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Police Are Useless / Video Games

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  • Strongly averted in Duck Season, where one of the game's endings is achieved simply by calling the police as soon as the situation becomes undeniably serious. They promptly deal with the villain.
  • Zig zagged in the Streets of Rage games. The story explains that the police don't fight The Syndicate because said police force is either corrupt or completely powerless to do anything about the gang. In the first game, the player has a cop they can summon once per life that kills all enemies on screen and deals major damage to bosses. This feature was removed in the sequels and the police are once again rendered helpless in fighting off the gangs. In the third game, the Chief of Police gets kidnapped (the Japanese version has him as a General of the military instead), further cementing how useless the police are.
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  • Played around with in Yandere Simulator. If a body is discovered or if a murder was witnessed, the police will be called in to investigate. They will arrest Yandere-chan if she has left a lot of evidence lying around. If no hard evidence can be provided, they will throw their hands up and leave after a few hours, and never even bother to do a follow-up investigation even if multiple students inexplicably vanish into thin air or it becomes ragingly obvious that a Serial Killer is running amok on campus.
  • In the SNES game Super Double Dragon aka Double Dragon 4, the game overtures in Las Vegas, a city with standard civil order detachments such as the police, sheriff's office, and military. Yet somehow, the city's streets are over run with violent thugs armed with :Swords, EXPLOSIVES'. Trying to kill Jimmy or Billy Lee. Key word: KILL. Murder 1 is a capital crime, sooo where are the police screaming "Down on the ground". especially when the first stage is set on a lively street with operational casinos? The Casino security who are armed to the teeth with armor and Automatic armaments (as seen on the film "2000 Miles to Graceland"; are not present to defend the interests of their Casino pit bosses. Stampeding tourists are not good for business, especially in such a economically viable city. The raganarok-esque battles on "Smoking Aces" set in just a quite lake side casino in RENO (mini-Vegas) is evident of the fire power that is at the disposal of law enforcement. In reality all the Lees would have done is just stand to the side as LVPD's Swat units mopped the floor with the thug's teeth! Then the second level as you try to escape Las Vegas through the airport. Again, you have mutant warriors who resemble Blanka throwing German potato masher grenades. Keywords: GRENADES and AIRPORT, especially when you're running around the secure areas of the airport, (maitenance, luggage, the crew's smoke room etc), while Blanka and swordsmen throw bombs at the player.
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  • In [PROTOTYPE], the police are so useless that by Day 4, they're kicked out of Manhattan and replaced by the Marines and Blackwatch. They only ever use a pistol in combat, which amounts to throwing spitballs in terms of damage to most things they fight. It is not their fault they weren't trained to deal with a flesh-eating zombie death-virus and two Persons of Mass Destruction throwing each other around Manhattan.
  • In Clock Tower, during Helen's story, she can call the police for help in the first chapter. Though, once she mentions she's being attacked by Scissorman, the officer on the phone thinks its a prank and hangs up on her, Helen can call the cops again and manages to convince them to send help, except no matter how long she waits, they'll never show up.
  • Averted in Police Quest, in which you are the police officer and if you do stuff like what you think the police can do, you'd get a game over. The game was praised for being so realistic for its time specifically because you couldn't just go in and shoot everyone who broke the law.
  • A particularly notable aversion are the cops of EVE Online, which are overpowered specifically to avoid this trope.
    • In practice this is both an aversion and played straight. The EVE cops are highly efficient in punishing certain crimes but have a limited range of what they consider a crime. If you blow up another player's ship they will blow up your ship in response but will completely ignore your buddy who is looting the wreck of your victim for all its valuables. The EVE cops are completely useless for any activity that they are not programmed to recognize as criminal. Loophole Abuse is rampant for this reason.
    • Justified because anything they are not programmed to recognize as criminal actually isn't criminal in-universe.
  • Another notable aversion is in the first Parasite Eve game; when Aya Brea, a rookie cop, reports of the incident that happens at the opera house in the opening cutscene (everybody other than her spontaneously combusts), an investigation by all the cops goes down. And when the Big Bad sends in an ooze monster that attacks the city, all of Manhattan gets evacuated. Aya's partner also stores whatever items she doesn't need at the moment.
  • A cardinal rule of the Pokémon games is that, unless the Ranger Corps are involved, do not expect any help from the police whatsoever. While there are instances where the villainous group has some "beneficial" role in society, other times there's just no excuse.
    • Over the games, there are criminal bases that are in plain sight, in the middle of town in broad daylight with police all around, doing nothing. They are letting 11 year olds sprint into a crime zone, and somehow they do a better job than the cops.
    • Pokémon Red and Blue:
      • You go into the house in Cerulean City that Team Rocket have just ransacked. The police are still there, and you see there's a giant hole in the wall which they're ignoring. Go outside through the hole... and you see that the thief is still sitting in the garden.
      • The Saffron City guards serve as a weird Broken Bridge. They don't seem interested at all in the fact that Team Rocket has taken over Silph Co. Instead they just prevent anyone from entering the city until you bring them a drink because they're thirsty — including a class of schoolchildren who seem to accept this as normal. Not that this matters too much because for some reason there are tunnels under the city that let you get to the other side — as if this is so normal and expected that the city dug a bypass.
    • In Pokémon Gold and Silver, police officers are rare trainers who are only fought at night, as they will spot the player and assume he or she is a criminal, then unleashes his Growlithe. It is only after the child beats his Growlithe to death over the course of a 5-minute battle that the officer realizes you're a child. And then there's the remakes; after your rival steals one of the starters at the beginning of the game, upon your return, the policeman flat out mistakes you for the one who stole the starter, only for Lyra/Ethan to enter and tell the policeman that you are innocent and explains the details of the real thief, your rival.
    • In Colosseum, Deputy Sherles and Officer Johnson both patrol Pyrite Town and yet are unable to make a lasting dent in the horde of hoods that inhabit that town, much less the rest of the Orre region. This is probably at least partly because the latter is an incompetent buffoon who runs into people and mistakes them for the former.
    • In the Unova games, you'd think someone who listened to one of Ghetsis's numerous speeches would have voiced objections to liberation, but the Unova League only acts against them when [A] they are acting overtly criminal (Nacrene, Castelia, Driftveil) or [B] their big plan has come out into the open (Icirrus onward). At least unlike the other leagues (bar the Champions) they get their act together period, but there's a reason "those who forget history are doomed to repeat it" is an effective phrase. Speaking against Team Plasma back at Accumula had the potential to derail Ghetsis' entire plot at the station. To be fair, the game very clearly doesn't want us to agree with Ghetsis or Team Plasma; just speaking out about owning Pokemon isn't illegal, but an impromptu debate would have brought the nature of the issue into the limelight. That goes out the window after they steal the Dragon Skull and then Bianca's Munna.
    • Looker plays with this trope a bit. In Platinum, he's fairly useless against Team Galactic for most of the game, either showing up too late or being there but letting the player character do most of the work, until the very end of the game where he manages to arrest Charon with his Croagunk. Then in Black and White, although he does arrest the stray Plasma sages, he still lets the player do all the work of tracking the sages down in the first place. And in X and Y, he is there to investigate the doctor helping Lysandre and the mysterious Poke Ball thief, but the player actually does most of the work again. Perhaps somewhat justified this time, as he has no Pokemon of his own since his Croagunk was killed.
    • Pokémon Sun and Moon has Nanu, who is both a police officer and an Island Kahuna, meaning he's one of the four toughest trainers of Alola. He's also apathetic enough towards Team Skull that he lets them run amok and even tolerates them taking an entire town for their own, even living next to them because the rent is cheap.
    • Zig-zagged with the Ultra Recon Squad in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon. While they aren't incompetent bad cops per se, as their investigation in Ultra Space has shown, their lack of knowledge in Pokémon battles, which was absent in their universes, led to the failure in capturing Necrozma, thus needing the Aether Foundation and the player character in the current universe to help in these investigations. In short, they are competent, just not on the levels of a high-ranking trainer in Alola region.
    • Galar's equivalent of Scotland Yard is nowhere to be seen after the main story when Sordward and Shielbert start causing mayhem.
  • Largely the case in Spider-Man 3, in which "police crackdowns" rarely achieve anything substantial against the H-Bombers and Apocalypse gangs - but a few drubbings from Spidey can seriously reduce the territory of these gangs. On the other hand, you sometimes come to the aid of cops being attacked by gang members and they handle themselves pretty well.
  • Zig-zagged in Spider-Man (PS4), where the police largely trust and ally with the masked vigilante, accepting his help to investigate criminal activity, act as a first responder and provide back-up where needed. How effective they are on their own is debatable: they make a decent showing against street level gangs, but they're vulnerable as any mere mortal when outgunned, whether by heavy munitions or superpowered threats.
  • In Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure, Raphael can wear his disguise as a thief and talk to the constables without them even taking suspicion. Also, several Rhythm Games involve escaping the constables, using barely any effort, and they never come anywhere near capturing you.
  • Invoked in Crackdown; the Agency Peackeepers are so pathetic that the three major organized crime syndicates have divided up Pacific City between themselves; so the Agency has to create a super soldier in order to take them out. It was invoked intentionally, however. The agency's leader secretly supplied and informed the gangs while "running law enforcement into the ground", in order to make the citizens accept the police state that would be ushered in once the Agent killed off all the bad guys.
    • But also subverted, the Agency as a whole may have utterly failed to keep crime down, but in gameplay, Agency Peacekeepers have been shown to be quite competent in a firefight. A 2 on 2 shootout often ends with both Peacekeepers alive, and both gangsters dead.
  • In Crazy Taxi there's no police (at least patrolling).
  • The Grand Theft Auto series tends to portray police as incompetent (and highly corrupt). Not only can they fail to capture the player despite supposedly being better armed and in superior numbers, they can't hold him for any time and use capture tactics that would be more dangerous to themselves and the innocent civilians than suspects. That, and they're even less likely to go after NPC criminals. That said, police are more effective in Grand Theft Auto IV and especially V than in other installments; in a shootout with your average street thug or gangster, they usually win.
    • Other highlights include being fooled when a car with a different color drives out of a Pay and Spray shop that the suspect just drove into, or giving up if the person manages to get into his house and change his underwear.
  • In the Saints Row series you attract police attention by attacking a cop or shooting/running over a civilian in front of them, but notably not by crashing into a car, or even jumping out of a car with nitrous active and pointed at a crowd of civilians. Rear end a cruiser at a traffic light, though, and they will try to shoot you.
    • And taken to a ridiculous extreme in Saints Row: The Third. The way to shake the cops off your tail instantly? Why, hide in a store you own. This immediately causes your notoriety to drop to zero. Even if you gained that notoriety by holding the store up yourself. The game explains this by telling you there are (invisible) gang members defending the shop. This may be a step back from the visible gang members guarding your stores in Saints Row 2, but this way the game doesn't have to explain just what two gangsters with machine guns are supposed to do against the numerous SWAT teams, microwave tanks and the air force on your tail. And if the cops still have to let you go, they would probably find you at your own super secret stronghold which is so super secret it is a giant purple skyscraper with the Saints fleur de lis on the front. It should come as no surprise that the law finally decides to bomb the whole city to dust, lampshaded by one of the characters as "if they blow up every building we gotta be in one of them".
  • Averted in Bully, where getting other kids in trouble with authority figures is frequently a viable tactic.
  • Zig-Zagged in Thief Simulator. On one hand, they'll start to patrol the neighborhoods in search for you if you get caught by the homeowners one too many times, making the game more difficult. On the other hand, they'll make no attempt to search the area thoroughly if you hide or get out of sight, instead running around for around a minute or two before calling off the search and driving off.
  • Played with in various ways in the Persona series.
    • In the first Persona, there aren't any police officers, because the town's been warped into an "ideal" version by Maki, where the police and the hospital don't exist.
    • For Persona 2, it's played straight in Innocent Sin and subverted in Eternal Punishment. Innocent Sin gives off the idea that there's only one police precinct in the entire city, and Tatsuya's Arson detective brother Katsuya won't help him. Courtesy of a Perspective Flip (and the lack of Tatsuya's skewed view of his brother) in Eternal Punishment, Katsuya himself is more competent and genuinely tries his best. It's discovered later that a good chunk of the cops are under the thumb of the New World Order, which is run by Japan's Foreign Minister. Said foreign minister is also responsible for the death of Baofu's lover Miki and for forcing another police officer to frame Tatsuya and Katsuya's father for a crime that Tatsuya Sudou, the foreign minister's son, committed.
    • In Persona 3, due to the nature of the Dark Hour, the police aren't able to really do anything. One of them, Officer Kurosawa, does provide weapons to SEES, presumably due to the Kirijo Group's influence, and he actually takes a more active role in assisting both the Group and the Shadow Operatives (what the remnants of SEES become after high school) in Persona 4: Arena.
    • In Persona 4, the police can't do everything given that they can't travel to the other side of the TV screen, but they still contribute a lot more to the investigation than you would expect. Dojima in particular correctly guesses at the involvement of the main character and his friends in the case, but as he has no knowledge of the TV world, he can't fill in all the gaps. It doesn't help that not only does Dojima not believe his nephew at a critical juncture when the player gets the option to tell the truth, but a member of the police force is also a villain and deliberately misdirects the force to ensure more murders occur.
    • In Persona 5 the police are generally either too inept or corrupt to actually bother stopping crime or protecting the public. Part of the reason the Phantom Thieves become so popular among the public is them being able to do what the police have repeatedly failed or didn't bother doing. In fact, the police are actually aware of how the general public views them and in turn they act quite petty and jealous towards the various protagonists in the game that show them up, including Goro Akechi, Sae Niijima, and the Phantom Thieves themselves, of course.
  • Justified, averted, and played straight in City of Heroes.
    • Justified because, in a city where the gangs consist of fire-breathing demon worshipers, juiced-up Hulk-wannabes, elementally-powered mutants, and soul-eating carnival performers (among other things), there's not a whole lot your average guy with a gun can do.
    • Averted because, you will occasionally run into police duking it out with gangsters, or holding them at gunpoint. There are also the more ambitious parts of the police department, such as the Powered Armor Cops, the Psi-Division, and the Awakened Division.
    • Played straight, because your contacts in the police department and various guards will never move, no matter how close any baddies come.
    • Lampshaded in Going Rogue when you break into a Destroyer drug den; the enter-mission blerp includes you wondering how the PPD keeps missing the drug dens... then they show up; AFTER you rescue the person you're trying to rescue and they try to stop you from escaping; failing.
  • Heavy Rain: The entire plot of the game depends on the local police being insanely bad at their jobs. The police detective in charge of the Origami Killer seems to think that police work consists entirely of beating people until they say what he wants to hear, and fails to look into basic things like alibis, suspicious mail, and the fact that most of the victims' fathers disappeared around the same time that their sons died. The one cop who isn't useless, FBI Agent Norman Jayden, never gets any backup from the locals which can lead to his death on three separate occasions. One of which after he discovers the body of a murdered local cop that they don't even know about. The Killer, posing as a private detective, manages to collect and destroy most of the evidence against him because apparently the police never even asked for it.
    • The hilariously-incompetent SWAT team that tries to catch Ethan. Some seem to be unarmed, the others carry nothing other than pistols. They fail to seal off the hotel and are evaded by an untrained and extremely fatigued man who has, in the past week, sustained broken rib(s), an amputated finger, electrical burns, severe lacerations, a possible concussion, as well as an assortment of other more "minor" injuries.
  • Played straight, justified and then subverted in Urban Chaos: Riot Response where the Burners more or less make mincemeat of the city's cops, who do try to fight back but are outnumbered and out-gunned. That's where you come in, as part of a new zero-tolerance unit, you're given the shiny new stuff and license to Kill 'Em All.
  • Martha, the cleaning lady from Rule of Rose writes to the police about her (correct) suspicions concerning the recent disappearances, but Officer Dolittle dismisses her fears, leading to her death and worse disasters later in the line.
  • Initially averted, but quickly played straight to the point of being painful to watch in Phantasmagoria 2. The only time you see the police in action after Bob's murder is Detective Powell, who is not a credit to the force for many reasons including the following:
    1. She allows Paul Allen Warner to get his office back to work the day after the murders, ruining the crime scene, and all she does in threaten him with an obstruction of justice, no actual action is taken.
    2. She latches onto Curtis as her prime suspect with absolutely no evidence aside from he acts a bit weird and suspicious, ignoring the idea his odd behavior may have something to do with his cubical being the site of a horrific murder. She also questions him alone every time despite being convinced he's a homicidal maniac.
    3. She lets Curtis know he's her prime suspect and intimidates him with a warning that if she finds any shred of evidence to point to him, she's locking him up. She then never puts him under surveillance of any sort, or does any sort of actual interrogation.
    4. After Tom is killed, Curtis told her he overheard Paul Allen Warner and Tom arguing about Warner forcing everyone to come in to work the day after Bob's murder, the argument including Warner threatening Tom's life, and he suspects a company conspiracy is to blame for the killings. She never even considers the possibility he may be on to something.
  • Subverted in Friday the 13th: The Game: while the police can't kill Jason, calling them in and running to them as a counselor is one way to escape Jason's wrath alive, since the police will fire at Jason and knock him out if he gets too close.
  • Switches between being played straight and subverted in Alan Wake. At first, the Sheriff of Bright Falls is more than cooperative with Wake, attempting to be helpful and understanding in the search for his wife. However, the trope is played straight later on when Agent Nightingale gets involved, leading law enforcement officials in the area on a manhunt for Wake. Not only is Nightingale often drunk, belligerent, and trigger-happy, the deputies he sends into the forest end up having to contend with the Darkness. They don't do very well, which is somewhat justified by the fact that they were chasing a single person and weren't aware of the Darkness and its people puppets which promptly slaughters them. However, the trope is later subverted again when the Sheriff is quick to support Wake in fighting the Darkness, releasing him from prison and proving to be a very competent escort when armed with a shotgun and flashlight...
    • Even more subverted when you find out that Agent Nightingale isn't even an FBI agent anymore. He was fired, presumably because he's such an ass. So the only useless officer isn't even one anymore.
  • Exaggerated in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves: the Big Bad invades Kathmandu (the capital city of Nepal), riles up the local guerrillas to cause a massive amount of collateral damage, ransacks 500-year-old temples that form a large part of the city's cultural heritage, and generally tears the city apart looking for the next clue for the Cintimani Stone. None of this garners any sort of response from the Nepali Army.
  • In the Resident Evil series, it tends to be both subverted and played straight to the point of exaggeration.
    • The protagonists of most games have a police background, but seem to suffer from a severe case of Conservation of Ninjutsu. Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, and Barry Burton are all experienced police officers with military backgrounds, and capable of overcoming whatever biological weapons they encounter along the way. Leon S. Kennedy and Rebecca Chambers are both rookies on their very first assignments, and the Sole Survivor by the end of things in spite of working with more experienced officers. The Raccoon City Police seem to otherwise play this trope straight, partially thanks to having a corrupt chief on the payroll for Umbrella. This leads to the entire department being wiped out, save for the protagonists.
    • Resident Evil 4 begins with Leon being escorted by a pair of foreign police officers, who are essentially useless. They die almost immediately and destroy the bridge out of town in the process, stranding Leon in hostile territory.
    • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard gives us perhaps the most useless example in the series, with Deputy Anderson. He's investigating a seemingly-abandoned house in relation to over 20 Missing Person cases that have plagued the region. Ethan comes to the window bloodied and bruised, begging to be rescued from people planning to kill him. Deputy Anderson treats this injured and terrified person as a suspect and ignores his pleas for help, simply because he's an "outsider" in the rural community. He ends up brutally murdered by Jack Baker when he leaves his back turned to the open garage door and doesn't bother to radio for backup or pay attention to his surroundings. Literally his only accomplishments are lending Ethan an utility knife and having a gun that can be looted from his corpse.
  • Deep Fear mentions frequently how the Navy SEAL's will arrive to save the day. Half way through, they finally show up. But they get massacred by some of the most blatant Cutscene Incompetence ever put in a video game. When confronted with a mutant, they begin wildly firing from the hip or with one hand at well-lit walls with nothing to shoot at, firing hundreds of rounds without being able to hit a thing. And what is it that brings down these men from such an elite and respected special forces unit? A mutant rat. Ouch.
  • In Ghost Trick, the police mean well and do their best to figure out what's going on, but most still are pretty incompetent. Granted a lot of their confusion stems from the fact that there's ghostly activities going on, but the detective Lynne is still quick to point out particularly bad performances (for example, the one cop failing to notice a very suspicious notebook right in front of him, or realize that if the suspect tries to phone for someone, it's best to notify a higher-up). Lynne herself is the only cop to take on a difficult case to save a fellow officer from death row or so we think, but she still manages to die five times (to be fair, she does put herself in danger mainly to protect others) and Sissel comments that her job as a detective doesn't look long, when she says she has trouble remembering names and faces. Inspector Cabanela, meanwhile, seems to be very laid-back and has a tendency to randomly do Michael Jackson-inspired dance moves, but still has a "natural genius" for investigating and is secretly putting vast amounts of time and research into clearing his friend's name. Inspector Jowd, meanwhile, is pretty badass, but spends most of the first part of the game in prison. There's also the matter of his greatest failure...which set the entire plot of the game into motion.
    • One notable instance involves an undercover cop working at a restaurant. Not only does she peg Lynne as "suspicious" purely based on her drinking a lot of water, while she does also correctly suspect Beauty and Dandy of criminal activities, her attempt to bug their meal and listen in on their conversation causes Detective Rindge and Lynne to both die, Rindge's van to crash through the side of the restaurant, and Memry herself to nearly get killed (she survives only because Lynne pushes her out of he way of a giant plastic chicken falling towards her). Sissel even lampshades how badly she screws things up.
  • Sonic Adventure 2: The police chase down and arrest Sonic after mistaking him for Shadow, even though they look nothing alike (sure, they're both super-fast hedgehogs, but this is in a world replete with talking animals). In fact, while Sonic's friends endeavor to break him out, Shadow and his cohorts are getting away with a number of thefts and assaulting military facilities. It later turns out that corrupt military officials were covering up the incident that turned Shadow against humanity in the first place.
    "Sheeesh. There always seems to be a lot of police around when you DON'T need em'!"
  • PAYDAY: The Heist: An average of 130+ police officers, SWAT units, and FBI agents versus 4 armed robbers - guess who comes out on top? At least it's not so much for the cops not bothering to adequately respond so much as it is they are completely and hopelessly outmatched.
  • In World of Warcraft, some guards will try to take out enemies that come too close. Most are much stronger than the players in the area, but the guards at Sentinel Hill will stand around for ages whacking at gnolls that the player characters can kill with two hits. And then some won't do anything at all, even if the player leads an enemy right to them.
  • The police in EarthBound aren't good for much. In Onett, they can put up a mean roadblock, but they can't shut down the Shark gang, and the captain and four of his five best officers get clobbered by a psychic thirteen-year-old (the fifth runs away). In Twoson, they can't find a girl who's been kidnapped by cultists or shut down the criminals operating out of Burglin Park. In Fourside, they're probably on the take from Montoli, but that ultimately doesn't keep Ness and his friends out of the Montoli building. And there's apparently nowhere they can do anything about the humans driven to murderous rage by Giygas.
  • Police and Border Patrol ships in the X-Universe series are generally armed with popguns. They seem to exist mainly to attack the player after friendly fire incidents, or when the player keeps a ship he's supposed to return as part of a mission.
  • This is true to some extent in Tachyon: The Fringe. Obulo, the Star Patrol commander in the Hub region, explicitly states he doesn't give a crap about the Bora/GalSpan war, only that they "keep it off my front porch".
  • In the Nancy Drew game The Final Scene, the police (or more specifically, the head sergeant) dismiss Nancy's report of her friend's kidnapping as a practical joke and are reluctant to get involved until she comes up with evidence that a kidnapping occurred. By the time they finally agree to follow on a lead, it's from those who actually are playing a practical joke.
  • In the third level of Max Payne 3, major firefights break out between the Max-Passos duo and an outlawed paramilitary group at a major stadium, yet there's no sign of police response. Even noted after a shootout in Chapter IV:
    Passos: I ain't hanging around to see who shows up.
    Max: [narrating] I thought about saying "the cops", but this was no time for bad jokes.
  • Police AI in Need for Speed series are good in their own right, but the game mechanic enforces the player to make them useless because these cops can never take down street racing even in broad daylight, even if you are playing as a cop. Most Wanted 2005 has the most humiliating example where the entire police force from Rockport can't even stop a single guy (You) from escaping the city.
  • Double Subversion in LEGO Island. When the Brickster escapes jail, the police officers Nick and Laura Brick take part in the chase to catch him, removing blockades and investigating the helicopter pieces along the way, and are ultimately the ones who arrest him once again. That does not change the fact that the Brickster was able to escape from jail so easily and steal the police helicopter, or the fact that most of the work to catch the Brickster once again is done by Pepper Roni, a pizza delivery boy, instead.
    • Discussed in brutalmoose's review of LEGO Island:
      brutalmoose: But don't worry, though. Even though I just released the only criminal on LEGO Island, the police are basically like, "Oh, s'all good."
      Infomaniac: So we need someone to race over there! Someone who can use a vehicle that can travel on roads and paths, over ramps, and in a jiffy!
      brutalmoose: Oh, you mean a motorcycle.
      Infomaniac: A skateboard, perhaps!
      brutalmoose: What? There are two people on motorcycles right there! [arrows point at Nick and Laura, both riding motorcycles] But no, the general consensus is that a skateboard would be a much, much better idea. Everyone here? Idiots.
    • It's even worse in the sequels. In LEGO Island 2: The Brickster's Revenge, Nick's only role is granting Pepper permission to use the police helicopter. In Island Xtreme Stunts, Nick does some investigation into the Brickster's activities. In both games, Laura does nothing, and Pepper is ultimately the one who has to do all the work catching the Brickster.
  • Art of Fighting plays this straight, but also justifies the police's failure to respond to Yuri's abduction, by Mr. Big, in the original game.
  • In The Dead Case, the police seem disturbingly unconcerned with the fact that there have been an alarming number of deaths in the town in the past week or so. If the protagonist enters the police station early on, one of the cops on duty can be seen using the computer to play Solitaire. The library ghost also mentions that the police seem to be covering up the protagonist's death. The library ghost himself subverts this - he was a police officer when he was alive, and even in death he continues to research everything going on and try to help the other ghosts. The epilogue shows that he becomes more directly involved in getting the police force back into shape.
  • Mega Man Legends has a fully justified example. The police definitely try to take on the Bonne Family, but very quickly realise that their handguns and squad cars can't even scratch the Bonne's armored tanks, cannon turrets, and Humongous Mecha.
  • Telepath Tactics. Once Emma discovers that the mines are near the archipelago's capital city, Sabrina suggests they appeal to the governor for help, but Emma refuses to do this for some reason. In addition, the final battle of the second arc takes place in the middle of a town, with the local constabulary nowhere to be found. The protagonists are pretty miffed by this, and discuss the trope after the battle. Many of the criminal characters say the guard is highly corrupt, and a defector from Bloodbeard's forces says there was a general agreement that the guard would look the other way in regards to the bandits' activities. Scarlet steadfastly refuses to believe any of this.
  • Surprisingly averted in Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, considering the genre. Among other things, police will immediately react to speeding and running a red light, and are extremely competent at chasing you down if you try to drive away.
    • Played straight in Mafia III; most police will take minutes to show up in low-class districts, and even when protecting the rich, they will never escalate their equipment against a former black-ops who racks up hundreds of revenge kills. Not helping matters is the level of corruption in the bureaucratic divisions of the police force, as both factions have insiders in high places.
  • In Costume Quest, when Wren/Reynold calls the police to report their sibling's kidnapping, their reaction is to sigh and say "Your report has been logged." (These calls act as save points in the main game.) Given that the report is from a fourth-grader on Halloween claiming that their twin sibling has been kidnapped by monsters, it's understandable that the police don't exactly consider it a priority.
  • Fire up The Simpsons: Hit & Run, cause a ruckus to attract the cops, and sit back and watch them tear across the grass, run over pedestrians and through obstacles, and even crash and explode as they obsessively try to crash into you for a $50 dollar fine. One wonders if this is the result of dodgy AI programming, but considering how inept the cops are in the show itself this was very at least a case of Throw It In! but much more likely entirely intentional.
  • The classic arcade game Vigilante:
    "The police cannot stop the street gangs... / As a vigilante, you must defend your people's turf!!!"
  • Sim Copter presents something of an inversion. The cops are plenty competent, in part because of a special beacon you can set to lead them around towards a criminal, and when they're close enough they'll chase after him on their own. It's the other first responders that are useless - you're almost entirely reliant on filling up your bucket on a winch with water to dump over blazing fires and transporting heavily-injured people to the hospital rather than getting firetrucks or ambulances to do anything about it.
  • Justified and averted in World in Conflict. Justified in that ordinary cops are not remotely equipped to handle a Soviet invasion of Seattle. Averted in that we still see cops fighting alongside soldiers, firing their revolvers at Russian soldiers armed with assault rifles, tanks, artillery, and gunships.
  • Randal's Monday: Played Straight with both Murray and Kramer's guys. Usually averted with Kramer, but even then, he provides what's perhaps the worst example in the game: he's completely absent during the long sequence where Randal attempts to talk down Matt (who wants to shoot both Randal and himself), only to show up after Matt has accidentally shot himself to wrongly arrest Randal without bothering to hear Randal's explanation or collect evidence (which would have shown that Randal's fingerprints weren't even on the gun).
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines: While police officers will come and chase you if you commit crimes in front of human witnesses in Masquerade areas, they will promptly abandon the pursuit if you manage to stay out of their sight for a few minutes, and you'll then be able to go out freely without anyone even remembering you murdered a prostitute or assaulted a random civilian to suck his blood sooner. They also are nowhere to be seen when gangbangers fight each other in the middle of the street.
  • In This Is the Police, you get an intriguing look at this trope from the police's point of view. The game wastes no time in forcing protagonist Jack Boyd under the thumb of the local mobs, who can and will kill him if he doesn't look the other way when they commit crimes. The local Mayor Pain is more concerned about whatever political scheme he's concocting than enforcing law and order, and will occasionally order you to violate Constitutional rights against discrimination and for public assembly. A string of poor play will cause said Mayor Pain to respond by cutting the police budget, which can eventually snowball out of control into a vicious cycle and lead to Jack simply not having enough manpower to get anything meaningful done. And then there's the cops themselves. If they are the only one on hand when something goes down and you're past the first act, they will refuse to go out alone despite nobody else being capable of stopping the crime. In the third act, they will also put political differences before upholding the law, forcing Jack to pay one of his men to keep him appraised of their allegiances out of his own pocket. They can also simply not show up for work, or come in drunk off their ass. And, of course, there's the standard-issue bunglers (although you can generally avoid them with only a little effort). The street cops get even worse in This Is The Police 2, where they will occasionally refuse to go out for reasons ranging from somewhat understandable (refusing to babysit an incompetent load) to completely unprofessional (misogyny or flat-out laziness).

  • In The Legend of Heroes: Zero no Kiseki, the Crossbell Police isn't allowed to be useful because of government corruption and a delicate political situation stemming from the fact that Crossbell is a buffer state between two major powers that hate each other. The protagonists are part of a new squad that is basically a political boondoggle to regain public trust after years of the public going to the Bracers (an NGO Adventurer's Guild) for help instead of the government, because they actually get things done.
  • Fighting Force has cops that just lounge around traffic blockades which form the boundaries of the level on occasion. They do arrest Zeng though after he is defeated by the player.
  • The police department in Astral Chain justifies this trope in that, while they make some effort to rein in ordinary criminals, the problems that ravage the Ark tend to be well out of their depth. This is due to the chimera behind the more important problems being partially phased into the Material Plane; Neuron officers have Legion through which they can detect the chimera, but if a normal civilian or non-Neuron officer can see a chimera, they're in the process of redshifting into an aberration.
  • In The Cat Lady, trying to call the police while Susan is being kidnapped will result in a long and bizzare call that boils down to the police being convinced Susan is seeing things rather than being in actual danger.
  • Welcome to the Game II: Worse than useless. Not only do they not stop Noir or any of the other really bad people on the Deep Web, they actually stop you from saving Amalea. Not even Truth in Television, because the Real Life NYPD is anything but useless.
  • Ratchet & Clank: The Extermibots for both Blackwater City in the first game and Allgon City in the second game usually lose to the amoeboids and protopets. They are also hostile toward Ratchet, making them more harmful than helpful. The ones in the remake of the first game however are more capable and fare better against the amoeboids. The Galactic Rangers in Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal zigzag this. They are mostly shown to be very cowardly and in need of rescuing, though they do help Ratchet throughout the game. They fully avert this in the last leven, having taken a level in badass, where they warp in and blast away a large portion of some of the game's strongest enemies.
  • Condemned: Criminal Origins derives a lot of it's actual horror from pervasive use of this trope. Metro City seems to be completely overrun with mindlessly violent maniacs, yet police response is almost non-existent and Rosa and Ethan seem like the only vaguely competent law enforcement around. Even then, Rosa often doesn't even notice or comment on the clearly supernatural enemies attacking you. The first cop you meet is kind of a sarcastic jerk, and while his colleague is friendly, both men get gunned down by an armed lunatic only a few minutes into the game. They even wait for this perp to raise his gun and slowly shoot them both! Rosa explicitly says later on that the city's cops "Don't go" to some of the worst areas of the city. Somewhat justified, as flavour text reports indicate that the malign influence is having an effect on police officers too.


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