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Suspiciously Idle Officers

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In any film or show in which Dirty Cops are secretly in the employ of someone not a member of the police force (e.g., The Mafia or a Corrupt Corporate Executive), said dirty cops apparently have no actual, official duties, and can therefore spend 100% of their time doing the bidding of their secret employer. No mention is ever made of supervisors, time cards, patrol schedules, or other cases upon which the officers should be working.


Comic Books

  • Sin City:
    • Detective Liebowitcz seems to exist purely to punch Hartigan in the face. His comic counterpart would show up in later installments, where he's taking orders from a guy who controls a guild for assassins.
    • This trope is inverted when cops actually arrive too quickly to the scene of the crime in Marv's story, clueing him in that they work for the Big Bad and are trying to frame him. He's right, too.

Fan Works

  • The Horsewomen Of Las Vegas: Charlotte Flair points out that Detective Daniel Bryan spends more time with his wife, a co-owner/operator of a prostitution ring run from a yoga studio, than out in the field. Earlier, Bryan points out that he keeps the police away from his wife's "business".
  • What They Wouldn't Do: Averted. After McDermott is killed, Ronan thinks that he can get to Sarah through her friend Lauren or through Matt and tells McDermott's partner Donovan to keep an eye on her until she makes contact with one of them. Donovan counters, "I can't follow her twenty-four-seven, you know. I do have an actual job."

Films — Live-Action

  • This was a very common trope in Bollywood films from the 1970s to the early 1990s. Most crime bosses had a few cops on their payroll who could be seen hanging around the villain's lair in most scenes without actually doing anything cop-like.
  • Confidence: Two members of Con Man Jake Vig's gang are actual members of the LAPD, whose role it is to bust in on the scene of the con and force the victim to leave in such a rush that he abandons his money. Eventually, it is revealed that Gunther Bhutan, the federal agent who has seemingly come to town to bust Jake, is actually on his payroll, too. One wonders how he justified the trip to his supervisors.
  • The Freshman (1990): The young student played by Matthew Broderick is unwittingly drawn into the schemes of a mobster played by Marlon Brando, and soon finds himself pursued by two agents of "Department of Justice, Fish, and Wildlife Division." Eventually, it is revealed that these agents are actually in the pay of a rival Mob family, and plan on killing both the student and the gangster and stealing the proceeds of their crimes.
  • The Godfather: Averted. Captain McCluskey is on the villain's payroll but he's also an NYPD Captain and is, as such, required to be on call. The Corleones' own Dirty Cops learn where the Captain has scheduled himself during a supposedly secret meeting. Sonny is then able to plant a gun there in advance for Michael to ambush Sollozzo and McCluskey.
  • The Professional: The DEA agents are hard-pressed to explain the brutal gunfight that stirred the plot into action, but nobody ever questions why they were there in the first place, and they are never seen pursuing actual police work throughout the film.


  • 2666: While they're all busy, many of them are on the take.
  • The North Avenue Irregulars: At least when it comes to investigating The Mafia. Sure, they raid a few places once in a while, but only enough to make the news so the citizens go back to thinking everything is hunky-dory.
  • X-Wing Series: Discussed but ultimately averted in the novel Solo Command. When The Mole Lara Notsil infiltrates Iron Fist, she hatches a plan to subvert the ship's maintenance droids and have them perform sabotage on the basis that they are Beneath Suspicion. In order to keep the ship's crew and A.I.s from noticing anything is amiss, she orders half of the reprogrammed droids to continue on their usual duties for half of each day, then assumes the identity of another saboteur droid for the other half of the day, thus convincing the main computer that they're all still on the job.

Live-Action TV

  • 'Allo 'Allo!: The German Nazi officers seem to be only focused on their Zany Scheme in order to obtain the MacGuffin of the day or get out of the problem presented by their General. General von Klinkerhoffen at least seems interested in maintaining order and the performance of his officers. Colonel Kurt von Strohm, by contrast, would rather spend most of the war having sex with waitresses and stealing artifacts.
  • Damages: The series is quite enamored of this trope. In the first season, it is revealed in the finale that Arthur Frobisher's chief goon, who has been handling various bits of Dirty Business ranging from surveillance to contract murder, and who is responsible for the murder of the protagonist's fiancee, is actually a highly-decorated police detective. His efforts to keep his criminal activities secret form a major subplot in the second season. Meanwhile, in the main plot of the second season, a pair of FBI agents who are investigating Patty Hewes' law firm is revealed to actually be in league with one of the targets of her latest case. In this instance, these agents do have a supervisor looking over their shoulders. It's simply that he's in on the conspiracy, too.
  • Intelligence (2006): Ted seems to have nothing on his plate except plotting Mary's downfall, even though he's the OCU's second-in-command.
  • Life: It features as its Myth Arc an investigation into deep-rooted corruption inside the LAPD, Roman Nevikov, a member of The Mafiya and a Dragon with an Agenda to the members of the conspiracy, is revealed to have a seemingly endless supply of FBI agents on his payroll, enabling him to set up entire fake operations that are actually covers for his own criminal dealings, with the Bureau higher-ups apparently none the wiser.
  • Person of Interest:
    • Played With with reformed Dirty Cop Fusco in that he only ever seems to do work for Reese but he repeatedly complains about this fact and that he does actually have a day job that requires his attention. Carter simply keeps intersecting with them.
    • Also when Reese gets a cover identity as a detective. In several episodes, his boss complains about him not being present or taking an excessive amount of sick time due to him being off rescuing the Victim of the Week.
  • Vegas: When Sheriff Ralph Lamb confronts corrupt film mogul Barry Silver, he is surprised to discover that Silver's bodyguards are actually active-duty LAPD detectives. Ralph was previously warned about how rich and connected Silver was but he did not think that Silver actually had the LAPD on his payroll. The detectives are later shown willing to shoot Ralph and his deputies in order to prevent Silver's arrest.

Video Games


  • Dominic Deegan: Before Szark Sturtz's duel with Scarlatti, a battalion of Callanian knights arrives as part of Serk Brakkis's entourage, to make sure the duel is fought in all fairness. They're on Serk's payroll and intend to make sure Scarlatti (his proxy in the duel) wins.