While I've admittedly only seen a few episodes of Copper yet, on a first view it seems to be basically the Americans' Ripper Street (or Ripper Street the British Copper, however you want it). While they have differences in their specific realizations and story compositions, they seem to share quite some motifs in their general setting:

  • Period crime shows set in similar time periods with remarkable significance for their individual settings' cultures (Victorian London vs Civil War New York).
  • Set in infamously rough and run-down parts of the city (Whitechapel vs Five Points).
  • An honest cop who's lost his daughter and is about to lose his wife.
  • An outsider as pathologist (an American with a shady past vs a black man operating inofficially).
  • The repeated involvement of a brothel and its madam in the cases.
  • Even the intros share quite some similarities (though Copper's is notably "rougher").

Seeing that both are produced by branches of BBC this doesn't seem much like a coincidence. But given that they were more or less released around the same time it is hard to pinpoint who inspired whom here, if any at all, or if there even was any bidirectional fertilization.

So first of all, is there any secured evidence that both those shows influenced each other in any way or are they really just products of their zeitgeist and the current trend in period shows? If yes, then who influenced whom and to which degree? Or were they even mutually influenced by each other in some parts? Or was there even a direct intention by the BBC to produce two vastly similar period crime shows for both markets in the first place?

  • Isn't Broadchurch and Gracepoint along the same lines? Both even starring David Tennant? One for US market and one for UK? Even the same basic story. I think BBC does double time ... one for each market along the same lines you are thinking for Copper/Ripper Street. No proof from me on yours though. Jan 8 '15 at 1:26
  • @Paulster2 Though, in that case the relationship seems clear, since Wikipedia calls Gracepoint a remake of Broadchurch. But I know admittedly nothing about those.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jan 8 '15 at 2:04
  • No worries. I was just throwing it out there for additional thought. Yours is a good question. It deserves a good answer. Jan 8 '15 at 2:07
  • Looking through things, I don't see any real connection here. Ripper was introduced on BBC in the UK and followed onto BBC America broadcast about a month later. Copper was produced specifically for BBC America. Both around same time frame, it would seem. I cannot imagine there wasn't at least some collaboration between the two productions, but I'm not seeing anything which would corroborate that in the least. It appears that Copper was cancelled in 2013, but Ripper lives on Amazon Prime in the UK. Jan 30 '15 at 15:07
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    That's sort of the problem with this kind of question. The answer could be 'no' and the only proof would be 'because I searched really hard'. ;) But @Paulster2, if you did search hard and found nothing, I think it's legit to put it up.
    – Walt
    Feb 4 '15 at 15:10

According to the IMDb pages for Copper and Ripper Street, the two shows have very little overlap, if any, in terms of their producers and creative teams, so similarities due to cross-pollination, so to speak, are unlikely.

However, while Copper was by and large BBC America's pet project, and BBC (UK) had a bigger hand in Ripper Street, it is worth noting that BBC America was, in fact, somewhat involved in Ripper Street, and that the show did come out after the first season of Copper had already aired. (You can read more here and here.) So that could well point to Copper having at least a little influence over the creation of Ripper Street.

That said, as far as plot/storyline/character similarities, many of the bulletpoints on your list are fairly common tropes in film and TV, especially for period dramas. (You may find a few familiar traits, for example, on TV Tropes's "Standard Cop Backstory" page). So I have no doubt that some of the similarities in the shows' storylines and characters are just coincidences, despite the shows' uncanny parallels.


In the middle of watching Ripper Street. Yes I wondered. Both have that 19th Century feel like "Gangs of New York." Both deal with legalized drugs, tolerated brothels, exploitation of the poor by the rich, and with the Victorian view of sex. (Officially deplored but privately everybody partied.) Five Points is mentioned in Ripper as a place to immigrate to in New York. Finally both dealt with the scandals of the day. New York draft riots, Tammany Hall, match girls strike, IRA. Historical figures are interwoven too. Elephant Man, Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth.

The best comparison is police methodology and the beginning of forensics. Coppers is much more free wheeling, because even by the 1890's police methodology was becoming more professional. Still watch the desk sergeant in Ripper. He gives hints on the policing of the 1860's "Sir may we kill him?" and while the Captain interrogates a man by whipping his broken arm around the Sergeant develops a broad smile as he looks down.

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    This is a nice addition to the existing comparisons that the question already drew, but I fail to see how it attempts to answer the actual question asked. You might want to point that out a little more in order to try and answer the question.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Feb 13 '17 at 14:38

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