->'''Principal Skinner''': Bart Simpson, on the side of law and order? Has the world gone topsy turvy?\\
'''Bart''': That's right, man. I got my first taste of authority... and I ''like it.''
-->-- ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''

A simple form of TheReveal used to explain why PoliceAreUseless, and why our otherwise normal characters don't simply ask the police to deal with the dangerous criminals. It turns out the police ''[[ScrewTheRulesIMakeThem are]]'' [[ScrewTheRulesIMakeThem the criminals]].

Generally speaking this trope is intended to rationalize why the main characters don't go to the police with their problems, which tends to be the logical response by normal people to outrageous things like murder plots. This can also be established in the back story and does not need to be displayed on-screen directly.

Often involves at least one DirtyCop by necessity, may include a RabidCop, and will certainly occur if there's a case of BadCopIncompetentCop. Can result in a HaveYouToldAnyoneElse from the bad cops if someone comes to them in search of a HopeSpot. PoliceBrutality may also transpire.

If the bad guys are only pretending to be cops, that's ImpersonatingAnOfficer. Unfortunately too often TruthInTelevision [[CrapsackWorld in a lot of countries]].



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* Fairly early on in Creator/NaokiUrasawa's ''Anime/{{Monster}}'', Tenma runs into a couple of cops who work with/for Johan 'The Monster' Liebert. He doesn't know who else might be, and thus gets really paranoid about talking to the police... rightly so, since shortly afterwards, he gets framed for murder.
* Creator/NaokiUrasawa's ''Manga/TwentiethCenturyBoys'' features this as a HopeSpot: the young detective hero has [[BringNewsBack successfully contacted]] an influential ally in the upper echelon of the police force with his information on TheConspiracy. Surely things will turn better from there on right? Wrong - the police is already in the bad guys' pocket and you have just doomed everyone by revealing your hiding place.
* Third time's the charm for Urasawa, he pulls this yet again in ''Manga/{{Billy Bat}}''. A man on a car trip through the racist-laden ''DeepSouth'' witnesses a group of [[TheKlan Ku Klux Klan members]] burn a black man at the stake. He goes to the local sheriff, only to recognize him as one of the Klansmen. [[spoiler:It's ultimately a subversion: the sheriff is indeed a racist, but the Klansman was his cousin, not him. The sheriff doesn't let personal feelings get in the way of his job as a lawman: he immediately arrests his cousin on suspicion of murder.]]
* ''Anime/YattermanNight'' casts the Yattermen in this role: inside the Yatter Kingdom, they have put their people under hard labor, forcing them into camps. Similarly, they have shot at unarmed people looking for help. Later on [[spoiler:the Yattermen are revealed to be a robot army. It's unclear if there are real Yattermen still existing.]]
* Most police in ''Anime/YuGiOh5Ds'' up until the second season are antagonists, seeing as the BigBad is in charge of the police force.
* Happens frequently in ''Anime/GhostInTheShellStandAloneComplex''. In one filler episode, a money laundering scheme in London is mediated by a police chief. In the first season arc, one of the major bad guy groups is the narcotics squad operating under orders from a senator.

[[folder:Comedy Series]]
* Parodied in a ''Series/MontyPythonsFlyingCircus'' sketch. A pimp is telling an interviewer about his dealings with the Piranha Brothers.
-->'''Luigi''': One night Dinsdale walked in with a couple of big lads, one of whom was carrying a tactical nuclear missile. They said I'd bought one of their fruit machines and would I pay for it.\\
'''Interviewer''': How much did they want?\\
'''Luigi''': Three quarters of a million pounds. Then they went out.\\
'''Interviewer''': Why didn't you call the police?\\
'''Luigi''': Well, I had noticed that the lad with the thermonuclear device was the Chief Constable for the area.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* A major theme in ''ComicBook/BatmanYearOne'' is that most of the police department is corrupt -- this is given as an explicit reason why it's necessary for Bruce Wayne to don a bat costume and terrorize criminals, as often some of the people he beats up happen to be cops who are in on the crime. The first real progress he makes is when he finds out that Gordon ''can'' be trusted, creating a legitimate outlet to fight crime.
* Speaking of which, the cops in [[SoiledCityOnAHill Bludhaven]] were worse than the mob, and gained a share of profits made by the ''actual'' mob. (Criminals who ''didn't'' were killed. Chief Redhorn was a dangerous villain who had ordered ComicBook/{{Nightwing}}'s death; the only true honest cop in Bludhaven, technically, was Nightwing himself, who joined the force in his civilian identity [[TheMole in an attempt to take it down]]. )
* In ''ComicBook/SinCity'', the police force is so corrupt, it's actually shocking when people find a cop who is clean. In the first story, police death squads are sent after Marv in order to silence him after he's framed for murder. In ''That Yellow Bastard'' almost the entire police force are willing to protect a pedophile SerialKiller son of a senator, going so far as to frame one of their own (probably the only ''good'' cop of the entire bunch). In ''The Big Fat Kill'', a recently killed DomesticAbuser is exposed as being a hero cop, which is bad news for Old Town (because [[spoiler:the truce between the girls and the cops forbids the girls to kill cops that wander into their territory, in exchange for the girls being allowed to protect their own and keep the cops and the mob out]]). In ''Hell And Back'', the cops are in league with an assassin guild. At least in ''Hell and Back'' the police chief briefly rediscovers his morals long enough to help the protagonist finish off the assassins/human traffickers.
* In ''ComicBook/{{Runaways}}'', the cops in Los Angeles are all on the Pride's payroll, and thus antagonize the Runaways. Even after the Pride is defeated, the cops ''still'' come after the Runaways, because in the second series, the Runaways are considered fugitives. And then, towards the end of the second series, the team travels back in time to get away from the fallout of ''ComicBook/CivilWar'', and ''still'' have to fight cops, because they end up in Manhattan in 1907 and are seen by the local police as dangerous hooligans.
* ''ComicBook/ButtonMan'': One of the Voices confirms that several of the people involved with covering up the Killing Game are high-placed police constables.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In ''FanFic/OriginStory'', the US government sends the ComicBook/{{Thunderbolts}} to arrest Alex Harris. Alex points out the idiocy of making the Radioactive Man, Venom, and Bullseye a part of law enforcement.
* Episode 3 of ''Fanfic/SherlockSeason4'' ends with several police officers capturing the Joker. You find out soon afterward that the police are "acutllay corupt cops who were working with Joker and are going 2 come back in next episode".

* The old Creator/ChuckNorris movie ''Film/BreakerBreaker'' features a lot of corrupt cops in a town run by an equally corrupt mayor who assumes his towns new official charter lets him convict and execute people for whatever reason he pleases.
* ''Film/DeadlyHero'' (1975) Don Murray's NYCPD character terrorizes a former crime victim who witnessed his deadly force against the victim's surrendering attacker.
* ''Film/{{Fletch}}''. Police Chief Karlin and some of his officers are running the local drug ring, so Fletch can't go to them for help.
* In ''Film/DateNight'', this is the reason why Phil and Claire end up ditching the police station mid-interview to conduct their own investigation -- they see their kidnappers walking in and getting some coffee, and are not at all sure they're safe being around any longer. It later becomes relevant information that the whole police force isn't in on it as [[spoiler:the plot is resolved when Holbrook contacts someone he knows he can trust to organize the final operation]].
* ''Film/PineappleExpress'' has this when Dale sees that a police officer in uniform is present when Ted murders a rival criminal -- and puts some bullets in him herself just to be sure. Since Dale's a process server, he really should have someone he can talk to about this, but on the other hand, his chronically being high doesn't do wonders for his judgment. Hilariously, he's arrested later on -- and the beat officer actually believes his story because it explains iffy problems in the department. [[spoiler:Saul completely screws this up by [[UnwantedAssistance helping Dale escape]].]]
* ''Film/RaceWithTheDevil'' (1975) Sheriff Taylor and his deputies are members of the deadly Satanic cult whose human sacrifice was what the film's unfortunate protagonists were caught watching and unknowingly fled to the town where the cult member sheriff was head of its law enforcement personnel.
* ''Shoot It Black: Shoot It Blue'' (1974, early Michael Moriarty) has Moriarty's character shooting a surrendering criminal.
* The bad guys in the remake of ''Film/AssaultOnPrecinct132005''.
* ''Film/HotFuzz'' - the [[spoiler:Chief of Police]] turns out to be in on the bizarre "accidents" surrounding the town.
** In fact he's the ringleader; the whole shenanigan is built around [[spoiler:winning a contest that's more or less meaningless beyond his wife's annual involvement in the town's participation therein]].
* The 2008 French movie ''Skate or Die'' shows it in the very trailer: the heroes walk into a police station with their phone film evidence, only to see the killers among the cops. The bulk of the movie is the heroes trying to escape said cops long enough to copy their film to a computer and send it (it was [[UnintentionalPeriodPiece in the years after camera phones but before smartphones and 3G were commonplace]]).
* In ''Film/FightClub'' the {{Narrator}} tries going to the cops when he finds out that Fight Club (now called Project Mayhem) is involved in serious terrorist activities. Except it turns out several police officers are members of Project Mayhem, and have orders to castrate anyone who betrays the group [[spoiler:(even if that someone is the ''leader'' of Project Mayhem)]]. Cue the {{Narrator}} trying to take matters into his own hands.
* ''Film/LAConfidential'': [[spoiler:Captain Dudley and a large group of his men are setting themselves up as the new LA drug kingpins after [[TheDon Mickey Cohen]] goes to prison]].
* Film/HoboWithAShotgun: Yeah okay, they're not really the bad guys, but very, very few of them aren't corrupt.
--> [[spoiler:'''Chief of Police''': "We're ALL bad cops!"]] to a[[spoiler:nother]] cop.
* In ''Theatre/WestSideStory'', Lt. Schrank and Officer Krupke are not only meddling in the affairs of the Jets and the Sharks, but they're also very racist against the Sharks, and don't much like the Jets either because of their status as a gang.
* ''Film/{{Flightplan}}'' has this at the twist at the end.
-->"People believe what I tell them to believe. That's how authority works."
* The 2007 ''Film/{{Transformers}}'' film does it with a twist - the Decepticon Barricade has a police car as his alternate mode.
* In ''Film/LakeviewTerrace'', Abel Turner is able to bully and harass his interracial couple neighbors because he's a well-respected, 28-year-veteran of the LAPD so no one would believe them. At one point, they threaten to call the police-he responds that he ''IS'' the police.
* ''Film/TheProfessional'': Stansfield and his crew work for the DEA, but also [[KillEmAll murder the entire family]] (save [[LittleMissBadass one]]) of a man holding drugs for them and don't seem unfamiliar with hiring out [[ProfessionalKiller professional killers]] from the Mob.
* The two killer cops who got caught on "film" in ''Film/StrangeDays''. Max hints that there are a lot more of them. [[spoiler:He's lying.]]
* A large part of the plot of the movie ''Film/{{Witness}}''. Amish boy Samuel witnesses them commit a murder. Later, the dirty cops descend upon the Amish community with murderous intent.
* In ''Film/SuperTroopers'', the Spurbury police officers (except [[TheChick Ursula]]) turn out to be in cahoots with the Canadian marijuana smugglers.
* In ''Film/{{CopLand}}'' corrupt cops from New York City have gone so far as to set up their own town in New Jersey.
* In ''Film/{{Changeling}}'', the Los Angeles PD engages in {{gaslighting}} a victim's mother, eventually verging on a [[TheConspiracy vast conspiracy]], to cover up their incompetence in mistaking the wrong boy for the kidnapping victim. Unluckily for them, the mother turns out to be TheDeterminator and they eventually get exposed. Frighteningly enough, this is [[TruthInTelevision strictly]] BasedOnATrueStory.
* In ''Film/{{Suffragette}}'', while technically the bad guy is the government, the policemen are the ones who beat the protagonists up, implying that they are not JustFollowingOrders but enjoy beating defenseless women, too. That they are no help when one of the protagonists is beaten blue and green by her abusive husband goes without saying; she doesn't even try to go to the police for help.
* ''Film/FaustLoveOfTheDamned'': Most of the cops turn out to be working for "M" and his satanic organization.
* The 2017 film ''Film/TheHouse'' has a cop as one of the 2 BigBad characters.
* ''Film/NothingButTrouble'': The state police are actually aware of [[HangingJudge J.P. Valkenheiser]]'s activities, but conspire with him to kill criminals who wriggled their way through the ordinary American justice system.
* ''Film/{{Dredd}}'': Judge Dredd and Anderson calls for back-up when their coms start working again, but the Judges who eventually show up (and relieve the real back-up) are actually hired by Ma-Ma to protect her drug operation.

* In line with his {{Anvilicious}} Libertarian philosophical leanings, Creator/DeanKoontz has played this card a few times. ''Literature/{{Intensity}}'' has a last minute revelation that the SerialKiller is a young rising star in a local police force, ''Dark Rivers of the Heart'' has a murderous FBI agent who kills people he feels are too good for the world, etc.
* PlayedWith in ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}''--it's not that the cops ''themselves'' are bad, but the main villains are a species of {{Puppeteer Parasite}}s, and all or most of the town's police seem to have been infested before the series began.
* In ''Literature/RoseMadder'', Rosie is afraid to involve police because her insanely abusive ex ''is'' a cop. She does find good cops who ''really'' hate guys like Norman, specifically because he gives them all a bad reputation.
* A bizarre example in ''Literature/TheInfected'' where the police aren't the main villains, but do several times try to murder the heroes or storm their base (a federal facility) without real consequences.
* In ''Literature/TheExpanse'' Miller notices the private security contractors on Eros Station have all been replaced by career criminals. This is the first clue that something big and horribly wrong is about to occur.
* In ''[[Literature/SonchaiJitpleecheep Bangkok 8]]'', it's an open secret that Sonchai's boss, Capt. Vikorn, is on the take. [[spoiler:He's also one of the people responsible for the death of Sonchai's partner.]]
* In ''Literature/HerculePoirot's Christmas'', the killer is revealed to be [[spoiler: Superintendent Sugden, the officer in charge of the case, who became a cop so that he could get away with killing his father, who he is an illegitimate son of.]]

[[folder: Live-Action TV]]
* The Vampires from ''Series/{{Being Human|UK}}'' have a lot of policemen among their ranks, because, well, someone needs to cover up all those bloodless corpses at crime scenes, right? Herrick and Fergus are examples.
* In the first series of ''Series/{{Damages}}'', the malevolent Bearded Man is revealed towards the end to be a cop.
* On ''Series/PersonOfInterest'' HR, an organization of {{Dirty Cop}}s, is a recurring villain and a major source of Numbers for the heroes to protect. They control crooked judges and prosecutors and have major ties to the Italian and Russian mobs. Even a major crackdown by the FBI does not stop them and they even go as far as recruiting actual mob members into the NYPD to bolster their ranks.
* In the first season of ''Series/HouseOfAnubis'', Patricia finds out that the cop she went to in hopes of getting help finding Joy is in on the mystery with the teachers. This only makes her more desperate and suspicious about what's going on.
* The BigBad of one season of ''Series/DesperateHousewives'' was a cop who was harassing his ex-wife and daughter, and even boasted that since most of the force were his friends there was nothing that his ex could do to stop him from killing her. [[spoiler: The housewives put a quick end to his schemes with some creative lying.]]

[[folder: Theater]]
* Right from the start of ''Theatre/LesMiserables'' the police are vilified, especially Javert, who hunts Valjean endlessly because he broke parol.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''[[Franchise/ShinMegamiTenseiPersona Persona]]'':
** In ''VideoGame/Persona2: Eternal Punishment'', it turns out that much of the Kounan Police Department is working for the evil government conspiracy, including its entire leadership.
** ''VideoGame/Persona4'': While most of Inaba's police are at worst merely incompetent, [[spoiler:the killer turns out to be detective Tohru Adachi, who abuses his position accordingly; when Taro Namatame calls him to tip the police off about the role of the Midnight Channel in the murders, Adachi uses the opportunity to manipulate Namatame into unknowingly attempting to commit more murders]].
** ''VideoGame/Persona5'', not to be outdone, has [[spoiler:''[[BadCopIncompetentCop nearly the entire Tokyo PD]]'' in CorruptPolitician Masayoshi Shido's back pocket, and being used in conjunction with the Yakuza as the muscle behind his scheme to rig the election for Prime Minister. Exactly ''one'' attorney is shown to not be obviously corrupt, and she quits in disgust after the others try to sweep Shido's corruption under the rug even after he confesses to his crimes ''[[ImplausibleDeniability on national television]]'']].
* ''Franchise/AceAttorney'':
** In case 1-2, Redd White apparently has most of the police department (and the prosecutor's office) in his pocket, meaning that Phoenix has nobody to turn for support except himself.
** And in case [[spoiler:1-5]], the villain is [[spoiler: Police Chief Gant, who orchestrated both Neil Marshall and Bruce Goodman's murders.]]
** In [[spoiler:5-4 and 5-5]], the villain is [[spoiler:a spy, though he's been impersonating detective Bobby Fulbright throughout the entire game.]]
* VideoGame/ThisIsThePolice has this in SPADES. Moonlighting as Mafia thugs? check. Thugs working as they Mayor's personal enforcers? Check. Murder? Depends on the player.
* In ''VideoGame/GrandTheftAutoSanAndreas'', The [=CRASH=] unit, especially [[BigBad Officer Tenpenny]], are corrupt to the core and essentially extort the player character while turning a blind eye to the gang violence they're supposed to be fighting against, preferring to just let the gangbangers take each other out rather than do any work themselves.
* In ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'', Arl Howe put his own handpicked men into the Denerim Guards, leading honest-cop Sergeant Kylon to lament;
--> '''Kylon''': I swear the Arl's men are more criminal than the miscreants we occasionally arrest; some of them ''are'' the criminals we have to arrest!
* In ''VideoGame/MaxPayne3'', [[spoiler: the UFE are the private army of a SleazyPolitician and in league with outlawed paramilitaries to do OrganTheft on the poor.]]
* While not actually a peace officer, the Purple Guy in the ''VideoGame/FiveNightsAtFreddys'' series gets [[Administrivia/TropesAreFlexible a similar reveal]]. How did a child murderer break into the local SuckECheeses and grab a mascot costume without the security guards seeing an intruder through the omnipresent closed-circuit cameras? Because he's a security guard himself. This also explains why the animatronics [[KillerRobot don't trust security guards anymore]].
* In the DLC of ''VideoGame/DarkestDungeon'', the trinkets for the Houndmaster (who is an ex-lawman, but not an example of this trope) show that the police force he was under were "in on it", including the sheriff, and had evidence to prove it. What they were in on was answered in his [[https://i.redd.it/j8o69fuclbjz.jpg backstory comic]]; they are members of the Flesh Cult worshiping the horrors below the manor.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In the ''Podcast/AliceIsntDead'' episode "Nothing to See," the {{Narrator}} learns the hard way that she'll get no help with her search for her missing wife Alice or against her HumanoidAbomination pursuer, The Thistle Man. Not only does a DirtyCop ignore her complaints and treat her as a nuisance, [[spoiler: he does so due to open familiarity with the Thistle Man, and chides her to do as he says.]] Later, she realizes the scope of the corruption and TheConspiracy as she endures an IncrediblyObviousTail by police car.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In the French cartoon ''WesternAnimation/Patrol03'', the chief of police is the BigBad and the titular cops are the only cops not in league with her.