Buddy cop flicks have become a sub-genre in Hollywood action movies.
You know how it goes: The hotshot cop who’s constantly challenging the rules gets teamed up with one who’s more conservative and conventional. The whole movie will revolve around how they work well together despite their differences.
There are a lot of great cop duo flicks to choose from ranging from ones with a really serious tone, like 1971’s The French Connection, to a light-hearted and comedic take, such as 2007’s Hot Fuzz.
If you have been living in a cave for the past 50 years and don’t know what buddy-cop flicks are, you’re missing out on a lot. So before Brooklyn process servers knock on your door and give you a subpoena for not watching these movies (kidding!), take the time to get to know some of the best on-screen cop duos that captured the hearts of millions of viewers around the world.
10 of the Most Memorable Buddy Cop Duos in Hollywood History
10. Yang Naing Lee and James Carter
Rush Hour 1, 2, and 3
No buddy-cop duo list will ever be complete without the wacky and crazy tandem of Lee and Carter. With its slightly different take on the typical subgenre approach, Rush Hour gave us these two lovable characters that get the job done despite finding themselves in hilarious situations.
9. John McClane and Zeus Carver
Die Hard with a Vengeance
While we all saw Officer John McClane as a lone wolf in the Die Hard series’ first two installments, the sudden inclusion of Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Zeus Carver, gave the series a much-needed interaction which only Jackson and Bruce Willis can deliver.
8. Jack Cates and Reggie Hammond
48 Hours, Another 48 Hours
The precursor to movies like Bad Boys, Rush Hour, and Lethal Weapon, 48 Hours finds Nick Nolte’s Cates needing help from Eddie Murphy’s character, felon Hammond, to hunt down Hammond’s former partner-in-crime within 48 hours.
7. Agent J and Agent K
Men in Black 1 and 2
When you look at Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith’s characters in the Men in Black franchise, you are looking at the best the world has to offer as its “first, last, and only line of defense against the worst among the universe.” Despite their very obvious differences, they found their rhythm and saved the planet on at least three occasions.
6. Jackson Healy and Holland March
The Nice Guys
Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe star in this hilarious, hard-edged action flick as March and Healy respectively. The interaction between the tough-as-nails Healy and the bumbling buffoon March makes the movie a really fun and entertaining ride. We hope they make a sequel to The Nice Guys.
5. Johnny Utah and Bodi
What do you get when you put an undercover FBI agent in a gang of bank robbers? Point Break, of course! This 1991 movie saw Keanu Reeves’ character, Utah, become good friends with Patrick Swayze’s Bodi, the head of the gang, to the point that he doesn’t want to turn them in. Fantastic premise for a buddy-cop flick.
4. Jack Walsh and Jonathan “Duke” Mardukas
Robert de Niro plays bounty hunter, Jack Walsh, who set out to capture Charles Grodin’s Duke and collect his reward. While none of them are cops (they’re actually both avoiding the boys in blue), all the elements of a classic buddy-cop flick are found in Midnight Run.
3. Axel Foley and Billy Rosewood
Beverly Hills Cop
While the Beverly Hills Cop series pretty much has a solo vibe to it, the first installment paired Eddie Murphy’s character with Judge Reinhold’s to eventually form a good partnership and friendship.
2. Nicholas Angel and Danny Butterman
Known as one of the greatest comedies of the 21st century, Hot Fuzz stars two English law enforcers, Nicholas Angel (played by Simon Pegg) and Danny Butterman (portrayed by Nick Frost) get to the bottom of the unusually high accident rate in the sleepy town of Sandford.
Runners-up for this list include:
- Harry Lockheart and Det. Gay Perry (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 2005)
- Det. Scott Turner and Hooch (Turner and Hooch, 1989)
- Ray Tango and Gabriel Cash (Tango and Cash, 1989)
- Morton Schmidt and Greg Jenko (21 Jump Street, 2012)
- Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett (Bad Boys trilogy)
1. Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh
Lethal Weapon 1, 2, 3, and 4
Mel Gibson and Danny Glover is a tag team to reckon with where buddy cop movies are concerned. Their chemistry is one that is hard to duplicate which makes the Lethal Weapon movies fun and endearing to its audiences. With another installment in the works, we can’t wait to see what Riggs and Murtaugh will bring to the streets of L.A.
While the concept of buddy cops have been done over and over again by Hollywood, we just can’t get enough of all the on-screen chemistry and bond that the characters share despite the polar differences in their personalities. Buddy cops are not going anywhere any time soon. Thank heavens!