James Payton is a detective, on an undercover operation where fake passports are being smuggled into Atlanta by a man named "Omar". After a shootout with the smugglers, and a car chase that leaves one injured, the lieutenant leading the case ask James to drop the case on "Omar", something James doesn't do.
Ben Barber, a fast-talking, jumpy high school security guard, applies for the Atlanta City Police Academy. When he gets in, he decides to ask James for his blessings to marry his sister Angela. James then says Ben has to be worthy of Angela, making him go on a "ride along" to prove it.
After picking up Ben and taking him to the police station, James tells dispatch to give him all the 1-26's that are called into the station. James makes Ben take care of all the 1-26's. James then arrives at the park to question an informant Runflat, about a connection of Serbia and "Omar". He finds out that a shipment will come in later that day. After leaving the park, James takes Ben to the local shooting range where he finds out that Zastava M92's have been given to the store, Ben realizes he has a clue for James. When a 1-26 is called in, Ben and James are called to a market where a drunk man named Crazy Cody is being disorderly. Ben tries to subdue him but is unable to, so James arrests him.
Ben asks to be taken home before he receives a call from Angela. He tells her about his stressful day, before Angela says that James plays poker with a guy named Crazy Cody, along with telling him that 1-26's are a code for annoying situations for new-comers as a joke. He then goes into the police station and sees Cody laughing with James and his partners Santiago and Miggs.
Upset at James, Ben refuses to go home and instead takes a 1-26 call to respond to a disturbance at a strip club, where two men get into a mexican standoff with James and Ben, which Ben thinks it's another joke call, so he fools around. James subdues the men, and the two are then tipped off about a gun deal involving Omar's men. Ben then confronts James about the 1-26's. James receives a call from Santiago in the car, when he finds out that Runflat had turned himself in, Ben says how Runflat's brother in the park said that Runflat had just got out of prison. James then contradicts, saying that Runflat hadn't been in prison for over two years, leading to another clue.
The men go to talk Runflat's other brother, J, trying to find out the location of the gun deal, during the confrontation, Ben accidentally shoots J, and finds out that the deal will take place at an old abandoned warehouse at 9 PM.
James decides to infiltrate the warehouse with Santiago and Miggs, after leaving Ben behind in the car. James is then betrayed by Santiago and Miggs, who turn out to be crooked cops working for Omar. James is then tied up, just when Ben witnesses. Santiago not only mocks James, but also criticizes him for his unsociable, egocentric personality. As the deal begins, Ben enters pretending to be Omar (since no one has ever actually seen the real Omar). Ben then wreaks havoc at the deal, and right as Ben is about to leave with James, the real Omar appears. A shootout ensues, and many of Omar's men are killed. James and Ben take the money meant for the deal and escape right before the warehouse blows up because of Ben's grenade and destroys James's car. Unbeknownst to them, Santiago, Miggs and Omar all escape.
Santiago and Miggs arrive at Angela's apartment and tie her up. As she was playing one of Ben's video games, Ben's fellow players hear the confrontation ensuing between Angela, Miggs and Santiago from Ben's headset. At the hospital after being shot in the leg, Ben receives a call from the fellow player, and tells James that there's something going on at the apartment. After seeing some dirty cops arrive at the hospital, James takes Ben and leaves to go to the apartment, along with Omar's money. James then injures Miggs, before getting into a fight with Santiago. As Santiago is about to shoot James, Angela knocks him out with a frying pan. Ben gets knocked out by Omar in a fight, before Omar takes the bag of money and Angela, and leaves the apartment.
James follows Omar and Angela and confronts them. Right as Omar is about to shoot James, Ben slides over a car and kicks him, and James shoots Omar twice, injuring him. Police arrest Omar, Miggs and Santiago. James gives Ben his blessing.
In a mid-credits scene Ben and Angela are engaged, and Ben is weeks away from graduating from the police academy. At a barbecue at James' house Ben blows up the barbecue grill and is sent flying back into the bushes, killing the neighbor's dog.
- Ice Cube as James Payton
- Kevin Hart as Ben Barber
- Laurence Fishburne as Omar
- Tiki Sumpter as Angela
- John Leguizamo as Santiago
- Bryan Callen as Miggs
Due to the box office success of the first film, Universal is moving forward with a sequel, Ride Along 2, which will again be directed by Tim Story and with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reprising their roles from the first film. Production started in July 2014 in Miami and the rest will take place in Altanta.