Partners in Crime

It should come as no surprise that I have a great fondness for mysteries and, particularly, cop shows and movies.  From lighter fare to dark thrillers, I’ve enjoyed watching the good guys take on the bad guys.  That might come from my earliest years watching Perry Mason.  Then moving on to The Streets of San Francisco, Dragnet, Adam-12, Columbo, the original Hawaii Five-O.  Of course all of those series have one big thing in common: all the crime solvers were men.

Women detectives were quite rare back in those days.  Sure, there were the occasional female sleuths.  Jane MarpleHoney WestNancy Drew.  Most acted on their own.  And you hardly ever saw men and women working together to solve a mystery.

But there was one major exception: Nick and Nora Charles.  Featured in The Thin Man movies, they seemed to end up investigating and solving murders.  Of course, Nick was the retired detective and did most of the legwork.  But Nora was often at his side.

In the 1970s, we began to see more female detectives on TV and in movies.  Eventually we were introduced to what is now the standard in police procedurals: the male-female team.  Television really led the way, with the majority of cop shows featuring women and men working together.  Sometimes they become romantically involved, echoing Nick and Nora.  Sometimes they are strictly partners.  And sometimes the creators of the stories manage to give us a new spin on the idea, such as in the recent animated film Zootopia.

Check out the lists below for some TV series and movies for a look at women and men tackling crime together.



The Avengers (Emma Peel & John Steed)
Bones (Temperance “Bones” Brennan & Seely Booth)
Broadchurch (Ellie Miller & Alec Hardy)
Castle (Kate Beckett & Rick Castle)
Chuck (Sarah Walker & Chuck Bartowski)
Elementary (Joan Watson & Sherlock Holmes)
The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (Barbara Havers & Thomas Lynley)
Law & Order: Criminal Intent (Alex Eames & Robert Goren)
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (Olivia Benson & Elliot Stabler)
The Mentalist (Teresa Lisbon & Patrick Jane)
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (Phryne Fisher & Jack Robinson)
Moonlighting (Maddie Hayes & David Addison)
Partners in Crime (Tuppence & Tommy Beresford)
Remington Steele (Laura Holt & Remington Steele)
Scarecrow and Mrs. King (Amanda King & Lee Stetson)
Unforgettable (Carrie Wells & Al Burns)
The X Files (Dana Scully & Fox Mulder)


The Bone Collector (Amelia Donaghy & Lincoln Rhyme)
Kindergarten Cop (Phoebe O’Hara & John Kimble)
The Thin Man films (Nora & Nick Charles)
Zootopia (Judy Hopps & Nick Wilde)