''Blue Thunder'' is a 1983 action film about a police helicopter pilot who discovers a GovernmentConspiracy to use an experimental BlackHelicopter for urban riot control. It earned an UsefulNotes/AcademyAward nomination for Best Film Editing and [[FollowTheLeader kicked off a subgenre]] of [[CoolPlane Cool Helicopter]] shows including a short-lived 1984 TV series of the same name [[DuelingShows and the enormously more popular]] ''Series/{{Airwolf}}''.

Frank Murphy (Creator/RoyScheider) is a Vietnam War veteran who flies helicopters for the Metropolitan Police Astro Division. In his time off, he deals with a failed relationship and his fears of going crazy, based on flashbacks he keeps getting to a traumatic 'Nam mission. In the course of training a new observer, rookie Richard Lymangood, he witnesses what appears to be the planned murder of a city councilwoman, but when he tries to report his suspicions, he's grounded due to earlier "extracurricular" activities.

Murphy tries to follow up on the killing on his own time, finding a scrap of paper that calls attention to something called the "THOR Project". Before his investigation can bear fruit, however, he's called up and his suspension is lifted so that he can participate in field testing of a new helicopter. Code-named "Blue Thunder", it's a heavily armed and armored machine with advanced sensors and stealth technology designed for urban riot control. He also meets his nemesis, Colonel Cochrane, a gung ho military test pilot who knows Murphy from Vietnam, and not in a friendly way.

During their first flight in Blue Thunder, Murphy and Lymangood decide to experiment with its stealth and sensor capabilities, while at the same time using the onboard computer to investigate THOR. They end up uncovering a conspiracy to incite unrest in the city's ghettos in order to showcase the new helicopter. When the bad guys realize they've been found out, all bets are off. The two must run for their lives with the evidence, and Murphy is forced to steal Blue Thunder and fight a high-stakes aerial battle over the city.

!!Trope Thunder:
* AchillesHeel: In the climactic battle, [[spoiler:Blue Thunder's targeting system is knocked out by a lucky shot]].
* ArtisticLicenseMilitary: Not the Governor, the Mayor, the Chief of Police, or anyone else can authorize military pilots to fire live missiles (outside of training missions, which are conducted ''very'' far from civilian population centers) over the United States. ''Only'' the President of the United States can do this. Even getting military support for the operation would have violated Posse Comitatus, because military personnel cannot support civilian law enforcement without a lot of hurdles being cleared.
* BlackHelicopter: Blue Thunder is a very dark blue, but it fits the principle of the trope well enough, being designed for stealth.
* CantStopTheSignal: The main action sequence has Murphy providing aerial cover for his girlfriend who is trying to get the [[PlotCoupon tape bearing the evidence]] to the media.
* CarFu: [[spoiler:Lymangood]] is struck by the mook's car while trying to escape captivity.
* CatchPhrase: Cochrane's "Catch ya later". [[IronicEcho Reused]] by Murphy as a BondOneLiner. Also, "Follow my leader."
* ChekhovsGun:
** Murphy {{flashback}}s repeatedly to a helicopter flight where a Vietnamese soldier was thrown to his death, but the memory always cuts off before the end. In the final battle, he seems to unlock the full memory, revealing that [[spoiler:Cochrane is the one who did it]].
** The remote erase functionality for Blue Thunder's recording system functions as a ChekhovsGun for the villains, as they remember it just as the tape is about to escape any possibility of being recovered. It fails by mere seconds.
* ChekhovsSkill:
** Murphy's reputation for looping a helicopter ([[JustPlaneWrong supposedly an aerodynamically impossible feat]] [[note]]See the [[Trivia/BlueThunder Trivia page]][[/note]]) comes into play [[spoiler:in the climactic showdown with Cochrane]].
** Murphy's girlfriend's driving skills (and willingness to go the wrong way down a one-way street).
* ColdBloodedTorture: Of the [[{{Fingore}} breaking fingers]] variety, used on [[spoiler:Lymangood]]. Notably, it doesn't work; as soon as they let up he tries to escape.
* CoolPlane: The film is designed to showcase Blue Thunder, a stealthy, armored helicopter with a [[GatlingGood rotary cannon]] designed for urban riot control.
* TheCoronerDothProtestTooMuch: The councilwoman's murder early in the film is written off as a common street crime, with only Murphy insisting that it was far too complex and well-planned.
* DaChief: Captain Braddock of the Astro Division, Murphy's boss, seems to exist mainly to chew him out for insubordination rather than believe his theories about the conspiracy.
* DeadManWriting: [[spoiler:Lymangood's]] recorded message to Murphy, telling him where he stashed the tapes.
* DeadSidekick: [[spoiler:Lymangood]] is murdered by the villains' mooks after escaping interrogation.
* DescriptionPorn: Sgt. Short, when describing the helicopter's weaponry.
-->"This whole ship is heavily armored with Nordoc NATO armor, one inch thick. This ship is equipped with a forward-mounted, twenty-millimeter electric cannon. Its six barrels are capable of firing ''four thousand rounds'' of ammunition per minute. And ''that'', gentlemen, is one ''hell'' of a shit-storm in anybody's language!"
* EvilBrit: British immigrant Colonel Cochrane serves as a U.S. military pilot.
* EveryCarIsAPinto: Remarkably averted, to the point where things that you'd think ''would'' explode pretty easily -- like helicopters -- don't, even when shot out of the sky by Blue Thunder's [[GatlingGood rotary cannon]].
* FakeStatic: "Cannot read you, Special Base. Still garbled." Murphy is later called out on this by Captain Braddock.
-->"Who are you fooling with that phony radio bullshit? Jesus Christ, Frank, that went out three days after Marconi invented the fucking thing!"
* FunWithAcronyms:
** JAFO [[spoiler:('''J'''ust '''A'''nother '''F'''ucking '''O'''bserver)]]
** And the THOR project itself. '''T'''actical '''H'''elicopter '''O'''ffensive '''R'''esponse.
** Cochrane's first and middle initals, F.E. - [[PlayedForLaughs played for laughs]] by Murphy:
--> '''Lymangood:''' "F.E. - What's the F.E stand for?"
--> '''Murphy:''' "Fuck Everbody"
* GatlingGood: Blue Thunder is armed with a turret-mounted, automatically tracking 20mm rotary cannon. It's awesome.
* GovernmentConspiracy: The T.H.O.R. Project turns out to be a conspiracy to incite urban riots in order to show off the capabilities of Blue Thunder, presumably in order to motivate the police to purchase and operate more of them.
* GunshipRescue: When Murphy's girlfriend has finally been stopped by the police, he flies Blue Thunder up from beneath an overpass and aiming its gun directly at the cops. They are so startled that she gets the chance to flee. When they collect themselves and give pursuit anyway, he blows their patrol car in half.
* HeroicBSOD: Based on his Vietnam {{flashback}}s and the fact that he constantly tests himself for "sanity", it seems as if Murphy is teetering on the edge of one of these for the entire film. [[note]]See the [[Trivia/BlueThunder Trivia page]] for more on this.[[/note]]
* HotPursuit: Murphy's girlfriend attempts to outrun the cops while carrying the [[PlotCoupon tape with the evidence]] to uncover the conspiracy. Murphy has to rescue her with Blue Thunder.
* ImmuneToBullets: Blue Thunder itself, at least to normal ammunition, although it has a few weak spots, particularly when military-issue armor-piercing rounds are involved.
* InfraredXRayCamera: Blue Thunder's "infrared" camera can apparently see through walls and windows. Quite possibly the TropeCodifier if not the UrExample.
* LeaningOnTheFourthWall: Lymangood comments to Murphy in a recorded message that it seems like they're playing "cops and robbers for real."
* MakeItLookLikeAnAccident: Cochrane sabotages Murphy's helicopter during a tryout flight in an attempt to get him out of the way.
* AMillionIsAStatistic: The presumably high casualty count from a heat-seeking missile hitting a ''skyscraper'' is barely acknowledged. Either that or it's a ConvenientlyEmptyBuilding. Frame-by-frame will reveal a large number of missing windows, but is it abandoned or slipshod SpecialEffects?
* MinorCrimeRevealsMajorPlot: An apparent rape/mugging turns out to be a contracted hit which is in turn part of a larger conspiracy to incite urban riots.
* NiceJobFixingItVillain: The bad guys arrange for someone in the media lobby to steal the tape; all he does is free the tape from its container in the struggle, just when his superiors have chanced on the right erase code.
* NoEndorHolocaust: The question of whether engaging a helicopter with Air Force interceptors over the city is necessarily a good idea is at least brought up, if glossed over. However, the news anchor narrating the ending seems to blatantly ignore any mass casualties from what transpires.
* ObligatoryWarCrimeScene: [[spoiler:Cochrane]] throwing the Vietnamese soldier out of Murphy's helicopter in the 'Nam {{flashback}}.
* ThePeepingTom: One scene involves Murphy and Lymangood hovering outside a young lady's picture window to watch her practice nude yoga.
* PlotCoupon: The tape containing the evidence to unmask the GovernmentConspiracy.
* PowerPerversionPotential: A variant -- the Astro Division has a penchant for peeking in windows, and Murphy taking Lymangood to [[ThePeepingTom visit]] the "girl in Encino" (who happens to be quite fond of nude yoga and has a very large picture window) is what gets him grounded the first time.
** In another variant, on the test flight with Blue Thunder, they hover outside a fellow officer's house. Utilizing the aircraft's [[SilentRunningMode "Whisper]] [[FuturisticTechIndex Mode"]] and directional mics, they capture the explicit activities of said officer and his wife...and proceed to [[HilarityEnsues blast it out of the loudspeakers.]]
* RepeatCut: Used twice, first in the climactic helicopter duel with [[spoiler:Cochrane]], and then at the end when [[spoiler:Blue Thunder is destroyed by a train]].
* ShellShockedVeteran: Murphy's {{flashback}}s are triggered by his Vietnam War experiences.
* SilentRunningMode: Blue Thunder is equipped with a "whisper mode" that cancels most of the noise from its blades and turbines and lets it hover outside a building with nobody inside any the wiser.
* StatingTheSimpleSolution: After spending a lot of effort chasing down the tape with the evidence, one of the villains asks why they don't just remotely erase it, since it's previously established that they were designed with this functionality. The other villain replies that they don't know the code for the specific tape, to which he is told to just "erase them all", as if it should have been obvious.
* SurpriseVehicle: Blue Thunder's surprise appearance above an overpass [[GunshipRescue allows Murphy's girlfriend to escape the cops]].
* TagalongKid: Lymangood is assigned to the Astro Division as an "observer" and Murphy gets the duty of shepherding him around. Though not a pilot himself, he becomes fairly useful by tracking down some crucial plot clues.
* ThisCannotBe: Cochrane's reaction [[spoiler:when Murphy manages to perform the loop]].
--> '''Cochrane:''' "That's impossible!"
* ThouShaltNotKill[=/=]BulletsDoNotWorkThatWay: Murphy seems to go out of his way to avoid intentionally killing anybody while flying Blue Thunder around the city. All the killing in the movie, except for the very last battle with [[spoiler:Cochrane]], is done by the bad guys, nameless cops, or misguided military personnel (seriously, how do you justify firing heat-seeking missiles around in a goddamn ''city''?).
* WeaponsUnderstudies: The Blue Thunder uses a modified [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/89/Gazelle_SA342M.jpg Aerospatiale Gazelle]] chassis with a modified cockpit.
* WronskiFeint: Used by Murphy to dodge heat-seeking missiles, with sunlight reflected from a highrise in one case, and the heat of a barbecue chimney in another.

[-''''' "Catch ya later..." '''''-]