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Police officers will engage in high speed pursuits involving dozens of patrol cars for the flimsiest of reasons. No TV police force has a "Do not pursue" policy for minor crimes. Officers involved in the chase are usually Lemming Cops
. Not to be confused with the Need for Speed
games of the same name. Or hot fursuit
, which is something else entirely.
The name comes from an old legal principle that law enforcement from one jurisdiction can work within another
if they are in active pursuit of a fleeing suspect, and can arrest said suspect on private property without a warrant.
Subtrope of Chase Scene
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Anime and Manga
- In the premiere episode of Sonic X, the police go to ridiculous lengths to catch Sonic for what, at most, could be construed as disrupting traffic. (Granted, he is also an alien creature unknown to our world, which would probably be a much more valid reason for chasing him, but this is not brought up.)
- And they didn't exactly treat him like one. I think one officer even made a reference to someone's kitty cat...
- And they bust out Formula 1 police cars. They are the only vehicles that can even catch up to the speedster, but still.
- Parodied mercilessly in Shady Vox's abridgement of the first episode, where Sam Speed says "We're the high speed pursuit unit. Our job is to chase down anyone who commits a crime and tries to get away in an F1 racing car. And don't you dare say it doesn't happen. Because it totally does!"
Film — Animated
- Non-automobile variation in Aladdin: the guards chasing after the titular hero for stealing a loaf of bread.
- The titular character lampshades it in the comment at the top of the page
- Which is of course a reference to Les MisÚrables, where Jean Valjean's lifelong chase with Inspector Javert begins with the theft of a loaf of bread.
- Shouted out in The Animated Series when a thief is being pursued by both the guards and Aladdin himself. The scene is an almost shot-for-shot remake of the one from the move (before the singing), only the thief in question is nowhere near as good as Aladdin is, and stole a huge diamond ("All this for a diamond?").
- Subverted in that stealing an apple is punishable by instant removal of a hand.
Film — Live-Action
- Parodied in the extreme in The Blues Brothers and Taxi 2. In the latter, insults about sexual tastes directed to some cops cause Paris' entire police force to chase down the main characters throughout the city (with predictably destructive results). In the former, running a red light is the catalyst for the titular Brothers to be chased down by every law enforcement agency in Illinois, up to and including the National Guard. They're also chased by Illinois Nazis and a renegade country band, but for different reasons.
- As in the Grand Theft Auto example below, running a red light causes the cop who pulls the Blues Brothers over to notice that they have a massive record of major and minor traffic violation, in addition to "Joliet Jake" spending three years in prison for knocking over a liquor store. The really serious high speed pursuit comes after their initial attempt to escape from the police gets out of hand and they cause serious property damage. It's still an example of a case where the cops would be smarter to apply a "do not pursue" policy, but the initial red light is only the start of their problems.
- Quite the opposite of "do not pursue", at one point early in the chase a police dispatcher calmly radios to all concerned that "the use of unnecessary violence in the apprehension of the Blues Brothers has been approved."
- Also seen in the Smokey and the Bandit movies which are actually made of little less than long pursuits.
- Older than Television: Any number of old Charlie Chaplin shorts. The unfortunate tramp had a way of getting into trouble with the police over minor things, usually resulting in a hilarious chase scene.
- The Chase is basically made of one long Hot Pursuit with half a dozen police cruisers always keeping the same distance to the getaway car.
- The Der Clown movie Payday contains five chase scenes, only one of which does not involve police cars, one of which leads to the spectacular destruction of more than one dozen police cars in Slo-Mo Big Air, and one of which has SWAT cars chase an aircraft on a runway.
- Roscoe P. Coletrain from The Dukes of Hazzard would gleefully shout over his CB that he was in "Hot Puuuur-Suit!" of the Duke boys, frequently followed by him driving off a cliff or into a lake when he couldn't match the Duke's driving ability.
- Due South featured a car chase in the episode Heaven And Earth, notable for having highly competent driving on the part of all of the cops involved, along with a bitchin awesome accompanying song.
- And how did the chase start? An All Points Bulletin got put out with a vague discription of the suspect being in a particular area. Two cops saw a guy walking down the street looking shifty, and tapped the siren to get his attention. Guy takes off running, and the cops take off driving backwards after him, before pulling a hairpin turn to get going the right direction.
- Pretty much Once an Episode in CHiPs.
- Video game example: In the Grand Theft Auto series, the police will chase you after a simple fender bender. If the chase goes on long enough (and enough officers get killed trying to chase you), SWAT teams, helicopters, soldiers and eventually tanks will be called in to take you down. Though to be fair, after the player has killed multiple police officers and racked up thousands of dollars in property damage, they have some valid reasons to call in the tanks and jets.
- To be unfair (Ha!), the police will up your wanted level when they kill themselves in pursuit of you — apparently the GTA universe has some harsh felony murder laws. And of course the cops have absolutely no regard for innocent bystanders. Tanks, helicopters, troop trucks and jet fighters in the middle of an urban area - "Well, he dinged my fender!"
- Even more amusing, they only chase you if you ding a cop car. You can plow into a civilian car at top speed and leave a huge dent in it, and the cops won't care. So much as tap a cop car though... In San Andreas, they will pursue other civilians that hit their cars (opening up the hilarious potential to shunt other cars into the cops, only to watch them get busted when they roll dazed from the wreckage).
- The Getaway managed to sort of justify it; occasionally you'll hear someone on a police radio mention that they've recognised the player character, who became wanted for murdering his wife (which he didn't actually do) in the opening cutscene and has been roaming the streets of London single-handedly causing enough mayhem to rival the 2011 riots.
- The GTA cops are lenient compared to those in Driver, who will pursue you to the end for traffic offenses that GTA's police will ignore. Driver cops have even been known to go after the player when another car breaks the law.
- Need for Speed is the most obvious example in all video games, with a sub-series of NFS games called Hot Pursuit that allows players to play on either side of the law. Those games (especially Hot Pursuit 2010 and Rivals) also give those vehicles a lot of weapons to work with; roadblocks, spike strips, helicopters, EMPs, jammers, nitrous, etc.
- Another non-car incident occurs towards the latter third of Assassin's Creed I. Granted, at this point your character has killed half a dozen important members of society and countless soldiers and guards and they're on the lookout for funny behavior in a white hood, but even so much as knocking someone over or climbing a wall will cause Altair to have half the city watch chasing him. Even before that point, the guards will attack him for the crime of taking his horse above a walk (When did speed limits get imposed in the 12th Century?)
- Road Rash 64 has cops going hog-wild all over the game world's island simply for a motorcycle race. If the ending animation is done just right, cop cars will slam into the drivers, sending them flying. Murder for speed.
- An important note is that they will chase you whether you're breaking laws or not. You can adhere to the speed limit and stop at every red light, and they will still go after you.
- Occurs during the "Sk8r Boi" level of Elite Beat Agents, where the Agents are assisting a cabbie who Drives Like Crazy. If you pass the third segment, the cops, informed that Jack's passenger is a woman in labor, subvert this by giving up the pursuit and escorting you, as they would in real life.
- The Hire: This happens to the Driver when he goes tearing across town in his BMW sports car, trying to find a woman locked in the trunk of a car before high tide comes in. The cops don't know he's on a rescue mission, and instead assume that he has stolen the car. Needless to say, they are nowhere near his level and don't appear to cause any significant delay to his rescue.