John Lasseter has said that the idea for Cars was born after he took a cross-country road trip with his wife and children in 2000. When he returned to the studio after vacation, he contacted Michael Wallis, a Route 66 historian. Wallis then led eleven Pixar animators in rented white Cadillacs on two different road trips across the route to research the film.
The character Sheriff was based on a classic police car, which Wallis voiced.
In Cars, while Lightning McQueen is speeding down Interstate 40 in search of help after being separated from his hauler, McQueen speeds past Sheriff, who is sleeping by the sign between Radiator Springs and Ornament Valley. Sheriff takes pursuit of McQueen, but starts backfiring due to metal fatigue and driving at such high velocities. McQueen initially thinks that Sheriff can help him, but when the latter backfires, he mistakes the sound for gunshots (as Sheriff is never armed in the entire series) and begins panicking, attempting to evade Sheriff. McQueen barrels through Radiator Springs, knocking over the statue of the town's deceased founder, Stanley. McQueen proceeds to accidentally pull the statue through the main road, ripping it up. The pursuit ends when McQueen is stopped by a telephone wire, allowing Sheriff to catch up.
In the morning, McQueen awakens in the Radiator Springs Municipal Impound, where he meets Tow Mater. McQueen is close to tricking Mater into releasing him, but Sheriff arrives and scolds Mater for attempting to befriend the prisoner. Sheriff then takes McQueen to the courthouse, where he is put on trial. McQueen is sentenced to community service, having to re-pave the entire main road before he is allowed to leave.
Before McQueen is hooked up to Bessie, the road-paving machine, Mater removes McQueen's parking boot, and Lightning attempts to escape by speeding towards Ornament Valley. However, McQueen does not make it far before running out of gas, and comes to a halt next to a sign, where Sheriff and Sally Carrera are waiting. They explain that they lowered his gas while he was asleep, and McQueen is returned back to the town.
After a poor and rushed attempt at fixing the road, Doc Hudson challenges McQueen to a race around Willy's Butte to determine McQueen's fate; if McQueen wins, he can leave, but if Doc wins, he rips up the road and starts over. Before the race, Sheriff informs the two contestants of the rules, and then moves over to watch the race. Doc wins, and McQueen rips up the asphalt and restarts the project.
Throughout McQueen's sentence, Sheriff mostly hangs around Flo's V8 Café, chatting with the other residents, while also keeping a close eye on McQueen. One night, Sheriff puts Mater in charge of watching McQueen, and Mater agrees to do so. However, Mater and McQueen sneak off to go tractor tipping, and become friends.
When McQueen finally finishes the road, the townsfolk awake to find McQueen gone. As they reflect on McQueen's stay, Sheriff begins to cry, but when the others take notice of this, he claims that he is happy, not sad. However, McQueen arrives and greets them, and requests that they help fix him up before he heads off to his big race in Los Angeles. That night, while everyone is enjoying a cruise night, a hoard of press and Piston Cup officials arrive and take McQueen away, against his wishes.
At the race, McQueen finds himself missing his new friends, as he has only Mack as a pit crew member. However, while McQueen is taking practice laps, he finds that the Radiator Springs townsfolk have come to serve as his pit crew. Sheriff and the others help McQueen throughout the race.
During the film's epilogue sequence, Sheriff is again sleeping by his sign when DJ, Boost, Wingo, and Snot Rod, who were responsible for McQueen's separation from Mack, speed by him. Sheriff arrests them for speeding, and they are later sentenced to pull Bessie to pave the side road between Ramone's House of Body Art and Flo's V8 Café.
Cars: The Video Game
In Cars: The Video Game, Sheriff is introduced in the story's third chapter. In Sheriff's Chase, McQueen drives up to Sheriff one night, and challenges him to a "rematch", treating their very first encounter as if it was a race. Sheriff accepts the offer, as Doc has just fitted him with a turbo charger. They also make a playful bet; if Sheriff wins, McQueen will be thrown in the impound lot, but not if McQueen wins. Lightning wins the race, and jokingly mocks Sheriff about doing donuts, as Lightning references the common stereotype of cops enjoying donuts. Unimpressed, Sheriff sends McQueen away, or he will be sentenced to pick up trash on the highway.
Completing Sheriff's Chase will unlock Sheriff's Hot Pursuit, a five-level minigame in which Sheriff must chase down speeders. This is the only time in the story mode in which players can play as Sheriff.
Towards the end of the story's fourth chapter, Sheriff receives a call from Mack, who was robbed on the Interstate by the Delinquent Road Hazards. McQueen is furious when Sheriff informs him, and speeds off to steal his supplies back. The delinquents are caught and thrown into the impound. Sheriff and McQueen question them, and they reveal they were hired by Chick Hicks, a racing rival of McQueen.
Sheriff is also an unlockable playable character for Arcade and VS modes. He can be purchased for 8,000 Bonus Points in Ramone's House of Body Art. He has high speed and stability stats, but low acceleration and handling.
Sheriff is also one of the customers that the player must serve in the Fill 'Er Up minigame.
Mater and the Ghostlight
In Mater and the Ghostlight, Sheriff tells the story of a mythical vehicle called the Ghostlight, scaring the rest of the town, especially Mater. Deciding to pull a practical joke, he and the other townspeople place a lamp on Mater's tow hook, scaring him all the way around Carburetor County.
Cars: Mater-National Championship
In Cars: Mater-National Championship, he appears with Otto, as he was speeding. Lightning makes sure that Otto stays out of trouble by racing him, along with Sheriff. Sheriff later appears overhearing Lightning sending Otto to see Lizzie, saying that will keep him busy. He then later appears when Mater spots a tractor and is about to tip it, but gets interrupted by Sheriff. Mater says that he is sorry, then Sheriff says that he does not want Mater to go tractor tipping again, and then he reminds Mater of the Ghostlight, which when Mater is not looking, Sheriff puts the blue lantern on Mater's hook. Sheriff also appears in Team Relay 2 on a team with Fillmore and Sarge as well as an opposing chaser in the third level of Doc and the Law's Race 'n' Chase. Unlike in the previous game, he is only playable in the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS versions of the game.
In Tokyo Mater, Boost, DJ and Wingo speed by Sheriff at Flo's V8 Café, causing him to take pursuit, which leads Mater into his story about how he was once a drift racer.
In Hiccups, Sheriff receives a case of the hiccups at the end of the short, causing him to run away as Mater tries to cure him by kissing him.
In The World of Cars Online, Sheriff could often be found chasing one of the tuner cars throughout the roads of Radiator Springs.
In Cars: Race-O-Rama, he appears in Sheriff's Chase, which the player has to help him catch some speeders, who are a few of the Chick Hicks Racing Academy students. This is similar to the Sheriff's Hot Pursuit minigame in Cars: The Video Game. He is also playable in many other events like races on the console versions.
In Cars 2: The Video Game, Sheriff is a downloadable playable character that is exclusive to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game. He is a medium weight, and has speed and power that are equal to each other.
Kinect Rush: A Disney/Pixar Adventure
In Kinect Rush: A Disney/Pixar Adventure, Sheriff appears in the first Cars level, when Mater has the player try to stay close to Sheriff on the course. Sheriff later appears at the end of the course and in the background of the ending cutscene.
In Cars Land, Sheriff makes an appearance. At the beginning of the ride, Sheriff is announcing the safety rules in English, while Ramone says them in Spanish. Later in the ride, he pulls the rider over after they almost crash into a train. Sheriff acts like he is going to give the rider a ticket, but he is really helping them get to the big race. He calls for Mater to take the rider to the race, and Mater does take them there, by tractor tipping.
Physical description and traits
Sheriff is a 1949 Mercury Police Cruiser that is painted black and white, with the Radiator Springs Police Department badge on both of his doors. He has a siren on his roof.
His license plate reads 001, except in Cars: The Video Game, where it reads SHERIFF.
Sheriff often plays the role of the "voice of reason" to Radiator Springs, and acts as a boss towards the multiple Radiator Springs residents and visitors. He is portrayed as a fatherly figure to Mater, as he is always keeping an eye on him and watching his behavior.
In The Radiator Springs 500½, he has his hood temporarily painted white for the anniversary of the town's founding, as well as a big, gold star on his doors and the inscription "SHERIFF" on his fenders. His siren is also replaced with a more old-fashioned one, and his roof's speakers are moved to his fenders.
Powers and abilities
Sheriff is incredibly fast and can easily catch speeders that come racing through town, though he may have trouble accelerating. He is also very stable, as evidenced in Cars: The Video Game, where he has the highest stability stats in the game.
Sheriff is easily angered, and quick to threaten someone if they step out of line, as he is the head of the local law enforcement in town, making sure everything is in order. However, he does have fun with his job, chasing speeders and fighting crime.
Sheriff speaks with caution to most of his friends and acquaintances, but overall keeps a calm personality with most of the residents throughout Carburetor County. He is good friends with Lightning McQueen, even though the two initially had bad blood due to Sheriff chasing McQueen down, which led to him tearing the road up.
Sheriff has been shown to have bad chemistry with characters such as Boost, Snot Rod, Wingo and DJ, four delinquents that are always wreaking havoc throughout Radiator Springs, and as such, they have been arrested multiple times.
"There's a long history of law enforcement in Sheriff's family. His father was a traffic cop. His aunt, his two cousins on his mother's side, his little brother...even his grandfather was a traffic cop, directing traffic at Times Square in New York around the turn of the century. Sheriff always knew he too would be a cop. After all, how many other options did he have with a name like Sheriff?"
Cars: The Video Game
Cars 2: The Video Game
"With an extensive background in law enforcement, Sheriff's ready to add a bit of espionage to his trunk of tricks."