Turn in Your Badge

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Nick: I'll tell you guys what I'm gonna do! I'll tell you what! I'm gonna get even with every rotten cop in this city!
Paolo: Yeah, me too!
Guido: How you gonna do it, Nick? How you gonna do it?
Nick: I'm gonna... turn in my badge!

Guido: Yeah! I'm gonna burn my uniform!...
The Firesign Theatre, How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You're Not Anywhere At All?

That cop has always been a loose cannon, but this time he's stepped over the line. He is ordered by his boss to turn in his badge and gun, and then go home on an extended "vacation." This is sometimes accompanied by an Insignia Rip Off Ritual.

The cop ignores this directive and finishes tracking the perp down. Sometimes, it's because he's a Cowboy Cop. Other times, It's Personal. When the bad guy is eventually caught, the cop's boss never reprimands the rogue cop and sometimes even admits he was wrong. There won't even be a McCloud Speech about all the regulations the cop broke on this excursion, not the least of which being ignoring an order—probably because he technically wasn't acting as a cop, but merely breaking the law as a regular citizen...

Variation: the cop was never actually off the force but was merely pretending to be, with his superiors' knowledge, to fool a bad guy, sometimes another cop (see: Fake Defector, which is a case of Not Himself).

Examples of Turn in Your Badge include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • In general, Japanese police officers did not surrender their badge, but their book-like police ID.
  • In Death Note, most of the taskforce spend the Yotsuba arc doing this under L's supervision, after they're pulled from the Kira case.
  • The Big O: Dan Dastun shames the military police with a speech about them following Alex Rosewater’s deranged leadership and then performs the Insignia Rip Off Ritual. Later, the rest of the military police follows his example and attacks Alex Rosewater. [1], [2], [3], [4].
  • A military version (since the military are the police, and the entire government for that matter) in Fullmetal Alchemist, when some of the lower-level soldiers decide to stop following orders from the corrupt High Command; they tear the insignia off of their uniforms and drop it at a General's feet.
    • Subverted when Ed attempts to resign in a meeting with the Fuhrer, who then responds by threatening to kill Winry if he went through with it.

Film[edit | hide]

  • Brian Dennehy's character in FX is told to turn in his badge and does so. Then he steals his superior's badge.
  • Dragnet: Happens to Friday in the parody film. However, he deserves it as he arrests the suspect in public and only has the testimony of an eyewitness who briefly saw the suspect. [5]
  • Happened to FBI Agent Clarice Starling in Hannibal, the sequel to The Silence of the Lambs. Except in this case she had followed every procedure to the letter and was suspended because a rival agent planted obviously fake evidence against her in her office. Apparently everybody else in the FBI is either corrupt or incompetent.
    • Actually not a rival agent, but a superior with whom she would not sleep. Brought out much better in the book: the FBI was not a very female-friendly workplace. Jack Crawford had sheltered her from much of the agency's internal politics, and with him retired, she no longer had any protection. Plus, ason erger was manipulating the situation through a large political donation, as he (correctly) believed that putting Starling into a vulnerable situation would flush out Lecter.
  • Hellboy, Liz, Abe, and Krauss do this at the end of Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
  • Parodied in The Italian Job, where Rob, whilst trying to drive through the city as fast as possible, is trapped behind an actor rehearsing the phrase "give me your badge and your weapon; I don't want to see you anywhere near this case" in such a variety of different voices and emphases he fails to notice the green light.
    • Oh he does. Just he notices it at the very last second when it's turning amber, so he's the only one that gets to go through, with a very disgruntled Jason Statham. Also, the actor copies Rob's accent and decides to use that accent for the audition.
  • Parodied again near the end of We're Back: A Dinosaur's Story, when Stubbs the Clown resigns from Prof. Screweyes' circus and hands in his props. All his props: "Here's my shoes, my nose, my horn, my buzzer, my fake arm, my bug-eye glasses, my backstage passes, my hat, my rabbit, his backstage passes, my fake fangs, a few birds, my pogo stick, my donkey ears, my extending tongue gag, my rubber chicken... ya can't even get these anymore... my lucky whale tooth, and a giant clam that opens to reveal the American flag held by a mermaid and her normal brother Richard!" If you thought reading the description was funny, it's even better in the movie.
  • Inspector Li from John Woo's The Killer is taken off the case of the Hitman with a Heart that he's beginning to develop a bond with when he completely botches his attempt to capture him at the airport and brings in the wrong guy, allowing the killer to get away with his blinded girlfriend. He's taken off the case because the superintendent is convinced that Li is siding with the suspect rather than trying to bring him in.
  • Bud White from L.A. Confidential fits the brutal-cop part of the trope perfectly, but his Turn in Your Badge moment is undercut by the fact that Da Chief only did it to get leverage over White when he recruited him as muscle for a criminal enterprise.
  • Lampshaded by Danny Madigan in Last Action Hero.

Danny: He only took your badge, because you destroyed more of the city than usual.

  • In Licence to Kill, James Bond pretty much turns in his badge to go after the iguana-stroking villain who dumped his best friend into a shark pool.
    • Subverted at the beginning of On Her Majesty's Secret Service. After M takes Bond off the hunt for Blofeld, Bond tells Moneypenny to write a memo tendering his resignation (presumably with the intent of pursuing Blofeld as a rogue agent). Moneypenny instead writes a memo requesting two weeks' leave.
  • The ENTIRE POLICE FORCE in RoboCop 3.
  • A character in Wild Things is asked to do this after his second lawful shooting, due to the (well-founded) fear of Da Chief that with that kind of luck, the shootings might not be so lawful after all. Of course, this isn't where the consequences end...
  • They try to do this to Dirty Harry in Sudden Impact. After his harassment of an old mobster at his daughter's wedding results in a heart attack they order him to take a vacation. While on vacation some punks try to take him down with a molotov cocktail and he forces them off a pier to their deaths. They end his vacation, but send him out of town on another case.
  • In Day of the Wolves, the police chief of Wellerton is fired after he tries to arrest the mayor's son. This causes him to be not at the police station when the villains who are Taking Over the Town arrive; allowing him to stage a Die Hard on an X.
  • In The Guard, Sergeant Gerry Boyle is told to turn in his badge. Hilariously subverted when he refuses, turns out to have critical information regarding the case and finally proves to be the only cop NOT on the take from the drug dealers.
  • I Robot: After shooting up, crashing, and beating the crap out of two entire sixteen-wheelers' worth of robots, but having no evidence to prove it was self-defense, the chief orders Detective Spooner to turn in his badge.
  • Osmosis Jones

Literature[edit | hide]

  • DCI Jack Spratt of Jasper Fforde's Nursery Crime series is stated in the book-within-a-book Bumper Book of Berkshire Records to have been suspended over 262 times in his career, only one of which led to higher action (a reprimand). This is mainly because both he and his supervisor are Genre Savvy, and his supervisor makes a point of suspending him at least once per case more for dramatic effect than anything else.
  • Halt from John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice deliberately creates a situation where he'll get banished from The Kingdom so he can save his apprentice only to get misty-eyed when he must turn in his ranger badge oak leaf necklace to the authorities as well.
  • Subverted in Terry Pratchett's Discworld book Men At Arms, when Lord Vetinari takes Vimes off the case and demands that he turn in his badge. It eventually becomes clear to the reader that he is doing this to makesureVimes solves it, though Vetinari goes a bit too far and drives Vimes into a Ten-Minute Retirement. The trope was played more or less straight in the earlier novel Guards! Guards!, when Lupin Wonse takes Vimes' badge.
    • Additionaly, in Jingo, all the senior officers of the Watch do this when threatened by Lord Rust, Vetrinari's stand in during his Ten-Minute Retirement.
    • Parodied in Snuff, when Vimes treats going on a two-week holiday arranged by his wife like being suspended (or forcibly retired), and says "My badge, just like Vetinari ordered. I put it down. It won't be said they took it off me!"
  • Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus is frequently suspended from cases for various reasons throughout the series.
  • Subverted in Liz Williams' Inspector Chen novel Snake Agent. About halfway through, Chen has a meeting with Da Chief, who tells him explicitly that he is not going to take Chen off the case, because he knows full well that Chen is the only person able and willing to handle it. (The scene also features Chen uttering the words "Go to Hell, sir"—as a literal and truthful response to the question "What do you intend to do next?")
  • Meyer Landsman of The Yiddish Policemens Union is ordered to turn in his badge and gun as a result of his Cowboy Cop methods. When he still goes investigating the case, he uses his membership card in the titular union to justify his questioning.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Warrior Class, Terrill Samson asks Patrick McLanahan and David Luger to resign after they take part in a rescue mission against his orders.
  • The Isaacsons in The Alienist are on a "special assignment" leave from the NYPD.
  • In Rivers of London after Detective Chief Inspector Nightingale is shot, Grant is put on suspension and Tyburn moves quickly to try and get him fired and the magical department shut down. The Commissioner doing the firing becoming one of those possessed and turned into a rioter probably helped get this fixed.
  • The Dresden Files: Throughout the series, Murphy has been taking blows to her career in order to help Harry fight various monsters. She finally gets fired somewhere between Changes and Ghost Story, but she keeps fighting monsters anyway.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Adam-12: In the episode "X-Force," Malloy is suspended for four days after being accused of using excessive force on a suspect, a smart-mouthed child molester.
    • Several other episodes see rouge or otherwise bad or ill-suited police officers either get let go, voluntarily agree to turn in their badge or get washed out. A Season 3 episode saw an officer, a close friend of Malloy's, be involved in an extortion ring. A "Badge Heavy" cop turns in his things in Season 5 after evidence mounts of him using excessive force on suspects. A Season 6 episode, "The Rookie," saw a "supercop" get fired after it was clear he was using poor judgement in identifying suspects. And finally, a young rookie cop realizes—almost too late—that a stuttering impediment makes him ill-suited for the force in Season 7's "Pressure Point."
  • Walker, Texas Ranger: A Season 5 episode saw Trivette be placed on administrative leave while the shooting of a child during a drug bust is investigated; a tough high-ranking officer suggests that Trivette carelessly fired his gun and shot the child, but in the end it becomes clear that the child was caught in the crossfire and that the bullet came from one of the criminal's handguns.
  • Happens to Jack Bauer on 24 at least once a season, forcing him to "go rogue" for 2-3 episodes before CTU realizes he was right all along.
  • Kate in season 2 of Angel.
  • Det. Mike Cellucci is asked for his badge in Blood Ties S2 finale. Considering he's been threatened with it for two seasons and finally left a hostage crisis to battle Astaroth with Vicki and Henry, it's completely unsurprising.
  • Subverted in an episode of Cold Case, where Det. Valens goes overboard on a suspect after suffering a personal tragedy and is ordered to turn in his gun (but not his badge) to his boss. Not only was he not taken off the force (it was only a suggestion for a leave of absence that Valens mistook for a suspension), but he also doesn't go off on his own, during his leave.
  • Subverted on CSI, when Warrick Brown forces Detective Jim Brass to hand over his badge, but only so he can analyze it and find the evidence to clear Brass of the crime he was accused of, before Brass gets it back at the end of the episode.
  • Parodied with Laser Tag in the pre-credits sequence of an episode of How I Met Your Mother.
  • Subverted in an episode of Joan of Arcadia: Will was being a loose cannon due to stress from recent events, and nearly shot a little girl; he's slowly talked into accepting the break from work. In a later episode, back on the force and fresh from a successful bust, he's interviewed by reporters who try to shove him into the McCloud role, which he gets an ego trip from until his coworkers call him on it.
  • Law and Order Special Victims Unit: Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson, though very rarely for either of them.
    • In one episode a Genre Savvy Stabler is told that the captain wants to see him, he gives his gun and badge to Fin, knowing he'll have to turn them in anyway before he leaves.
    • And after the Season 7 Finale, Law and Order: Criminal Intent's Bobby Goren. The scene is inverted in the season 8 premiere.
  • DCI Gene Hunt gets suspended in both Life On Mars accused of murdering a boxing promoter and Ashes to Ashes Gene and Ray attack a suspect and are reported by Alex, and Gene gets put on paid leave, which means, of course, that he was just being Gene!
    • Gene Hunt himself employs this trope in the seventh episode, when there is a death in police custody and he suspends Sam for being overzealous in his pursuit of the truth. The Stinger?

Gene: You did a good investigation, Sam. I'm glad I let you.

    • He also suspends Alex in series 2, in a heartbreaking moment illustrating the deterioration of trust between them.
  • Subverted in New Tricks; although he's not technically a police officer anymore, when Gerry is briefly sidelined from an investigation owing to his possible old-time connection to a gangster who has become the focus of the investigation, he angrily offers his resignation, only for his boss (Sandra) to flatly refuse it; she doesn't want his 'badge', but at the same time she can't reasonably have him in the investigation.
    • Another time, after another chewing out from Sandra, Gerry offers her his badge yet again—except, of course, being a retired policeman, he no longer has a badge, so he has to make do with his Blockbuster video club card.
  • Subverted in the Stargate SG-1 episode "Shades of Grey", in which Jack O'Neill (a Military Maverick) is forced to retire after stealing a piece of advanced technology from the Tollan, and then proceeds to collaborate with Colonel Maybourne and his rogue NID team involved in similar activities. In the end, it is revealed that all of this was a ploy by O'Neill and General Hammond to expose the NID's mole in the SGC, who turned out to be Colonel Makepeace.
  • Occurs during the first series finale of Torchwood to Owen after he opened the Rift and caused what appeared to be irreparable damage. It was later subverted in the second series, once again with Owen. The subversion was that he was asked to turn in his badge, not because of the danger to others, but to himself - he had died and was brought back to life, and could no longer heal.
  • Fox Mulder (The X-Files), at least three times.
  • Danny Messer on CSI: NY, once in the third season, played relatively straight, although Danny didn't actually kill the guy-his DNA just ended up on a cigarette his brother swiped and tossed in a hole with the guy-and averted more recently in season 8.
  • Used with Wayne Rigsby on The Mentalist, but quickly taken back once Patrick Jane realized that he had been hypnotized and wasn't responsible for his actions.
    • Used again in the second season with Lisbon after she was accused of murder and failed a polygraph test. And this time, she really had to turn it in.
    • The whole team went unregulated for an episode after breaking protocol, but they were allowed to carry on when Minelli looked the other way.
  • "Mr Monk Gets Fired": Monk accidentally deletes important police information, so the commissioner revokes his license. It's implied that Monk deleting important forensic information was really only an excuse for the commissioner to do this, and that he was actually taking Monk off the case in revenge for sending his friend (a corrupt cop) to jail.
  • One episode of Bones had Booth turn in his badge. The rest of the team realized that they could get him his job back if they solved the case they were working on, so his suspension only lasted one episode.
  • Subverted in NCIS. In "Jeopardy" Ziva appears to have caused the death of a prisoner in her custody and is stuck on desk work. She says there's only one thing to do, having "seen it on your American movies" and hands Gibbs her badge. Gibbs in unimpressed, gives her back the badge and tells Ziva that if she does that again, she'd better mean it. In "Twisted Sister" McGee hands in his badge to the Director because he refused to turn in his sister when she appeared to have committed a murder—Gibbs promptly Dope Slaps McGee for allowing the Director to manipulate him into resigning.
    • Played straight in the season 8 episode Defiance; after McGee and DiNozzo blunder a protection detail, director Vance demands that "if the situation is not rectified in 48 hours", he will have both their badges on his desk.
  • A humourous variation occurs in NCIS: Los Angeles. When they're about to go rogue to rescue Hettie, the team pre-emptively does this. One by one, they slap down their badges . . . until it reaches Deeks, the consultant who doesn't have a NCIS badge. He shrugs philosophically, comments "I would if I could," and follows them out.
  • Parodied. Kenneth does this in the workplace dramedy 30 Rock. Pete is justly alarmed that a page was carrying a gun...
  • Astoundingly, it takes The Good Guys ten episodes before this happens to Dan and Jack. Dan isn't bothered by it, since he considers suspension like a vacation. Naturally, he manages to bungle his way into getting them reinstated through an incredibly illegal chain of events.
  • On White Collar, fingerprints implying Peter planted evidence lead to an investigation and his boss asking for his badge and gun.
  • On Twin Peaks, this happens to Agent Cooper.
  • On SWAT, the premiere episode plays with this as Robert Urich's cop character, in the hospital after surviving an attack that killed his partner, picks up his badge is if he wants to resign. However, he then simply requests if his badge could be renumbered to his deceased partner's; the SWAT leader agrees to make the arrangements.
  • Worf does this on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Picard denies him a leave of absence to complete a mission regarding his Klingon honor, so he resigns his Starfleet commission. A mildly annoying example, because when the mission is over, he walks back to his post on the Enterprise with no explanation, and nary a comment from Picard or the rest of the crew.
  • In the pilot of Due South, Fraser turns in his own badge, after he is denied a transfer to the consulate in Chicago so that he could coordinate with the Chicago Police Department to ensure that they are investigating the suspect in his father's murder. Having seen that he intends to go to Chicago whether they let him go officially or not, they decide to give him the transfer (thus, he keeps the badge after all.)
  • In Dollhouse, Agent Paul Ballard has to hand in his badge and gun because the Dollhouse sets him up since he's too close to the truth.
  • In the Castle episode "Always", Gates demands this of Esposito and Beckett, and Beckett decides to resign entirely.
  • Discussed and defied in The Bridge—when it's suggested that Martin be taken off the case now that It's Personal, he matter-of-factly announces that he'd just keep investigating as a civilian. They keep him on.

New Media[edit | hide]

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • In the Dick Tracy story where Big Boy Caprice put a million dollar open murder contract on Tracy's head, Chief Patton orders Tracy suspended (presumably with pay) from duty until that case is solved considering that having him on duty would attract murder attempts that would also endanger his colleagues. Tracy is completely against this and Sam Catchem offers the compromise of increasing the security around Tracy, who will be confined to desk duty in the meantime, while the detectives work on stopping the contract.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Kyle Hyde got canned three years prior to the events of Hotel Dusk: Room 215 after what happened with his turncoat partner, Bradley.
  • In the Ace Attorney series, Detective Gumshoe loses his job in both the DS-exclusive fifth case of the first game and the fourth case of the second game. He makes it through the third game without getting fired once.
    • Happens literally when Phoenix loses his job after submitting forged evidence to court.
  • In Mass Effect, the same effect is had when the Normandy is kept from leaving the Citadel.
    • Has happened to Shepard again in Mass Effect 3, though even more severe. S/he has been unceremoniously stripped of his/her Spectre status. S/he has also been relieved of duty in the Alliance military and had his/her rank stripped.
  • Fahrenheit (2005 video game) has Carla and Tyler doing this if their Sanity Meter goes down to 0.
  • Heavy Rain has Lt. Blake and his boss, Captain Perry, getting this if the former kills Ethan while Norman is alive.
    • This also happens to Norman Jayden if the player has him accuse Blake of being the Origami Killer.
  • Happens to Jack Slate in Dead To Rights: Retribution. At the very beginning of the first chapter, no less.
  • Apparently able to happen during the course of L.A. Noire if a trailer that includes one of Cole Phelps' superiors ordering him to "get yourself squared away or hand in your goddamned badge" is anything to go by.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Angry Beavers, "Dagski and Norb" (parodying Starsky and Hutch). The titular cops report to their superior about seeing a car that looked just like theirs... and end up turning in their badges anyhow because there was a report about "something bad going down" and their car being seen leaving the scene of the crime.
  • Happens to Montoya in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "P.O.V.". (Bullock and an incidental character, Wilkes, are also forced to turn in their badges, but only Montoya keeps working on the case.)
  • In Family Guy The Movie, Tom Tucker is fired from the news station and had to give back all of his station items, including his mustache.
  • In at least one episode of Fillmore!, the title character has to turn in his Safety Patrol sash.
  • The second variation of this trope happened with Elisa on Gargoyles. Turns out she was going undercover to catch Dracon.
  • Officer Mike Brikowski from The Powerpuff Girls is a fat, lazy old cop who believes that the girls are a waste of space who just take work away from "hard-working" policemen like him. In the end he is fired for his laziness and forced to turn in his badge and reflective sunglasses, but for some reason is allowed to keep his firearm as "a little souvenir". He also has to give up his precious donut. He swears vengeance on the Powerpuffs, which he goes after unsuccessfully through the episode.
  • Done, as everything is, on The Simpsons when Apu is fired from the Kwik-E-Mart. He is told to hand in his pricing gun (which he keeps in a shoulder holster) and his backup (kept in an ankle holster).
  • Parodied in South Park when Mr. Garrison is fired.

Mr. Garrison: I suppose you'll be wanting my badge and gun...
Chairman: Mr. Garrison, most teachers do not carry a gun!
Mr. Garrison: Oh, sorry. So I can keep it then?

  • Grizzlikov, the Obstructive Bureaucrat supreme of SHUSH, ends up getting let go by Da Chief J Gander Hooter, in favour of a squad trained and inspired by Costumed Crimefighter (and title character) Darkwing Duck in one episode. It's the variant, as mentioned above; he gets recruited by the villains and works as The Mole to sabotage their big design, all according to Hooter's plan.
  • In the Bonkers episode "Quibbling Rivalry," Bonkers meets Miranda's sister, Shirley Wright. During one scene, because of the damage caused when Shirley filmed them doing their jobs, Bonker phones her news station and announces on live television that he will turn in his badge, despite Miranda's pleas that he not do it. Later in the episode, however, Bonkers and Miranada rescue an old lady and her cat, and Shirley's praise of him causes Bonkers to change his mind about resigning. (This is a harsh blow for Francis, who desperately wants Bonkers out of the department.)
  • Inverted on Superman: The Animated Series. Da Chief Maggie Sawyer remarks that if she had a nickel for every time Cowboy Cop Dan Turpin turned in his badge of his own volition, she'd be richer than Lex Luthor.
  • Danger Mouse: In "The Invasion of Colonel K," the Colonel fires Danger Mouse and Penfold, but that's only because Baron Greenback (reduced to microscopic size) has entered his brain and is telling the Colonel what to say.
    • "Demons Aren't Dull" has DM attempting to quit after he is humiliated on a "This Is Your Life" show showcasing his shortcomings. The show was secretly staged by Baron Greenback.
  • April O'Neil's news station boss occasionally threatened to "have your press card!" on the '90s animated version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "The Chronicles of Meap", The Stinger for the episode features a mock trailer for a sequel episode, including a scene with Major Monogram furiously telling Perry the Platypus "I want your hat on my desk!"
    • When it was made into an actual episode, when the scene itself occurs... Major Monogram suddenly changes his tone and says, "'Cause it rains a lot in Seattle, and we want to spray it with this cool new waterproofing treatment."
  • Futurama: Professor Farnsworth used this on Leela to demand her to give back stuff he didn't give her in the first place.