Reno 911! is an American comedy television series on Comedy Central that ran from 2003 to 2009. It is a mockumentary-style parody of law enforcement documentary shows, specifically COPS, with comic actors playing the police officers. Most of the material isimprovised, using a broad outline, and with minimal scripted material. It was inspired by the British fly-on-the-wall mockumentaryOperation Good Guys which ran from 1997 to 2000. The series spawned a film, Reno 911!: Miami, featuring the same cast.
On August 13, 2009, Thomas Lennon announced through Twitter that the show had ended its six-year run.
The show is a satire of the Fox Television show COPS, which follows actual police officers through their daily duties (often chasing criminals and intervening in domestic disputes). Reno 911! features members of a fictitious, inept Reno Sheriff's Department, distinct from the actual Reno Police Department and Washoe County Sheriff's Office, both of which are absent in the show. In the course of their duties patrolling both Reno and the rest of the county, the deputies sometimes address the camera directly as though being interviewed. The show deals heavily in politically incorrect and "racy" humor, including many jokes about race, sexual orientation, drug and alcohol abuse, and rape.
Only the basic plot elements of the show are scripted, with the dialogue improvised, enhancing the illusion of reality (a practice referred to as retroscripting). Unlike COPS, which the show parodies, Reno 911! Sheriff's deputies were constantly cursing, causing much of their dialogue to be "bleeped" for broadcast. The actors often perform their own stunts. A constantly changing cast of weirdos, prostitutes, homeless persons, survivalists, political figures, celebrities, etc. are portrayed by comedian friends of the primary cast or the cast themselves (whose faces were blurred in the style of COPS to keep them distinct from their officer characters).
As the show progressed into Season Four, the show's characters occasionally referred to their own program. They insist that the show's producers told them the videotaped footage was going to be used for a Fox Television documentary series titled Heroes on Patrol and that they have no control over what is shown and that the show only seems to capture moments of incompetence. The many "good" incidents are allegedly left out of the final edit.