For four seasons, The Rookie fanbase has been following the relationship between characters Lucy Chen (Melissa O’Neill) and Tim Bradford (Eric Winter), affectionately coined as Chenford by shippers. These two captured our hearts with their opposing personalities in the very first episode.
Initially partnered as a rookie and training officer, their relationship slowly evolved into a protective and caring friendship. As fans eagerly ride along to what is hopefully a slow burn toward a romantic relationship, we’ve decided to list our favorite Chenford moments so far.
This list will be periodically updated with every season.
Tim Passes His Promotion For Lucy
When Sergeant Grey told Tim he had passed his sergeant’s exam, it was Lucy who was obviously excited and beaming with pride. After all, she herself spent time recording audiobooks to help her TO prepare for the exam. However, at the end of the episode, we learn that Tim holds off on his promotion to finish training Lucy, despite Grey’s warning that this opportunity may not come again. Early during the series, we learn Tim doesn’t get attached to his rookies. He sees his role as a training officer only–it’s up to him to look out for his rookie and ensure they’re fully prepared to work patrol, something that he takes seriously. Tim halts his own career growth in order to help Lucy with hers.
This foundational moment is very indicative of Lucy and Tim’s mutual support of one another, which carried throughout the rest of the series. They prove just how much they mean to each other by pushing the other to do their best and by helping them achieve their goals.
Tim Blames Himself for Lucy’s Kidnapping
Although it’s not surprising that Tim would rather focus on patrol than discuss personal lives, he doesn’t seem particularly keen to offer his input when Lucy expresses romantic interest in Emmett. He questions to why Lucy she would want to hear what he thinks, admitting to her that he blames himself for her kidnapping since it was his advice that led her to Caleb.
Lucy immediately and emphatically responds that neither she or Tim were at fault for Caleb’s actions, making it clear to her TO that he shouldn’t harbor any feelings of guilt. Lucy knows that this is thought that must have been consuming him, and she does her best to alleviate his worries. She reveals to Bradford that she asks for his opinion because it’s important to her, and he is visibly touched. The moment is short-lived, however, as he quickly dismisses Emmett, stating, “You can do better.”
As much as Bradford claims to not want to get involved in his rookie’s personal life, he sure does get protective when it comes to her romantic prospects. He may talk himself into believing that he’s just looking out for Lucy, but Chenford fans would bet it’s a different reason.
Lucy’s Repetitive Pranks
Stealing Tim’s money clip, leaving him to close her bill, gifting him a flour bomb, and stuffing baby booties in his locker–given Bradford’s no-nonsense and tough approach, you’d think Lucy Chen has a death wish with her pranks. As amusing it is to see Lucy gain the upper hand over Tim, her pranks also display their unique dynamic. Even though Bradford is intense, especially in the initial stages of her training, Lucy feels comfortable enough to stand up to her TO while simultaneously engage a playful cheek.
It’s daring enough that he respects it, and he allows it. She’s just so bubbly and charismatic, he never expects the pranks, but his reactions often follow with a small smile that’s usually only reserved for Lucy. It’s proof that the man has a sense of humor; however, only Lucy knows how to melt that hardened exterior without receiving his wrath.
Lucy Gives Bradford Her Dog
As emotionally traumatized as she was, Lucy Chen was not capable of taking care of a dog. I hate saying it, because if you know Lucy Chen, you know how much of caring, attentive, and generous type of person she is. But Kojo (the dog’s name) and Lucy were not a great fit. As great as Lucy’s intentions were to provide Kojo a home, Kojo did everything within his abilities to make sure there was nothing left of the home. Lucy ultimately decides she is not ready to take care of Kojo, and it’s revealed that Tim adopts Kojo.
Despite realizing she could no longer look after Kojo, you know Lucy Chen would be the type of person to fret over whether Kojo was placed in a good home. She would ensure that he would be well-taken care of and loved after. Placing the dog with Tim shows just how much she trusts him. She places her trust with him every day while at work, and now that trust extends to beyond work, showing just how highly she thinks of him. We also see a softer side to Tim, since he told Lucy he didn’t think having a dog was a good idea. (Does this technically mean Chenford are unofficial co-puppy parents? We’ll take it.)
For What? Doing My Job?
These two sure love being there for each other and claiming that they’re just doing their job. When Chen gets stabbed by a used needle, Tim whisks her off to the hospital to get tested and ensures she’s seen by hospital staff immediately. Chen is noticeably freaking out about potentially having HIV or Hep C as a cop, but Tim reminds her that it changes nothing and fearing the outcome isn’t going to change the results on the bloodwork. Albeit a quick moment, Tim lowers down the TO intensity to comfort Lucy. She later thanks Tim, who brushes it off as him just doing his job.
Lucy later throws back those same words when he thanks her for saving his job. After the two get into a collision on the road, Tim is facing a demotion and is disinvited to an upcoming plaque ceremony. Lucy investigates and realizes they rear-ended an insurance scammer. Lucy is able to get a confession from the scammer, which saves Tim’s ass and allows him to get his award, after all.
Whether life-threatening or career-ending, there’s no doubt Chenford will do what they can do to help each other.
Tim Tells Lucy She’s a Survivor, Not a Victim
After Lucy’s kidnapping, she understandably is counting off the days she can get rid of her ‘Day of Death’ tattoo and is struggling coping with the trauma. While she does her best to cover the tattoo up, Tim takes a moment to let Lucy see a new perspective: she’s not a victim, she’s a survivor, and that the tattoo represents the first day of the rest of her life. He then pulls out her ring he found, demonstrating to her that her actions saved her life and revealing to her that he’s the one who found her.
At this moment, Lucy understands that Tim always has her back. He’s not there just to tell her she will be okay. He knows she has the strength to be okay, and his words help diminish the trauma she’s experiencing and help her see that her low point doesn’t define her.
This one’s pretty obvious on this list. After Lucy goes missing, Tim makes it his personal mission to wreak havoc all over LA to get any type of clue he can to find Lucy. Even though we see him at his most volatile, it’s quite clear that Tim is struggling and needs support from his friends. He calls Angela for help on her day off and doesn’t bother demonstrating his usual level-headedness.
When they do find her, it’s Tim who spots her ring and digs her out with his bare hands. He holds her in a comforting embrace as she sobs in his arms. He stays with her all night at the hospital, even bringing her favorite food. I don’t have to explain anything here, it speaks for itself. Even people who don’t watch the show shipped Chenford at this moment. Moving on to the last one.
Lucy and Tim Share a Late-Night Embrace
Yeah, so I’m pretty sure this moment is when the Chenford shippers lost their sh*t. After Angela’s kidnapping and Jackson’s death, she stays the night at Tim’s rather than go back to her apartment alone. He comforts her, and there’s a hug, if that’s what you want to call it.
Their arms continue to linger over each other as they break apart from their embrace, and they both look into each other’s eyes as if about to kiss. Unfortunately, the little bitch known as “sense” snaps into their thoughts and they awkwardly break apart. As they both lie down too restlessly in bed, we see them struggle as they reflect over what just happened.
Whatever Lucy is thinking is enough to make her get up and head towards his room, only for her to chicken out as he heads out with an update on Angela. So close. It’s such a tease, but it’s also the closest the viewers have gotten to them acting on any romantic feelings they have toward one another. However, it illustrates the evolution of Chenford’s relationship. Tim is able to talk to Lucy directly rather than ask about her well-being from others, and he is open about his concerns about her being alone. In turn, Lucy is able to turn to him for comfort and care with no hesitation.
You’re Nothing Like Him
Aside from Tim’s marital issues with Isabel way back in season one, we never really got a closer look at Tim’s background, despite mentions of an abusive childhood. Season four finally introduced us to Tim’s sister and his abusive father. Although he doesn’t want to contact his dying father, Tim eventually confronts him after learning his father’s true motives for killing their neighbor years ago.
Tim receives some closure, but he doesn’t fully forgive his father, nor does he repair his fractured relationship with him. Tim walks away, stating that he hopes his father’s death “hurts” before meeting Lucy outside in the hall. It’s a rare and vulnerable moment for Tim as he opens up to Lucy after dodging all her previous offers to talk about his past. You visibly see the pain as Tim addresses the hurt from his father not being there for Tim and his sister, but choosing to protect the women he was having an affair with and for all the years of abuse.
Furthermore, you also see how Lucy’s earlier comments about Tim’s Tests have been weighing on him. Lucy was joking, but to Tim, it was important for Lucy to know that he was not like his father. It’s his way of telling himself, as well as Lucy, that he would be his own man in spite of his father, one that never abandons the people he loves or hurts them. Lucy immediately affirms to Tim that he’s nothing like his father and pulls him into an embrace. It’s a lovely moment in their friendship that shows just how far they’ve come since season one and how their bond has only gotten stronger. It’s a sign of the comfort they feel in each other’s presence as it showcases that they’re each other’s safe space. A place to fall and a person to rely on when everything else is too dark.
Tim and Lucy Finally Dance
Of course, we’re covering this moment in our list. Chenford fans finally got to see Tim and Lucy share a dance Lucy promised Tim in the season three finale. Although it was relatively brief, it was a sweet moment that left not only Lucy touched but viewers as well. Earlier in the episode, we saw Lucy struggling with Bradford being credited with all their arrests because he was the superior officer. Understandably, Lucy just wants recognition for her achievements and wants to advance in her career. When she shares her frustration, Tim seems unbothered and gives a typical Bradford brush-it-off response.
However, when the two slow dance (during noticeably upbeat music), Tim reveals that he thinks Lucy is a good cop and probably in the top five best that he’s trained. He lets her know that he wants her to succeed. As a result, he informs Lucy she’ll be listed as the arresting officer for their cases, stating that she deserves the recognition. Tim puts Lucy first, and his act reveals that he sincerely listens when she speaks and respects her feelings, even if he doesn’t always think on the same page. Furthermore, he has encouraged her to be a better cop and utilized every resource at his disposal to make sure she can achieve her goals. This slow, quietly loud moment ultimately brings a new meaning to having your partner’s back.
-Tim asks Lucy to save her a dance. (We saw him give her that once-over)
-“You don’t ever let someone tell you you can’t do something. Not even me.”
-Lucy is jealous of Tim’s new rookie
-Lucy flirts with Tim undercover
Seeing as Chenford is going to stay in the slow-burn direction, I can’t wait to see all the other moments we have upcoming. Whether romantic or not, the moments these two have together are joyous to watch, and that’s largely in part due to Melissa O’Neill’s and Eric Winter’s incredible chemistry. Their portrayals of their characters, whether together or alone, are definitely a highlight of the show.
Chenford in The Rookie Season 5
First Dates and Official Promises
The Rookie Season 5, Episode 10, “The List,” is in every way Lucy Chen and Tim Bradford’s episode. Yes, there are some incredibly memorable arcs for our other favorite duos (one well worth its separate scene breakdown), but since we’ve all waited with bated breath for the first date to end all first dates, excavating every infinitesimal detail is of utmost importance.
What we’ve seen for five years has been one of the most deliciously organic slow burns on network television—so much so that until Season 2, Episode 11, I wasn’t even entirely on board. It was especially hard to believe that there were feelings between the two, let alone have faith that the series would go through. And yet, after that moment when their on-field partnership was fortified through a form of trust that’s exceedingly hard to find, there was no going back for us. Chenford are it for each other—they’re each other’s person, forged with steel and fire and an ease that cannot be replicated with anyone else.
Going Official and Embracing Changes
The Tim Bradford we meet in the first season and the one we know today are two completely different people, and the most significant change in the man is that he’s learning to understand what and who truly matter in life. He understands that for a relationship to work, people must be willing to do everything necessary to protect it and since their introduction, whether he knew it or not, having Lucy’s back was a top priority. It isn’t shocking that Tim is willing to be the one to step down to ensure that Lucy stays in this precinct, and it isn’t surprising that he spoke with Chief Grey before even confiding with Lucy.
There was no other option for Tim because ensuring that she reaches her highest potential while staying wherever she wants is not only profoundly significant to him as her boyfriend, but it’s always been the anchor in their partnership. “Tim Tests” were always a means to challenge her because the potential he saw in her then was limitless, and the image of its truth is on full display here. He believes in Lucy more than he believes in anyone else, and at the same time, she’s the very reason he chose to become a better man. Of course, he’d do this. He’s never smiled with such conviction in the past like this, and Eric Winter is gorgeously illuminating how these emotions are all genuinely new and distinguishable for Tim — his relationship with Lucy is bigger, better, and more important than anything else. He’s lighter, more free, and bold with Lucy, and his heart is at ease in a way that’s as effortless as waves meeting the sand. There’s so much overflowing within them during this episode that it’s overwhelming in the best way.
Lucy Finds Tim a New Position
Lucy and Tim are each other’s person, and since they got together, they’ve been proving that they’ll do whatever it takes to ensure the other is at their best. In last week’s “Death Notice,” Tim took the plunge into a desk job to show that there’s nothing he isn’t willing to sacrifice to keep Lucy close and happy. In The Rookie’s “Daddy Cop,” it was up to Lucy to rally the troops and do everything in her power to get Tim out of his misery. And the best part of all this is that Tim Bradford is genuinely so happy that it doesn’t matter what he’s doing. Sure, he’s miserable. Yes, they promised never to lie to each other, but none of that matters because he has her.
Read More in The Rookie “Daddy Cop” Review: Moving Pieces
Chenford’s First Valentine’s Day
Backing you up. Three words to describe the essence of Tim and Lucy’s relationship in an episode that put them through the test. The Rookie “Exposed” does plenty with the two of them in casual moments, allowing their first argument to showcase why they’re suitable for one another and how they’ll continue to grow from this moment onward. That’s what works throughout.
I’ve said it once and will say it again: She’s sunshine personified while he’s Oscar the Grouch. Lucy’s kind and warm, but Tim’s prickly edges hide his vulnerability from the rest of the world. In every relationship we’ve seen the two of them throughout the show’s five-season run, parts of themselves have been concealed at the expense of only allowing their partners to see the best of them. But relationships are messy—they’re ugly at times, and if someone’s worst cannot come forward for their best to be more valued, then the relationship isn’t built on a steady foundation. Lucy and Tim have seen each other’s best and worst—the insecurities, complexities, and even the darker corners that they hide from the rest of the world. In embarking on a relationship, it’s only natural for them to ease into their new partnership slowly because they’re allowing the other to see all the parts of them that they normally shy away from.
Chenford Continues to Overcome Curveballs
Since they got together, The Rookie continues to throw curveballs in Chenford’s path, while the couple comes out stronger and better than before. That’s the case with The Rookie Season 5, Episode 19, “A Hole in the World,” as the end reveals that there might be some time apart in their future. Only, it’s not a threat; it’s the promise that their love will grow stronger even as they become busier.
And it’s not so much about the idea that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but it’s thoughtfully noting that Lucy and Tim didn’t fall in love with each other because they were around each other but because they sincerely care. It was never routines and comforts; it was always everything in between. These small details make their relationship work better, giving both of them issues they won’t have to bypass but harness through. They might not see as much of each other in the coming days, but in those quiet moments when they do, they’ll be more tender than ever (as they are in the early morning).
Tim and Lucy Discuss Going Undercover
The Rookie’s Chenford (Tim Bradford and Lucy Chen) are well on their way to exchanging three crucial words that will define their relationship. But before that happens and before they continue to find more strength as a couple, they need to address the elephant in the room — undercover. It’s how the two essentially realize they have feelings for one another, but at the same time, it’s a sore spot for Tim because it’s how he lost Isabel to an addiction. Still, in The Rookie’s “S.T.R.,” Isabel not only returns doing better than before, but the series never once pits the women against each other. Instead, it reaffirms that when Lucy does go undercover, things will be different.
Part of what’s so appealing about Chenford and the dynamic they continue to fortify is that they are both determined to be honest with each other. After The Rookie’s “A Hole in the World,” I said, “In each other, they have the safe space to make the ordinary great and the difficult moments bearable. They’re already showing us that the future they’re carving includes the other in everything they do, noting to help as much as possible with exams and taking care of each other in little moments.” There’s no further proof necessary when a rather mostly pleasant day with Isabel leads Lucy to sincerely tell Tim that she wants the job, but she’s nervous about how he’ll handle it.
They Continue Going Strong Through Transparency
The Rookie’s “Going Under” piggybacks off of last week’s “S.T.R.” The undercover storyline is still in its early stages, yet the conversations are making every bit of an impact, placing trust at the cardinal of their relationship. The quiet stolen moments and whispers are one thing, but how Lucy and Tim hug in this week’s episode nearly kills me. You could only make a damn laundry room so romantic when an embrace stands as the foundation of a thousand words filling the space in between. Unspoken words like — I’m so glad you’re okay. I can’t lose you. I need you. She might be alone on the operation, but he’s with her every step of the way, both as her backup and as her escape. He’s home, even for a brief moment, in a secluded laundry room.
And so much of the reason such scenes carry the weight they do is entirely because of the performances. The words and directions are only commands without the emotions Melissa O’Neil and Eric Winter consistently actualize and cement. The way Tim catches his breath for the first time only after he sees Lucy is safe and the way she studies his every move when they’re finally back home—it’s all a candid display of how well they know each other and how deeply they care.