Yeah, the last time I caught you using my phone in here, the emergency was about some woman who was driving your car dressed in black lace underwear.
I wish there was some things you'd forget Chief.
~ Bill Gillespie and Bubba Skinner

V.L. "Bubba" Skinner was a secondary protagonist on the television series In the Heat of the Night.

Bubba grew up in the Sparta area, coming from a large family. While not married himself Bubba had many cousins living in the area.

Bubba was a long time officer with the police department in Sparta, Mississippi, working for Chief Bill Gillespie. Portrayed as something of a redneck Bubba's size gave him a sometimes intimidating presence. At his core Bubba was a good and decent man. Bubba was racially tolerant and called racists and bigots knot heads.

Due to his size and strength Bubba would often be the one called upon to arrest tougher suspects. He was willing to use physical force if the situation called for it. Bubba was a sharpshooter, and would be called upon when the department needed a sniper - keeping a scoped rifle in the trunk of his patrol car.

Like many of the other officers Skinner was highly resentful of Virgil Tibbs when he first came to work for the Sparta police department, but later became good friends with both Tibbs and his wife Althea, especially after Virgil supported him when Bubba was falsely accused of rape.

Around town Bubba was seen as something of a ladies man, and never had problems turning female heads. Bubba had a steady stream of girlfriends. This included Althea, who saw Bubba as a hunk. This turned into a potentially embarrassing situation when someone left a baby on his doorstep, leading other officers to joke that while they didn't know who the mother was if Bubba wasn't sure he knew who the father was. (However the child was not his).

Starting as a patrol officer, Bubba was promoted to Sergeant, then to Lieutenant, and later to Captain. Bubba stayed with the police department after Gillespie was fired by the city council, serving new chief Chief Hampton Forbes as well as he did Gillespie. By then Bubba was a senior member of the police department.


  • Bubba Skinner was played by Alan Autry. Autry would later become mayor of Fresno, California.
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