One thing there is surely no shortage of on TV shows is sheriffs. The abundance of sheriffs through the history of television has been one that provides a versatility not often found in real life. Whereas most real life sheriffs are indistinguishable from one another, the leaders of law enforcement on TV shows vary from calm and cautious to as crazed as any real life analogue.
Sheriff Andy Taylor: The Andy Griffith Show
Try to find a sheriff who refuses to carry a gun today. If there were such a thing as Sheriff Andy Taylor in the real world of America today, you can bet the NRA and their puppets in the Republican Party would start immediately drafting legislation requiring him to wear that gun even while sleeping. Can you imagine life in Mayberry if there had been NRA-sponsored laws requiring his gun to be full of bullets instead of allowing him to keep just one in his pocket?
Sheriff Harry Truman: Twin Peaks
Sheriff Harry Truman is probably the type of local law enforcement that the FBI loves to deal with. When Agent Dale Cooper arrives in Twin Peaks to take over the investigation into the murder of Laura Palmer, Truman hands over the reins willingly. It is easy enough to imagine that most real life sheriffs think they have it all figured out and don’t need intrusion from the Feds. My own local experience suggests that this may not necessarily be entirely true.
Sheriff Frank Morgan: Sheriff of Cochise
“Sheriff of Cochise” certainly sounds like an old-fashioned western and its appearance on television in the late 1950s would only cement that expectation. In fact, Sheriff Frank Morgan on this show was dealing with contemporary criminals in western setting of Arizona. If this TV sheriff were around today, he would probably be running into the meth users hooked on Walter White’s best stuff. Interestingly, Frank Morgan would quite being the sheriff of Cochise midway through the show as he took over the role of US Marshall and the name of the show changed to “US Marshal.”
Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane: The Dukes of Hazzard
Now here we have a sheriff more reflective of real life. At least in my experience. Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane acts like he’s competent and keeps getting re-elected despite constantly proving his incompetence. Sound familiar to you?
Sheriff Mort Metzger and Sheriff Amos Tupper: Murder, She Wrote
Which of the Cabot Cove sheriffs do you prefer? A tough decision for dedicated fans of “Murder, She Wrote.” While the sheriff in a town in which every murder seems to be solved by a little old lady writing crimes would have been easy to target as being as incompetent as Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane, it is to the credit of the producers and writers of “Murder, She Wrote” that they allowed both their sheriffs to have a little dignity. But be hard when everybody knows you are not to be trusted with solving the darkest crimes in your town. Pray that you have a Jessica Fletcher in your midst.
Sheriff Jimmy Brock: Picket Fences
Now the sheriff of Rome, Wisconsin in “Picket Fences” is the type of sheriff you wish you had if you prefer one that wears a gun. Jimmy Brock could be tough and even violate constitutional rights up there with the typical real life sheriff, but those incidents were few and far between. Generally speaking, Sheriff Brock kept the weird criminals who were attracted to Rome like magnet in check with an atypical mixture of toughness and common sense. Common sense being one of the characteristics in woefully short supply among Jimmy Brock’s real life counterparts.