It Take Two, Baby: Top Ten Crime Fighting Duos
I love teamwork. Many of my favorite books and movies include crime-fighting couples. Duos have built-in conflict and chemistry. They give truth to the saying the whole is more than the sum of its parts. In this article, I’ve mixed books, television, and movies to bring you my personal favorites. Warning: this list is not comprehensive. There are billions and billions of magnificent duos to choose from. Okay, maybe hundreds—but readers are encouraged to come up with their own personal top ten lists. Mine is just to get you started.
Number Ten: Batman and Robin- enough said
Hang on…what was that, Boy Wonder?
Holy mothballs! Don’t forget Alfred the butler. He coordinates all our capers behind the scenes. And sure, everyone may be familiar with Batman and me, but do they know Batman has no superpowers and relies on science, his intellect, and hard-earned physical prowess to solve crimes? Or that he was created in 1939 for DC Comics by Bill Finger and Bob Kane? Enough said? I think not.
My head is hanging. Sorry, Robin, you got me there!
Number Nine: Bones and Booth
These characters were inspired by real-life forensic anthropologist Kathy Reich’s brilliant novels. Temperance Brennan (a.k.a. Bones) is, coincidentally, also a forensic anthropologist. Bones, a cool-headed, just-the-facts investigator who could ruin any party with her unfiltered commentary, is the perfect counterpart to FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth: a man who makes good use of his intuition and considerable charm to catch killers and crooks. The duo features blazing chemistry and enough hilarious banter to carry a popular television series for more than a decade.
Number Eight: Tess Gerritsen’s Detective Jane Rizzoli and Dr. Maura Isles
Jane Rizzoli was introduced in The Surgeon, one of my favorite thrillers of all time. Maura Isles joined her in the next book. Since then, these two brilliant, capable women have been kicking ass and taking names in a tough, male-dominated field. Together they form an unstoppable team that continues to entertain both readers and fans of the television series alike.
Number Seven: Ride Along’s Ben Barber (Kevin Hart) and James Payton (Ice Cube)
These Atlanta cops prove that mixing comedy and crime really does pay. The men play off each other to perfection with Payton acting as the straight man to Barber’s clown. I dare you to resist this modern-day duo.
Number Six: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic characters undoubtedly deserve a higher rank. I put them in the middle only because they are so well known, it would be no surprise to list them at number one. And there’s no fun in that. The brilliant, eccentric Holmes relies heavily on his friend and companion, Dr. Watson—a skilled, intelligent surgeon who anchors Holmes to the outside world. The reader understands that although Holmes appears to be an island, he would not be his true self without the faithful Dr. Watson.
Number Five: Scully and Mulder of the X-Files
The FBI special agents exhibit complementary styles. Dana Scully applies hard science to the eager-to-believe Fox Mulder’s paranormal theories. Their loyalty to one another is even greater than it is to the FBI, and their love story is a testament to the patience of their fans. Despite the intense chemistry between them, they waited seven seasons for their first kiss. Delayed gratification at its finest.
Number Four: Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
It seems crime-fighting duos are more common in fiction than in the real world, but no list would be complete without these investigative reporters for the Washington Post who exposed criminal espionage and the subversion of the democratic process that has come to be known by a single word: Watergate. Woodward and Bernstein’s fearless reporting led to the arrest and conviction of around forty of Nixon’s associates and later, the resignation of Nixon himself on August 8, 1974.
Number Three: Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar and Windsor “Win” Lockwood
Myron is a congenial, magnanimous sports agent-turned-investigator and Win, his best friend since college, is the privileged, narcissistic owner of a securities firm. Both men are expert in the martial arts, but beyond that, have little in common. Still, this fascinating yin-yang really works. Win, who follows his own dubious and impenetrable moral code, provides a shadow side of Myron’s good-guy personality. If you’re a bad dude who hurts other people, crossing this pair will be the biggest mistake of your life.
Number Two: Karin Slaughter’s Will Trent and Sarah Linton
Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Will Trent is as complex as a character can get. Deeply damaged by his childhood experiences in an orphanage and handicapped by a learning disability, Will tugs at our heartstrings. He also wins our absolute trust through his courage and ferocious loyalty. As a reader, I’m rooting for the level-headed Dr. Sarah Linton to not only help him close his cases, but heal his wounded heart… as long as she doesn’t change him too much in the process.
Number One: Turner and Hooch
In this 1989 film, Tom Hanks plays small-town cop Scott Turner. He’s three days from leaving the force when a local man, who is the owner of a viciously protective, beer-guzzling dog, is murdered. With the wildly unmanageable mutt Hooch as his only “witness,” Turner takes him in. This pair has chemistry in spades. Watching Hooch help Hanks solve the crime is heart-warming. But the team earns my number one spot because of several scenes where a young, underwear-clad Hanks wrestles Hooch into semicompliance with a set of house rules. What can top that?