[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/few_good_men_ver2.jpg]]
->'''Jessup:''' You want answers?!\\
'''Kaffee:''' I want the ''truth''!\\
'''Jessup:''' ''You can't '''handle''' the truth!''[[note]]The rest of the line is [[Quotes/AFewGoodMen here.]][[/note]]

A 1989 play made into a 1992 movie directed by Creator/RobReiner, written by Creator/AaronSorkin and starring Creator/TomCruise and Creator/JackNicholson, ''A Few Good Men'' is a military-themed courtroom drama in which young lawyer Daniel Kaffee (Cruise) defends two Marines accused of murder, who say they were acting under orders from Col. Nathan Jessup (Nicholson). The movie is mainly famous today for its [[YouCantHandleTheParody frequently spoofed]] "You want the truth? You can't ''handle'' the truth!" MotiveRant at the end.[[note]][[BeamMeUpScotty Even though the "You want the truth" part is never actually spoken.]][[/note]]
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!!This movie provides examples of:

* AnachronicOrder: Col. Jessup's meeting with his officers about Santiago is depicted after the start of the film.
* ArmorPiercingQuestion:
--> [[spoiler: '''Kaffee:''' '''DID YOU ORDER THE CODE RED?!''']]
--> '''Col. Jessup:''' '''YOU'RE GODDAMN RIGHT I DID!'''
* AteHisGun: [[spoiler:Markinson]]'s alternative to testifying against Jessup because he feels that the failed to act sooner and refuses to betray his commander.
* AwfulTruth: [[YouCantHandleTheParody "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!"]]
** All kidding aside, the line has a very well earned spot--#29--on AFI' s "100 Quotes" List.
* AxCrazy: Colonel Jessep. He doesn't flinch from the deaths of Santiago [[spoiler:or Markinson]] and after his VillainousBreakdown lunges screaming at Kaffey.
* BackhandedCompliment:
--> '''Kendrick:''' I like all you Navy boys. Every time we have to go somewhere to fight, you give us a ride.
* BadassBoast:
--> '''Col. Jessup:''' "You want to investigate me, roll the dice and take your chances. I eat breakfast 300 yards from 4,000 Cubans who are trained to kill me, so don't think for ''one second'' that you can come down here, flash your badge, and make me nervous."
* BadassBookworm: Danny Kaffee and Jack Ross both qualify
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler:The Marines get cleared of their charges of murder but not of "conduct unbecoming of a Marine" and are to be dishonorably discharged following the trial. On the other hand, the right man who ordered the attack has been arrested, Kaffee has become respected and learned to take his job seriously, and [[HeelRealization the Marines accept that they deserve their punishment]]. Oh, [[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking and Kaffee and Galloway don't get together]], despite some hints of romantic interest when she showed up to his apartment to ask him on a date. They just leave.]]
* BlackAndGrayMorality: [[spoiler: Jessup and Kendrick are certainly the villains here, issuing illegal orders and then denying involvement when things went awry. But Dawson and Downey both display practically no remorse over killing a fellow Marine (accident or not, they entered his cabin with intent to hurt and humiliate), sticking to their belief they did nothing wrong because they were following orders against a known screwup. In the end, they do receive just punishment (a dishonorable discharge) and Dawson realizes it's fair, even if Downey probably would have gone to his grave thinking he was in the right if Dawson didn't spell it out for him. Even Santiago, though put in a difficult situation, was willing to rat on a fellow marine, the one who wouldn't allow the others to harass him no less, for his own benefit, and may have been knowingly lying about the nature of Dawson's fence shooting in order to get transferred out. None of the three parties come out looking all that great.]]
* BluffingTheMurderer: Kaffee brings in a pair of {{Surprise Witness}}es to help pressure Jessup at the end. [[spoiler:They don't have any actual information.]]
* BrickJoke:
--> '''Lt. Weinberg''': "Cmdr. Galloway, Lt. Kaffee is considered to be the best litigator in our office. He successfully plea bargained 44 cases in 9 months."
--> '''Kaffee''': "One more and I get a set of steak knives."
--> Later on when it looks like the case is slipping away from them:
--> '''Galloway''': "I'm sorry I cost you the steak knives."
* BrilliantButLazy: Kaffee is a brilliant attorney with a fantastic mind and charisma. But he'd much rather practice getting his softball swing perfect.
* TheCameo: Christopher Guest, who'd starred in two of Reiner's [[ThisIsSpinalTap previous]] [[ThePrincessBride films]], plays a doctor on the stand.
* ChurchMilitant / GungHolierThanThou: Kendrick is this in spades.
--> '''Kenridck''': "I have two books at my bedside, Lieutenant: the Marine Corps Code of Conduct and the King James Bible. The only proper authorities I am aware of are my commanding officer, Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, and the Lord our God."
* ClearTheirName: What Kaffee must do for Dawson and Downey.
* ClicheStorm: [[InvokedTrope Invoked]]; Kaffee has a throwaway conversation with the local newsstand vendor involving each of them trying to wryly out-cliché the other.
* ColonelKilgore: Being a man who eats breakfast three hundred yards away from men who are trained to kill him, Colonel Jessup feels that he is fighting a war all the time to protect America and will not have his methods questioned, no matter how disgusting or illegal.
* DangerTakesABackSeat: Lt Col Markinson (the highly creepy J.T. Walsh) does this to Kaffee.
* DeadpanSnarker: This is a Sorkin film so this is expected. Even in a cast full of snark, Kaffee reigns supreme.
* DirtyCoward: Jessup, who despite his claims of toughness, was willing to throw two Marines under a bus to protect himself.
* TheEnd: Used straight, in a fairly rare example for such a recent film. Rob Reiner says on the DVD commentary that it felt right, with the story being a sort of old-fashioned morality play.
* EurekaMoment: Kaffee retrieves his baseball bat from his closet and has an epiphany.
-->'''Sam:''' He ''does'' think better with his bat.
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes: See PetTheDog below.
* FaceDeathWithDignity: [[spoiler: Markinson is in full dress uniform before shooting himself.]]
* FatalFamilyPhoto: {{Subverted}}. We see Sam taking a walk in the park with his baby daughter, and the whole business seemed shady. Then nothing happened.
* FauxAffablyEvil: Jessup is polite and charming when he wants to be, which only makes his volatile personality and complete willingness to sacrifice people for his own gain more terrifying.
* FollowTheLeader: ''Series/{{JAG}}''.
* FriendlyEnemy: Prosecutor Jack Ross. He and Kaffee are friends outside the courtroom, and Ross even privately believes the two Marines shouldn't be jailed, but in his own words:
-->'''Ross:''' I represent the United States Government without passion or prejudice. And my client has a case.
** Contrasted by Kaffee's friend and co-counsel, Lt. Weinberg, who is personally disgusted by his clients' actions regardless of whether they were following orders or not.
* HeroicBSOD: Kaffee goes out and gets [[DrowningMySorrows rip-roaring drunk]] after [[spoiler:his star witness kills himself]].
* HesBack: "I got my second wind."
* HeelRealization: Dawson realizes that they deserve [[spoiler: dishonorable discharges for "conduct unbecoming of a Marine"]] at the end. He even takes the time to explain it to [[TheDitz the amazingly slow-witted Downey]].
-->'''Downey:''' What did we do wrong? We did nothing wrong.
-->'''Dawson:''' Yeah, we did. We were supposed to fight for the people who couldn't fight for themselves. We were supposed to fight for Willie.
* HidingBehindReligion: Lieutenant Kendrick claims being Christian in his testimony, but simoultaneously exposes his absolute absence of compassion.
* HighlyConspicuousUniform: Zig Zagged. Weinberg tells Kaffee to wear his white dress uniform when they go to Guantanamo Bay because of how hot it is in Cuba. When they arrive, Galloway is wearing a khaki work uniform. The Marine private that drives the trio from the airfield suggests that Kaffee and Weinberg put on a pair of camouflage jackets he keeps in his jeep, reasoning that, "if the Cubans see an officer wearing white, they might think it's something they want to take a shot at."
* HonorBeforeReason: Why Dawson refuses the plea bargain. The proposed deal would have saved them from prison, but a dishonorable discharge essentially [[UnPerson negates everything they'd done in the Corps]].
* {{Hypocrite}}: For all of his talk about how Marines never disobey orders, Jessup thinks nothing of ignoring the orders of his own superiors because he thinks he knows better. For all of his talk about loyalty, he is more than willing to throw two of his men under the bus to save his own hide.
* ItsAllAboutMe: Jessup has this in spades. He has no remorse for ordering a weak marine killed and only becomes angry when his validity as a soldier is questioned or his orders disobeyed.
* IWontSayImGuilty: Dawson's position on the Code Red -- yes, he did it, but since his commander ordered him to do it, he won't allow himself to plead. Unusually for this trope, [[spoiler:Dawson changes his mind at the end. Having been acquitted for the major crimes, he accepts a dishonorable discharge for "conduct unbecoming a Marine," admitting that he should have stood up for Santiago]]. This is is partially foreshadowed when he refuses to plea bargain:
---->"If a court decides that what we did was wrong, I'll accept whatever punishment they give..."
* {{Jerkass}}:
** Col Jessup. Aside from being the villain, he's also a colossal dick to his underlings.
** Also Kendrick. He's equally unpleasant to Kaffee and Galloway and becomes equally incensed when his authority is remotely questioned.
* KnightTemplar: Colonel Jessup. He reiterates several times throughout the movie the phrase "We're in the business of saving lives," indicating that he truly believes he's doing the right thing. The view in his courtroom speech might be a reasonable statement of the unique role of the military in protecting a free society and the compromises that come with that. [[spoiler:When that turned into ordering assaults on his own men and covering it up...]]
* LaserGuidedKarma: [[spoiler:Jessup getting charged with Santiago's death after trying to pin it on Dawson and Downey.]]
* LyingToThePerp: See BluffingTheMurderer.
* MildlyMilitary:
** Kaffee is chronically tardy, doesn't want Dawson to call him "sir," and plays softball while his clients are sitting in jail. Galloway calls him on it several times, and the Marines can barely contain their disgust.
** Also, one marine salutes Kaffee near the end of the movie. Indoors. And without any headgear. This one is forgivable, however. Indoor salutes are done during ceremonies and certain other occasions.
** Really, the entire movie, at least to people who have actually served in the military (especially the Marines). Uniforms are sloppily maintained, Marines in the movie often keep their hands in their pockets (a major no-no in the real Marine Corps), and nobody maintains bearing or decorum anywhere.
* MirandaRights: Ross recites these after [[spoiler:Jessup confesses on the stand]].
* MistakenAge: Kaffee, to Aunt Ginny. Aunt Ginny, to Kaffee.
* MotiveRant: A classic. Many, many courtroom drama motive rants since then have been based on it.
** Subverted in the original ''stage'' production the movie was based on, see TheReasonYouSuckSpeech below
* MyMasterRightOrWrong: This is the Marine's code ("[[SemperFi Semper Fidelis]]" - Always Faithful/Loyal) and is integral to the chain of command as highlighted in the film; you obey your superior officers no matter ''what'' or people die. Colonel Jessup hides behind this code as justification for his actions and uses it to command absolute obedience from all his men. It ultimately comes back to bite him when he can't explain the actions of Lance Corporal Dawson and PFC Downey who gave Private Santiago an illegal "Code Red" disciplinary punishment which killed him. On the one hand, he insists that his men never disobey his orders and that he did not order Dawson and Downey to harm Santiago, yet they would not have gone after Santiago without a direct order to do so. It is this key point that Lieutenant Kaffee uses to put Jessup in a bind and force him to admit the truth via the ArmorPiercingQuestion.
* TheNeidermeyer: Colonel Jessup and Lieutenant Kendrick. Neither show the honor and loyalty to their troops which they espouse and would sooner have one physically punished illegally and so dangerously that he dies from the encounter which they then cover up, rather than send him away on point of principle.
* NeverMyFault: Many of the Marines suffer from this, believing that they are above reproach because of the nature of their work and their ultimately good intentions. Jessup is the worst for it. Even after admitting to being behind Santiago's death, he's still incensed at being held responsible for it, blaming Kaffee. Dawson and Downey have an extreme case of this as well, but grow out of it by the end.
* ObstructiveBureaucrat: Jessup dabbles in this. Aside from refusing to transfer Santiago off base, he has the Tower Chief's logs doctored to conceal a flight.
* PatrioticFervor: Jessup's justification for his actions.
* ThePerryMasonMethod: "You want answers?" "I want the ''truth''!!"... and so forth.
* PetTheDog: During questioning leading up to [[AllThereIsToKnowAboutTheCryingGame the only quote anyone seems to remember]], Colonel Jessup answers questions about [[RuleOfThree three phone calls]]. The first two calls are about the military. The third one turns out to be a call to his sister asking her if she wanted to have dinner. For all his flaws as a soldier, he seems to be a decent enough brother.
** Additionally, when the defence team are down in Cuba Jessup presents himself as an admirer of Kaffee's late father for his work defending civil rights. He's also NiceToTheWaiter.
** The first example becomes a case of extreme MoralMyopia when you consider that [[spoiler:his longtime comrade Markinson just killed himself]], not to mention that he's scheming to pass the buck for his morally bankrupt actions onto his underlings.
* PleaBargain: Fabulously averted.
--> "We joined the Marines because we wanted to live our lives by a certain code, and we found it in the Corps. Now you're asking us to sign a piece of paper that says we have no honor. You're asking us to say we're not Marines. If a court decides that what we did was wrong, then I'll accept whatever punishment they give. But I believe I was right sir, I believe I did my job, and I WILL NOT DISHONOR MYSELF, MY UNIT, OR THE CORPS SO I CAN GO HOME IN SIX MONTHS! [beat] Sir.
* PoliticallyIncorrectVillain: Col. Jessup's speech about superior officers is shockingly misogynist. Interestingly, Jessup was also wrong. Dr. Antonia Novello was the US Surgeon General when ''A Few Good Men'' was released. As the head of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Surgeons General always hold the rank of vice admiral. Jessup would have been required by law to salute her.
* PunchClockVillain: Ross is a minor version of this trope. He's opposing the heroes of the story because he is representing the US government and it's his job to do so. It's well-established that otherwise he's on very friendly terms with Kaffee. Their good-natured banter after the trial shows that, despite the often heated proceedings, there are no hard feelings on either side.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Markinson quietly objects to Colonel Jessup's hardline attitude and actions towards his men, but is too spineless to stand up to him or call him out when he causes the death of Private Santiago.
** Meanwhile, Judge Randolph is, well, a judge. What makes him this instead of a prop with dialog is:
--->'''Jessup:''' ''Colonel''.\\
'''Kaffee:''' What's that?\\
'''Jessup:''' I would appreciate it if he would address me as 'colonel' or 'sir'. I believe I've earned it.\\
'''Randolph:''' Defense counsel will address the witness as 'colonel' or 'sir'.\\
'''Jessup:''' I don't know what the hell kind of unit you're running here...\\
'''Randolph:''' And the witness will address this court as 'judge' or 'your honor'. *gives Jessup a look* I'm quite certain ''I've'' earned it. Take your seat, Colonel.
* SanitySlippage: From the moment Jessup enters the courtroom onward all the little psychological cracks he works so hard to hide start unraveling, culminating in his frothing MotiveRant and subsequent VillainousBreakdown.
* ShoutOut: The title, to the Marines recruiting commercial whose tagline is "We're looking for a few good men".
* SignatureLine: "You can't handle the truth!"
* SmugSnake: Jessup and Kendrick
* SociopathicSoldier: Like Colonel Jessup, Lieutenant Kendrick is callous, cruel, and entirely without scruples.
* SpannerInTheWorks: Both Galloway and Dawson are this to Jessup's friends in the Pentagon's attempts to handle Santiago's death quietly. Galloway for insisting that Kaffee actually give his clients' due diligence for once instead of rushing straight to the plea bargin, Dawson for telling Kaffee to take his plea bargain and shove it.
* ShutUpHannibal: After Jessup was [[spoiler: placed under arrest]], Kaffee delivers this line:
-->'''Kaffee''': "Don't call me son. I'm a lawyer, and an officer in the United States Navy, and you're [[spoiler: under arrest]], you son of a bitch."
* StrictlyProfessionalRelationship: LT Kaffee and LCDR Galloway clearly seem attracted to each other, but focus more on solving the case at hand than pursuing a relationship. Once the trial ends, they both go their separate ways.
* ThatWasObjectionable: A borderline example. The prosecution puts on a doctor to give his opinion as to the cause of Willie Santiago's death. Lt. Cmdr. Galloway objects on the basis of his qualifications. When the judge overrules her, she "strenuously objects" and is again overruled.
--> '''Sam''': "Strenuously object"? Is that how it works? "Objection!" "Overruled." "No no no, I ''strenuously'' object." "Oh, well if you ''strenuously'' object, then I should take some time to reconsider."
** Her "strenuous objection" prompts the judge to say "The witness ''is'' an expert, and the court will hear his opinion;" undermining her own point in front of the court members, which Sam calls her on.
* TakeFive:
-->'''Capt. West:''' Commander Galloway, why don't you get yourself a cup of coffee?
-->'''Lt. Cmdr. Galloway:''' Thank you, sir, I'm fine.
-->'''Capt. West:''' Commander, I'd like you to leave the room so we can talk about you behind your back.
-->'''Lt. Cmdr. Galloway:''' Certainly, sir.
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: The original stage production had Kaffee respond to Jessep's MotiveRant as follows:
-->'''Kaffee''': You trashed the law! But hey, we understand, you’re permitted. You have a greater responsibility than we can possibly fathom. You provide us with a blanket of freedom. We live in a world that has walls and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns, and nothing is going to stand in your way of doing it. Not Willie Santiago, not Dawson and Downey, not Markinson, not 1,000 armies, not the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and [[YouBastard not the Constitution of the United States]]! [[CallingTheOldManOut That’s the truth isn’t it Colonel]]? I can handle it.
** Thanks to the film's omission of the above response to Jessep's MotiveRant, many people miss the point of the film's most famous scene: Yes, Jessep thinks he’s justified in doing what he does - ''Except'' for the '''fact''' that ''he isn’t''.
* ThoseTwoGuys: Dawson and Downey.
* TokenRomance: Thankfully averted. Originally a romance between Tom Cruise and Demi Moore's characters was planned (and stills from a love scene made it to the tabloid news), but was left on the cutting room floor. The subtext is still there though.
* TooDumbToLive: Private Lowden Downey. Galloway states at one point he has no idea what's going on. And when the time comes to put him on the stand, his panic is palpable. [[spoiler:And ultimately justified]].
* TrailersAlwaysSpoil: The MotiveRant that undoes Col. Jessup was the best-known moment of the movie before it came out, due to "You can't handle the truth!" being such a catchy line.
* UnspokenPlanGuarantee: Averted, where the night before Jessup is put on the stand, the lawyers have an onscreen meeting about their plan to make him confess, and the next day it's executed perfectly. Roger Ebert cited this as a flaw in the film, saying it's no fun if nothing goes wrong after you've already heard what's going to happen.
** There is a tiny bit of a speed bump, in that before they go into court that day, Galloway takes Kaffee aside and tells him he should back off of Jessup if he feels like he's not going to crack, and then during the questioning, Jessup's being really intimidating, Kaffee momentarily loses his nerve, Weinberg gives him a little shake of the head, Jessup gets up and starts to leave... and ''then'' Kaffee pulls it together and takes us home.
** Besides, the look on Kaffee's face when [[spoiler:Jessup confesses]], and that speed bump, shows it wasn't executed perfectly, it just turned out how Kaffee hoped.
** Not to mention Kaffee didn't back off when Ross objected to the line of questioning and the judge had held Kaffee in contempt. It's kinda hard to hear over all the shouting going on at this point.
* UtopiaJustifiesTheMeans: To Colonel Jessup, the only safe America is one that allows him to do whatever he thinks is necessary to protect it, with nobody allowed to question his methods or judgement.
* VillainousBreakdown: Jessup has [[MotiveRant his famous rant]], but the real breakdown comes right after when the unflappable Colonel [[spoiler:finds he is being charged with Santiago's death, and then lunges screaming at Kaffee, who doesn't even bat an eyelash.]]
-->Col. Jessup: I'M GOING TO RIP THE EYES OUT OF YOUR HEAD ''AND PISS INTO YOUR DEAD SKULL!'' YOU ''FUCKED'' WITH THE '''WRONG''' MARINE!
* WalkAndTalk: It first appeared here by accident as Rob Reiner needed a way to move the first scene with Jack and Danny along. It has since become one of Aaron Sorkin's trademarks.
* WellDoneSonGuy: Kaffee's late father was of the overachieving variety.
* WhamLine: "He was never going to be transferred off that base" from Markinson changes everything for the defence, giving them a real weapon with which to fight back. InUniverse only, however, since the audience already knows Jessup had no intention of transferring Santiago.
* YouCanSayThatAgain: Kaffee trades clichés with the guy at his newsstand, resulting in this exchange:
-->'''Luther:''' It ain't over till the fat lady sings.
-->'''Kaffee:''' You can say that again.
-->'''Luther:''' It ain't over till the fat lady sings.
-->'''Kaffee:''' (with him) --fat lady sings. I walked into that one.

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