suspect, they do the routine perfectly, with one cop getting angry at the suspect and the other cop trying to cool him down. Then they go and interrogate the second suspect, and do the routine again, except with the cops playing the opposite parts. You can tell whose turn it is to be bad cop because he's wearing his gun in the interrogation room.
In an issue of the X-Men spinoff X-Factor, during one of its Darker and Edgier periods (in the 90s, of course), two of the team members confront a villain and mention they'd considered playing Good Cop/Bad Cop, but neither of them wanted to be the "Good Cop". Unfortunately for them, the attempt at intimidation is a total failure and the bad guy gets away.
Believe it or not, a reverse situation was done once with Captain America as the Good Cop, of all people, in a six-issue Spider-Man story called "The Assassin Nation Plot". When trying to find Sabertooth (who had just murdered the prime minister of Symkaria) Cap and Silver Sable track him to a group of sleazy thugs in Latin America. After trouncing them, Cap tries to get the leader to talk, but the crook knows Cap's reputation and says he wouldn't hurt him. Then Silver points a gun at him and says "Yes, he won't." The guy quickly starts to talk. (It's doubtful Cap would have actually let her shoot him, but the situation was rather dire.)
Most of the partnered cops shown in the Gotham Central comics series fall naturally into this routine.
In Powers, The Stoic Walker is the good cop and Deena Pilgrim is bad cop. In fact, after her 10-Minute Retirement when she comes back and starts beating on an accomplice to a murder, the rest of the cops comment on how good it is to have her back because apparently no one else could play bad cop like her.
In a special issue of the The Punisher, Frank Castle once helped one Ax-Crazy Italian hitwoman (a villain from a previous special) get revenge on a mob boss that had taken her daughter hostage. At one point, they interrogate a few mooks. Despite Frank's tendencies, he's shocked by the role he takes in the discussion.
Punisher:I don't believe it. We played classic Good Cop/Bad Cop scheme. And I was the good cop.
Done twice in Kyon Big Damn Hero. Once with the Bad Cop/Worse Cop variant and again with Good Cop/Bad Cop.
Tenchi Muyo! fanfic plays with this trope. First by paroding it and then making it frightful. trope. Galaxy Police Files 1: Bad Cop, Bad Cop. The bubbly Mihoshi plays Bad cop while the surly Kihone plays Good Cop (Mihoshi would have broken down crying if Kihone didn't let her be the Bad Cop). They proceed to act out the worst performance of Good Cop/Bad Cop in the history of the universe (not that the perp would have talked even if they'd done it perfectly). When the interrogation fails, Mihoshi points her laser gun at the perp and says that she might as well kill him if he won't talk. The perp thinks she's bluffing... until she fires at him, the only thing saving his life being Kihone knocking off Mihoshi's aim. What really convinces the perp that Mihoshi is a Rabid Cop is when Mihoshi tries to kill her own partner (all without losing her bubbly disposition). At this point the perp breaks down and tells them everything they want to know.
In the Harry Potter fanfic Fire Burns, Katherine and Robert pull this off superbly:
Davasham:You're the bad guy and you go giving me all the sarcastic lines and everything right. And then the girl comes in and she's the 'good' guy right. And I'm meant to talk to her and trust her and everything-
Robert: What the hell are you on about?
Davasham: You're the one who acts all tough-
Robert: Me? You think I'm the nasty one? Believe me, Mr. Davasham, compared to her, I'm a saint. You do not want to get on her bad side. Unfortunately for you, however, you already are.
Quite common in fanfics for The Sentinel, especially when they make the 6'2"/220 lb. ex-Ranger Jim the 'good' cop and the 5'9" long-haired anthropologist Blair the 'bad cop'.
Finishing The Fight: Keyes and Drizzt do a fairly spectacular version when interrogating Luskan prisoners, though Bad Cop Psychotic Cop might be a better description. Drizzt has Guen drag a prisoner into another room, makes him scream once before knocking him out, and then plays recordings of the scream and randonmly throws in bouts of maniacal laughter for good measure. Keyes threatens the other prisoners both with him, and with a truth serum that might "melt their brains" if they don't talk to her.
The Rise Of Darth Vulcan: When Vulcan is imprisoned in the Canterlot dungeons and being interrogated, Celestia plays good cop while Luna is bad cop. Vulcan calls them out on this, though he actually has to explain the trope to Luna.
Parodied in the Steve Marton Pink Panther remake: Inspector Clouseau uses this method with one suspect... but plays both the Good Cop and the Bad Cop, with comedic effect.
The "Bad Cop/Worse Cop" version was used by name in the film Tango and Cash.
Exley: Is that how you used to run the Good Cop/Bad Cop?
Snakes on a Plane played with the Bad Cop/Worse Cop version: we are led to believe that Samuel L. Jackson is the bad cop of his former partnership, until we discover that role corresponded to his mild mannered, happy-to-be-in-desk-duty best friend.
Gordon: If we're gonna play games, I'm gonna need some coffee.
The Joker: (sarcastically) The old Good Cop/Bad Cop routine?
Gordon: Not exactly. (steps out)
(lights come on, revealing Batman, who grabs the Joker's head from behind and slams it into the table)
Ghost Rider: Two cops attempts but they are quickly stopped by Johnny, who tells them that he's seen this on TV. Also (via his Ghost Rider powers) he knows that they're both good cops.
Men In Black. When K pulls out a strange-looking Hand Cannon and threatens to blow a shopkeeper's head off, Jay thinks he's doing this routine and immediately starts playing the good cop... until K actually carries out this threat. Then things start gettingweird.
FBI Special agents Clayton and Archer while interrogating the protagonist in a Yemeni prison in the film Traitor.
Clayton: You shouldn't have hit him.
Archer: Sorry, I left my copy of the Bill of Rights at home.
The LEGO Movie has a single character with a Literal Split Personalitycalled Bad Cop/Good Cop. He's one of those minifigures whose head has two faces with different expressions and rotates to change them, the "inactive" face being obscured by the helmet.
Emmet: Look, um, I watch a lot of cop shows on TV. Isn't there supposed to also be... Isn't there supposed to be a good cop? Bad Cop: Oh, yes. But we're not done yet. (Bad Cop's head swivels around to become Good Cop.) Good Cop: Hi, buddy! I'm your friendly neighborhood police officer. Would you like a glass of water? Emmet: Yeah, actually, that sounds— Bad Cop:(head switches back to Bad Cop) Too bad! (punches glass across the room)
Used on Brianna, the little girl, in Mystery Team. They tell her they're playing pretend, and she thinks it's fun after that.
Gay Perry: You don't get it, do you? This isn't good cop/bad cop, this is fag and New Yorker. You're in a lot of trouble.
This is then replaced with Harry using False Roulette. Harry made the mistake of putting a real bullet in the gun.
Becomes a pun in Robocop 2014. Murphy and his partner Lewis go to confront a pair of corrupt cops. One of them smirks and asks if they're going to try the good cop/bad cop routine. Murphy sits opposite him.
Lewis: Wrong. Bad cop...Robocop!
In the second Bad Boys movie, cop partners and best friends Mike and Marcus do a version of the bad cop worse cop bit combined with Twerp Sweating to a young boy who shows up to date Marcus' daughter. Marcus starts off with the boy as an Overprotective Dad, but things get much worse for him when Mike comes out, acting like the even more protective godfather of Marcus' daughter all while pretending to be a con who just got out of jail, waves a pistol around and points it at the kid, and briefly makes references to Prison Rape while insinuating the kid would be on the receiving end of that if he mistreats the girl at all. Suddenly Marcus seems positively sympathetic and reasonable by comparison. Scene.
Played straight in Book 10 of The Iliad making it Older Than Dirt. Odysseus and Diomedes were on a night raid and captured the hapless but useful Dolon. Bad cop Diomedes said to stand still or die. Good cop Odysseus said, "Fear not, let no thought of death be in your mind." It went on like that for awhile until Diomedes "struck him in the middle of his neck with his sword and cut through both sinews so that his head fell rolling in the dust while he was yet speaking."
Parodied on and off in the Discworld series ("I get it ... 'good cop, bad cop', right?" "Well, we're a little short-staffed, so if I give you a cup of coffee, would you mind kicking yourself in the teeth?") Then again, Carrot and Vimes are the quintessential pair of cops.
In the Doctor Who New Adventures novel The Also People, a pair of future police officers discuss what approach to take to a suspect, considering several variants that are standard in their time before settling on "standard Aristocracy drill: Good Cop, Downright Sycophantic Cop".
Good Omens: They're about as far from being cops as you can get, but this is very much how Aziraphale and Crowley act when interviewing Mary Hodges.
In the novel The Iron Hand of Mars by Lindsey Davis, Ancient Roman detective Falco and his friend Justinus are interrogating a barmaid about her missing boyfriend. She loses her temper and throws Falco out, but Justinus comforts her and she gives him the required information. Afterwards Falco mentions this technique and jokes that "the nice guy is supposed to be a fake!"
In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000Horus Heresy novel Horus Rising, Warmaster Horus has his most trusted officers, his Mournivale, harshly criticize the tactics used on a planet, so that the criticism could be made while he played the peacemaker.
In Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos, the narrator is captured and questioned harshly, then offered a drink and saluted for his courage. He recognizes it and takes advantage of the breather to plan.
In Neuromancer, the Anti-Hero Case gets arrested and recognizes this technique being used by his interrogators.
Anansi Boys: Wrong Genre Savvy in this case. Fat Charlie is arrested for embezzlement. He's brought into the interrogation room, finds the pleasant Daisy, and says he's expecting the bad cop to come in in a few seconds. Daisy says that a: there's no bad cop, and b: she's pretty sure he's innocent.
In the Wheel of Time while traveling Nynaeve and Elayne unconsciously pull this off when hiring the local coach, ferry, ship, litter, or thief taker catcher. Nynaeve will complain thoroughly about the service and Elayne will immediately compliment and over tip the man.
Anita Blake and Jean-Claude play good cop/bad cop respectively when Anita needs some answers from a woman who is terrified of vampires. This was entirely Jean-Claude's idea, and Anita sends him out of the room after it looks—to Anita—like he threatened to rape her.note He rubbed the woman's shoulders, whispered something into her, ear and she started shaking. Knowing Jean-Claude, it was probably something a little more subtle than that. Probably.
In Proven Guilty Agent Rick and Greene use this on Molly. Until Dresden comes in, explains the whole trope and the whole "No warrant" thing. Also, Molly's under-age.
In Turn Coat, Harry and Murphy pull a bad/worse against a suspect. In a bit of genre savvy, he had recognized the set up. In a bit of genre blindness, he thought they were pulling a good/bad.
Changes, Tilly and Rudolph are sort of pulling this. Except that they're not partners, Tilly is an FBI agent who thinks Harry is involved but doesn't think he's guilty, while Rudolph is a Chicago PD officer under orders from very scary people to delay Harry as long as possible. Consequently Rudolph starts screaming at Harry to admit it, and Harry, who has spent the past couple of years hacking off creatures scarier than his cop friend's overweight ex-husband, considers Rudolph a total-non-threat and finds the whole thing funny. Tilly eventually orders him out of the room for impeding the investigation.
American Gods - Shadow is being 100% truthful in his answers even before the Bad Cop gets a chance to work his magic, but the two goons interrogating him (who aren't, technically, real cops) don't believe him, so they beat the crap out of him anyway, assuming he'll change his tune after a solid kneecapping). Also, they probably don't care that he's "not talking", because they're employing Torture for Fun and Information.
In Stephen Fry's autobiography Moab Is My Washpot, the two police officers that pick the young Stephen up for credit card fraud adopt the personae of 'nice' and 'even nicer' cop.
Mentioned in the second Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, when the LEP bring in Artemis to question him about goblins using human technology. Artemis asks Root which one he is, to which Root replies "Hate to tell you this, Dorothy, but you ain't in Kansas anymore." They then proceed to knock him out, and scan his retinas to see if he's ever seen the bad guys.
The Vorkosigan Saga: The Vor Game; After being interrogated separately by Cavilo and Metzov, Miles wonders if they'd set up a classic "good-guy/bad-guy" interrogation tag team, but got their signals crossed and both of them thought that they were supposed to play the bad guy.
Occurs in I, Jedi with Corran Horn as the good cop and Luke Skywalker as the bad cop. It works quite well, because Luke's role as the bad cop merely involves him sitting there glowering - and an angry Skywalker, prequels notwithstanding, is a terrifying sight indeed.
Corran: Just stand over there and look malevolent.
Corran: Think Hutt, but with eyebrows.
In the In Death series, Eve Dallas regularly uses this tactic with both her former partner Feeney and her eventual partner Peabody, complete with occasional disputes about who gets to be the "bad cop" (it's almost always Eve).
Dune has the Baron Harkonnen attempt a planet-wide version of this. He would have Rabban brutally oppress the people while mining as much spice as possible, then have Feyd take his place as a more benevolent ruler.
Used in the Circle of Magic novel "Battle Mages". One of the protagonists, the thirteen year old girl Evy, gets captured by an invading army, and they start interrogating her for information. One of them is playing the mean bad cop, but the other seems genuinely nice, protecting her and asking her to comply for her own good. The act drops when he begins to torture her.
This is referenced in W.E.B. Griffin's The Secret Warriors where two military men are talking about a situation in which one of them has been rather rough which another. The rough one explains "Police detectives have an interrogation technique, where one is a heartless sonofabitch, and another is kind, gentle, and understanding." The second guy realizes "And I'm to be the good guy, right?"
The technique is specifically referenced in the first book of The Echo Case Files series in relation to Ramirez and Tycho. Oddly, Tycho, the friendly, cheery officer tends to be bad cop.
Live Action Television
Homicide: Life on the Street may hold the title of longest single Good Cop Bad Cop sequence. The Emmy Award winning episode Three Men And Adena is literally a single, forty-five minute long episode set in an interrogation room, with the two main cops taking on the necessary personas.
David Simon plays with this trope a lot. On The Wire, Herc and Carver have arrested Bodie for the first time, and they plan to play this totally straight with Herc playing the bad cop. So Carver goes in first and tries to bond with Bodie over their shared rough backgrounds. Bodie looks as though he's about to confess...and then tells Carver to do something unpleasant. Carver starts beating Bodie, prompting "Bad Cop" Herc to rush in and stop him.
Bodie: "You supposed to be the good cop, dumb motherfucka!"
Unfortunately for Bodie, after that line they both pile on.
Then you have Bird's interrogation, which starts with Kima trying to get him to make a deal while Bird shouts an endless stream of anti-lesbian abuse at her. Daniels eventually has McNulty (of all people) go in too just to make sure "Kima doesn't cut his ass." McNulty plays the role of good cop by simply getting them all to sit in sullen silence until the police lab brings backs some results on Bird's gun. When the results are in, Bird goes right back to his abuse. Now thoroughly tired of Bird, a whole group of of detectives come into the room to beat a confession out of Bird, who happens to be handcuffed at the time.
Lampshaded on The Mentalist. After Lisbon is injured (by one of Jane's stunts), CBI boss Hightower joins Jane in the field. When they are going to question a suspect, he asks her if she's going to be bad cop. She replies that she will do what she always does. Jane says that's exactly what he meant.
In the Black Books episode "The Black-Out", Manny has stayed up all night drinking espresso and watching The Sweeney, and believes himself to be a copper. When he finds himself in a police station, mistaken for a genuine copper, he is cajoled into assisting in an interrogation, and asked to play the part of the Good Cop. Slightly misunderstanding what this involves, he ends up being rather too nice, making non sequiturs like "You've got lovely eyes" and "Why don't I go out and get us all some crispy duck?" This unsettles the perp, so the genuine policeman decides to leave Manny to continue the interrogation alone. As soon as he leaves, Manny falls to his knees and admits to the perp that he isn't a real copper, he's "just had too much coffee", and begs the perp to help him get out of the situation. This further unsettles the criminal, who cracks and says that he'll talk to "the other guy", as long as Manny goes away. As a result of this confession, the genuine policeman tells Manny that he's one of the best officers that he's ever served with.
In The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed, the suspect points out that he's familiar with the trope from literature, as well as the psychological reasons this works in real life even if the suspect is familiar with it. As expected, it does work, after a fashion - possibly because the Good Cop does like the suspect and the Bad Cop does loathe him.
When Gibbs and Fornell are talking to a suspect, Kate asks if it they're doing Bad Cop, Scary Cop.
They've also used the phrase Bad Cop, Stupid Cop when Gibbs was trying to bluff out a confession...
One memorable example is when Gibbs and Tony team up to get a confession from a teenage suspect. Tony plays bad cop, Gibbs plays good cop. The suspect won't meet Tony's eyes, and starts smiling at Gibbs... then Gibbs suddenly turns into a bad cop as well. The suspect breaks down soon after.
Alien Nation: George Francisco (alien-American cop) threatens to toss an informant off a roof. His partner balks, claiming it's his turn to throw the perp — Francisco got to do it last time!
Alien Nation had fun with this: Usually, if the suspect was a human, Sykes (the human detective) would play good cop while George was the bad cop. If the suspect was Tenctonese (the alien species of which George was a member), than they would do the opposite with George as the good cop and Sykes as the bad cop. Finally, if a suspect was a Purist (a xenophobic group of humans with genocidal inclinations) they'd play bad cop/worse cop with Sykes as the bad cop and George as the worse cop.
A generic cop is interrogating a suspect. Walker comes in and the suspect asks if it is good cop/bad cop; Walker says yes, but informs him that the generic cop (who'd already gotten rough with the suspect) was the good cop, and then breaks the table in half.
Another episode has an on-the-spot Good Cop/Bad Cop routine in a chop-shop. The girl playing the role of "bad cop" threatens to call on the talents of the crooks' blowtorch. They crack pretty fast after that.
In The Bill, an officer goes Bad Cop on a suspect. When he leaves the room after getting what he wants, Jo Masters comments that she didn't think they did that any more.
From one of David Letterman's shows: Dave and Paul are Good Cop, Good Cop. "One of them plays by the rules. The other one... also plays by the rules." They aren't very effective.
They have a game like this on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, where Colin and Ryan play two ex-cops who apply the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine on their new job (such as dishwasher repairmen), and Hilarity Ensues.
Ryan (Good Cop): Just between the two of us... you don't think you might have overloaded it, do you?
In Veronica Mars, Keith Mars and Sheriff Lamb pull this off at least once, with Keith being the classical good cop and Lamb, the bad one.
In an episode of Monk the perp refers to the two cops as "good cop, demented cop" after Randy acts more of an idiot than normal.
Star Trek: Enterprise. In "Precious Cargo" Captain Archer pulls this stunt on an alien kidnapper (his partner has taken off in a spaceship with Trip Tucker). Archer convinces the alien that T'Pol is a ruthless 'judicial administrator' appointed by the Vulcans to enforce discipline on Enterprise.
Archer: If you're late for your shift you might receive a beating. But for more grievous offenses, dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming an officer... we started out with eighty-three crewmen on board. We're down to seventy-six.
T'Pol then enters the room in formal robes and asks some sinister questions about the alien's height, weight, and possible "post-mortem rituals", whereupon Archer tells the now-panicking alien that he might be able to get her to show "leniency" if he's seen to be co-operative...
Torchwood often does this with interrogations with Gwen as the good cop and Jack as the bad cop.
In the Doctor Who serial "The Deadly Assassin", Castellan Spandrell (good cop) and Commander Hilred (bad cop) use what the Doctor calls the "hot and cold technique" on him.
Law & Order frequently plays with this. Ed Green's first episode sees him grab a suspect and pin him to the wall before Briscoe calls him off. They go outside, and Briscoe chews Green out for being too rough with the suspect; he wasn't acting.
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. : in order to interrogate a german bandit who does not speak English, one of the Schwenke sisters openly seduces him to make him feel comfortable... until the other sister comes in and kick the crap out of him!
Justified in an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun in which Don teaches Dick to be a cop. First Dick is good cop and Don is bad cop. Then they switch places, but they don't stop there. Instead, they both do bad cop and finally both do good cop. This, by the way, is all done on the same (very confused) suspect. At the end, Don explains that this experiment proves that good cop/bad cop is the only viable combination
In another episode, Tommy and Sally pull this trick on a frightened neighborhood kid. They're trying to find the kid that egged their house, and the duo pull off the technique surprisingly well, for aliens. Sally, of course, is the bad cop.
Referred to in The Shield. When a suspected pedophile isn't confessing as to where he's hiding his latest victim, Captain Aceveda pulls Detectives Wyms and Wagenbach off the case and instead calls in notorious badass cop Vic Mackey. The perp asks 'What is this, good cop and bad cop'. Mackey replies 'Good cop and bad cop left for the day. I'm a different kind of cop' and proceeds to beat the living hell out of the perp.
Played for laughs in the British sketch show Absolutely. Two cops are interrogating a suspect, they can remember one is supposed to be nice but cannot remember the other part and so try a number of combinations including 'nice & flirty', 'nice & shy', 'nice & clumsy' and 'nice & forgetful'. When they eventually remember, they explain that neither of them are any good at being the bad one, so they get in a Victorian melodrama villain dressed as a Bow Street Runner.
Parodied in the short-lived Andy Barker P.I.. Trying to find his daughter's toy which has gone missing, a veteran detective tells Andy that he suspects a kid. After school, the veteran roughs the kid up and shouts at him, only to turn to Andy and say "OK, now you be bad cop".
Mocked in The X-Files episode "Hungry" when the Genre Savvy suspect, who, indeed, is a man-eating monster, calls Mulder on his supernatural slanted inquisition.
Robert "Rob" Roberts: I'm sorry, but this is just good cop, insane cop.
Battlestar Galactica. Baltar uses this technique as a means of helping Gina, a raped and tortured Cylon prisoner in the custody of the Cylon-hating Admiral Cain. He pretends to Cain that his efforts to feed, clothe and comfort Gina are merely an attempt to break down her resistance through kindness, after the harsh methods of her previous interrogators failed. And in "Taking A Break From All Your Worries", Roslin and Adama try this on Dr. Baltar, first the "stick" (pretending they're going to throw him out the airlock, then drug interrogation) and then the "carrot" - sending in nice guy Gaeta to get his confidence. Unfortunately that doesn't work either as Baltar is too smart to fall for it and flips out, provoking Gaeta into stabbing him in the neck with a pen.
Chief Johnson on The Closer is an unparalleled master of the Good Cop role, liberally mixed with a Ditz Cop act. Her Bad Cop counterpart is often a federal agent whose authority she's taking advantage of, or a political rival on the L.A.P.D., meaning Brenda's stringing along her ally as well as the perpetrator.
Though Odo, with his fanatical loyalty to justice, can play both parts all by himself at the same time. If he promises you to let you off easy and protect you, he will do it without question, but he's also scary enough that you have no doubt he would do exactly what he threatens if you don't cooperate.
Parodied in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, where Robert tries this technique by himself. He attempted to play both the good cop and the bad cop, switching between roles. To top it all off, he was trying to interrogate his brother and his father.
Ray: What are you doing?
Robert: Good Cop/Bad Cop. It's taking me longer 'cause there's only one of me.
Michael and company from Burn Notice have had to do this a few times when interrogating people. Perhaps most amusingly, on one occasion they had to use Fiona as the good cop that a female suspect can sympathize with.
They like playing with this too, on another occasion Michael actually states their roles of Bad Cop, Worse Cop, Hammer. Hilarity Ensues.
Keen Eddie: Eddie and Monty play Good Cop/Bad Cop with boxer Jimmy Fishkin, who gets the same treatments from his criminal bosses.
Star Trek: Voyager did this in a somewhat ahistorical account in “Living Witness.” The Good Cop was Chakotay. The Bad Cop was Harry Kim.
In another instance, in "Equinox", Janeway and Chakotay are interrogating a crewmember of the Equinox, a Starfleet ship whose crew has been killing aliens in order to power their ship. Janeway wants the crewmember to give her the tactical status of the Equinox's captain, Ransom. She threatens to lower the shields in the room, which would allow the aliens an opening to get through and attack the man, while she and Chakotay leave the room. The crewmember demonstrates his familiarity with this trope, looking at Chakotay and asking "I suppose the plan is that you're going to come to my rescue now, right?" Chakotay, however, admits that "There's no plan as far as I know. The Captain's on her own." When the crewman continues not to talk, Janeway and Chakotay leave the room and Janeway proceeds to do just what she said she was going to do, shocking Chakotay, who thought she was only bluffing. (The crewmember does crack, but not before being badly spooked.)
Parodied in RoboCop: The Series when Robo and Madigan have two suspects who won't talk. The cops glance at each other, and then Robo gets "angry", with Madigan declaring it "the worst glitch she's ever seen!", trying to "talk Robo out of it", and informing the criminals that the only way to get him out of it is for them to tell him the truth.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit plays this straight quite often, but they also play with it from time to time. Typically Elliot is the bad cop (being known for his anger issues and crimes-against-children Berserk Button), but almost as often he'll go in as the good cop, sympathizing with a misogynist rapist-type. Pretty much every cop on the force is capable of playing either type.
To clarify, both Annie and Shirley end up trying to out Cowboy Cop the other, after being told they're too uptight. Abed, deciding that only good can come from this, follows them with a bag of popcorn. He later gets to act as Da Chief after the two mess up. Even better, two seasons later he and the others engage in one long Affectionate Parody of Law & Order ("Basic Lupine Urology":). That time, Jeff and Annie switch between Good Lawyer and Bad Lawyer, (Played for Drama), Shirley channels Da Chief (from watching crime shows for 15 years), and Abed plays Good Cop to Troy's Bad Cop.
Abed: Hey, hey. Forget him, he's the bad cop, he's stressful. But me, I'm a good cop, you can trust me.
Star-Burns: Okay, well—hey, I'm not falling for that! And you got nothing on me! And I don't have to stay here 'cause you're not cops!
Parodied in a Mad TV skit where the suspect immediately sees through the good cop/bad cop ploy, forcing the cops to get creative with things like Jackie Gleason cop/Ricardo Montalban cop.
On Murder, She Wrote, Sheriff Metzger, a former New York cop, once attempted this gambit with a suspect, but his deputy was a bit confused; he accidentally told the suspect that Metzger was the bad cop, after Metzger warned the suspect that his deputy was the bad cop.
In "Lessons Learned", Gideon invokes this technique as a way of finally breaking down the UnSub. He notes that since the CIA had already roughed him up, he thought that by being the nice guy and allowing the UnSub his daily prayers that he would open up to him. It worked.
In "Bloodline", Hotch (bad cop) and Prentiss (good cop) play off each other very well while interrogating an UnSub. Which can be seen here.
Parodied in one Russ Abbot sketch, when a suspect sees two policemen entering the room, and immediately asks which one's the good cop and which one's the bad cop. They both beat him up, to which his response is "Oh! Two good cops!"
Toyed with on Chuck in an example of "Bad Spy/Worse Spy". In a Season 2 episode, Casey is interrogating a witness under their protection, who proves to be uncooperative and only wants to speak with Chuck, whom he (mistakenly) believes beat up the thugs threatening him. Casey then proceeds to set Chuck up as the "bad cop" to ensure the witness's full and undivided cooperation. Played completely for laughs, especially Chuck's expression as he smashes a paper cup to "intimidate" the witness.
Law & Order: UK. Matt and Ronnie would often alternate these roles, sometimes within the course of a single interrogation, depending on what kind of a person they were dealing with—and when dealing with someone suspected of harming a child, Matt needed no prompting to play "Bad Cop". Ronnie's short-tempered new partner Sam appears to have firmly taken the latter role without any prompting either.
In the season fifth episode "Into the Breech" of JAG, when Bud and Gunny go to the ex-wife of an old sailor they're looking for to testify at a hearing, Gunny says to Bud that they should approach it as good cop and bad cop to obtain a positive result.
Gunny: Lieutenant, we play Mutt and Jeff. Do you wanna be good cop or bad cop?
Bud: Well, uh, let's see.
Gunny: Good cop. Absolutely.
In Stargate SG-1, when negotiating with hostile aliens, Daniel often takes the role of Good Cop while Jack is the Bad Cop. However in later series, after he'd taken multiple levels in badass, Daniel is far more likely to play Bad Cop instead.
Ramsay Snow uses this technique on Theon in Game of Thrones, casting himself as the good cop after Theon has been tortured by the 'bad cop' random Bolton mooks. Ramsay goes so far as to kill five of his own men just to keep the ruse going. Theon quickly spills a load of information that Ramsay uses later as ammunition against him, but this is incidental; Ramsay isn't interested in Theon's information, only his suffering.
Comedy version in Better Off Ted, where Veronica and Linda use this routine to coerce employees into giving to their charity donation drive.
In Homeland, Carrie and Quinn use this on Brody in season 2. After Carrie attempts to connect, Quinn takes over for a minute before suddenly going berserk and stabbing the prisoner's hand. Carrie, understandably, storms in and retakes control. Quinn's anger vanishes the second he steps outside and Saul realizes it was just 'theater'. 'Good cop needs a bad cop.'
When Brody was broken by Abu Nazir, this was largely how (in a more extreme and long term version involving torture). Abu Nazir set himself up as the Good Cop with the rest of his cell as the Bad Cop. Though the reason that Brody turned was mostly about Issa.
The titular protagonists in Sapphire And Steel. In all their interactions with humans, Sapphire plays Good Cop and Steel Bad Cop. This is implied to be partly deliberate and partly just their natural personalities.
In Starsky & Hutch the title characters refer to this game as "push or shove?" when deciding who should play bad cop and who should play good cop. Starsky complains that he's tired and that Hutch should play bad cop this time when shaking up a snitch. In another episode, they do a far more elaborate number on an assault-and-battery suspect, with Starsky throwing a giant (fake) tantrum in the interrogation room before storming out, so that Hutch can, with great kindness and concern, comfort the suspect and spin a yarn about how the last time Starsky got this mad "they almost threw him off the force, but then at the last minute, the guy managed to pull through."
Deputies Jones and Garcia were going to invoke this trope in Reno911 with a suspect they had in custody... that is until Garcia slipped up and called it "Good Cop Black Cop", understandably pissing off Jones.
Mentioned in Saxon's "Slow Lane Blues", after the song's protagonist is caught by cops from speeding:
They took me to the side and gave me some grief
Said I was crazy I couldn't believe
Good cop bad cop they played the routine
They took away my car I tossed them the keys
In Paranoia, pairs of Internal Security agents were assigned to carry out this trope, complete with a detailed script ("good cop leaves to go get the perp a drink, bad cop comes in and shoves the perp around", etc.). Then, due to budget cuts, both roles got assigned to the same agent - but the script never got changed, leading to some very confused perps.
CIA agents Gordon and Whistler use this technique when interrogating Sergeant Blackburn in Battlefield 3; Gordon acts calm and implores Black to take his time and give the best explanation possible, while Whistler repeatedly hounds him with accusations and insults.
In Fallout: New Vegas, Lt. Boyd, playing the "passive-aggressive, sarcastic cop" hires you to be her "bad cop" and help interrogate a captured centurion from Caesar's Legion. She wants you, a civilian contractor unhindered by the NCR's pesky "proper treatment of POWs" laws, to beat the crap out of him until he cracks, but with a little smarts you can get the centurion to sing without even touching him, netting a better reward.
Or, if you are playing as siding with the Legion, you can help him commit suicide (like he was supposed to when captured) or escape.
FBI agent Norman Jayden and police lieutenant Carter Blake respectively from Heavy Rain tend to have this dynamic when facing suspects together - which is just about every time, seeing as they work together for most of the game despite the fact that they seem to loathe each other. In fact, two achievements in the game obtainable in one of Norman's chapters are called "Good Cop" and "Bad Cop," the former obtained by stopping Blake during an interrogation done his way and the latter by encouraging him.
According to Yahtzee, Cole Phelps and himself, if played right.
Thane's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2 gives the player the option of whether to be the good cop or the bad cop while interrogating Elias Kelham. Humorously, you can choose to be the good cop and then beat the guy within an inch of his life while Thane just sort of stands there (there was apparently supposed to be a proper good cop route, but it didn't make it in).
There's an alternative (provided that you have the Renegade score for it) — just scare the ever-living shit out of him, causing the remainder of the interrogation to proceed incredibly smoothly and last about 30 seconds:
Shepard: My name is Commander Shepard. I'm a Spectre.
Kelham: Yeah? Prove it.
[Shepard draws his/her gun and presses it against the criminal's face]
Shepard: I don't have to prove anything. Spectres are above the law. Are we clear?
(a while later)
Thane: That may go down in history as the shortest interrogation ever.
At a certain point in Citadel, Kaidan or Garrus will lament not being able to use the good cop/bad cop routine they respectively planned.
In one of Liara's "non-critical correspondence" files, two Alliance interrogators are warming up to start this routine on a captured Cerberus phantom... and then she triggers herocular nerve flashbang.
Sam & Max: Freelance Police: The eponymous duo tried to pull this one while interrogating Jimmy Two-Teeth in the first puzzle of Culture Shock (Sam is the good cop, Max is the bad one). While they aren't interrogating, usually when you can choose if the one talking is Sam or Max, Sam tries to be helpful somehow (or at least have some tact) while Max just say straight what is he thinking. Since the games are puzzle-based, this usually backfires unless you think carefully.
Although not ever used for cops, in Dual Destinies Phoenix Wright comments his newly hired junior lawyer Athena Cykes is "like good cop, bad cop all rolled into one". This is a pretty accurate description, with her being kind, rather caring and considerate of people's feelings and what they're going through, but also being quick to anger, not above hurting people (with slaps mostly) and using underhanded tactics to get information, as well as asking Apollo if she can go and "ring his neck", in regards to a witness.
RWBY: In Episode 1, Ruby's introduced saving a Dust shopkeeper from Dust thieves before she herself is saved by the Huntress, Glynda. Glynda takes her to an interrogation room where she dresses the teenager down for her brave, but foolhardy, behaviour until Ruby is squirming at being in trouble. It turns out this is a set-up for her "good cop" partner... who arrives bearing cookies for Ruby to wolf down then holds a very friendly conversation about her weapon, skills and goals in life. It turns out to be a recruitment scout. After seeing Ruby in action, the prestigious Beacon Academy has decided to take her on two years early. The "good cop" was the headmaster himself and Glynda is his right-hand... teacher.
Audience Day is an exhausted optimist with insomnia and First is an implacably austere authoritarian that never sleeps, literally. Together, they fight crime.
In No Need for Bushido, a captured soldier confesses before even being questioned after he hears a Good Cop/Bad Cop discussion going on outside the door before the protagonists come in the room.
Ken: What?!! You're sending Wataro in? How come I don't get to interrogate him?
Footnote: Both Bangladesh and Gilgamesh would have been distressed to read the field reports that assessed the two of them as being an excellent team. It had certainly kept the Baron from sleeping for several nights.
On the other hand, the circus folk fool them by playing Good Perp Bad Perp. Pix plays the xenophobic peasant trying to grift anyone who comes by—even if that person has the authority to shoot her. Abner plays her level-headed boyfriend who steps in and tells the truth before she gets, you know, shot. It works beautifully.
Gil: What the—they tricked me! Father, they tricked me! Klaus: Am I supposed to feel better because the heir to my empire was tricked—BY A PACK OF CARNIES!?
Two police sergeants, Spears and Samu, attempt to get Dr. Piper Kaufmann to spill her guts in Intragalactic by using the time-tested "girl cop, boy cop".
Spears: All right, pigeon - are ya gonna talk, or do I have to ovulate again?
Samu: Please, miss, do what she wants! My penis can't hold her back forever!
In The Other Grey Meat, Karl and Chuck interrogate Sylene about the murder of a Category One Zombie. Chuck starts nice, Karl immediately goes aggressive.Karl isn't really trying to be part of the interrogation, he just wants his TOGM fries back, and Chuck looks surprised at his overreaction.
Discussed in this blog piece in reference to efforts to undermine the influence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The blogger mentions a human rights activist who has started up girls' schools in the country criticizing the US military's own efforts to fight the Taliban. The blogger notes that the activist essentially wants to have the good cop without the bad cop, in that he wants to have human rights brought to the country through teachers such as himself without the military being involved. The blogger believes that the problem with this view is that you can't have the good cop without the bad cop; trying to start up a school that promotes human rights in the jurisdiction of a repressive regime such as the Taliban without the threat of force from the military is likely to get you killed before you can start.
Used against the ghost of an assassin, with the party using its body's severed legs as leverage (having captured said legs after they had attempted to flee). Joey plays the bad cop by trying to Intimidate him, Bananaramawicz attempts to roll Diplomacy for the good cop. Meanwhile, Kensington shouts lies at him from across the room with Bluff checks.
Joey: We don't need good cop, bad cop, lying cop.
While hunting down a shapeshifter in a small town after reaching Paragon Tier, Joey and Minerelle play detective while the rest of the party investigates a wizard's tower. It's noted in the thread that it seems like a good cop/bad cop situation where both of them are the bad cop.
The Boondocks parodies this with an interrogation between Good Cop/Bad Cop and Butt Monkey Tom, who is being accused of a crime that he obviously didn't commit solely because both he and the real perp are black. The bad cop immediately accuses Tom of the crime and assaults him before the good cop pulls him off. The bad cop grudgingly walks out of the room... before rushing in two seconds later to assault Tom again.
Furthermore, when the Bad Cop is finally led away for good and the Good Cop starts doing his spiel, Tom protests that he's a prosecutor, he knows all about how the good cop bad cop thing works. Ten minutes later he's tearfully signing a confession as the Good Cop very insincerely promises that Tom will never do any jail time.
From Family Guy: Good Cop, Developmentally Disabled Cop.
Jackie Chan Adventures - Jackie and Jade while interrogating the mask of General Ikazuki. This is followed by Finn and Ikazuki when they need Tohru to provide them with a mask removal potion.
Done in an extended Dream Sequence in the Daria episode "Murder, She Snored" where Daria is accused of killing Kevin. Unsurprisingly, Mr. O'Neill is the good cop and Mr. DiMartino the bad cop.
And then there's the conversation in the page quote. Superman almost sounds like he's jealous.
In another episode, Batman is missing, and Superman and The Flash try to interrogate Copperhead, who was part of the gang that captured the Bat. Copperhead just laughs at Superman's attempt to play Bad Cop, prompting the Man of Steel to frustratedly wonder how Batman does it.
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Played with by Rainbow Dash (bad cop) and Fluttershy (good cop) to greed-enlarged Spike after he kidnaps Rarity. Rainbow Dash demands he release Rarity, while Fluttershy adds her typical passive comments to Spike (who she's afraid of now).
Rainbow Dash: Put her down right now! Fluttershy: I-If you wouldn't mind, that is. Rainbow Dash: I mean it, dragon boy! Fluttershy: Uh, we'll be ever so grateful if you'd be so kind as to possibly consider... Rainbow Dash: Drop her, scaly!
In one episode of The Simpsons, Lisa is being interrogated at school by Principal Skinner and Groundskeeper Willie, but the pair continually (and unintentionally) keep swapping the Good and Bad roles, much to Lisa's amusement.
When being questioned by the police about Mona Simpson's whereabouts Selma Bouvier attempts to engage the police in a game of Good Cop Bad Cop. To her dismay they were all good cops.
Transformers Animated, Optimus and Grimlock fall into this while questioning Powell...only it was more like "Good Cop, Crazy Dinosaur Cop."
Optimus: Did I mention my partner is extremely hungry?
And now again, this time "Robotic Cop, Organic Cop With Terrifying Snot."(Lately Autobots have been getting more and more terrified of organics.)
"Wrong Exposure", a Season 4 episode of Code Lyoko, Odd accidentally sends a picture of Franz Hooper, with his daughter, Aelita, to Sissi. Not surprisingly, Sissi shows it to Mr. Delmas. In a meeting with the principal, Jim played Bad Cop while Mr. Delmas played Good Cop to the Lyoko Warriors.
In an episode of The Fairly Oddparents, Jorgen Von Strangle plays this with Wanda, trying to get her to blame Cosmo. He even volunteers to switch right away to his "Good Cop" plaque, but when Wanda refuses to comply, he switches right back to the "Bad Cop" side of the plaque.
In the Back at the Barnyard episode, "Fowl Play", Otis, Pip, and Pig interrogate a Gopher to find out where Peck is when Freddy was accused of eating him. Otis plays the good cop, and Pip plays the bad cop, leading to this exchange:
Gopher: "Wait a minute, if you're the good cop, and he's the bad cop, then who's he?" (points at Pig) Pig: "I'm the funny cop. Pull my finger!"