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6 Shows like Cops: Real Live Justice in Action

When you hear ‘bad boys, bad boys, what you gonna do?’, you know you’re in for a treat. Although this theme tune is perhaps not the most memorable or exciting part of the show, it has made its way through 28 series and helped ‘Cops’ become the longest running TV show EVER to be broadcast on American television.

Crime, Camera, Action!

The true cinematic glory of ‘Cops’, however, lies in neither of these areas, but instead, in the fact that the scenes on the show are not scripted, or fake. For this reason, fans of shows like ‘Cops’ will love some of the shows I’ve got coming up for them in this article!

On ‘Cops’, real life police officers are followed by a camera crew who record and occasionally intervene in altercations and arrests. From drug dealing to domestic abuse to a refusal to comply with bail terms, fans of TV shows like ‘Jail’ and ‘Traffic Cops’ are sure to fall in love with this series. This critique explores what cops think of the show itself.


Shows Similar to ‘Cops’…

‘World’s Wildest Police Videos’ (Fox, 1998–2012)

This follow-up to 1997’s ‘World’s Scariest Police Chases’ really does what it says on the tin. Rather than having an entire camera crew following a specific set of police officers in one area, ‘World’s Wildest Police Videos’ uses in-car police cameras to bring real life chases from all over the globe to our screens.

Plus, not only do viewers get the opportunity to witness police car chases and incidents, but we’re also privy to what their helicopters pick up, too. This article explores how the show has changed over its lengthy time on air.

Similarity Match: 85%
Both shows give viewers an exclusive insight into the world of police chases, but the latter shows us ones from all over the world rather than just North America.

‘Police, Camera, Action!’ (ITV, 1994-2010)

That exclamation mark isn’t just there for show: this TV series really does pack a punch of action! ‘Police, Camera, Action!’ focuses on the disastrous attempts some people make at driving as the police round them up and take them off the road.

Each episode features a series of unrelated clips in which police officers and their camera crews chase all kinds of road criminals. From those with no license, to dangerous driving, to the simple likes of not wearing a seatbelt, the precision and dedication with which these cops deal with un-roadworthy criminals is enough to ensure you abide by the law!

Similarity Match: 80%
Unlike ‘Cops’, the men and women of ‘Police, Camera, Action!’ spend their time on camera solely chasing road criminals, rather than a whole variety of them.

‘Traffic Cops’ (BBC, 2003–Present)

This time we’re headed to the UK to explore a TV series like ‘Cops’. The ever-popular ‘Traffic Cops’ is miles more specific in terms of what it deals with than the latter. Indeed, ‘Traffic Cops’ doesn’t even just deal with car crimes, but rather, viewers can also witness the cops pursuing individuals  for traffic-related crimes such as speeding or driving without insurance.

‘Traffic Cops’ combines the cringingly hilarious with heart-string-pulling moments as the incidents they examine range from road accident collisions to drunken pedestrians causing problems.

Similarity Match: 75%
If you’re a fan of the fast-paced action of ‘Cops’, but want something more traffic-orientated, then ‘Traffic Cops’ is a must-see.

‘Road Wars’ (Sky 1, 2003-2010)

Here, we move more specifically to the Thames Valley and Devon & Cornwall in the UK. Believe me, there’s nothing more exciting than seeing thrilling chase scenes filmed in your very own home town, which, has always drawn me a little bit more towards ‘Road Wars’ than ‘Cops’.

This is a TV series in which viewers follow the antics of a specific set of police officers on their crime-busting path. ‘Road Wars’, however, even goes so far as creating on-screen profiles for their most prevalent officers on the show, so that viewers can get to know them that bit better.

As you’ve probably guessed from the name of the show, ‘Road Wars’ is based around people committing crimes on the road, and has an epic range of these. In each episode, the likes of drug use, incorrect paperwork, and dangerous driving will keep you coming back for more.

Similarity Match: 70%
‘Road Wars’ exposes the hectic side of on-duty police work just like ‘Cops’, but is much more vehicle-oriented.


If You Like ‘Cops’, You Will Like…

Now that we’ve rounded up the biggest, baddest, most real cop shows from all over the Western world, it’s time to turn our attention to other shows that are lurking in the shadows.

Our obsession with the justice system does not end with the front line of police work, but pervades all aspects of it, including preventing criminal activity in a country and monitoring jail sentences. If you love ‘Cops’, you’re bound to love shows like these action-packed ones that explore the criminal justice system and its counterparts.

‘Jail’ (MyNetworkTV, 2007–Present)

In a way, ‘Jail’s action can be seen as a follow-up to what we see on ‘Cops’. This show follows suspected criminals through the administration process at American jails as they get booked and sent to the slammer. If you’re interested in seeing what it’s really like to be incarcerated, this is your show.

Viewers get a first-hand experience on how ‘the chair’ is used for unruly prisoners, what a spit bag is, and more. If you’re looking for something truly dramatic and factual, this is definitely worth a watch!

‘Jail’ and ‘Cops’ both have the justice system at their centre, but ‘Jail’ shows what happens after an arrest is made.

‘UK Border Force’ (Sky 1, 2008-2009)

Here, we move away from chasing suspicious individuals, as we do in ‘Cops’, and move to assessing individuals and items at Heathrow Airport and the port of Dover.

Customs Officers attempt to lessen the impact of drug trafficking and criminal activity within our borders – this is the core of the show. Interviews with passengers allow us to gain a real insight into how customs officers work.

Both ‘Cops’ and ‘UK Border Force’ let us see how officers work to protect the residents of a country, but ‘Cops’ deal with incidents inside the country rather than on the border.


Guilty as Charged! The Final Word

If you want to watch something that will keep you on the edge of your seat in the centre of crime-busting action, then shows like ‘Cops’ are a brilliant go-to. From high-speed chases, all the way to unruly behaviour in ‘Jail’, the range of shows we have explored here is immense.

Even so, did I miss any great series similar to ‘Cops’? Let me know in the comments below!

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