Wiki Headlines
We've switched servers and will be updating the old code over the next couple months, meaning that several things might break. Please report issues here.
SWAT: Swagger, Weapons And Testosterone


(permanent link) added: 2011-04-09 17:00:26 sponsor: AmenhotepII (last reply: 2012-04-20 18:37:14)

Add Tag:
Do We Have This?

Needs a Better Title?

The tendency in any medium for SWAT teams to behave incompetently, rashly, and unprofessionally, usually leading to their own demise, paving the way for our Cowboy Cop or Action Survivor to save the day.

Overlaps with Red Shirt Army, but the SWAT team does not necessarily need to be killed. More often than not, their gung-ho, trigger happy attitude just fouls up the situation further, putting hostages/bombs/innocent bystanders in danger by shooting the wrong guy or being too loud or noticable. Generally, SWAT teams in fiction are given an elitist, almost Jock-like attitude full of unnecessary machismo and arrogance, in contrast to other police officers who are either depicted as hard-boiled detectives, simpleton beat officers, or edgy undercover types.

Basically, in any situation where a SWAT team is employed, expect the situation to swing against the protagonist's favor.

Similar Tropes: The Worlds Expert on Getting Killed, Red shirt Army, Police are Useless, etc.

Notable examples:

  • Die Hard. Multiple times. From standing in a glass doorway, ignoring hostiles just inside the building in the first movie, to casually dismissing potential targets in a dangerous situation in the second movie, it's a bad idea to be in a SWAT team when John Mc Clane is around.
  • Done again in The Professional, where one hitman in a small apartment ruins an entire SWAT team.
  • Batman: Year One. The Gotham City SWAT team is alluded to have committed massacres in the past. In one scene, a Cat Scare promts a full-on barrage from said SWAT team.
  • In The Negotiator, with Samuel L Jackson, a preemptive assault by a SWAT team is botched, and several members are captured.
  • Lamphaded in Naked Gun 2 1/2, where Frank Drebin almost causes a deathless Suicide by Cop by patting a SWAT officer on the shoulder.
  • Averted in Inside Man, where the SWAT commander is relatively calm, and their plan for breaching the bank goes off without a hitch. Too bad this accomplishes nothing in stopping the heist plot.
  • In Sin City, Marv massacres most of the SWAT teams sent after him.
  • In Predator 2, some nameless, faceless SWAT officers accompany our hero, Danny Glover,and his rag tag team into a building full of armed coke fiends. After one of said coke dealers bursts out of a room firing indiscriminately, the SWAT team spends 4 WHOLE SECONDS standing in a tight group doing nothing. They are summarily cut down.
  • Terminator 2 flip flops on this one, first showing a competent team using proper tactics when clearing a room. Later, the same team stands completely still while unloading hundreds of rounds of ammunition into the Terminator (including bullets that very obviously hit his face). Instead of retreating, they hold their ground and are incapacitated violently.
  • The original Dawn of the Dead might have the Most Triumpant Example, featuring..
    • Blodthirsty, gung-ho, racist remarks from Wooley, who's just dying to kill everyone.
    • The nervous new guy takes the first bullet directly in the face from an obviously untrained militia member armed with a revolver. It's really an impossible shot.
    • Wooley happily kicks in doors, blasting innocent bystanders while breaching the apartment complex and laughing merrily while discharging his revolver down a smoke-filled hallway.
  • Watchmen has Rorschach defeat a SWAT team with little more than household appliances. May be justified due to his Crazy-Prepared nature and the element of surprise, but this gives the impression that a SWAT team never prepares for surprises, and that the other officers covering the door have terrible reflexes.
  • The V for Vendetta comic has a (British!) SWAT analogue not only use an elevator (bad idea), but also has them blow away a hostage disguised as the protagonist after cornering him in a recording studio. Keep in mind, they knew the protagonist was wearing a bomb vest and they still shoot him in the chest without any warning.
    • Alan Moore must really hate SWAT.
  • A SWAT analogue is slaughtered in the first episode of the Second Season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. This leads the government to turn to Section 9 to clean up the mess.
  • Money Train. A Transit Police SWAT analogue (wearing everything short of "SWAT" on their backs) expends dozens of rounds of ammunition into a teenaged pickpocket running in their direction. When called out about it, they shrug it off as "following orders".
  • Speed also flip flops, showing Keanu Reeves as a competent officer, but also showing two major infractions.
    • Jeff Daniels and his team, despite knowing that they are entering the lair of a mad bomber, send the WHOLE TEAM into the building to be blown up.
    • After successfully getting the wounded bus driver off of the bus, SWAT officers encourage more hostages to flee the scene, despite being expressly told not to. Explosions and deaths ensue.
replies: 26

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy