If you watch enough cable in the middle of the night, you'll notice that roughly a third of all movies and TV shows produced since 1980 chronicle the zany antics of racially mismatched crime fighters. Each black-white buddy cop duo is different, some of them aren't even technically cops, but they all have one thing in common: quick-witted banter that is a little too clever for the life and death situations in which these guys are constantly finding themselves. (Also, the white cop is usually a divorced chain-smoker.) Here, we offer the 10 best examples of the trend that put an end to racism, or at least racism that isn't hilarious.


Billy Crystal & Gregory Hines
Running Scared (1986)

Back when Billy Crystal was still relatively amusing and Gregory Hines was still relatively alive, they starred in what is perhaps the most homoerotic of sarcastic black-white buddy cop films. To see why, you could sit through Running Scared, or you could just look at the above picture, in which the two weak-bearded smartasses hold each other tenderly in standard genital-to-anus formation. In short, their banter in Running Scared seems more like flirting than anything else.

Also, please note the pair's matching tights and scarves-that really says it all.

Typical Sassy Exchange

Costanzo: Let's bust 'em.
Hughes: For what?
Costanzo: In this neighborhood, a Mercedes is probable cause.

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Bruce Willis & Samuel L. Jackson
Die Hard with a Vengeance(1995)

Our list's first pairing of a hungover Bruce Willis with an outraged black sidekick, the third Die Hard film is also the most recent instance of this time-honored formula. (We've decided to pretend 14 Blocks didn't happen, mostly because Mos Def does an annoying impression of a retarded guy for the entire movie even though his character isn't supposed to be retarded).

In Die Hard with a Vengeance, Zeus Carver-who is only pretending to be a cop for the day-and John McClane race through the streets of New York, blowing stuff up and trying to pour water back and forth into milk cartons or something. It's fun to watch, but the pair's antics don't make a bit of goddamn sense in hindsight. Still, you can't argue with a movie in which Samuel L. Jackson spends 50% of his screen-time screaming like he's being electrocuted by his own blackness.

Typical Sassy Exchange

McClane: You're a racist! You don't like me because I'm white!
Carver: I don't like you because you're going to get me killed!

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Don Johnson & Philip Michael Thomas
Miami Vice (1984-1990)

Working the Miami beat in the '80s was a tough task, but Crockett and Tubbs let the criminals know they meant business by wearing pastel blouses, sporting women's blazers, and chuckling at their pet parrot. Fortunately, the Miami Vice writing staff loaded the show with sarcastic dialogue in order to distract viewers from the fact that these two slapdicks would be castrated immediately if they ever actually ran into the likes of Tony Montana.

Typical Sassy Exchange

Crockett: Man, it's so hot you could fry an egg on my face.
Tubbs: Hope I never get that hungry.

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Burt Reynolds & Norman D. Golden II
Cop and a Half (1993)

Okay, so we've never seen Cop and a Half. No one we've ever met has seen Cop and a Half. We're not even sure that Burt Reynolds ever took the time to see Cop and a Half. But the fact still remains that the only reason it was made was so that Burt Reynolds could spend 90 minutes looking surprised and talking shit to a little black kid. And there's simply nothing that Burt Reynolds does better than talking shit to little black kids.

Typical Sassy Exchange

Butler: So what you got under the hood?
McKenna: I got an engine, and in a minute, you.

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(be sure not to miss a disturbing clip from their sex scene at 1:37): http://youtube.com/watch?v=-Que-7kzfSU

6.) (tie) AGENT J & AGENT K

Will Smith & Tommy Lee Jones
Men in Black (1997), Men in Black II (2002)

Man, if there's one thing that gets a hip young black fella's sarcasm motor going, it's aliens. And it there's one thing that gets a seasoned white cop's going, it's a hip young black fella being surprised about aliens. Also, the slang pisses him off.

An interesting historical footnote: several teens died of alcohol poisoning in the late '90s while attempting to play the MIB drinking game, in which participants take a shot every time Will Smith lifts one eyebrow and says, "DAMN!"

Typical Sassy Exchange

Agent K: I don't suppose you know what kind of alien life form leaves a green spectral trail and craves sugar water, do you?
Agent J: Aw, man, that was on Final Jeopardy last night. Damn, what did Alex say?

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6.) (tie) CARTER & LEE

Chris Tucker & Jackie Chan
Rush Hour (1998), Rush Hour 2 (2001)

In each of the two Rush Hour movies, Carter speaks to Lee in a manner that would get literally any employed person fired. (Unless, of course, your job was writing mildly amusing ethnic slurs.) But since the racial hatred is presented alongside wacky explosions and slick editing, it's passed off as sarcastic banter. Thanks, Rush Hour movies, for showing us that xenophobia can be a real hoot! Chan may not be technically white, but Tucker makes it abundantly clear that Chan isn't welcome in the black community.

Typical Sassy Exchange

Carter: Oh, hell no! You didn't just touch my goddamn radio!
Lee: The Beach Boys are great American music.
Carter: The Beach Boys gonna get you a great ass whuppin'.

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Eddie Murphy & Judge Reinhold
Beverly Hills Cop (1984), Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)

In the Beverly Hills Cop movies, Eddie Murphy wears uncomfortably tight jeans, says hilarious one-liners, and makes you cringe every time he tries to emote. But the real tour de force is turned in by white buffoon Judge Reinhold, who apparently researched his role by watching black comedians impersonate white guys.

Typical Sassy Exchange

Foley: You just hit a squad car!
Rosewood: It's okay, I know the guy. He's a jerk.

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Nick Nolte & Eddie Murphy
48 Hrs. (1982), Another 48 Hrs. (1990)

While Cates and Hammond may not be the most sarcastic of the white/black buddy cops, they're definitely the most awesomely filthy. One of their many back-and-forths has Hammond saying that he should have his "dick bronzed" because he's so good in the sack. And Cates is just as good in the racist prick department as Hammond is in the fucking department-at one point, he refers to Hammond as" an overdressed, charcoal-colored loser." Shortly thereafter, he calls Hammond the N-word and punches him in the face. Who doesn't love it when witty sarcasm borders on racially charged violence?

Typical Sassy Exchange

Hammond: Tell me a story.
Cates: Fuck you!
Hammond: Oh, that's one of my favorites.

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Bruce Willis & Reginald VelJohnson
Die Hard (1988)

Before they made the best action movie of the past 25 years, the makers of Die Hard had to solve a problem. In John McClane, they'd created the most sarcastic cop in the history of sarcasm and cops, but since the film's plot requires that he be alone for most of the movie, he didn't have any black people to make his sarcastic comments to.

Luckily, Die Hard was not made by inside-the-box thinkers. First, they gave McClane a jive-talking limo driver named Arguile who listens to Run DMC and makes Will Smith's performance in the opening credits of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air seem nuanced by comparison. Most importantly though, they gave the dad from Family Matters a walkie-talkie and told him to look up gravely and call McClane "Cowboy" a lot, thus allowing McClane to ooze sarcasm on the other end. Crisis averted. Still, despite what you might expect, they don't fuck in the end.

Typical Sassy Exchange

McClane: Is the building on fire?
Powell: No, but it's gonna need a paint job and a shitload of screen doors.

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Bruce Willis & Damon Wayans
The Last Boy Scout (1991)

This time, a hungover Bruce Willis is teamed up with Damon Wayans, who is hilariously miscast as one of the most talented quarterbacks to ever pick up a football. (If you're an un-athletic looking black guy and white people automatically assume you're good at sports, is it offensive, or just awesome? Sadly, we'll never know.)

Like Samuel L. Jackson in Die Hard 3, Wayans gets to pretend he's a cop even though he isn't. Even more mysterious-everyone keeps calling Willis' character Detective Hallanbeck even though he is very clearly John McClane-he's sarcastic when he's just killed someone, he gets even more sarcastic when he's in danger of being killed, he's always hungover even though he never seems to be drinking, and, most importantly, he's having trouble with his wife and smokes a lot.

Typical Sassy Exchange

Hallanbeck: This ain't no game, flash. Real guns, real bullets. It's dangerous.
Dix: Danger's my middle name.
Hallanbeck: Mine's Cornelius. You tell anybody, I'll kill you.

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Mel Gibson & Danny Glover
Lethal Weapon (1987), Lethal Weapon 2 (1989), Lethal Weapon 3(1992), Lethal Weapon 4(1998)

We've gotta go with Riggs and Murtaugh at number one if only because of their absolute centrality to the Lethal Weapon franchise. If you took away the black-white buddy cops from any of the other films on this list, you'd still have some movie leftover. Men in Black, for example, would still be a movie about aliens, and The Last Boy Scout would still have a convoluted plot about professional football and some fat guy in a cowboy hat.

But with Lethal Weapon, the pairing of a black cop with a white cop IS the premise of the movie. All four installments boil down to the same ingenious core concept: "Two cops solve crime while making sarcastic comments. One of them is black and the other is white. Also, Danny Glover says, 'I'm too old for this shit.' Roll credits."

Typical Sassy Exchange

Riggs: You want me to drive?
Murtaugh: No, you're supposed to be suicidal, remember? I'll drive.
Riggs: Anybody who drives around in this town IS suicidal.

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