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Stripper/Cop Confusion

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"Oh, no, it's the cops! Oh, and a... construction worker!"

Grey: Can you remind us how you got your uniform torn three Halloweens ago?
Bradford: ... uh... If you get dispatched to a loud party... make sure they know you're not the stripper.

Private strippers show up in sitcomland all the time. Male or female, they come dressed as police officers and are mistaken for them (the protagonist is often accidentally handcuffed to them), while real cops (or some other authority figures) are thought to be strippers, leading the protagonists to rip their shirts off.

Compare Dirty Harriet where a character poses as a sex worker to solve a case. See Mistaken for Clown for a more innocent variant.


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  • Inverted with a Jack in the Box commercial for breakfast platters, in which Jack approves of a policeman, a firefighter, and a construction worker being the hardworking people who would eat them. Cut to said figures baring all at a bachelorette party.

    Comic Strips 
  • Reversed in a strip by Sergio Aragones in Mad Magazine. A female police officer storms into a room full of bad guys—and is woefully outnumbered. She then backpedals, pretends to be a stripper, gets a tip, waves goodbye, then runs to the police car and radios for more backup.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Down Periscope, Commander Dodge initially mistakes a female officer assigned to his submarine for a stripper. The fact that she was the first woman allowed into the submarine service branch doesn't exactly justify it.
  • In Days of Thunder, the racing crew plays this trick on Cole (Tom Cruise) to great hilarity. Later in the movie, Cole assumes the doctor (Nicole Kidman) who is examining him is a repeat of the trick by his crew, but she isn't.
  • In the remake of The In-Laws, FBI agents show up in the middle of the (alcohol-fueled) bachelorette party and are temporarily mistaken for strippers.
  • In Let's Be Cops it happens to the guys impersonating police.
  • Stag: When the two strippers and their minder—all dressed as cops—show up at the stag party and pretend to put Victor under arrest, he initially thinks they are real cops and panics, due to large amount of drugs at the party. It is only when Serena pulls off her police hat and lets her long blonde hair tumble free that realizes what is going on.
  • Breacher and his team give Det. Brentwood this treatment in Sabotage (2014) when she arrives at his house to get a statement from one of them. She's plainclothes and not dressed in anything resembling a police uniform, so it seems like the gang are mocking her just to be dicks (which, to be fair, they are). Then, of course, a real stripper shows up in a sexy cop outfit just as she is leaving.

  • In one of G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown mystery stories, the criminal gets rid of a policeman by convincing everyone at the house that the man is actually in costume for a pantomime show. He beats up the cop while the audience laughs at the slapstick comedy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On 2 Broke Girls, the bridal shower Max throws for Sofie is interrupted by a uniformed FBI agent responding to reports of a man in the building holding three captives. Just then Sofie returns from the bathroom...
  • Arrested Development: Michael and Gob use policemen-themed strippers to fake-arrest George Michael and scare him straight. Also, Gob nearly gets his head blown off when the would-be customer takes him for a real policeman.
  • Discussed in Being Human: when Mitchell wonders how Herrick knew about a criminal allegation against him, Herrick looks down at the police uniform he's wearing and sarcastically asks "all this time, have you been thinking I'm a stripogram?"
  • Discussed in The Big Bang Theory when Amy and Bernadette go to see strippers in Vegas. Penny tells them to find a police officer if they get in trouble, but not one who's taking off his pants.
  • The Bill. A going-away party for an officer being transferred includes the requisite stripper dressed (undressed?) as a WPC. As she leaves the party the stripper sees two real policewomen turning up (in uniform) to see their colleague off, and threatens to complain to her union about the apparent double-booking.
  • In the Blackadder II episode "Beer", Blackadder's puritanical relatives are mistaken for strippers, as is Queen Elizabeth herself.
  • Bones shows Booth running into this problem once when trying to bring in a male stripper for questioning - said stripper was working a bachelorette party at the time, and the guest of honor thought Booth was a second stripper. His attempts at asserting his actual identity as an FBI agent are ignored by the party-goers, and by the time the actual stripper realizes Booth's identity, the ladies have already pulled down Booth's pants and have started stuffing money down his clothes.
  • On Castle one victim was, apparently, a police officer. Yeah, you know where it's going.
    • Later in the same episode when Ryan and Esposito go to question the stripper's boss he assumes that they are there to audition for a job.
  • In an episode of Coach Christine is at a bachelorette party where a real cop shows up and is mistaken for the male stripper.
  • In The Commish, one episode's teaser featured a gentleman who had ordered a prostitute dressed for a cop, waiting to meet her in a hotel lobby. He encounters a real (female) cop instead. We never get to see the payoff — roll opening credits and commercial; when the episode "proper" starts, we get a glimpse of him handcuffed to a chair in the booking area as the camera pans by.
  • Even Doctor Who got in a (mild) version of this. The adult Amy Pond debuts in a police uniform, which she winds up revealing is a costume for her job as a "kissogram."
  • In an episode of Early Edition, the hero needs help, sees (he thinks) a lady cop, is told she has to do something first...
  • Ellen: In "Go Girlz," during the slumber party, Ellen mistakes a cop for a stripper, who in turn enjoys the mix-up and plays along.
  • Frasier: The title character ends up handcuffed to the lovely Officer Nasty (hired for Donnie's bachelor party) while he is demonstrating to her how she can make her dancing sexier. Daphne was convinced she was a cop the whole time.
  • Friends: Phoebe's stripper is Officer Goodbody, played by Danny DeVito.
  • The Glades The whole substation rushes out to a report of an officer found dead. No-one recognizes him and Daniel is trying to run his badge number. Jim reveals the man's actual profession by stripping the pants off him.
  • The Golden Girls: A real cop shows up at Dorothy's bachelorette party. Blanche gropes him thinking he's the stripper, then slaps him one more time even after the real stripper (also dressed as a cop) arrives. Then we are told, "the stripper used to be a cop and the cop always wanted to be a dancer. Now they're both wearing each other's hats and it's starting to get weird."
  • In an episode of Grounded for Life: Claudia is throwing a bachelorette party for one of her girlfriends while Sean incites a mob of angry Yankees fans for catching a fly ball still in play. A cop shows up who Sean thinks is here to control the mob outside the house, but he is a stripper.
  • Inverted in the Inside No. 9 episode "Nana's Party." When elderly Nana begins choking at her birthday party, her daughter Angela screams for someone to call an ambulance - and a paramedic shows up at the door moments later. Everyone's confused, because they hadn't had time to make the call yet, but it turns out he's a stripper who was hired for the party as a prank.
  • Jane and Michael have this as a Meet Cute on Jane the Virgin. They met when he was sent to break up her rowdy 21st birthday party while on duty. She mistook him for a stripper and then grabbed his gun (assuming it was fake) and fired it at the ceiling. The dust falling from the hole in the ceiling became a 'Snow Means Love' symbol for their first kiss.
  • In London's Burning Geoff Pearce, a fireman rather than a policeman, is mistaken for a stripper by a group of rowdy women at a hen party, who proceed to start undressing him. Moments later, a policeman appears. Pearce assumes he's a real policeman, but he turns out to be the stripper they hired.
  • A skit in Mad TV had a cop show up to a birthday party, where he was mistaken for a stripper by the birthday girl. Eventually, he was able to inform her that he was a cop sent to tell her about her son's tragic death in an accident - only to reveal that no, he actually is the stripper! Cue him and the other ladies cheering while the woman stands there speechless.
    • Played with in another skit in the same episode. A utility worker later shows up to the same party to warn them about a gas leak. Unfortunately for him, everyone mistakes him for another stripper, and his warnings for innuendo - until the house they're all in explodes.
  • An episode of Monk has the title detective mistake a stripper for an actual cop and force the poor man down to the crime scene.
  • Happens in The New Adventures of Old Christine. A muscular young cop named Officer Johnson arrives on Christine's doorstep to warn her of a prowler in the neighbourhood. However, it happens to be Christine's birthday and she thinks Barb has sent her a stripper. Cue one increasingly confused conversation between Christine and Officer Johnson.
  • In the 1988 Only Fools and Horses Christmas special "Dates", a stripper dressed as a naval officer is hired for Uncle Albert's birthday party. Much to Del's horror, she turns out to be the woman he's dating, Raquel. Later in the episode, a policewoman tries to question Del about his van, and he assumes that she is a stripper hired by Albert to get back at him, so he impatiently rips her blouse open. He eventually realizes his mistake, too late.
  • Person of Interest. In "A More Perfect Union", John Reese (in his "Detective Riley" cover) and a stripper hired for the bachelorette party (dressed as a uniformed cop) assume the other shares their profession. After finding out the truth, Reese improvises by pretending to be the stripper's security.
  • In Psych the girls order a male stripper for Marlowe's bachelorette party who comes in dressed like a cop, and turns out to be an actual cop, Buzz from Santa Barbara PD, who took it as a side job mistaking it for a security job.
  • Reno 911!
    • One episode in Season One has the female cops hire stripper cops for Clementine's bachelorette party. One of the stripper cops turns out to be Officer Jones.
    • A later episode has Deputy Garcia show up for a noise complaint at a bachelorette party, and be mistaken for a stripper. He gives the partygoers a stern lecture about respect for the uniform, and how this is the third time someone from the sheriff's department has been called out to their party. Enter, from the restroom, Lt. Dangle and Deputy Junior dancing in their underwear.
  • In the Season 4 episode "A.C.H" of The Rookie, Seargents Grey and Bradford remind their fellow officers to be extra diligent on Halloween, where during this scene, the former pushes the latter to reveal that on a previous Halloween, he got his uniform torn after being mistaken for a stripper when dispatched to a loud party. Cue the laughter of everyone in the room, at poor Bradford's expense.
  • In Spin City, Stuart sends a priest to the girls' bachelorette party whom they mistake for a stripper and rip his shirt open. The women get revenge by sending a real male stripper to the guys, whom they mistake for a cop. At least Carter enjoys it.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look - "I know they do policeman strippers, I've run into this problem before..."
  • The Thin Blue Line had two officers investigate a man who had the curtains closed for a few days, causing neighbors to be worried about him. Since he was hiring prostitutes, he thought the police officer was one of them, and was better choice than the nurse.
  • Happens to Officer Minogue in Wellington Paranormal when he follows what he thinks is a zombie only to discover she's just going to a zombie themed Hen Party. He frantically calls for backup when they try to get him to strip, and when we see him next it's clear they at least got his shirt off.
  • Invoked on Whose Line Is It Anyway? duging a game of Newsflash. The footage behind Colin is obviously a stripper dressed (at first) as a cop, but after all the hints are dropped Colin's best guess is "naked... ops?"
  • Wings: Helen is handcuffed to the stripping cop hired for her bachelorette party.

  • A sketch on That Mitchell & Webb Sound involves two playwrights struggling to find inspiration for a new farce, while the typical events of one unfold around them. This includes mistaking a policeman for a stripper (and then vice versa).

    Video Games 
  • In Dead Rising 2: Off the Record, Frank West mistakes Deidre Sanchez for a policewoman when he first sees her. She quickly explains that she's actually a dancer at The Peephole, and that's just her costume.
  • Mass Effect 2: If playing a female Commander Shepard, in the recruitment mission for Archangel, the mercenary you talk to to begin things mistakes her for someone who's trying to get hired as a stripper. She is entirely unamused.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: In one episode where the guys lose their memories, Joe sees the cop uniforms in his house and assumes that means that he's a stripper. Even near the end of the episode, he's still convinced of that.
  • In Home Movies, Coach John McGuirk mistakes a male cop for a stripper, who arrests him for not writing an essay.
  • Chief Wiggum of The Simpsons once had this happen with a bachelorette party, but decided to just go with it since he wanted the money.

    Real Life 
  • Has happened at least once. The police do not appreciate this sort of thing, obviously.
  • And there's at least one case of a poor sod who assumed (with good reason in the time and place) that the policewoman turning up on official business was a stripper. And jollying things on by helping her off with her skirt. Something like this happened in Durham.