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Western Animation / C.O.P.S.

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"It's Crime Fighting Time."

"C.O.P.S. Central Organization of Police Specialists. Fighting crime in a future time. Protecting Empire City from Big Boss and his gang of crooks."
Bulletproof's Opening Narration

C.O.P.S., which stands for Central Organization of Police Specialists, was an animated series produced by DiC Entertainment that premiered in 1988 as one of the many Merchandise-Driven 65-Episode Cartoons made for syndication. A few years later, it had a brief run on CBS' Saturday morning schedule under the name Cyber COPS. The show was based on a toy line called C.O.P.S 'n' Crooks, which were futuristic police and criminal based action figures produced by Hasbro.

Set in the year 2020, the show took place in the metropolis Empire City. The main story revolved around Agent Baldwin P. Vess, codename "Bulletproof", who has been sent out to stop Big Boss (no relation), a criminal mastermind who has taken over the city. However, after being attacked by the henchmen of Big Boss and suffering a near-fatal wound, Vess is taken to the hospital and given a new bullet-resistant torso. While he is recovering, he contacts Officer P.J. O'Malley (aka LongArm) and rookie Donny Brooks (HardTop) to find the best law enforcement officers around. They are able to recruit several people. Among them are David E. "Highway" Harlson, Colt "Mace" Howards, Stan "Barricade" Hyde, Tina "Mainframe" Cassidy, Walker "Sundown" Calhoun, Suzie "Mirage" Young, Hugh S. "Bullseye" Forward, and Rex "Bowser" Pointer and his robot dog, Blitz. Together these people make up C.O.P.S., using their combined power to stop Big Boss.

At the very same time as the cartoon, there was also a C.O.P.S. comic book by DC Comics, which had a much different storyline that was Darker and Edgier.

Not to be confused with the live action series C.O.P.S.. Compare with You're Under Arrest!, an anime with a similar (if not more realistic & relatively modern) perspective.

Central Organization of Trope Specialists:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future
  • Action Figure File Card: The toys had them; they were written by Larry Hama, who also wrote the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero cards. This may explain why...
  • All There in the Manual: Clues in the action figure profiles reveal that a member of COPS (Checkpoint) is the descendant of a G.I. Joe member (Beach Head).
    • Likewise for the series date of 2020. They never once mention this in the series proper, only supplemental materials set an exact year.
  • Action-Hogging Opening: The fast paced intro.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Occasionally, with live-action segments!
  • Artistic License Law: Well, yeah. It was a 1980s cartoon series made to sell toys, not a David Simon police drama. Every Crook, regardless of their sentence, was out by the next episode and Big Boss roamed free despite everyone knowing he was a criminal, to maintain the status quo. Empire City barely has more crime than Mayberry because one crime lord runs all the crime in the city and barely does more than bank robberies or technology thefts.
    • Perhaps the worst case is the two-parter "The Case of Big Boss' Master Plan" where Big Boss kidnaps the President of the United States, forces the COPS into prison, and runs Empire City as his own personal domain. In the episode he's merely beaten and humiliated, with the incident eventually forgotten. In real life, he'd have had the Secret Service and the U.S. military on him so fast his head would spin, and AT BEST he'd have ended up in prison for life on multiple charges of terrorism and treason(among a pile of other charges) for even trying it.
      • This episode overall is so full of mistakes regarding real-life law enforcement and the security of the US president that it's little wonder later episodes seem to ignore it happened. The Secret Service isn't present at all and the president takes her trip on a train with practically NO security as well as public knowledge of the trip. In real life she would have taken Air Force One and been surrounded by security. Then there is the fact that the entirety of the police coverage in Empire City is presented as being the COPS team and no one else, whereas a city of this size would have a sizeable police force(and other episodes even showed that there were normal officers as background characters- although even this was inconsistent and the series usually implied that this small team of officers was the only real active police presence to handle the major crimes).
  • Ax-Crazy: Buttons McBoomBoom.
  • Badass Crew: The Central Organization of Police Specialists fit this to a T.
  • Bag of Kidnapping: In "The Case of the Big Boss' Master Plan" Berserko kidnaps the United States President (who is an African American woman) with this method.
  • Balloonacy: As a birthday present for Big Boss, Berserko tried to steal the Cornucopia Bridge, by inflating the world's largest balloon and blowing up the supports. The C.O.P.S. stop him before he can fire the explosives so we don't see the bridge fly, but their reaction upon seeing the huge balloon inflated inside the bridge says that it wouldn't work.
  • Beauty Contest: Big Boss send Nightshade and Ms. Demeanor in a beauty pageant to get his hands on the prizes. He also had the judges replaced with his goons. The COPS had Mainframe enter the contest to stop the ploy. In the aftermath, the real judges declared Nightshade the winner. Unfortunately, because her accomplices tampered with the process, she was disqualified.
  • Berserk Button: Buttons really hated insects, to the point of sending out his double machine-guns at the mere sight of one.
    • At the beginning of one episode, he's trying to kill a fly with a Tommy gun, and almost shoots Rock Crusher numerous times.
  • Big Bad: Big Boss.
  • Bound and Gagged: Seemed to happen on a fairly regular basis to the COPS members. Both female COPS got this on at least one occasion.
  • Canada, Eh?: Inspector Yukon of the Mounties shows up in an episode to help deliver an iceberg to Empire City to cool a hot day.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Highway, although mostly in the comic.
  • The Case Of: The episode titles all began with "The Case of...", for example "The Case of Big Boss' Master Plan".
  • Catch-Phrase:
    • '"It's Crime Fighting Time!" and "Crime's a Wastin!"
    • Bulletproof also has "Here's how the caper came down..." and "Case closed".
    • Buzzbomb's beeping often becomes a robotic version of "Nya-nya-nya-nya-nya!", a common children's taunt.
    • At the climax of almost every episode: "Freeze! We're C.O.P.S., and you're under arrest!"
  • Classy Cat-Burglar: Nightshade. She actually came from a rich family.
  • Communications Officer: Airwave.
  • Dating Catwoman: The affair between Sgt. Mace and Nightshade.
  • Days of Future Past: A mild example. While the series takes place 20 Minutes into the Future, the setting takes some of its cues from the gangster films of The Thirties.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Nightshade entering, then ripping off, a beauty pageant (which she would've won fairly, had she held off for five minutes).
  • Drugs Are Bad: "The Case of the Lowest Crime". Slightly more ballsy than your usual 80's anti-drug episode, portraying the addiction as truly life-wrecking, even going so far as to say some of the victims never fully recovered.
  • Dumb Muscle: Rock Crusher and Berserko.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • In the initial episodes, Big Boss was a known criminal to the general public and would make open threats against the entire city using public broadcast monitors. Later on, he was regarded as a legit businessman with merely suspected but unproven criminal ties, and his own mother was unaware of any of this—which even Big Boss begged the COPS to keep quiet because the knowledge could've upset or even killed her.
    • The initial character concept artwork, used on the toy packages, gives Bulletproof a purple coat and black pants, and Dr. Badvibes has a normal-sized brain with a small dome over it. The Larry Hama file cards also have a superficial connection with the cartoon at best.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Berzerko may be dumb as a rock and a liability to his operations, but being his nephew, Big Boss keeps him around and even allies with the COPS when he's almost killed by an accidental drug overdose He also goes out of his way to keep his own mother from finding out that he's a criminal. because he doesn't want her hurt by the knowledge of it.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Big Boss refusing to help sell a designer drug because "Drugs kill!" His nephew Berserko nearly dying from an accidental overdose of the drug didn't help, although he'd already turned the dealer down before then. Berserko's near-death led to a temporary truce between the C.O.P.S. team and Big Boss' gang until they caught the drug dealer.
    • Berserko in "The Case of the Bogus Bride." Polygamy appears to be illegal in Empire City, according to Berserko.
    Berserko: I can't marry both of them. It ain't legal!!
  • Every Skateboard Is a Pinto: "The Case of The Bogus Justice Machines" has two kids fall off their skateboards which run into a stack of boxes and explode. Seriously.
  • Every Episode Ending: Bulletproof gives the lowdown on how everything ultimately turned out and repeats both the file number and episode name followed by "Case Closed".
  • Everything Is Big in Texas: Sundown specifically points this out when he can't fit into Turbo Tu-Tone's Super Speed suit. "Shoot, this thing's plum too small! Sorry, but we're grown big down in Texas."
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: Nightshade's favorite target.
  • Fair Cop: Pretty much all of them, seeing as in most cases here, Beauty Equals Goodness.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: While a bit more hi-tech, given the setting, all the guns shown shoot real bullets. Mace's laser bazooka is the exception.
  • "Flowers for Algernon" Syndrome: In "The Case of The Brilliant Berserko", Berserko steals a "chess crown" meant to augment intelligence and becomes a well-mannered (if still criminal) supergenius. In the middle of the episode, the battery momentarily fails, setting up the common "it's just temporary" plot - but subverting it when he gets it working again almost immediately.
  • Fun T-Shirt: In the toy line, Berserko's shirt said "BAAAD is Good!".
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • The flowers that were mentioned stolen for Berserko's wedding, when you see them at the wedding, are wreaths that say "R.I.P." on them.
    • In the episode with the cave man, Buttons walks by a figurine of a woman with exposed nipples, picks it up, and looks at it, before walking off with it.
    • In "The Case of Mace's Romance", after it transpires that Mace is "not much for dates" (read: not good with or confident around women and possibly a virgin), Mainframe teases him about it: "You ever even kissed a girl? I bet you haven't!" And then: "Come on, macho guy! I'll kiss you right now! Won't hurt a bit!" And proceeds to smooch him, annoying him and interfering with his driving. That's right. Mainframe is explicitly shown interfering with the proper operation of a vehicle and committing inappropriate sexual conduct in the workplace.
    • Mirage's cleavage in the Berserko wedding episode.
    • Lampshaded in "The Case of the Lawless Lady", where a waiter asks Mace if he wants a cocktail, and Mace says he doesn't drink. The waiter says, "Very good, sir!", walks off, and promptly says, "Normally I wouldn't have said that, but this is television..."
    • In "The Case of the Visiting Mother", Big Boss's mom refers to him being a philanthropist (which Big Boss had claimed to her about himself as a cover for his life of crime) during a video call. When the call with her is over, Berserko asks Big Boss what the big word she used was - "..a philanderer?"
  • Gonk Pretty much all the bad guys except Nightshade aren't too good-looking. Ms. Demeanor is a rare example of a female character in such a cartoon who fits.
    • This could be pinned to Peter Chung's work on the series- while the COPS and Nightshade all look normal, everyone else clearly shows signs of his art style. Several characters could be stuck into episodes of Phantom 2040 or Aeon Flux and not be out of place.
  • The Great Whodini: One of the characters from the unreleased third series of action figures was an evil Stage Magician named "The Great Felloni".
  • Helicopter Pack: Airwave uses one. Vowels, a character from the unreleased third wave of the action figure line, would have had one as well.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Again, Mace and Nightshade.
  • Hollywood Cyborg: Bulletproof and Buttons McBoomBoom. Also Blitz, in Robocop fashion.
  • Humongous Mecha: We see that in the future pro sports incorporate these in "Case of the Big Bad Boxoids": there's no such thing as regular boxing anymore, instead they have two guys in twenty-foot mechsuits punching each other.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode is titled "The Case of..."
  • Initialism Title
  • Lampshade Hanging: In the final issue of the comic, the team went after Big Boss for an unpaid parking ticket, knowing that his gang would try to stop them—and racking up tons of charges they could pin on the previously untouchable Big Boss. As he was being put in the paddy wagon, he proclaimed that they'd never be able to make the charges stick, and that sort of thing happened only in comic books. Bulletproof turned to the reader and said, "That's good enough for me."
  • Last Episode, New Character: Airwave in "The Case of The Invisible Crime".
  • Lawful Stupid: When Ms. Demeanor is arrested and sentenced to an experimental rehabilitation program, she is made to wear a mind-altering tiara that forces her to abide to the law. All laws. By the book. She finds a car parked three inches out of a space into a red zone and lifts it out by hand, destroying its tires (and presumably its suspension) when she drops it back down. The judge decides to pull the plug on the project when she arrests him for littering.
  • Leave Him to Me: When Sundown's crooked former partner comes calling, he's taken off the case because it's too close to him - but he just can't let Johnny Yuma get away without a word.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Badvibes of Big Boss' gang.
  • Manchild: Berserko and Rock Crusher are both essentially giant children. The Baby Badguys are this to the point that they mess up their own plans fighting over a rattle.
  • Meaningful Name: BP "Bulletproof" Vess.
  • Merchandise-Driven
  • Monster Clown: The unreleased third series of the action figure line would have featured a whole gang of them called the Pranksters, led by an evil Stage Magician called The Great Felloni.
  • Monumental Theft: As a birthday present for Big Boss, Berserko tried to steal the Cornucopia Bridge.
  • Motor Mouth: Airwave in "The Case of The Invisible Crime".
  • Oh, Crap!: All of the Crooks have a shocked/horrified expression as they're caught in the Title Sequence.
  • Once an Episode: At some point in most episodes, when the COPS have the Crooks cornered, they will say "COPS! You're under arrest!"note 
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Virtually all of the COPS and Crooks, to the point that Longarm is exclusively referred to by his codename by both his father and his son.
  • Parking Payback: When Ms. Demeanour is made to wear a mind-altering tiara that forces her to abide to the law, she finds a car parked three inches out of a space into a red zone and lifts it out by hand, destroying its tires (and presumably its suspension) when she drops it back down.
  • Police Are Useless: Defied.
  • Power Fist: Big Boss has a cybernetic right hand that gets a workout whenever he gets really steamed.
  • Pretty in Mink: A few, such as a huge white fox coat among the prizes Nightshade tried to steal from a Beauty Contest. It turns out she could have even kept it if she hadn't tried to steal them.
  • Public Service Announcement/And Knowing Is Half the Battle: After every episode.
  • Punny Name: Many of the names, including "Ms. Demeanor".
  • The Quiet One: Buttons McBoomBoom has speaking roles in very few episodes. Adding on to this, he has a low, sinister voice.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: Big Boss does this while working on his keynote speech for the crime convention. "The hotel management would like me to inform you that someone has been stealing towels. Pause for laugh..."
  • Restraining Bolt: When Ms. Demeanor is arrested and sentenced to an experimental rehabilitation program, she is made to wear a mind-altering tiara.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Big Boss' pet Scratch is actually a weasel, because subtlety is for chumps.
  • Robot Buddy: Buzzbomb, Dr. Badvibes' assistant.
  • Rogues Gallery: Fittingly enough, given that this is a police show. The recurring enemies are: Big Boss, Berserko, Dr. Badvibes, Nightshade, Buttons McBoomBoom, Rock Crusher, Ms. Demeanor, and Turbo Tu-Tone.
  • Shared Universe/Rewrite/Plot Hole: Hasbro recently decided that ALL of their 1980s cartoon franchises took place on the same planet. That may be fine for the G.I. Joe side of things (at least one character is stated to be the son of a G.I. Joe member, at least in the file cards- though the cartoon never explicitly states it, it never denies it, either), but it does create a problem with The Transformers, namely that one episode where the Crooks dress up as aliens and try to claim to be alien invaders. That episode states in no uncertain terms that Earth has never had any contact with aliens prior to that event (and since it was just the Crooks, they still had not). One could take that to mean that giant robots from another planet had also never stepped foot on the Earth in this series. Not that this recent retcon by Hasbro didn't have numerous issues between the other shows as-is (G.I. Joe and Transformers had some connections established even in the 80's thanks to Season 3 of Transformers, but even that had certain plot problems, too), but this one pretty blatantly goes against prior established canon in a big way.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In the episode where Longarm's father tries to rejoin the force, the board of directors that signs the rejection form include Paul McCartney and Michael Jordan. When the COPS computers list any sort of information, they are actually listing the supply inventory for the cartoon.
    • The character Checkpoint's name is Wayne Sneeden III. According to his filecard, his father was a member of a top-secret military team that operated in the '80s and '90s. The G.I. Joe member Beach Head happens to be named Wayne R. Sneeden.
    • The ending of every episode may be an homage to Dragnet, and Bulletproof's tan overcoat may be a reference to Columbo.
    • In the flashback origin episode "The Case of C.O.P.S. File #1", Berzerko and Turbo are driving a van labeled "Laughing Fish Movers" (the series predates Batman: The Animated Series by several years, meaning it's a reference to the original Detective Comics story).
  • 65-Episode Cartoon
  • The Smurfette Principle: C.O.P.S. had four major female characters, two each for the C.O.P.S. and Big Boss' gang. None of them was ever made as an action figure, nor were they even planned for the unreleased third series. And to make matters worse, most of them had very few appearances (Mirage had a measly FOUR).
  • The Starscream: Ms. Demeanor in the comics. (Even in the cartoon, when she asks Big Boss if he trusts her, he specifically says no.)
  • Status Quo Is God: Despite the crooks usually being arrested at the end of any episode where they make a significant appearance and Bulletproof's closing narration that they went up the river for a long time, they're always back out by the next episode.
  • Steal the Surroundings: What the Ultimate Crime Machine does in the pilot; the bad guys use it to steal the City Mint, although the heroes predicted it. (Criminals go after loot, what building has the most of that?)
  • Theme Music Power-Up: As was typical for 80's cartoons the theme usually played during the big action set piece that wrapped up the episode.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Ms. Demeanor and Nightshade.
    • Mainframe and Mirage surprisingly avert this, both being relatively even handed in design. Neither is overtly "girly" (with Mainframe only investigating a beauty pageant after the surprise suggestion that she should enter) and both have shown a few tomboyish traits (Mainframe directly picking up a dead mouse and Mirage carrying Mainframe on her shoulders while running uphill on a treadmill).
    • While Ms. Demeanor is pretty blatantly a tomboy, she still gets offended if not treated like a lady.
  • Trench Coat Warfare: Buttons McBoomBoom
  • Turn in Your Badge: In "The Case of Big Boss' Bye-Bye", Big Boss does a 10-Minute Retirement so that a cash-strapped Empire City will lay off all of the COPS. Bulletproof becomes a P.I., figures out Big Boss' plan, and gets everyone back on the job.
    Bulletproof: I'm placing you both under arrest!
    Ms. Demeanor: You can't do that, you're not a cop anymore!
    Bulletproof: Citizen's arrest.
  • Very Special Episode: The Drugs Are Bad episode "The Case of The Lowest Crime", where the cops and crooks team up to fight the distributors of Crystal Twist. Big Boss agrees to help because "DRUGS KILL!" Apparently he forgot that he was quite willing to attempt to kill the C.O.P.S. when they foiled his own crime schemes.
    • There actually is valid logic for it, because you can't make money off of dead people, so from a business perspective drugs kill off people he could continue making money off of (one can consider his exclaiming 'drugs kill' just leaves off the 'the suckers I make money off of' due to moral watchdog requirements, something many old-school real life crime bosses held to).
    • On the other hand, he may just have a moral code. Killing police officers may have been an acceptable act if they got in the way (though more than often, he was content to capture and detain them), killing random people seemed beyond him... for that matter, why'd he let Addictem go rather than just having McBoomBoom shoot him?
      • Not that he ever actually killed anyone in the cartoon, the closest to the Crooks coming was Bulletproof's initial injury, which was an accident.
  • Video Phone: Video phones are the norm to the point that even public phone booths have screens; they are, after all, fighting crime in a future time. And yes, cell phones pretty much don't exist.
  • Villain Exclusivity Clause: The Boss as the Big Bad of every episode.
  • Weasel Mascot: Big Boss' pet weasel, Scratch.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: How Bulletproof and Buttons become Hollywood Cyborgs.
  • Where Did They Get Lasers: Averted - only Mace carries one (a laser bazooka no less) as the team's SWAT officer. Surprising, considering it ran during the same period as G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, and may have even been in the same continuity, and would have had more excuse due to being 20 Minutes into the Future.
    • One noteworthy aspect of the laser bazooka was that it worked like a proper laser, with a coherent cutting beam. The norm for lasers in fiction at the time was to shoot an independent energy pulse.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Zig-zagged. Empire City's location is never stated outright, though it is a coastal city with an open harbor, which would place it on the east or west coast. However, the episode with Nightshade entering the beauty pageant featured her trying to escape by crossing state lines, by driving over the bridge spanning Empire City's main river- the sign at the state border read New Jersey, which makes the most likely location somewhere in Delaware, either the Dover or Lewes region.
    • C'mon, Empire City? It's fairly obvious that's it's a futuristic New York City; New York State's nickname is the Empire State.
    • Actually, the aforementioned sign has "NEWER Jersey" written on it. Empire City would appear to be a thinly-veiled New York City or imitation/parody thereof.
  • You Killed My Brother: In issue #1 of the comic, Big Boss blames Bulletproof for the imprisonment and death of his identical twin brother.
    • This plot is never mentioned in the cartoon, although while it's implied that Berzerko's father is dead, he says his mother is still alive.
  • Zeerust: Having been made 30 years before the show was actually set, this happens in spades.
    • Video phones are on every street corner and in every home and business, but portable phones do not exist. Modern cell phones and iPhone types aren't even close, even 80s/90s style portable phones aren't used.
    • Every computer seems to be running DOS and mice aren't ever used.
    • VHS and audio cassette tapes are still used by everyone, as are floppy disks.
    • Flying personal speeder craft and cars exist, although typical 4-wheeled cars are still used by the majority.
    • The electrical connectors Bulletproof uses to interface with computers would likely be USB or Ethernet connectors these days. Or he'd be Bluetooth-compatible.