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Wunza Plot
aka: They Fight Crime

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"She's a wiccan! She's a nun! Can two sisters share an apartment? Find out in Which is Witch?!"
Observer, Mystery Science Theater 3000, parodies this formula

Also known as "One's a..." Plot.

Many TV shows are based around a High Concept — a simple, intriguing premise that can be explained in one or two sentences — a "hook" which attracts the interest of everyone from producers to advertisers to viewers. One very common way to build a high concept is to take two characters who are very different from each other, quirky, or somehow odd, and then team them up to accomplish some objective. In 'the Biz' this is called a "Wunza plot". So-named by Roger Ebert, a Wunza Plot is "One's a [X]; one's a [Y]. Together they [Objective Z]" note 

Oddly, even the most bizarre premises can end up rather mundane in execution, with the strange characters — despite initial weirdness — ending up in fairly stock show formats like workplace comedies/dramas, quirky sitcom family hijinks, or, yes, fighting crime as private detectives or freelance do-gooders.

Animation obviously has great potential for silliness, especially if it's an Animated Adaptation of a live-action show.

A silly premise isn't always fatal, and the mention of a series below is not necessarily a criticism. With the right casting and writing, some shows which sound totally ridiculous have been hugely successful and even critically acclaimed.

See also In a World…. Compare and contrast with Odd Couple, Buddy Picture. Not to be confused with Kudzu Plot.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The premise of Dirty Pair in which the impulsive tomboyish Kei is paired up with the more cerebral and mannered Yuri. It's all right since they fight crime...
  • Saint Young Men: Buddha and Jesus share an apartment in Japan. They do ordinary day-to-day stuff.
  • Tiger & Bunny: A down-on-his-luck, goofy single father and an icy-cold pretty-boy upstart are paired together as a corporate-sponsored superhero duo. They fight crime!

    Comic Books 
  • Referenced in the 2000 AD one-shot story "Wunza", in which the creator of such a show, who murdered his biggest rival and let his writing partner take the fall, discovers said partner has escaped from prison and keeps harassing him with terrible pitches such as "High and Dry: One's a drug-addicted cop, the other's a recovering alcoholic private eye!", eventually hounding him to his death.
  • Angel and the Ape ('60s comic book with revivals in the '80s and '00s): She's a gorgeous super-sleuth who speaks thirteen languages and knows karate. He's a comic book artist who happens to be a talking gorilla. They fight crime!
  • G.I. Robot., he's a robot. His buddy's a hard bitten G.I. They fight dinosaurs and Japanese giant robots until the robot is sent into space with military werewolves, vampires, etc. and the comic's creator. Bob Kanigher, man..
  • Heroes for Hire: A (black) Harlem street fighter who's bullet-proof and a (white) multi-millionaire who's been classically trained in Kung-Fu. Together, They fight crime!
  • Sam & Max: Freelance Police: One's a dog. The other's a hyperkinetic lagomorph. They fight crime!
  • Referenced in The Sandman (1989): Matthew (a servant of Morpheus who happens to be a raven who used to be a man) describes his brief adventure with the Corinthian (a serial killer with fanged mouths in place of eyes) as being "like a bad TV show." Borders on a Lampshade Hanging, except that unlike most of these examples, the weird team-up was only a small part of a much larger story.

    Fan Works 
  • Psychedelic Epiphany Series: Psychadelic: The style of the short description:
    One is a cosmically aware eco-friendly drifter. One is a reformed chaotic manifestation still adjusting to society. Together, they bake brownies, save worlds, and get to know each other!

    Films — Animated 
  • Zootopia: She's a bold rabbit police officer who wants to prove herself. He's a cunning fox Con Artist. Together, they solve a mystery of a missing otter and later thwart a conspiracy intent on inflaming historic tensions between predator and prey for political power.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Alien Nation pairs a human cop with an alien cop...naturally, They fight crime! Mostly used as an allegory for racism.
  • Duplicity: On its movie poster - "She's ex-Cia. He's ex-MI 5, together they are stealing a fortune." She is Julia Roberts, he is Clive Owen.
  • From The Kentucky Fried Movie: "She was six feet of Black dynamite. He was a short, Hasidic Jew... Samuel L Bronkowitz presents Cleopatra Schwartz..."
  • The Rush Hour trilogy. According to Roger Ebert, "Wunza legendary detective from Hong Kong, and wunza Los Angeles cop. And wunza Chinese guy, and wunza black guy. And wunza martial arts expert and wunza wisecracking showboat. Neither wunza original casting idea, but together, they make an entertaining team."
  • Steel Justice: 20 Minutes into the Future a cop loses his son to a car bomb and the boy is reincarnated as a toy robot dragon. That can shapeshift into a giant robot dragon and help his dad bring his killers to justice. Apparently the purpose was as an extended advert for the toy dragon in question. Perhaps the best bit is that this truly outlandish premise is paired with one of the blandest, most generic titles imaginable.

  • Blood Books: She's a star detective who's lost her night vision and is going blind. He's a vampire, bastard son of Henry VIII, who writes romance novels. Together, they fight supernatural threats and protect the innocent.
  • The Gotrek & Felix novels, set in the Warhammer world, began life in very much this way. One's a massively-muscled, shaven-headed, axe-wielding Dwarf in search of a glorious death, the other's a ne'er-do-well poet, minor political agitator and the son of an Altdorf wool merchant. Together they fight... well, anything and everything they can really - glorious deaths are hard to find when you're as good at fighting as Gotrek Gurnisson. The only thing keeping them together, or so Felix says, is a drunken oath Felix swore many years ago to record Gotrek's doom in an epic poem (and Dwarfs take both oathing and drinking very, very seriously). In fact Felix often muses on the situation he's found himself in, and wonders whether he really could go back to a different life if Gotrek did eventually meet his doom, so long have they been adventuring together.
  • Magic Pickle. He's a super-powered pickle. She's a little girl. Together they fight super-powered evil produce.
  • The Mediochre Q Seth Series. One's a 400-year-old dracologist with superpowers. One's a 17-year-old Muggle girl. They go on adventures, usually accompanied by a Badass Normal gunman and a stoic Dhampir.
  • The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries: She's a luscious, highly desirable telepathic barmaid. He's a vampire suffering from anachronistic attitudes.
  • Before they became a couple in canon (and then broke up), Star Trek: The Next Generation novels sometimes partnered Troi and Worf in whodunnits. She's an empathic psychologist! He's a Proud Warrior Race Guy! They fight crime!
  • Very common in Romance Novel blurbs: he's a notorious rake whose father has threatened to disinherit him if he doesn't reform, she's a witty bluestocking men consider too opinionated to be a wife, or what have you.
  • Hope Never Dies: One was the 44th President of the United States. One was his Vice President. Together, they fight crime!

    Live Action TV 
  • Alien Nation: One's an everyday human cop, one's an alien refugee cop. Naturally, they fight crime!
  • Austin & Ally: She's a songwriter with stage fright. He's a singer who loves being on stage. Together, they form a team.
  • Friends featured the Show Within a Show example of 'Mac & C.H.E.E.S.E.', in which Joey scores a breakout starring role as Detective "Mac" Machiavelli. One's a hard-boiled detective, one's a robot; they fight crime.
  • Blood Ties (2007): She's a Canadian police detective who is slowly losing her sight. He's a vampire, son of a king, who writes bodice-rippers. They fight crime!
  • Psych: A devious young man with uncanny detective skills pretends to be psychic in order to solve mysteries. With his nerdy, put-upon Token Black Friend.
  • Being Human: A nerdy werewolf, a charismatic vampire and a sexy ghost are roommates. They try to have a normal life.
  • Constantly parodied in Mystery Science Theater 3000 when reading the title credits for the movies they watch. e.g. Tom: "Body Care and Grooming! They're cops!"
  • The Middleman Superhero with android secretary hires art student with crazed activist roommate as Side Kick and heir apparent.
  • Heat Vision and Jack was a show pitched by Ben Stiller whose pilot (the only episode ever made) is a bit of a cult classic that parodies this whole trope. The premise is that a former astronaut with solar powered super genius (Jack Black) and a talking motorcycle (voiced by Owen Wilson) cruise the country as drifters on the run from NASA. They Fight Crime!
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? had a game revolving around this trope. The performers had to act/sing the opening sequence of a comedy whose title was supplied by the audience. Some of the fictional comedies:
  • This Morning with Richard Not Judy mercilessly parodied this often. Such as this example:
    Ian Roll is a driving instructor, Ian Reversal is a baker. Due to some kind of accident they are forced to swap jobs. With hilarious consequences.
    • Or this one:
      Ian and Iain Bent are brothers who are policemen. One is corrupt and the other is homosexual. They both suffer from curvature of the spine, and they're made of copper - they're robots in the future.
  • Dark Angel doesn't fall under this trope so much as leap into it headfirst from the roof of the Space Needle:
    She was designed to be the perfect soldier. She was trained to be a human weapon. But then she escaped. They came after her, and she knew they would never stop looking. [...] She's found an unlikely ally in Logan Cale. Born to a life of privilege, he's now an underground cyber-journalist crusading against a corrupt government. He wants to save the world, or what's left of it. She just wants to find the others like her. Together... who knows?
  • Life On Mars: He's a cop from The Noughties. He's a cop from The '70s. They fi-- ...oh.
  • Scarecrow and Mrs. King': He's a spy; she's an everyday housewife. Together, they spy-ish things.
  • BJ And The Bear: Wunza hunky truck driver, wunza chimpanzee. Together they solve other people's problems.
  • Alan Partridge follows this trope faithfully with the majority of the ideas he pitches to a senior BBC executive for new shows.
  • Set List, a show where stand-up comedians improvise bits in front of a live audience, featured the prompt "15th-century sitcom" during Robin Williams' set. He responded with "He's a Grand Inquisitor. She's a Jewish schoolgirl!"
  • In Scrubs after JD notes that hospital lawyer Ted and The Janitor should get their own sitcom, he has an imagine spot of them having having one called Legal Custodians, in which they adopt and raise a child together.note 
  • Kamen Rider Double even uses this type of narration in the opening of The Movie:
    Kamen Rider Double, the two-in-one detective composed of Shotaro Hidari, the kind-hearted, half-baked hero who idolizes everything hardboiled and the mysterious Philip, with the unlimited knowledge of the Gaia Library within his mind. Together they are the Kamen Rider who solves any mystery while fighting Gaia Memory-related crime!
  • Mann And Machine: He's a hard-boiled city cop. She's a sexy female android. They fight crime!
  • Person of Interest: One's a programming genius. The other's a former CIA agent. They fight crime!... that the government doesn't care about.
  • The Big Bang Theory: From Howard and Raj's crossover song about The Mighty Thor vs. Indiana Jones:
    "Thor and Doctor Jones! Thor and Doctor Jones! One plays with lightning, the other plays with bones!"
  • Used in a magazine ad for Cover Up:
    She's the world's sexiest photographer! He's fashion's hottest model! They go where the government can't, helping Americans in trouble!
  • Rosemary & Thyme: She's a gardener. She's...also a gardener, but she used to be a cop. They fight crime!
  • Knight Rider: One's an ex-cop officially declared dead. One's an Artificial Intelligence built into a car. They fight crime!
  • The 2019 French series Astrid et Raphaëlle: She's an autistic savant. She's a Parisian cop. They fight crime!

  • The opening lines to Avril Lavigne's 2002 hit "Sk8er Boi" combines this with Boy Meets Girl:
    He was a boy, she was a girl,
    Can I make it any more obvious?
    He was a punk, she did ballet,
    What more can I say?

    New Media 

  • Welcome to Our Village, Please Invade Carefully: One's a teenager with no goals in life beyond getting intoxicated on a regular basis, one's a charity worker who's old enough to be the first one's mother (though she doesn't like people pointing it out). Together, they put up a comically ineffective resistance to their alien oppressors!

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • Night Cascades: One's a substitute teacher who writes fantasy novels! One's a cop from the wrong side of the tracks! Together, they fight crime! (And possibly make out.)

  • The Johnny Wander short story "Ponycop" parodies this trope.
    Cop: You're alright, Pony. You're alright.
    Pony: Eee!
  • The original concept of Roommates was: One's an irredeemable Fair Folk Trickster the other is an obsessive Mad Artist Gadgeteer Genius they are drowning their sorrows together. Later: They share the same apartment.
    • Spin-off series Girls Next Door: One's a victorious (and single) modern Fairy Tale heroine the other a retired (and engaged) opera singer they share an apartment and try to keep their stalkers away.
  • The first story of Widdershins, "Sleight of Hand", where Harriet Barber, a short, no-nonsense, gun-toting, perpetually frowning Action Girl and Sidney Malik, an ungodly tall, flamboyant, Non-Action Guy, perpetually smiling failed wizard and street magician meet and, together, take down the King of Thieves. This is a beginning of a beautiful friendship, though.

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: In "Brian Sings & Swings", Stewie ponders hanging out with Dwayne Johnson again if Brian dies.
    Don LaFontaine: One's a baby. And the other's... Black... I think... At least... part-Black... or... Hispanic... Y'know, I think there might possibly be some Filipino in there, yeah, possibly some Filipino. I mean, if he's... if he's Black, it's definitely... diluted... I mean... one of his parents must be white. What the hell is Jessica Alba for that matter? If I were 40 years younger, I'd plow that 'til next July.
  • Hit-Monkey. One’s a Japanese snow monkey with a bad temper, the other is the ghost of an American hitman who doesn’t know when to shut up. Together, they seek vengeance in the crime-ridden streets of Tokyo.
  • Kim Possible. She is the popular cheerleader. He is the under achiever who has no friends. Together they fight crime, and she'd better be home before 10.
  • They're Pinky and the Brain (yes, Pinky and the Brain). One is a genius. The other's insane. To prove their mousey worth, they'll overthrow the Earth.
  • The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries.
  • In American Dad!, Steve and Roger attempt to come up with their own detective team, "Wheels and the Legman", but bicker over who gets to be in the wheelchair, try to outdo each other for interesting backstories, and eventually split up into rival agencies and hire their own partners, including Roger's "Wheels and the Angel" ("One's a wheelchair-bound detective, the other's an angel who has to solve 100 cases to get back into Heaven!").
  • Tuca & Bertie: What do you expect when two avian roommates, one a toucan and the other a songbird, have to survive the world around them?
  • Clone High: Gandhi's entry in the titular event of "Film Fest: Tears Of A Clone" is one of these. One's a Harvard educated African American criminologist (played by George Washington Carver), one's a street smart Indian super cop (played by Gandhi), and together they overcome their differences and fight crime.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Ones A Plot, They Fight Crime


Rubinovski and Franks

One's a coarse anteater, one's a sophisticated sheep. Together they fight petty crime.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / WunzaPlot

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