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Turn in Your Badge

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Nick: I'll tell you guys what I'm gonna do! I'll tell you what! I'm gonna get even with every rotten cop in this city!
Paolo: Yeah, me too!
Guido: How you gonna do it, Nick? How you gonna do it?
Nick: I'm gonna... turn in my badge!
Guido: Yeah! I'm gonna burn my uniform!...
The Firesign Theatre, How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All?

That cop has always been a loose cannon, but this time he's stepped over the line. He is ordered by his boss to turn in his badge and gun, and then go home on an extended "vacation." This is sometimes accompanied by an Insignia Rip-Off Ritual. The chief tells the officer not to pursue the case independently.

The first thing the cop does upon leaving the office is ignore this directive and finishes tracking the perp down. Sometimes, it's because he is a Cowboy Cop. Other times, It's Personal. The cop calls in favors from buddies in the force and in other law enforcement agencies ("Can ya look one thing up for me, pal?"). When the bad guy is eventually caught, the cop's boss rarely reprimands the rogue cop and sometimes even admits he was wrong. There won't even be a McCloud Speech about all the regulations the cop broke on this excursion, not the least of which being ignoring an order — probably because he technically wasn't acting as a cop, but merely breaking the law as a regular citizen...

But then the cop might actually honor the original directive.

A possible variation involves the following: the cop was never actually off the force but was merely pretending to be, with his superiors' knowledge, to fool a bad guy, sometimes another cop (see Fake Defector, which is a case of Not Himself). See Taken Off the Case for a milder version of this trope.

If, instead of being suspended, the cop quits to make a point, that's Resign in Protest.

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Other examples:

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  • During the early 1970s; Chrysler Corporation's Dodge division ran a series of commercials featuring actor Joe Higgins as a Southern sheriff named J.W. Higginsnote ; sheriff of the fictitious "Scat City"note . In one 1971 ad promoting Dodge's "spring special" (typically promoting special features such as, in this instance, whitewall tires and an automatic transmission) for their Dart Swinger model; Higgins uses the trope name verbatim en route to having the deputy who drove up in the new car arrested for accepting a "special deal" (implying Higgins thinks the deputy took a bribe).
  • Played with in Sprint's "Epic Renegade Cop" ad: the badge is the only thing Callahan doesn't turn in to Da Chief during his Extended Disarming.

    Anime & Manga 
Note: In general, Japanese police officers do not surrender their badge, but their book-like police ID.

  • At one point on The Firesign Theatre's album How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All?, three characters start talking about how much they hate cops. One of them says, "You know what? I'm gonna get even with every stinkin' cop in this city!" The others ask him how he's going to do it, and he replies " I"m gonna turn in my badge!"

    Fan Works 
  • In Absolute Power Sucks Absolutely, Maxime revokes his own League membership while visiting Kahndaq to avoid the international incident that a foreign power "invading" another country would cause.
  • In Ultrasonic, Nick gets suspended after the first Ultrasonic attack after Chief Bogo finds out from Marinette that he fired a warning shot, violating the first rule of firearm usage: "Shoot to kill, and nothing else."

  • The Isaacsons in The Alienist are on a "special assignment" leave from the NYPD.
  • In Apparatus Infernum, the powers that be want a quicker result than the protagonists are providing, and since Mikani isn't inclined to be taken off the case quietly, Gunwood orders him to take a few days off (upgraded to a week thanks to Mikani not knowing when to keep quiet). They aren't made to literally hand over their badges, but it plays out much the same.
  • Brotherband has Hal and his Herons placed in this position when they lose the Andomal. Their badges are the only thing that they hand in, taking the other possessions that should have been handed in and using them to instead hunt down the Andomal.
  • China Miéville's "The City and The City" inverts this: You absolutely expect that the Inspector will clash with the ominous, all-powerful Breach and gets drawn off the case. Nope. He WANTS to hand over this political stinking case to Breach, but the crime was so carefully perpetrated that Breach, who is specialized only on Breaches, duh, has no rights to take over.
  • Luke Skywalker does this in a sense to one of his Jedi Knights in the Dark Nest Trilogy. Alema Rar lost her twin sister to a Jedi-killing voxyn back in Star By Star and has now become deeply involved with the Killiks, and has pretty much fallen to the Dark Side. Luke takes her lightsaber from her and removes the crystal, disabling it. Alema insists she'll just build a new one, and Luke tells her he'll do the same to that one, and the one after.
  • Subverted in Liz Williams' Detective Inspector Chen novel Snake Agent. About halfway through, Chen has a meeting with Da Chief, who tells him explicitly that he is not going to take Chen off the case, because he knows full well that Chen is the only person able and willing to handle it. (The scene also features Chen uttering the words "Go to Hell, sir" — as a literal and truthful response to the question "What do you intend to do next?")
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • Subverted in the book Men at Arms, when Lord Vetinari takes Vimes off the case and demands that he turn in his badge. It eventually becomes clear to the reader that he is doing this to make sure Vimes solves it, though Vetinari goes a bit too far and drives Vimes into a 10-Minute Retirement. The trope was played more or less straight in the earlier novel Guards! Guards!, when Lupin Wonse takes Vimes' badge.
    • Additionally, in Jingo, all the senior officers of the Watch do this when threatened by Lord Rust, Vetrinari's stand in during his 10-Minute Retirement. Everyone — Vimes, the senior officers, Lord Rust... — proceed to act as if Vimes is still Commander of the Watch (once he gets out of the door, at least).
      Detritus: I got my badge carved on my arm. Someone c'n try an' take it off if dey likes.
    • Parodied in Snuff, when Vimes treats going on a two-week holiday arranged by his wife like being suspended (or forcibly retired), and says "My badge, just like Vetinari ordered. I put it down. It won't be said they took it off me!" And what's actually in the envelope he turns over is an old snuff tin.
  • The Dresden Files: Throughout the series, Murphy has been taking blows to her career in order to help Harry fight various monsters. She finally gets fired at the end of Changes. In the novella Aftermath and in Ghost Story, she keeps fighting monsters anyway.
  • In Death: When Eve is called out for getting personally involved with Roarke in spite of the latter being a suspect of a murder she's investigating, she tells Whitney he'll have to take her badge if he pulls her off the case. He refuses. She declares that, if she turns out to be wrong about Roarke being innocent, her superiors won't have to ask for her badge.
  • DCI Jack Spratt of Jasper Fforde's Nursery Crime series is stated in the book-within-a-book Bumper Book of Berkshire Records to have been suspended over 262 times in his career, only one of which led to higher action (a reprimand).
  • Halt from John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice deliberately creates a situation where he'll get banished from the Kingdom so he can save his apprentice only to get misty-eyed when he must turn in his ranger badge oak leaf necklace to the authorities as well.
  • Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus is frequently suspended from cases for various reasons throughout the series.
  • In Rivers of London after Detective Chief Inspector Nightingale is shot, Grant is put on suspension and Tyburn moves quickly to try and get him fired and the magical department shut down. The Commissioner doing the firing becoming one of those possessed and turned into a rioter probably helped get this fixed.
  • Sano Ichiro undergoes the Samurai equivalent; after Sano refuses to stop investigating the shogun's nephew following two murders the future heir might have had some involvement in, the shogun takes away Sano's rank and holdings and bans him from court.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Warrior Class, Terrill Samson asks Patrick McLanahan and David Luger to resign after they take part in a rescue mission against his orders.
  • Meyer Landsman of The Yiddish Policemen's Union is ordered to turn in his badge and gun as a result of his Cowboy Cop methods. When he still goes investigating the case, he uses his membership card in the titular union to justify his questioning.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In the Dick Tracy story where Big Boy Caprice put a million dollar open murder contract on Tracy's head, Chief Patton orders Tracy suspended (presumably with pay) from duty until that case is solved considering that having him on duty would attract murder attempts that would also endanger his colleagues. Tracy is completely against this and Sam Catchem offers the compromise of increasing the security around Tracy, who will be confined to desk duty in the meantime, while the detectives work on stopping the contract.

    Video Games 

  • Played with in a long-running cop show parody on Checkerboard Nightmare. The trope is so routine that when the chief pulls it more often than usual, the title character protests that "we've already turned in our week's supply of badges!"
  • In Darths & Droids, Obi-Wan and Anakin get suspended from the Jedi Order after they do a spectacularly bad job protecting the Senator and apprehending the assassin. The Genre Savvy players think that this means they're on the right track, since this always happens to the Cowboy Cop just before they save the day in the movies.


Gun and Badge

Video montage of movie cops turning in their badges.

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