‘True Detective’ Season 2 Pairings Inspired by Pop Culture Detectives


True Detective has only been around for one season, but tonight’s impending finale is already inspiring Breaking Bad-levels of separation anxiety. Fear not, we’re here to support you during these dark times. We’ve recapped the episodes for you, given you a thorough primer for a re-watch, told you about the photos that helped inspire the look of the series, and showed you where to buy some weird True Detective merch. Creator Nic Pizzolatto has hinted that the second season of the show will feature a new cast, and star Matthew McConaughey has confirmed he will not return for another go-round. With that in mind, and the wildly popular #TrueDetectiveSeason2 hashtag, we were inspired to come up with a few picks for the second season team. Since it also happens to be crime novelist Mickey Spillane’s birthday, the author who created iconic private investigator Mike Hammer, we chose our picks from a pool of pop culture detective types. Feel free to cast your votes for the best season two team, below.

Kojak and Kolchak

It seems so obvious, we should all be embarrassed we didn’t think of it sooner. The gruff NYPD badass with the cue ball head, Kojak (played by Telly Savalas) and the investigative reporter who was more competent than the local law, Kolchak (played by Darren McGavin) of Night Stalker fame, are the perfect match. Between the men there are plenty of Rust-style quirks. Kojak loves his lollipops and spews one-liners (“Who loves ya baby?”), while Kolchak carries wooden stakes, a cross, and drives a not-so-inconspicuous yellow Mustang convertible. Kojak is willing to bend the rules, same as Rust (and Marty, who is easily persuaded). Kolchak knows his way around a supernatural case. We’ll have to resurrect the actors from the grave to make it happen, but we’re committed to the cause.

Agent 86 and Agent 99

True Detective is an elaborate metafiction, so why not carry the torch with a duo from the television series that satirized the secret agent genre (James Bond and The Pink Panther in particular) and spoofed politics and pop culture? The Mel Brooks and Buck Henry-created Get Smart starred Don Adams as the bumbling Maxwell Smart, otherwise known as Agent 86. His more competent partner, Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon), was the Rust to his Marty. The clever series found the hilarious team battling the international organization of evil, Kaos. Agent 86 doesn’t have the philosophical panache of Rust, but he does have a humanoid robot, a poorly trained dog, and the catchphrase “Would you believe… ?”

Benson and Stabler

The unresolved sexual tension, the tenacity, the brains, the sex crimes… “DUN DUN.” And then we would need an episode where we can’t figure out if Vincent D’Onofrio’s Bobby Goren (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) is trying to squeeze Stabler out of his partnership with Olivia or if he’s really the Yellow King. Probably both.

Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown

Kid detectives, amateur investigators, literary super sleuths — these two have an impressive skill set between them. Brown can spot a hole in someone’s story like a seasoned pro (Rust would be proud), while Drew has the real-world experience her pint-sized partner is still catching up to. The girl detective is also fluent in French, which might come in handy when navigating the Creole corners of Louisiana.

Data and Geordi La Forge

Brent Spiner’s android officer Data and LeVar Burton’s blind Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge have assumed the roles of iconic detectives Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson before. Star Trek: The Next Generation season two episode “Elementary, Dear Data” primed the hyper intelligent BFFs for mystery and mayhem. Look out, Carcosa.

Buffy and Giles

Joss Whedon’s vampire slayer Buffy Summers isn’t afraid to use her brawn to catch the bad guys. She’s more of a risk taker than nerdy librarian Rupert Giles, but his encyclopedic knowledge makes up for it. They also share what every good partnership needs: trust. The supernatural creeps of Sunnydale, California were good training for these two. At least we know the writing would be whip-smart if Whedon took the reins for season two.

FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper and Audrey Horne

Audrey Horne, the troublemaking daughter of Twin Peaks business magnate Benjamin Horne, has already proven she’s doggedly determined when it comes to solving the crime. She infiltrated Canadian bordello One-Eyed Jacks and exposed some disturbing secrets. Her experience would have come in handy when Rust and Marty investigated the cringeworthy trailer park brothel. The eternally caffeinated Dale Cooper already has an FBI badge, and acts as the voice of reason when Audrey gets too hot and bothered.

Mulder and Scully

Like you weren’t thinking it. FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) would fit right into Bayou territory. The X-Files boasted a number of supernatural and monster-of-the-week episodes. The Yellow King is no match for these two. Plus, no one does moody, quirky, and brooding better.

Daria and Jane

We can totally imagine the terminally cynical Daria Morgendorffer reciting Rustian lines of doom and gloom to bestie Jane Lane (what a great detective name, too). Jane is only slightly more well-adjusted (and therefore Marty-esque), but the two of them are misanthropic misfits that don’t quite fit in. That’s ok. They do things their way. Sound familiar? The artistic Jane also carries a sketchbook, which would be a nice little homage to McConaughey’s character.

Any badass Pam Grier character and Shaft

A blaxploitation version of True Detective? We can dig it (sorry). Who’s the cat that won’t cop out when there’s danger all about? Shaft. Who is the man that would risk his neck for his (sister) brother (wo)man? Shaft. He’s a complicated man, but no one understands him but his woman. In this case, the woman is the amazing Pam Grier who keeps it cool when slaying the villains. Character Foxy Brown is a great name for a sexy sleuth, but we’re somewhat partial to Coffy from the 1973 Jack Hill movie. The avenging angel takes out pimps and pushers, which means those Louisiana meth heads are in trouble. Coffy’s preferred weapons are a sawed off shotgun and razorblades — that she hides in her afro. End of story.