The 12 Best Cops of Science FictionS

They are the peacekeepers. They uphold the law. They protect us from those who would do us harm. And they do it all with nothing more than a badge… and a robot… or perhaps a spaceship… or maybe even superpowers. These are the dozen best fictional police officers in the universe, and we appreciate them for their service.

1) Robocop

When officer Alex Murphy was gunned down in the line of duty, the Omnicorp Corporation kindly decided to take the body off the city’s hands and transformed Murphy into the cyborg law enforcer known as Robocop. Despite his sinister origins, Robocop’s primary programming is to serve the public trust, protect the innocent, and uphold the law, which makes him moral enough that he doesn’t go around shooting jaywalkers or anything. Admittedly, he seems to get into a lot of situations where he has to kill a lot of gun-toting criminals, but that’s more because he’s Robocop and he gets sent into situations with a bunch of gun-toting criminals more than regular officers (also: He lives in Detroit). Robocop stopped the rogue killer Omnicorp robot ED-209, destroyed an evil gang run by the dad from That ‘70s Show, stopped a drug ring, and generally makes Detroit a little safer — none of them small feats.

2) Nathan Spring, Star Cops

In 2027, the ease of interplanetary travel has allowed humanity to spread out across the solar system. That includes criminals, unfortunately, and thus the International Space Police Force was created. Captain Nathan Spring is the leader of the “Star Cops” and helps transform them into a full-time police force, traveling though space to investigate the crimes of the future, including a series of mysterious spacesuit failures on a space station and an alien artifact hoax, but also classics like industrial espionage and murder. Spring believes detective work should be done by detectives and not solely by computers, and it’s his drive that turns the Star Cops from a joke to an effective law interplanetary law enforcement team.

The 12 Best Cops of Science FictionS

3 & 4) Matthew Sykes and Sam Francisco, Alien Nation

Sykes is a Los Angeles police detective. Sam Francisco is also a Los Angeles police detective, but he’s also a Newcomer — one of the aliens who arrived in L.A. in 1988 and tried to integrate into human society. In the Alien Nation movie, Sykes and Francisco work together to solve the murder of Sykes’ previous partner and manage to take down a major drug ring that would have turned the Newcomers into slaves. Not bad work, given that Sykes starts out as an alien-hating racist.

The 12 Best Cops of Science FictionS

5) Kiichi Goto, Patlabor

The leader of Tokyo Metropolitan Police Special Vehicle Section 2, Division 2, Goto seems lazy and apathetic, but behind that heavy-lidded demeanor is a brilliant detective and captain. He’s smart enough to figure out problems and solutions from his desk (although he enjoys making his subordinates do the requisite detective work anyway), deals with the ridiculous bureaucracy of the agency, and manages to keep his motley crew of officers in line, including the mecha-loving Noa Izumi, gun-happy Ohta, and the rest. Together, his team stops criminals from using the giant mechas known as Patlabors in crimes, and they’re damned good at it under Goto’s leadership.

The 12 Best Cops of Science Fiction

6) Nick Knight, Forever Knight

It’s a good thing Nick works the night shift as a Toronto police officer — he’s an 800-year-old vampire. He became a cop to assuage his guilt over his vampiric crimes (specifically, killing lots of people and drinking their blood), but his 800 years of seeing history firsthand has given him knowledge and skills most officers don’t. Also, he has vampiric powers like super strength, super speed, a immunity to bullets as well as the ability to hypnotize people, all of which more than makes up for his inability to go out during the day.

The 12 Best Cops of Science Fiction

7) 8-Man

Before Robocop, there was Yokoda, a Japanese police detective who was gunned down by criminals and who was transferred into an android body by Professor Tani. Yokoda admittedly got a better deal than Robocop; he wasn’t developed by an evil corporation and managed to keep his memory and personality intact, plus he has super-speed, the ability to detach and control his limbs remotely, and can transform into other people. He secretly rejoins the police force as 8 Man — so-called because Tokyo has seven police precincts, and 8 Man has the power of a precinct all by himself. 8 Man solves crimes, fights robots, mutants and monsters, and more. His one weakness is that he’s powered by radium-laced “energy cigarettes,” which is wonderfully ridiculous.

8) Kimball Kinnison, Lensman

The predecessors of the Gren Lantern Corps. (i.e., the idea that Silver Age Green Lantern ripped-off wholesale), the Lensman were galactic protectors and peacekeepers, and no one was more effective than Kimball Kinnison. He stopped a series of intergalactic pirates pretty much singlehandedly, was the only Lensman ever to train with the Lens’ creators the Arisians, helped conquer a second galaxy ruled by the evil Boskone, married the only female Lensman (after nominating her for the job) and produced the five Children of the Lens that ended up saving the whole damn universe. Unlike the Green Lanterns, the Lensman were just as much lawkeepers as they were people who fought bad guys. Also unlike the Green Lanterns, the Lensmen were actually good at their job.

The 12 Best Cops of Science FictionS

9) Jack Carter, Eureka

Being the sheriff of the town of Eureka is not an easy job, but Jack Carter does it about as well as anyone. Eureka is inhabited almost entirely by brilliant scientists with more knowledge than common sense, and thus Carter deals less with solving crimes and more with preventing whatever catastrophes the scientists’ many experiments have set in motion, thanks to his intuition and “simpler” intellect, which keeps him from overthinking things. Jack probably saves the world almost as much as he solves crimes, but he’s extremely effective at both.

The 12 Best Cops of Science FictionS

10) Judge Dredd

Although he’s called a judge and is allowed to execute people he deems to be criminals, Judge Dredd is still upholding the law. He protects Mega-City One from its many, many seedier elements, and has saved the entire city from more than a few supercriminals, and during world War IV he actually saved the entire planet. Although Judge Dredd is legendary tough on crime and may appear pretty fascist at first glance, he’s resigned from the Justice Department twice when he felt they were in the wrong, once nearly resigned over the city’s anti-mutant legislation. And given the chance to become Chief Judge, Dredd declined, preferring to work the streets. The only reason you wouldn’t want Judge Dredd on your side is if you’re planning on committing a crime.

11 & 12) Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw, Robots and Foundation

The original buddy-cops of scifi, Elijah Baley and R. Daneel Olivaw were pure police detectives all the way through, investigating murders in classic Isaac Asimov novels such as The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun and The Robots of Dawn. This was originally hampered by the fact that Baley hated robots while his partner Olivaw was a robot — he even thought Olivaw might be the murderer of their first case together — but the two quickly became a team and lifelong friends. Both detectives work undercover, Olivaw moreso since he’s the first “humaniform” robot ever created, which he frequently uses to his advantage. In fact, Baley’s influence would help Olivaw created the Zeroth Law of Robotics ("A robot may not harm humanity, or through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm") which led Olivaw to imagine the concept of psychohistory, which Hari Seldon brought into reality and with which he effectively used to save civilization. Now that’s a good cop.