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Meddlesome Patrolman

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"Baker, let me tell you a little secret. A patrolling officer on his beat is the one true dictatorship in America. We can lock a guy up on a humble, lock him up for real, or say 'Fuck it, let's pull under the expressway and drink ourselves to death', and our side partners will cover it. So no one... and I mean no one tells us how to waste our shift."
Jimmy McNulty, The Wire

This is the beat cop who wears a uniform, patrols the neighborhood, controls traffic at cross-sections, and watches for infractions to the road code. Heroes who break the law whether unwittingly or out of childish mischief will likely end up on his wrong side, and be given a fine or taken to the local police precinct. Neither a Rabid Cop, a Cowboy Cop, a Dirty Cop, nor an Old-Fashioned Copper, the Meddlesome Patrolman is still liable to be as annoying as the Obstructive Bureaucrat. Liable to give you The Trouble with Tickets.

A frequent recurring minor character in classic Belgian Comics and Franco-Belgian Comics and an obvious foil to protagonists who are either street urchins or just regular children who use the streets as a playground. So, expect some examples to be found in older American shows and comic strips (basically dating from before the rise of suburbia). The meter maid is a possible variation.

Compare Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist and Inspector Javert.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Hotori, the main character of And Yet the Town Moves, has a long-running feud with the stressed neighborhood cop Matsuda, although besides being cheeky, playing hooky and sneaking out at night she isn't exactly a delinquent.

  • Coluche, a famous French stage comedian, had a routine called "Le Flic" ("The Cop") in which he played a Meddlesome Patrolman.

    Comic Books 
  • Agent Dussiflet or his peers get to slap a fine on Achille Talon, or drag him in handcuffs to the local police precinct, on more than one occasion. They also often try to catch Papa Talon driving or walking around drunk.
  • Agent 212 is an interesting case of a Meddlesome Patrolman who is also the protagonist of a series rather than a supporting character.
  • Agent 22 was a recurring nemesis of Billy & Buddy in the early albums.
  • Agent Bodard in Corinne et Jeannot. His main purpose seems to add insult to injury caused by Corinne on Jeannot.
  • Gaston Lagaffe: Joseph Longtarin is Gaston's nemesis, forever looking for a reason to give him a fine for this or that alleged traffic violation. Gaston retaliates with various practical jokes that often involve vandalizing parking meters.
  • Agent Dreutel in De Generaal, who always tried to arrest the eponymous general and then got his motorbike (and usually himself as well) Squashed Flat under the general's tank or other Doomsday Device.
  • De Champetter in the Belgian comic strip De Lustige Kapoentjes by Marc Sleen.
  • In Ms. Tree, the title character originally worked as a parking attendant who met her future husband when she ticketed him.
  • Piet Pienter en Bert Bibber: Commissaris Knobbel and his police officers.
  • Officer Bulle Bas in Tom Poes.
  • Agent Tieter in the Belgian comic strip De Vrolijke Bengels by Willy Vandersteen.
  • In the German comic Werner, Bruno and Helmut.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Played within the Harry Potter story The Chosen Six, where Sirius of all people becomes a Bobby, though he only meddles with people who deserve it and otherwise is highly regarded.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • These guys often showed up to bully all sorts of silent comedians, Laurel and Hardy, and The Three Stooges in the first half of the 20th century.
  • Charlie Chaplin's character of The Tramp has often to deal with a Meddlesome Patrolman (or ten) in many of his movies.
  • The French movie Le Gendarme de Saint-Tropez and its five sequels are a film series were not only the main character (played by Louis de Funès) but most of the supporting cast is this kind of cop, of the National Gendarmerie subtype.
  • In Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, one policewoman pulls over a car with a seriously wounded passenger. Unfortunately for her, the wounded guy is a gangster, and, well... definitely isn't a "fuckin' male chauvinist pig".
  • Another (older) Louis de Funès movie is Ni vu, ni connu. This time, the protagonist is a poacher, and he's outwitting a Meddlesome Forest Guard.
  • The motorcycle cop played by Tim Robbins in Robert Altman's Short Cuts takes advantage of his uniform to pull over good-looking women and ask them for dates.
  • In Vigilante Diaries, a guard in the parking garage starts to write Wolfman a ticket for illegal parking before realising that he is attempting to defuse a nuclear bomb in the trunk of the car.

  • Local police officer Flipsen in the Dutch children's novel Dik Trom is always the Butt-Monkey of Dik Trom's jokes.
  • Mandatory Discworld reference: that would be Sergeant Colon and possibly Corporal Nobbs. Colon especially hits the Meddlesome Patrolman wall hard when he is temporarily promoted to Captain during the events of The Fifth Elephant.
  • The Elenium:
    • There's two cases when officers try to hassle a troop of Church Knights escorting their Preceptors. Intimidation (and a perfectly-legal field demotion) wins the first time, but the second time Sparhawk lets Faran work out some aggression by trampling the idiot.
    • If border guards count, then sequel series The Tamuli has a great example in the form of some Cynesgan guards who were deliberately trying to stall Sparhawk. This being a work starring Sparhawk, constructive Elenishism ends up taking care of the problem.
  • Joe Pickett: In Blood Trail, Joe is driving to meet an FBI informer from inside an Animal Wrongs Group in a park in an isolated small town. He is stopped by the small town cop for speeding (the speed limit had been changed the month before and Joe did not know). It turns out Joe had once arrested the cop's father for hunting without a licence. The cop still bears a grudge and goes out of his way to be as hindering and obnoxious as possible to Joe. Joe eventually knocks the cop out and drags him along to the meet. However, by the time they get to the park, the informant is dead.
  • Smaller & Smaller Circles: One Quezon City cop tries to shoo Intrepid Reporter Joanna Bonifacio off a crime scene in their area—even if she ends up proving more competent at retrieving useful information from it than the whole unit assigned to contain the crime scene combined.
  • A rural-village version often appears in the writings of P. G. Wodehouse.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks:
    • In "Public Property on Parade", Mrs. Davis' electricity is turned off when she doesn't pay the bill. Miss Brooks types out Mr. Conklin's speech using a card table set up under the street lamp on the sidewalk. A polite, but meddlesome rookie cop comes by and informs her she can't work on the street. He does, at least, carry the typewriter, card table and folding chair back to Mrs. Davis' house!
    • In "Four Leaf Clover", Miss Brooks is plagued by a far less courteous cop. When she accidentally knocks over Mr. Morelli's barber pole, the policeman forces her to go to Morelli's house right away - making Miss Brooks (and Mr. Boynton, who she was supposed to drive to school) very late for school. To add insult to injury, no one is at home and Miss Brooks is required to return later in the day. Hours later, the policeman comes by Madison High and makes Miss Brooks settle with the man whose yard from whom she picked the four-leaf clover. It turns out Miss Brooks caused $50 worth of damage to very expesive golf sod. Finally, when Miss Brooks finally finds Mr. Morelli at home, the meddlesome policeman comes by and quarantines Miss Brooks (and Mr. Conklin, whose airplane tickets Miss Brooks had accidentally pocketed) at Mr. Morelli's house. It seems as if Morelli has the measles, and someone stole his quarantine sign!
  • Karen and Davis from Corner Gas occasionally do this. Usually because they don't have anything else to do.
  • The legendary intro sequence to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air features one of these, busting Will for spraying graffiti on a wall before he attempts to pass it off as deodorant.
  • Marie Pervenche, a French live-action TV series from the 1980s. Although the eponymous character doesn't spend much time doing that job before adventure calls. OTOH, Danièle Evenou, the actress who played her, is wacky enough in real life to be compared to Gaston Lagaffe.
  • How city employees are regarded in Parking Wars, usually by those on the receiving end of a parking violation.
  • Bruce "The Goose" Hopkins, the council bylaws officer from the Australian kids show Streetsmartz.
  • While The Wire largely focuses on detectives trying to make a case against major players in the drug trade, we occasionally see interactions between patrol cops and the corner kids who mostly view them as an annoyance or occupational hazard (barring the occasional violent bastard).

  • Officer Obie from Alice's Restaurant, who treats a case of littering as it were the crime of the century.
  • "Lovely Rita" by The Beatles.
    Standing by a parking meter
    When I caught a glimpse of Rita
    Filling in a ticket in her little white book
Funny story, actually; Paul McCartney wrote this one as a sarcastic love song to a woman who had given him a ticket not too long prior. When asked about the woman's name, his reply was something along the lines of "She looked like a Rita to me." It is no doubt merely coincidence that choosing that name made it easier to find rhymes for "parking meter"...

  • Patrolman Mulligan in Dead End. He's not thrilled to be assigned to a precinct where kids pull knives on people, but at least it's not Harlem.
  • Lieutenant Schrank and Officer Krupke in West Side Story. The Jets and Sharks show them only mocking respect. Schrank would rather have both gangs kill each other off.

    Web Comics 
  • Casey and Andy: Quantum Cop, except during story arcs, when he becomes a protagonist.
  • A Pvp arc had Brent get on the wrong side of a bike cop that turned into a mixture of one of this with a full-blown stalker.

    Western Animation 
  • This has been invoked in multiple cartoon shorts in which a patrolman sees some children out and about instead of at school and goes through considerable effort to corral the truant children and get them to go to school. At the end of the short, the cop gets to the schoolhouse with the children and notices a sign pointing out that the reason the children are out and about is because it is a school holiday — something the kids have been trying to point out for at least half the short.
  • There's a cop in SpongeBob SquarePants who shows up in a few episodes giving out tickets to characters (Usually Squidward) for really petty crimes; in at least one episode where he shows up he blatantly ignores a more serious crime to ticket Squidward for littering.
  • Pretty much every episode of Top Cat revolves around the cats running some shady scheme while trying to keep Officer Dibble out of the loop.

Alternative Title(s): Obstructive Cop, The Longtarin, Beat Cop