Strange Cop In A Strange Land

Sergeant Taggart: We're more likely to believe an important local businessman than a foulmouthed jerk from out of town.
Axel Foley: Foulmouthed? [Taggart nods] Fuck you, man.

A very specific sub-trope of Fish out of Water, this is what happens when a cop must journey outside their assigned jurisdiction to solve a case or catch a criminal.

A very effective story-telling tool, this trope can set the stage for many interesting deconstructions, reconstructions, or parodies of cop/detective tropers. One of the most popular byproducts of this trope is the Culture Clash between a Cowboy Cop and his By-the-Book Cop partner. Indeed, the Cowboy Cop may come from a place where his rule-breaking antics are not only not punished, but are necessary to his job, but he relocates to a place where such initiative is frowned upon. Naturally Jurisdiction Friction may occur.

Also this can result in a Buddy Cop scenario, as two cops from two different law enforcement worlds may realize that are Not So Different after all and come to a comfortable working relationship.

For obvious reasons, this applies to local, city, or state law enforcment officials or detectives. May include domestic national investigators. Government espionage agents like James Bond or Ethan Hunt travel the world as part of their duties, so they wouldn't count.


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     Comic Books 
  • Happens whenever Judge Dredd leaves Mega-City One to pursue criminals in foreign jurisdictions. He'll note that local judges are too lax or corrupt, but is forced to abide by their laws.

  • One of the best examples is The Eighties hit Beverly Hills Cop. The eponymous character is not a policeman in Beverly Hills, but rather a Detroit cop whose Cowboy Cop ways clash with the more straightlaced Bevery Hills PD.
    • To be fair, his Cowboy Cop ways clash with his own superiors in Detroit as well.
  • The first two Die Hard movie see New York cop John McClane taking on terrorists in unfamiliar locations (an office tower in Los Angeles, and a Washington, DC airport) and with law enforcement that don't necessarily appreciate his methods.
  • A dramatic example with In the Heat of the Night, released in 1967, in which a black Philadelphia detective finds himself first accused of killing a white man in very racist town, Sparta, Mississippi, and then actually gets pressed into helping the bigoted white police chief catch the real killer.
  • The Rush Hour movies. In the first, Inspector Lee (Jackie Chan) is the (very) Strange Cop in the (very) Strange Land, in this case Los Angeles. In the second movie, Detective Carter (Chris Tucker) has to figure out how to fit in in Hong Kong. In the third movie, both are Strange Cops in Paris.
  • The French Connection II finds Detective Popeye Doyle, the New York narc from the first film, traveling to Marseilles to catch the French drug kingpin. He isn't fond of the French law officials, and they aren't very fond of the alleged "true American hero".
  • In Black Rain, a simple task to return a Yakuza back to the Japanese authorities leads to two NYPD cops getting embroiled in a gang war in Tokyo.
  • Demolition Man: a loose cannon LAPD cop from the late 90's wakes up in a pacifist dystopia.
  • Shaft In Africa. Exactly What It Says on the Tin.

  • Sam Vimes in the Discworld novels Jingo (Klatch), The Fifth Elephant (Überwald)), Thud! (Uberwald again) and Snuff (the Shires and Quirm).
    • And also Night Watch, where the strange and foreign country is his own native Ankh-Morpork - but thirty years previously in his past...
  • Happens twice to Jim Chee in the Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee series of Tony Hillerman. Chee is a Navajo Tribal Police officer whose jurisdiction is the Navajo reservation in New Mexico and Arizona. In The Ghostway, however, his case takes him to Los Angeles. In Talking God he goes to Washington, D.C. He experiences mild culture shock in both instances, mostly due to being very much a Country Mouse.
  • Beka Cooper of the Tortall Universe experiences this in Bloodhound when her investigation takes her out of Corus to Port Caynn. Fortunately, part of her cover is being flighty and incompetent, so she can get away with not knowing where everything is. Unfortunately, the head of the Provost's Guard is totally cowed by the local crime lord.
  • Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Droids recounts an anecdote where a 501-Z police droid pursued a crime lord to Nar Shaddaa, one of many Wretched Hives in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Not really getting that its authority wasn't any good there, it attempted to proceed according to normal procedure and got blasted.
  • In the Anna Pigeon novels, Anna is a law enforcement park ranger whose usually works in the wilds of various large national parks. In Liberty Falling, she visits New York City and ends up solving a crime while staying on the ranger accommodation on Liberty Island.

    Live Action TV 
  • Continuum has a law enforcement officer from a futuristic corporate dystopia sent back in time along with a group of terrorists about to be executed, and works her way into allying herself with the circa-2012 Vancouver police department to try and stop them, posing as a secret service agent.
  • Due South, wherein a Canadian Mountie comes to Chicago to fight crime, while still being a stereotypically unfailingly polite Canadian
  • Miami Vice: One of the two protagonists was originally a New York detective. When his quest to avenge the death of his brother brough him into conflict, and grudging partnership, with a Miami vice cop, he was persuaded to stay permanently
    • A later episode reverses this when they have to travel to New York to stop some Colombian drug dealers. Now Tubbs is back on his home turf and Crockett is the fish out of water.
      • Several episodes feature Crockett and/or Tubbs having to leave Miami and go to some exotic, dangerous location to pursue criminals. The above-mentioned New York episode begins with a Cold Open in Bogota.
  • In Time Trax this trope crosses over with Fish out of Temporal Water, wherein late 22nd-century Fugitive Retrieval Section Captain Darien Lambert pursues convicts who've escaped to the late 1990s. Strange Cop In A Strange Time, perhaps?
  • Life On Mars has a Present Day DCI wake up in The Seventies, where, needless to say, police work has a much different meaning. There has been an American, Spanish and Russian remake of the same concept, though the Russian version Dark Side of the Moon inverts the idea — the Cowboy Cop is from the present day, and is forced to work under the bureaucratic Communist system.
  • New Mexico Marshal Sam McCloud escorts a prisoner to New York City and winds up on semi-permanent, "special assignment" with the NYPD.
  • In the CSI-verse the two spinoffs began with this trope. CSI: Miami began with the original Vegas crew going to Miami to solve a case and likewise when the Miami crew went to New York, it spun off CSI: New York.
    • Mac in Chicago. The CPD does not like him waving his badge to get into a vacant Tribune building floor on CSI NY
  • Sherlock Holmes adaptation Elementary features a flavor of this when Holmes, former Scotland Yard consultant, checks into rehab in New York City and becomes a consultant for the NYPD.
  • Special Agent Dale Cooper in Twin Peaks.