Partners in Crime-Fighting

Riggs and Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon

Crime-fighting teams have been around as long as there have been crimes to fight. Though a maverick like James Bond can certainly be intriguing, a duo of crime fighters working together provides great fodder for an engaging storyline since there’s more room for conflict, chaos, and camaraderie when two join together. Partnerships can take a variety of forms, all of which make for an entertaining tale.

The Veteran and the Rookie

When a seasoned crime fighter joins with a naïve rookie, sparks can fly. The rookie might resent the mentor’s constant oversight and correction, while the mentor might resent being saddled with a newbie who slows down an investigation. On the other hand, a veteran might not be as familiar with new techniques and strategies for crime-fighting, while a rookie would be in the know on the latest gadgets and tactics. A rookie might also be willing to take more risks to prove himself, while the veteran might be more conservative in his actions. A prime example of this type of pair is Murtaugh and Riggs, who join together to fight a gang of drug smugglers in Lethal Weapon.

The Keystone Cop and the Professional Police Officer

When a crime-fighting duo includes both a competent cop and a bumbler, hilarity can ensue. The perfect example of such a team is Deputy Barney Fife and Sheriff Andy Taylor from The Andy Griffith Show. Barney’s tactics tended to be heavy handed and overzealous, while Andy approached crime-fighting much more rationally and reasonably. Viewers enjoyed the clashes as the two went about the business of keeping Mayberry safe.

Instinct versus Intelligence

A crime-fighting partnership might contain agents with varied operating systems, one who operates on instinct and another who operates on intelligence. An example of this would be Fox Mulder and Dana Scully from the X-Files. Agent Mulder felt certain some type of extraterrestrials existed and relied on his gut feelings, while the more skeptical Dana Scully preferred hard evidence. It often takes both instinct and intelligent analysis to solve a case, so a team tackling a crime from both angles might have a better chance of success.

Dana Scully and Fox Mulder from The X-Files

Coed Crime Fighters

A duo that includes both a male and a female component can make for an especially interesting story. The two might fight—or surrender to—romantic feelings for each other. Even if the two remain platonic, they might approach an investigation differently based on their sex, with the female taking a softer approach and the male barging in with guns blazing. Of course not all coed couples follow gender stereotypes. In Mr. and Mrs. Smith, both the male and female agents grabbed life by the horns and weren’t afraid to use force and weaponry to achieve their aims. In some instances, a case can be solved via information generally within the realm of only one sex. In Legally Blonde, for example, Elle Woods needs Emmett as her partner in court since she hasn’t yet passed the bar, but she’s the one who solves the murder case when she realizes a witness has lied about her alibi. How could the witness have been in the shower at the time of the murder when she’d just had her hair permed and must keep her locks dry for 48 hours? Few men would have known this critical piece of information about hair care. In Miss Congeniality, FBI Agent Gracie Hart goes undercover as a contestant in a beauty pageant, while fellow officer Eric Matthews does his thing behind the scenes. To successfully pull off the investigation, Agent Hart’s less-than-feminine ways must be tamed, with comedic results.

Starsky and Hutch, or, from left to right, Hutch and Starsky
By-the-Book versus the Rogue

When one member of a crime-fighting duo insists on following established protocols but the other has no qualms about bending the rules, sparks can fly. In Starksy and Hutch, for example, Detective David Starsky was more uptight while his partner, Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson tended to take a much more laid-back approach to their investigations. Another example of this type of pairing is from the television show CHiPs, which paired troublemaking policeman Francis “Ponch” Poncherello with the more straight-laced and experienced officer Jonathan “Jon” Baker. Poncherello’s attempts to attract women added a lighthearted bit of humor to the duo. In the current revival of Hawaii Five-0, Steve McGarrett’s character is temperamental and doesn’t always take an entirely legal route to solving cases, while the calmer “Danno” tends to abide by the rules when possible. When two characters take polar opposite approaches, it’s fun to see which approach will lead to the resolution of an investigation.

Yep, you can’t beat a crime-fighting duo for an entertaining story!

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Diane Kelly is author of the Death & Taxes mystery series featuring U.S. Treasury Department Special Agent Tara Holloway.  Death, Taxes, and Peach Sangria, the fourth book in the series, will be released January 29, 2013. Visit Diane on the web at www.dianekelly.com, on Twitter, on Facebook, and at Killer Fiction.

Read all posts by Diane Kelly for Criminal Element.

Comments

  1. William Simon

    The Good Guy and the NOT So Good Guy: Spenser and Hawk come to mind. In the original novels, Robert B. Parker played up the ‘two sides/same coin’ angle much more than the series or movies did, but it is there, and is an important part of the team.

  2. Christie Craig

    Love this post and I agree with you 100%. I love writing the duos and trios. CC

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    Nice examples.

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    Nice

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  8. Joanne Mielczarski

    Crime-fighting buddy stories are always great reading!

  9. Michelle St. James

    I definitely love crime fighting duos. The Secret Adversary was one of the first Agatha Christie novels I ever read when I was a kid and Tommy and Tuppence’s partnership hooked me, as Cagney and Lacey did on television around the same time. I’ve looked for great duos ever since in all media and I love all of your examples.

  10. Denise Carlson

    I wish I was in a crime-fighting duo. Maybe the author & I can team up. 🙂

  11. Chris Noe

    I love crime fighting duos. Booth and Bones are a current fave.

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    This sounds so good. There is nothing better than partners in crime as you get twice the thrill and excitement.

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  32. clynsg

    I like crime-fighting duos, especially when there is a leavening of humor.

  33. Carol Gowett

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  36. Heather Martin

    The best crime fighting duos always bring their sense of humor along.

Comments are closed.