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Da Chief

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"I'm sick and tired of making excuses for you two! You're an embarrassment to the department! You're off the case and off the force. Your badges, your windbreakers, now."
Abed Nadir, Community

This is the eternally put-upon superior of an organization police department. They are always strict and by-the-book but can be comfortably relied upon to give a good Arson, Murder, and Lifesaving-style speech. You can always expect them to say that you have twenty-four hours or demand that you Turn in Your Badge, usually at the top of his formidable voice. They frequently worry that the mayor or district attorney will have his ass (and pension) for whatever destruction the Cowboy Cop caused. They will occasionally prove to have a heart by giving his men an inspirational speech. They are the police department equivalent of A Father to His Men. Of course in the By-the-Book Cop's case, Da Chief would do the exact opposite.

He is rather flexible in terms of laying down the law and views the By-the-Book Cop's attempts to find a solution with minimal violence as counterproductive and expects zero negotiations with criminals or terrorists while gladly accepting the Cowboy Cop's methods if it means nabbing the most notorious. However, he will be quite proud of the cop if he meets up to the expectation stating how he found someone's idealism of justice pulling through and knows when to reel in the Cowboy Cop when they go too far.


Depending on his milieu and personal tastes, he may be sporting a mustache, wearing suspenders (belt braces), a pistol in a shoulder holster, or a cigar firmly planted in a corner of his mouth. Frequently (though by no means always) Da Chief is a Reasonable Authority Figure, but just as frequently they are a Mean Boss. Sometimes a Private Detective will have him as a Friend on the Force. If they are not friends of the main characters/group, then they are usually The Neidermeyer and exist only to have their authority stepped over while they bluster. Originally, the Da Chief was Always Male but has since seen more variety such as a woman, ethnic minority, or some combination thereof.

Compare Da Editor, who has a similar plot function and personality (and many times appearance), but is the boss of the Intrepid Reporter. Frequently overlaps with Mean Boss and Beleaguered Boss.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • The anime Dominion Tank Police plays with this; The Chief is eternally furious with his subordinates for not being ruthless enough in the pursuit of evildoers.
  • A very unusual Chief is Aramaki from Ghost in the Shell. He's a short elderly man known for his kindness and wisdom who never raises his voice or carries a gun. But he's also a Magnificent Bastard whose work consists mostly of dealing with all the red tape and the general political mess of the Japanese national security forces so his agents can do their work. He's also totally unflappable under pressure. When a group of half-witted robbers take him hostage, he openly berates them for the "mistakes" they make while committing the crime.
  • Sector Chief Andrew F. Gooley holds the unenviable position of direct superior to the Dirty Pair. In the desk drawer where many other Chief types would keep a flask they can swig disapprovingly from, he keeps a very large bottle of antacid.
  • Lt. Dastun from The Big O has a relationship like this with protagonist Roger Smith, mostly because Roger used to serve under him in the Military Police, and old habits are presumably hard to shake.
  • The Chief from Fake has to deal with both Dee AND JJ whining at him on a regular basis. His bark seems to be worse than his bite though - Dee refers to him as a "baby seal" at one point (and is promptly yelled at for it, naturally).
  • Eclipse from Kiddy Grade. She's also got G-class superpowers on par with Eclair and Lumiere.
  • Chief Todo from Bubblegum Crisis.
  • Kachou (literally "Section Chief" in Japanese; translated as "Chief") in You're Under Arrest!. Word of God has that Kachou is his real name (written differently, of course), it's just a coincidence.
  • Captain Goto in Patlabor. Really, though, anyone above the rank of Officer follows this trope — all the Labor crews are mavericks. He subverts this at the same time, as he was originally assigned to Special Vehicles Section 2 for... being too damn smart for his own good in the past.
  • Silent Möbius has two: Rally Cheyenne started as chief of the AMP, but eventually got promoted upstairs, at which point Mana Isozaki took over direct control.
  • Kosaka from Witch Hunter Robin, to some extent (more of an Obstructive Bureaucrat).
  • Naruto: Tsunade, with Naruto in the role of the Cowboy Cop who plays by his own rules. Like wearing orange.
  • Digimon Savers: Captain Satsuma is intimidating just by his appearance alone: factor in his deep voice (in both versions!) and the fact he raises his voice when he gets pissed means he didn't get his nickname of "Oni no Ikkatsu" (lit. 'The Demon's Thunderous Roar') for nothing. When Masaru, Tohma and (by circumstance) Yoshino all broke the rules in episode 5? You didn't get in trouble, but you're lying if you didn't shrink back in your seat when he first hollered "YOU IDIOT!!"
  • Detective Conan has Inspector Juzo Megure on the police force that fits this trope in form, if not in function. Megure's own boss, Superintendent Kiyonaga Matsumoto, also fits in whenever he appears. And if we go to the Osaka Police Department, the role is filled in by Heizou Hattori (in charge of investigations and paperwork) and specially by Ginshirou Touyama (in charge of field operations).
  • Over Justice of Space Patrol Luluco is just as much this as he is a By-the-Book Cop, to the point where he's just as likely to sentence his own men for very minor offenses in rapid succession. Midori takes his place when he's promoted to commander of the Space Patrol in the epilogue.
  • Fuse the Blumund Guildmaster in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, though police work is just a part of his duties, as only a part of the whole Adventurers class is employed as a police. Still, he's a clasic By-the-Book Cop and Reasonable Authority Figure, though he has it somewhat easier in that his local boss, the kingdom's Prime Minister, is his childhood friend. His other boss, the Guild Head Yuki Kagurazaka, qualifies as well.

    Audio Plays 
  • Below Board has Captain Aldridge, who frequently acts as a cynical foil to the idealistic protagonists. He's a subversion of what this trope usually means, since he isn't a By-the-Book Cop, and is in fact more than willing to break the rules to serve his view of justice.

    Comic Books 
  • Commissioner James Gordon fits this trope in relationship to his subordinate police officers, however not in relationship to Batman, who is not under his authority.
  • Maria Hill back when she was director of S.H.I.E.L.D..
  • Captain Cross in Powers has his cigar-chomping moments.
  • Many Chief Judges in Judge Dredd have served this role, cigar-chomping optional. Dredd himself takes on this role during The Pit arc, where he is (reluctantly) made Sector Chief for Sector 301.
  • Commissioner Smirnov from Blacksad often takes on this role for both the officers under his command and the titular Private Detective, despite the latter not really being under his authority (they're old friends and have a lot of mutual respect). A classic Reasonable Authority Figure example, and willing to bend the law in the names of enforcing its spirit rather than the letter.

    Fan Works 
  • Captain Sean Morley fills this role in the pro wrestling alternate universe story, The Horsewomen OF Las Vegas, as Bayley and Alexa Bliss's boss. He has stalled out in the police department, largely stopped caring about the job and just logging time until retirement.
  • Ultra Fast Pony: In "Stay Tuned", Sir Lintsalot, Rocky, and Mr. Turnip take turns in the role of the superior who pairs Pinkie with a partner she doesn't like and threatens to make Pinkie turn in her badge if she can't get results.

    Films — Animation 
  • Zootopia: In a World of Funny Animals, Chief Bogo is a gruff, no-nonsense cape buffalo and rather unhappy about the Mayor's Mammal Inclusion Initiative that foisted the bunny Judy Hopps into his precinct dominated by megafauna. It doesn't help when Judy, eager to prove herself, starts acting like a Cowboy Cop on her second day. However, Bogo turns out to be a more nuanced version of the trope; he's a Reasonable Authority Figure towards people who have proven their merit, and despite his apparent cynicism he's still a firm believer in A World Half Full.
    Bogo: The world has always been broken. That's why we need good cops... like you.
  • Osmosis Jones, which depicts cartoon white blood cells as a police force, naturally has one to chew out the titular Cowboy Cop. The guy's first line is ordering Jones into his office.
    Chief: 78 trillion cells in the body all working together, you're the only one who thinks he can do it alone!

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Pink Panther: Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus, actually attempted to kill his unrestrainable officer, Jacques Clouseau, when his antics got out of hand.
  • As played by Frank McRae:
    • Last Action Hero: Parodied in the form of Lieutenant Dekker, who delivers what is possibly the quintessential Turn in Your Badge speech — a two-minute-long tirade which rapidly degenerates into shouted gibberish (involving — among other things — Ferraris, the California Raisins, and The Diary of Anne Frank) while steam erupts from his ears and his office windows shatter.
    • Da Chief in 48 Hrs. and Another Forty Eight Hrs
    • The Police Chief of Loaded Weapon 1. The chief not only devolves into shouting gibberish "If you embarrass this department, your pants will be dancing with figs. Is that clear?". He also shouts when he's complimenting his agents or otherwise not angry with them. It's even lampshaded and invoked:
    [Luger is yelling about wanting the case]
    Captain Doyle: Wait a minute! I'm the captain here! I do all the yelling! But if it's that important to you, take the damn case!
  • Die Hard: Deputy Chief of Police Dwayne T. Robinson in the first film, Airport Police Captain Carmine Lorenzo in the second film and Captain Walter Cobb in the third film. Interestingly, Da Chiefs get more likable with each movie; Robinson is a total Neidermeyer, Lorenzo starts as a Jerkass but steadily comes around, while Cobb is a classic Reasonable Authority Figure from the start.
  • James Bond: M, particularly in Licence to Kill, Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace.
  • Parodied in So I Married an Axe Murderer, in which a police detective character expresses dissatisfaction that his job is not more like the movies — partly because his boss, far from the trope, is a pleasant, amiable and good-natured administrator with an easy-going temper. In fact, the chief is so amiable, he tries to help out by pretending to be infuriated. It's rough going at first, but he does improve. When the detective gives examples from movies such as the "commissioner is on my ass", the chief patiently explains that he doesn't report to a commissioner but to a panel.
  • Captain Murphy from the Lethal Weapon series, though he regards Riggs and Murtaugh's antics with weary exasperation, as opposed to always yelling at them like most examples of this trope.
    Murtaugh: Captain, it's a shit assignment.
    Murphy: You know what? I don't give a fuck, okay? That's why I don't have an ulcer, cause I know when to say "I don't give a fuck."
  • Beverly Hills Cop:
    • Inspector Todd is Axel Foley's boss in the Detroit Police Department. He gives Foley a hard time about his Cowboy Cop activities, tells him not to get involved with the investigation into Tandino's death and warns him if he does he's out of a job and up on charges. Todd was played by Gil Hill, who really was a Da Chief in Detroit.
    • And when Axel gets to Beverly Hills, he runs afoul of Da Local Chief in Lieutenant Bogomil, who really does run things by the book and is constantly being ridden by Chief Hubbard.
    • The incompetent and rude Chief Lutz in Beverly Hills Cop II.
    • And yet when Todd is murdered in Beverly Hills Cop III, Axel once again goes rogue to bring down his murderer.
  • The one from Exit Wounds. Notable because he punishes Steven Seagal's character for saving the Vice-President's life in a shoddy manner. Because in real life nobody is ever honored nation-wide.
  • Bon Cop, Bad Cop has the extremely entertaining Capitaine LeBoeuf, who gives an epic Turn in Your Badge rant, with RAEG turned Up to Eleven, to a stoned Dave.
  • Lieutenant "Mac" McMahon in Speed. This one is more active than most; whether whether he is guiding the booby-trapped bus from a chopper, or riding on a speeding flatbed truck with only one handhold to keep pace with the bus. Either way, he is the kind of calm and collected chief a hero cop needs in this crisis.
  • Captain Howard in Bad Boys.
  • Chi(ef) McBride played one in Undercover Brother. The Chief's very first interaction with Undercover Brother is a relentless browbeating typical of this trope despite the fact that they'd never even met.
    Chief: Where the hell have you been?! This is a job, not some kind of damn summer camp! And I'm tired of you disrespecting me! Give me one good reason why I shouldn't fire your sorry ass!
    Undercover Brother: Because I don't work for you?
  • Commander Camparelli in Flight of the Intruder.
  • A staple of Dirty Harry movies. They range from reasonable (Bressler from the first movie) to incompetent (McKay from the third movie and his Captain Ersatz, Briggs from the fourth). Subverted in Magnum Force where Da Chief is actually the Big Bad.
  • Miller, who is Elaine's gruff superior at the police station in Angels Revenge. He doesn't approve of the Angels' hijinks or Elaine's involvement, but he eventually warms to the idea—when the Angels bring the captured drugs to his office while in their bathing suits.
  • Averted completely most of the time in the Police Academy movies. Commandant Lassard is one of the sweetest guys on the force, and he's far more competent than he seems. Although, the Trope is played very straight whenever Captain Harris takes over, which has fortunately always been temporary. The trope is also played straight with Commissioner Hurst, who tends to chew out everybody over their hijinks.
  • Ed O'Neill's character, Detective Paul Selitto, in The Bone Collector. Quite a shocker for those who know him only as Al Bundy.
  • Completely averted in Super Troopers, where Captain O'Hagan is a good-natured chief who constantly closes his eyes to his state troopers' hijinks. Even when they start a fight with Captain Grady's local cops, O'Hagan is more annoyed at the bad timing than infuriated at the fight itself (he hates Grady and his goons as much as his troopers). It's heavily implied that, in his rookie days, he was just like his men.
  • The Police Captain in Se7en trying to moderate the protagonists. He's surprisingly low key, especially as he's played by R. Lee Ermey, a man famous for screaming rants.
  • Chief Clark in Alligator is another subversion, coming across as fairly intelligent and sympathetic.
  • The police captain in Showtime who forces Robert De Niro's character (a By-the-Book Cop) to participate in a reality show after he shoots a TV camera. When a botched attempt at capturing the Big Bad results in a car chase and damage to the city, this is when the captain becomes Da Chief, chewing out both De Niro's character and his on-the-show partner played by Eddie Murphy (a patrol cop who wants to be a TV cop) and taking them off the case. When the latter asks the captain if he wants his gun and badge, the captain just tells him to get out of his office.
    • Earlier in the film, a typical scene is shown where some police chief chews out Eddie Murphy's character. This turns out to be an audition.
    • Interestingly, the captain says nothing after Mitch and Trey start a fight with the Big Bad in a club. Probably because an arms dealer isn't likely to invite scrutiny by filing charges against cops, especially with a camera following them.
  • R.I.P.D. features a rather snarky female one at that.
  • The chief in Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh yells, throws office supplies, and tries to shoot Sweeney and Joe.
  • "The Chief" in Split Second (named Trasher according to the credits), who spends most of his time trying to rein the violent and snarky Harley Stone in.
  • Runaway: Played by G.W. Bailey, known for playing the equally acerbic Captain Harris in Police Academy. Not that the Chief of the Runaway Squad (who hunt malfunctioning robots) doesn't have cause for tearing strips off Sgt. Ramsey, as bad guy Charles Luther keeps getting away and police officers keep getting killed. Amusingly, it's also inverted at one point with Ramsay chewing the Chief out about a botched stakeout.
  • Atlantics: Detective Issa is supervised by a gruff older man with a mustache who frequently questions his work ethic and capability, and threatens to take him off the case.
  • In Cradle of Fear, By-the-Book Cop Chief Inspector Roper is worried that his subordinate Inspector Neilson is in danger of becoming a Cowboy Cop, especially when he receives reports of Neilson's unorthodox techniques, such as touching the dead bodies. However, he is also concerned about the stress Neilson is under in trying to solve murders in one week, puts up with his foul mouth, runs interference between Neilson and the higher-ups, and is extremely sympathetic when Neilson's son is killed. Neilson actually feels regretful when he has to knock Roper out in order to finish the case.
  • Lieutenant Bergin from I, Robot is a bit more gentle than average, but otherwise ticks all the boxes. He's caught between trying to placate his higher-ups and reign in Detective Spooner's fanatical devotion to digging at an inconvenient case and/or hating robots.

  • Apparatus Infernum has Gunwood, the protagonists' boss at the Criminal Investigation Division — right down to effectively telling them to Turn in Your Badge. However, his frustration with the protagonists is not so much because they're indulging in Cowboy Cop behaviour as because he's under huge pressure from high up to produce a result soon. Behind the shouting, he's more of a "A Father to His Men" model.
  • Julius Root from Artemis Fowl. While he definitely has the screaming, red-faced strict disciplinarian side to him, he's also a great mentor and heads into action when the time comes though this backfires eventually.
  • Discworld:
    • Commander Vimes shakes the formula up a bit; he's a main character in his own right and has some definite Cowboy Cop tendencies, because if a "To Be Lawful or Good" dilemma comes up he picks Good every time. The Patrician has commented that maintaining an anti-authoritarian attitude while actually being authority is "practically Zen", but it's not really authority per se that Vimes has an issue with, just hereditary privilege and other forms of authority acquired without earning it; Vetinari made him the Duke of Ankh at least partly because he finds the ensuing paradox rather entertaining.
    • The Patrician sometimes fulfils the role, though. Especially when he makes Vimes turn in his badge. (Pratchett has said on the newsgroup that, in American cop show terms, the Vetinari/Vimes conversations are closer to the never-seen conversations that lead to Da Chief telling the Cowboy Cop "The mayor is riding my ass on this one!")
    • And Vetinari, being the Chess Master and Magnificent Bastard that he is, has on multiple occasions acted like Da Chief, specifically to trigger Sam's Cowboy Cop nature. This allows him to reap the benefits, while everyone including Vimes himself thinks it was his idea, and thus all the power players blame Vimes for the trouble (which, to be honest, he probably enjoys more than their praise).
  • Grijpstra and de Gier series by Janwillem van de Wetering: The Commissaris, a superficially sweet, elderly man with a pet turtle.
  • A Harvest of War: Cynetryth Payne, chief of the Draeze Provosts (police, fire brigade, closest thing to a military). She also tries to be a By-the-Book Cop.
  • In Isaac Asimov's Caliban the protagonist is the chief of police, and occasionally feels the need to play up this trope. Even as he's shouting about how his trigger-happy officers only avoided ruining everything because they can't even shoot straight, his internal monologue notes that he deliberately doesn't soundproof his office so his subordinates can hear him blow up.
  • The Jules Verne thriller Master of the World has Mr. Ward, a high-ranking police chief who sends the book's Lead Police Detective hero out on his missions.
  • Matthew Hawkwood: Chief Magistrate James Read fills this role in the novels, although he relies on a biting wit to keep in charges in line.
  • An invoked in Jasper Fforde's Nursery Crime books, true crime stories are hugely popular, and many police procedures are determined purely on the basis of how good a story they would make. As a result, the main character's boss always behaves like a traditional Chief, knowing full well that he is fulfilling the stereotype. It is explicitly stated that he makes a point of suspending his officers at least once in every investigation.
  • Shaman Blues: Gardiasz has recently started to act like this towards his "agents" (magicals dealing with afterlife), keeping close tabs on them and constantly telling Witkacy not to do anything high-profile.
  • Harold Peters Inskipp, commander of the Special Corps, in Harry Harrison's SF novel The Stainless Steel Rat and its sequels.
    • The first time "Slippery" Jim diGriz (the titular Rat) meets him, it takes him a second to make the connection between the authoritarian head of the Special Corps (whose name is not public knowledge) and legendary criminal "Inskipp the Uncatchable". The two are, of course, one and the same.
  • Tortall Universe: Lord Gershom of Haryse is a medieval version in the Beka Cooper trilogy. He's quite a Reasonable Authority Figure, actually, and walks a beat with his Dogs after every Dog funeral, but he doesn't tolerate insubordination or corruption above the acceptable level. Then he comes down hard.
  • Unique has Lieutenant Sanchez, in charge of the actual police and NOT in charge of the Veiðimaðr. To his considerable consternation. Fortunately for him, the Feds DO have some authority over Helga and Jan.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The title character of Barney Miller, usually a By-the-Book Cop who had to deal with a lot of weird cases and headaches when one of the squad (usually Wojo) would go Cowboy Cop. Although he always tried to deal with things with an even temper and a healthy does of perspective, he did lose his temper several memorable times. Also, a Recurring Character was Barney's own superior (technically) Deputy Inspector Franklin D. Luger, an old-school, out-of-touch cop who rarely took much initiative. (He was encouraged not to.)
  • Chief Supt. Gordon Spikings in Dempsey and Makepeace.
  • Averted on Dexter with Lt. Laguerta for the most part, but select scenes with Sgt. Doakes fit the trope fairly well. Played straight with Captain Matthews, Laguerta's superior (though Matthews has been rarely seen since the second season).
  • Hill Street Blues has Captain Frank Furillo, who's usually a Reasonable Authority Figure with incredible patience and an iron grip on his temper but can and will chew on a subordinate's ass with the best of 'em if needs be, albeit in an understated Tranquil Fury fashion that's probably a lot more effective than yelling. The city's actual Chief of Police sometimes ends up playing this role for Furillo himself, usually because Frank has made him look bad by insisting on upholding the law no matter how many powerful people he has to annoy in the process.
  • The Chief in Get Smart (he had a real name, but only the occasional guest character used it). Less responsible for handling a Cowboy Cop than a Genius Ditz, but it results in the same amount of frustration and headache.
  • Lieutenant Al Giardello from Homicide: Life on the Street. Though he will often go out of his way to protect his men, he is not above disciplining them if necessary. While pleasant and certainly a mentor figure, he also takes a certain joy in his power. That being said, however, Giardello is frequently seen in the series as a renegade commander, and, in fact, much of his screen time and story lines tend to revolve around his battles with his own DaChiefs, which include, over the course of the run, Captain - later Colonel - George Barnfather, Colonel Burt Granger, Deputy Commissioner James C. Harris, Captain Megan Russert, and Captain Roger Gaffney. In fact Yaphet Kotto has played a great number of police chiefs over the course of his career - so much so that he was made a honorary police captain.
  • Captain Caine in Hunter considered the title character a dangerous loose cannon and Cowboy Cop and threatened to take his badge. His successors as captain were more tolerant of Hunter (because they recognized a good cop when they saw one) but would often be frustrated by his liberal attitude to the regulations and do their best to keep him in line.
  • Averted in the Austrian seasons of Inspector Rex, but in the Italian seasons there is Filippo Gori, who often scolds his team, especially the main inspectors, and wants the cases to be deemed as closed as soon as possible even if the real murderer has not been discovered.
  • JAG: Admiral Chegwidden had this role for nine seasons, before retiring at the end of season 9. General Cresswell was the final season replacement.
  • Rawls and Burrell both gleefully embody this role on The Wire. Cedric Daniels also rises through the ranks to become the head of the department at the end of the series, before realizing he doesn't want to be at the head of such a flawed police department. the fact that he immediately starts getting blackmailed doesn't help. He quits and becomes a lawyer.
    Burrell: This is Baltimore, Gentlemen. The gods will not save you.
  • Chief Clifford in McCloud. As a big-city New York Chief of Detectives, his conflict with the Wild West, New Mexican ways of the title character, a literal Cowboy Cop, provided much of the show's drama.
  • New Tricks: Sandra Pullman — although the show plays with this by showing Pullman's boss, who is even more uptight and rules-conscious than her, and who just as often chews her out as often as she chews her subordinates out.
  • Superintendant "Horn-rimmed Harry" Mullett in A Touch of Frost.
  • Lieutenant Castillo in Miami Vice.
  • Chief Sinclair on CSI: NY
  • Captain Ed Hocken in the Police Squad! TV series and The Naked Gun films.
  • The Chief in Funky Squad.
  • Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? and Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego: A rare female example is Lynne Thigpen's character, 'The Chief'. In the earlier episodes of the first series, the quizmaster Greg would come into her office Once an Episode for a sketch where he would play the role of Cowboy Cop, even if he didn't act like one at all the rest of the time.
  • In the Lost episodes "Collision" and "Two for the Road," Cowboy Cop Ana-Lucia's vexed captain is also her mother.
  • In the Law & Order franchise:
  • General George Hammond from Stargate SG-1. In addition to reining in Colonel O'Neill, he also acted as the parent who broke up the bickering kids when the team argued, and never failed to stick up for them, especially in O'Neill's case as his snarking and 'screw the man' attitude almost got him kicked out the Air Force on more than one occasion.
  • NCIS:
    • Another female example was Director Jenny Sheppard, whose relationship with Gibbs was complicated by the fact that he had seen her in stocking suspenders, the two having had an affair.
    • Leon Vance replaced Sheppard. He fits the role of Da Chief perfectly, including the being black part. He also has a tooth pick in his mouth; you can't smoke in the NCIS building.
    • Thomas Morrow was Director of NCIS in Seasons 1 and 2. Nowadays he's Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Until his assassination in Season 13.
    • Gibbs briefly took on the role of Acting Director in the absence of Vance in Season 16, who had been kidnapped.
    • And later episodes have the Secretary of the Navy, who the NCIS director reports directly to, playing a larger role in the series.
      • That was the case long before with parent series JAG, where the head of that organization also reported to the Secretary of the Navy, who was a recurring character from season 3 and onwards.
  • Captain Trunk from Sledge Hammer!, whose complete inability to rein in his loose-cannon subordinate reduced him to a neurotic wreck. Catch phrase: "HAMMER!"
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: Admiral Maxwell Forrest, Starfleet Chief of Staff.
  • The Bill. The CID heads and the Superintendents:
    • DCI Jack Meadows for CID.
    • DI Manson also for CID.
    • DI Burnside for CID.
    • DI Galloway for CID.
    • Chief Superintendent Charles Brownlow
    • Superintendent Tom Chandler (until he went crazy and killed himself)
    • Superintendent Adam Okaro (who was black)
    • Superintendent John Heaton
    • Superintendent Jack Meadows
  • Colonel Potter in M*A*S*H is all to aware he's in charge of a company of eccentric doctors and nurses in a warzone who really don't want to be there. He keeps them mostly in line with a tough-but-fair approach and a willingness to bend the rules if the situation called for it.
  • Captain Dobey in Starsky & Hutch.
  • Colonel Tigh in Battlestar Galactica. He was actually second-in-command to Adama, but it was his job to chew out the crew for their screw ups so that Adama could be A Father to His Men. Tigh himself said in an early episode that in the men liked their XO, then he wasn't doing his job.
    • Adama became this on the occasions when someone really screwed up and a regular chewing out wouldn't do.
  • Sergeant Brown in The Unusuals.
  • Chief Warrant Officer Michael Garibaldi of Babylon 5 is a rare combination of Da Chief and Da Cowboy Cop.
  • Parodied in Garth Marenghis Darkplace. Hospital supervisor Thornton Reed is written as the standard cantakerous old boss, yet due to the Bad "Bad Acting" of the person playing him is anything but.
  • A Saturday Night Live skit introduces the south of the border equivalent of da chief, "El Jefe." EL JEFE!!!
  • SSA Aaron Hotchner, of Criminal Minds, especially in Seasons 3 and 4 after Rossi shows up. (See, in particular, episode 4x17 "Demonology". with both the Bureau and the State Department riding Hotch's ass.) Except in Season 5 after Foyet's attack, Hotch seems to be turning into the Cowboy Cop, putting former enemy Erin Strauss in the role of Da Chief.
  • Rescue Me has Fire Chief Jerry Reilly, eventually replaced by Sidney Feinberg and Needles Nelson.
  • U.S. Marshal Art Mullen on Justified fills this role.
  • Subverted on The Shield by Captain (later Councilman) David Aceveda. While he was often frustrated by the antics of the cowboy cops under his command(Vic Mackey in particular) and provided many of the elements this trope requires, on multiple occasions he himself was involved in illegal or illicit activity and occasionally veered into cowboy cop territory himself.
  • Community:
  • The X-Files: FBI Assistant Director Skinner is more reserved than the classical archetype, but he fulfills pretty much the same function to Mulder and Scully: giving them 48 hours to solve a case, wearing suspenders, and generally being a Reasonable Authority Figure who has their backs when the going gets tough.
  • Simon Banks of The Sentinel. He's A Father to His Men, he wears suspenders, smokes cigars, usually has on a shoulder holster, and always has the mayor up his ass. He can be hard-nosed, but at the same time he gives Ellison a lot of leeway (like letting him be followed around by an Anthropology student). Really, all he needs is a moustache.
    • Having your best detective be a human crimelab would close a lot of cases, unless you actually had to go to court, that is.
  • In The Good Guys, lieutenant Anna Ruiz fits the trope description perfectly, which fits the show's concept as a parody of cop shows. She did sleep with Dan, though, but all women sleep with Dan.
  • In Reno 911!, Lieutenant Dangle is a parody of this trope. He appears to fit the trope pretty frequently, but he's also shown to be... well... many, many unsavory things.
  • The Shadow Line has Patterson, Jonah Gabriel's boss, who spends much of the series chewing Gabriel out and discouraging Gabriel from further investigating Harvey Wratten's murder. His boss, Commander Khokar, is another, more hostile example. However, both of them subvert the by-the-book part of the trope when they turn out to be working for Counterpoint.
  • Blue Heelers has Senior Sergeant Tom Croyden, though a straighter example would be the recurring Inspectors Monica Draper and Russell Falcon-Price.
  • Inspector Thatcher and Lt. Walsh on Due South.
  • Several undersheriffs take on this role in CSI with Mobley and Atwater in the earlier seasons, and later McKeen and most recently Ecklie.
  • City Homicide has Detective Superintendant Waverley, and Detective Senior Sergeants Stanley Wolf and Terry Jarvis. Matt Ryan takes on this role after being promoted to Sergeant.
  • Not a police show, but in Neighbours Senior Sergeant Allan Steiger took on this role when Stuart Parker joined the force.
  • The same applies to Sergeant Darren McGrath in Home and Away when Peter, Jack and Charlie's work is the focus.
  • The Closer and Prime Suspect are notable for having one of these as the main character (Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson and DCI Jane Tennison, respectively), though both have their own Chiefs: DCS Michael Kernin and Assistant Chief Will Pope.
  • Lennart Brix in Forbrydelsen is another of the more cerebrally threatening and less noisy versions of this character type.
  • Lieutenant Virginia Cooper for the first three seasons of New York Undercover then Lieutenant Malcolm Barker season four.
  • Lester in Primeval.
    • Don't ever tell him he's nicer than he looks and acts. He'll threaten to sue you for defamation.
  • Psych has Chief Karen Vick.
  • Captain Ray Holt in Brooklyn Nine-Nine: while not loud or high-strung, he's a stone-faced hardass who makes it his mission to rein in the goofy Detective Jake Peralta. As the show progresses, Jake goes from seeing him as an arch-enemy to a Parental Substitute. This being a comedy, Holt also gets plenty of Not So Above It All moments.
  • Jack Crawford in Hannibal. As in the original Thomas Harris books and their better-known film adaptations, Crawford is head of the FBI's Behavioral Sciences unit, but the TV version fits the role of Da Chief better than any other.
  • Captain Roy Montgomery in Castle to an extent, although he is a bit more complex than that. After his death saving Beckett (who manages to catch a near fatal gunshot at his funeral!) in the Season 4 finale, he is replaced by Captain Victoria "Iron" Gates, whose officious attitude is later subverted when its revealed that she figured out that Castle and Beckett were in a relationship and doesn't care provided they keep it discreet.
  • A more refined version in Lewis with Chief Superintendent Jean Innocent. She would often warn Lewis and Hathaway against offending high-status and/or rich suspects in their investigations and at one point does threaten Hathaway with being returned to uniform, although Lewis gets her to back down.
  • A uniform version of this is Sgt. 'Mac' MacDonald on Adam-12. He's the supervisor of whatever watch Pete and Jim happen to be working and since they're more By-the-Book Cop types, he's a more positive version of the trope. Occasionally, the Captain and Lieutenant have also shown up when things got bigger than him.
  • Murdoch Mysteries:
    • Inspector Brackenreid to Murdoch and the rest of Station House 4.
    • Brackenreid's superior, Chief Constable Stockton. Since Murdoch is very much a By-the-Book Cop, Stockton tends to exert pressure on him and on Brackenreid to make a quick arrest or back off of VIPs, never mind the evidence.
    • Stockton's successor, Chief Constable Giles. Like his prececessor Stockton, he tends to show up when Murdoch is investigating important cases, usually warning Brackenreid and Murdoch to be discreet and not stir up too much trouble. And he hasn't forgotten Murdoch's role in Ava Moon's escape from jail and implies that any further slip-ups will cost him his badge.
  • Police Commissioner Frank Reagan from Blue Bloods is a reasonable one and also a protagonist example. Lieutenant Sid Gormley is a straighter example, as Frank's Cowboy Cop son Danny's supervisor and supporting character up through season 5, when he's promoted to a spot as an advisor on Frank's staff.
  • Daredevil (2015): Season 3 gives us Tammy Hattley, Special Agent in Charge of the New York FBI field office's Organized Crime unit. She is in charge of the FBI agents who are assigned to protect Wilson Fisk, including Ray Nadeem and Benjamin "Dex" Poindexter. Unbeknownst to anyone, Fisk has blackmailed her into working for him by killing one of her kids and threatening to kill the other one.
  • Luke Cage (2016): Priscilla Ridley is the Inspector assigned to the 29th Precinct, where Misty Knight works, and to whom Misty answers after her previous captain, Betty Audrey, gets booted out in the fallout from Detective Scarfe's death.
    • In between The Defenders and Luke Cage season 2, Ridley gets promoted to a Deputy Chief post at One Police Plaza, and Misty gets a new boss in the form of Captain Thomas Ridenhour, a tough but fair boss who happens to be secretly using Shades' best friend Comanche as an informant, and happens to be a high school sweetheart of Mariah Dillard's, although he's not actively in her pocket. Things go horribly wrong for him when Shades follows Comanche to a meeting with Ridenhour. Comanche kills Ridenhour in an effort to protect his cover, but Shades kills him for his betrayal. Following Ridenhour's death, Ridley ends up coming back to the 29th to function as Misty's interim boss until a replacement captain can be found.
  • The Defenders (2017): In between Betty Audrey and Thomas Ridenhour, Misty's boss at the 29th Precinct is Captain Strieber, another tough but fair boss who butts heads with Misty as she gets dragged into Matt, Luke, Jessica and Danny's investigations of the Hand. Some time between The Defenders and the start of Daredevil season 3, Strieber gets moved to the 15th precinct, where we see him in charge of the NYPD cops that respond to Dex's assassination attempt on Karen at the Clinton Church.
  • Burnistoun: One sketch that parodies the Police Procedural features a burly, mustacioed police detective who's the head of the team. He's no-nonsense and determined to get to the bottom of it. Once he realizes that his detectives are all serial killers, he orders them to lock themselves into cells, which they do reluctantly.
  • Happens in an episode of Poirot, of all things, in the episode "The Chocolate Box" which deals with Poirot's early days when he was a police officer in Brussels. Poirot continues to investigate a death that is ruled by natural causes and gets chewed out by his boss for looking into an influential man who is well on his to being the next mayor of Brussels. Later after Poirot is caught breaking into another suspect's house his boss orders him to apologize to the suspect.
  • Assistant Director Ward in The FBI. However, as his agents are By-the-Book Cops, he seldom has much in the way of trouble to deal with.

  • One of the Beastie Boys played this role in the music video to "Sabotage".


  • The Director of the Bureau of Balance in The Adventure Zone: Balance has very little patience for the adventurers' antics, constantly just trying to get them to stay on point and booting them out of her office immediately after giving them their assignment.

  • Bill Bailey does a riff on this trope on the Cosmic Jam DVD of his one man stage show.

    Video Games 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney:
    • Police Chief Damon Gant is a friendly chap who keeps inviting people to go swimming with him. He's also a blackmailer and a murderer.
    • Phoenix refers to Mia as 'the Chief'.
    • The first three games feature a literal background character in the form of the head detective, who seems a total slacker, forever watching Asian soap operas and having Internet conversations with 1337aZnPrInceSz.
  • Pursuit Force: The character of the Chief from the PSP game series is an intentional homage/parody of this character type; appropriate, as the Pursuit Force series itself is an unashamed homage/parody of the "cowboy cop action movie" genre in general. Though he's not openly antagonistic towards his team, he's a grumpy hardass who's constantly riding them to get results. He's also got some hilarious comments in the case of outright failure:
    Chief: What, have you got wax in your ears!? I specifically told you not to die!
  • In Mass Effect, Executor Pallin fills the role for resident Cowboy Cop Garrus Vakarian in C-Sec, complete with the traditional "Your investigation is finished!" argument. In a broader sense, since Shepard is a Spectre, a galaxy-wide space cop/spy/special forces hybrid, whenever Shepard reports to the Council they tend to chew her/him out regardless of what (s)he does.
  • In Dragon Age II, Aveline Vallen is this after becoming the Captain of the Kirkwall City Guard, especially since she has to remove all traces of the corruption in the ranks fostered by her predecessor. Her interaction with a Sarcastic Hawke tends to fall into the traditional dynamic between Da Chief and the Cowboy Cop, although Hawke is not part of the guard and merely an independent contractor hired for outside work.
    Aveline: Not now, Hawke!
  • True Crime: Streets of L.A.. The police chief is pretty reasonable, but the FBI chief fits this trope to a T.
  • In the Sonic the Hedgehog series, Vector the Crocodile of the Chaotix Detective Agency plays with this: he doesn't work for any sort of government authority and is not bound by their rules, but he still insists his two employees (and Charmy in particular) behave themselves and appear professional so they can get the job done and look good for their clients, despite being quite unprofessional himself. Once the job is finished, however, they have no qualms about beating the tar out of their client if they were tricked or unpaid.
  • In L.A. Noire, since you're constantly being transferred to different departments, you cycle through a number of Chiefs, but they all warn you to be on your best behavior.
  • LEGO City Undercover gives us Chief Marion Dunby, whom is an egotistical, grumpy old man. However he isn't all that bad and will admit to making a mistake.
  • Chief Inspector Geoffrey Miller from The Mystery Of The Druids is a pretty straight example as the unfortunate boss of our Designated Hero, Brent Halligan. His Turn in Your Badge declaration happens off-screen, though, and has to be relayed to Brent by another character.
  • In Fallout 4, a terminal in a police station has an entry written by one of these, complaining about all the Cowboy Cops under his (supposed) command. Of course, the poor bastard was three days from retirement when the bombs fell.
  • Scrapland: The Chief of Police of Chimera is a corrupt example. Sure, he's the chief, but he cheats at poker, beats up robots who try to blackmail him, is the Mayor's thug, and helps him traffick stolen weapons, vehicles, and engines.
  • Chicken Police: Bloodboyle is a racist who can't stand protagonist Sonny Featherland. On the other hand, he is unbribable, Sonny worries about what will happen to the city when Bloodboyle retires, and Bloodboyle congratulates Sonny when he cracks the case.

    Web Animation 
  • Homestar Runner: Dangeresque has an oppressive boss who constantly yells at him for breaking the rules.

    Web Comics 
  • Assistant Director Liefeld of El Goonish Shive.
  • Marty and Zip's reaper boss from DDG has definite elements of Da Chief about her.
  • The Order of the Stick plays with this trope.
    • In the Cliffport arc, there is a character in the Cliffport Police referred to only as chief, and he superficially resembles the trope with his cigar munching ways and his tendency to combine cliched lines with D&D jokes. One the other hand he doesn't have any Cowboy Cops to oversee, and is one of the only two sane and competent officers in the entire squad.
      Chief: The mayor is so anxious for us to close this case, you'd think he put max ranks into Ride (My Ass) skill!
    • At one point, Tarquin offers to fund an entire league of adventurers, so that Roy can be given this role and Elan can become the main protagonist.
  • DOUBLE K, being Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann in the form of a buddy-cop show, gives this role to Lord Chief Genome. And it is as awesome as it sounds. Meanwhile, the neighboring precinct has Dayakka as Da Chief, but he turns out to be a Deconstruction, as his own Cowboy Cop — Kittan — is not only his brother-in-law (preventing him from firing him), but also so batshit crazy and obnoxious that Dayakka is willing to commit perjury and risk his entire career just to get the guy reassigned as far away from him as physically possible.
    "Shut up, Detective."
  • Dinosaur Comics: The Utahraptor in this guest comic
  • Axe Cop gets Axe Chief in a guest episode.
  • Augusgus, the Director of the 20th from Tower of God. Though in truth, he is actually a FUG agent, so he's a subversion.
  • 2 Michael from Kill Six Billion Demons is the oldest incarnated Angel in Throne and fulfills this role, though he trades in the yelling for frighteningly-quiet lectures, as well as being a lot more mean than most examples. He also turns out to be a great deal more manipulative, intelligent, and morally ambiguous than most examples; he's personally involved in one of the multiple, competing conspiracies surrounding the Key of Kings, openly admits that he is really using them for his own ends, and generally gives the sense of knowing much more than he lets on.
    Not all acts of evil are foolish, White Chain. And not all acts of good are wise.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • A CollegeHumor parody, "Where the Fuck is Carmen Sandiego", exaggerates the live-action TV series' chief to the logical extreme of this trope.
  • Mr. Mendo, as Sgt. Slaughter, acts as one to The Cinema Slob in a review.
  • Parodied in Tough Justice, starring one of the leads from Downton Abbey as a Born in the Wrong Century detective.
    Chief: Goddammit, Tough! City Hall's up my ass because you barged in there with a horse and buggy, you choked a man with your corset, and then you took a 3-hour break for TEA!!
  • "Dad Cop 2", a live-action short from Jason Steele that serves as a comedic deconstruction of cop movie cliches, features a police chief becoming increasingly agitated at the protagonist (whose name is Dad Cop 2) because of his incompetence. It culminates with Dad Cop 2 spending $7,000 worth of airfare trying to find the suspect in a murder case, and when the Chief shouts at him (in a very bad French accent) that he's off the case, Dad Cop 2 reponds by shooting the Chief in the face with a shotgun. It later turns out that the Chief was the actual suspect in the murder case, he was actually a woman the whole time, and survived being shot in the face because in addition to wearing a bulletproof vest she also had a "bulletproof face".
    Dad Cop 2: I just shot the chief of police in the face. That wasn't a good idea.
  • In Roller Samurai Vampire Slayers, Darma Blade, Sam Hell and Jake Hell's boss, devolves into Angrish screeching while telling off Samantha that they are behind on their vampire-slaying quotas.

    Western Animation 
  • The Chief in Action League NOW!, with a case of No Name Given. Particularly irate in that his men (and Thundergirl) are often incompetent and cause massive chaos WITHOUT getting the job done.
  • Commander Joseph Walsh from Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. Voiced by the same guy as Stargazer. The Series 5 team is always just on the borderline of acceptability. His rival, Obstructive Bureaucrat (and Jerkass) Senator Whiner, is always looking for an excuse to shut the whole thing down. Still, Walsh knows that if he gives his Badass Crew 24 hours, they get the results. He and Zach both trade off on A Father to His Men moments, too. In Walsh's case, it's a bit more literal, as Shane actually is Walsh's biological son.
  • In Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?, The Chief (as he's called), is a living computer, and in this case, he's a little nutty.
  • In Batman Beyond, a now-elderly Barbara Gordon had her father's old position, and she was far more reluctant to work with Batman (meaning Bruce and Terry) than he was, at least at first.
  • In The Batman, Gordon didn't appear until the last episode of Season Two. Until then, the one who would qualify would be Chief Rojas, a Jerkass type and a Mean Boss to the other police, who considered Batman as much of a threat as the villains he fought.
  • A key component of Assy McGee.
  • Junior Comissioner Vallejo in Fillmore! fits this trope perfectly.
  • Chief Quimby from Inspector Gadget. While not being much of a blowhard himself, he nevertheless suffers greatly from Gadget's bumbling.
  • Lin Beifong, daughter of earthbending champion Toph, is the chief of the Republic City metalbending police in The Legend of Korra. She cares nothing for Korra's Avatar status, especially since the first thing Korra did in the city was smash up a street, and even less so when she tries to relate to her by way of Toph being her previous incarnation's mentor (Lin... doesn't get along with the rest of her family).
    • She proves to be less by the book, however, when she decides she's going to track down Amon and her missing metalbenders even if she has to go outside the law. Not quite as by-the-book as she first appeared.
    • And later still she mounts a rescue operation with her niece and mother, which allows them to finally get along after years of bitter resentment (and one of the funniest rage faces known to man).
    • Her replacement Saikhan is a straight By-the-Book Cop. He follows orders, even if they're unethical and from people whose sanity can be called into question. He still has the city's best interest in mind.
  • Millionaire heiress and police chief Pizzaz Miller of Moonbeam City tries to keep her city's incompetent and childish cops in line with outlandish threats and frightening glares, usually with mixed success.
  • Commander Stargazer in SilverHawks. He'd be out there with the rest of them, though, if he weren't an older model, and therefore not powerful enough to take on the Mob alone. He's rather fatherly towards the Hawks, particularly Quicksilver and Copper Kid.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The family watch a show about a Cowboy Cop called McGarnagle, a beautiful parody of this trope (and a parody of Clint Eastwood, most specifically Dirty Harry).
    Da Chief: You're off the case, McGarnagle!
    McGarnagle: You're off your case, chief!
    Da Chief: [perplexed] What... does that mean, exactly?
    Homer: It means he gets results, you stupid chief!
    • And of course there's McBain's chief in one of his films where he's going after his arch foe (MENDOOOSSSAAAAAA!) Amusingly enough, he has the exact same character design as McGarnacle's Chief. The only difference is the hair color.
      McBain: But Captain, I can't avenge my partner's death with this pea-shooter!
      Chief: I don't wanna hear it, McBain. Tha-that cannon of yours is against regulation! In this department, we go by the BOOK!
      [holds up book of regulations...which McBain promptly blows a hole through]
      McBain: Bye, book.
  • The South Park episode parodying cop shows/movies has a chief constantly yelling at the boys for collateral damage, frequently repeating the phrase "The Mayor is gonna have my ass!" This eventually devolves into "The ass...bleh bleh BLEH!" The fun part was that the boys were completely innocent about the collateral damages. All times it was just that they happened to end up in the middle of different gang-fights.
  • In Tangled: The Series, the Captain of the Royal Guard not only is The Captain, he also adopts this role when he is interacting with Eugene, who acts like a Cowboy Cop. The captain hired him to teach the Guards how to think as a thief in "Fitzherbert, PI", The captain fires Eugene and Lance when they lost the thieves they were guarding at Big brothers of Corona (even when Lance never was hired) and, after King Frederick (The Mayor) suggest he would hired them both, the captain gives Eugene his job back. With the rest of the guards, the Captain shows respect, and treats Cassandra very well when he asiggns her to investigate Feldespar dissapearance in Painter's block.
  • The animated Plastic Man pilot had Archie Bronson fill in this role perfectly, despite actually being the titular character's parole officer.

The mayor's gonna have my ASS!!!


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