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''China Beach'' was a [[DuringTheWar War]]/MedicalDrama that ran on ABC from 1988 to 1991. It featured a group of characters serving at the [[VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory real]] China Beach Rest and Recreation (R & R) station and the fictional 510th Evacuation Hospital during the UsefulNotes/VietnamWar.

The show was unique, focusing on the experiences of women serving in and around a combat zone. Real [[UsefulNotes/VietnamWar Vietnam]] veterans, particularly nurses who had served, complained at first that plots focused too much on the romantic lives of the characters and, in that respect, were extremely unrealistic. This led to later seasons being more medical/combat based, with romantic entanglements relegated more to innuendo and subplots.

The show also followed characters who survived the war back to America, showing their struggles to return to "normal" society. It dealt with traumas that haunted returning veterans, from main character [[ShellShockedVeteran Colleen McMurphy]]'s drinking and psychological problems stemming from the things she saw as an Evac hospital triage nurse to [[DarkAndTroubledPast Marine-turned-lifeguard Boonie Lanier]] dealing with the loss of his leg.

The show was popular with critics and had a devoted fanbase but was consistently low-rated. Its cancellation, however, has been said to have less to do with ratings than with the fact that, at the time, America was fighting to liberate Kuwait in the first Gulf War, and the show's distinctly anti-war view clashed with the national sentiment of the day.

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!!''[[{{ChinaBeach}} China Beach]]'' provides examples of:
* AbusiveParents: We learn that [[HookerWithAHeartOfGold "civilian clerk/typist"]] KC Koloski comes from a background where her domineering father, as she once explained it, [[ParentalIncest made her his wife]].
** It's also eventually made clear that [[HospitalHottie Colleen McMurphy]] and her siblings suffered at the hands of a drunken, abusive father, though she was implicitly beaten or psychologically abused rather than sexually molested.
* TheAlcoholic: Colleen
* AllJustADream: The episode "Strange Brew" was almost entirely a patchwork of dream sequences.
* AnyoneCanDie: True, as a few main characters and some major secondary characters were killed off during the course of the show. But then, they were in a warzone.
* AsianBabymama: Offscreen for Dodger Winslow, supposedly, though it's never totally confirmed that Archie is his biological son.
* BackForTheFinale: The character of Wayloo Marie Holmes, who was written out of the series at the end of season 2 when her tour in Vietnam ended, shows up at the big reunion in the finale.
* BackToFront: The entire season 3 episode "Holly's Choice" is told in a progression of steps back through the events of a [[UsefulNotes/TheRedCross Red Cross]] worker [[spoiler: getting pregnant, choosing to have an abortion, and the aftermath]].
* BadDreams: Colleen suffered more than her share of war flashback dreams, and the episode "Strange Brew" centered around her falling asleep on the base helipad and wandering a dreamscape that had her confronting her own inability to save everyone and her troubled family past.
** Arguably, the dream in "Strange Brew" was shared, since KC dreamed of the same location and people, '''and''' they "saw" each other in the dream.
*** Or the whole episode could have been some sort of dream-in-a-dream, as they seem to wake up on the helipad at the end...only for the scene to then cut to Colleen waking up again in her bunk...
* BeginnersLuck: In the first episode of season 3, Colleen and KC are abducted by members of a Viet Cong cadre on the way to a dinner. Colleen, with no experience actually performing surgery on her own (being a nurse), is forced to [[spoiler: operate on the cadre leader to repair a sucking chest wound]]. It works.
* BlackComedy: Many times. For example, the debacle over [[spoiler: Fred's finger]] in the episode "Strange Brew".
* BlackDudeDiesFirst: Averted by the character [[CreepyMortician Samuel Beckett]], an African American soldier who works in the Graves Registration Unit preparing the bodies of the dead to be shipped back to America. He survives the whole war and is present at the veteran's reunion in the finale.
** Also averted in the season 1 episode "Home" when recurring character Sweetness Elroy, an African America Marine, is severely injured but not killed after [[spoiler: a Viet Cong fighter throws a grenade in a bar. A white soldier who was scheduled to go home the next day dies instead]].
* BottleEpisode: The episode "Tet '68" might be considered a series of bottles, with small groups of the characters stuck in various places as chaos reigns during the infamous Tet Offensive.
* BritishBrevity: The first season had, counting both parts of the pilot individually, 8 episodes. Season 2 had 17 and season 4 had 17. Only season 3 had a "typical" American television episode order of 24.
* BroadStrokes: Continuity on small details fell by the wayside several times. For example, a season one episode set in mid-to-late 1967 shows Colleen boarding a helicopter and calling out nervously to Dr. Richard that she's never been on one. Later, a season 4 flashback to '''early''' 1967 shows her boarding a helicopter for Saigon.
* ButNotTooForeign: With Dodger's Amerasian son Archie, portrayed in his first post-infancy appearance by the very not-eve-a-little-Asian Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
** Although this is fixed somewhat in the finale, when the adult Archie '''is''' actually portrayed by an Asian actor.
* CallBack: Many, many times. One particular example is when pilot Natch Austen [[spoiler: is declared missing in action]] at the start of season 2. Time goes on, new plots are developed, and then, nearly at the end of the season, [[spoiler: Natch and another man are brought back to China Beach, having escaped a P.O.W. camp]].
** In the season 3 episode "The Thanks of a Grateful Nation", Dodger's mother off-handedly tells him to hurry and get ready for church before his father has a stroke. Later on, in season 4, Dodger explains to Colleen that his mother is dead and that his father has had a stroke.
*** Much of season 4 was a sort of call back, with the bulk of the stories taking place post-war while flashbacks showed us events during the war that tied in with a character's "current" experiences.
* ChristmasEpisode: "X-Mas Chn. Bch. VN, '67"
* CliffHanger: A few. "Lost and Found part 1" ended in one of these that actually managed to stretch out over most of season 2.
* ClipShow: A few times, starting with "Vets" in season 2, which interspersed bits of the show with portions of interviews with Vietnam veterans.
** Also, the two part series finale.
* ControlFreak: Acknowledged at times in the character of Major Lila Garreau and the occasional "visiting general" or temporary new C.O.
* TheCouch: Variously the bar at the Jet Set, the checkout desk in the Evac, Colleen's quarters, or, most often, the beach.
* DarkAndTroubledPast: Boonie, to a degree. After he basically [[spoiler: murdered his platoon leader]], he could no longer face going out into the field, and was given the job as lifeguard at China Beach.
* DaughterOfAWhore: Karen Lanier.
* DayInTheLife: Several episodes were done in this style, particularly "X-Mas Chn. Bch. VN, '67" and any episode where Wayloo and her cameraman set out to get a scoop on something.
* DelayedExplosion: In the season 1 episode "Somewhere Over the Radio", the Evac is...well, evacuated when Dr. Richard realizes a soldier he's operating on has [[spoiler: a live mortar round]] inside of him. With Colleen's help, the doctor removes it, then does an epic [[BigNo slow motion run]] out of the hospital and [[spoiler: throws said live round directly into the grenade sump]]. Cue big boom and Dr. Richard flying through the air, crashing into the front of the building.
* DocumentaryEpisode: Aspects of this in several season 2 episodes after the character Wayloo Marie Holmes, a journalist, was introduced, and used somewhat in the two part finale when Karen Lanier is interviewing the veterans.
* [[DoesntLikeGuns Doesn't Like Guns]]: Implied with KC in the episode "Cherry" when all women at the base are newly required to qualify with and carry sidearms and she refuses. Lila finally has her physically brought down to target range on the beach, where KC proceeds to [[spoiler: empty every round in the proffered gun straight into the target's "head"]].
* DoorstopBaby: Sort of, with Dodger's "son" Archie (we're never entirely certain the kid is his). The baby was left with Dodger in a bar one night by some random Vietnamese orphan who claimed that this was the Marine's child.
* DownerEnding: Several times: see "Lost and Found part 1" or "Tet '68" or a myriad of other episodes.
* DreamSequence: The entire episode "Strange Brew" is pretty much an extended one of these.
* [[DrJerk Dr. Jerk]]: Dr. Richard, at times, and also recurring season 3 French doctor Gerard Bernard on occasion.
* DrowningMySorrows: Colleen '''all the time'''.
* DrugsAreBad: Colleen really shovels this on KC when she finds out that the other woman is a junkie.
** Never mind that Colleen's already a borderline alcoholic at that point who proceeds to spend much of the rest of the series spiraling deeper and deeper into her own addiction.
* EpisodeTitleCard: Almost every episode had one of these.
* FaceHeelTurn: Implicit with Cherry's brother Rick who was apparently a great guy, so much admired by his little sister that she even [[spoiler: lied about her age to join up with UsefulNotes/TheRedCross and go to Vietnam to find him when he was declared missing in action]]. When Cherry catches up with him, [[spoiler: he turns out to be living AWOL in Saigon as a pimp]].
* FourGirlEnsemble: Colleen, Cherry, Laurette, and KC in season 1, Colleen, Cherry, KC, and Wayloo in early season 2 switching to Colleen, Frankie, KC, and Wayloo after [[spoiler:Cherry's death]], and Colleen, Holly, Frankie, and KC in season 3.
* GoodGirlsAvoidAbortion: The episode "Holly's Choice" fits nicely into this trope with [[UsefulNotes/TheRedCross Red Cross]] worker Holly [[spoiler: getting pregnant by a soldier and considering abortion]]. Colleen tries to make her reconsider, but with KC's help Holly [[spoiler: gets the abortion anyway]] and then [[spoiler: nearly dies from an infection]].
* GrandFinale: All the veterans from China Beach travel together to Washington D.C. to visit the Vietnam War Memorial.
* GRatedDrug: Averted when the character of KC was revealed as a long-term heroin user in the episode "Tet '68" and the addiction was actually mentioned and somewhat dealt with again in several of the next few episodes.
* HalloweenEpisode: In the first part of the finale, the flashbacks to Colleen's last day in Vietnam take place on Halloween and her farewell party is a costume party.
* HappilyAdopted: Karen Lanier by Boonie and his wife Linda.
* HeelFaceTurn: In the first episode of season 3, the Viet Cong cadre member who is assigned to [[spoiler: shoot KC and Colleen]] can't bring himself to do it, as he's come to respect Colleen. He instead [[spoiler:discharges his gun into the ceiling and leaves them to escape]].
* HeroicBSOD: Boonie in the flashback to [[spoiler: his (arguably justified) murder of his platoon leader in "Twilight"]].
** Several characters went through these types of moments.
* HeWhoMustNotBeSeen: Dr. Richard's wife Beth Ann is mentioned frequently, along with sons Jake and Rodger, in the first couple of seasons, but none of them are ever shown.
* HeyLetsPutOnAShow: Several times in season 1 when USO singer Laurette Barber tried to gather talent for performances at The Jet Set, and a few times later on when someone would decide that a little song-and-dance/staging of a major musical was just the thing needed...
* HookerWithAHeartOfGold: Though she tried to be distant and could seem mercernary at times, KC was really one of these.
* HospitalHottie: Colleen, of course, as well as some of the other nurses who worked at the Evac.
* IChooseToStay: Colleen, who spent most of the two part pilot preparing for the end of her tour, chooses to re-up, even after [[spoiler: her quarters and many of her belongings have been destroyed in a bombing raid]].
** Also, Beckett in the episode "Promised Land" had come to the end of his tour and got as far as the airport...before heading back to China Beach because [[spoiler: he couldn't bear to leave his Vietnamese lover Mai and her young son behind]].
*** And Dodger for a while before the beginning of the episode "Souvenirs", when he tells Colleen that his tour has been over for months. He finally decides to [[spoiler: return to America with his Amerasian son]], however.
* [[ImNotADoctorButIPlayOneOnTV I'm Not A Doctor But I Play One On TV]]: Robert Picardo, who played Dr. Richard, has also played a doctor on an episode of ''TheGoldenGirls'' and was the holographic doctor on ''Series/StarTrekVoyager''.
* InfantImmortality: Averted when Liane, the young Vietnamese orphan that Dr. Richard is trying to get out of the country so that her heart murmur can be properly treated dies in the evac as he rushes to save her.
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes: Subverted at long last; the series is set for DVD release in 2013 after Time Life FINALLY cleared all of the music rights to get the series released
* KilledOffForReal: [[spoiler:Cherry White, Jeff Hyers]]
* LadyInRed: KC, often, particularly in one certain Asian-styled minidress.
* LastNameBasis: [[HospitalHottie Colleen McMurphy]] was most often referred to by her surname, at least while serving in Vietnam.
* LimitedAdvancementOpportunities: Only Colleen is ever shown getting a promotion, from 1st Lieutenant to Captain. Lila even has an episode where she deals with jealousy over the fact that a long-time friend of hers, also female, has been promoted to Colonel while Lila seems stuck as a Major.
* LocalHangout: The Jet Set
* LoudOfWar: Accidentally between Lila and Laurette in a season 1 episode, when Laurette's rock'n'roll music is drowning out Lila's [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII WWII]] ballads.
* MauveShirt: A few times a new minor character would be introduced, usually as a patient at the evac, and survive to appear and be spoken to in other episodes at The Jet Set or with members of his platoon.
* MedalOfDishonor: Boonie fits this pretty much exactly at the end of "Twilight".
* TheMenFirst: Beckett refers to the dead men he prepares for shipment back to America as "my men" and makes treating them with dignity and respect a top priority.
* MildlyMilitary: Well, somewhat justified for similar reasons to the earlier show ''Series/{{Mash}}'' in that Dr. Richard was one of those automatically drafted doctors.
** Also, WarIsHell, so things like calling Lila "Lila" rather than "Major" most of the time might kind of slip under the radar when you're [[TagLine 500 yards from the Vietnam War]]...
* MissingMom: KC is one of these for much of the show to her daughter Karen. First she [[spoiler: packs the girl off as an infant to be mostly raised by a nanny in Saigon]], then she reconnects, only to be forced to [[spoiler: send her daughter off on one of the last choppers out as Saigon falls]].
** They are reunited by the end of the finale, though it's implied that the estrangement will continue as KC admits to being "no good at writing letters".
* MusicalEpisode: The closest they came was an episode where the gang at China Beach put on a production of ''My Fair Lady''.
** Although sometimes there was so much singing and dancing at The Jet Set that an episode might seem like a musical.
* NamesTheSame: For much of its run, the show ran at the same time as {{Quantum Leap}}. Both shows featured characters named Samuel Beckett.
* NapoleonDelusion: Played with in an episode where a soldier played by Stephen Baldwin thinks that he's rock'n'roll pioneer Chuck Berry.
* NoNameGiven: Most of the series passes before it's revealed that Dodger's real first name is Evan.
** It's assumed that recurring character Sweetness Elroy is only nicknamed Sweetness until he states that it is indeed his name.
---> "My momma named her baby boy Sweetness..."
* OldSoldier: Lila and Sargeant Bob Pepper, both of whom participated in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII (though Lila was only a Red Cross Doughnut Dolly then) and, presumably, Korea.
* OutWithABang: Colonel Darling, visiting officer played by R. Lee Ermey, dies in KC's bed during a season 3 episode. KC, Boonie, and Jeff then spend most of the episode trying to find a way to make it look like he died in '''any other way''', preferably combat.
* PostKissCatatonia: Almost happens to Colleen near the beginning of "X-Mas Chn. Bch. VN, '67" when Dr. Richard kisses her. When he points out that he was holding up mistletoe, thus giving himself an excuse, her face slowly slides from shock to "huh?" to "I think I need to go spit now".
* PutOnABus: Wayloo Marie Holmes, although [[TheBusCameBack she returned]] in the finale.
* TheQuietOne: Dodger. A few flashbacks in later seasons take place before the events of the pilot and show him as slightly more talkative and fun-loving, but his general silence and occasional social ineptitude was apparently designed to display that WarIsHell, especially for the young people fighting it, as evidenced by this exchange from the pilot.
-->'''Dodger:''' I used to talk.
-->'''Cherry:''' When was that?
-->'''Dodger:''' A long time ago, when I was a kid.
-->'''Cherry:''' Well how old are you now?
-->'''Dodger:''' Nineteen.
* RaisedCatholic: Colleen sometimes acts like one of these, though later she seems to lose what faith she might have had left when she left Vietnam.
* ReallyGetsAround: KC. Sure, it's her job, but it counts.
* RealSongThemeTune: "Reflections" as sung by Diana Ross and the Supremes.
** Also, "We've Gotta Get Out of This Place" as covered by Katrina and the Waves featuring Eric Burdon for some season 3 episodes.
* RecurringCharacter: Sweetness Elroy, several Red Cross volunteers and nurses, and a number of random soldiers and Marines.
* RedShirt: Frequent. A new character, usually a soldier or Marine, would be introduced in an episode purely for the later drama of a horrifying injury, a brave attempt by the doctors and nurses of the 510th Evac to save him, and a tragic, heart-tugging death or at least a severe life-long disability if he managed to live.
* {{Retirony}}: Big time with the character of Dewey in the season 1 episode "Home". He's a newly introduced character, about to be sent home after recovering from injuries, when [[spoiler: he's killed in a bar by a Viet Cong grenade on his last night in country]].
* SadClown: Boonie, at times.
* [[ScrewTheWarWerePartying Screw The War, We're Partying]]: Frequently, since China Beach was an R & R station, although parties/concerts/dances/etc. were often broken up when the enemy attacked.
* SemperFi: A good many of the fighting men portrayed on the show are Marines. Most of them, particularly in the main cast Dodger, fit the stereotype of the tough, gruff, potentially dangerous Marine.
** In the finale, when Boonie and Dodger are being interviewed by Boonie's adopted daughter, they playfully punch each other in the shoulders while exchanging Marine slogans and references, including "Semper Fi".
* SensitiveGuyAndManlyMan: Aspects of this between buddies Boonie and Dodger. Boonie is definitely more emotional and open on some things, while Dodger is the strong, silent type.
* TheSeventies
* TheSixties
* SocialSemiCircle: Averted when characters sat anywhere but at the bar in The Jet Set.
* [[TellMeAboutMyFather Tell Me About My Mother]]: Karen Lanier spends a good portion of seasons 3 and 4 trying to find out anything that she can about her mother from the people who knew KC at China Beach.
* ThereAreNoTherapists: Averted with the Army psychiatrist who evaluates everyone in "Psywars" and Colleen's therapist in the final season.
* ToAbsentFriends: The gathering Boonie and Beckett arrange in "Lost and Found part 2", complete with a touching display of all the dead men's boots.
** The wake for Cherry at The Jet Set in "Cherry"
* TomboyAndGirlyGirl: Colleen and KC are a sort of mixture of these archetypes. While Colleen is definitely more rough-and-tumble in some ways (having grown up with five brothers) she has moments of complete, overwhelming femininity. KC, meanwhile, is generally the more girly dresser of the two and more often overtly uses her feminine wiles, but she also has a certain steely side (and occasional lack of scruples) that seems to plant her firmly in tomboy territory.
* TooGoodForThisSinfulEarth: Cherry White. She comes in from the first episode as a sweet, naive, pretty much totally innocent farm girl from Iowa who [[spoiler: just wants to find her MIA brother Rick]]. Though she gets somewhat jaded due to the pressures of the [[UsefulNotes/VietnamWar war]] and is almost totally crushed when she [[spoiler: finds out that Rick is working as a pimp in Saigon]], she is still sweet, kind, generous and rather naive about aspects of life by the time she [[spoiler: steps out of a bunker the morning after the beginning of the Tet Offensive and is unceremoniously killed in a blast]].
* UnlimitedWardrobe: It seems like KC has one of these at times.
** Although there is one red Asian-styled dress that makes a '''lot''' of appearances.
* WalkingShirtlessScene: Boony.
* WarIsHell
* WHAMEpisode: "Tet '68"
* WholeEpisodeFlashback: Much of season 4 was akin to this.
* YouLookFamiliar: Ned Vaughn played a doomed soldier named Dewey in one episode of season 1. He returned for an episode as medic Jeff Hyers in season 2, then played Hyers for much of season 3 before he was [[spoiler: killed off]].
* YouOweMe: A common theme between Colleen and KC. They end up reciprocating so many favors back-and-forth to each other that it's implied by one point in season 3 they've lost track of who owes whom.
* YourCheatingHeart: Natch Austen has an affair with Colleen in season 1, only for her to find out that he's married. When he [[spoiler: goes missing in action]], Colleen briefly meets his wife, and later when Natch [[spoiler: escapes from a P.O.W. camp]] he tries to choose between his two women. In the end, he finds out that his wife has [[spoiler: given birth to a baby]] during his time away and decides to return to her.
** Several characters refer throughout the series to being "geographically single"; if your significant other is half way around the world, [[ItSeemedLikeAGoodIdeaAtTheTime what harm can it do]]?
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