It’s the stock formula for crime procedurals, and even crime not-quite-procedurals: take a pair of people, make them “partners” and then set them loose on the criminals / monsters / conspirators / whatever that is roaming at large. Looking at the majority of these crime-fighting duos, however, establishes some rather. . .repetitive traits. So here they are. The six steps to create the crime-fighting pair.
1. Make sure that there are ripe grounds for the leads to disagree. Consider having them have drastically different investigatory techniques, different religions, different points of view. Even better? If one is a doctor and one is a police officer.
Perfect Example: Mulder and Scully from “The X-Files.”
Sample dialogue — Mulder: There’s blood all over the ground, but no body. I deduct that there must be alien-infested cannibals wandering the woods! Scully: There’s no such thing as aliens. Or cannibals. Let’s just run a DNA test.
Mulder and Scully may be the perfect example, but it runs through many crime-fighting duos: Booth is liable to run dashing around for clues while Brennan focuses on the science — in the world of “Supernatural” Dean enjoys shooting first and asking questions later, while Sam enjoys the “wide world of research.”
2. One partner must be the brash idiot who chases off after suspects, even knowing that they are dangerous. The other usually has the good sense not to do so.
Perfect Example: Booth and Brennan.
True, in the first season she has a tendency to wander off on her own, but by and large Brennan examines the bones and Booth goes dashing off into harms’ way. Might have something to do with him being an FBI agent and her being. . .you know. . .a scientist.
Of course, many of our other characters do this, as well. Mulder is constantly ditching Scully to chase off after some lead. . .which usually lands him in the hospital. Similarly, in the first season of Castle, he had a bad tendency of wandering off as well — Beckett usually has better sense.
3. One of the partners must suuuuuuuuuck at hand to hand fighting.
Perfect example: Sam and Dean from Supernatural.
Granted, I haven’t watched the show in a while, and at some point Sam became the Devil, superpowered, mutant x wonderman, I think, but for the past five seasons, he was eternally getting beaten up by everything — man, woman, or child.
True of all of the partners? Well, Castle isn’t particularly handy, and Mulder is eternally dropping his gun, being strangled, etc. . .actually, I’m not sure the guy ever won a fight.
4. Give one character a “quest” or obsession — leave the other one more or less alone.
Best example: Castle.
In the beginning, Beckett had the underlying search for her mother’s killer. Castle on the other hand. . .mostly just seemed to want to have a good time. And “gather facts” and “inspiration” for his novel.
Mulder had his quest for the truth — Sam and Dean trade off on the obsessions, for the most part. . .and, while both Booth and Brennan have their dark places in the past, the overlying quest each season seemed to be a mysterious murderer.
5. Keep the romance to a minimum.
Sure, there were shippers. . .there will always be shippers. But in all reality, the romance was only alluded to once every five episodes or so, until season 7. Heck, they didn’t even call each other by their first names!
This seems counter-intuitive. However, since “Moonlighting” screenwriters have known that, in order to keep a show going strong, you can never, ever have the main characters kiss. The rule carries over even today. My theory? Some people will stop watching once the will-they-or-won’t they question is answered. But for many others, they stop watching because something integral has been lost, whether it is romance, or some sense of respect. We know that characters care about one another and love one another without a kiss — there’s something tantalizing about just watching people work, and knowing that more is going on behind the scenes. But, if we know the attraction exists (see Booth and Brennan / Castle and Beckett) then it becomes difficult for understand why they haven’t gotten together. The solution? Relationships like Mulder/Scully or Sam/Dean: they love each other more than life, would die for each other, would give up their souls or lifes goals for each other — there’s a certain poetic justice in that.
6. Cast attractive Leads.
Perfect Example? I’ll let you decide.