The buddy cop movie has been with us for decades and still works best when the cops in question couldn’t be more different. Here are 10 outrageous examples of police pairings that couldn’t be further apart -- yet somehow bring themselves together to get the job done.
Riggs and Murtaugh in ‘Lethal Weapon’ (1987)
Riggs (Mel Gibson) is suicidal and crazy and willing to take risks that no one -- not even a cop -- would take in their right mind. Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is a family man who’s “getting too old for this s**t” and looking forward to retirement from the force. Somehow, the duo manages to stop everyone from heroin smugglers to Jet Li.
Jack Cates and Reggie Hammond in ’48 Hrs.’ (1982)
Reggie Hammond (Eddie Murphy) is a convict paired with grizzled cop Jack Kates (Nick Nolte) to stop a few killers in San Francisco. Cates is brusque and angry and bigoted; Hammond is fast-talking and quick-witted. They start out hating each other and end up with a grudging respect -- all in 48 hours.
Carter and Lee in ‘Rush Hour’ (1998)
Only in the movies could a Chinese police officer (Jackie Chan) find himself partnered with a reckless loose cannon of an LAPD cop named (Chris Tucker). Lee and Carter are proof that East and West can work together, even if their methods are entirely different.
Axel Foley and the BHPD in ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ (1984)
It’s Eddie Murphy again, this time in perhaps his most iconic role as Detroit police officer Axel Foley. With his Detroit Lions jacket and gun, he heads to LA to solve a friend’s murder, and at first clashes with Beverly Hills detectives Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and Taggart (John Ashton) before becoming their friend. More than 30 years later, ‘Cop’ is still one of the great pleasures of 1980s cinema.
Ashburn and Mullins in ‘The Heat’ (2013)
New York-based FBI agent Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is talented and effective but condescending and aloof, while Boston cop Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) is foul-mouthed, sloppy and brutish. Sounds like a perfect buddy cop team, right? Both actors share terrific chemistry in this gender-flipped take on the genre.
Gamble and Hoitz in ‘The Other Guys’ (2010)
Only director Adam McKay would think of a scenario focusing on “the other guys”: the cops who aren’t nearly as cool and effective as the ones we see in movies. In this case, it’s unassuming forensic accountant Allen Gamble (Will Ferrell) and perpetually angry detective Terry Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), who get a break on a big cass -- if they don’t break each other’s faces first.
Jenko and Schmidt in ’21 Jump Street’ (2012)
Former high school jock, Jenko (Channing Tatum) and the nerd he picked on, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) team up to go undercover to stop a high school drug ring – and the genre gets some of its funniest gags and quotable lines ever. Especially when Jenko discovers that nerds have become popular now and Schmidt has the upper hand.
Angel and Butterman in ‘Hot Fuzz’ (2007)
When uptight, too-effective London constable Nick Angel (Simon Pegg) is transferred to the tiny town of Sandford -- for making his colleagues look bad -- he finds himself paired with drunk, incompetent local officer Butterman (Nick Frost). How the two become friends and crack a series of murders is the core of this hilarious send-up of buddy cop movies.
Danko and Ridzik in ‘Red Heat’ (1988)
“48 Hrs.” director Walter Hill went the buddy cop route again with this even more extreme pairing: Russian narc Ivan Danko (Arnold Schwarzenegger) with loutish Chicago cop Art Ridzik (John Belushi).
Turner and Hooch in ‘Turner and Hooch’ (1989)
When you’ve run out of every possible human buddy cop combination, why not go with a dog? Tom Hanks’ fussy, vaguely neurotic detective teams up with a slobbering hot mess on four legs to catch a killer. Hanks and Hooch even manage to wring some real emotion out of this wackiest of cop movies.