- “Even in an early pitch, Hopps and Nick had a great buddy dynamic. But I really wanted to tell this story because it's about bias and prejudice. It's important to discuss.”
- ―Josie Trinidad
Judy's Impression of Nick
After discovering Nick's reputation as a con artist, having been a pawn in one of his schemes, Judy grows a dislike towards him, and his bitter attitudes towards the world and herself. She takes pleasure in getting her revenge by using his own ego against him and simultaneously blackmailing him into aiding her in the Otterton case, showing the two are bitter enemies at the start.
Despite her annoyance with his cynicism and wise-cracks, Judy saves Nick's life during their first adventure, and when this is brought up by Nick himself, she simply reasons it to be part of her job as an officer showing that, despite their unfavorable history at the time, she is above treating him recklessly.
She also unabashedly commends the fox when his own intelligence greatly assists their case, giving credit where it is due in spite of everything.
This is repaid once Nick, after witnessing the bigotry Judy faces at the hands of her "peers", stands up for the rabbit and becomes a willing accomplice in her goal to not only find Otterton, but prove herself to Chief Bogo. Once Nick explains his history, and the reasoning behind his own bitterness, Judy's views and opinions on the fox change drastically, and the two start to form a meaningful relationship built on mutual trust and understanding.
Her friendship with Nick is responsible for opening Judy's eyes to reality, showing that the world is not a perfect place where everyone gets along, and that prejudice is something that affects everyone, sometimes in unexpected ways, making it all the more important to call out bigotry and make real effort to right the wrongs that it causes. Judy is able to fully admit this to Nick after she, herself, had performed acts of prejudice earlier in the film, being more concerned with proving her care for him than labeling herself progressive, exemplifying the strength of their relationship.
By the epilogue, Judy and Nick's relationship is healthier and stronger than ever. The two are seen spending time with one another, both during work, as in the scene where Judy and Nick are looking for the street racer, and after hours, in the ending Gazelle concert scene. Although they share mutual respect, they still partake in rounds of playful banter, innocently echoing their former rivalry. By this point in time, Judy playfully admits that she loves Nick, sentiments that seem to be returned.
Nick's Impression of Judy
Nick views Judy as a nuisance at first. He also mentions having noticed her canister of fox repellent when they first met, leading him to believe her to be a bigoted individual, which he detests. He spends their first few hours together, as accomplices, making attempts to rid himself of her grasp, unsuccessfully, due to the fact that she is just as cunning. Their first interactions contradict the stereotype, and one that Nick initially abides by, of the "sly fox and dumb bunny".
Over time, however, Nick learns more about Judy and her persistence in cracking her first case, discovering that her will to prove herself on the force had been motivated by the prejudice given to her by her fellow officers at the police department, namely Chief Bogo. Nick personally relates to this as he, too, had made attempts to join a team, to fit in, only to be scorned and shunned due to his species. With this in mind, he makes it his goal to ensure Judy achieves her dream of proving her worth, going as far as to explain his backstory to her, believing her to be deserving of knowing the rationale behind his ill treatment towards her at the start. This is a significant moment for Nick, as he had once vowed to never expose his hidden vulnerability.Judy, in turn, comforts Nick and pushes him to understand that he's more than what the world sees him as, and although he initially avoids acknowledging this, he is shown to have taken it to heart once Judy offers him the chance of becoming her partner on the police force. It is further revealed just how strongly he values Judy and her friendship after the latter's unintentionally prejudiced words against predators during a press conference. He laments to the bunny his feeling of betrayal, after the one individual in the world that had finally believed in him turned out to be as prejudiced as everyone else. The fact that Nick had filled out the application Judy gave him just moments before implies that he was more than happy to join the ZPD and become her partner.
Following their falling out, Nick doesn't entirely forget Judy, having held onto her carrot pen the entire time of their separation.
When she finally returns to reconcile, it doesn't take long for him to forgive her, knowing that after the heat of the confrontation had passed, her words and positive feelings towards him are genuine.
From that moment forward, Nick continues to treat Judy with support and care. He is unwilling to ever leave her side, even in the darkest of moments, such as their final confrontation with Bellwether, and subsequently accepts her offer of becoming an officer.
He is shown to have garnered a respect for her cleverness and ability to, now playfully, outsmart him, affectionately referring to her as a "sly bunny". As his realistic views on the world influence Judy, her optimism, and idealistic attitude influence Nick, as he becomes open to taking chances and making a difference in the world, doing so by becoming the ZPD's first fox officer.
- In an interview, the directors stated that they intentionally made Judy and Nick's relationship ambiguous in the ending. They also stated that in a potential sequel, they felt it would be necessary to define the relationship, as to whether it is romantic or friendship in nature.