film The Best '80s Cop Movies  

Ranker Film
1.3k votes 259 voters 12.8k views 38 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite police films that were released in the 1980s

The best ‘80s cop movies are a unique blend of kitsch, grit, and violence. Fans of the police genre might say that the 1980s was an off decade for cop movies. There are, however, numerous classic police stories from the ‘80s, including directing legend Brian de Palma’s The Untouchables. Starring Kevin Costner, this film details the endeavors of Elliott Ness and his band of federal agents to bring down mob kingpin Al Capone in 1930s Chicago.  

Also on this list of top ‘80s cop movies, you’ll find plenty of lighter fare. The 1980s was the heyday of the buddy cop film, the prime example being Lethal Weapon. Starring Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, the Lethal Weapon franchise has become a cultural touchstone, having been referenced and parodied countless times since its release. Here, you’ll also find Clint Eastwood reprising his role as “Dirty” Harry Callahan in The Dead Pool and Sudden Impact.  

Vote up the best cop films of the 1980s, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section! 

list ordered by

1
76 4
Lethal Weapon is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Lethal Weapon Mel Gibson, Gary Busey, Danny Glover Lethal Weapon is a 1987 American buddy cop action film directed by Richard Donner, starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as a mismatched pair of L.A.P.D. detectives and stars Mitchell Ryan and ...more

2
62 5
Lethal Weapon 2 is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Lethal Weapon 2 Mel Gibson, Joe Pesci, Danny Glover Lethal Weapon 2 is a 1989 American buddy cop action film directed by Richard Donner, and starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Patsy Kensit, Derrick O'Connor and Joss Ackland. It is a ...more

3
65 11
Beverly Hills Cop is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Beverly Hills Cop Eddie Murphy, Damon Wayans, Paul Reiser Beverly Hills Cop is a 1984 American action comedy film directed by Martin Brest and starring Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley, a street-smart Detroit cop who heads to Beverly Hills, California to ...more

4
48 9
Beverly Hills Cop II is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Beverly Hills Cop II Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Gilbert Gottfried Beverly Hills Cop II is a 1987 action comedy film starring Eddie Murphy and directed by Tony Scott. It is the first sequel in the Beverly Hills Cop series. Murphy returns as Detroit police ...more

5
42 7
The Untouchables is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
The Untouchables Robert De Niro, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner The Untouchables is a 1987 American crime drama film directed by Brian De Palma and written by David Mamet. Based on the book The Untouchables, the film stars Kevin Costner as government agent ...more

6
42 13
48 Hrs. is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
48 Hrs. Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte, Annette O'Toole Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial 48 Hrs. is a 1982 American action comedy film directed by Walter Hill, starring Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy as a cop and convict, respectively, who team up to catch a cop-killer. The title ...more

7
43 14
Police Academy is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Police Academy Kim Cattrall, Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith Police Academy is a 1984 comedy film directed by Hugh Wilson, and starring Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall, and G.W. Bailey. It grossed approximately $146 million worldwide and spawned six more ...more

8
38 12
Turner & Hooch is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Turner & Hooch Tom Hanks, Craig T. Nelson, Mare Winningham Turner & Hooch is a 1989 American comedy-thriller film starring Tom Hanks and Beasley the Dog as the eponymous characters, Turner and Hooch respectively. The film also co-stars Mare ...more

9
34 15
Colors is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Colors Sean Penn, Robert Duvall, Don Cheadle Colors is a 1988 American police procedural action crime film starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall, and directed by Dennis Hopper. The film takes place in the gang ridden neighborhoods of South ...more

10
29 11
The Dead Pool is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
The Dead Pool Clint Eastwood, Jim Carrey, Axl Rose The Dead Pool is a 1988 American action flim directed by Buddy Van Horn, written by Steve Sharon, and starring Clint Eastwood as Inspector "Dirty" Harry Callahan. It is the fifth and ...more

11
30 13
The Naked Gun: From the Files ... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! O. J. Simpson, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Reggie Jackson The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! is a 1988 American comedy film. It is the first in The Naked Gun series of films starring Leslie Nielsen, Priscilla Presley, George Kennedy, and O. ...more

12
26 10
Stakeout is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Stakeout Madeleine Stowe, Richard Dreyfuss, Forest Whitaker Stakeout is a 1987 crime-comedy film directed by John Badham and starring Richard Dreyfuss, Emilio Estevez, Madeleine Stowe, Aidan Quinn, and Forest Whitaker. The screenplay was written by Jim ...more

20 Classic Nude Scenes in 80s Teen Movie History

13
24 10
K-9 is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
K-9 Jim Belushi, Ed O'Neill, William Sadler K-9 is a 1989 American action-comedy film starring James Belushi and Mel Harris. It was directed by Rod Daniel, written by Steven Siegel and Scott Myers, produced by Lawrence Gordon and Charles ...more

14
26 12
Sudden Impact is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Sudden Impact Clint Eastwood, Mara Corday, Sondra Locke Sudden Impact is a 1983 American action film and the fourth film in the Dirty Harry series, directed by Clint Eastwood, and starring Eastwood and Sondra Locke. The film is notable for the ...more

15
26 13
Red Heat is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Red Heat Arnold Schwarzenegger, Laurence Fishburne, Gina Gershon Red Heat is a 1988 American buddy cop action film directed by Walter Hill. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, as Moscow narc Ivan Danko, and James Belushi, as Chicago detective Art Ridzik. ...more

16
25 14
Running Scared is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Running Scared Billy Crystal, Jimmy Smits, Gregory Hines Running Scared is a 1986 action/comedy film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, directed by Peter Hyams, written by Gary Devore and Jimmy Huston, and starring Gregory Hines, Billy Crystal, and ...more

17
27 16
To Live and Die in L.A. is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
To Live and Die in L.A. Willem Dafoe, John Turturro, Jane Leeves To Live and Die in L.A. is a 1985 American action thriller film directed by William Friedkin and based on the novel by former U.S. Secret Service agent Gerald Petievich, who co-wrote the ...more

The Scariest Animal Movies Ever Made

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18 9
Cobra is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
hixoman added Cobra Sylvester Stallone, Ron Jeremy, Brigitte Nielsen Cobra is a 1986 American action film directed by George P. Cosmatos, and written by Sylvester Stallone, who also starred in the title role. The film co-stars Reni Santoni, Brigitte Nielsen and ...more

19
23 14
Police Academy 3: Back in Trai... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Police Academy 3: Back in Training Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith, Bobcat Goldthwait Police Academy 3: Back in Training is a 1986 comedy film directed by Jerry Paris. It is the third film and the second of the six sequels of the Police Academy film series. Despite receiving ...more

20
19 11
Police Academy 2: Their First ... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment Steve Guttenberg, Jason Hervey, Bubba Smith Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment is a 1985 comedy film directed by Jerry Paris. It is the first of six sequels in the Police Academy series. Many actors return from the first film to ...more

21
19 12
Dragnet is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Dragnet Tom Hanks, Dan Aykroyd, Christopher Plummer Dragnet is a 1987 American buddy cop comedy film written and directed by Tom Mankiewicz in his directorial debut, and starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks. The film is based on the television ...more

22
13 10
Tightrope is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Tightrope Clint Eastwood, Alison Eastwood, Geneviève Bujold Tightrope is a 1984 American suspense thriller produced by and starring Clint Eastwood and written and directed by Richard Tuggle.

The Best 14A Drama Movies

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13 13
Alien Nation is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Alien Nation James Caan, Terence Stamp, Mandy Patinkin Alien Nation is a 1988 American science fiction action film directed by Graham Baker. The ensemble cast features James Caan, Mandy Patinkin and Terence Stamp. The film depicts the assimilation ...more

24
13 15
Action Jackson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Action Jackson Sharon Stone, Vanity, Craig T. Nelson Action Jackson is a 1988 American action film directed by Craig R. Baxley in his feature film directorial debut, and starring Carl Weathers, Vanity, Craig T. Nelson and Sharon Stone. The film ...more

25
12 14
Code of Silence is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Code of Silence Chuck Norris, John Mahoney, Dennis Farina Code of Silence is a 1985 American action film directed by Andrew Davis, and starring Chuck Norris and Henry Silva. The film was released in the United States on May 3, 1985. It was typical for ...more

26
14 17
Police Story is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Police Story Jackie Chan, Michelle Yeoh, Maggie Cheung Police Story is a 1985 Hong Kong action film written and directed by Jackie Chan, who also starred in the lead role. It is the first of the Police Story series featuring Chan as a Hong Kong ...more

27
13 16
Blue Thunder is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Blue Thunder Malcolm McDowell, Roy Scheider, Warren Oates Blue Thunder is a 1983 action thriller film that features a high-tech helicopter of the same name. The movie was directed by John Badham and stars Roy Scheider. A spin-off television series also ...more

Mythical Creatures That Were Found in Real Life

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7 10
The Big Easy is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
The Big Easy John Goodman, Dennis Quaid, Ellen Barkin The Big Easy is a 1987 American crime drama directed by Jim McBride and written by Daniel Petrie Jr. The film stars Dennis Quaid, Ellen Barkin, John Goodman, and Ned Beatty. The film was both ...more

29
11 16
Police Story 2 is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Police Story 2 Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Bill Tung Police Story 2 is a 1988 Hong Kong action crime comedy film written, directed by and starring Jackie Chan as Chan Ka-kui. It is a sequel to the hit 1985 film, Police Story, continuing the ...more

30
11 16
Prince of the City is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Prince of the City Jerry Orbach, Bob Balaban, Lance Henriksen Prince of the City is an American crime drama film about an NYPD officer who chooses to expose police corruption for idealistic reasons. The character of Daniel Ciello was based on real-life ...more

31
10 15
Maniac Cop is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Maniac Cop Bruce Campbell, Richard Roundtree, William Smith Maniac Cop is a 1988 action/slasher film directed by William Lustig, and written by Larry Cohen.

32
8 13
The Presidio is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
The Presidio Meg Ryan, Sean Connery, Mark Harmon The Presidio is a 1988 American mystery film, directed by Peter Hyams, starring Sean Connery and Mark Harmon. Hyams also photographed. The score was composed by Bruce Broughton.

33
8 14
Fort Apache, The Bronx is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Fort Apache, The Bronx Paul Newman, Pam Grier, Ed Asner Fort Apache, The Bronx is a 1981 crime drama film made by Producers Circle and Time-Life Films, and distributed by 20th Century Fox. Filmed on locations in the Bronx, New York City, New York, ...more

34
4 15
Gorky Park is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Gorky Park William Hurt, Lee Marvin, Brian Dennehy Gorky Park is a 1983 film based on the novel Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith. It was directed by Michael Apted from a screenplay by Dennis Potter. The main stars of the film are William Hurt as ...more

35
3 14
The Mighty Quinn is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
The Mighty Quinn Denzel Washington, Mimi Rogers, M. Emmet Walsh The Mighty Quinn is a 1989 thriller film starring Denzel Washington, Robert Townsend, James Fox, Mimi Rogers, M. Emmet Walsh, and Sheryl Lee Ralph. The screenplay by Hampton Fancher is based on ...more

36
2 13
True Confessions is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
True Confessions Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall, Burgess Meredith True Confessions is a 1981 crime film directed by Ulu Grosbard, loosely based on the Black Dahlia murder case of 1947. The film stars Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall as the brothers Spellacy, ...more

37
2 14
Vice Squad is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
Vice Squad Pepe Serna, Wings Hauser, Beverly Todd Vice Squad is a 1982 action/crime drama film, starring Wings Hauser, Season Hubley, and Gary Swanson, directed by Gary Sherman. The original music score was composed by Joe Renzetti and Keith ...more

38
2 15
The Black Marble is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best '80s Cop Movies
The Black Marble James Woods, Christopher Lloyd, Judy Landers The Black Marble is a 1980 mystery/comedy film directed by Harold Becker, based on a novel by Joseph Wambaugh. It stars Robert Foxworth, Paula Prentiss and Harry Dean Stanton.