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Flashed-Badge Hijack

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Phelps: LAPD! I need your car!
NPC: I pay the city all these goddamn taxes, and you have to take my car!?
— Typical exchange from L.A. Noire

The bad guy is fleeing the scene of the crime in a vehicle, and our hero officer is without his or her car at the moment. No problem, he just hops in front of the next car that comes down the street, flags it to a stop, flashes his badge, and commandeers the vehicle.

The occupants will either gladly surrender their car, or only offer token resistance, maybe a confused "Hey! What's going on?" as they are unceremoniously dumped in the street.

If the Hero can't convince them to give up the vehicle, or can't drive a stick, expect the person to become an all too enthusiastic participant in the chase anyway, as being able to ignore all road rules is a wistful fantasy to just about everyone.

This is, in fact, legal, though uncommon, in most of the United States, and if your car is damaged you're not likely to see any compensation for it unless it's totalled or unless you live in certain states. The Straight Dope has details. How quickly an officer can persuade a person to give up a vehicle is another matter.

See also Hero Stole My Bike, Follow That Car. If the hijacker doesn't actually have the authority to hijack the car, it's a Bavarian Fire Drill.


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    Audio Play 
  • Below Board in its second episode, when Detective Holloway effectively does this to the Panama Limited night train.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Gals!: In a chapter where Ran's mother is writing a parking ticket for Yuuya's motorbike. Then she sees Yamato chasing a bad guy who has Sayo with him. Ran's mother quickly takes Yuuya's bike to go after the bad guy and her children.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Exploited. Matarael's attack coincides with a city-wide blackout, leaving the military with no way to warn NERV. Hyuga, however, happens to be topside and hears about the situation from an overflying military airplane. As he is looking for a way into the Geofront, the political loudspeaker truck chooses that moment to show up, so he uses his authority as NERV's Bridge Bunny to commandeer it and drives right into the command center to warn everyone.

  • In Sluagh, Neville attempted to do this to a Muggle with his wizard Auror badge. It worked the first time as it was too dark to see the badge properly. The second time the Muggle assumed it was a joke until Neville transfigured a teacup into a gerbil in front of her.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In 12 Rounds, Danny uses his badge to commandeer a car waiting at the ferry port in an attempt to beat the ferry to its destination.
  • In American Gangster, Richie Roberts tries to get a taxi driver to give him his vehicle so he can follow a lead. The driver refuses, so Richie just knocks him out and takes the car while he's still unconscious.
  • Played for laughs in Armed and Dangerous (1986). John Candy's character resorts to this when his motorcycle won't start. He tries several times, but no one will budge, partially because he's only a security guard and not a cop. Finally, a truck driver lets him in and is more than happy to help.
  • Parodied in Bad Boys II when Martin Lawrence's character tries to commandeer a rundown car driven by Michael Bay and gets yelled at by Will Smith to get a better car than that. A second later they take a Cadillac that was being test-driven by Dan Marino.
    "Dan Marino should definitely buy this car. Well, not this one, 'cause I'm gonna fuck this one up. But he should get one just like it."
  • Corey flashes his FBI badge to commandeer a helicopter to chase the blimp in Black Sunday.
  • Brannigan. Even though he's way out of his jurisdiction as an American cop in London, Brannigan commandeers the car of some poor unfortunate local who's dragged along for a Car Chase ending with them crashing after Brannigan does a Ramp Jump over the Tower Bridge.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, after Bane's explosives go off, Blake commandeers another man's SUV so he can get to the hospital to save Gordon, due to Blake's police car having been flipped through the air and totaled by one blast.
  • In the comedy/thriller Foul Play, the good guy cop commandeers a taxi—as he tries to explain what's going on to the Japanese tourists in the back, the word "Kojak" registers with them and they thoroughly enjoy the chase.
  • The French Connection. When the gunman of a shooting aimed at Doyle (in which a mother with her child is killed) hops on a West End Line elevated train, Doyle commandeers a Pontiac Le Mans sedan, and chases the train, and the rest is history.
  • The Guest. Major Carver does this after his tires get shot out. He's driving an official-looking SUV with flashers, claims to be a military police officer, and even shows an official badge but is clearly doing a Bavarian Fire Drill as he's actually a private military contractor. Carver doesn't give the person time to think, just driving off leaving him sputtering in confusion (it helps that the man was already out of his vehicle at the time, having stopped to investigate a road accident).
  • Played for laughs in Hollywood Homicide, where Harrison Ford's character is in pursuit and tries the badge-flashing on a car driver — it doesn't work. He then resorts to hi-jacking a kid's bicycle.
    • Also, Josh Hartnett pulls his badge on a soccer mom and her kids and freaks them out because of how fast he drives.
      Van Family Son: We're gonna die! I know we're gonna die!
      Calden: Yes, actually. We will die.
      Van Family Mom: No, you're not gonna die!
      Calden: I don't mean right now.
  • A cop in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid commandeers an ice cream truck to distract the giant baby, Adam, while his dad gets the shrink ray ready.
  • In Lethal Weapon 3, Riggs does this to another cop to get his motorcycle, who lampshades how ridiculous it is that he's giving up his bike.
  • Lethal Weapon 4 played this for laughs during a foot chase. Murtaugh, unable to keep up with Riggs and their fleeing target, goes over to a guy with a bicycle, flashes his badge, and tries to commandeer the bike. The guy refuses to let go of the bike, and Murtaugh, having no time to waste, grabs a wad of 20-dollar bills from his pocket, shoves them into the guy's hand, then rides off. As soon as Murtaugh leaves the guy who was standing by the bike pockets the cash and calls out to an offscreen friend "Hey Johnny, somebody stole your bike!"
  • Live and Let Die. When Sheriff J.W. Pepper's car is totaled by a speedboat, a couple of Louisiana State Police roll up and have a good snigger. The Sheriff quickly wipes the smirks off their faces.
    J.W. Pepper: By the powers, invested in me, by this parish, I do hereby commandeer this vehicle and all those persons within. (spits) And that means you, smartass."
  • In Loaded Weapon 1, the detectives do this to commandeer a couple of bicycles (which promptly explode for no reason).
  • Also spoofed in the comedy film The Naked Gun when the car the cop commandeers is occupied by a student driver and instructor.
    • The doctor, under mind control, hijacks a car to get away first and exclaims "medical emergency!" before tossing the occupant.
  • Martin Lawrence pulls it off in grand style in National Security. His partner later attempts the same thing, only to be shut down by the Sassy Black Woman who owns the car. Bonus points for them not being actual cops but security guards. Hank, at least, is a disgraced former cop.
  • In Now You See Me, Alma does this to a guy, showing her Interpol badge and saying, "FBI ... sort of. I need your car."
  • The chase scene in Police Academy 6: City Under Siege was conducted with the cops in a commandeered monster truck. Luckily, one of them has driven one before... for his honeymoon.
  • When the guy who killed Billy's partner in The Protector steals a speedboat to escape him, he goes to the nearest one to do this. Its owner tells him to get lost instead, and he has to commandeer it at gunpoint.
  • RoboCop does this in RoboCop 3 with a pimpmobile. It doesn't end well for the car.
  • Done twice in one scene in The Rock. John Mason (Sean Connery) steals some rich guy's Hummvee to escape the FBI, so Agent Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) grabs the Ferrari right behind it. After a chase down the streets of San Francisco (which itself follows the Rule of Cool to the letter), the Ferrari gets crushed by a cable car, so Goodspeed then grabs a bystander's minibike.
    Guy on Bike: Whoa, dude. You just fucked up your Ferrari.
    Goodspeed: It wasn't mine. Neither is this. [steals the bike]
  • Subverted in Rush Hour when Carter tries to "borrow" a motorcycle, and the cyclist refuses, prompting Carter to shove him off and take the cycle.
  • Parodied in See No Evil, Hear No Evil when a bad guy pretends to be a cop and tries this. The driver of the car demands to see a badge. The bad guy just gives up and produces his gun instead. The driver gives up his car, complete with a whimpered "Please don't kill me."
  • Hilariously inverted in Sin City in which an Anti-Hero violently commandeers a police car in order to flee the scene.
  • Subverted in the movie So I Married an Axe Murderer, when a cop stops a passing motorist, but can't get him to give up his vehicle. He has to settle for getting a ride from the driver to the crime in progress.
  • Subverted a bit in Speed when the hero cop has to commandeer a sports car to chase the bus. The driver, thinking he's being pulled over for grand theft auto (since he's black in LA, this might not be a bad assumption), snarls that his car is not stolen. The cop, having no time to argue, responds by drawing his gun and saying "It is now!" before he takes the wheel.
  • In Speed 2: Cruise Control, the same guy ends up getting his boat commandeered by a member of the LAPD — in the middle of the Caribbean (the man points out how inherently absurd this is as it happens). But it ends better for him this time — not only is the boat still intact at the end of the movie, he ends up finding the parcel of stolen diamonds floating in international waters. He wouldn't get to keep them, but under international maritime salvage law, he'd be entitled to 10% of their value from the owners for their return.note 
  • In S.W.A.T. (2003), Hondo commandeers a limousine full of prom-bound teenagers to pursue French mob boss Alex Montel after he escapes custody.
  • Tango and Cash: Cash takes a guy's car this way, who loudly protests (especially after it gets wrecked in his chase with a suspect).
  • Subverted in a running gag of the original Taxi movie series, where the black comic relief cop can never get a car to stop for him.
  • Happens twice in True Lies even though Harry doesn't have a badge, due to being a secret agent, still invokes that his authority as a federal agent lets him do this. The first time is when he was chasing terrorist leader Aziz through downtown Washington D.C., Harry commandeers a horse from a mounted police officer to give chase when Aziz steals a motorcycle. The second time is that after finding out that the terrorists have kidnapped his daughter to use as a hostage with their nuclear warhead, Harry immediately commandeers one of the Harrier jets just used by the Marine Corps. when destroying the terrorists' trucks on the freeway.
  • Played for laughs in the movie Turner and Hooch.
  • The movie Vantage Point has a bizarre example, as the Secret Service agent confiscates a vehicle while in another country where he has no jurisdiction.

  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer40000 novel Brothers of the Snake, Space Marines hijack a Princess Royal's car. She tries to stop them until the Inquisitor who summoned them intervenes, and she runs off.
    • In other works in the 40K universe, an Inquisitor's rossette is possibly one of the most dangerous objects in the galaxy. Mainly because it gives them the authority to do pretty much anything they like up to and including forcing entire armies and fleets under their direct command or blowing up entire planets. This said, most of them are actually pretty careful in how they exercise such power.
      • To summarise, they can Flashed-Badge Hijack superheavy tanks, entire armies, even planetary populations, if necessary.
  • In Aaron Allston's Doc Sidhe, the hero does not have a badge. But he chooses a car full of college students and shouts, "I'm with the Sidhe Foundation, follow that car!" and they are so enthused at the thought that they do.
  • Averted in the novel Hannibal, when Clarice Starling witnesses Hannibal Lecter being kidnapped by Mason Verger's thugs and is unable to get a couple driving a car to even call for help. She spends the next few hours silently cursing herself for not throwing them out of the car and chasing the kidnappers herself.
  • In one Hoka story by Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson, the Hokas reenacting the Space Patrol take over Alex's courier ship. They solemnly explain that showing the Space Patrol badge entitles them.
  • Subverted in Jennifer Government where the eponymous agent tries to commandeer a car, only to be tied up in wrangling over how much she has to pay the owner for the right to use it (this being an ultra-capitalist society where the government isn't really taken seriously).
  • In The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma, this is inverted from the normal manner of things when Milligan, a special agent, actually hijacks a police car by flashing his superior credentials.
  • In Thud!, Vimes uses his badge to hijack a coach but, despite the coachman's enthusiasm for trying to leap the Ankh, is forced to abandon it and cross a bridge on foot, before Carrot shows up having hijacked a mail coach and taken a shortcut through a park. He's also, to Vimes's horrified admiration, closed two major roads to give them a clear run. And not to catch a villain, but because Sam Vimes, whatever else happens, has to read Where's My Cow? to Young Sam at exactly six o'clock.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Done at least twice per season on 24. In one case during season 6, Jack Bauer more-or-less carjacks a civilian, throwing him from his seat onto the ground and yelling "Don't get up" as he embarks on the chase. According to the "Jack Bauer Facts" the man is still there.
  • Rebecca does this in the Season 1 finale of Alcatraz.
  • In one episode of The Bill, criminals who are holding one of the police officers as a hostage get her to do this for them. Which was dumb, because the car's owner immediately contacts Sun Hill to find out what's going on.
  • Subverted in The Boys (2019) episode "The Bloody Doors Off". Billy Butcher attempts his Impersonating an Officer trick to requisition a car to take one of The Boys to the hospital. Even though the driver is entirely willing to help them, he's not willing to hand over his car to several strangers led by a so-called FBI agent with a British accent. Thinking he's being robbed or conned, the driver draws a gun and Starlight ends up killing him.
  • The 2016 Brooklyn Nine-Nine / New Girl crossover partly revolves around this trope. In the Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode "The Night Shift", Detective Jake Peralta flags down a car so he can pursue a fleeing perp, and the car turns out to be driven by Jess Day from New Girl, who is in New York for an unrelated reason (Jess demands Jake prove he's a real cop by naming one law. Jake says "Murder is illegal," which results in Jess admitting she set the bar way too low). The corresponding New Girl episode "Homecoming" shows the scene from Jess's point of view and then follows up on what happens to her after Peralta accidentally crashes the car during the pursuit.
  • The Coroner: Davey does this in "The Drop Zone" when he commandeers a dirt bike in order to chase a suspect who is fleeing on a quad bike.
  • Flack did it once on CSI: NY; hijacking a cab to chase the 'spy car' in "You Only Live Once".
  • Fraser did one of these with a horse and carriage in a Due South episode.
  • On an episode of Flashpoint a rogue cop steals a random woman's car and uses it to transport his prisoner to try and negotiate for his daughter's release. He fails, and the SWAT team rescues her anyway.
  • Forever Knight. In "Hunters", Don Schanke discovers that a Cop Killer knows the location of his family who are in hiding, and uses both his badge and gun to confiscate the first car that comes along.
  • Gotham inverts it, with no-longer-a-cop James Gordon hijacking a police car to go help Bruce Wayne.
  • The guys on Hustle do this pretty much whenever they need a lift. And they're not even cops. But they do usually have (fake) badges.
  • In the Korean Drama Iris, the cars are commandeered with pistols, but it still works.
  • Kung Fu: The Legend Continues: Peter uses his badge to take a mother's baby carriage in order to use it as part of an improvised disguise.
  • Done in the MacGyver (1985) episode "The Prodigal".
  • The Mentalist: In "Fire and Brimstone", Jane abandons Lisbon on a beach en route for his final confrontation with Red John. Lisbon flags down a car, flashes her badge at the driver, and commandeers the car to go after him.
  • Subverted in NCIS. In "Reveille" terrorist Ari pulls up alongside Kate on the street on his motorcycle, then zooms off after she's recognised him, knowing she'll commandeer the first car she sees to chase him. Unfortunately, it's full of Ari's mooks.
  • Person of Interest:
    • There's a different take on this when Detective Carter grabs someone's coat to dodge some CIA men who were following her.
      Carter: Sir, NYPD, I need your jacket now.
      Civilian: You're requisitioning my jacket?
    • Ex-government assassin Sameen Shaw does her own unique version in "God Mode".
      Shaw: Police business, ma'am.
      Driver: [suspicious] Let's see your badge.
      [Shaw fires her gun into the pavement. Driver flees.]
      Shaw: New Yorkers...
  • In the first episode of Power Rangers Time Force the Pink Ranger attempts to do this but the man in question refuses (perhaps law enforcers are no longer authorized to do this in the year 3000). However, the Yellow Ranger (who possesses superhuman strength) quite literally throws the man out of his car and the Rangers take it anyway.
    • Their superior had relieved them of their duties, so it's possible that had they flashed their badges this would be revealed anyway.
  • The Professionals. In "Blind Run", Bodie requisitions a houseboat to help Doyle and the people with him to flee a group of assassins, and as it's a 'deniable' operation he can't even show his CI5 warrant card. The woman who owns the boat isn't happy when it's shot full of holes, so Bodie promises to compensate her, only to forget her phone number in all the excitement.
  • Played humorously in an episode of Psych. After Shawn and Gus get a lead on Lassiter's stolen car, Lassiter calls for action. Shawn and Gus teasingly remind him he has no car at the moment. Lassiter laughs along with them, then says "Oh wait. I just got a new car. (flashes badge) Yours!"
  • The Real Hustle once showed how con artists would dress up as police officers and do this to steal people's cars. The guy they did it on did show some resistance, but mostly confusion. After a few seconds of protests, the con artists were behind the wheel and driving off.
  • The Judoon Captain tries this on an Earth police car in The Sarah Jane Adventures. He gets away with it, not because the police recognise his authority, but because he's a seven-foot rhino-person with a ray gun. He fails to realise this, and thanks them for their cooperation as they run.
  • Scorpion: Cabe and Walter pull one on the freeway after Cabe's car is totaled in "Rogue Element".
  • After one of his teammates is captured in Stargate SG-1, Lt. Colonel Mitchell commandeers a man's motorcycle to give chase. The man was even nice enough to give Mitchell his helmet.
  • Supernatural. Sam has to grab a taxi this way when rushing off to stop the Monster of the Week, only he's too drunk to drive. Unfortunately the cabbie is an old guy who believes in sticking to the speed limit...
  • Played with in one episode of Time Trax where two baddies steal Darien's wallet (with his badge inside), then steal a car by pretending to be cops & flashing the badge.
  • The cast of Torchwood can hijack anything and not just cars, simply by flashing a badge and shouting "Torchwood!" That's a very well-known secret organization.

    Other Sites 

    Video Games 
  • APB: All Points Bulletin and its rebrand, APB: Reloaded have this as a staple method of acquiring a vehicle for Enforcers. The civilians offer little resistance beyond sarcastic and snide comments, probably due to the fact that your character is likely packing enough heat to fight a small gang war, and likely on his or her way to do just that.
  • Your superhuman cop in Crackdown commandeers cars by tossing the original driver onto the street then driving off. One of the bug reports asked why he throws the occupant when he has a legal right to commandeer the car, the response was, "he's not that kind of cop."
  • The Space Marine Grey Knights in Dawn of War: Dark Crusade acknowledge an order to board a transport with "In the name of the Inquisition, we commandeer this vehicle!".
  • Grand Theft Auto IV features this as well. If you disable a cop's car, the driver and his partner will gladly grab the nearest vehicle available. Somewhat amusing being chased by two cops in a minivan.
    • Or on a Faggio.
    • The GTA cops aren't completely with it; sometimes they fight over the vehicle.
    • In Vice City, the military bizarrely allows the local sheriffs (or at least you in a stolen uniform) to drive away with their stuff.
  • L.A. Noire, the player character does this to commandeer occupied cars. Unoccupied cars he will just steal without flashing his badge. Hilariously, this works even when you play as Jack Kelso, who is an insurance investigator... and you can do this to cops in a squad car!
  • In LEGO City Undercover, Chase is able to flash his badge and blow a whistle to make cars stop, and taking a car from someone else is always accompanied by Chase saying it's for police business.
  • If you press the Taunt button while standing in front of a car in Scarface: The World Is Yours, Tony Montana will sometimes lie about being an undercover cop to convince the driver that he needs their vehicle.
  • In the Year of the Snake DLC in Sleeping Dogs (2012), Wei can do this if he wears a cop uniform.
  • As the cops in the video games True Crime: Streets of LA and True Crime: New York City you do this constantly with witty comments.
    Nick Kang: My name is Nick Kang, and I'll be your carjacker today! The city of Los Angeles appreciates your cooperation.
    Marcus Reed: I'm sorry. [drives away] NO I'M NOT!

  • A Miracle of Science: Subverted in the first major action sequence, when it looks like the protagonists are going to have to resort to this but the immensely powerful groupmind AI that one of them is connected to finds a less contentious solution: Contact the owner of a nearby parked motorbike and offer him a lot of money to let them borrow it.

    Western Animation 
  • Played with in The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Law":
    Donut Cop: I can commandeer any vehicle I want!
    Gumball: Any vehicle?
    Donut Cop: Anything.
    [scene changes to the Donut Cop, Darwin, and Gumball on a kiddie ride]
    Gumball: Ugh, I guess I can't complain. It is a spaceship.
    • Later Donut Cop plays this trope straight to steal a car, after totaling his own police car.
  • American Dad!:
    • In one episode of, Stan proclaims "Official CIA business" to do this to a woman and her sports car. He grabs her and tosses her out of the car, then drives off. A moment later he returns and throws her wheelchair out next to her before driving off again.
    • In another episode he jumps into the back of a black SUV and orders the driver to Follow That Car. After a Beat, he realizes:
      "Wait, this is my car. Even better!"
  • Played with in the Family Guy episode "New Kidney in Town". Lois is pouring out Peter's supply of Red Bull when it causes a daisy to mutate, stop a car, claim "Official flower business" and drive off.
  • Happens all the time in Fillmore! with bikes, scooters, and, in one case, a floor buffer.
  • Parodied in Rugrats when the babies are going through a car wash, Chaz Finster hijacks the truck next in line and flashes a picture of himself with Chuckie saying "This is an emergency, I'm a dad!".
  • In "The Simpsons Spin-off Showcase", while there was no badge flashing, Chief Wiggum commandeers a docked airboat by kicking the driver into the water and shouting "police business" (The man he kicked was a fellow police officer).
  • MacArthur pulls this to steal a tractor to chase a rabbit during the Australian episode of Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race.
  • We Bare Bears: Parodied in "Our Stuff", when Grizzly tries to commandeer a taxi... with a parking ticket with the letters "FBI" written on the back. Naturally, it doesn't work.
  • Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? often has Zack and Ivy borrow civilians' vehicles, but never without showing their ACME badges to the owners first.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: Most states have laws that allow law enforcement officials to commandeer civilian vehicles, though the owners can refuse with minimal consequences (technically, the consequences are there, but they're unenforced). In addition, owners have the right to be compensated for the use of their vehicles, up to and including any gas used and damage sustained, though often, it doesn't happen (certain states, like Texas, are more likely to enforce right of compensation). The Supreme Court has limited the situations in which the police may do this. It's not something a cop can do whenever they feel like it. They will need to document the situation and their justification for doing so in detail afterwards, as such an action will be scrutinized by their superiors for potential abuse of authority and likely opening up the department to possible legal action from the car's owner. So while a law enforcement officer legally can take your car, it very rarely happens in real life due to the paperwork and liability involved.


Video Example(s):


MacArthur Uses Police Badge

The Police Cadets struggle to hail a taxi, so MacArthur uses her police badge to get one.

How well does it match the trope?

4.89 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / FlashedBadgeHijack

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