Arthur Fancy

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Arthur Fancy
NYPD Blue character
James McDaniel as Lt. Arthur Fancy
First appearance"Pilot"
Last appearance"Flight of Fancy"
Portrayed byJames McDaniel
OccupationNYPD Detective
FamilyReggie (brother)
Children3 + 1 foster son

Capt. Arthur Fancy is a fictional character and protagonist in the television series NYPD Blue. He was played by James McDaniel from season one through eight.


Fancy was able to rise through the ranks at a very rapid speed according to coworkers either because of or in spite of being an African American on the NYPD. Fancy was one of the newer African American commanders on a force previously controlled by Irish American police officers. According to bigoted officer Jack Hanlon during a conversation with John Kelly, the force was up until the 1960s a majority Irish American department with some Italian American and Jewish American but only a few African American police officers).[1]


Fancy's wife is Lillian (played by Tamara Tunie); they have two daughters when the show begins and a son, born during the run of the show. He loves his wife dearly, which causes him to be overprotective of her when learning of her last pregnancy (his son, Art Jr.), because of her diabetes, and it took some time for him to apologize to her.

He has a younger brother, a hotheaded uniformed officer named Reggie (played by Michael Jai White) who is distrustful of whites. Reggie's combative behavior drew the ire of his sergeant, a bigoted officer named McNamara who came through the academy with Arthur. McNamara claimed that Reggie was in the wrong line of work with his attitudes towards white bosses. McNamara would at one point help a black gypsy cab driver file a harassment claim against Reggie in the hopes of having Reggie's badge.

McNamara blamed the harassment claim on the NYPD's programs that were developed to assist minority citizens, claiming that it was department procedure to take any harassment complaint from a minority citizen seriously, even if it was a minority officer such as Reggie who was being accused of the harassment. Arthur, aware of both McNamara's racism and of his helping the cabbie to write the complaint (Arthur noted the "textbook language" on the complaint), had the 15th's detectives investigate the cabbie to squash the harassment claim.

After resolving the cabbie situation, Arthur, recognizing that Reggie's troubles with McNamara would not go away, told Reggie to immediately get a transfer away from McNamara — but not before pointing out that none of the detectives who reached out (Medavoy, Martinez, and Simone) to squash the complaint were African-American, thus finally teaching Reggie a serious lesson in trust.

It is revealed in season 6 that Fancy's father was an alcoholic who stole his mother's hard-earned money and died a broken man in the streets. Fancy takes in a foster child named Maceo in season 1, and was devastated when Maceo's mom, a reformed drug abuser, returned to claim custody of her son. The story took a sad turn in season 4 when Maceo was arrested for running drugs for his off-the-wagon mom, and Fancy had to convince him to cooperate with the NYPD in a sting against her dealer cohorts. Later, the mom blamed Maceo and said prison might do him some good — as Maceo watched from an observation window. Fancy put together a plea deal with the D.A.'s office, where Maceo would spend a few years in a work farm instead of many years in jail and counselled his former foster son about how he could still make something of his life.

Relationship With 15th Precinct Commanders[edit]

When a Borough Commander named Haverill (played by James Handy) planned to have Fancy removed from the 15th for fabricated reasons, Andy Sipowicz blackmailed the Commander over an unsolved mob murder to leave Fancy alone.

Haverill then started an IAB witch hunt on Detective John Kelly, one of Fancy's best detectives. Haverill got a full investigation going and then provoked Kelly into committing an act of insubordination as a means of transferring him out of the squad permanently. Kelly decided to surrender his badge instead of accepting a humiliating demotion to a Dispatcher position, much to the regret of Fancy.

Haverill later tried another scheme to wreck Fancy's career through an informant who helped Fancy earn his Detective's Gold Shield. Fancy uncovered the plan, and got the informant to record Haverill calling Fancy a "nigger". Haverill also tried to get Fancy's informant to set up Fancy and Sipowicz on a bogus bust as a means of taking their badges. After preventing the robbery of an armored car, Fancy played the recording for Haverill and gave him two choices - early retirement or a civil trial for racial discrimination. Haverill angrily took the retirement option.

Haverill's replacement Captain Bass, a veteran of patrol would often disagree with Fancy but the two got along much better for the most part than Haverill and Fancy.

Relationship With Detective Sipowicz[edit]

Fancy was one of the characters who most influenced Andy Sipowicz, changing his once openly racist views. Most of Sipowicz's hostility toward Fancy was caused by Sipowicz's troubled past with African Americans stemming from his childhood and early days on the force infiltrating the Black Panther Party. Fancy at the same time had dealt with bigoted white police officers since his days at the police academy and was not easily intimidated by Sipowicz's racist attitudes.

Fancy and Sipowicz clashed many times throughout the early years, most notably over a racially charged police shooting and Sipowicz's exchange of racist words with a black community activist, but eventually they grew to admire each other's talents. Sipowicz would even suspect that Fancy was always looking for a reason to get rid of him, or even impeding his possible promotion to First Grade Detective.

Despite his bigoted obstinence, Sipowicz respected Fancy as his boss, defending him on numerous occasions, including blackmailing Fancy's superior, Borough Commander Haverill, after Sipowicz suspected that Haverill was planning on transferring Fancy to another precinct. Fancy made it clear that he respected Sipowicz's investigative talents, refusing to transfer Sipowicz out of the 15th when given the opportunity to.

Fancy suspected that transferring Sipowicz would result in his replacement being another bigot (as a message from Fancy's white bosses) whom he did not want to chance on being able to be as good a detective as Sipowicz. In assessing his detectives for incoming squad commander Tony Rodriguez, Fancy bluntly stated that if a member of his family was killed, he would want Andy to be the lead investigator on the case.

Bayside, Queens, Incident[edit]

In Season 4, Fancy and his wife were stopped at a traffic light and treated in a rough and possibly racist manner by two uniform cops in Bayside, Queens (The officers held them at gunpoint over a broken taillight until Fancy pulled out his badge).

The following day, Fancy called the officers in, claiming that they had overreacted pulling them over and treating them as if they were suspects in an armed robbery. After questioning the officers, Fancy concluded that he and his wife were pulled over at gunpoint strictly on the basis of their race. The senior officer, Szymanski, vehemently denied pulling them over on the basis of their race and claimed they did that to every suspect as a precaution.

Angered, Fancy went to Captain Bass, requesting that the Chief of Patrol transfer Officer Szymanski out of the predominantly Caucasian precinct of Bayside, Queens. Fancy figured that Szymanski would be forced to both "earn his money" and learn to better interact with African Americans working in a predominantly African American precinct. Junior Officer McCaslin had only been on the force 10 months, was seated in the passenger's seat of the squad car, and Fancy believed he was merely backing Szymanski, his superior.

Fancy recommended that Szymanski go to a precinct located either in Harlem or Brooklyn North; Szymanski was reassigned to a precinct in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. He then came to Fancy, furious over having been reassigned to a "toilet", claiming that Fancy wrongfully abused his power - which Fancy frankly admitted to doing, pointing out, "When you pull someone over, no telling who you're dealing with".

Captain Bass then came to Fancy, telling him that putting Szymanski in Bedford-Stuyvesant was a bad idea — that putting a bigoted police officer in a problematic and predominantly African American precinct would only add to that community's problems and compromise the safety of innocent citizens there. Fancy realized what Bass was saying was true, and got Szymanski transferred under his command at the 15th precinct, where he was assigned a black partner.

Szymanski later faced false accusations of robbing a black drug dealer and assassinating a Black undercover officer while at the 15th. Fancy nevertheless came through clearing Szymanski of both problems after hearing Szymanski's side of both situations leading to a truce between the two.

Promotion to Captain[edit]

After spending nine successful years with the 1-5, he was promoted to Captain and moved on to his next assignment, but his influence on Sipowicz continued to be great, and this was one of the major character-building aspects of the detective's career. When an extremely unpopular and ignorant lieutenant named Susan Dalto was transferred in as his replacement, Fancy called in one last favor for his detectives and had the boss-to-be transferred out. She was replaced by Lt. Tony Rodriguez.