Entertainment The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s  

Ranker Film
1.9k votes 321 voters 19.8k 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
98 7
Lethal Weapon is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
79 10
Lethal Weapon 2 is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
93 16
Beverly Hills Cop is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
60 14
The Untouchables is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
Robert De Niro, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner
The Untouchables is a 1987 American 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 Eliot ...more
5
65 18
Beverly Hills Cop II is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
6
62 17
48 Hrs. is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
58 22
Police Academy is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
45 14
The Dead Pool is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
Clint Eastwood, Jim Carrey, Axl Rose
This film 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 final ...more
9
50 21
Turner & Hooch is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
10
46 23
Colors is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
Sean Penn, Robert Duvall, Don Cheadle
Colors is a 1988 American police procedural action film starring Sean Penn and Robert Duvall, and directed by Dennis Hopper. The film takes place in the gang ridden neighborhoods of South ...more
11
36 16
Sudden Impact is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
12
34 15
Cobra is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
13
35 17
Stakeout is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
Madeleine Stowe, Richard Dreyfuss, Forest Whitaker
Stakeout is a 1987 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 Kouf, ...more
14
40 22
To Live and Die in L.A. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
Willem Dafoe, John Turturro, Jane Leeves
This film 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 screenplay with ...more
15
40 22
The Naked Gun: From the Files ... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
16
36 19
Red Heat is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
17
32 18
Running Scared is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
18
31 18
K-9 is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
19
23 14
Tightrope is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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.
20
26 19
Police Academy 2: Their First ... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
26 19
Dragnet is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
28 22
Police Academy 3: Back in Trai... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
23
21 20
Action Jackson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
24
19 19
Code of Silence is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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
25
19 21
Alien Nation is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Cop Movies of the 1980s
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