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Good Cop/Bad Cop

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Hawkgirl: Standard interrogation technique. I was Bad Cop.
Superman: You're always Bad Cop.
Hawkgirl: Well, why play against type?

A type of Perp Sweating frequently used in Crime and Punishment Series.

One cop behaves in a very threatening and menacing way towards the suspect, while the other appears sympathetic, helpful and protective. The suspect is expected to be cooperative with the "good cop."

Sometimes the Genre Savvy suspect makes fun of this technique. Thus, an increasingly common variation is known as Bad Cop/Worse Cop, which is based on a reversal. The first cop behaves menacingly and threateningly, and the second cop appears initially to be sympathetic then, usually in a whisper, indicates his partner and tells the perp, "He's the good cop," before revealing a far harsher and more threatening attitude toward the perp. In the end, they're just two sides of the same coin, even if one is the "lesser evil".

Two cops arguing about who gets to be the Bad Cop is a common extension of the trope. It's also not too uncommon for the good cop to have to physically keep the bad cop away from an uppity suspect, whether genuinely or as part of the act. And in comedic works, a single character might try to be the good cop and the bad cop.

This is Truth in Television. It's a classic interrogation technique, but in real life the Bad Cop doesn't need to threaten to beat a confession out - they may simply point out all the nasty things that will happen if the suspect doesn't come clean, while the Good Cop is the one to remind the suspect of the pros of being helpful, and make offers of lighter sentences and making deals with judges. Even so it is usually only used on naive and frightened suspects, because cooler heads tend to recognize it.

A Sub-Trope of Gentle Touch vs. Firm Hand. Not to Be Confused with the Canadian film Bon Cop, Bad Cop. See also The Easy Way or the Hard Way, Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough and Rude Hero, Nice Sidekick.

The Other Wiki has an entry on Good Cop / Bad Cop.


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  • Played for Laughs in one Haribo commercial, where the good cop and bad cop are a pair of children, the perp is their father, and the charge is eating their Haribo. The bad cop routine isn't quite as scary when it's a five-year-old girl screeching "SIGN THE 'FESSION!" (though it still works on the father).

    Anime & Manga 
  • Muhyo and Roji: Jyo acts quite polite to the pair when they're called in for questioning about a disappearance, while his partner is less trusting. Muhyo suspects that it's just an act and he doesn't believe in magical law. It turns out that Jyo is desperate enough to solve the case that he would trust them, and was being sincere.
  • Pokémon the Series: Black & White does this in one episode, with Cilan and Meowth in the respective roles, trying to interrogate the current Monster of the Week: a Scrafty.
  • Gintama takes this to eleven when they combine it with 'Carrot and Stick' and invert good/bad and carrot/stick to accommodate the twisted mind of a sociopath. You see, to a serial killer, the goodness of the good cop will come off as offensive. One person has to be the bad cop and offer him the 'carrot' and then follow that up with a personality change into good cop and offer the 'stick' - because serial killers prefer sticks to carrots. Follow?
  • Similar to the Pink Panther example below, Gargoylemon of Digimon Fusion attempts to be both the good cop and the bad cop, alternatively threatening the captured heroes and offering them DigiNoir. Humorously, they're so busy eating they don't even notice.
  • Invoked in the anime adaption of Log Horizon. Shiroe played bad cop to Krusty's good, and it's all done very intentionally. Shiroe explains he intentionally invoked this trope by name to Minori, who realizes it's all a front. She's worried about him as a result; he's less concerned.

    Comic Books 
  • In one volume of Paul Chadwick's comic series Concrete, two police detectives interrogate suspects about a suspicious accident on a movie set. With the first suspect, they do the routine perfectly, with one cop getting angry at the suspect and the other cop trying to cool him down. Then they go and interrogate the second suspect, and do the routine again, except with the cops playing the opposite parts. You can tell whose turn it is to be bad cop because he's wearing his gun in the interrogation room.
  • In an issue of the X-Men spinoff X-Factor, during one of its Darker and Edgier periods (in the 90s, of course), two of the team members confront a villain and mention they'd considered playing Good Cop/Bad Cop, but neither of them wanted to be the "Good Cop". Unfortunately for them, the attempt at intimidation is a total failure and the bad guy gets away.
  • Believe it or not, a reverse situation was done once with Captain America as the Good Cop, of all people, in a six-issue Spider-Man story called "The Assassin Nation Plot". When trying to find Sabertooth (who had just murdered the prime minister of Symkaria) Cap and Silver Sable track him to a group of sleazy thugs in Latin America. After trouncing them, Cap tries to get the leader to talk, but the crook knows Cap's reputation and says he wouldn't hurt him. Then Silver points a gun at him and says "Yes, he won't." The guy quickly starts to talk. (It's doubtful Cap would have actually let her shoot him, but the situation was rather dire.)
  • Most of the partnered cops shown in the Gotham Central comics series fall naturally into this routine.
  • In Batman: Earth One, Gordon and Bullock "interrogate" a criminal on the location of Gordon's daughter with a crowbar and a baseball bat.
    Axe: So what's this going to be? Good cop, bad cop?
    Harvey Bullock: C'mon Axe. I get it now. This is Gotham City. It's bad cop, bad cop.
  • In Powers, The Stoic and hulkingly huge Walker is the good cop and tiny and cute Deena Pilgrim is bad cop. In fact, after her 10-Minute Retirement when she comes back and starts beating on an accomplice to a murder, the rest of the cops comment on how good it is to have her back because apparently no one else could play bad cop like her.
  • In a special issue of the The Punisher, Frank Castle once helped one Ax-Crazy Italian hitwoman (a villain from a previous special) get revenge on a mob boss that had taken her daughter hostage. At one point, they interrogate a few mooks. Despite Frank's tendencies, he's shocked by the role he takes in the discussion.
    Punisher: I don't believe it. We played classic Good Cop/Bad Cop scheme. And I was the good cop.
  • Batgirl:
    • Invoked in Batgirl Year One. When Batman wants to learn the new Batgirl's secrets he drags her into the Batcave and tries to unmask her. When she tells him off, he walks out, leaving her guest to Robin, who is considerably friendlier.
      Alfred: And just what do you call this morality play unfolding beneath us?
      Batman: It's a classic. Good cop. Bad cop.
      Alfred: And I trust that Master Richard is the 'good cop'?
      Batman: Why else do you think he wears the bright colors?
    • Batgirl (2009): The Bad Cop/Worse Cop routine was invoked in the 6th issue of the series.
      Batgirl: Just shut up and follow my lead.
      Robin (Damian Wayne): Why do you get to take the lead?
      Batgirl: Because we're gonna play this "Bad cop, worse cop."
      Robin: I get to be worse cop!
      Batgirl: Attaboy.
  • The Transformers: Animated comic The Stunticon Job has Sideswipe and Cheetor respectively, but both try to be the bad cop.
  • In the UK, this tactic is often called Mutt and Jeff, after the American comic strip of the same name.
  • The Sandman (1989) has a talking raven and a reincarnated nightmare killer running a good cop bad cop interrogation on the Norse god Loki. It's that kind of series.
  • A Daredevil issue introduces a new variant: Bad Cop, Giant Monster.
    • A 2002 team-up issue with Spider-Man had Daredevil and Ben Urich performing a variation of this. Urich went into a bar to gain information about a kidnapped girl. When the guy pulled a gun on Urich, Daredevil shows up to intimidate the information out of him. Urich's dialogue suggests this is not the first time they've pulled this act.
  • Parodied in an issue of Adventure Time: Candy Capers. Peppermint Butler deputizes Tree Trunks and Marceline as members of the royal guard to investigate the disappearance of Finn and Jake, and the sweet-natured Tree Trunks insists on being the "bad cop" just because it's something she's always wanted to do. She's surprisingly good at it, but Marceline is not so keen on being shoe-horned into the role of "good cop".
  • Subverted a couple ways in X-23: Target X: While interrogating X-23 throughout the framing story, Captain America of all people plays the bad cop, with Daredevil as the good cop. A second subversion is that it's not an act. Steve sees Laura as a merciless, remorseless killer responsible for the deaths of hundreds, and he's genuinely belligerent and hostile towards her, in large part because he blames himself for allowing her to kill so many peoplenote  Matt, by contrast, genuinely believes in Laura's innocence because of the circumstances of her creation, and takes a much more compassionate and supportive position while questioning her.
  • In The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye Whirl, an ex-cop, catches one of the little enemy robots running away, and without being asked, simply beats him up in private until he promises to answer the questions of the other Autobots. Whirl's tendency toward police brutality is, in fact, revealed to have been the reason for the start of the entire Cybertronian Civil War. He brutally beat Megatron when the latter was arrested following a bar brawl. This convinced Megatron, who up until then was an Actual Pacifist, that violence really was the best means of achieving social change.
  • Subverted in Supergirl storyline Day of the Dollmaker. Someone is kidnapping the Metropolis' children, and Catherine Grant suspects Toyman may be involved. Hence, she blackmails Supergirl into playing "bad cop" to her "good cop" when she goes to interrogate Toyman. However, Cat's idea of playing "good cop" is being harsh and intimidating, whereas Supergirl's "bad cop" is plainly violent and threatening.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Done twice in Kyon: Big Damn Hero. Once with the Bad Cop/Worse Cop variant and again with Good Cop/Bad Cop.
  • The Tenchi Muyo! fanfic Galaxy Police Files 1: Bad Cop, Bad Cop plays with this trope first by parodying it and then making it scary. The bubbly Mihoshi plays Bad cop while the surly Kihone plays Good Cop (Mihoshi would have broken down crying if Kihone didn't let her be the Bad Cop). They proceed to act out the worst performance of Good Cop/Bad Cop in the history of the universe (not that the perp would have talked even if they'd done it perfectly). When the interrogation fails, Mihoshi points her laser gun at the perp and says that she might as well kill him if he won't talk. The perp thinks she's bluffing... until she fires at him, the only thing saving his life being Kihone knocking off Mihoshi's aim. What really convinces the perp that Mihoshi is a Rabid Cop is when Mihoshi tries to kill her own partner (all without losing her bubbly disposition). At this point the perp breaks down and tells them everything they want to know.
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic Fire Burns, Katherine and Robert pull this off superbly:
    Davasham:You're the bad guy and you go giving me all the sarcastic lines and everything right. And then the girl comes in and she's the 'good' guy right. And I'm meant to talk to her and trust her and everything-
    Robert: What the hell are you on about?
    Davasham: You're the one who acts all tough-
    Robert: Me? You think I'm the nasty one? Believe me, Mr. Davasham, compared to her, I'm a saint. You do not want to get on her bad side. Unfortunately for you, however, you already are.
  • The Last Seidr: When Harry and Fawkes first arrive in the MCU (mere minutes before Loki arrives and brings the building down), Fury tries to get information out of the kid by slightly scaring him (although he doesn't touch him in any way). Unfortunately for him, Harry's grown up around adults treating him that way, and doesn't tell him anything he wants to hear. The next person to talk to Harry is Agent Coulson, who brings the kid food, thanks him for getting Nick Fury to safety when Loki attacked, and complimenting Fawkes. Harry is much more willing to speak with him.
  • Quite common in fanfics for The Sentinel, especially when they make the 6'2"/220 lb. ex-Ranger Jim the 'good' cop and the 5'9" long-haired anthropologist Blair the 'bad cop'.
  • Finishing the Fight: Keyes and Drizzt do a fairly spectacular version when interrogating Luskan prisoners, though Bad Cop Psychotic Cop might be a better description. Drizzt has Guen drag a prisoner into another room, makes him scream once before knocking him out, and then plays recordings of the scream and randomly throws in bouts of maniacal laughter for good measure. Keyes threatens the other prisoners both with him, and with a truth serum that might "melt their brains" if they don't talk to her.
  • Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race has this briefly in episode 12, though it doesn't get them anywhere.
  • In A Sirius Matter Harry and Sirius pull this on Slughorn to get him to reveal how many Horcruxes Voldemort planned to make.
  • In Passageways Alastor Moody's the bad cop to Amelia Bones' good cop.
  • Pokémon: The Lost Child: In Chapter 7, Prinplup and Grovyle have this dynamic. Grovyle keeps threatening the information out of the Pokémon they are interrogating while Prinplup tries to get him to stop doing so. At first, Grovyle seems to be winning, but his methods end up giving them bad information.
  • In Harry Potter and the Winter's Child several members of the Order of the Phoenix go to question the Dursleys and Alastor Moody asks if they're going to play "good Auror/bad Auror."
  • In Harry Potter and the Invincible Technomage Harry and several of his friends do it after being captured by the Kree, with Hermione playing good cop.
  • The Rise of Darth Vulcan: When Vulcan is imprisoned in the Canterlot dungeons and being interrogated, Celestia plays good cop while Luna is bad cop. Vulcan calls them out on this, though he actually has to explain the trope to Luna.
  • RWBY: Reckoning had Darrel Conway and Velvet Scarlatina pull this on Sky Lark, in order to get info about Cardin's interactions with Yang.
  • Done by a single Time Cop trying the two different approaches in sequence in Strange Times Are Upon Us. Agent Lucsly tries first a threatening tone to get Brokosh and Ba'wov to talk to him, then tries the "I'm just doing my job" angle. Brokosh doesn't bite and demands a lawyer.
  • Chapter 23 of A Hollow in Equestria has Ulquiorra and Princess Celestia using this routine on a captive changeling to try and extract what Chrysalis has planned.
  • In a chapter of Shadowchasers: Conspiracy, Jalal tries to interrogate a rather stubborn prisoner - Aysis, a demonic bounty hunter - about what has happened to Karen. Aysis notices he's brought Dolores with him and assumes this is a Good Cop Bad Cop method, laughing at the prospect. However, she's wrong; it's Bad Cop Worse Cop, and Dolores is the Worse Cop. (What happens during the interlude isn't shown, but when the scene shifts back, Aysis is cowering, sobbing, and telling the now coldly-stoic Dolores everything.)
  • Superman and Flash attempt this in A Little Less Conversation, a Little More Action Please on Copperhead. When they fail, the newest Robin (Stephanie Brown) has them step out and sprays Copperhead with a neurotoxin, telling him he has five minutes to live unless he gives her the information she wants in exchange for the antidote. Afterwards, she tells Superman it was actually some of her father's cologne and admits to being "Worse Cop".
  • Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku! has Tamako Nokogiri and Dan'ichiro "Dan" Shitsugen, who show up to investigate the circumstances behind Bakugou's injuries. Nokogiri is the Good Cop, remaining friendly and professional to the Midoriyas and assuring a clearly guilt-ridden and horrified Izuku that it was just an accident. Shitsugen is the Bad Cop, railing at Izuku's and Bakugou's parents and threatening to rough up Hisashi for talking back to him.
  • Coulson proves his skill at this routine in Child of the Storm, playing good cop to Nick Fury's bad cop in Book 1 and Harry's in Book 2 (in the latter case, he had no clue that Harry had started a pre-interrogation at all, much less in bad cop mode, but picked it up without blinking twice. He's that good). It's noted in the former case that Coulson and Fury can switch off if necessary, with Fury playing the Jerk with a Heart of Gold and Coulson taking on a cold Jerkass demeanour. Fury also notes his friend's skill at this trope.
    "Any fool could offer cups of tea while admonishing a shouting colleague. It took a professional to offer tea as a prelude to a discussion of favourite types of tea. All Fury had had to do was growl and glare every now and then."
  • A Diplomatic Visit: In chapter 7 of the second sequel, Diplomacy Through Schooling, Neighsay's captor manages to pull off both roles all by himself, first offering him a position among his followers, then threatening to destroy his horn if he refuses. When Neighsay stays loyal to Equestria, the captor follows through with his threat.
  • For the Glory of Irk:
    • At one point, CB wholeheartedly suggests he and Dib do this to interrogate Clark about possibly being an alien. Dib shoots this down, as he doesn't even want CB involved.
    • Tenn, who CB explained this trope to, wants to try this when Zim is investigating GIR's disappearance. Though as Skoodge points out, she seems to have misunderstood the concept, as she thinks that the "good" cop has to be the aggressive one.
  • With This Ring pulls an outwardly polite one, when Paul has captured a number of Dominion leaders and recommends that they surrender to his companion, Lantern Medphyll, in order to get a few decades in the Guardians' Sciencells. The alternative is surrendering to Paul himself, but as the Orange Lantern Corps doesn't have prison facilities set up, that would mean either being marooned forever on a primitive world, slaughtered out of hand, or consumed by the orange light and turned into subservient Construct-Lanterns with no will of their own. He even has one of his Construct-Lanterns present so they can see the end result!
    The Dominator continues to stare at me for several moments.
    Then he turns away from me to face Medphyll. "Green Lantern. I require you to take us into custody."

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Batman (2022). Lampshaded by the Penguin when he realises that Jim Gordon and Batman are doing a joint interrogation.
    Oswald Cobblepot: What the hell is this? Good cop, batshit cop?!
  • Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. A couple of dogs from PAWS are Perp Sweating a cat working for MEOWS. When one dog objects to the rough stuff, the cat tells them off for trying the "Good dog, bad dog" routine.
  • Operation Finale
    • The Argentinian police brutally torture Graciela but don't get any info out of her. After Klaus Eichmann comes in, screams for them to stop, and gently tells Graciela that he just wants to get his father back and it will all be over if she gives the address, she does.
    • An accidental version occurs when the Mossad agents are trying to make Eichmann sign a letter agreeing to be extradited to Israel. Aharoni tries to wear down Eichmann psychologically, while Peter suggests they appeal to his ego and make him think he's in control of the situation. Aharoni is understandably angry on finding that Peter has been trying the good cop approach because it undermines his own efforts, though it's successful in the long run.
  • Parodied in Steve Martin's The Pink Panther (2006): Inspector Clouseau uses this method with one suspect... but plays both the Good Cop and the Bad Cop, with comedic effect.
  • The "Bad Cop/Worse Cop" version was used by name in the film Tango and Cash. "Worse Cop" involved duct-taping a (fake) hand grenade to the crook's mouth, by the way.
  • L.A. Confidential:
    The D.A.: [after having nearly been drowned in his own toilet] Pull him off me, Exley!!!
    Exley: [calmly] I don't know how.
  • Snakes on a Plane played with the Bad Cop/Worse Cop version: we are led to believe that Samuel L. Jackson is the bad cop of his former partnership, until we discover that role corresponded to his mild mannered, happy-to-be-in-desk-duty best friend.
  • Variation in The Dark Knight:
    Gordon: If we're gonna play games, I'm gonna need a cup of coffee.
    The Joker: [sarcastically] The Good Cop/Bad Cop routine?
    Gordon: Not exactly. [steps out]
    [lights come on, revealing Batman, who grabs the Joker's head from behind and slams it into the table]
  • Ghost Rider (2007): Two cops attempt this when interrogating Johnny, but he quickly stops them and tells them that he's seen this on TV. Also (via his Ghost Rider powers) he knows that they're both good cops and compliments them for doing a very important public service.
  • Men in Black. When K pulls out a strange-looking Hand Cannon and threatens to blow a shopkeeper's head off, Jay thinks he's doing this routine and immediately starts playing the good cop... until K actually carries out his threat. Then things start getting weird.
  • FBI Special agents Clayton and Archer while interrogating the protagonist in a Yemeni prison in the film Traitor.
    Clayton: You shouldn't have hit him.
    Archer: Sorry, I left my copy of the Bill of Rights at home.
  • Used on Brianna, the little girl, in Mystery Team. They tell her they're playing pretend, and she thinks it's fun after that.
  • Parodied in The Other Guys where the good cop bad cop routine instead turns into bad cop insane cop.
  • Played with, for laughs, in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang:
    Gay Perry: You don't get it, do you? This isn't good cop/bad cop, this is fag and New Yorker. You're in a lot of trouble.
    • This is then replaced with Harry using False Roulette. Harry made the mistake of putting a real bullet in the gun.
  • Becomes a pun in RoboCop (2014). Murphy and his partner Lewis go to confront a pair of corrupt cops. One of them smirks and asks if they're going to try the good cop/bad cop routine. Murphy sits opposite him.
    Lewis: Wrong. Bad cop... RoboCop!
  • In Bad Boys II, cop partners and best friends Mike and Marcus do a version of the bad cop worse cop bit combined with Twerp Sweating to a young boy who shows up to date Marcus' daughter. Marcus starts off with the boy as an overprotective dad, but things get much worse for him when Mike comes out, acting like the even more protective godfather of Marcus' daughter all while pretending to be a con who just got out of jail, waves a pistol around and points it at the kid, and briefly makes references to Prison Rape while insinuating that the kid would be on the receiving end of it if he mistreats the girl at all. Suddenly Marcus seems positively sympathetic and reasonable by comparison. Scene.
  • Silk (Eliza Dushku) and Moss (Michael Imperioli) in The Scribbler - more precisely, "good police psychologist/bad cop." Moss certainly exhibits all the negative characteristics of the trope, but the Deadpan Snarker mental patient they're grilling doesn't buy it for a second.
  • Halo: Nightfall has an impromptu but very effective variant when Locke and Aiken interrogate Axl. After Randall Aiken beating the crap out of Axl doesn't work, Locke addresses Axl rather amicably in his native language, then comments that if Axl doesn't cooperate, Locke can always let Randall have another go at him. Axl is quickly convinced to give them the information they need.
  • The Take (1974). Billy Dee Williams' character goes to interrogate a suspect, who lampshades the trope. As a Scary Black Man, Williams makes some quietly spoken threats instead and the suspect breaks down, saying he was beaten by a policeman as a youth and is still traumatized by it.
  • Black Panther (2018): Everett Ross suggests he and T'Challa do this to the captive Ulysses Klaue. T'Challa and Okoye aren't interested, preferring to let Everett question him while eavesdropping via a bug. In fact, the closest the movie gets to the routine is how they act towards Ross — Okoye visibly has no patience for him whatsoever, while T'Challa playfully tells her to rein it in.
  • Brannigan: John Wayne plays the title character, an American Cowboy Cop whose methods are not appreciated by the by-the-book British detective he's working with. This trope is played for laughs when Brannigan convinces a criminal that the British detective is a Rabid Cop and he's the nice one.
  • Referenced in Pokémon Detective Pikachu. Pikachu tries to interrogate a Mr. Mime, but when Mr. Mime gestures to "shove it", he says he's switching to "bad cop" and lunges at him — and smacks into the mime's invisible wall. (Frankly, it looks like Pikachu was already the bad cop even before Mr. Mime annoyed him, making threats and snarky insults.)
  • In Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Mon Mothma and General Draven play this trope when persuading Jyn Erso (whom Cassian Andor had just rescued from an Imperial prison transport) to help them carry out a mission. Draven threatens to throw Jyn back to the Empire while Mothma offers her a chance at freedom.
  • Todd and Michelle, respectively, in The Burning. Todd is the friendly counselor who tries to relate to the kids, while Michelle is the stricter disciplinarian.
  • Discussed in Undercover Blues, when the couple of the title is about to interrogate someone:
    Jeff Blue: I never get to be bad cop.
    Jane Blue: That's because you could never keep a straight face.
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve is atop a rooftop with Natasha interrogating Jasper Sitwell. Steve makes the typical Batman-esque threats, but Sitwell points out that throwing people off buildings just isn't his style. Steve relents and says "You're right, it's not.... It's hers!". Steve then steps aside and Natasha promptly kicks the guy over the side where Sam is waiting to literally swoop in and catch him.
  • Crush (2022): Paige tells AJ she should be "bad cop" to her "good cop" while looking for the school's tagger. In actual practice though they both just act much the same. AJ turns out to be the tagger as well.
  • Avatar: The Way of Water: After General Ardmore tries to use a brain-scanning machine to very painfully extract the location of the Na'vi resistance's headquarters from Spider and fails miserably, Colonel Quaritch—who is Spider's biological father—tries just talking to him man-to-man. Spider still refuses to give up Jake Sully's location out of sheer loyalty, but Quaritch is able to convince him to act as a native guide and interpreter for his unit.
  • Wild River: Not cops, and they may not be working together, but Sy Moore and R.J. Bailey have this dynamic in dealing with Chuck and trying to keep him from hiring away their underpaid African-American laborers for the dam. Moore arrives at Chuck's house making polite requests, but warns that he and his companions deliberately excluded Bailey from the meeting because he'll be rougher. When Moore's overture doesn't work, Bailey does show up and is willing to rough up and threaten Chuck.
  • Spartan: Bobby gets enlisted to play Bad Cop when the government agents are interrogating the Secret Service agent who was supposed to be on duty when Laura Newton was kidnapped. Bobby ends up getting into the role, hitting the Secret Service agent in the mouth, before he gets pulled off.

  • Played straight in Book 10 of The Iliad making it Older Than Feudalism. Odysseus and Diomedes were on a night raid and captured the hapless but useful Dolon. Bad cop Diomedes said to stand still or die. Good cop Odysseus said, "Fear not, let no thought of death be in your mind." It went on like that for awhile until Diomedes "struck him in the middle of his neck with his sword and cut through both sinews so that his head fell rolling in the dust while he was yet speaking."
  • Parodied on and off in the Discworld series ("I get it ... 'good cop, bad cop', right?" "Well, we're a little short-staffed, so if I give you a cup of coffee, would you mind kicking yourself in the teeth?") Then again, Carrot and Vimes are the quintessential pair of cops.
  • In The Also People, a pair of future police officers discuss what approach to take to a suspect, considering several variants that are standard in their time before settling on "standard Aristocracy drill: Good Cop, Downright Sycophantic Cop".
  • Good Omens: They're about as far from being cops as you can get, but this is very much how Aziraphale and Crowley act when interviewing Mary Hodges.
  • The Iron Hand of Mars by Lindsey Davis. Marcus Didius Falco (a private detective in Ancient Rome) and his friend Justinus are interrogating a barmaid about her missing boyfriend. She loses her temper and throws Falco out, but Justinus comforts her and she gives him the required information. Afterwards Falco mentions this technique and jokes that "the nice guy is supposed to be a fake!"
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Horus Rising, Warmaster Horus has his most trusted officers, his Mournivale, harshly criticize the tactics used on a planet, so that the criticism could be made while he played the peacemaker.
  • In Poul Anderson's Operation Chaos, the narrator is captured and questioned harshly, then offered a drink and saluted for his courage. He recognizes it and takes advantage of the breather to plan.
  • In Neuromancer, the Anti-Hero Case gets arrested and recognizes this technique being used by his interrogators.
  • Anansi Boys: Wrong Genre Savvy in this case. Fat Charlie is arrested for embezzlement. He's brought into the interrogation room, finds the pleasant Daisy, and says he's expecting the bad cop to come in in a few seconds. Daisy says that a: there's no bad cop, and b: she's pretty sure he's innocent.
  • Anita Blake and Jean-Claude play good cop/bad cop respectively when Anita needs some answers from a woman who is terrified of vampires. This was entirely Jean-Claude's idea, and Anita sends him out of the room after it looks—to Anita—like he threatened to rape her.note  Knowing Jean-Claude, it was probably something a little more subtle than that. Probably.
  • In The Dresden Files:
    • In Proven Guilty Agent Rick and Greene use this on Molly. Until Dresden comes in, explains the whole trope and the whole "No warrant" thing. Also, Molly's under-age.
    • In Turn Coat, Harry and Murphy pull a bad/worse against a suspect. In a bit of genre savvy, he had recognized the set up. In a bit of genre blindness, he thought they were pulling a good/bad.
    • Changes, Tilly and Rudolph are sort of pulling this. Except that they're not partners, Tilly is an FBI agent who thinks Harry is involved but doesn't think he's guilty, while Rudolph is a Chicago PD officer under orders from very scary people to delay Harry as long as possible. Consequently Rudolph starts screaming at Harry to admit it, and Harry, who has spent the past couple of years hacking off creatures scarier than his cop friend's overweight ex-husband, considers Rudolph a total-non-threat and finds the whole thing funny. Tilly eventually orders him out of the room for impeding the investigation.
    • In the short story Last Call, twisted and parodied. Murphy and Harry are interrogating a shopowner. Murphy is swaggering around smashing random items ("Oops") and Harry is leaning on the counter saying things like, "Now be reasonable." Murphy then mentions that she's the Good Cop here.
  • American Gods - Shadow is being 100% truthful in his answers even before the Bad Cop gets a chance to work his magic, but the two goons interrogating him (who aren't, technically, real cops) don't believe him, so they beat the crap out of him anyway, assuming he'll change his tune after a solid kneecapping). Also, they probably don't care that he's "not talking", because they're employing Torture for Fun and Information. They may also be playing out this trope because they're the personification of movie cops and/or Men in Black, so act the way they're supposed to act, rather than because it makes sense.
  • In Stephen Fry's autobiography Moab Is My Washpot, the two police officers that pick the young Stephen up for credit card fraud adopt the personae of 'nice' and 'even nicer' cop.
  • Mentioned in the second Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, when the LEP bring in Artemis to question him about goblins using human technology. Artemis asks Root which one he is, to which Root replies "Hate to tell you this, Dorothy, but you ain't in Kansas anymore." They then proceed to knock him out, and scan his retinas to see if he's ever seen the bad guys.
  • In The Vor Game, after being interrogated separately by Cavilo and Metzov, Miles wonders if they'd set up a classic "good-guy/bad-guy" interrogation tag team, but got their signals crossed and both of them thought that they were supposed to play the bad guy.
    • In Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, Ivan theorizes that his new in-laws Baron and Baronne Cordonah switch roles as needed. At the time Shiv (the Baron) is asking coldly civil questions of the man whose betrayal left his family trapped in an underground bunker with two of his children unaccounted for, while Udine (the Baronne) has him pinned to the wall by his neck and periodically eases off his windpipe just enough for an answer to be gasped out.
    • In Cryoburn it is mentioned that Mark and Kareen habitually play roles something like this in business negotiations: not physically threatening potential business contacts (in fact, either of them would be more than capable of dealing some serious violence if necessary, but people don't tend to think of a short fat businessman and a friendly blonde woman that way), but with Mark playing the more ruthless, amoral capitalist and Kareen playing the more reasonable, ethical partner.
  • Occurs in I, Jedi with Corran Horn as the good cop and Luke Skywalker as the bad cop. It works quite well, because the perp is a rogue Force-sensitive, and the "cops" have the area blanketed by a ysalamiri's effect - the bluff is that Luke has disabled the perp's Force powers, and is telepathically berating Corran for coddling the prisoner. All Luke has to do is stand there glowering, and an angry Skywalker, prequels notwithstanding, is a terrifying sight indeed.
    Corran: Just stand over there and look malevolent.
    Luke: Malevolent?
    Corran: Think Hutt, but with eyebrows.
  • In the In Death series, Eve Dallas regularly uses this tactic with both her former partner Feeney and her eventual partner Peabody, complete with occasional disputes about who gets to be the "bad cop" (it's almost always Eve).
  • Dune has the Baron Harkonnen attempt a planet-wide version of this. He would have Rabban brutally oppress the people while mining as much spice as possible, then have Feyd take his place as a more benevolent ruler.
  • Used in the Circle of Magic novel "Battle Mages". One of the protagonists, the thirteen year old girl Evy, gets captured by an invading army, and they start interrogating her for information. One of them is playing the mean bad cop, but the other seems genuinely nice, protecting her and asking her to comply for her own good. The act drops when he begins to torture her.
    It was then that Evy realized [he] wasn't her friend.
  • This is referenced in W.E.B. Griffin's The Secret Warriors where two military men are talking about a situation in which one of them has been rather rough which another. The rough one explains "Police detectives have an interrogation technique, where one is a heartless sonofabitch, and another is kind, gentle, and understanding." The second guy realizes "And I'm to be the good guy, right?"
  • The technique is specifically referenced in the first book of The Echo Case Files series in relation to Ramirez and Tycho. Oddly, Tycho, the friendly, cheery officer tends to be bad cop.
  • Swedish crime writer Mons Kallentoft pulls this trick in his series about detective inspector Malin Fors. In Dem Femte Årstiden (The Fifth Season), Malin leads a group of male detectives. When her Berserk Button is pressed in dealing with a sexually sadistic serial killer, she is inclined to stand back and let Waldemar Ekenberg lead the interrogation. Waldemar is a principled thug who often steps over the line when interrogating the sort of perp who really makes him feel sick. Malin has learnt to look the other way as he gets results; sometimes the merest threat of Ekenberg being given his head can crack a suspect, when her gentler by-the-book questioning meets a brick wall.
  • Played shamelessly straight in Angels Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The good cop, Víctor Grandes, the bad cops, his two goons Marcos and Costello, get the protagonist, David Martín, to swallow the act hook, line, and sinker. However, it's possible, though not certain, that the cops don't exist at all, and are actually characters from David's pulp crime novels that he inserted into his own narrative. It would at least explain why Zafon, who normally creates complex, three-dimensional characters, wrote these cops as ludicrous stereotypes.
  • Serpico plays this straight. A rapist is beaten up by the detectives and doesn't talk; Serpico tries a softer approach afterwards and gets the names of the other criminals. Then after arresting them, Serpico is threatened with a reprimand for not having his notebook written up, unless he allows the detectives to claim the arrests.
  • In the non-fiction WW2 memoir You're Stepping on my Cloak and Dagger by Roger Hall, the author is subject to a rigorous interrogation exercise at Spy School which he apparently fails. Afterwards an instructor commiserates with him, but Hall realizes just in time that this is the real interrogation, designed to see if he'll talk when the tension is off.
  • Able Team
    • In the first novel, Carl "Ironman" Lyons and Rosario "The Politician" Blancanales capture three Puerto Rican teenagers working for F.A.L.N and take them to an Abandoned Warehouse. Lyons assembles a blowtorch and plays the heavy, while Blancanales tries to 'reason' with them. Afterwards...
      "Acting like that gives me the creeps," he whispered to Blancanales. "Next time, you're the sadist."
      "But you're so Aryan, such a monster!" Rosario joked. "I throught you'd actually fry the kid if I didn't work something out. But a soft-hearted old Latin like me...he knows too well!"
    • In "Death Strike", Lyons undergoes a much nastier version after he's captured by the Unomondo organisation. First they torture him, then The Dragon turns up claiming that it's all a terrible misunderstanding and he's told them how Lyons has agreed to defect to their cause. Lyons is then interogated on a more polite basis and given first class hospital treatment with pretty nurses who sleep with him. He's not surprised to later find written reports from these nurses on everything he said.
  • Referred to by name in the Star Trek: The Original Series novel Savage Trade in which a Vulcan official suggests that she and Captain Kirk use this on an alien requesting asylum. She volunteers to play the "bad cop".
  • In Daystar and Shadow, Robin and Willy do this on a priest. Willy uses the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique until he breaks, then leaves him alone with Robin for a gentler interrogation.
  • In Experimental Film, two cops use a relatively mild version of this routine while interrogating Lois about Sidlo's death.
  • In Last Chance To See, Douglas Adams jokes that some customs officials treat him and his companions this way because they can't seem to get out of the habit, even when all they want to know are people's names and the serial numbers of every piece of equipment they have brought with them.
  • Lost Voices: At the end of the first book, the mermaid Luce rescues the human boy Dorian from a wreck, trusting that if he tells anyone about her, no one will believe him. However, in Waking Storms, Dorian is interrogated by the FBI agents Ellison and Smitt, who know about mermaids and want him to admit that he saw one. Ellison acts kind, interested, and sympathetic and assures Dorian that they'll take anything he says seriously no matter how impossible it sounds, while Smitt yells at him for lying when he doesn't say what they want. It doesn't work - Dorian can't bring himself to betray Luce.
  • In Durarara!!, Kadota initially seems to be the "bad cop", when he interrogates a thug by beating him up. But then, after he turns the guy over to Walker and Erika, it's clear that Kadota is the good cop and they are the bad ones.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played for laughs in the British sketch show Absolutely. Two cops are interrogating a suspect, they can remember one is supposed to be nice but cannot remember the other part and so try a number of combinations including 'nice & flirty', 'nice & shy', 'nice & clumsy' and 'nice & forgetful'. When they eventually remember, they explain that neither of them are any good at being the bad one, so they get in a Victorian melodrama villain dressed as a Bow Street Runner.
  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: in order to interrogate a german bandit who does not speak English, one of the Schwenke sisters openly seduces him to make him feel comfortable... until the other sister comes in and kick the crap out of him!
  • Lina and Abby even lampshade the use of this in Against the Wall when they interrogate a summons officer accused of stalking his therapist.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a straight performance of Bad Cop/Worse Cop in "The Patriot" when Talbot is interrogating a HYDRA lone wolf who managed to survive the final devastation of HYDRA. Talbot leaves to get a hammer and comes back with Simmons. Three seasons before, she would've been most likely to play the Good Cop, but having done an undercover stint with HYDRA in the second season she proves herself capable of inflicting psychological terror more unbearable than any physical pain Talbot could inflict, beginning with Aida's severed head in an icebox.
    • Played with in "Laws of Nature" when Mack and Daisy first speak with a newly-discovered Inhuman named Joey. It wasn't really an interrogation, and there was some confusion over which one was the Good Cop.
      Joey: So she's the welcoming committee and you're the muscle?
      Mack: Believe me, she's the muscle.
      Daisy: He may look big and intimidating but inside he's just a soft little, fluffy little teddy bear.
      Joey: Yay.
  • Alien Nation:
    • George Francisco (alien-American cop) threatens to toss an informant off a roof. His partner balks, claiming it's his turn to throw the perp — Francisco got to do it last time!
    • Alien Nation has fun with this: Usually, if the suspect was a human, Sykes (the human detective) would play good cop while George was the bad cop. If the suspect was Tenctonese (the alien species of which George was a member), than they would do the opposite with George as the good cop and Sykes as the bad cop. Finally, if a suspect was a Purist (a xenophobic group of humans with genocidal inclinations) they'd play bad cop/worse cop with Sykes as the bad cop and George as the worse cop.
  • Parodied in the short-lived Andy Barker P.I.. Trying to find his daughter's toy which has gone missing, a veteran detective tells Andy that he suspects a kid. After school, the veteran roughs the kid up and shouts at him, only to turn to Andy and say "OK, now you be bad cop".
  • Battlestar Galactica. Baltar uses this technique as a means of helping Gina, a raped and tortured Cylon prisoner in the custody of the Cylon-hating Admiral Cain. He pretends to Cain that his efforts to feed, clothe and comfort Gina are merely an attempt to break down her resistance through kindness, after the harsh methods of her previous interrogators failed. And in "Taking A Break From All Your Worries", Roslin and Adama try this on Dr. Baltar, first the "stick" (pretending they're going to throw him out the airlock, then drug interrogation) and then the "carrot" - sending in nice guy Gaeta to get his confidence. Unfortunately that doesn't work either as Baltar is too smart to fall for it and flips out, provoking Gaeta into stabbing him in the neck with a pen.
  • Comedy version in Better Off Ted, where Veronica and Linda use this routine to coerce employees into giving to their charity donation drive.
  • In The Bill, an officer goes Bad Cop on a suspect. When he leaves the room after getting what he wants, Jo Masters comments that she didn't think they did that any more.
  • In the Black Books episode "The Black-Out", Manny has stayed up all night drinking espresso and watching The Sweeney, and believes himself to be a copper. When he finds himself in a police station, mistaken for a genuine copper, he is cajoled into assisting in an interrogation, and asked to play the part of the Good Cop. Slightly misunderstanding what this involves, he ends up being rather too nice, making non sequiturs like "You've got lovely eyes" and "Why don't I go out and get us all some crispy duck?" This unsettles the perp, so the genuine policeman decides to leave Manny to continue the interrogation alone. As soon as he leaves, Manny falls to his knees and admits to the perp that he isn't a real copper, he's "just had too much coffee", and begs the perp to help him get out of the situation. This further unsettles the criminal, who cracks and says that he'll talk to "the other guy", as long as Manny goes away. As a result of this confession, the genuine policeman tells Manny that he's one of the best officers that he's ever served with.
  • Blue Bloods gives us Danny as the "Bad Cop" with his partner (or sometimes Erin) filling the "Good Cop" role.
  • Buffyverse
    • In BTVS "Never Leave Me", a Genre Savvy Xander and Anya carry this to absurd extremes while interrogating Andrew.
    • In the Angel spin-off episode "Why We Fight", Spike suggests to fellow vampire Angel, "I'll menace, you talk."
  • Michael and company from Burn Notice have had to do this a few times when interrogating people. They like playing with this too, as happened on one occasion Michael when actually states their roles of Bad Cop, Worse Cop, Hammer. Hilarity Ensues.
    • Perhaps most amusingly, on one occasion they had to use Fiona (who is infamous for her Hair-Trigger Temper, constant suggestions of simply shooting the bad guys instead of using Michael's sneaky/devious methods, and various other Ax-Crazy... shenanigans), as the good cop that a female suspect can sympathize with. Fiona manages right up until the suspect starts casually talking about selling fake medications to cancer patients, at which point Fiona flips out and starts trying to cave the other woman's head in.
    • On one occasion they have to interrogate a professional assassin named Kendra. Kendra beats her own head on the table to show they can't break her by torturing her. After she cuts her head open and shows no sign of stopping, Jesse forces her to stop, and Mike angrily drags Jesse out of the room. When they get out of the room Jesse says he did the right thing, and Michael calmly agrees, because now Jesse appears to be a "Good Cop" who is too nice and soft-hearted for his own good, while Michael is the Bad Cop. Furthermore, Jesse's show of "weakness" by stopping Kendra from injuring herself now has Kendra believing that Jesse is a weak link that she can manipulate into helping her and that there's friction between Jesse and Michael that she can exploit. The rest of the episode Jesse slowly manipulates Kendra into telling him what she knows while she thinks she's manipulating him.
    • The team also like to use a variant where the "good cop" isn't being presented as a "cop" at all, but as either another captive or enemy of the interrogators, who the actual captive can bond or team up with. This includes Michael pretending to be a member of a large Russian crime syndicate being held right alongside an actual member, or capturing a Yakuza, roughing him up, and then presenting Michael's mom Maddy as a traumatized nurse who's been kidnapped so she can keep the Yakuza healthy enough to be tortured further. Eventually the Yakuza trusts the nurse enough that he suggests they escape together, promising that his organization will protect her from their captors. When they do "escape", the rest of the team follows them straight back to the Yakuza hideout, which was the goal all along.
  • Cheers: Invoked at one point by Lilith, when she's getting fed up of Sam spending too much time with her and Frasier's son, telling Frasier if it goes on she'll have to play the part of Bad Cop. Frasier is appropriately alarmed by the implications of that statement.
    Frasier: All this time you - you've been playing Good Cop?
  • Toyed with on Chuck in an example of "Bad Spy/Worse Spy". In a Season 2 episode, Casey is interrogating a witness under their protection, who proves to be uncooperative and only wants to speak with Chuck, whom he (mistakenly) believes beat up the thugs threatening him. Casey then proceeds to set Chuck up as the "bad cop" to ensure the witness's full and undivided cooperation. Played completely for laughs, especially Chuck's expression as he smashes a paper cup to "intimidate" the witness.
  • Chief Johnson on The Closer is an unparalleled master of the Good Cop role, liberally mixed with a Ditz Cop act. Her Bad Cop counterpart is often a federal agent whose authority she's taking advantage of, or a political rival on the L.A.P.D., meaning Brenda's stringing along her ally as well as the perpetrator.
  • Cobra Kai: In the episode "Nature vs. Nurture", Daniel and Johnny, despite not actually being cops, play good cop and bad cop (respectively) while visiting Trey and Cruz. Hilariously, while Johnny is ostensibly the "bad cop", the two are more terrified of Daniel, who had kicked their asses in the previous season, prompting Johnny to bitchslap Cruz (while the guards pretend not to notice) to prove his "bad cop" credentials. Daniel, at the end of their visit, threatens to send Johnny back alone if their intel isn't legit. Johnny even cites the trope by name to Daniel's wife Amanda, who points out it's more like a no-cop situation.
  • In Community episode "The Science of Illusion" Annie and Shirley can't quite keep this straight between them.
    • To clarify, both Annie and Shirley end up trying to out Cowboy Cop the other, after being told they're too uptight. Abed, deciding that only good can come from this, follows them with a bag of popcorn. He later gets to act as Da Chief after the two mess up.
    • Even better, two seasons later he and the others engage in one long Affectionate Parody of Law & Order ("Basic Lupine Urology":). That time, Jeff and Annie switch between Good Lawyer and Bad Lawyer, (Played for Drama), Shirley channels Da Chief (from watching crime shows for 15 years), and Abed plays Good Cop to Troy's Bad Cop.
      Abed: Hey, hey. Forget him, he's the bad cop, he's stressful. But me, I'm a good cop, you can trust me.
      Star-Burns: Okay, well—hey, I'm not falling for that! And you got nothing on me! And I don't have to stay here 'cause you're not cops!
    • And then they switch.
      Troy: Sorry about my partner. He's been on edge ever since we switched.
  • Cowboy Bebop (2021). Spike and Jet are engaged in Teeth-Clenched Teamwork throughout the episode "Venus Pop". In one scene they go to a construction site to get a lead on the Mad Bomber only to start arguing.
    Foreman: Hey! Hey! HEY! (Whistles to get their attention) I've seen the good cop, bad cop routine. But never the dick cop, asshole cop.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • In "Lessons Learned", Gideon invokes this technique as a way of finally breaking down the UnSub. He notes that since the CIA had already roughed him up, he thought that by being the nice guy and allowing the UnSub his daily prayers that he would open up to him. It worked.
    • In "Bloodline", Hotch (bad cop) and Prentiss (good cop) play off each other very well while interrogating an UnSub. Which can be seen here.
  • From one of David Letterman's shows: Dave and Paul are Good Cop, Good Cop. "One of them plays by the rules. The other one... also plays by the rules." They aren't very effective.
  • CSI: NY in 'Civilized Lies'. Mac is angry and aggressive, while Flack is nicer. Mac storms out and the perp even asks if it's this trope.
    Perp: Oh, are you gonna play "good cop" now?
    Flack: Honestly, I don't know what to do. *He's* usually the good cop.
  • Day Break (2006):
    • Downplayed with Spivak and Choi. If they do the interrogation together, Spivak will typically be far more hostile and dismissive than his partner while Choi will be a little more receptive to evidence that might prove Hopper's innocence.
    • Hopper and Damien act out a version of this after kidnapping Torrez. Damien is a gangster while Hopper is a police detective, so the latter frequently has to restrain the former from attacking Torrez. This ends disastrously when Damien shoots Torrez in the middle of the interrogation.
  • In the Doctor Who serial "The Deadly Assassin", Castellan Spandrell (good cop) and Commander Hilred (bad cop) use what the Doctor calls the "hot and cold technique" on him.
  • Averted in Drake & Josh in the episode "The Gary Grill" when Drake and Josh accidentally sold stolen grills since in the interrogation room both cops happened to be bad.
  • In the Enemy at the Door episode "V for Victory," Kluge attempts to gain the confidence of a young suspect this way, recruiting SS officer Reinicke to be the Bad Cop. It doesn't go according to plan.
  • Parodied in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, where Robert tries this technique by himself. He attempted to play both the good cop and the bad cop, switching between roles. To top it all off, he was trying to interrogate his brother and his father.
    Ray: What are you doing?
    Robert: Good Cop/Bad Cop. It's taking me longer 'cause there's only one of me.
  • The Flight Attendant: Deconstructed. Van White likes to see himself as a Cowboy Cop, especially compared to Hammond being a By-the-Book Cop and even gloats that he accelerated to her rank in half the time. Hammond points out his "rough-and-tumble FBI agent" comes from trust fund ivy league grad white privilege. If she, an African-American woman, did anything even close to what White suggests, she would almost assuredly be forced to resign.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Cersei and the small council use this trope to manipulate Sansa, with Pycelle insisting that treason must be punished while the other councillors act firm but supportive.
    • Ramsay Snow uses this technique on Theon, casting himself as a sympathiser who helps Theon escape after Theon has been tortured by the 'bad cop' random Bolton mooks. Ramsay goes so far as to kill five of his own men just to keep the ruse going until he reveals himself to be the worst cop. Theon quickly spills a load of information that Ramsay uses later as ammunition against him, but this is incidental; Ramsay isn't interested in Theon's information, only his suffering.
    • There is no hint of it being deliberate but during Littlefinger's interrogation in "The Mountain and the Viper," Lord Royce is relentless while Lady Waynwood remains reserved and polite.
  • In the Good Luck Charlie episode "Teddy On Ice", Amy and Bob attempt the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine on Gabe, with Bob playing the good cop and Amy playing the bad cop. However, Gabe sees through their deception.
  • Series//Goodness Gracious Me: Parodied in a sketch—Good Cop, Indian Mum Cop.
  • Gotham:
    • Played with in "Red Queen." The interrogation of the missing security guard is initially an apparent reverse of the Good Cop/Bad Cop formula but quickly becomes Bad Cop/Worse Cop when the security guard insults the police to Barnes's face. Bullock wastes no time lampshading this sudden shift to Bad Cop/Worse Cop.
      Bullock: I thought I was supposed to be the Bad Cop?
    • In "Smile Like You Mean It," the Bad Cop/Worse Cop game is played against a traitor on the force, with Bullock reprising his role as Bad Cop, and Gordon playing Worse Cop due to Barnes being long incapacitated since the last game of Bad Cop/Worse Cop. Bonus points for a hefty helping of Be Careful What You Wish For, as the traitor had just told them it'd have been at least more interesting if they played against type.
      Gordon: You know what? You're right. [cue the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique]
  • The Great British Bake Off: Mary and Paul, respectively (and very effectively) as a judging team. They only rarely disagree on the actual quality of a bake, but when critiquing it Paul comes across as much more brusque and insistent on the flaws, while Mary adopts a more sympathetic tone.
  • Hec Ramsey: In "The Century Turns", Stamp and Mendoza pull this on an outlaw they have in custody. Mendoza is threatening some serious Police Brutality when Stamp comes in and pulls him off. Once Stamp has Mendoza out of the cells, it becomes obvious they have planned this. Stamp returns to the cells and plays nice cop, offering the suspect a cigarette. He manages to get him talking and eventually reveal where is partners are holed up.
  • In Homeland, Carrie and Quinn use this on Brody in season 2. After Carrie attempts to connect, Quinn takes over for a minute before suddenly going berserk and stabbing the prisoner's hand. Carrie, understandably, storms in and retakes control. Quinn's anger vanishes the second he steps outside and Saul realizes it was just 'theater'. 'Good cop needs a bad cop.'
    • When Brody was broken by Abu Nazir, this was largely how (in a more extreme and long term version involving torture). Abu Nazir set himself up as the Good Cop with the rest of his cell as the Bad Cop. Though the reason that Brody turned was mostly about Issa.
  • Lt. Joe Kenda of Homicide Hunter typically takes on the first role in interrogations, even though it's the complete opposite of his personality. He states that people are more likely to incriminate themselves or confess outright if they think he's on their side. Even with crimes involving children (his Berserk Button), he's gotten numerous people to admit to what they did by assuring them, "I know you didn't mean to do it." and pretending to understand their feelings.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street may hold the title of longest single Good Cop Bad Cop sequence. The Emmy Award winning episode "Three Men And Adena" is literally a single, forty-five minute long episode set in an interrogation room, with the two main cops taking on the necessary personas.
  • Hunter: Before interrogating someone, DeeDee McCall (a short Fair Cop) insists that she be allowed to play "bad cop" despite Hunter's (tall, middle-aged) claims that he's usually the "bad cop" in these situations for a reason. The perp immediately sees through the act and tells them to get lost, so she upgrades to breaking in his door and threatening him with a baseball bat.
  • In an episode of Inspector Rex, Marc tells a man he's interrogating that he's the good cop here, and when asked about who the bad cop is, he points to Rex.
  • In the season fifth episode "Into the Breech" of JAG, when Bud and Gunny go to the ex-wife of an old sailor they're looking for to testify at a hearing, Gunny says to Bud that they should approach it as good cop and bad cop to obtain a positive result.
    Gunny: Lieutenant, we play Mutt and Jeff. Do you wanna be good cop or bad cop?
    Bud: Well, uh, let's see.
    Gunny: Good cop. Absolutely.
  • Keen Eddie: Eddie and Monty play Good Cop, Bad Cop with boxer Jimmy Fishkin, who gets the same treatments from his criminal bosses.
  • Doug and Carey try this when buying a new car on The King of Queens. Doug plays Good Cop while Carey plays Bad Cop. When Doug gushes over the car, Carey announces "I wanna take a sledgehammer to this piece of crap." Doug then tells her in private "You're supposed to be Bad Cop, not...Gestapo!"
  • Law & Order frequently plays with this:
    • On Law & Order Ed Green's first episode sees him grab a suspect and pin him to the wall before Briscoe calls him off. They go outside, and Briscoe chews Green out for being too rough with the suspect; he wasn't acting.
    • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit plays this straight quite often, but they also play with it from time to time. Typically Elliot is the bad cop (being known for his anger issues and crimes-against-children Berserk Button), but almost as often he'll go in as the good cop, sympathizing with a misogynist rapist-type. Pretty much every cop on the force is capable of playing either type.
    • On Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Goren and Eames love to play this, switching roles as needed. Eames's bad cop is often a Straw Feminist, while Goren's is a textbook case of Brooklyn Rage (complete with exaggerated accent).
    • Law & Order: UK. Matt and Ronnie would often alternate these roles and play them to varying degrees, sometimes within the course of a single interrogation, depending on the situation and/or what kind of a person they were dealing with.
      • Several subversions have them playing both roles—in "Vice", they're both very gentle and supportive of a young prostitute suspected of murder, while in "Samaritan", they both grill an officer suspected of leaving his partner to die (and they put a nice twist on it by letting the guy—and the viewer— think that Matt will be the "Good Cop" by having him initially sit silently while Ronnie browbeats him).
      • Matt's short-tempered replacement Sam Casey took the latter role without any prompting, but his replacement Joe Hawkins seemed to like alternating with Ronnie much like Matt did.
  • Lucifer (2016) is the ultimate Bad Cop, able to reduce any suspect to screaming in terror whenever he reveals his true form with burning red eyes.
    Lucifer Morningstar: I do have a business to run, Detective. I can't play "good cop - handsome devil cop" all the time!
  • Parodied in a MADtv (1995) skit where the suspect immediately sees through the good cop/bad cop ploy, forcing the cops to get creative with things like Jackie Gleason cop/Ricardo Montalban cop.
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. When our heroes do this to a pretty girl who accidentally stumbles into UNCLE headquarters in "The Mad Mad Tea Party Affair", Kuryakin complains that he's been typecast as the bad guy, while Solo gets to be the sympathetic shoulder for her to cry on.
  • In The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed, the suspect points out that he's familiar with the trope from literature, as well as the psychological reasons this works in real life even if the suspect is familiar with it. As expected, it does work, after a fashion - possibly because the Good Cop does like the suspect and the Bad Cop does loathe him.
  • Lampshaded on The Mentalist. After Lisbon is injured (by one of Jane's stunts), CBI boss Hightower joins Jane in the field. When they are going to question a suspect, he asks her if she's going to be bad cop. She replies that she will do what she always does. Jane says that's exactly what he meant.
  • Messiah: Avenir and his old partner used to do this routine with prisoners they interrogated (the former as bad cop).
  • In an episode of Monk the perp refers to the two cops as "good cop, demented cop" after Randy acts more of an idiot than normal.
  • On Murder, She Wrote, Sheriff Metzger, a former New York cop, once attempted this gambit with a suspect, but his deputy was a bit confused; he accidentally told the suspect that Metzger was the bad cop, after Metzger warned the suspect that his deputy was the bad cop.
  • Murderville:
    • In the first episode, Terry and Conan decide whether to be "good cop/bad cop" and eventually land on "bad cop/worse cop" where they both end up yelling at the suspect.
    • When approaching Terry's high school crush in the third episode, Terry positions himself as "good cop" and Kumail as "stupid cop".
  • NCIS
    • When Gibbs and Fornell are talking to a suspect, Kate asks if it they're doing Bad Cop, Scary Cop.
    • In "Doppelganger", when he and his civilian counterpart grill a guy, the man's lawyer sarcastically asks, "What is this? "Bad Cop, Bad Cop"?"
    • They've also used the phrase Bad Cop, Stupid Cop when Gibbs was trying to bluff out a confession...
    • One memorable example is when Gibbs and Tony team up to get a confession from a teenage suspect. Tony plays bad cop, Gibbs plays good cop. The suspect won't meet Tony's eyes, and starts smiling at Gibbs... then Gibbs suddenly turns into a bad cop as well. The suspect breaks down soon after.
    • Gibbs and Vance also play this when they interrogate Ziva (and later Malachi ben Gidon) about a massacre aboard the ship Damocles. Vance is direct and borderline ruthless in his questioning — and he's the good cop. Gibbs is, well, Gibbs. (And how appropriate it is that the episode in question is called "Good Cop, Bad Cop".)
    • In another episode, Tony and McGee are interrogating a suspect who conspired with a terrorist and murdered a marine captain. When Tony gets in his face about how pissed-off he is, the suspect tries to invoke the "good cop" half of this trope by asking McGee to step in. McGee's response: "You're on your own."
  • Odd Squad:
    • Despite interrogating three different suspects in three different rooms, "How to Interrogate a Unicorn" has Otto and Oscar sharing the good cop role while Olive carries the bad cop role. Otto and Oscar are both generally amiable to their respective mummy and robot suspects, while Olive becomes aggressive towards the unicorn she's interrogating when it refuses to cooperate with her.
    • Subverted in "Mystic Egg Pizza" when Delivery Debbie believes that she and Otto are playing the roles of the bad cop and good cop, respectively. However, Otto isn't playing the good cop role at all — he's not interrogating Delivery Doug in any manner and believes him to be innocent, as there's no proof that Doug is stealing pieces of Debbie's pizza.
    • In "Moustache Confidential", Olive (the bad cop) and Otto (the good cop) interrogate numerous agents of Precinct 13579 in order to find out who stole Obfusco's moustache. While Olive asks meaningful questions and is more straightforward in nature, Otto is more laid-back and asks questions that are of little help. At one point, Olive asks Ori how many cases he solved last week, and when Ori can't remember, Otto decides to bribe him with a puppy, much to Olive's chagrin.
    Olive: Otto, you don't buy people puppies!
    Otto: See, this is why you're the bad cop.
    [Olive shoots him a Disapproving Look]
  • One Life to Live. While preparing gang-rape victim Marty Saybrooke for her attackers' trial, DA Hank Gannon abruptly begins screaming at her, accusing of her wanting to have sex with them. She's shaken, but he tells her that she has to be ready for whatever cross-examination the defense lawyer puts her through.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop is a common game on the sports talk show Pardon the Interruption. "Officers" Kornheiser and Wilbon will often don police outfits and debate the merits of a particular sports issue.
  • Phoenix. Lampshaded and played straight in "Shaking the Tree". The Major Crime Squad bust drug dealer Fergie who (thinking they're home invaders) fires on them with an elephant gun, giving Lochie a Bring My Brown Pants. Laz (who knew Fergie when he was working undercover) tries the gentle approach while Lochie can barely restrain himself because of his humiliation. Fergie is not impressed and sarcastically lampshades the trope. Lochie later deliberately plays Rabid Cop as a means of putting pressure on him, but it's done realistically and Fergie wavers but doesn't crack.
  • The Professionals. In "Slush Fund", a South African hitman gets into an altercation with Bodie who's handling the Perp Sweating. Cowley enters the cell and puts a stop to their fight, then tries a softer approach. The hitman is a former member of BOSS so isn't impressed, citing a variation on the trope name. "First the bull at the gate; then comes the china shop."
  • In Raising Hope, Burt and Virginia have developed their own version, Bad Cop/Sad Cop, used for everything from convincing Jimmy to babysit Maw Maw, to getting out of parking tickets (fourth season episode "Adoption"). It starts with Virginia threatening the subject with "I will bust you down from star witness/meter maid/checking credentials to loser-who-rents-the-movie-Witness/regular maid/checking-urinal-cakes!", and then spitting out the side of her mouth, and is then followed by Burt spinning a terrible, sad, pathetic story - "you can't turn off our gas. This rotisserie chicken is barely cooked; if we eat it, we'll die."/"I lost my job, my dog died, my best friend didn't make it back from the war... on obesity" - while pretending to be on the verge of tears. Apparently it works.
  • Deputies Jones and Garcia were going to invoke this trope in Reno 911! with a suspect they had in custody... that is until Garcia slipped up and called it "Good Cop Black Cop", understandably pissing off Jones.
  • In "Sexy Beast" from Resident Alien, when Sheriff Thompson and Liv Baker have to interview a stoner kid at the school, Thompson suggests that they play good cop / bad cop but then tells Baker to "stand guard" outside. He then enters the classroom and plays both roles himself in a bizarrely amusing sequence that ends with Thompson telling Baker that he couldn't break the kid and that the kid could work for the CIA.
  • Parodied in RoboCop: The Series when Robo and Madigan have two suspects who won't talk. The cops glance at each other, Robo gets "angry", Madigan says it's "the worst glitch she's ever seen!", tries to "talk Robo out of it", and tells the criminals that the only way to stop him is to tell him the truth. Remember, Robocop has a built-in lie detector. All this did was save them some time.
    RoboCop: [punches scenery] Dismember mode.
  • From the Rush Hour TV series:
    Lee: (Let's) do "Good Cop, Black Cop"
    Carter: It's "Good Cop, Chinese Cop Who Shuts Up Cop." It's racist the way you say it.
  • Parodied in one Russ Abbot sketch, when a suspect sees two policemen entering the room, and immediately asks which one's the good cop and which one's the bad cop. They both beat him up, to which his response is "Oh! Two good cops!"
  • The titular protagonists in Sapphire and Steel. In all their interactions with humans, Sapphire plays Good Cop and Steel Bad Cop. This is implied to be partly deliberate and partly just their natural personalities.
  • Shades of Blue: Two cops are in a room talking, one big tough guy and the other a blonde woman. Another cop arrives.
    Cop: Need someone to play bad cop.
    (The woman cop picks up a box file and follows him to the interrogation room)
    Woman Cop: All right, listen up.
    I am bloated.
    I'm cramping.
    My shoes are killing me, and my husband's cheating on me.
    And I have to go apologize to the bitch that he's been screwing.
    (slams box file on table)
    I'm gonna kill someone before this day is over.
    Perp: Bernard did it.
  • Referred to in The Shield. When a suspected pedophile isn't confessing as to where he's hiding his latest victim, Captain Aceveda pulls Detectives Wyms and Wagenbach off the case and instead calls in notorious Dirty Cop Vic Mackey. The perp asks "What is this, good cop and bad cop?" Mackey replies "Good cop and bad cop left for the day. I'm a different kind of cop", and proceeds to beat the living hell out of the perp.
  • In Stargate SG-1, when negotiating with hostile aliens, Daniel often takes the role of Good Cop while Jack is the Bad Cop. However in later series, after he'd taken multiple levels in badass, Daniel is far more likely to play Bad Cop instead.
  • In Starsky & Hutch the title characters refer to this game as "push or shove?" when deciding who should play bad cop and who should play good cop. Starsky complains that he's tired and that Hutch should play bad cop this time when shaking up a snitch. In another episode, they do a far more elaborate number on an assault-and-battery suspect, with Starsky throwing a giant (fake) tantrum in the interrogation room before storming out, so that Hutch can, with great kindness and concern, comfort the suspect and spin a yarn about how the last time Starsky got this mad "they almost threw him off the force, but then at the last minute, the guy managed to pull through."
  • In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Necessary Evil", Sisko and Odo get information out of Rom this way.
    • Though Odo, with his fanatical loyalty to justice, can play both parts all by himself at the same time. If he promises you to let you off easy and protect you, he will do it without question, but he's also scary enough that you have no doubt he would do exactly what he threatens if you don't cooperate.
    • The Cardassian "justice system" uses this at the trial itself. Instead of an actual defense attorney, the accused (who has already been found guilty and sentenced to death) is assigned a "public conservator" who functions as the Good Cop, while the arbiter acts as the Bad Cop (and no, there's no jury).
  • Star Trek: Enterprise. In "Precious Cargo" Captain Archer pulls this stunt on an alien kidnapper (his partner has taken off in a spaceship with Trip Tucker). Archer convinces the alien that T'Pol is a ruthless 'judicial administrator' appointed by the Vulcans to enforce discipline on Enterprise.
    Archer: If you're late for your shift you might receive a beating. But for more grievous offenses, dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming an officer... we started out with eighty-three crewmen on board. We're down to seventy-six.
    • T'Pol then enters the room in formal robes and asks some sinister questions about the alien's height, weight, and possible "post-mortem rituals", whereupon Archer tells the now-panicking alien that he might be able to get her to show "leniency" if he's seen to be co-operative...
  • Star Trek: Voyager
    • In “Living Witness”, a historian shows a grossly-inaccurate portrayal of the Voyager crew as militaristic thugs. The Good Cop was Chakotay. The Bad Cop was Harry Kim. Both are the two nicest characters on the real Voyager.
    • In another instance, in "Equinox", Janeway and Chakotay are interrogating a crewmember of the Equinox, a Starfleet ship whose crew has been killing aliens in order to power their ship. Janeway wants the crewmember to give her the tactical status of the Equinox's captain, Ransom. She threatens to lower the shields in the room, which would allow the aliens an opening to get through and attack the man, while she and Chakotay leave the room. The crewmember demonstrates his familiarity with this trope, looking at Chakotay and asking "I suppose the plan is that you're going to come to my rescue now, right?" Chakotay, however, admits that "There's no plan as far as I know. The Captain's on her own." When the crewman continues not to talk, Janeway and Chakotay leave the room and Janeway proceeds to do just what she said she was going to do, shocking Chakotay, who thought she was only bluffing. (The crewmember does crack, but not before being badly spooked.)
    • Subverted in "Critical Care". Security chief Tuvok is playing bad cop when Neelix enters and insists on feeding the prisoner. However he's a Lethal Chef...
  • Star Wars. In the pilot of Obi-Wan Kenobi there's a variation with Third Sister and Fifth Brother: she angrily demands information on Jedi whereabouts, maiming and threatening to kill those who don't co-operate, while he offers a substantial reward to those who come forward. Unlike most examples, they're not playing good cop-bad cop on purpose; the Fifth Brother is being pragmatic, while the Third Sister is being needlessly aggressive, and they clearly have no patience for each other's methods.
  • Supernatural
    • As the Winchester brothers are often Impersonating an Officer they sometimes play this while interviewing witnesses, with the more caring Sam Winchester as good cop. However in Season Six, Sam loses his soul turning him into a callous sociopath. He therefore naturally falls into the bad cop role, as only Dean has the required empathy.
    • In "Time After Time," Dean time-travels back to 1944 and finds himself working with Elliot Ness. A bookie is hauled in for questioning and Dean slugs him right away, assuming that's what Ness would do. Ness gives him a disapproving look (the bookie is much smaller than Dean) then portrays Dean as a Shell-Shocked Veteran just back from the war in Europe. The Genre Savvy Dean effortlessly slips into the bad cop role while Ness plays good cop.
    • Played for Laughs in "Hunteri Heroici" where Castiel starts Suddenly Shouting when interviewing the upset widow of the Victim of the Week.
      Castiel: What? I was being Bad Cop.
      Dean: You were being bad everything.
    • In "Goodbye Stranger," Castiel opens an interrogation by shoving an angel blade through a demon's palm. After screaming appropriately the demon snarls, "I thought angels were supposed to be the good cops." Although rather shocked by Castiel's behavior, Dean does not accept the role of good cop and tells the demon, "Think he's the only bad cop in this room?"
  • Averted in The Thick of It. The Evil Duo of Malcolm and Jamie has been referred to as a Bad Cop/Bad Cop double-act.
    Ollie to Jamie: When I met you this morning, I thought you were the nice Scot!
    • Referenced by Nicola Murray in a later scene: while being "gang-bollocked" by Malcolm and Steve Fleming, she calls them "Good Cock/Bad Cock" respectively.
  • Done in an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun in which Don teaches Dick to be a cop. First Dick is good cop and Don is bad cop. Then they switch places, but they don't stop there. Instead, they both do bad cop and finally both do good cop. This, by the way, is all done on the same (very confused) suspect. At the end, Don explains that this experiment proves that good cop/bad cop is the only viable combination. Dick then pitches "sad cop/somewhat effeminate cop"; Don tells him to leave.
    • In another episode, Tommy and Sally pull this trick on a frightened neighborhood kid. They're trying to find the kid that egged their house, and the duo pull off the technique surprisingly well, for aliens. Sally, of course, is the bad cop.
  • Torchwood often does this with interrogations with Gwen as the good cop and Jack as the bad cop.
  • In the opening of "In the Line of Fur" from Turner & Hooch (2021), Scott Jr. and Laura interrogate a guy who was in their dad's files. They only get the name "John" out of him and some info about what he did for him, but the guy doesn't know much else and Scott Jr. can tell. Laura, however, as they're leaving, asks if that's really all, saying that they could use tactics like good cop / bad cop. He points out that you need to two cops, not a cop and a veterinary assistant, and that he's pretty sure the guy told them everything he knows anyway.
  • In Veronica Mars, Keith Mars and Sheriff Lamb pull this off at least once, with Keith being the classical good cop and Lamb, the bad one. Veronica and Keith also use this, with Keith as the bad cop, to get information from a hotel employee.
  • In Walker, Texas Ranger:
    • A generic cop is interrogating a suspect. Walker comes in and the suspect asks if it is good cop/bad cop; Walker says yes, but informs him that the generic cop (who'd already gotten rough with the suspect) was the good cop, and then breaks the table in half.
    • Another episode has an on-the-spot Good Cop/Bad Cop routine in a chop-shop. The girl playing the role of "bad cop" threatens to call on the talents of the crooks' blowtorch. They crack pretty fast after that.
  • Wellington Paranormal: Subverted: When asked by Minogue to "do your bad cop" to a demon in "Demon Girl", O'Leary deadpans, "Stop that. It's a bit scary." Surprisingly, it works.
  • The West Wing:
    • Played for laughs. No one's actually a cop...
      Josh Lyman: Good cop, bad cop. I'm the good cop. The four of you are the bad cops. Will, what are you?
      Will Bailey: Bad cop.
      Josh Lyman: Danny, what are you?
      Danny Concannon: Bad cop.
      Josh Lyman: Toby, what are you?
      Toby Ziegler: Hurry up.
      Josh Lyman: Charlie, what are you?
      Charlie Young: I love Zoey and I must have her back.
      Josh Lyman: The bad cop, thats right.
    • Josh attempts it on another occasion (where it's also being Played for Laughs) but is quickly stopped in his tracks by Toby:
      Josh: We're going to do good cop/bad cop.
      Toby: No, we're really not.
      Josh: Why not?
      Toby: 'Cause this isn't an episode of Hawaii Five-O!
    • Also played straight in season 7, with President Bartlet as good cop, and President-Elect Santos as bad cop, in getting the Russians and Chinese to settle their dispute in Kazakhstan.
  • They have a game like this on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, where Colin and Ryan play two ex-cops who apply the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine on their new job (such as dishwasher repairmen), and Hilarity Ensues.
    Ryan (Good Cop): Just between the two of us... you don't think you might have overloaded it, do you?
  • The Wire:
    • Herc and Carver have arrested Bodie for the first time, and they plan to play this totally straight with Herc playing the bad cop. So Carver goes in first and tries to bond with Bodie over their shared rough backgrounds. Bodie looks as though he's about to confess...and then tells Carver to do something unpleasant. Carver starts beating Bodie, prompting "Bad Cop" Herc to rush in and stop him.
      Bodie: You supposed to be the good cop, dumb motherfucka!
    • Then you have Bird's interrogation, which starts with Kima trying to get him to make a deal while Bird shouts an endless stream of anti-lesbian abuse at her. Daniels eventually has McNulty (of all people) go in too just to make sure "Kima doesn't cut his ass." McNulty plays the role of good cop by simply getting them all to sit in sullen silence until the police lab brings backs some results on Bird's gun. When the results are in, Bird goes right back to his abuse. Now thoroughly tired of Bird, a whole group of of detectives come into the room to beat a confession out of Bird, who happens to be handcuffed at the time.
  • Mocked in The X-Files episode "Hungry" when the Genre Savvy suspect, who, indeed, is a man-eating monster, calls Mulder on his supernatural-slanted inquisition.
    Robert "Rob" Roberts: I'm sorry, but this is just good cop, insane cop.

  • Mentioned in Saxon's "Slow Lane Blues", after the song's protagonist is caught by cops from speeding:
    They took me to the side and gave me some grief
    Said I was crazy I couldn't believe
    Good cop bad cop they played the routine
    They took away my car I tossed them the keys

  • In The Adventure Zone: Balance, Magnus and Taako slip into this routine while interrogating Graham... with Merle as a bonus "Maternal Cop".
    • Later, Merle and Magnus go into this when interrogating Lucas, with Taako acting as "guy who's here to pay a parking ticket."

  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: Parodied, when a bunch of police officers try this, and it doesn't work since their perp knows the routine. So they switch up to Good Cop, Bad Cop, Nasty Cop, Defeatist Cop, Haiku Cop, Holistic Cop, and Truthful Cop. That eventually gets the confession, even if it does eat up a lot of manpower.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Paranoia, pairs of Internal Security agents were assigned to carry out this trope, complete with a detailed script ("good cop leaves to go get the perp a drink, bad cop comes in and shoves the perp around", etc.). Then, due to budget cuts, both roles got assigned to the same agent - but the script never got changed, leading to some very confused perps.
  • In Dark Heresy the Coordinated Interrogation talent allows two Acolytes to work together on an interrogation, getting a bonus to the roll. Of course, given the nature of the setting this is more likely to be Bad Cop, Worse Cop.

    Video Games 
  • CIA agents Gordon and Whistler use this technique when interrogating Sergeant Blackburn in Battlefield 3; Gordon acts calm and implores Black to take his time and give the best explanation possible, while Whistler repeatedly hounds him with accusations and insults.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, Lt. Boyd, playing the "passive-aggressive, sarcastic cop" hires you to be her "bad cop" and help interrogate a captured centurion from Caesar's Legion. She wants you, a civilian contractor unhindered by the NCR's pesky "proper treatment of POWs" laws, to beat the crap out of him until he cracks, but with a little smarts you can get the centurion to sing without even touching him, netting a better reward.
    • Or, if you are playing as siding with the Legion, you can help him commit suicide (like he was supposed to when captured) or escape.
  • FBI agent Norman Jayden and police lieutenant Carter Blake respectively from Heavy Rain tend to have this dynamic when facing suspects together - which is just about every time, seeing as they work together for most of the game despite the fact that they seem to loathe each other. In fact, two achievements in the game obtainable in one of Norman's chapters are called "Good Cop" and "Bad Cop," the former obtained by stopping Blake during an interrogation done his way and the latter by encouraging him.
  • In a Let's Play of Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, the protagonist attempts a Good Cop/Bad Cop routine on the Sullustan mechanic on Dantooine. Things go a bit wrong, however, mainly because his "good cop" happens to be HK-47.
  • Cole Phelps and his partners in L.A. Noire. Cole himself could play both roles at once depending on how you interact with witnesses and suspects. The HD remaster renames the dialogue choices from "Truth, Doubt, Lie" to "Good Cop, Bad Cop, Accuse".
  • Thane's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2 gives the player the option of whether to be the good cop or the bad cop while interrogating Elias Kelham.
    • The optimal solution is for Paragon Shepard to play the Bad Cop, which allows them to be a Guile Hero and trick Kelham into letting slip the information the player needs.
    • Humorously, you can choose to be the good cop and then beat the guy within an inch of his life while Thane just sort of stands there (there was apparently supposed to be a proper good cop route, but it didn't make it in). You can also smack him around a few times, and then say you and Thane are both the good cop, with the real bad cop outside.
      Thane: I say we let him in, Elias doesn't need fingers to talk.
    • Alternatively, provided that you have the Renegade score for it, you can choose instead to simply point a gun at his face and inform him that you are a Council Spectre, thereby causing the remainder of the interrogation to proceed incredibly smoothly and last about 30 seconds as Council Spectres are above the law.
      Shepard: My name is Shepard. I'm a Spectre.
      Kelham: Prove it.
      [Shepard draws his/her gun and presses it against the criminal's face]
      Shepard: I don't have to prove anything. Spectres are above the law. Are we clear?
      Kelham: ...crystal...
      (a while later)
      Thane: That may go down in history as the shortest interrogation ever.
  • Mass Effect 3
    • At a certain point in Citadel, Kaidan or Garrus will lament not being able to use the good cop/bad cop routine they respectively planned.
    • In one of Liara's "non-critical correspondence" files, two Alliance interrogators are warming up to start this routine on a captured Cerberus phantom... and then she triggers her ocular nerve flashbang.
  • Sam & Max: Freelance Police: The eponymous duo tried to pull this one while interrogating Jimmy Two-Teeth in the first puzzle of Culture Shock (Sam is the good cop, Max is the bad one). While they aren't interrogating, usually when you can choose if the one talking is Sam or Max, Sam tries to be helpful somehow (or at least have some tact) while Max just says whatever is on his twisted mind. Since the games are puzzle-based, this usually backfires unless you think carefully.
  • In the iOS game Layton Brothers: Mystery Room, the title protagonist (though close to Deuteragonist ) is both of these in one character (with the "bad cop" bordering on Rabid Cop during the interrogation portion). It turns out the "bad cop" is actually Alfendi's real personality while his more pleasant side was a mask created by Justin Lawson through hypnosis
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Angel Starr from the first game's fifth case is a former detective who was known as the "Cough-up Queen" for her ability to squeeze information out of suspects. It's implied that the reason for her effectiveness was that she could do this routine by herself, using colored contacts and Peek A Bangs to flip between inviting and threatening.
    • In Dual Destinies Phoenix Wright comments his newly hired junior lawyer Athena Cykes is "like good cop, bad cop all rolled into one". This is a pretty accurate description, with her being kind, rather caring and considerate of people's feelings and what they're going through, but also being quick to anger, not above hurting people (with slaps mostly) and using underhanded tactics to get information, as well as asking Apollo if she can go and "ring his neck", in regards to a witness.
  • The two cops fighting inside the helicopter in Grand Theft Auto III.
  • In The Darkside Detective, in a rare moment of self-awareness, McQueen's dimwitted partner Dooley describes McQueen and himself as "good-cop, how-is-this-guy-still-a-cop".
  • Persona 5 somewhat subverts this with the twin Velvet Room attendants Caroline and Justine. While the Bad Cop role fits Caroline like a glove, insulting Joker every chance she gets, Justine isn't neccessarily what we consider Good Cop material. Granted, she not as verbally abusive as Caroline, but her professional attitude makes her appear cold and distant. So, it's more like Bad Cop/Neutral Cop.
  • Disco Elysium: Kim Kitsuragi and the Defective Detective Player Character can do this during interrogations. The player character can choose either side, and Kim will go the opposite route, but the same relationship and personality differences are reflected in both scenarios:
  • Ray Machowski and Leon McAffrey were partners in the LCPD in Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, the former was a By-the-Book Cop and the latter was a Dirty Cop. Unfortunately, Ray himself became a corrupt cop in Grand Theft Auto III.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: In Episode 1, Ruby's introduced saving a Dust shopkeeper from Dust thieves before she herself is saved by the Huntress, Glynda. Glynda takes her to an interrogation room where she dresses the teenager down for her brave, but foolhardy, behaviour until Ruby is squirming at being in trouble. It turns out this is a set-up for her "good cop" partner... who arrives bearing cookies for Ruby to wolf down then holds a very friendly conversation about her weapon, skills and goals in life. It turns out to be a recruitment scout. After seeing Ruby in action, the prestigious Beacon Academy has decided to take her on two years early. The "good cop" was the headmaster himself and Glynda is his right-hand... teacher.
  • Discussed in one of the "Junior Detectives" skits in RWBY Chibi, in which Neptune complains that he never gets to be bad cop, and Sun says he's just not cut out for the role. He's right, too - when they try to interrogate Nora and accuse her of eating all the pancakes, she manages to switch things around until it's Sun and Nora yelling at Neptune until he confesses.
  • Audience! Day is an exhausted optimist with insomnia and First is an implacably austere authoritarian that never sleeps, literally. Together, they fight crime.

  • In No Need for Bushido, a captured soldier confesses before even being questioned after he hears a Good Cop/Bad Cop discussion going on outside the door before the protagonists come in the room.
    Ken: What?!! You're sending Wataro in? How come I don't get to interrogate him?
    Ina: Because you'll kill him.
    Ken: Yeah, so?
  • Calamities of Nature points out that God is performing the ultimate good cop/bad cop routine.
  • Girl Genius:
    • Gil and Bang prove adept at manipulating people by Bang repeatedly and loudly talking about killing everyone, and Gil holding her back. This helps underline the seriousness of the situation when Gil goes bad too. Not that they're doing this on purpose.
      Footnote: Both Bangladesh and Gilgamesh would have been distressed to read the field reports that assessed the two of them as being an excellent team. It had certainly kept the Baron from sleeping for several nights.
    • Apparently Bangladesh and the Baron used to do this as well. Bangladesh always wanted to kill prisoners, the Baron would stop her which encouraged people to surrender.
    • On the other hand, the circus folk fool them by playing Good Perp Bad Perp. Pix plays the xenophobic peasant trying to grift anyone who comes by—even if that person has the authority to shoot her. Abner plays her level-headed boyfriend who steps in and tells the truth before she gets, you know, shot. It works beautifully.
      Gil: What the—they tricked me! Father, they tricked me!
      Klaus: Am I supposed to feel better because the heir to my empire was tricked—BY A PACK OF CARNIES!?
  • Two police sergeants, Spears and Samu, attempt to get Dr. Piper Kaufmann to spill her guts in Intragalactic by using the time-tested "girl cop, boy cop".
    Spears: All right, pigeon - are ya gonna talk, or do I have to ovulate again?
    Samu: Please, miss, do what she wants! My penis can't hold her back forever!
  • In The Other Grey Meat, Karl and Chuck interrogate Sylene about the murder of a Category One Zombie. Chuck starts nice, Karl immediately goes aggressive.Karl isn't really trying to be part of the interrogation, he just wants his TOGM fries back, and Chuck looks surprised at his overreaction.
  • In A Miracle of Science, Caprice and Benjamin pull the routine pretty effectively.
  • Exterminatus Now has "Bad Cop / Badder Cop" routine. The second time it sort of backfires.
    Harold: Sounds good to me, I always wanted to be the bad cop.
    Syrus: You are a bad cop. In fact, you're a terrible cop.
  • Kiwi Blitz: After Natrix is apprehended, officers Flores and Barnes give him the "bad cop/whatever cop" routine, though Flores might just be relieving stress.
  • Narbonic plays with this, with Dave pointing out how easy the newly human Caliban would be to torture, seeing as he's never felt pain before.
    Caliban: I see. When do I get my "good cop"?
    Dave (smiling): I am the good cop.
  • Paranatural has the school bullies trying this method to get information out of Jeff. And then they try another method.
    Ollie: (surrounded by Bishie Sparkle) What's your favorite flavor of movie? Did you know everything's going to be all right?
    Jeff: (thinking) Good cop bad cop!
    Johnny: (now also surrounded by Bishie Sparkle) How can I make this bullying experience more comfortable for you?
    Ollie: What are your hopes and also dreams?
    Jeff: (thinking) G-GOOD COP GOOD COP??
  • Ray from Forest Hill is subjected to this by a pair of detectives who are trying to determine whether he is molesting his daughter.
  • In this Skin Horse strip, Sweetheart is trying to be the By-the-Book Cop on a dangerous suspect, while Cloudcuckoolander Unity fails to realise the suspect is even threatening them, and thinks the combination of a stained cleaver and the phrase "It's gonna get messy" indicates pie. Sweetheart calls this "Good Cop, Bad-at-Reading-the-Room Cop".
  • Outsider: Invoked by Jardin in his internal dialogue when Beryl and Fireblade first approach him after the failed interrogation. Beryl introduces herself and says that she's taking him to see the ship's diplomatic officer, then introduces Fireblade and notes her title and role, and that she's in charge of overseeing Jardin's security.
    Beryl: [Fireblade] warns that though you are being allowed to move without restraint, she will not tolerate any misbehavior.
    Jardin: [internal] Ah. The old "good elf, bad elf" routine.

    Web Original 
  • Happens in the I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC spinoff "Rorschach and Deadpool", with a twist.
    Rorschach: How the hell did I end up being the good cop?
  • Parodied: In LoadingReadyRun's "commodoreHUSTLE: Showdown", Kathleen and Paul interrogate Tim for Geoff's location. Bill has a hard time discerning who is the good cop.
    Kathleen: Oh no, we roll with bad cop/crazy cop.
    Kathleen and Paul: (gesturing to each other) S/He's crazy cop.
  • Referenced in Red vs. Blue by Doc. He is quick to point out that his two captors are really bad at this trope and more of a bad cop/even worse cop.
  • Parodied in The Onion article "Good Cop, Avid-Stamp-Collector Cop Routine Not Working".
  • Discussed in this blog piece in reference to efforts to undermine the influence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The blogger mentions a human rights activist who has started up girls' schools in the country criticizing the US military's own efforts to fight the Taliban. The blogger notes that the activist essentially wants to have the good cop without the bad cop, in that he wants to have human rights brought to the country through teachers such as himself without the military being involved. The blogger believes that the problem with this view is that you can't have the good cop without the bad cop; trying to start up a school that promotes human rights in the jurisdiction of a repressive regime such as the Taliban without the threat of force from the military is likely to get you killed before you can start.
  • The Yogscast's Sips and Sjin used this routine to interrogate members of the Beaver Mafia (who had disguised themselves as farm animals) after the nefarious woodland creatures blew up their Minecraft house. Ass-slappage and police brutality ensued. The interrogation room had a stripper's pole. It was a weird couple of episodes.
  • Something Awful: Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Used against the ghost of an assassin, with the party using its body's severed legs as leverage (having captured said legs after they had attempted to flee). Joey plays the bad cop by trying to Intimidate him, Bananaramawicz attempts to roll Diplomacy for the good cop. Meanwhile, Kensington shouts lies at him from across the room with Bluff checks.
    Joey: We don't need good cop, bad cop, lying cop.
    • While hunting down a shapeshifter in a small town after reaching Paragon Tier, Joey and Minerelle play detective while the rest of the party investigates a wizard's tower. It's noted in the thread that it seems like a good cop/bad cop situation where both of them are the bad cop.
  • 5 Second Films used the lesser-known variant, "Good Cop, Rocket Alligator".
  • In one Jake And Amir sketch, Amir insists (for no good reason) on playing out this trope during a staff meeting, immediately becomes insulting and abusive, and ends up threatening to murder one of the interns. Afterward, he insists that he was playing the good cop.
  • In TomSka's The Confession 2, the 2 main characters tries to do this to get a confession out of a perp...and Puntastically failing.
  • Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works] Abridged: Rin interrogates Shinji and at first calls herself the "Bad Cop" and wants Shirou to be her "Good Cop". After seeing that Rider was killed, she tries again, only calling herself "Bad Cop/Worse Cop". She scares him by firing a Gandr near his head and saying Worse Cop wouldn't miss.
  • Simultaneously played straight and inverted in the Justice Wing story The Interrogation. The hero Paragon (who literally is the Paragon of this setting) wants to be the bad cop, while the Vigilante called Nightstick tries to talk him out of it... because Paragon's too good at it and Nightstick is worried about psychologically scarring the villain, because Paragon legitimately treats them kindly and earnestly, absolving the villain of blame for his failure to stop them and telling them that no matter what happens, the villain has to remember the upcoming disaster isn't their fault. By the end the criminal's told Paragon everything and is last seen begging the police to send the heroes backup.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad! Steve and Roger, as Wheels and the Legman, are interrogating Barry. They fight over which one of them gets to be the bad cop. They both escalate their torture of Barry, culminating in Roger making a sandwich with Barry's hands and preparing to put them in a hot panini press. Steve gives in and tells Roger he can be bad cop.
  • A teaser on Batman: The Brave and the Bold has Batman as the good cop and Detective Chimp as the bad cop.
  • The Boondocks episode "A Date with the Health Inspector" parodies this with an interrogation between a "Good Cop / Bad Cop" duo and Tom DuBois, who is being accused of a crime that he obviously didn't commit solely because both he and the real perp are black. The Bad Cop immediately accuses Tom of the crime and assaults him, before the Good Cop pulls him off. The Bad Cop grudgingly walks out of the room... before rushing in two seconds later to assault Tom again. Furthermore, when the Bad Cop is finally led away for good and the Good Cop starts doing his spiel, Tom protests that as a prosecutor, he knows all about how the Good Cop / Bad Cop thing works. Ten minutes later, he's tearfully signing a confession, as the Good Cop very insincerely promises that Tom will never do any jail time (Tom was very afraid of getting anally raped).
  • From Family Guy: Good Cop, Developmentally Disabled Cop.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures - Jackie and Jade while interrogating the mask of General Ikazuki. This is followed by Finn and Ikazuki when they need Tohru to provide them with a mask removal potion.
  • Done in an extended Dream Sequence in the Daria episode "Murder, She Snored" where Daria is accused of killing Kevin. Unsurprisingly, Mr. O'Neill is the good cop and Mr. DiMartino the bad cop.
  • Justice League Unlimited:
    • In "The Once And Future Thing: Time Warped", which involves Time Travel, Batman winds up playing Bad Cop/Worse Cop with himself, some thirty years in the future. A seventy-year-old Bruce Wayne, as voiced by Kevin Conroy, is the most terrifying being in existence.
      Static: Wow. Batman playing good cop.
      Green Lantern: Everything's relative.
    • And then there's the conversation in the page quote. Superman almost sounds like he's jealous.
    • In "Injustice For All", Batman is missing, and Superman and The Flash try to interrogate Copperhead, who was part of the gang that captured the Bat. Copperhead just laughs at Superman's attempt to play Bad Cop and doesn't flinch when Superman threatens to hurt him, prompting the Man of Steel to frustratedly wonder how Batman does it.
    • This also happens with Green Lantern/Hawkgirl in "War World". You can probably guess who the bad cop was.
    • In "The Brave And The Bold", Flash is arrested for a robbery he did while he was under mind control. Once cop repeatedly yells in his face, demanding to know where the stolen goods are and saying he knew all along superheroes couldn't be trusted, while his partner calmly offers Flash coffee and says he can help him if he cooperates. Green Lantern bails Flash out before it can escalate.
  • Justice League Action continues the trend in "Good Cop, Bat Cop," where Batman and Superman interrogate Deadshot, except Superman says he's sick of playing Good Cop all the time and makes Batman switch roles with him. Deadshot is utterly unfazed and even slightly amused by Superman's pathetic attempts at being mean and intimidating... but Batman trying to be nice is so out-of-character that Deadshot finds him even scarier that way than normal, and quickly breaks down and says he'll talk just to get him to stop.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Played with by Rainbow Dash (bad cop) and Fluttershy (good cop) to greed-enlarged Spike after he kidnaps Rarity. Rainbow Dash demands he release Rarity, while Fluttershy adds her typical passive comments to Spike (who she's afraid of now).
    Rainbow Dash: Put her down right now!
    Fluttershy: I-If you wouldn't mind, that is.
    Rainbow Dash: I mean it, dragon boy!
    Fluttershy: Uh, we'll be ever so grateful if you'd be so kind as to possibly consider...
    Rainbow Dash: Drop her, scaly!
    • Happens again as more of a literal example in the episode Rarity Investigates! with Dash again where (bad cop) Rainbow Dash interrogates the castle guards with (good cop) Rarity. Rainbow asks biting questions while Rarity talks softly and seductively (while posing on her fainting couch).
  • The Simpsons:
    • In episode "The Boy Who Knew Too Much", Lisa is being interrogated at school by Principal Skinner and Groundskeeper Willie, but the pair continually (and unintentionally) keep swapping the Good and Bad roles, much to Lisa's amusement.
    • When being questioned by the police about Mona Simpson's whereabouts Selma Bouvier attempts to engage the police in a game of Good Cop Bad Cop. To her dismay they were all good cops.
  • Transformers: Animated, Optimus and Grimlock fall into this while questioning Powell...only it was more like "Good Cop, Crazy Dinosaur Cop."
    Optimus: Did I mention my partner is extremely hungry?
    • And now again, this time "Robotic Cop, Organic Cop With Terrifying Snot."(Lately Autobots have been getting more and more terrified of organics.)
  • "Wrong Exposure", a Season 4 episode of Code Lyoko, Odd accidentally sends a picture of Franz Hopper, with his daughter, Aelita, to Sissi. Not surprisingly, Sissi shows it to Mr. Delmas. In a meeting with the principal, Jim played Bad Cop while Mr. Delmas played Good Cop to the Lyoko Warriors.
  • In an episode of The Fairly Oddparents, Jorgen Von Strangle plays this with Wanda, trying to get her to blame Cosmo. He even volunteers to switch right away to his "Good Cop" plaque, but when Wanda refuses to comply, he switches right back to the "Bad Cop" side of the plaque.
  • In the Back at the Barnyard episode "Fowl Play", Otis, Pip, and Pig interrogate a Gopher to find out where Peck is when Freddy was accused of eating him. Otis plays the good cop, and Pip plays the bad cop, leading to this exchange:
    Gopher: Wait a minute, if you're the good cop, and he's the bad cop, then who's he? (points at Pig)
    Pig: I'm the funny cop. Pull my finger!
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Ghost Princess", Finn and Jake are respectively the bad and good cop as they interrogate the ghosts in a cemetery. In practice, Jake spends most of the time looting graves until Finn specifically calls for him.
    Finn: Jake, it's time to interrogate the neighbors. We'll do it good cop bad cop style. I CALL BAD COP!
    Jake: Awww...
  • Played with in the Sonic Boom episode, "Vector Detector"; When Sonic and Vector interrogate Dave on the Meh Burger VIP card the latter found as a clue to who stole Amy's hammer, they both play the bad cop.
  • In a Season One episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ahsoka tries to play the Bad Cop to Luminara's Good one when interrogating the corrupt Nute Gunray, but is pulled aside and chastised by Luminara just when it seems that she was starting to get somewhere.
    Ashoka: Tell us what we want to know right now, or I will gut you like a Rokarian dirt fish!
    Luminara: Padawan!
  • Played for Laughs on Milo Murphy's Law, as seen here.
    Milo: Oh, um—I thought we were doing "Good Cop/Bad Cop."
    Dakota: And who are you, Dangerously Unstable Cop? And why do you have a cattle prod?!


Video Example(s):


Interrogating Axl

Following a chemical terror attack against the independent human colony Sedra by Covenant Zealots, UNSC ONI Agent Jameson Locke walks on on Sedran Militia Colonel Randall Aiken beating up an alien smuggler to get him to talk (without success). After some trading of barbs between Aiken and Locke's team, Locke addresses the prisoner, Axl, in his own language and quickly starts getting him to open up... before casually mentioning he can always hand him back to Aiken if he doesn't keep talking. Axl spills everything he knows in a hurry.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / GoodCopBadCop

Media sources: