Buddy Cop Show

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Every police force in the US always contains two officers who are direct polar opposites, but are forced to work together, before eventually getting on quite well.
Hollywood Rule Book Vanity Fair

A Cop Show which focuses on a partnership of two males, as opposed to a Cop Show which focuses on a single officer/detective or an entire squad, or Lovely Angels, the Distaff Counterpart. If the primary officers are a man and a woman it's Just Partners.

A Buddy Cop Show that tightly focuses on the emotional lives of the two protagonists frequently Ho Yay among its fans, c.f. Miami Vice. If the characters spend leisure time together off the job, they're Heterosexual Life Partners. The buddies are often an Odd Couple, occasionally one black and one white. In terms of personality, they tend to follow a distinct formula-one is a straight-laced stickler for protocol, the other is an unpredictable loose cannon. One By-The-Book Cop, one Cowboy Cop. The primary thing keeping them together - at first, before the Character Development - is that They Fight Crime. And they're good at it.

Movie versions abound, or at least they used to: Bad Boys, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard With A Vengeance, etc. It was so common at one point, even making jokes at the expense of the genre is a dead horse.

An increasingly common variant is partnerships between cops and scientists.

See also: Crime-Time TV, Forensic Drama, Cop Show, Police Procedural, Wunza Plot.

Examples of Buddy Cop Show include:

Anime and Manga



  • Discworld partnered Cuddy, a dwarf, and Detritus, a troll. Of course, Discworld being a narrative universe, they eventually became best friends. Then brutually subverted when Cuddy is killed suddenly. Detritus has gone on to become arguably the fourth most powerful cop in the city, behind Angua, Carrot, and Vimes.
  • Isaac Asimov's Robot series, with Elijah Baley and Robot Daneel Olivaw. Lije and Daneel are partners in the first book and remain good friends throughout the rest of the series, but each book of the trilogy examines a different facet of the relationship between robots and humans at a societal level.
  • A subplot of Tad Williams' Otherland features Australian detectives Calliope Skouros and her partner Stan as they investigate a long-unsolved murder believed to be the work of a Serial Killer named John Wulgaru, who ends up being the series' Big Bad. The subplot uses all the standard Buddy Cop tropes and spends a fair bit of time lampshading them.
  • In the anthology Zombies vs Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier, there's a story called Prom Night. In Prom Night, the kids are running the (now barricaded) town they live in because of a Zombie Apocalypse that was Only Fatal to Adults. Tahmina and Jeff play the role of cops, keeping down crime and shooting any zombies that pop up. The story mostly focuses on their interactions with each other and their (mis)adventures as teenaged cops, and there's a bit of a Running Gag where Jeff constantly jokes about how stuff would be good material for when they get their own TV show. although it's implied that whatever they're doing to the zombies at the burning ground isn't really working or is generating something else, so it's unlikely at best that things will ever be back to normal

Live Action TV

  • Spoofed in a Conan O'Brien sketch, which paired the extremely tall Conan with the extremely short Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich as buddy cops. Reich informing a perp "You have the right... to be my bitch!" was possibly the Crowning Moment of Funny.
  • Spoofed in the Les Nuls sketch "Magnum Choucroute." Talk about mismatched: one of the cops is actually a jar of sauerkraut.
  • Community parodies this in "The Science of Illusion" when Annie and Shirley become temporary campus security guards. They end up getting into an argument about which one of them should be the By-The-Book Cop and which one should be the Cowboy Cop despite the fact that both of them are equally suited to both roles, and Genre Savvy Abed, who is following them around, ends up invoking a whole load of tropes based on this.
  • In Noah's Arc, the movie Wade had written appears to be one of these (based on the lines we overhear and what Wade and Noah discuss).
  • Also parodied on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson—Geoff often refers to his idea for a cop show called Bone Patrol with G.P. and the Fergs.

Video Games

  • Prosecutors are the direct partners of their detective counterparts in the Ace Attorney universe, which makes Gumshoe and Edgeworth fill this trope during their cases in Investigations.
    • There's also an unnamed Show Within a Show that Gumshoe likes featuring a strong prosecutor/detective bond that's almost as good as the one Gumshoe (thinks that he) shares with Edgeworth.
  • Policenauts, essentially a Sci-Fi version of Lethal Weapon.
  • The House Of The Dead Overkill is all about this sort of relationship between Isaac Washington and Agent G.

Web Original


Rorschach: How the hell did I end up being the *GOOD COP*?


Web Comics

Western Animation


Da Chief: ...a woman, a cute little kid, an ugly old dog, a dinosaur, and a leprechaun.
Leprechaun: I'll be your lucky charm!
[Leprechaun explodes]
Not Schwarzenegger: You think you've got problems? I'm partnered with a pig, an alien, Siamese twins, a sofa, and a second rate mime.
(The mime also exploded.)