Ricardo Tubbs

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Ricardo Tubbs
Miami Vice character
First appearance"Brother's Keeper"
Last appearance"Freefall"
Portrayed byPhilip Michael Thomas (television series)
Jamie Foxx (film)
Alias"Richard Taylor"[1]
"Rico Cooper"[2]
OccupationMetro-Dade Detective Sergeant
FamilyRafael Tubbs (brother, deceased)[3]
Ricardo Tubbs Jr. (son)[4]
Affiliated withJames "Sonny" Crockett

Detective Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs is a fictional character from the Miami Vice television series. Tubbs was originally portrayed by Philip Michael Thomas in the television series from 1984 to 1990, and later by Jamie Foxx in the feature film in 2006. Tubbs is an undercover detective for the Metro-Dade Police Department's Organized Crime Bureau, having relocated to Miami from New York City in order to track down his brother's murderer. For the duration of the series, Tubbs is partnered with fellow undercover detective James "Sonny" Crockett.

Tubbs made his first appearance in the show's pilot episode, "Brother's Keeper", and later went on to appear in all but one of the show's 111 episodes. Thomas' portrayal of Tubbs was well received by fans and critics, and earned him a People's Choice Award and a Golden Globe Award nomination. Tubbs would go on to become a fashion icon, and helped to set a trend for Miami Vice-related clothing.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Television series[edit]

Before coming to Miami, Tubbs was a detective for the New York Police Department, along with his brother Rafael.[3] At various times during his stint in New York, Tubbs was partnered with detectives Valerie Gordon (Pam Grier)[5] and Clarence Batisse (Victor Love)[6] Tubbs and Gordon were romantically involved, and would sporadically resume their affair throughout the series.[5] Tubbs' relationship with Batisse, however, was much more volatile—after a suspicious shooting during a routine bust, Tubbs' testimony to Internal Affairs resulted in Batisse's dismissal. Batisse would, however, eventually be exonerated thanks to Tubbs' aid.[6]

Rafael's murder at the hands of drug lord Esteban Calderone (Miguel Piñero) led Tubbs to Miami, where he eventually teamed up with the Metro-Dade Organized Crime Bureau. Calderone was apprehended, but managed to bribe a judge to escape custody.[3] Later, when trying to track the drug lord again, Tubbs sleeps with Angelina Madeira (Phanie Napoli), Calderone's daughter. Upon confronting the drug lord, Crockett and Tubbs are caught in a shoot-out, which ends when Crockett shoots Calderone dead.[7] Several months later, Angelina surfaces again, having had a child as a result of her fling with Tubbs. However, her brother Orlando (John Leguizamo) has also located Tubbs, wanting revenge for his father's death. Tubbs' son, Ricardo Jr, is kidnapped, and Angelina killed, before Orlando escapes.[4] Orlando reappears after luring Tubbs to a remote Caribbean island, hoping to trap and kill him. Tubbs is able to evade Orlando's gang, however, and escapes after killing his pursuer in a shoot-out.[8]


In the film Ricardo Tubbs is in a relationship with Detective Trudy Joplin.


Tubbs, along with his partner Crockett, have been cited as being influenced by the characters of David Starsky and Kenneth Hutchinson from the 1970s series Starsky and Hutch, several episodes of which were written by Miami Vice producers Michael Mann and Anthony Yerkovich; and the duo of Bobby Hill and Andy Renko from Hill Street Blues. The film 48 Hrs. has also been seen as an influence on the characters.[9] Tubbs represents a "neo-populist sneering at the worlds of finance and politics", his New York back-story helping to convey "a sociological explanation of crime".[10]

Mann originally conceived the character of Ricardo Tubbs as "nobody's Tonto", claiming that this is what drove the character for most of the first season. However, he felt that "for reasons that had to do with the two actors and one thing or the other, that eroded a little bit" over the course of the series.[11] Jodie Tillen, the show's costume designer, described the character as being "formal" and "self-conscious" of his image, contrasting with the "beach bum" look of the character of Crockett. Thomas has also described Tubbs as being "sharp as a tack".[12]


Beyond his role as the "cynical, worldly",[10] even "skeptical"[13] outsider, Tubbs has been seen as exemplifying the lure of the very things his job pits him against. Writing about the character's development over the first few seasons, James Lyons describes Tubbs as being "rather enchanted"[9] by the thrills of his undercover work, noting his off-duty relationships with suspects and other individuals related to his cases in episodes such as "Evan",[2] "The Great McCarthy"[1] and the two-part "Calderone's Return".[7] Lyons feels that this arc ends in the latter half of the second season, sensing that Tubbs' "weariness" and sense of loss begin to set in after witnessing the suicide of a prostitute he had tried to rescue in the episode "Little Miss Dangerous",[14] and both the apparent death of his infant son and the actual death of the child's mother in the episode "Sons and Lovers".[4] David Buxton reinforces this view, noting that, in the series, "the line between normality and vice, between 'good' and 'bad'... is so blurred as to be non-existent at times";[10] whilst Arthur Kean Spears' Race and Ideology: Language, Symbolism, and Popular Culture claims that "what Tubbs seems to lack in actual Miami vice experience, his life experience makes up for".[15]


The New York Times has called the character "dissolute but human, gritty but glamorous", noting that two decades after the show's end, "Tubbs still look[s] very cool".[16] Time magazine called Thomas' casting "inspired", noting that his easy-going nature provided a "sharp contrast" to Johnson's Crockett.[17] The National Review echoed this sentiment, noting that "Tubbs, for example, seemed so much happier than the perennially haunted Crockett ... but there was never any question about the bond they shared".[18] Turner Classic Movies have noted Thomas' "unique" and "engaging" portrayal of the role, stating that "his popularity crossed gender and racial lines", making "an indelible mark, " on viewers.[19] New York Magazine, however, simply noted the character as "an acceptable Sidney Poitier facsimile".[20] Tubbs, along with Crockett, was named as one of Entertainment Weekly's "25 Terrific TV Detectives" in 2009.[21]

When the first season of Miami Vice became a "breakthrough hit",[17] the "smooth and swinging"[22] character of Tubbs became a style icon—Bloomingdale's reported "noticeable" rises in the sales of blazers and jackets; whilst Kenneth Cole brought out "Crockett" and "Tubbs" shoes, and Macy's opened a "Miami Vice" young men's section[17] The National Review's Andrew Stuttford has described the impact of the character's style as an "escape from the monotone restraints of conventional detective drama", noting that its influence "transformed notions of what television could do".[18] The character of Tubbs has also been referenced and parodied in popular culture. The Sesame Street "Miami Mice" segment featured the character Tito, who was modelled on Tubbs.[23] The character is also referenced in episodes of The Sopranos,[24] Family Guy,[25] K-Ville,[26] The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,[27] as well as the 2007 film Hot Fuzz.[28]

Thomas' portrayal of Tubbs earned the actor several award nominations. In 1986, he and Johnson shared a People's Choice Award for their work on the show,[29] whilst in that same year he was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor In A Television Series - Drama, although he did not win.[30]


  1. ^ a b Director: Georg Stanford Brown; Writers: Phillip Reed, Joel Surnow (16 November 1984). "The Great McCarthy". Miami Vice. Season 1. Episode 8. NBC.
  2. ^ a b Director: Rob Cohen; Writer: Paul Diamond (3 May 1985). "Evan". Miami Vice. Season 1. Episode 21. NBC.
  3. ^ a b c Director: Thomas Carter; Writer: Anthony Yerkovich (16 September 1984). "Brother's Keeper". Miami Vice. Season 1. Episode 1. NBC.
  4. ^ a b c Director: Dennis Cooper; Writer: John Nicolella (9 May 1986). "Sons and Lovers". Miami Vice. Season 2. Episode 22. NBC.
  5. ^ a b Director: David Anspaugh; Writer: Daniel Pyne (8 February 1985). "Rites of Passage". Miami Vice. Season 1. Episode 16. NBC.
  6. ^ a b Director: Leon Ichaso; Writers: Ken Edwards, Larry Rosenthal, Dick Wolf, Michael Duggan (14 November 1986). "Better Living Through Chemistry". Miami Vice. Season 3. Episode 8. NBC.
  7. ^ a b Director: Paul Michael Glaser; Writers: Joel Surnow & Alfonse Ruggiero, Jr (26 October 1984). "Calderone's Return (Part II)". Miami Vice. Season 1. Episode 5. NBC.
  8. ^ Director & writer: David Jackson (20 February 1987). "The Afternoon Plane". Miami Vice. Season 3. Episode 17. NBC.
  9. ^ a b Lyons, James (2010). Miami Vice. John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 1-4051-7811-6.
  10. ^ a b c Buxton, David (1990). From The Avengers to Miami Vice: Form and Ideology in Television Series. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0-7190-2994-5.
  11. ^ Anthony Breznican (26 July 2006). "'Miami Vice' makes series of changes - USATODAY.com". USA Today. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  12. ^ Jodie Tillen (2005). The Style of Vice (DVD). Universal Studios.
  13. ^ Sanders, Stephen (2010). Miami Vice: TV Milestones. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-3419-9.
  14. ^ Director: Leon Ichaso; Writer: Frank Military (31 January 1986). "Little Miss Dangerous". Miami Vice. Season 2. Episode 15.
  15. ^ Spears, Arthur Kean (1999). Race and Ideology: Language, Symbolism, and Popular Culture. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-2454-1.
  16. ^ Alessandra Stanley (6 January 2006). "Fighting Crime, Setting Trends - New York Times". New York Times. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  17. ^ a b c "Video: Cool Cops, Hot Show". Time. 16 September 1985. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  18. ^ a b Andrew Stuttaford (16 August 2006). "Something in the Air - Andrew Stuttaford - National Review Online". National Review. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  19. ^ "Overview for Philip Michael Thomas". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  20. ^ Leonard, John (8 October 1984). "Evil Under the Sun". New York Magazine.
  21. ^ Darren Franich (6 December 2009). "Miami Vice, Don Johnson, ... | 25 Terrific TV Detectives | Photo 4 of 26 | EW.com". Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  22. ^ John J. O'Connor (28 July 1985). "Critics' Choice - Broadcast TV - Review - NYTimes.com". New York Times. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  23. ^ Alex Leo (8 June 2009). "The Top Ten Sesame Street TV Show Parodies of All Time". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  24. ^ Director: Alan Taylor; Writer: Matthew Weiner (14 March 2004). "Rat Pack". The Sopranos. Season 5. Episode 2. HBO.
  25. ^ Director: Gavin Dell; Writer: Gary Janetti (18 July 2001). "Brian Does Hollywood". Family Guy. Season 3. Episode 2. FOX.
  26. ^ Director: Bryan Spicer; Writers: Jonathan Lisco, Craig Silverstein (24 September 2007). "Cobb's Web". K-Ville. Season 1. Episode 2. FOX.
  27. ^ Director: Ellen Falcon; Writer: Bennie R. Richburg Jr (11 November 1991). "Hi-Ho Silver". The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Season 2. Episode 10. NBC.
  28. ^ Director: Edgar Wright; Writers: Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg (14 February 2007). "Hot Fuzz". StudioCanal, Universal Pictures. Missing or empty |series= (help)
  29. ^ "1986 - 12th Annual People's Choice Awards - PeoplesChoice.com". Procter & Gamble. Retrieved 18 April 2011.
  30. ^ "HFPA - Awards Search". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved 18 April 2011.