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Old Cop, Young Cop

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A constellation of two cops or detectives, an older one and a younger one. Inevitably, the older one becomes some kind of father figure to the other. In addition to that, they are often presented as very different from each other, which may or may not result in conflict between them. Maybe the older one is experienced while the younger one is new to the job. Maybe the younger one is emotional and short-tempered while the older one is more like The Stoic. Maybe the younger one is idealistic while the older one tends more towards cynicism. Maybe it's a case of Red Oni, Blue Oni. Maybe the older one is a rationalist while the younger one tends towards more intuitive methods of investigation - or maybe the other way round. If they appear in a crime or mystery setting (and they are very unlikely to be seen elsewhere), expect them to be the main characters. Also, expect at least one of them to be personally involved in the case in one way or the other.

Subtrope of Student–Master Team. If the junior partner grows up to train an apprentice of his own, it's a Master-Apprentice Chain.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Ikari and Maniwa from Paranoia Agent.
  • Soichiro Yagami and Touta Matsuda from Death Note, at least at the beginning of the series.
  • Tiger & Bunny does this with a slight alteration: instead of cops, they're superheroes
    • In a bit of inversion, the older one is the idealist and considered to be a bit of an idiot.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, this is the standard for partnerships within the CCG. Veteran Investigators are typically paired as mentors to new graduates from the Academy, and expected to groom them into ideal Investigators. Examples include:
    • Paternal Old Soldier Shinohara and his eccentric rookie partner/surrogate son, Juuzou. In the sequel, Juuzou himself has gone on to become a mentor to newer recruits.
    • Methodical veteran Kureo Mado and his Hotblooded subordinate, Amon. Later in the series, Amon tries to be the steady senior partner to Mado's rookie daughter, Akira. He fails spectacularly, due to her Ice Queen demeanor and initial dislike of him.
    • Wise and exceptionally professional Houji and idealistic, short-tempted Takizawa.
    • In the sequel, Akira Mado is the cool and professional senior to idealistic Amnesiac Hero Haise Sasaki. She's not amused when he accidentally calls her "mom".

    Audio Play 
  • Below Board sees Detective Holloway, an up-and-comer from the Upper Midwest, team up with Detective Martin, a Cajun veteran of the New Orleans Police Department.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku! has Tamako Nokogiri and Dan'ichiro "Dan" Shitsugen. Nokogiri is the friendly and professional Young Cop, while Shitsugen is the gritty and cynical Old Cop.


  • Somerset and Mills from Se7en: Former Trope Namer. Knight in Sour Armor Somerset is actually training Mills (a bright young family man) to take his place once he retires.
  • Connor, the "senpai" (Sean Connery) and Smith, the "kohai" (Wesley Snipes) in Rising Sun.
  • Agents K and J from Men in Black.
  • Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura as detectives Murakami and Sato in Akira Kurosawa's Stray Dog.
  • If Space Police count, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker follow this one to a tee.
    • Arguably also Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi before Qui-Gon's death.
      • Don't forget Anakin and Ahsoka, and Dooku and Qui-Gon. This is a Master-Apprentice Chain spanning at least five generations.
  • 'Confess, Fletch'': The middle-aged Inspector Monroe is a serious and thoughtful analyzer of evidence, while his young assistant Griselda "Griz" is an eager-to-please Bumbling Sidekick who nonetheless is good at finding useful evidence and also shoots the killer in the climax.
  • Malone and Ness from The Untouchables (1987).
  • Gattaca: Detective Hugo is a Deadpan Snarker in a Badass Longcoat, and his partner is a more sociable Sharp-Dressed Man who's over 30 years younger than Hugo. Interestingly, while the younger detective is the one to have a couple of accurate insights that help solve the case, Hugo is the one who ultimately follows up on them while the younger one is distracted by something else.
  • In Lethal Weapon, Murtaugh is an older cop waiting to get retired, and Riggs is a young suicidal loose cannon.
  • Pierre Niemans (old, played by Jean Reno) and Max Kerkerian (young, played by Vincent Cassel) in The Crimson Rivers.
  • Bob Hodges and Danny Mcgavin from Colors
  • Anderson and Ward, Mississippi Burning.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Commissioner Gordon takes a liking to rookie cop John Blake, admiring his initiative in things. He promotes him to Detective over the protestations of his deputy, and sets him on the task (as at the time Gordon is in convalescence after crossing Bane). Those Two Guys during the Batpod chase scene also elicit this; the elder cop says "You're in for a helluva show tonight" after sighting Batman. The younger cop also reflexively shoots Batman's EMP gun and immediately apologizes after a "What are you, stupid?" stare from Bats.
  • The Rookie (1990) had Charlie Sheen as the young cop to Clint Eastwood's old.
  • Scream 4: The jaded and mischievous Deputy Perkins is decades older than his cautious partner Hoss.
  • The UK Made-for-TV Movie Split Second follows a hit-and-run driver (Clive Owen) whose crime is investigated by two traffic cops. One cop (James Cosmo) is a thoughtful, fifty-ish collector of seaside postcards, while his twenty-something partner gets more emotionally invested in the case.
  • Dredd has Judge Dredd as the old cop to Anderson's young.
  • Martin Beck & Gunvald Larsson in the Beck-series.
  • Knight Moves: Capt. Frank Sedman (old) and Det. Andy Wagner (young) have this dynamic going between them. Naturally, Sedman is more levelheaded and methodical, while Wagner is more of a hothead.
  • Paycheck: There is a twenty-year age difference between the two FBI agents. Dodge, the older one, has some good gut feelings and reasonable insights. His partner Klein is less imaginative, but is practical and efficient. They are also a Salt and Pepper pair, and while neither is whacky or a hothead, Klein (the Caucasian agent) is more strait-laced.
  • Relative Fear: The plain-spoken Detective Atwater has graying hair and is Properly Paranoid about the deaths, but Entertainingly Wrong about the culprit. His partner, detective Dennison, is a younger, friendlier man who gets excited at being in a newspaper photo (albeit blurry and in the background) and is inclined to write off the deaths as accidents due to feeling there are no logical suspects.
  • Some Guy Who Kills People: The intelligent but not infallible sheriff is about the same age as his girlfriend, who's a grandmother. His pun-making Clueless Deputy is decades younger.
  • Bandolero!: Sheriff Johnson is about a decade older than his deputy, Roscoe Bookbinder. Both men are worldly and competent lawmen, although Roscoe is better groomed and less emotionally involved in the pursuit of the Bishop gang.
  • Superintendent Robert Hazard and his assistant, Inspector Phil Learoyd who are in charge of the investigation into Sapphire Robbins murder in Sapphire. Learoyd is a Noble Bigot with a Badge who is quick to jump to racist assumptions about the victim's behaviour, but Hazard is older and wiser and is non-judgemental and frequently counters his assistant's biased views.
  • Super Fuzz: There is a big enough age gap between clever and bright-eyed rookie protagonist Dave and his cranky partner Willy Dunlop that Dave is dating Willy's niece.

  • Darkness at Noon: Rubashov's chillingly pragmatic old friend Ivanov and the young zealot Gletkin are a Well-Intentioned Extremist Secret Police version who embody the old and new generations of Soviets as they try to make Rubashov confess to crimes that he is sometimes only guilty of From a Certain Point of View.
  • Dirty White Boys note  features two state troopers who come into conflict with the eponymous Villain Protagonists. The seasoned older cop (who has two teenaged kids) is protective of his rookie partner, even though he's having an affair with his partner's wife.
  • In the pre-World War II novel Garden Of Beasts, one point of view character is a middle-aged anti-Nazi Berlin police investigator who teaches his earnest, twenty-something partner about deductive reasoning while engaging in a Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist pursuit of the hero. It turns out that the younger man is a Nazi party member who just wants the best training available before joining the Gestapo. This is one of the last straws for the older detective, who is disillusioned at learning the scope of the Nazis’ early crimes, and he decides to leave police work and Germany behind and emigrate with his family.
  • Goodman and Muldoon from R.A. Wilson's Illuminatus! trilogy.
  • Felidae: Pascal and Francis. Subverted. At the beginning they seem to fit this trope, but at the end it turns out that Pascal is actually the killer and helps Francis only because he wants to pass the torch to him.
  • Knight in Sour Armor Roslyn Forrester and Wide-Eyed Idealist Chris Cwej in the Doctor Who New Adventures novels.
  • Tony Hillerman's Leaphorn & Chee mysteries set on the Navajo reservation feature the Navajo Tribal Police officers Joe Leaphorn (older, world-weary, atheistic) and Jim Chee (younger, more idealistic, a practicing shaman).
  • Occurs in Rivers of London with DCI Nightingale (since he is over 100 years old) being the old, refined, gentleman cop, and DC Grant as the wet behind the ears, yet inexplicably smart, sarky, and mouthy new cop.
  • World-weary veteran DI Rebus spends most of the series partnered with the younger DC (later DS) Siobhan Clarke.
  • Sam Vimes and Carrot in Guards! Guards!. Also, Sam Vimes and, er, Sam Vimes in Night Watch. Lobsang Ludd and Lu-Tze form a sort of Time Police version in Thief of Time.
  • Baxter and Trueheart fill this role as the old and the young, respectively, in the In Death series. It's also in play with protagonist Eve Dallas and her partner Delia Peabody, although the age gap between Dallas and Peabody is smaller and the contrast between them is more of a Tomboy and Girly Girl dynamic.
  • Michael Connelly started using this trope in some of the later Harry Bosch novels as Harry, an LAPD cop born in 1950, aged. In 2014 novel The Burning Room Bosch, who is due to retire soon, is paired up with 27-year-old rookie homicide detective Lucia Soto in order to give her the benefit of his experience and expertise. A couple of books later, after Bosch was forced out of the department for basically being an old nuisance, he makes an informal off-the-books partnership with go-getter young LAPD detective Renee Ballard. This partnership, which forms the heart of Bosch & Ballard novels Dark Sacred Night and The Night Fire, is basically Connelly transitioning from his old protagonist to a new one. The old cop, young cop dynamic is tweaked in Desert Star, when a retired Bosch comes to work for Ballard's cold case unit as a civilian volunteer, making her his supervisor.

    Live Action TV 
  • Despite the numerous cast changes, Law & Order managed to play this Trope straight for eighteen years:
    1990: Max Greevey (older cop) and Mike Logan (newbie cop). Greevey was shot and killed.
    1991: Phil Ceretta and Mike Logan. Ceretta was also shot, but survived the injuries and took on a desk job.
    1992: Lennie Briscoe and Mike Logan. Logan was reassigned to Staten Island for assaulting a murderer after his mistrial.
    1995: Briscoe and Reynaldo Curtis. Curtis took early retirement to take care of his multiple sclerosis stricken wife. Briscoe was old enough to be Curtis's father, and snarked about it in a couple of their early episodes together.
    Briscoe: I got ties older than him. And some shoes too, I think.
    1999: Briscoe and Ed Green. Briscoe retired and joined the D.A.'s office, setting the stage for Law & Order: Trial by Jury.
    2004: Joe Fontana and Green. Fontana retired.
    2006: Played with this time: Average-experience cop Ed Green and total newbie Nina Cassidy. Cassidy left the show after one season, and was replaced with Cyrus Lupo, a cop with some seasoning, thus breaking the Trope. The final two seasons and change featured Lupo with Kevin Bernard, again two moderately experienced detectives.
    • From season two to season twelve of Law & Order: SVU there was Munch and Fin— Though one could argue they're both seasoned veterans, Munch is noticeably older, and has probably been on the force longer. Surprisingly though, this is a subversion, as Ice T is only fourteen years younger than Richard Belzer, but for all intents and purposes it still fits.
    • Played with in Law & Order: Criminal Intent, as irony would have it Logan was noticeably older (but didn't look too much as such) than both his second and third partners, Wheeler and Falacci, as was the case in the eventual pairings of Nichols with Wheeler and later Stevens.
    • And on Law & Order: UK as well, with DS Ronnie Brooks as the Old Cop and Matt Devlin (and later Sam Casey) as the Young Cop. What's more, thanks to their mutual crappy pasts (Ronnie was a drunk who neglected his daughters, Matt was physically abused by his father or stepfather—it's never made clear which), Ronnie and Matt really did develop a father/son bond, to the point where Ronnie outright said "he was like my son" when pleading with the mother of Matt's killer to convince her son to confess to what he'd done. Very tellingly, thus far, Ronnie's new partner Sam, despite the apparently similar background of an absent/abusive father, has rebuffed Ronnie's efforts to fill a similar role.
  • Twin Peaks: Windom Earle and Dale Cooper might have been this in the times before Earle's insanity.
  • Done so often on British TV that it's probably easier to list the British cop shows which DON'T feature this combo at some point (Inspector Lynley, for one), but what the hell, here's just a few examples which do:
    • Dalziel and Pascoe - featuring, well, Dalziel and Pascoe.
    • Inspector Morse - featuring Morse and DS Lewis.
    • Lewis (aka Inspector Lewis) - featuring Lewis from the aforementioned show, now promoted to DI and partnered with DS Hathaway (Has led to speculation that in another 20 years, there will be a new show entitled "Hathaway"/"Inspector Hathaway")
    • Endeavour - a prequel to the above, about a young DC Morse being taken under the wing of DI Fred Thursday.
    • Taggart - featuring DCI Jim Taggart, partnered with first DS Peter Livingstone and then (as the better example) DS/DI Mike Jardine (although, the show did become more of an ensemble, in later seasons)
    • The Ruth Rendell Mysteries - featuring DCI Reg Wexford and DI Mike Burden (might not be the best example, one might argue that Burden is more of a little brother than a son-like figure to Wexford)
    • Life On Mars - featuring DCI Gene Hunt and DI Sam Tyler. This one is a bit of a variation, as both are experienced, but in their own time periods.
    • Midsomer Murders - initially featuring DCI Tom Barnaby and Sergeant Troy, Sergeant Scott and finally Constable Jones. Then featuring DCI John Barnaby and first Constable Jones then Sergeant Nelson.
    • Cadfael - has a variant. The series is set in medieval times and therefore before police existed, but Cadfael is an older detective monk who has a quasi-paternal relationship with lawman Hugh Berrigar.
    • Inspector George Gently - with the world weary but essentially decent DCI George Gently and and angry young man DS John Bacchus.
    • Pie in the Sky: For most of the series, the close-to-retirement DI Crabbe is paired with the younger and more idealistic WPC Cambridge. Over the course of the series, Cambridge becomes a detective in her own right, and for the final season, PC Guthrie and WPC Morton come on as the new Young Cops.
  • In A Murderous Affair in Horizon Tower, Zhong Jingguo and Yang Ruisen are this pair, with Zhong Jingguo, the older, seasoned veteran cop as the "Old Cop" and Yang Ruisen, his plucky new mentee as the "Young Cop".
  • The Streets of San Francisco (1972-77), starring Karl Malden (older cop) and Michael Douglas (younger cop).
  • Sully and Davis on Third Watch.
  • The dynamic between all the rookies and their Training Officers on Rookie Blue. Actual partnerships change from episode to episode.
  • Adam-12: Malloy and Reed were a milder version of this with a less pronounced age difference
  • Shark: In one of Sebastian Stark's cases as a prosecutor, the defendant was a cop charged with killing a criminal's cousin. The cop had a problem with the criminal and accidentally killed the cousin. The cop was the old cop of the trope and the young one was testifying against him. The ex-cop working as a liasion between Stark's office and the LAPD commented on how odd it was that the young cop was testifying against the old one since cops usually take the heat for one another. Then it clicked on Stark the old cop was Taking the Heat for the young one. The young one had heard stories about the criminal and decided to take justice on his own hands. Stark made a deal where he'd allow the old cop to take the heat if the young one agreed to leave the force forever.
  • Played straight with Jaime Regan and his training officer and first partner, Sergeant Renzulli, in Blue Bloods. It then zig-zags: Jaime's next partner was Vinnie Cruz, who'd been on the job a few years ahead of him, and then four years in, Jaime picks up rookie Eddie Janko as his partner.
  • Monk: Captain Stottlemeyer is a gruff, worldly veteran investigator, while his younger assistant Disher is an eager-to-please dim-witted Butt-Monkey. Disher references the trope in one of the tie-in novels and exaggerates how much it applies to them.
    Disher: I love [The Streets of San Francisco].
    Natalie: Because you're a cop in San Francisco.
    Disher: People mistake me for Michael Douglas all the time and the captain is a dead ring for Karl Madden, only without the crunched nose, the hair, the hat, or the overcoat.
    Stottlemeyer: So what's left that makes me a dead ringer for him?
    Disher: You're a grizzled old detective at the end of his career and I'm a brilliant hotshot with an amazing future.
  • In Vera, DCI Vera Stanhope is usually paired with a much younger detective sergeant; originally Joe Ashworth and later Aiden Healy.
  • In Jake and the Fatman, J.L. "Fatman" McCabe is a prosecutor rather than a cop (although he is an ex-cop), but otherwise the relationship between the Fatman and Jake Styles fits this trope.
  • Car 54, Where Are You?: Toody (old cop); Muldoon (young cop).
  • Southland: Training Officer John Cooper and rookie Ben Sherman seasons 1-3. Then in season 4, Cooper is partnered with Officer Jessica Tang which subverts the trope as she has been assigned to evaluate his fitness for duty following his drug rehab and back surgery. Season 5 returns Cooper to his TO status for just two episodes with a washout rookie partner before ending the trope by assigning him a partner similar in age.
  • Hec Ramsey has an interesting variation. The young cop, Chief Oliver B. Stamp, is actually the superior of the old cop, Hec Ramsey, who is his deputy. Fortunately Stamp recognizes his own limitations and comes to rely heavily on Hec's experience.
  • Harper's Island: Officers Riggens and Coulter provide a rare male-female example. Riggens isn't old (being somewhere in his mid-thirties to early forties), but he's noticeably older than his rookie partner. Riggens has a casual, Seen It All attitude, while Coulter is bright, excitable, and eager about her impending first murder arrest.
  • Burke's Law: Burke's two main assistants are a weathered old detective with good instincts and a sharply dressed younger one who excels at gathering evidence.
  • Dead Man's Gun: A Western version appears in "The Fortune Teller," which features an irritable, but practical middle-aged sheriff and his younger Agent Mulder deputy.

    Video Games 
  • L.A. Noire: Cole Phelps and his partners Herschel Biggs and Rusty Galloway certainly fit the bill.
  • Persona 4: Ryotaro Dojima and Tohru Adachi. However, in this case it's more Middle-aged Cop/Young Cop, Dojima has the attitude and the experience all the same. The mentoring aspect is also slightly downplayed, as Dojima spends most of his time berating Adachi for his bumbling.
  • Detroit: Become Human: Connor and Hank. Though Connor technically isn't an officer, a large part of his story focuses on their dynamic. Also, while Hank is a 53-year old veteran police officer, Connor (an android detective prototype) is actually a few months old at most.
  • The player character and her partner Rick have evolved into a rare opposite-sex version of the trope in the final installment of the Enigmatis trilogy, with the older and world-weary Rick treating his younger colleague almost like a daughter in some respects.
  • Technobabylon has CEL agents Charles Regis (an aging, Technophobic former gengineer) and Max Lao (a younger, more tech-savvy hacker as well as a Reformed Criminal.)

    Western Animation 

Alternative Title(s): Somerset And Mills, Young Cop Old Cop