10 Movie Cops More Corrupt Than Woody Harrelson in Rampart

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 10 2012 5:29 PM

Fact-Checking Rampart: Is This Really “the Most Corrupt Cop” in Movie History?

Official poster for Rampart

Both the poster and the trailer for the crime drama Rampart, out today, loudly herald its LAPD antihero as “the most corrupt cop you’ve ever seen on screen.” The marketing gimmick is effective, just like the heavy metal guitars the trailer employs to make even taking a dip in the swimming pool seem thrillingly sinister. But the marketers could also use some perspective.

The corruptness of Hollywood’s most corrupt cops cannot be underestimated. Woody Harrelson’s Officer Dave Brown is indeed a pretty bad and deeply troubled dude. He’s racist, ill-tempered, and a womanizer. But his corruption is a case of mild dyspepsia compared to the rabid rampages that are S.O.P. for many other movie cops.


Hollywood likes its cops over the top. Several actors have given their most scenery-chewing performances as police officers (usually as members of the LAPD, the local force for most moviemakers, and a department familiar with real-life scandal itself). They plant evidence, take out other cops that get in the way, and shoot at dead gangsters because “their souls are still dancing.”

Here are 10 cops more corrupt than Harrelson’s Dave Brown, along with an internal affairs-style report on the estimable misdeeds of each. Eat your heart out, Officer Brown.


Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 



Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

The Best Thing About the People’s Climate March in NYC

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

John Oliver Debunks the Miss America Pageant’s Claim That It Gives Out $45 Million in Scholarships

Trending News Channel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Over There
Sept. 22 2014 1:29 PM “That’s Called Jim Crow” Philip Gourevitch on America’s hypocritical interventions in Africa.
Sept. 22 2014 1:37 PM Subprime Loans Are Back! And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 22 2014 1:22 PM Is Arabic Really Just One Language? 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM Escaping the Extreme Christian Fundamentalism of "Quiverfull"
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Sept. 22 2014 2:12 PM Crusader, Sans Cape The superhero trappings of Gotham are just a clever disguise.
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Sept. 22 2014 12:15 PM The Changing Face of Climate Change Will the leaders of the People’s Climate March now lead the movement?
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.