Who Would Be a Better Crime Fighter, Gloria Pritchett or Phoebe Buffay?

Duels or “classy show-downs” as they are often called by no one, have been solving hot debates for ages. They’re useful for delivering crowds a champion, through often unpredictable means (just ask Alexander Hamilton). Television loves a surprise, so what better way to measure and battle elements of TV than with a duel? Here, we will battle two characters in an imaginary contest of wills. Sometimes a winner will be crowned because of pertinent facts, and sometimes in spite of them.

This week? Gloria Pritchett v. Phoebe Buffay at Crime-Fighting

These two tremendous characters from comedy ensemble casts have more than what it takes to catch (or be) a thief. They are smart, foxy, and fearless.  Give them a fedora and they’d catch all the prime suspects. In other words, they would be the top casting choice for the new series: Law and Order: TPU, or Tertiary Plot Unit. But what if they were competing head to head for top detective? Let’s take a look how that might go down.

Prior Cases Solved

Phoebe solved “The Case of the Affable Stalker Obsessed with Ursula” when she realized that David Arquette was nice, but still obsessed with her twin sister, Ursula. She also found that missing thumb in her soda can. However, she is still haunted by the most gruesome unsolved mystery of her career. What were they feeding “smelly cat”?

Gloria, on the other hand, closes all her cases. Nothing stands in her way — she’d box an alligator to prevent a crime. For example, she solved “The Case of the Bulldog Bandit” — or that time she let her husband’s French bulldog, Stella, run away and someone else found it — by leaving no stone unturned. She brought along her trusty side-kick, Cameron, armed with just his wits and a bold Stanley Kowalski impression. When they found the dastardly scumbag who stole Stella — Gloria was relentless. She did not hold back; or, in her words, she didn’t put on the sugar jacket.  She rescued the dog from the clutches of pure evil. Point: Gloria.

Special Skills

Both of these women have an arsenal of skills that they’ve learned from their shadowy past. Phoebe gained most of her toughness by living on the street from age 15. She lived in many locations, such as a burnt-out Buick LeSabre, a Gremlin with a guy named Cindy who talked to his hand, and with an albino man who washed windows outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Phoebe did what she could to survive whether that was mugging a young Ross Gellar, or meeting behind a dumpster with a small group to learn French (which now numbers among her special skills). Despite contracting hepatitis when a pimp spat in her mouth — Phoebe forged ahead, the adversity only making her stronger. The same could be said for when she was stabbed by a police officer, whom she stabbed in return.

Gloria remains competitive in this contest of street smarts, due to her own shadowy past that perhaps includes the assassination of the priest at her first wedding in Colombia. The niece of many butchers, Gloria has an interesting relationship with death.  She once killed a rat with the shovel on her way to church, and then posted its head as a warning for all the other rats in the area. She threatens school principals with a Colombian necktie and is a superior marksman who could shoot the buttons off her son’s shirt if she wanted to do so. For now, she’ll stick to sinking his pool raft with a bb gun.

Though Gloria (’s possible cartel connection) is formidable because, as she says “in Colombia, you can’t go to the hospital for every little sniffle or dislocated shoulder.” However, unlike Gloria, Phoebe has more than just one shadowy past. Considering her belief in reincarnation and that she vividly remembers her past lives, Phoebe has a greater pool of experience from which to draw. This includes a life in which she worked as a battlefield nurse in the American Civil war, and another life where she was again a battlefield nurse, this time in France during World War I. She lost her left arm due to exploding artillery fire in both of these lives. And both times she kept fighting. Point: Phoebe.


Here is an example of Phoebe surveilling. There aren’t video examples of Gloria in any kind of stakeout situation. That is because she either: never does it, misunderstood and went to Outback Steakhouse, or is so good at hiding from sight that no one can catch her surveilling on camera. Though currently craving a blooming onion, the judges choose to believe the latter. Point: Gloria.


Both woman have worn many disguises and are essentially chameleons when it comes to infiltrating another culture. Gloria does a fantastic American accent which is perfect for haunted houses, or if a crime-spree breaks out in a Deaf community. Phoebe does a great Mid-Atlantic accent. That is perfect for when Phoebe wants to blend in and crack skulls on the gritty streets, whether those streets are in Westport, Connecticut, or Fairfield, Connecticut, or even Greenwich, Connecticut. Still, Gloria’s accent seems more useful, if only because it’s so confusing that the perps will be praying to baby cheeses for blessings in the skies. Point: Gloria.

Achilles’ heel

All crime-fighter’s have a weakness. For many it is guilt from the loss of their spouse due to a vendetta, alcoholism, or being too g.d. old for this shit. For Gloria, it’s bikes. In this doggie dog world, bike-riding is Gloria’s nemesis. If she’s not careful it might kill her, despite the fact that the leading cause of death among Colombian women is when their sons get married. Therefore, she must avoid any bike-related cases, so she doesn’t end up with her body in those drawers where God cannot find her! Phoebe’s greatest weakness is probably running. However, it’s also one of her greatest strengths as it distracts the criminal so she can catch them with her Relaxy Taxi. Point: Phoebe.


Totaling up the points brings us to a (Colombian neck) tie. But in the mean streets of television, there is always a good cop and a bad cop, or two bad cops and one robot if the ratings demand it. Either way, with her sharpshooting talent and more focused rage, the decision for best crime-fighter goes to Gloria. While she has the potential to be a very valuable rogue agent, Phoebe will always be way more comfortable committing the crimes. Winner: Gloria.

Laura Jayne Martin lives and writes in New York City. She is not available for children’s birthday parties.

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