|Plot details follow, read at your own risk.|
- "Everyone has their vices. Even you, Phelps."
- ―Roy Earle
Detective Roy Earle is a central character in L.A. Noire. Roy is the corrupt Chief Detective of the Vice department. He is Cole Phelps' partner during his time at the Vice desk. Roy later becomes a secondary antagonist during the Arson desk.
Nothing is known of Earle's life prior to joining the LAPD. Earle served many years in the LAPD, partnered with Archie Colmyer until eventually moving up to the Vice Desk. While Colmyer became Lieutenant of the department, Earle became the most senior detective. Earle's workings as Chief Detective allowed him to become immensely informed and affiliated with the city's organized crime and mobsters such as Mickey Cohen and Victor Sanders. Roy has been in Vice for as he says "more years than he wants to own up to." According to Biggs, Earle was influenced by the notorious dirty cop Vernon Mapes.
Events of L.A. Noire
- "I'll be keeping an eye on you. I could spend a little time basking in reflected glory."
- ―Earle, referring to Phelps' heroics during the war
Earle first met Cole Phelps during his first day as a Traffic Detective, and is first depicted as friendly and interested in Cole's work. He tells Phelps that he could spend some time basking in his "reflected glory," referring to Phelps' heroics during the war.
Their paths later crossed again while Phelps was questioning Marlon Hopgood and prepared to arrest him, however, Earle arrived and informed Phelps of Hopgood's status as a Vice informant, thus protecting him from charges and Traffic jurisdiction, much to Phelps' outrage. However, after arresting Mark Bishop, Earle offered congratulations to Phelps for solving a grand case and for his promotion, but was scolded by Traffic Captain Gordon Leary for possibly trying to take over the case. Earle took Phelps and partner Stefan Bekowsky to The Blue Room club, and personally introduced Phelps to singer Elsa Lichtmann. There, it was shown that Earle had an intense dislike for Elsa, whom he hit for "disrespecting" him, because she was upset at Lou Buchwalter's untimely death and once even referred to her as a "German junkie whore."
Realizing Phelps' growing fame and success, Earle pulled in several favors to request and secure Phelps' promotion to the Vice Department from Homicide. When promoted to the Vice desk, Phelps becomes partners with Earle. Their first case together solved the stolen morphine distribution, ending with the arrest of several dealers and the death of Lenny Finkelstein, generating good press for the Department while discrediting Mickey Cohen.
The two later moved on to solve several other cases, including busting a marijuana reefer distribution ring, a prize fight racket, and a burglary gang. Phelps' time with Earle gave him insight into the politics, corruption and questionable methods of the Vice Department. While investigating The 111 Club, Phelps attempted to get a lead from Elsa. However, Earle discovered that the two were engaged in an affair, something he could use as a bargaining chip.
Earle was involved in a scandal with the rest of the Vice Department, which involved taking bribes from a high-class prostitute known as "Brenda" (most likely a reference to real-life Brenda Allen). The scandal threatened to ruin the current administration if it went public. Mayor Fletcher Bowron, Police Chief William Worrell, and District Attorney Donald Sandler were approached by Earle who offered a solution. Earle revealed to them Phelps' affair with Elsa, a story to help distract the press, but in exchange to be a part of their syndicate.
Phelps and Earle discovered a gang war for the stolen morphine between Cohen's organization and a group of former Marines, supposedly responsible for the SS Coolridge heist. Despite stopping some of the assassination attempts against the former Marines, the case remained unresolved, as Phelps was charged for adultery by his wife thus suspended and later demoted to Arson.
Having turned Phelps into a pariah to conceal the Vice Squad's corruption, Earle was introduced to the Suburban Redevelopment Fund and their nefarious deeds. Earle worked as hired help for Leland Monroe. Roy was tasked to warn Phelps to stop investigating Elysian Fields Development, to conceal SRF's conspiracy. Earle later investigated and compiled a criminal intelligence report on Dr. Harlan Fontaine, detailing his transactions in dealing the stolen morphine, thus giving Monroe leverage against Fontaine as insurance.
- "I knew this creep was in on the morphine heist. A victim of his own product."
- ―Earle, after coming across the dead body of Courtney Sheldon
Earle, Phelps, Officer James Mitchell and Herschel Biggs later discovered the murdered body of Courtney Sheldon, killed by Fontaine from an overdose of morphine. However, Earle disregarded and slandered Sheldon as "a victim of his own product," causing Phelps to pull his gun on Earle in anger. Saddened by his former comrade's death, Phelps defended the deceased Sheldon, praising him as an honorable and brave Marine who served his country and threatened to shoot Earle for disrespecting Sheldon's memory. Composed, Phelps took the opportunity to tell Earle that SRF's plans were failing and warned Earle that his corruption would be exposed, though Earle was unmoved by Phelps' threats and laughed at them.
Earle was able to conceal his corruption and involvement with Monroe, and walked away from the scandal a free man. Presumably, he took part in a deal with Leonard Petersen.
After Phelps' death, Earle, along with Phelps's other partners and members of the force, attended the funeral to pay their respects. Earle delivered the eulogy, reminding everyone of Phelps' bravery during the war and his efforts as an LAPD officer. Earle renounced the rumors against Phelps, causing Elsa to walk out in grief and anger, stating that Earle was disgracing Phelps' memory. Earle honored Phelps' legacy, praising him as a good husband, father and friend. Earle left the podium and shook Petersen's hand.
Sardonic and highly cynical, Earle has little respect for others. This is evident from various racist and misogynistic remarks that he makes throughout the game. He is probably the only detective in the game that often questions or complains about his commander's orders. He also occasionally shows a propensity for violence, when he strikes Elsa Lichtmann for being "disrespectful" towards him. He seems to care very much about his appearance, wearing a $200 dollar suit, and also enjoys mocking Cole's appearance.
- "The truth is everyone wants the license to get a little dirty now and then. Our job is to keep it manageable."
- ―Earle's philosophy on working Vice
Earle and Phelps repeatedly clash with each other over police procedure, their duty as LAPD officers and morality. Phelps has a more standard 'eradicate crime' idea, whereas Earle expresses the idea that crime has to be controlled and managed. On their first case, they see two junkies dead after using nearly-pure morphine from a new, unknown source. Earle is disgusted as the chaos and harm caused by someone horning in on the city's criminal system.
Despite their differences, Phelps and Earle had an efficient partnership. Both of them can be intimidating and react fiercely to duplicitous suspects. Earle, like Phelps, is no stranger to fist-fights and shootouts. In addition, Earle occasionally shows little regard for Phelps' safety, as shown by the dialogue in The Naked City.
Earle is very savvy with political and criminal ongoings. Mickey Cohen is familiar with him, and Roy supports his operations by buying his suits from Cohen's tailor front. Roy is also very street-smart, sadistic, and a bitterly sarcastic detective. Roy is also cocky and arrogant, as he tells Phelps that "Stefan Bekowsky and Rusty Galloway couldn't work a Vice case if their lives depended on it." He considers Bekowsky a pushover and Rusty a drunk. Because of his reputation throughout the department as a heavily corrupt detective, he is shown to be strongly disliked and mistrusted by several members, notably Herschel Biggs, Gordon Leary, and James Donnelly.
Earle is also an opportunist. He stole a roll of money worth $1,000 which was actually evidence, after claiming "the department owed him fifty," when the department only owed him $20. He also evidently took bribes and had a personal stake in the fixed boxing match between Albert Hammond and Kid Galahad. He also tells Phelps in The Black Caesar that he wanted to wrap up the case before he had to actually work overtime instead of just claiming it and therefore receive extra pay. Furthermore, Earle knew of Phelps' interest in Elsa, and ultimately used this information to bargain his way into the SRF syndicate and into Leland Monroe's payroll.
- "Look at this chump, with his $200 suit and $2000 car."
- ―Jack Kelso
Roy owns a brand new, red Cadillac Series 62 Convertible, custom fitted for his LAPD work with a siren and a radio. He chooses to drive his own car on the job in order to satisfy his vanity and gets very concerned over the condition of his car, rather than the damage Cole can cause to public property. If Cole damages the car badly, Roy will even threaten to demote him, "If you wreck this car, I'll have you back in Patrol by the morning." When Phelps compliments him on the quality of his car, Earle states that, as a Vice cop, he must not be seen "slumming it in a Nash". This is in reference to Rusty Galloway's cheaper, department-issued Nash Super 600.
During the Manifest Destiny case, Jack Kelso tells Phelps that his partner is conceited for driving "...a $2,000 car." Given that the average salary per annum for an LAPD officer in 1947 was approximately $3600, Earle's car is enormously expensive. His ability to afford such a vehicle very likely stems from bribes that he receives from Los Angeles' affluent criminals and crooked businessmen, such as Mickey Cohen and Leland Monroe, from whom he, between December 4th, 1946 and September 18th, 1947, accepted $1350 in bribes.
Street Crimes (Vice)
- "Against the Odds"
- "Bad Date"
- "Camera Obscura"
- "Daylight Robbery"
- "Fatal Plunge"
- "Secret Keepers"
- "The Badger Game"
- "The Blue Line"
- "Zoot Suit Riot"
- Roy smokes cigarettes heavily. He also drinks occasionally.
- Earle's badge is seen if Phelps gets into an occupied car as a passenger, albeit very briefly.
- During shootouts, Roy is a lot more careless than Cole's other partners. He rarely uses cover and usually can be seen to fire his weapon from the hip one-handed. Despite this, he still mocks Cole for not taking cover.
- Earle appears to be ambidextrous, firing his pistol with either his left or right hand. This could be a developer oversight, but it is possible that he was born left handed, and since left-handedness was mostly discouraged in that era, was taught to use his right hand.
- It is unknown if he has ever served in the military or not. However, he uses a U.S Armed Forces issued Colt M1911A1 pistol, the same kind of pistol that Cole uses. All of Cole's other partners use revolvers. It could be the fact that as he's the Chief Detective of Vice, he got to choose his own pistol as his sidearm. This makes him the only partner who doesn't use a revolver.
- "Roy Earle" is the name of the character played by Humphrey Bogart in the 1941 movie High Sierra and another character played by Jack Palance in the 1955 movie I Died a Thousand Times.
- Roy became very quickly aware of Cole's interest in Elsa Lichtmann; he insinuates this during a conversation held between him and Cole during The Black Caesar, which was immediately rebuffed by Cole.
- Ironically, Roy is the one who introduced Elsa Lichtmann to Cole, he is also the one who sold Cole out for his affair with her.
- He is disliked by Cole and most other major characters in the game as Stefan Bekowsky mocks him during The Driver's Seat and Herschel Biggs calls him an asswipe on several occasions.
- Roy possibly dislikes doctors (except Dr. Harlan Fontaine), and blames them for drug and vice problems, saying that "if they locked up all the doctors in this town, Vice would be able to work half-days."
- In "The Set Up", Phelps tells Earle that he boxed in the Marines as part of standard training. In the next case, Earle says "I didn't box in the Marines though, did I?" This implies that Earle didn't serve in the Marines.