The term "buddy cop" is a little misleading for the genre. After all, most of these movies center around tension derived from the fact that these law enforcement partners don't get along. However, while these duos are often in possession of wildly conflicting personalities, they have the same goal: take down some bad guys.
Full of action and mystery, these movies are also typically rife with comedy, often stemming from quick remarks and witty banter. Whether you like your cops old school and level-headed or wet around the ears and untamable, you're sure to be in for an exciting watch. Here are eight of the best buddy cop movies of all time!
Freebie And The Bean (1974)
Freebie (James Caan) and Bean (Alan Arkin) are San Francisco police detectives in pursuit of notorious mobster Red Meyers (Jack Kruschen). But this mismatched cop duo isn't alone in their search for Meyers. In order to haul the lowlife in, they'll have to beat the hitman out to kill him. But will the city survive their chaotic chase?
Running Scared (1986)
When Chicago cops Danny Costanzo (Billy Crystal) and Ray Hughes (Gregory Hines) are almost killed in pursuit of a drug kingpin, their department forces them to go on a Key West vacation. The pair make plans to leave the dangerous life of law enforcement behind and open up a bar in the beautiful island locale. When they return to the Windy City, they find that some loose ends need to be tied up before they can call it quits. Their last big case to put the drug lord behind bars goes haywire, however, when they find they've lost their edge.
Lethal Weapon (1987)
The prime example of a buddy cop movie, Lethal Weapon stars Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh, two L.A. cops thrown together as partners. Though both are war veterans, they couldn't be more different in temperament, with Riggs behaving erratically and Murtaugh taking a more seasoned approach. However, an unlikely friendship blossoms as they dive into an unusual drug smuggling case.
Bad Boys (1995)
Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) is a settled family man, while Mike Lowry (Will Smith) is a carefree ladies' man. Both of them are cops in Miami. Their personal lives must take a backseat for 72 hours as they juggle protecting a witness in a murder investigation and finding the ones responsible for stealing millions of dollars worth of heroin from evidence storage—all while pretending to be each other.
Men in Black (1997)
Bringing some science fiction into the buddy cop subgenre, we've got another Will Smith classic. NYPD officer James Edwards (Smith) is recruited into a top-secret organization that deals with extraterrestrial crimes on Earth. The green and newly dubbed Agent J is paired with the seasoned Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), who must train him as they hunt down a deadly alien hiding inside human skin.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)
While the "buddies" in this movie aren't exactly cops, their sizzling and witty dynamic makes them one of the most gripping pairs on this list. When New York thief Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) is mistaken for an actor by a casting panel, he's sent to Hollywood to get some method training under private eye "Gay Perry" (Val Kilmer). Before long, the contentious duo finds themselves tangled up in a complicated murder mystery, lured in by Harry's childhood crush, struggling actress Harmony (Michelle Monaghan).
21 Jump Street (2012)
Based on the 80s television series of the same name, this movie follows mediocre cops Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum). In high school, Schmidt was a nerdy loser while Jenko was an underachieving jock. When the rookie cops are sent undercover as high school students to bring down a synthetic drug ring, they find their former roles reversed.
The Heat (2013)
Ambitious, tight-laced FBI agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) is sent to Boston to track down an elusive drug lord. Unfortunately for her, she's encroaching on brash local cop Shannon Mullins' (Melissa McCarthy) turf. Though the two butt heads, they quickly discover that they're unstoppable together.