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The Best Movie Cops of All Time

Law Enforcement Police
These movie cops are powerful and dedicated... and they're on our side! Which of these hardened crime fighters is the best of all time?

7. Jimmy Doyle of The French Connection

Popeye in his porkpie hat has become the icon of the hardened big-city cop willing to go all the way to snare evil drug lords. But you already knew that, unless you've been picking your feet in Poughkeepsie.

6. Frank Serpico, of Serpico

Shocked to discover he was the only Big Apple cop not on the take, Serpico risked his life to blow the whistle on the corrupt precincts. Shot by drug dealers and branded a rat by fellow officers, Serprico walks the walk and protects the law. Plus, he's Pacino!

5. Inspector Harry Callahan of Dirty Harry

Dirty Harry has an admirable distaste for police protocol and the politicos that run San Francisco City Hall. They just get in the way. That's why he throws out the rulebook in pursuing serial killer Scorpio and, eventually, puts one of his legendary magnum slugs into the thug, asking through gritted teeth, "Do you feel lucky, punk?"

4. Detective Axel Foley of Beverly Hills Cop

Detroit homicide detective Foley has that million-dollar smile and a platinum laugh to go with it. But humor is just one tool he wields in his tireless quest of Victor Maitland, the drug lord who masterminded the shooting death of his best friend. The stodgy officers assigned by the Beverly Hills PD to baby-sit Foley end up receiving stolen hotel bathrobes for their diligence.

3. Detective Virgil Tibbs of In the Heat of the Night

Were it not for Virgil Tibbs, Hollywood would never have created the likes of Nick Styles, Axel Foley, or Sgt. Roger Murtaugh. Tibbs, a Philadelphia homicide detective, is picked up for murder by a profiling, racist Mississippi police chief. With Tibbs' help, the cracker chief not only solves the murder, he learns a few lessons about the evils of prejudice.

2. Eliot Ness of The Untouchables

Federal Agent Ness, a happily married father and white-bread G-man, drops the niceties in favor of doing things the "Chicago Way" to catch underworld mastermind Al Capone. He's willing to adopt grizzled beat-walker Jim Malone's unorthodox techniques because it gets results. In the end, he becomes judge and executioner, tossing Frank Nitti off the roof like a rotten apple.

And the best movie cop of all time is:

1. Captain Renault of Casablanca

The patron saint of crooked cops with hearts of gold. It's okay to be shady if you're working for an even more corrupt regime. Renault breaks all the rules when it's time to work on the side of the angels. It's the very stuff that forges beautiful friendships.
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