[[quoteright:200:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/US_Coast_Guard_4126.png]]
->''[[{{BadassCreed}} You have to go out, but you don't have to come back.]]''

The United States Coast Guard is one of the [[YanksWithTanks nation's Armed Forces]], right up there with The Army, The Navy, The Air Force, and [[SemperFi The Marines]]. Despite this, most people forget that it even exists. Part of that is its small size: with 42,000 active duty members, it is less that a quarter the size of the Marine Corps.

They've fought in every war of the United States since 1790, but their rescue and law enforcement roles and their shuffling around some decidedly nonmilitary Departments leads to frequent accusations that they're "not military." Given that, their small size, their constant workload, and their status as "shallow water sailors," the Coast Guard has a longstanding, mostly friendly rivalry with the Navy, wherein Coast Guardsmen like to boast that they're better, tougher sailors than the Squids could dream of.

Generally, while the other four branches get prime-time TV spots that chant, "Army! Navy! Air Force! Marines!" the Coast Guard is relegated to late-night TV or the occasional pre-movie blurb.

This being America, despite the Coast Guard's small size compared to the other military branches, it is still larger than many nation's navies and operates more ships. The ''Legend''-class National Security Cutters, for instance, are larger and better armed than some third and second world frigates and destroyers. Of course, the USA needs a bit more ''oomf'' to its Coast Guard, considering the USCG has to police and protect the world's largest exclusive economic zone, all 11,351,000 square kilometres of it.

If you ask a Coast Guardsman, they might tell you that they belong to the oldest continually operating US sea service. The US Navy and Marine Corps-- as opposed to the Continental Navy and Marines-- were both formed in 1794, four years after the Revenue-Marine was founded. The Revenue-Marine, after several name changes and agglomerations with other services, became the modern Coast Guard.

Coasties are also more than happy to tell you that they're ALWAYS in the fight. When the Navy and the Marines are putzing around bases with their hands on their cocks waiting for the next war, Coast Guardsmen are out there saving lives, catching crooks, keeping the waterways safe, and protecting the environment.

When wars do come, Coast Guardsmen have been there ever since 1790. They are that hard nucleus of seagoing professionals around which the Navy forms in times of war, serving as additional manpower and fulfilling variations on their peacetime roles-- such as handling small boats, or intercepting the same. Many of the American landing craft used in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII were operated by the Coast Guard, with one Guardsman, [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Albert_Munro Douglas Albert Munro]], earning the Medal of Honor during the Battle of Guadalcanal when he died while [[BigDamnHeroes evacuating a group of Marines]] pinned down on a beach[[note]]His FamousLastWords: [[HeroicSacrifice "Did they get off?"]][[/note]]. Today, cutters are forward-deployed today in support of counterpiracy efforts in the the Gulf of Aden and the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars; and Port Security Units are tasked with defending far-off oil terminals.

The official CoastGuard marching song is "Semper Paratus", which conforms to the CommonMeter, and can thus be sung to the tune of "The Ballad of GilligansIsland".

Beginning in the 1980s, the Coast Guard's role in drug interdiction took on renewed importance. Today, much of the public perceives that as the Coast Guard's main role, with the help of many other organizations and the Navy.

[[http://www.uscg.mil/top/about/ By law, the Coast Guard has 11 missions (listed in order of percentage of operating expenses)]]:

* Ports, waterways, and coastal security
* Drug interdiction
* Aids to navigation
* Search and rescue
* Living marine resources
* Marine safety
* Defense readiness
* Migrant interdiction
* Marine environmental protection
* Ice operations
* Other law enforcement

Coast Guard vessels range from small, fast 29' Response Boat Smalls, through 47-foot "self-righting" Motor Life Boats, to 378' High Endurance Cutters and 420' icebreakers, with a wide range of patrol boats, tugs, and buoy tenders in between. The Coast Guard fleet is divided into three categories based on the color of the ships - "white hulls", consisting of the USCG's combat/interdiction craft, "black hulls", consisting of maintenance and support vessels like buoy tenders, and "red hull" icebreakers. They also have a wide range of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft.

Television and film depictions of Coast Guard operations typically show small craft or the MH-60 and MH-65 helicopters. Big cutters are seen far less frequently.
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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* Most often seen as support in a disaster drama. The most potent exception, perhaps, is Film/TheGuardian a 2006 film focusing on Coast Guard rescue swimmers.
* Seen, but seldom identified, in any movie about the Normandy Invasion: most of the landing craft were piloted by Coast Guardsmen. In addition, many of the river patrol boats used in the Vietnam War movies were Coast Guard vessels.
* At the beginning of ''Film/TheSantaClause 2'', the North Pole is overflown by a C-130- apparently part of the Coast Guard Ice Patrol, but with the serial numbers filed off.
* A Coast Guard chopper features prominently in ''Film/LicenceToKill''.
* The 1958 dramedy ''Onionhead'' features a character (played by Andy Griffith) joining the Coast Guard as a cook during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII.
* A Coast Guard cutter can be seen off the coast of Los Angeles at one point in ''BattleLosAngeles'', though is eliminated in short order by an alien artillery barrage.
* In ''Film/{{Overboard}}'', Billy says that he used to be in the Coast Guard. Later at the climax of the film, the Coast Guard helps Dean catch up with Joanna's yacht--complete with the ''Semper Paratus'' march playing in the background.
* In a throwaway line from ''Film/BackToTheFuture'', Marty explains away his "life preserver" vest to his future mother and grandmother by saying that he is in the Coast Guard. Later, Doc uses a mind-reading helmet to incorrectly guess that Marty is a member of the "Coast Guard Youth Auxiliary."
* The Coast Guard gets a lot of screen time in ''BadBoys 2'', which fits with the bad-guys of the film being drug dealers. We see them at the start when a cutter loses a Go-Fast, then again later when Coast Guard helicopters stop another one. They even help secretly insert an assault team into Cuban waters.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* Features prominently in the book (and later movie) ''Literature/ClearAndPresentDanger'', highlighting the Coast Guard's drug interdiction role. The novel goes into more detail about "Red" Wegner's background, most of which focuses on their search and rescue role.
** They also get a good bit of time in the {{prequel}} ''Without Remorse'', mostly in regards to the start of the USCG becoming involved in drug interdiction.
* The book and movie ''ThePerfectStorm'' are partially about the USCGC Tamaroa and other Coast Guard assets trying to rescue victims of the titular storm.
* One book of the ''Literature/{{Worldwar}}'' series by Creator/HarryTurtledove features the guy carrying stolen Uranium (or possibly Plutonium) to the Manhattan Project getting a ride across the Great Lakes on a Coast Guard cutter so he can catch a train through Canada.
* ''Blindfold Game'', a thriller by Dana Stabenow, has a USCG Cutter as the primary force in place to prevent a terrorist attack on the western United States.
* ''The Keeper's Son'' and its sequel, ''The Ambassador's Son'' are novels by Homer Hickam featuring an officer of the Coast Guard named Josh Thurlow. The first book takes place off the coast of North Carolina and the second in the Pacific, both during WWII.
* ''MAYDAY, MAYDAY!'' is a children's book by Chris Demarest about a Coast Guard rescue.
* In ''[[Literature/PercyJacksonAndTheOlympians Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief]]'', after the kids escape from the Underworld and end up floating in the ocean, the Coast Guard pulls them out. In the midst of dealing with the huge earthquake that just hit LA, they kinda just dump the kids on land. On the other hand, the kids are apparently Junior Coast Guardsmen now.
* The Coast Guard, specifically the Training Barque ''Eagle'', features prominently in SMStirling's ''IslandInTheSeaOfTime''.
* In ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' book ''Death Masks'', Harry, two Knights of the Cross, and Gentleman Johnny Marcone assault a moving train from a surplus Coast Guard helo piloted by a Valkyrie, blasting ''Ride of the Valkyries'' the whole way. Whaddaya think, were they flying an H-3 or did they somehow manage to get an H-60 or H-65? We know that Marcone and Monoc Securities like flying old Vietnam-era aircraft.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* The Coast Guard often appeared on ''Series/{{Baywatch}}''.
* The main characters of ''BostonLegal'', after trying the National Guard, Army, Navy, etc., end up trying to join the Coast Guard, since it's the only organization they can technically qualify for. HilarityEnsues. This is odd, because the Coast Guard requires the highest score (45) on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) to qualify, as well as much tighter regulations regarding criminal background.
** Note that they join the Coast Guard Auxiliary, which is the non-military civilian volunteer component of the Coast Guard. Still requires the background check, but the only test you have to pass is an open book exam on what the CGAUX is about.
* ''CSIMiami'' has featured a number of cases involving the Coast Guard, from bodies found at sea, to migrant interdiction, to drug runners.
** Or just when a suspect is trying to make a dash for international waters.
* The [[RealityTV documentary series]] ''Series/DeadliestCatch'' on the Discovery Channel often prominently features the Coast Guard, usually in its search-and-rescue role, sometimes in one or another of its regulatory roles.
* An episode of ''Series/{{NCIS}}'', called "Jurisdiction," features the CGIS, Coast Guard Investigative Service, in a major role. Including Special Agent Abigail "Abby" Borin, who is essentially Gibbs' DistaffCounterpart. The CGIS team even had their own probie, named something that sounded vaguely like [=McGee=].
** Since then, CGIS Agent Borin has become a vaguely recurring character, showing up OnceASeason since her first appearance.
* The USCG shows up a few times on ''Series/{{JAG}}''.
** When Bud was picked to carry 'the football' (the briefcase carrying the nuclear launch codes for the President) and through a series of mishaps gets separated from the party, afterwards the Admiral assures him that nobody blames him or is angry with him, but it would be best if the next officer in rotation take over the duty--a Lieutenant from the Coast Guard. The way Bud says "Coast Guard, sir?" indicates that he thinks that's the crowning humiliation.
* ''Series/{{Psych}}'': Chief Vick's sister works for the Coast Guard.
* In an early episode of ''MagnumPI'', TC's chopper is intercepted by Coast Guard aircraft as TC tries to smuggle a Vietnam War deserter friend into Hawaii. [[spoiler:The CG's interception was deliberate--the episode's BigBad had called the CG via radio, intending for TC to be captured as part of an elaborate {{plan}}.]]
* A Coast Guard team recovers a small airplane's black box in the episode "Lapaʻau" on the revival of ''Series/HawaiiFive0''.
* The documentary-style show ''Coast Guard Alaska'' on TheWeatherChannel follows USCG units in Kodiak and Sitka, Alaska, that perform search and rescue missions. A similar series, ''Coast Guard Florida'', follows a unit from Miami, Florida.
* The series finale of the show ''{{Dogfights}}'' shows a hypothetical combat scenario where an air-battle is started after enemy aircraft fire on a Coast Guard rescue helicopter.
* Coast Guard officers help Wilbur and ''MrEd'' capture foreign agents in "Ed the Counterspy."
* Norm from ''{{Cheers}}'' was in the Coast Guard.
* They show up occasionally on the NationalGeographic TV Channel program ''Border Wars'', often in their drug and migrant interdiction roles.
* Michael calls in the coast guard to help him take down a rogue CIA agent in the sixth season finale of BurnNotice.
-->'''Michael!Narrator:''' Most people don't think of the Coast Guard as being particularly well armed. Most people are wrong.
* In the Series/ThirtyRock episode ''Reaganing'', Tracy mentions that if he doesn't do his community service, a judge will make him join the Coast Guard.

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[[folder: Video Games ]]

* The {{survival horror}} game ''VideoGame/ColdFear'' has a member of the Coast Guard as its protagonist, battling zombies onboard a freighter and an oil rig.
* ''VideoGame/CallOfCthulhuDarkCornersOfTheEarth'' has the protagonist spend a level on the Coast Guard cutter ''Urania'', trying to help the crew fight off a boarding action by a swarm of Deep Ones. They don't need much help, but eventually get overwhelmed. [[spoiler: So, since they won't mind, Jack borrows the bow cannon to [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu kill or knock out Father Dagon]]]].

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* ''GIJoe'' has a Coast Guard member, codenamed 'Cutter'.
* [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons Homer Simpson]] once told the members of the Coast Guard after rescuing him that "you Navy rejects are all right."
** Grandpa Simpson, according to one of his [[UnreliableNarrator stories]], served as an officer in the Coast Guard at some time prior to 1936.
-->'''Grandpa:''' ...And I guess he won the argument, but I walked away with the turnips; the following morning I resigned my commission in the Coast Guard. The next thing I heard there was civil war in Spain!
** In ''Homer the Vigilante,'' Homer recognizes that the Coast Guard is a possible obstacle to his vigilante group:
-->'''Lisa:''' ...If you're the police, who will police the police?!
-->'''Homer:''' I dunno, CoastGuard?
** A Coast Guard vessel, having been earlier taunted by Homer and Bart, refuses to assist them and their guests aboard Mr. Burns' yacht in when it is boarded by pirates in ''Mansion Family''.
*** Instead of intervening, the Guardsmen take the opportunity to taunt them back via loud-hailer:
--->'''([[SarcasmMode Sarcastically]])''': Navy SEALS are on their way.

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