Miami Vice Wiki
This article is about the character from the television series. For the movie rendition, see Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs (Film).
Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs

Picture 4 profile.png

NYPD Officer, Armed Robbery Division (formerly)
Metro-Dade Detective Sergeant, OCB, Vice Division (1984-1989)
May 26, 1949
Rafael Tubbs (brother, deceased)
One son
Played By

Detective Sergeant Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs (born May 26, 1949) was an officer with the Metro-Dade Police Department, working undercover in the Organized Crime Bureau, Vice Division. He was the partner of Detective Sergeant James "Sonny" Crockett.

Tubbs is a former officer with the City of New York Police Department's Armed Robbery Division. He originally moved to Miami in pursuit of drug dealer Esteban Calderone, who was responsible for the death of his brother Rafael Tubbs, also an NYPD police officer. Tubbs subsequently transferred to the Metro-Dade Police Department. Despite his relocation, he maintained contacts in the "big bad Bronx". His thoroughness in investigating players in cases (and in some cases friends) and an ability to take emotion out of the facts complements him with his partner.

He was played in the television series by Philip Michael Thomas.


Life before Vice

Tubbs' brother, Rafael, was an NYPD Vice Detective for many years, and inspired his younger brother to become a cop. Tubbs joined the NYPD as a street cop, then as a detective in Armed Robbery, where he worked with a detective named Valerie Gordon, with whom he had a relationship that ended under bad circumstances. Tubbs also knew Clarence Batisse, who was his partner until a shooting incident forced Tubbs to testify against Clarence and Batisse was dismissed from the force, something Batisse held a grudge against Tubbs for years until Tubbs read a previously classified IAD report and found evidence to exonerate his former partner.

Joining Vice

Tubbs' brother Rafael was murdered by a drug dealer named Calderone, and Tubbs swore to avenge his brother's death. He found Calderone moved to Miami, so Tubbs forged inter-agency memos and priority clearance documents (and assumed his brother's name) to allow him to go down after him. During this time he encountered Sonny Crockett, a Miami-Dade Vice detective who, as it turned out, was pursuing the same figure known only to Crockett as "the Colombian". The two cops agreed to a "temporary working relationship" (that lasted five years), and together they busted Calderone, but the Colombian used his dirty money to bribe a judge into releasing him. Tubbs agreed to remain in Miami as Crockett's partner (to prevent NYPD from "frying him for misconduct").

Career in Vice

Tubbs rapidly advanced to wear the gold sergeant's shield, as did Crockett. He had a weakness for downtrodden youth, because of his experiences in New York with "uptown junkies" (wealthy addicts who only did it for kicks) and dead-end kids (which brought him to try to help Jackie McSeidan, nearly leading to his demise). His cover name started out as "Teddy Prentiss", next "Richard Taylor", then changed to "Rico Taylor" and finally "Rico Cooper", Burnett's partner. He is a thorough investigator, even doing makes on friends of his colleagues (such as Mike Orgel, Robbie Cann, Lou Rodriguez, and others) because he "likes to know who he's working with", which helps turn the tide on many cases. His temper sometimes gets the best of him, especially when he's close to a case (such as Valerie Gordon's sister's murder), but that temper helped root out a leak in the department. He takes risks when necessary, such as going into The Maze, going with Crockett to Cartagena on a smuggling trip, going into prison as an inmate, etc. to solve cases and end drug running. Tubbs' NYPD background sometimes comes into conflict with the more laid-back Miami police style, but they complement each other. Tubbs always dressed in suit and tie for most cases, sharply contrasting Crockett's more casual dress. His cool demeanor helped him avoid the burnout feeling that hit Crockett later in their five year run, but the frustration on how he and Crockett were treated by the government and the fact the Miami police didn't back them up led Tubbs to quit the force and go back to New York.

Personal Life

Tubbs is a ladies man, as evidenced by his many relationships with women, but he was never married. He had an on-again, off-again fling with his NYPD colleague Valerie Gordon, when she visited Miami on two occasions and he visited New York on two others they got together, to the point of almost proposing marriage but decided not to after she deceived him on a case she was involved in. Tubbs moved on to a tryst with his enemy Calderone's daughter, Angelina, who he met in the Bahamas. Despite that turn of events, he had real feelings for her, which came out when he found out he had a son (also named Ricardo) with Angelina. The Calderone family took their son away, and when Angelina died Tubbs assumed his namesake died with her, but he never found out his son survived. Tubbs then had flings with Vanessa, who murdered an accountant to cover up a secret bank account, then Laura, who was killed by a stray bullet during a bust (prompting him to volunteer himself to stop a drug operation inside state prison), Alicia, who accompanied him to an island "vacation" (actually a Calderone trap) and was shot but survived, then he was with the wife of a drug lord, Maria Pendroza, until it was discovered she was a member of a ruthless gang, the Escorpionistas.

Unlike Crockett, Rico is wounded several times in the line of duty. He is shot by a Calderone henchman in the pilot episode and is injected with a powerful toxin in "Tale of the Goat" that almost leaves him with permanent brain damage. He is badly beaten while undercover as a prisoner in "Walk-Alone", before being shot again in the episode "Viking Bikers from Hell" but his body armor saves his life. He is shot once more by Sonny Burnett in "Mirror Image", but again his body armour saves him, and also takes a hit in the shoulder when confronting General Borbon and his government minders in "Freefall".

Also unlike Crockett, Tubbs suffered a great amount of personal tragedy during the series. As aforementioned, his brother was killed in the line of duty. As also previously mentioned several of Tubbs' girlfriends were either murdered or touched by murder in some way. Also, the fate of Tubbs' son was never revealed; it is unknown if this was done on purpose or whether his survival was simply overlooked by the production team.

Tubbs' mentality is very different from that of Crockett's as he is much more laid back and easy-going, whereas Crockett often gets aggravated by day to day activities.


Tubbs' Cadillac Coupe de Ville

Tubbs' street car was a blue 1964 Cadillac Coupe de Ville convertible that he appeared to own personally. However, more often than not, he travelled as a passenger in both of Crockett's Ferraris. During three undercover operations, he drove a Mercedes Benz 500 SEC coupe in "One-Eyed Jack", from season 1, and an Aston Martin V8 Volante and a Mercedes Benz SL in season 3 episodes "Walk-Alone" and "Streetwise", owing to the fact such cars were more befitting of their undercover personalities. He also was seen in earlier and later episodes driving other cars as well.


Unlike Crockett, who utilized high-tech handguns as his primary weapons, Tubbs' choice of firearms more strongly reflected his "from the streets" origins and consisted of cheaper, more readily available weapons. His primary sidearm throughout all five seasons of the show was a Smith & Wesson Model 38 "Bodyguard" revolver with a 2 inch barrel and custom Pachmyr grips, chambered in .38 Special. In the first season, he also utilized a sawn-off side-by-side double barrelled shotgun, no doubt the only weapon he could easily acquire for his unsanctioned operation in Miami in the pilot episode. However, from season 2 onwards the sawn-off was replaced by a more practical and appropriate Ithaca Model 37 "Stakeout", customized with a shortened barrel and forward pistol grip. Both shotguns used by Tubbs were chambered in 12 Gauge.

Like Crockett and the other Vice officers, Tubbs brought in heavy firepower when it was warranted. He can occasionally be seen using assault rifles, such as an M16A1 in the episode "Out Where the Buses Don't Run" and a Colt Model 733 in "Baby Blues", and is also seen with a SIG Sauer P226 semi-automatic pistol in the series finale, "Freefall".


  • Although not explicitly named as such, the Jan Hammer track "Rico's Blues" served as the show's theme tune for Tubbs, appearing in numerous episodes that focused on the character. It was first used in "The Great McCarthy".
  • Tubbs' customized Ithaca Model 37 "Stakeout" appears as the "Stubby Shotgun" in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, which was heavily inspired by Miami Vice and can be seen as an homage to the show.
Main Characters:

James "Sonny" Crockett Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs Gina Calabrese Stan Switek Larry Zito "Big Booty" Trudy Joplin Martin "Marty" Castillo Lou Rodriguez

Minor Characters:
Caroline Crockett Billy Crockett Caitlin Davies Isadore "Izzy" Moreno Nugart "Noogie" Lamont Esteban Calderone Orlando Claderone Al Lombard Lester Kosko Valerie Gordon Frank Hackman Oswaldo Guzman Frank Mosca

Miami Vice Film:
James "Sonny" Crockett Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs Trudy Joplin Zito Castillo Gina Calabrese Michael Switek