Follow TV Tropes


Police Are Useless / Anime & Manga

Go To

  • The Paradigm City police on The Big O are confounded by their uselessness in the face of Humongous Mecha attacks on their beloved town; the day is generally saved by self-styled "negotiator" Roger Smith as pilot of the title mech. This is a somewhat more realistic case as trying to take down a Humongous Mecha with a measly tank just won't fly. They're sometimes shown to be quite good at their jobs when not being attacked by giant monsters.
  • Black Lagoon:
    • The Roanapur police are totally corrupt and impotent to the point that they can't stop crime at all, and so turn a blind eye to practically everything while taking bribes.
    • Meanwhile, the Japanese police aren't exactly useless and are competent, but they're pretty ineffective at dealing with the sudden rash of explosions and massacres that occur during the Tokyo arc, since they have no idea that they're dealing with a group of former Soviet paratroopers, and wouldn't be equipped to handle such a group even if they did know.
  • The AD Police from Bubblegum Crisis could save a lot of money by firing everyone except Leon and Daley. And Nene, since they'd still need a dispatcher. Even then, they just need Leon. Daley only exists to hint at Leon's closeted homosexuality, and Nene doesn't need to dispatch anyone because Leon just goes off to fight Boomers whenever. Then they could use the extra helicopter budget to fund his ridiculous revolver that can kill Boomers.
  • Advertisement:
  • Ultimately subverted in Cat's Eye: while the police seems useless at first, it's because they're dealing with the titular thieves, and we're later shown them (mostly the same cops who continue getting humiliated by Cat's Eye) proving themselves truly competent against other crooks, with the crowner being a criminal discovering the people at a coffee house egging him to confess his crimes were police officers, one of which being an old man who had earlier stolen the magazine of his gun and lured him there for arrest purpose.
  • City Hunter:
    • The police force is actually competent. Their problem is that they're limited by the law and Japanese conventions, so there are things that only Ryo (who is a criminal) can do.
    • Police superintendent-general Nogami, on the other hand, is totally incompetent at his job, which makes one wonder how he even became the highest-ranking cop in the first place.
  • Code Geass:
    • The police are an interesting case. While never shown to explicitly kick any dogs, they are generally included in Lelouch's "all Britannian authorities are corrupt and must be obliterated" mindset. This is implied in Lelouch and Suzaku's debate in an early episode about whether the Black Knights are heroes for Justice, or whether they are vigilantes who should just join the police force and work from within the system if they want to enact change (Lelouch comments that they'd simply be absorbed and corrupted by the system). They're not shown to protect or serve the Numbers in the Ghettos, and it's implied that they may have been involved in the smuggling of Refrain. The episode in which they gain the most (and any positive) coverage is when Lelouch geasses them into shooting Mao after Lelouch beats him using that tape trick.
    • Played straight when Suzaku orders the police to protect Shirley during a terrorist attack (Jeremiah going after Lelouch). Shirley ignores the police's safety to go after Lelouch. None of them were able to catch up with her and none of them were around when she ended up killed by Rolo.
  • A strange example in Codename: Sailor V: the police made to look useless by Sailor V showing it up by taking not only on the youma but also on many normal criminals (the first cops to appear in the manga found that Sailor V had captured the crooks before them again). So, what does their boss do? She hires Sailor V.
  • A recurring element in Cutey Honey, which is especially played up in the original manga and the Re: Cutie Honey series, where generic cops are always being depicted as literal clueless, cheering children, more concerned with setting up their own Funny Background Events than doing their jobs in trying to stop Panther Claw.
  • Death Note:
    • The Police are discouraged to chase Kira, after he killed the false L, and he forces the FBI to surrender after he killed several FBI agents. Only a few police officers try to chase him, but they are not smart enough how to do it. They need the help and lead of people who do not work for the police, but by their own. That includes the anonymous master detective L, the college student Light (who is Kira), both for the Japanese Special Unit, and the teenage L-wannabe Near for the SPK. And many states surrender to Kira.
    • Mello is probably savvy enough, maybe that's why he allies with the mafia instead the police.
    • The irony, Kira needs the police because he need names and faces of arrested criminals to kill them.
    • Though other members of the investigation team still manage to contribute greatly. Even the normally-useless Matsuda has some pretty big moments.
  • Detective Conan:
    • The police certainly mean well, and they seem generally competent at dealing with street-level crime. But they still end up relying on a high school kid to solve every murder case in town. Most cases involve the cops missing obvious clues, which Conan has to point out to them, and then standing around dumbfounded at the end while Conan reveals the killer's identity. On the rare cases when they do make an arrest on their own, it's usually the wrong guy, and then Conan has to save the accused by finding the real culprit.
    • Subverted in the second case of the Osaka Double Mystery when Heiji Hattori's father rips into him over not stopping a second murder despite the police making the same failure, only for it to turn out that he already knew who the murderer was and was using Heiji as bait in a Batman Gambit to catch the perp of a far earlier crime.
    • Inspector Yamamura is the poster boy for police incompetence, but, to Conan's chagrin, is elevated to the rank of Inspector solely on the basis of having closed some cases Conan actually solved behind the scenes.
    • The Nagano police is an aversion. While not as good as the high school detectives, they are often very close to capture the culprit, but they would need more evidence to catch them.
    • Another aversion: Some individuals from the FBI, CIA or Public Security Bureau are very competent in what they are doing and are crucial in dealing with the Black Organization. Few of them are on the level of Shinichi himself.
  • Detroit Metal City. For all the crazy stunts Krauser pulls off in public (which includes inadvertent assault on a police officer), the police never seem to bother with following it up or taking any of the band members into custody.
  • The local police force in Doctor Slump are mostly ineffectual. On the rare exceptions where the cops manage to nab the criminals the cops are after, it's only after Arale gets involved.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Justified in Dragon Ball Z: The police and local law enforcement are always portrayed as being utterly useless in dealing with all of the threats to the Earth, but that is only because their opponents have become so powerful that silly little things like guns and tanks can't even scratch them.
    • Subverted by the time of Dragon Ball Super. Why? Krillin, the strongest pure (non-Cyborg) Earthling on the planet, joined the police force. Normal criminals really don't have much they can do to him. Still played straight when gods and such are on the table, though.
  • In THE iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls, the police make a mess of two situations - the first one is when Rin is assisting a crying boy, and they assume Rin is harassing the boy, and the second one is when they attempt to apprehend the producer after he's repeatedly spotted near Rin's school.
  • In Gundam Build Divers, the administration for the Gunpla Battle Nexus Online game have proven themselves to be completely useless in dealing with the Mass-Divers affecting the game. Even with video proof of their actions, according to the data logs themselves, these people weren't actually cheating or illegally modding the game. This infuriates Kyoya Kujo so much that he effectively forms a vigilante team of sorts with the sole purpose of hunting down the man enabling this so the administration can punish him!
  • In The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer, Nagumo quit his job as a police detective after an attempted-murderer was let off without charges being filed due to nepotism in the force. It's the last straw that leads Nagumo to conclude he's no longer able to actually help people and serve justice in the police. A later conversation with his former partner hints strongly that someone in the government is actively preventing the police from looking into the secret war, even when people die.
  • The police in Lupin III sometimes come across this way, but it's more to do with who they're chasing. Inspector Zenigata, for example, is usually shown as being good at his job, it's just that Lupin is even better at his... Zenigata doesn't stand much of a chance of success, but it's strongly implied that he's the only guy who has any chance at all against Lupin.
  • In Mouse, the titular protagonist's success as a thief can be mostly attributed to the police's inability to do anything except stand around and curse his name. For instance, in the very first scene in the first episode, he steals a valuable mask by lifting the whole museum and flying it away with helicopters. The police never think of maybe following the hovering building being carried off very slowly by a large, loud vehicle? Maybe in a police helicopter? Or with a car, even? Later he also steals a tower that conveniently has a floating base by breaking its foundations and towing it out of the harbor with boats. While the police stand in the docks and marvel at Mouse's wondrous "water-traveling contraptions" that they apparently haven't figured out. Seriously, people!
  • Naruto:
    • While the governments do have safety nets to deal with rogue ninjas, these are incredibly inadequate. The people in charge of taking out rogue ninjas are Nameless Faceless Goons that get slaughtered by anything stronger than a stiff breeze while said rogues are, almost without exception, THE strongest ninjas in the world.
    • On the other hand, if the only rogue ninja we ever meet are the strongest in the world, that may just mean that if you're NOT at least that strong, you don't get away with it. We never meet mediocre rogue ninja unless they were following aforementioned elites, after all.
  • One Piece
    • Most Marines are completely incapable of stopping the main heroes or any other more notorious criminals running around. The Straw Hats and The Whitebeard Pirates seem to do a better job helping distressed citizens. However, it’s justified, because most of said criminals can turn into elemental forces at will, have Super Strength and Super Speed or are otherwise beyond the ability of normal soldiers to handle. Only people who can fight them are others with similar abilities (mainly other criminals like the Staw Hats). Whitebeard, on the other hand, is The Dreaded whose sole name and declaration of ownership of an island is enough to keep it out of harm’s way. This trope is also subverted by most of the Marine officers, who posses superpowers or are Badass Normals themselves and proved they are more than competent when it comes to chasing down the criminals.
    • For the most part, law enforcement in high positions of power such as the admirals or CP9 are every bit as effective as the other spotlight characters, the main differences is out of anyone else, the marines have the largest disposable mook army which is what makes this trope take effect more often than not and that mooks are usually the ones sent to deal with problems not directly affecting the higher-ups. One major straight aversion comes in at the end of Ennies Lobby where one slightly above average marine mook with rust powers manages to destroy one of Zoro's swords permanently (something no one has done since Mihawk). He still got beaten about as quickly as any mook but he still landed a surprising and permanent blow to one of the most powerful members of the main crew.
  • Pokémon
    • The Pokémon anime is in love with this trope, probably to ensure that The Main Characters Do Everything. One early episode involves Ash and his friends helping a lone Officer Jenny investigate the disappearance of over a dozen children who've been missing for three days. That's right, a lone Officer Jenny who, apparently, hasn't done squat since the children vanished. (Neither have the Apathetic Citizens, for that matter, about the children or the Pokémon who've spent those three days losing energy.) Eventually, the children are found—in a public park. Where they've been for the last three days. Great work, everybody.
    • "A Secret Sphere of Influence!"
      • In this episode, the Sinnoh police are trying to stop a robbery in the Eterna museum. The stolen object in question was the Adamant Orb. However, the police force make some truly awful mistakes.
      • They arrest a recurring character, Nando, as a suspect, despite the fact that Officer Jenny saw the robbers (Team Rocket, naturally), of which there were two of, on the roof, who looked nothing like their arrested suspect. And this was an accusation being made by the same Officer Jenny.
      • When Ash and co. try to protest Nando's innocence, Jenny produces a picture of a Sunflora, a Pokemon that Nando owns, and that ran off during his arrest, making off with the Adamant Orb, and essentially declares "Ta da! All the evidence we need!", despite the fact that A: a picture like that is not enough incriminating evidence and B: anyone who would compare this picture with one of a real Sunflora could see that the one in the surveillance photo is clearly Meowth in a Sunflora costume (he didn't even bother to cover the coin on his forehead).
      • The police do not bother to search anyone else in the building. Lampshaded by the Jenny from Viridian City, who came to the museum because it was her day off.
      • In the interrogation room, Jenny refuses to listen to anything Nando says.
      • And finally, in one moment when Team Rocket are fleeing the building, there is a massive crowd of police there waiting for them, but due to Team Rocket being previously sprayed by a Stunky, the smell emitting from them makes all the officers block their noses and they move into what looks like a guard of honor position allowing Team Rocket to run through and escape. What. It wasn't just this idiot Jenny. In a lot of Pokémon episodes, the Jennies can't or don't do anything to stop whatever crime is happening. And quite a few times, they do more harm than good. They've let Team Aqua escape once, and on many occasions, Team Rocket.
    • They do seem somewhat competent whenever Butch and Cassidy are involved in something. In fact, probably the one thing that James and Jesse are better at than most other Rockets, including them, is staying out of jail.
    • In Pokémon Adventures, Byron outright says that normal police can't handle evil terrorist organizations, though an Interpol agent would make a difference. The Gym Leaders and the kids who are strong enough to challenge them do that instead.
  • In Real Drive, the only police presence seen are rather unintimidating, cone-shaped robots. Even when a madman runs amok in a shopping mall, mugging passbyers with impunity, no authority figure makes an effort to stop him.
  • Subverted in Samurai Flamenco. They're not actually useless, it's just that they tend to overlook many smaller crimes (like jaywalking and smoking in public) because it takes time from dealing with more serious crimes. The apathy is the reason protagonist Masayoshi takes up the Samurai Flamenco act. He can deal with the criminals that the police can't, or won't, deal with themselves.
  • The police in Yozakura Quartet have their hands tied by orders from higher-up. The government, possibly influenced by the Senate, considers youkai-only problems to be hands-off. If the cops in Sakura-shinmachi want to get involved the head of the department has to decide it's gotten serious enough to warrant police involvement. What counts as "serious enough" has a pretty high threshold, though, and the one time they get orders to actively move out it's because a minor has been abducted and is about to be murdered and cannibalized, the kidnapper is also targeting one of their own, and the main characters who usually take care of everything are currently out of town. It's not even that the police can't contribute to a fight, it's that there's a lot of Fantastic Racism from their superiors who don't much care if the youkai are fighting among themselves.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's:
    • The Trope was played straight at first. The police were usually portrayed as antagonists, and usually as Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains (or lowlifes who sickened even the other villains, like Takatsu). By the end of the first season and into the second, however, a few police did prove helpful (Ushio officially making a Heel–Face Turn) although it was rare when they could actually do anything heroic.
    • There was also the matter of the criminal marks, special tattoos applied to a criminal's face after conviction that would let the police track an escaped convict or one who had violated probation or parole. Supposedly. The only time the viewers saw them try to track someone using these marks, the quarry eluded them by jamming the signal or having someone else do it; indeed, it seemed every average Joe with a laptop was able override it and render these marks worthless, making one wonder who was in charge of their computers.
  • Justified in Monster: The police are useless because the criminal they're chasing is just that good. He's so thorough in covering up his crimes that it takes roughly half of the series to prove that he even exists, let alone responsible for any murders.
  • In 91 Days, the cops in Lawless have pretty much all been paid off by The Mafia to look the other way, most notably Agent Scusa from the Federal Bureau of Prohibition. When an actually competent lawman, Agent Delphy, arrives in town to clean up, the Vanetti family orders a hit on Delphy's wife and child. They narrowly survive, but the shock of the attack causes him to suspend his investigation, giving the mafia families free reign over Lawless once again.
  • Discussed and subverted in My Hero Academia. Police officers are often neglected and looked down upon because they don't wear flashy costumes and legally cannot use their Quirks to stop crime, making them underwhelming at best in a world where Everyone is a Super. However, they still help heroes with investigative and legal work, are responsible for dispensing the law after villains are arrested, and prove invaluable for logistics work like keeping civilians out of the line of fire. All Might, the greatest hero in Japan and possibly the world, tells Midoriya that being a police officer is as noble and important a position as any hero because of this.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: