"The cop's the killer!"A member of law enforcement who also engages in murder. This person's motivations may range anywhere from monetary gain to exacting a form of street justice. Either way, expect this person to be much more dangerous than your average killer. Note that despite the name, the Killer Cop isn't always an actual police officer. He (or she) may also be a civilian employee, such as a forensics expert or something. Also, if the Killer Cop is an officer, their murders are obviously committed for a reason other than to maintain a cover identity. (Well, at least one hopes an undercover officer doesn't go to those lengths.) If the Killer Cop is a Serial Killer, the observant viewer may recognize the following signs:
— Brian in Psycho Cop Returns (and probably everyone else on this page)
- The crime scenes are jarringly devoid of any incriminating evidence. Either the killer is a forensics expert and cleaned up so thoroughly that they got rid of the evidence or they are a savvy police officer who has investigated many crime scenes and knows how to avoid leaving evidence in the first place. Note: This is not always a given, as a Serial Killer who isn't a member of law enforcement can avoid leaving evidence as well.
- If the killer is suspected to be copying the methods of another killer, the copy will be exactly like the original, even down to the details that only a member of law enforcement would know.
- If the killer is attempting to frame someone else for their crimes, the frame-up will be suspiciously thorough. The amount of evidence against the person will likely lead the viewer to two conclusions:
- That a calculating TV Serial Killer wouldn't be stupid enough to leave that much evidence against themselves, meaning the suspect isn't the killer and
- The real killer has such intimate knowledge of evidence and police work that they must be a member of law enforcement. Like the first sign, this isn't a given, as it is possible to research forensics.
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- Light Yagami, the protagonist of Death Note, joins the police force specifically to work on the investigation of his own murders, and get close enough to kill the Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist trying to catch him. It doesn't work so well the first time he tries, but the second attempt is much better.
- Americop from Captain America.
- In Gotham Central, Dirty Cop Jim Corrigan ultimately became this, murdering Crispus Allen.
- Judge Dredd:
- Wilson Priest, one of the judges featured in The Pit arc is this. He murders a suspect after he repeatedly gets Off on a Technicality and begins to do it more often. Given the legal structure in the Dredd universe, this overlaps with Hanging Judge.
- The Dark Judges are an especially extreme version, as they enforce law by simply murdering every potential criminal, believing life to be the source of all crime. Eradicate life, eradicate crime.
- Several senior Judges used to be part of an extralegal killing squad known as the Citizens' Court, to kill criminals who fell through the cracks of the justice system.
- Green Arrow: Green Arrow fought a gang of cops known as the Vice Squad, who got together and used police equipment during their off-duty hours to eliminate what they saw as 'undesirable' elements off the streets. The leader made the mistake of assuming Green Arrow would agree with his crusade.
- The eponymous characters of the Maniac Cop and Psycho Cop films. The former is a honest cop turned into a deranged anti-cop, and latter is a Serial Killer masquerading as a police officer.
- Jim Belushi's character in the movie Gang Related. He uses guns already tagged as evidence in other crimes to rob and kill drug dealers. Ironically, the one character he doesn't kill is his partner, played by Tupac Shakur.
- The vigilante cops from the Dirty Harry sequel Magnum Force.
- The killer in Bloody Murder 2: Closing Camp turns out to be the sheriff, who is really the father of the thought legendary camp boogeyman, Trevor Moorehouse.
- In Holla If You Hear Me, it's revealed there's three killers, two brothers and one sister. One of the brothers is a detective.
- The Prowler turns out to be Sheriff George Fraser.
- The Australian thriller Dangerous Game. Notably, the officer (while obviously unhinged) only killed by accident, and feels extremely conflicted about trying to murder the witnesses.
- Mindhunters. After searching the entire island with infrared sensors, the FBI trainees rule out anyone else being on the island, and realize the killer is one of their own.
- Cellular: Turns out the hired mercenaries are controlled by the police to leave no witnesses about the murders they committed. And then it turns out that they ARE the police, having used their job to murder drug dealers and steal the crack.
- Mark Judd from the film Fallen Angel.
- Suggested but ultimately averted in A Walk Among the Tombstones. It appears the Serial Killers hunted by the protagonist, ex-cop turned private eye Matthew Scudder, are with the Drug Enforcement Agency because they have police radios and DEA files on their victims. However Scudder says they're too crazy to have got into the DEA, and suggests they were civilian employees who briefly had access to the files. Later Scudder discovers one of their victims was an undercover DEA agent who had the files on her.
- The Nightingale Killer from Frequency is a serial killer of women who turns out to be a fairly respected cop.
- NYCPD's Ed Lacy in Deadly Hero (1975)
- NYCPD's Gary Long in 1989 Spike Lee drama Do the Right Thing
- NYCPD's Mike Brennan in Q & A (1990)
- In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the T-1000 spends the majority of the film impersonating an LAPD officer.
- Robert Crais seems to like these: In L.A. Requiem, the killer who was framing Joe Pike turned out to be the guy who pushed the mail cart at police headquarters. In Demolition Angel, the person who murdered Charlie Riggio was his own partner on the Bomb Squad, Buck Daggett. In The Two Minute Rule, the man who murdered the four officers was William Cecil of the FBI Bank Squad.
- The protagonist from Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me.
- The FBI Agent Denton and his cohorts in The Dresden Files novel Fool Moon.
- Frank Ennunzio, FBI Forensic Linguist in Lisa Gardner's novel, The Killing Hour.
- In the Tom Clancy novel Jack Ryan novel Without Remorse, a Corrupt Cop murders a drug dealer that his (criminal) boss suspected of being a security risk. He even manages to do it in a way that causes multiple witnesses - police officers themselves - to honestly believe that the victim was shot in self-defense when he attempted to resist arrest.
- In Richard Laymon's Savage, Roderick Whittle, aka Jack the Ripper, becomes a sheriff's deputy named "John Carver".
- The Hate U Give is built on this, the plot kicking off when an officer kills Starr's childhood friend, who was unarmed and wasn't breaking any laws when they got pulled over. He gets away with it.
- In Fred Vargas' This Night's Foul Work, Ariane, the medical examiner working with Adamsberg on his cases, is actually the one killing people and animals in the pursuit of a medieval ritual that will supposedly grant her immortality. Her cover-ups and misdirections may have even been intended to fool herself first and foremost, since she appears to suffer from a case of Split Personality.
- Walker, Texas Ranger: A 1997 episode "The Brotherhood" featured cops who – frustrated by the system – kill suspects before they've had their due process, and it results in an innocent man paying with his life after he had been wrongly accused of rape.
- The Dukes of Hazzard: The final season's "Cool Hands, Luke and Bo" has police officers who – it is strongly implied – have killed inmates in the past at the Osage Road Prison, where Bo, Luke, Rosco, and Boss Hogg are being held on false charges.
- Law & Order and its various spin-offs have featured these on more than one occasion.
- Rizzoli & Isles had a detective who killed a bunch of women with the same names as the original Boston Strangler victims. His purpose in so doing was to frame the person he believed was really the Boston Strangler. He had worked the original murder case and didn't believe that the person who confessed was really the killer.
- Of course, Dexter is one of these, although he's a forensic examiner rather than a detective. He was also trained by his adoptive father, who was already a cop but couldn't bring himself to actually kill criminals who escaped justice. In season 2 Dexter is the subject of an ongoing investigation when the corpses of his victims are discovered, which he manages to avoid by making it look like another cop within the department had turned to serial killing.
- Dexter also went after one in season four, a cop who'd killed her own husband and daughter and made it look like a robbery gone foul. She was a particularly hard target because her experience allowed her to suspect Dexter was up to something pretty early on.
- Paul Millander, the bathtub killer, is revealed to have a double life as a judge.
- Ray Langston, at the end of season 11. Not a cop, but still a CSI.
- CSI NY had one of those, a cop that went dirty and murdered others to cover his tracks.
- Criminal Minds:
- The first episode that features The Reaper leads you to think that this might be the case. The Reaper was a serial killer who had stopped killing for ten years, then started killing again. In the original run of murders, he had killed a bunch of people, but left one victim alive. Ten years later, that victim was hiding from The Reaper by living at a number of different addresses and switching between them. At one of The Reaper's crime scenes, he left the victim's address numbers written on windows in blood, leading you to think that the lead detective from the local police department might be The Reaper. (Since he would've been one of the few people who knew the addresses, as they had been told to him by the victim.) However, this turns out not to be the case. In reality, the "victim" survived because he was The Reaper.
- Another episode features a cop that stages shootings so he can be the first to "save" the victim. Occasionally those victims die, but he is honored as a hero cop. He tries to kill Penelope when he thinks she is on to him.
- In "Broken Mirror", it turns out one of the local FBI agents helping with the investigation is the perp, while "A Rite of Passage" has a Sheriff's Deputy turn out to be "Santa Muerte".
- On Bones, serial kidnapper (and also killer) The Gravedigger turned out to be United States Attorney and former FBI agent Heather Taffet, and chose self-representation during the trial.
- Also Agent Kenton in "Two Bodies In The Lab".
- On Frasier in That One Case that Martin has been working on for years, it turns out that the detective did it.
- One of the 1970s-era Columbo mysteries involved the Police Commissioner himself trying to get away with committing murder.
- A recurring villain on Cold Case was a serial killer who worked as a civilian in the police department's records division, and used what he knew about the detectives to successfully deflect their interrogation techniques.
- In an episode of Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, the protagonist of one story is a cop who discovers that he killed a young woman while sleepwalking. He is completely unaware of this until he compares the bullet found at the scene to one in his gun.
- An episode of Angel featured a police captain suppressing crime in his district by raising recently deceased police officers as zombies and having them indiscriminately and violently harass people on the streets after dark. They end up committing several murders themselves.
- Detective Rick Messer, aka The Bearded Man in Damages, who acts as a hit man for a Corrupt Corporate Executive. Plays with this as it isn't revealed that he's a cop until late on.
- Manny Lopez in the MacGyver (1985) episode "Tough Boys". He uses the local youth centre to recruit the eponymous gang to act as vigilantes in destroying crack houses.
- A subplot of Queer as Folk has Debbie finding the body of a strangled prostitute in a dumpster. The investigation is suspended because of "lack of evidence" before the police can even identify the victim, and he becomes known simply as "Dumpster Boy". Later, it turns out that the killer was a cop who frequently solicited male prostitutes, and the reason the investigation was shut down so quickly was because the killer, in a state of panic after having committed a murder by mistake, goes to his ex-partner and long-time friend, Police Chief Stockwell, and begs for help.
- The killer in Bron|Broen turns out to be an embittered ex-cop, foreshadowed by his knowledge of police procedure and access to uniforms.
- The 1992 Australian mini-series Phoenix is about the investigation into a carbomb that exploded outside Victorian Police headquarters, killing a policewoman. The very first suspect the Major Crimes Squad is ordered to investigate is a police officer who allegedly made a threat to blow up the building. It turns out the whole thing was an argument blown out of proportion, and the officer had nothing to do with the bombing. Ironically the police rank-and-file are as willing to believe the rumor as anyone.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe:
- Agent Carter season 2 begins with a subversion, as Detective Henry disguises someone else's murder as a previous serial killer's work. The trope is later played straight as he tries to abduct someone and gets shot by another Corrupt Cop.
- Taken Up to 11 in Daredevil, where a lot of cops in the NYPD 15th Precinct function as Wilson Fisk's glorified hitmen and enforcers. He has Emergency Service Unit officers who are so dirty that they're willing to murder fellow officers who aren't on the take or become liabilities.
- Jessica Jones: Will Simpson is first introduced as a cop who is ordered by Kilgrave to attack Trish. After surviving an explosion, his sanity begins slipping, causing him to kill fellow detective Oscar Clemmons and attack Trish and Jessica.
- Luke Cage: Misty Knight's partner Rafael Scarfe is in Cottonmouth's pocket. He kills Chico Diaz when Chico prepares to snitch on Cottonmouth.
- "Mirrors" by Eric Bogle is about Brazilian policemen who act as freelance death squads in Rio's slums.
Ad the killers wear policeman's badges
Kill to supplement their wages
Earn their bloody bounty, with the gun and club and knife
- The Magnus Archives: The episode "A Father's Love" is about a girl's childhood living with her serial killer father, who was also a policeman.
- Shin Megami Tensei:
- In the Adventure Game Laura Bow 2: The Dagger of Amon Ra, the killer turns out to be Ryan O'Reily, the detective working on the case.
- Kurtis Stryker of the Mortal Kombat series.
- Case 1-5 of Ace Attorney has former detective and current high prosecutor Lana Skye accused of murder. The real killer is not just a killer cop, but a killer police chief.
- Not to mention killer prosecutors Manfred von Karma and Godot and Jacques Portsman and killer defense attorneys Calisto Yew and Kristoph Gavin.
- And as of Dual Destinies, detective Bobby Fulbright, who is actually The Mole, and not even a real detective.
- In Heavy Rain, it's eventually discovered that the Origami Killer is a retired police officer. Specifically, Scott Shelby.
- Manny Pardo from Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number has a penchant for slaughtering gangsters and innocents as the Miami Mutilator.
- It's implied in Five Nights at Freddy's 2 that the night guard before Jeremy (currently working the day shift) is the man responsible for the Missing Children Incident mentioned in the first game. One of the killer's Atari-esque sprites in the random after-death minigames depicts him with what appears to be a gold badge (which he also has in his Easter Egg appearance in 4), the minigames depicting the murders are implied to have happened the week before the game, and on Night 5 Phone Guy all but states outright that the guard was arrested under suspicion.
- Axe Cop. He'll chop your head off!
- Played with in SMBC.
- Shiver from Sidekick Girl. He was transferred from L.A. with a list of excessive force charges as long as his arm, and has multiple "accidental" deaths in his past. Unfortunately, the fact that he's smart enough to confine his assaults to those technically guilty of a crime makes it very hard to actually convict him of anything.
- Happens way too often in real life, unfortunately. A lot of police officers aren't even charged with murders committed while on-duty.
- There was a case once where the murderer turned out to be one of the cops working on the case. This was discovered after a visual reconstruction of the offender was created.
- There has been speculation that the Long Island serial killer is someone working for law enforcement.
- Serial killers Gerard Schaefer and Norbert Poehlke.
- Spree killer Tore Hedin
- Manuel Pardo of Florida. Some say Dexter was inspired by him.
- Woo Bum-kon, who was, for awhile, the most prolific murderer in a single day. He killed 54 people one day in 1982 in South Korea, and then blew himself up, along with his two final victims.
- Drew Peterson, who was also The Bluebeard, and by the time of arrest a former cop.
- New Orleans Police Department officer Antoinette Frank encountered a local drug dealer named Rogers Lacaze and found herself madly in love with him. The two became partners in crime, pulling people over and robbing them in her squad car. They eventually committed a violent robbery of a Vietnamese restaurant where Frank worked off-duty as a security guard. Lacaze shot and killed Officer Richard Williams, another NOPD officer moonlighting as a security guard for the restaurant, while Frank shot two of the owners' family, and tried to kill a third before other police arrived. Frank was convicted for her role in the triple-murder and was sentenced to death. After she was sentenced, evidence came up suggesting that she'd killed her father about a year before the robbery and buried his body under her house, but the authorities chose not to prosecute her since she was already on death row.