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Old Cop, Young Cop

Agent J: (pointing at Agent K) Old and busted.
Agent J: (pointing at himself) New hotness.

A constellation of two cops or detectives, an older one and a younger one. Inevitably, the older one becomes some kind of father figure to the other. In addition to that, they are often presented as very different from each other, which may or may not result in conflict between them. Maybe the older one is experienced while the younger one is new to the job. Maybe the younger one is emotional and short-tempered while the older one is more like The Stoic. Maybe the younger one is idealistic while the older one tends more towards cynicism. Maybe it's a case of Red Oni, Blue Oni. Maybe the older one is a rationalist while the younger one tends towards more intuitive methods of investigation - or maybe the other way round. If they appear in a crime or mystery setting (and they are very unlikely to be seen elsewhere), expect them to be the main characters. Also, expect at least one of them to be personally involved in the case in one way or the other.

Subtrope of Student and Master Team. If the junior partner grows up to train an apprentice of his own, it's a Master-Apprentice Chain.


Examples:

Anime and Manga:
  • Ikari and Maniwa from Paranoia Agent.
  • Soichiro Yagami and Touta Matsuda from Death Note, at least at the beginning of the series.
  • Tiger & Bunny does this with a slight alteration: instead of cops, they're superheroes
    • In a bit of inversion, the older one is the idealist and considered to be a bit of an idiot.

Audio Play
  • Below Board sees Detective Holloway, an up-and-comer from the Upper Midwest, team up with Detective Martin, a Cajun veteran of the New Orleans Police Department.

Comic Books:
  • Sideswipe and Cheetor in Fun Publications' "The Stunti-Con Job", which is in-continuity with Transformers Animated.
  • Bullock and Montoya. The MCU in Gotham Central generally averted this, with veteran detectives Davies and Crowe being partnered.
  • Inverted with Morillo and Chyre from The Flash. Morillo, the younger of the pair, is a detective who mentors Chyre, the recently promoted 30-year beat cop.
  • Detectives Clemons and Bolt from Rucka and Checchetto's run on The Punisher have more than a few similarities with Somerset and Mills.
  • Judge Dredd ends up playing old cop to whichever partner he ends up with in a particular story.

Film:
  • Somerset and Mills from Se7en: Former Trope Namer.
  • Connor, the "senpai" (Sean Connery) and Smith, the "kohai" (Wesley Snipes) in Rising Sun.
  • Agents K and J from Men In Black.
  • Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura as detectives Murakami and Sato in Akira Kurosawa's Stray Dog.
  • If Space Police count, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker follow this one to a tee.
    • Arguably also Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi before Qui-Gon's death.
      • Don't forget Anakin and Ahsoka, and Dooku and Qui-Gon. This is a Master-Apprentice Chain spanning at least five generations.
  • Malone and Ness from The Untouchables.
  • Lethal Weapon: Murtaugh and Riggs.
  • Pierre Niemans (old, played by Jean Reno) and Max Kerkerian (young, played by Vincent Cassel) in The Crimson Rivers.
  • Bob Hodges and Danny Mcgavin from Colors
  • Anderson and Ward, Mississippi Burning.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Commissioner Gordon takes a liking to rookie cop John Blake, admiring his initiative in things. He promotes him to Detective over the protestations of his deputy, and sets him on the task (as at the time Gordon is in convalescence after crossing Bane). Those Two Guys during the Batpod chase scene also elicit this; the elder cop says "You're in for a helluva show tonight" after sighting Batman. The younger cop also reflexively shoots Batman's EMP gun and immediately apologizes after a "What are you, stupid?" stare from Bats.
  • The Rookie had Charlie Sheen as the young cop to Clint Eastwood's old.
  • Dredd has Judge Dredd as the old cop to Anderson's young.

Literature:
  • Goodman and Muldoon from R.A. Wilson's Illuminatus! trilogy.
  • Felidae: Pascal and Francis. Subverted. At the beginning they seem to fit this trope, but at the end it turns out that Pascal is actually the killer and helps Francis only because he wants to pass the torch to him.
  • Knight In Sour Armour Roslyn Forrester and Wide-Eyed Idealist Chris Cwej in the Doctor Who New Adventures novels.
  • Tony Hillerman's mysteries set on the Navajo reservation feature Joe Leaphorn (older, world-weary, atheistic) and Jim Chee (younger, more idealistic, a practicing shaman).
  • Occurs in Rivers of London with DCI Nightingale (since he is over 100 years old) being the old, refined, gentleman cop, and DC Grant as the wet behind the ears, yet inexplicably smart, sarky, and mouthy new cop.
  • World-weary veteran DI Rebus spends most of the series partnered with the younger DC (later DS) Siobhan Clarke.
  • Sam Vimes and Carrot in Guards! Guards!. Also, Sam Vimes and, er, Sam Vimes in Night Watch. Lobsang Ludd and Lu-Tze form a sort of Time Police version in Thief of Time.

Live-Action TV:
  • Despite the numerous cast changes, Law & Order managed to play this Trope straight for eighteen years:
    1990: Max Greevey (older cop) and Mike Logan (newbie cop). Greevey was shot and killed.
    1991: Phil Ceretta and Mike Logan. Ceretta was also shot, but survived the injuries.
    1992: Lennie Briscoe and Mike Logan. Logan was demoted to street patrol on Long Island for assaulting an acquitted murderer.
    1995: Briscoe and Reynaldo Curtis. Curtis took early retirement to take care of his multiple sclerosis stricken wife.
    1999: Briscoe and Ed Green. Briscoe retired and joined the D.A.'s office, setting the stage for Law & Order: Trial by Jury.
    2004: Joe Fontana and Green. Fontana retired.
    2006: Played with this time: Average-experience cop Ed Green and total newbie Nina Cassidy. Cassidy left the show after one season, and was replaced with Cyrus Lupo, a cop with some seasoning, thus breaking the Trope. The final two seasons and change featured Lupo with Kevin Bernard, again two moderately experienced detectives.
    • Played straight since season two of Law & Order: SVU with Munch and Fin— Though one could argue they're both seasoned veterans, Munch is noticeably older, and has probably been on the force longer.
    • And on Law & Order: UK as well, with DS Ronnie Brooks as the Old Cop and Matt Devlin (and later Sam Casey) as the Young Cop. What's more, thanks to their mutual crappy pasts (Ronnie was a drunk who neglected his daughters, Matt was physically abused by his father or stepfather—it's never made clear which), Ronnie and Matt really did develop a father/son bond, to the point where Ronnie outright said "he was like my son" when pleading with the mother of Matt's killer to convince her son to confess to what he'd done. Very tellingly, thus far, Ronnie's new partner Sam, despite the apparently similar background of an absent/abusive father, has rebuffed Ronnie's efforts to fill a similar role.
  • Twin Peaks: Windom Earle and Dale Cooper might have been this in the times before Earle's insanity.
  • Done so often on British TV that it's probably easier to list the British cop shows which DON'T feature this combo at some point (Inspector Lynley, for one), but what the hell, here's just a few examples which do:
    • Dalziel and Pascoe - featuring, well, Dalziel and Pascoe.
    • Inspector Morse - featuring Morse and DS Lewis.
    • Lewis (aka Inspector Lewis) - featuring Lewis from the aforementioned show, now promoted to DI and partnered with DS Hathaway (Has led to speculation that in another 20 years, there will be a new show entitled "Hathaway"/"Inspector Hathaway")
    • Endeavour - a prequel to the above, about a young DC Morse being taken under the wing of DI Fred Thursday.
    • Taggart - featuring DCI Jim Taggart, partnered with first DS Peter Livingstone and then (as the better example) DS/DI Mike Jardine (although, the show did become more of an ensemble, in later seasons)
    • The Ruth Rendell Mysteries - featuring DCI Reg Wexford and DI Mike Burden (might not be the best example, one might argue that Burden is more of a little brother than a son-like figure to Wexford)
    • Life On Mars - featuring DCI Gene Hunt and DI Sam Tyler. This one is a bit of a variation, as both are experienced, but in their own time periods.
    • Midsomer Murders - featuring DCI Barnaby and Sergeant Troy, Sergeant Scott and finally Constable Jones.
    • Cadfael - has a variant. The series is set in medieval times and therefore before police existed, but Cadfael is an older detective monk who has a quasi-paternal relationship with lawman Hugh Berrigar.
    • Inspector George Gently - with the world weary but essentially decent DCI George Gently and and angry young man DS John Bacchus.
  • The Streets Of San Francisco (1972-77), starring Karl Malden (older cop) and Michael Douglas (younger cop).
  • Sully and Davis on Third Watch.
  • The dynamic between all the rookies and their Training Officers on Rookie Blue. Actual partnerships change from episode to episode.
  • Adam-12: Malloy and Reed were a milder version of this with a less pronounced age difference
  • Shark: In one of Sebastian Stark's cases as a prosecutor, the defendant was a cop charged with killing a criminal's cousin. The cop had a problem with the criminal and accidentally killed the cousin. The cop was the old cop of the trope and the young one was testifying against him. The ex-cop working as a liasion between Stark's office and the LAPD commented on how odd it was that the young cop was testifying against the old one since cops usually take the heat for one another. Then it clicked on Stark the old cop was Taking the Heat for the young one. The young one had heard stories about the criminal and decided to take justice on his own hands. Stark made a deal where he'd allow the old cop to take the heat if the young one agreed to leave the force forever.

Video Games:


Merlin And NimueIndex of Pupils and ProtégésStudent and Master Team
Odd FriendshipDuo TropesThe Only One I Trust
Nuclear FamilyEnsemblesThe Omniscient Council of Vagueness
Law & OrderImageSource/Live-Action TVLaw & Order: Special Victims Unit
Off the RecordCrime and Punishment TropesOminously Open Door

alternative title(s): Somerset And Mills; Young Cop Old Cop
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