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The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s

Updated February 17, 2021 2.4k votes 398 voters 27.4k views65 items

List RulesVote 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! 

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    Lethal Weapon

    Mel Gibson, Gary Busey
    Lethal Weapon is a 1987 American buddy cop action film directed by Richard Donner, starring...  more

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    Beverly Hills Cop

    Eddie Murphy, Damon Wayans
    Beverly Hills Cop is a 1984 American action comedy film directed by Martin Brest and starring...  more

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    Lethal Weapon 2

    Mel Gibson, Joe Pesci
    Lethal Weapon 2 is a 1989 American buddy cop action film directed by Richard Donner, and...  more

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    48 Hrs.

    Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte
    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...  more

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    The Untouchables

    Robert De Niro, Sean Connery
    The Untouchables is a 1987 American drama film directed by Brian De Palma and written by David...  more

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    Beverly Hills Cop II

    Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock
    Beverly Hills Cop II is a 1987 action comedy film starring Eddie Murphy and directed by Tony...  more

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    Police Academy

    Kim Cattrall, Steve Guttenberg
    Police Academy is a 1984 comedy film directed by Hugh Wilson, and starring Steve Guttenberg,...  more

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    The Dead Pool

    Clint Eastwood, Jim Carrey
    This film is a 1988 American action flim directed by Buddy Van Horn, written by Steve Sharon,...  more

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    To Live and Die in L.A.

    Willem Dafoe, John Turturro
    This film is a 1985 American action thriller film directed by William Friedkin and based on...  more

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    Cobra

    Sylvester Stallone, Ron Jeremy
    Cobra is a 1986 American action film directed by George P. Cosmatos, and written by Sylvester...  more

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    Colors

    Sean Penn, Robert Duvall
    Colors is a 1988 American police procedural action film starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall,...  more

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    Running Scared

    Billy Crystal, Jimmy Smits
    Running Scared is a 1986 action/comedy film released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, directed by Peter...  more

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    The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!

    O. J. Simpson, "Weird Al" Yankovic
    The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! is a 1988 American comedy film. It is the first...  more

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    Turner & Hooch

    Tom Hanks, Craig T. Nelson
    Turner & Hooch is a 1989 American comedy-thriller film starring Tom Hanks and Beasley the Dog...  more

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    #115 of 512 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked#77 of 305 The Funniest '80s Movies

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    Stakeout

    Madeleine Stowe, Richard Dreyfuss
    Stakeout is a 1987 comedy film directed by John Badham and starring Richard Dreyfuss, Emilio...  more
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    Sudden Impact

    Clint Eastwood, Mara Corday
    Sudden Impact is a 1983 American action film and the fourth film in the Dirty Harry series,...  more

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    Red Heat

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Laurence Fishburne
    Red Heat is a 1988 American buddy cop action film directed by Walter Hill. The film stars...  more

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    K-9

    Jim Belushi, Ed O'Neill
    K-9 is a 1989 American action-comedy film starring James Belushi and Mel Harris. It was...  more

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    Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment

    Steve Guttenberg, Jason Hervey
    Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment is a 1985 comedy film directed by Jerry Paris. It is...  more

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    Tightrope

    Clint Eastwood, Alison Eastwood
    Tightrope is a 1984 American suspense thriller produced by and starring Clint Eastwood and...  more

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    Police Academy 3: Back in Training

    Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith
    Police Academy 3: Back in Training is a 1986 comedy film directed by Jerry Paris. It is the...  more
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    Action Jackson

    Sharon Stone, Vanity
    Action Jackson is a 1988 American action film directed by Craig R. Baxley in his feature film...  more

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    Dragnet

    Tom Hanks, Dan Aykroyd
    Dragnet is a 1987 American buddy cop comedy film written and directed by Tom Mankiewicz in his...  more

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    Black Rain

    Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia
    Black Rain is a 1989 American action thriller film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Michael...  more
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    Blade Runner

    Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah
    Blade Runner is a 1982 American neo-noir dystopian science fiction film directed by Ridley...  more

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