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Best Film Cops Ever

The Lords of the Law

Best Film Cops Ever

They fight the good fight, they tackle the vilest of villains, and they get results no matter what it takes. And they do all this whilst giving directions to lost tourists.

We've put together a selection of 40 of the coolest crimefighters in cinema history - put on your badge, don those shades and enjoy our Top of the Cops.

Let us know if we've missed any of your favourite boys (or girls) in blue in the comments section...

Images: Allstar/Rex


John McClane (Die Hard)

Best moment: Taunting chief villain Hans Gruber by returning the body of one of his minions sporting a Santa hat and the message: "Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho" scrawled in blood across his sweatshirt.

At the precinct: Go anywhere near his daughter and he’ll get all yippee-ki-yay on you.

Did you know?: The said “yippee-ki-yay” line apparently translates to “here eat this” in Urdu.

Rick Deckard (Blade Runner)

Best moment: Climbing up on top of a roof through torrential rain after having two of his fingers snapped broken by an angry android.

At the precinct: Try not to discuss your plans for early retirement. In Deckard’s dystopian LA, retirement is generally sealed with a bullet in the back rather than a tidy pension package.

Did you know?: It took 25 years for Ridley Scott to release the ‘final cut’ of Blade Runner, but with new versions appearing almost as often as stories about his over-inflated ego, who can safely say we’ve seen the last of it?

Billy Costigan (The Departed)

Best moment: Smashing a man over the head with a glass after being mocked for ordering cranberry juice at the bar.

At the precinct: Offering him a cranberry juice would be a start. Just try not to snigger.

Did you know?: Leonardo DiCaprio refused to campaign against his co-stars for best supporting actor at the Oscars, virtually eliminating any chance he had of winning a gong. What a guy.

Marge Gunderson (Fargo)

Best moment: The poignant dressing-down she gives to the criminal sat handcuffed in the back of her car. “There’s more to life than a little money, you know? And here you are and it’s a beautiful day.” She’s not angry, just disappointed.

At the precinct: Appeal to her good nature but never underestimate her, Marge is no fool.

Did you know?: Frances McDormand was actually pregnant at the time of playing Marge, with director Joel Coen as the expectant father.

Sean Archer (Face/Off)

Best moment: Escaping from a maximum security prison after a bizarre twist of events that sees him wearing Nicolas Cage’s face whilst everyone thinks he’s an international terrorist.

At the precinct: Don’t make any jokes about being two-faced.

Did you know?: John Travolta beat off competition from Arnold Schwarzenegger to play the role. Perhaps Cage’s chiselled features didn’t quite suite Arnie.

Clarice Starling (Silence of the Lambs)

Best moment: She’s such a good shot she could hit her targets blindfolded. Just ask Buffalo Bill.

At the precinct: Clarice’s dreams keep waking her up at night. It might be worth slipping her some Nytol.

Did you know?: Every bit as determined as the character she plays, Jodie Foster spent considerable time researching for her role at an FBI training ground in Virginia.

"Dirty" Harry Calahan (Dirty Harry)

Best moment: The deadpan speech to the bank robber he just foiled. “You've got to ask yourself one question. “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do you, punk?"

At the precinct: Bring a horse shoe, rabbit’s foot and a four-leaf clover. You’re going to need all the luck you can get.

Did you know?: Dirty Harry’s affair with Asian woman Sunny was included in Magnum Force after Eastwood was bombarded by sexual propositions from his adoring female fans in Asia.

Ed Tom Bell (No Country For Old Men)

Best moment: His constant disappointment in the state of the world today.

At the precinct: Be polite and remember that manners cost nothing.

Did you know?: Tommy Lee Jones is reportedly suing Paramount Pictures for $10 million, which he claims he is owed for the film.

Wendell "Bud" White (LA Confidential)

Best moment: Putting the corrupt DA Ellis Loew in his place. Unfortunately for Loew, this happened to be dangling by his ankles out of a 10-story window.

At the precinct: Bud hates woman-beaters and by hate, we mean really hate. Whilst we’re sure you’re all remarkably respectful towards to the fairer sex, just make sure you’re even more so when Bud’s around.

Did you know?: 5’11” Russell Crowe moved into an apartment so small he could barely stand up in it, so as to make him feel like a “giant” when playing the big-shot cop.

Axel Foley (Beverly Hills Cop)

Best moment: Busting up a robbery whilst casually visiting a strip club. Then having to explain to the police chief what he was doing there in the first place.

At the precinct: Be wary of what he says. The fast-talking, foul-mouthed cop isn’t exactly well-acquainted with speaking the truth.

Did you know?: The part was actually written for Sylvester Stallone. Bringing in Eddie Murphy meant massive re-writes although he improvised a lot of his lines.

David Starsky (Starsky & Hutch)

Best moment: Donning a disguise and New York accent to pass himself off as the fictional Maury Finkle, founder of Finkle Fixtures.

At the precinct: Don’t ever ask where he got his perm. Those curls are real.

Did you know?: Ben Stiller has actually been to stunt-driving school but it was still insisted that a stunt driver handled the legendary Ford Gran Torino.

Ed Ramey (Phone Booth)

Best moment: Realising that Colin Farrell is being held hostage by a sniper on the other end of the phone and then locating his whereabouts.

At the precinct: Prank phone calls may well be hilarious, but this is one man you don’t want to be dialling.

Did you know?: Let’s be honest, Ramey is hardly an action hero, but Forest Whitaker is actually a black belt in karate. Maybe one day we’ll get to see his moves on the big screen?

Martin Riggs (Lethal Weapon)

Best moment: Casually strolling through a sniper’s line of fire and then unloading a round full of lead into him. All whilst a cigarette still hangs from his mouth.

At the precinct: Stay out of his way at all costs. This crazy cop is not what we’d call a ‘people person.’

Did you know?: Director Franco Zeffirelli was apparently so impressed by the suicidal tendencies of the character he offered Gibson the role of Hamlet.

Vincent Hanna (Heat)

Best moment: His animated description of the female behind complete with crazed facial expressions and a cupping motion, like he’s holding an imaginary beach ball.

At the precinct: Don’t ask him about his recurring dreams. They might give you some nightmares of your own.

Did you know?: Although Pacino and De Niro co-starred in The Godfather: Part II they had never actually appeared in the same scene until Heat.

William Somerset (Seven)

Best moment: His philosophical musings throughout the film – “People don't want a hero, they want to eat cheeseburgers, play the lotto and watch television.”

At the precinct: Entice him into a thoughtful discussion about the universe.

Did you know?: The part of the fingerprint technician in the film is played by Freeman’s son Alphonso.

Mike Lowrey (Bad Boys)

Best moment: Blasting members of the KKK into a swamp after donning a white hood himself when infiltrating a drug deal in Bad Boys II.

At the precinct: Offer to clean his car. You can’t have a car chase without your wheels looking good.

Did you know?: Will Smith argued with director Michael Bay for hours that he didn’t want to say “I love you” to his partner played by Martin Lawrence. He eventually caved in.

Freddy Newandyke aka Mr Orange (Reservoir Dogs)

Best moment: When the undercover cop hoodwinks a table of bank robbers by relaying a story from his entirely imagined criminal past.

At the precinct: Spin him a made-up story of your own. The key is in the detail.

Did you know?: Tim Roth refused to read for the part, agreeing only when drunk, after a night on the town with Quentin Tarantino and Harvey Keitel.

James Gordon (The Dark Knight)

Best moment: Faking his own death to protect the lives of his family.

At the precinct: Keep his family out of harm’s way and you should be alright.

Did you know?: The date on Gordon's photo of The Joker taken from CCTV footage of the bank heist reads "2008/07/18", which was the release date of the film in the US.

John Shaft (Shaft)

Best moment: Pistol whipping a puffed-up street corner hoodlum whilst repeatedly asking him “What’s my name!?”

At the precinct: His name is John Shaft. Make sure you remember that.

Did you know?: Samuel L. Jackson has said the line: "This is some repugnant sh*t" in Shaft, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown.

Carl Hanratty (Catch Me If You Can)

Best moment: The joke he tells when his colleague asks why he’s so serious. “Knock, knock. Who’s there? Go f*ck yourselves.”

At the precinct: Just accept that he’s a serious man. There’s no need to ask why.

Did you know?: The movie was filmed in just 52 days.

Melvin Purvis (Public Enemies)

Best moment: Finally bringing bank-robbing John Dillinger to justice.

At the precinct: You might want to wear gloves. Like his mentor J. Edgar Hoover, Purvis was a pioneer in fingerprint collection.

Did you know?: Purvis was just three months younger than John Dillinger but there was a much bigger gap between the actors who played them, with Christian Bale almost 11 years younger than Johnny Depp.

Richie Roberts (American Gangster)

Best moment: Cracking criminal mastermind Frank Lucas into spilling the beans on the names of his associates.

At the precinct: Don’t even try to bribe him. This honest cop returned $1m in unmarked bills.

Did you know?: Both the real Richie Roberts and Frank Lucas were on set throughout filming to consult Ridley Scott and the crew.

Frank Serpico (Serpico)

Best moment: When given a gold detective’s badge, lying in a hospital: “What's this for? For bein' an honest cop? Hmm? Or for being stupid enough to get shot in the face? You tell them that they can shove it.”

At the precinct: Like Richie Roberts, don’t even try and bribe him. This guy is straight as a die and willing to pay the price for it.

Did you know?: In order to show Frank Serpico’s beard and hair growing throughout the film, individual scenes were shot in reverse order, with Pacino’s beard and hair being trimmed each time.

John "Scottie" Ferguson (Vertigo)

Best moment: Conquering his crippling fear of heights during a dramatic chase sequence to the top of a bell tower.

At the precinct: Don’t suggest abseiling.

Did you know?: Hitchcock and James Stewart never worked together again after Hitchcock blamed the commercial failure of the film on Stewart for looking too old.

Frank Drebin (The Naked Gun)

Best moment:

“It's the same old story. Boy finds girl, boy loses girl, girl finds boy, boy forgets girl, boy remembers girl, girls dies in a tragic blimp accident over the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day.”


“No, the worst.”

Frank could give Tim Vine a run for his money.

At the precinct: Ask him to do anything. Whatever happens will be hilarious.

Did you know?:Police Squad!, the TV series on which the film was based was cancelled after just six episodes.

Eliot Ness (The Untouchables)

Best moment: He’s the man who put Al Capone behind bars. Few cops can top that.

At the precinct: Check with the law before you offer him a stiff drink. This is Mr Prohibition we’re talking about.

Did you know?: In real life, Ness and Capone never came face-to-face in their battles.

David Toshi (Zodiac)

Best moment: His willingness to work alongside a man who draws cartoons for a living in the hunt for a notoriously mysterious serial killer. And of course that dapper bowtie.

At the precinct: The case never was solved so any information you may have on the Zodiac killer would certainly be welcome.

Did you know?: The finished film was actually sent out to cinemas titled Gemini.

Jack Traven (Speed)

Best moment: His come-back to a now decapitated Dennis Hopper who had just been bragging amount his smartness. “Yeah? Well, I’m taller.” So bad, it’s good.

At the precinct: We doubt he’s the greatest fan of public transport so give him the number of a reliable cabbie.

Did you know?: Keanu Reeves is said to have done 90% of his own stunts in the film.

T-1000 (Terminator 2: Judgement Day)

Best moment: Rising from the floor of a psychiatric institution as an oozing mass of liquid metal before taking on the shape of an unlucky security guard with some sort of protracting ice-pick for an index finger.

At the precinct: You could have a lot of fun with a magnet, but we wouldn’t recommend it if you value your own life.

Did you know?: Robert Patrick studied the head movements of the American bald eagle for his role as T-1000.

Frank Bullitt (Bullitt)

Best moment: What else? The whole of the best car chase ever.

At the precinct: Don’t challenge him to a race round a lap of the car park.

Did you know?: One of the Dodge Chargers in the chase crashed into the camera – the damaged front fender can be seen in later scenes.

John Anderton (Minority Report)

Best moment: After being framed for a murder that hasn’t even happened yet, the “PreCrime” captain escapes from a fleet of jetpack wearing cops. Apparently in 2054, pigs can fly.

At the precinct: There’s no use playing him at chess. He’ll know your next move even before you do.

Did you know?: The train scene features cameos from Cruise’s Vanilla Sky co-star Cameron Diaz and director Cameron Crowe, which finished filming just days before Minority Report began.

Keith Frazier (Inside Man)

Best moment: Throwing himself into the lion’s den by entering a hostage situation at a bank. It doesn’t matter that it didn’t work. It was still cool.

At the precinct: All he wants is a promotion. You might not be able to sort that out but at least tell him he’s doing a good job.

Did you know?: The ground scenes in the bank were filmed in an actual bank whereas the underground ones were filmed on a set in Brooklyn.

Chief Wiggum (The Simpsons Movie)

Best moment: Demanding that a naked Bart stops skateboarding around Springfield “in the name of American squeamishness.”

At the precinct: One word: donuts.

Did you know?: 12 convenience stores from the 7-Eleven chain changed their name to Kwik-E-Mart for the month approaching the film’s release date, selling Squishees, Buzz Cola and Radioactive Man comics.

Danny Butterman (Hot Fuzz)

Best moment: Finally having a Bad Boys/Point Break moment of his own as he blows away crazed fishmongers during a gun fight in the aisles of his local Somerfield.

At the precinct: He’s hardly the sharpest of cops. A Bad Boys box set and a Cornetto from the shop and he’s anyone’s.

Did you know?: Nick Frost and co-star Simon Pegg were often asked for directions by people thinking they were actual cops. Rather than coming clean they played along, claiming that they enjoyed the feeling of power.

Johnny Utah (Point Break)

Best moment: Having fallen so deeply for the manly charms of bank-robbing Patrick Swayze, the undercover cop can only fire his gun into the air, whilst screaming in anguish, when presented with a clear shot at the fleeing criminal.

At the precinct: Share a beer, crack a joke, even wrestle. Any form of male bonding should see you alright. The only worry is if he starts to get the wrong idea.

Did you know?: Keanu Reeves learnt to surf in preparation for the film and continues to surf as a hobby.

Neville Flynn (Snakes on a Plane)

Best moment: Quite simply: “Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherf*cking snakes on this motherf*cking plane!”

At the precinct: Board games are always a good way to pass the time, but for everyone’s sake, no snakes and ladders.

Did you know?: Samuel L. Jackson’s agent insisted that his client would only work on the film if the name was changed, but Jackson protested, claiming that the ridiculous title was the only reason he had ever agreed to work on the film.

Nikolai Luzhin (Eastern Promises)

Best moment: All he wanted was to unwind at the Turkish baths but instead he has to fight off two knife-wielding goons who don’t even have the decency to let him to put some clothes on.

At the precinct: It’s probably best not to bribe him with any spa day vouchers you have lying around. It could bring back some bad memories.

Did you know?: The said bathhouse scene was choreographed with the actors as opposed to stuntmen and took two whole days to shoot.

Ivan Danko (Red Heat)

Best moment: Danko proves he’s fully acclimatised to American ways by gunning down Viktor Rostavili in a Texan Cowboy-esque shoot out.

At the precinct: Don’t ask him anything. He’s fully of the shoot first, ask questions later approach to policing.

Did you know?: It was the first American film allowed to be shot in Moscow’s Red Square.

Marion "Cobra" Cobretti (Cobra)

Best moment: "You're the disease, and I'm the cure." The best medicine is Cobra venom.

At the precinct: Don't make fun of him for having a girl's name.

Did you know?: The film was not critically-acclaimed, to put it mildly. The New York Times stated: "this film shows such contempt for the most basic American values embodied in the concept of a fair trial that Mr. Stallone no longer, even nominally, represents an ideology that is recognizably American." Take that Sly.