->'''Judge Zane:''' Sergeant Highway, drunk and disorderly. Fighting in a public establishment. Urinating on a police vehicle?
->'''"Gunny" Highway:''' Well, it seemed like the thing to do, sir.
Creator/ClintEastwood stars in this 1986 film as Gunnery Sergeant ("Gunny") Tom Highway, a highly decorated but trouble-prone Korea/Vietnam veteran who is getting close to military retirement, and seen by the younger Marines as an anachronism. He is sent to train an [[RagtagBunchOfMisfits unruly Recon platoon]], who think they run things because their former sergeant was soft on them. His methods rub his CO the wrong way, but he gets great results and a handful of laughs as well.
The film was apparently endorsed by the military... until they saw the first cut. There was too much graphic/sexual-overtone-laden language and negative portrayal of military personnel, so they pulled their support. Many military members vouched for the authenticity of the character types shown, though.
* TheAlcoholic: Gunny Highway.
* ArmchairMilitary: Major Powers, who has spent most of his military career in an office. Not played completely straight, as Powers is portrayed as eager to experience combat and makes comments like "I, as of yet, have not the privilege of combat" or when he tells his CO, "My men and I are ready to fight to the death to protect our country", but his inexperience leads to him being a poor leader when he's in combat in Grenada.
** Lieutenant Ring comes across as this at first, but this is more to do with the fact that [[EnsignNewbie he's inexperienced and not long out of the academy]] than anything else.
* ArmedFarces: Recon Platoon before Highway takes command.
* ArtisticLicenseMilitary: The Recon platoon has pretty much abandoned all semblance of military discipline when Highway is assigned to lead them. They do not salute and openly disrespect a Gunnery Sergeant. In RealLife, there is no way a Marine platoon would be allowed to operate like that no matter how lax their previous sergeant was. The sergeant and the officers up to Major Powers would be court-martialed for dereliction of duty for allowing for things to get that bad.
** Highway informing a confrontational cellmate that he is BullyingADragon.
--->Be advised that I'm mean, nasty and tired. I eat concertina wire and piss napalm, and I can put a round through a flea's ass at two hundred meters.
** Highway citing his credentials to the platoon:
--->My name is Gunnery Sergeant Highway and I've drunk more beer and pissed more blood, banged more quiff and busted more ass than all you numbnuts put together.
* BadassBookworm: Lt. Ring becomes one in the end.
* BawdySong: The platoon sings one of these in cadence form, right as they pass Major Powers and a female Marine. She's more amused than he is.
* BenevolentBoss: Recon Platoon's previous Sergeant.
* TheBigGuy: Swede.
* CampFollower: Highway mentions this when he talks about his experiences in Vietnam.
* CaptainSmoothAndSergeantRough: Sergeant Major Choozoo and Gunny Highway.
* CatchPhrase: "You improvise. You adapt. You overcome." (and variations thereof)
* ClusterFBomb: They certainly got this right about Marine Gunnys. Also applies to Lance Corporal Fragetti when Gunny Highway criticizes his marksmanship at the range.
* ColonelBadass: Colonel Meyers. Never shown but implied with his contrasting attitudes towards Highway and Powers and when he mentions having a rifle company in the same unit as Highway in Vietnam.
* CombatByChampion: An inconclusive wargame is decided by Highway and Powers duking it out.
* CutHisHeartOutWithASpoon: Gunny Highway has a lot of these, almost as if he's channeling [[ActorAllusion Dirty Harry]].
* ADateWithRosiePalms: Highway tells Recon as they're getting ready for the day in the head (Marine term for bathroom);
--> '''Highway''': Just one shake of those wangs, ladies. Any more than that constitutes pleasure, and we're not in that business.
* DeadpanSnarker: Highway.
** As the film progresses, more and more of Recon platoon follow his example.
-->'''Jones:''' Gunny, I think Powers has the hots for you. Better watch out.
* DefeatMeansFriendship: Swede, a marine who is built like a wall, ends his career of going in and out of the brig after being beaten by Highway, who Recon had initially picked to knock Highway down a few notches.
-->'''Swede:''' I'll wait outisde for the [=MPs=] to come.
-->'''Highway:''' Negative, Johansen. You're gonna become a marine right now. Fall out.
* DesignatedVictim: Recon Platoon begins as this. Highway is the only person who disagrees.
* DeskJockey: Major Powers.
* DrillSergeantNasty: Gunny Highway.
* ElitesAreMoreGlamorous: It was actually Army Rangers who performed the military actions seen in the movie.
* EnsignNewbie: Lieutenant Ring
* ForInconveniencePressOne: The telephone call where they try to get close air support... and have to supply a credit card for the call.
* FryingPanOfDoom: Highway's ex-wife threatens to hit him with a frying pan. He comments that it wouldn't be the first time; she replies, quite pleased with herself, that he's exactly right.
* GoodFeelsGood: A variant, after Recon win the platoon contest, they realise that acting like marines and training like marines lets them feel like badasses.
* GunshipRescue: Recon Platoon gets one in Grenada after a struggle to call one in due to a busted radio.
* GroinAttack: Actually a major plot device when the last recon marine still in a contest takes down the last two of his team's opponents with one in each hand. He is then accused of cheating and the resolution of this argument is badass.
** See CatchPhrase
* GungHolierThanThou: Sgt. Webster to Recon.
* GutturalGrowler: Taken UpTo11 by Gunny Highway. The scar on his throat may have something to do with it.
* IJustShotMarvinInTheFace: On the gunnery range, Profile tells Highway, "Gunny, my gun's jammed," turns around and sprays the line with bullets, narrowly missing Major Powers.
* ILied: Highway gives this as one of his several reasons when Recon Platoon is annoyed at being woken up at 5 in the morning, despite him telling them yesterday that wake up was at 6.
--> '''Highway''': So I lied. So I can't tell time. So maybe some communist bastard's going to make an appointment pop you a new asshole in your forehead.
* KindaBusyHere: In the scene where Highway and his men are holed up in a church, they try to make a call while being fired on.
* KissOfLife: When Highway is wounded in Grenada, Stich gives him CPR. Results in a CrowningMomentOfFunny:
--> '''Highway:''' "Just because we're holding hands doesn't mean we'll be taking warm showers together until the wee hours of the morning."
* MarriedToTheJob: Highway.
* MeaningfulEcho: During a training exercise, Highway fires an AK-47 at his Marines.
--> '''Highway:''' "This is the AK-47 assault rifle, the preferred weapon of your enemy. It makes a very distinct sound when fired."
** Later, during another training exercise, this time with their Platoon Leader, Lieutenant Ring, with them, they get fired on by Highway with AK-47 again. As they hit the dirt, Ring yells, "What the hell was that?!" to which the members of the platoon respond in succession;
---> '''Recon:''' "That's the AK-47 assault rifle, sir. The preferred weapon of our enemy. It makes a very distinct sound when fired."
---> '''Lt. Ring:''' (clearly needing a new pair of skivvies) "Yes, it does!!"
* MeaningfulName: Gunnery Sergeant ''Highway.'' Major ''Powers.''
* MilitaryMaverick: Gunny Highway tells off his superior officers, shoots live rounds at the dirt near his men, gets in brawls, and generally does whatever he wants. Good thing he knows a colonel who sees things his way...
** Early on it ''is'' said that he was booted out of his unit years before for insubordination and conduct unbecoming and has been sending numerous requests to get transfered back in. His behaviour is the reason he starts the movie in a rather unglamorous position. He doesn't completely flaunt authority, as he is well behaved with his CO. Most likely his record (and his Medal of Honor) keep him from being discharged so they just kick him under the rug instead and he (mostly) stays out of trouble on the job.
** It could explain why, despite his Medal of Honor, and his excellence as a combat leader, he's still -after more than thirty years of service- just a Gunnery Sergeant, while his friend Choozoo is a Sergeant-Major. It's obvious that his attitude has held him back in getting promotions.
* ModernMajorGeneral: The young Lieutenant Ring, straight from academy, in charge of recon platoon. He gets a little better by the end.
* MoodWhiplash: When Highway visits his ex-wife, Aggie, they have a heated conversation about them and their marriage but nothing too bad. He starts to give her a neck massage, which she seems to be enjoying at first, but then suddenly gets extremely angry and accuses him "giving up on the old frontal assault and deciding to try outflanking her."
* MundaneMadeAwesome: Jones's credit cards when they need to make an emergency landline call in a warzone.
* TheNeidermeyer: Major Powers and Staff Sergeant Webster.
* NewEraSpeech: Highway gives Recon Platoon one when he first meets them.
--> I'm here to tell you that life as you knew it has ended
* ObstructiveBureaucrat: Major Powers. Sergeant Major Choozoo comments that before Powers mounts his old lady he consults his Marine Corps manual just to make sure he performs in an orderly, proficient, military manner.
* [[OldSoldier Old Marine]]: Highway and his buddy Sgt. Major Choozoo, as well as Colonel Meyers, to name a few.
* OpposingCombatPhilosophies: Highway and Powers. The latter prefers a slower and much more cautious approach, the former not so much.
* OverrankedSoldier: Highway is a Gunnery Sergeant (E-7) in the US Marine Corps, which is more than plausible given his age and how long he's been in. However, given his conduct, it's hard to believe that was allowed to stay in to close to mandatory retirement and not forced into retirement, if not court martialed and discharged from the Corps. In addition to showing little respect for the rank and authority of his superiors, he's shown being arrested twice for drunk and disorderly conduct, and both the judge and his CO in the beginning of the film mention that it's happened multiple times before.
** As noted above, Highway's Medal of Honor probably helps.
* PassingTheTorch: At the end, unlikely but credible.
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: Colonel Meyers.
** Lieutenant Ring also qualifies as one. He recognizes Highway has far more experience than he does and backs him up -taking the heat for Highway- when they are dressed by Major Powers.
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: Highway gets one from Powers when they first meet, Powers gets one from Colonel Meyers at the end of the movie, and Highway gives them to Recon Platoon continuously.
* TookALevelInBadass: All of Recon platoon, including Lieutenant Ring who goes from a by the book strategist to leading a charge on an enemy stronghold in violation of a direct order and taking it.
* SemperFi: The whole point of the movie.
* SergeantRock: Highway, once Recon gets to Grenada.
* SmokingIsCool: As Highway portrays, though he isn't willing to break regs by smoking a contraband one.
** Until he gets one off a dead Cuban soldier as a "war prize."
* SoundOff: During their first physical training with Highway in charge, he orders them to chant a cadence. They sing a rather suggestive one right as they pass by a female Marine and a not too pleased Major Powers.
* [[ThatsAnOrder That's An Order]]: Repeated line from Major Powers.
* ThingsGetReal: At the end of the movie, the platoon gets to show how far it has come because of this.
* ThisIsNotADrill: Both subverted and played straight. There's two times in the movie where the Marines are put on alert. The first one turns out to just be an exercise, but the second time is the real thing.
* TooDumbToLive: Early in the movie, Stitch cons Highway into paying for his meal and strands him at a rest stop, forcing Highway to hitch a ride to the base. Highway is wearing his uniform so Stitch knows he is dealing with a Gunnery Sergeant and there is a good chance that they are going to the same Marine base. The base is fairly big but there is still a decent chance that they will meet again and a pissed off Gunnery Sergeant can make life hell for a private like Stitch. Stitch stealing from a senior Marine NCO is already a very poor life choice but he does so without first verifying where Highway is stationed and what unit he is serving in.
* TrainingFromHell: Really, not that bad. The training that Highway puts his Marines through, at least what's shown, is probably pretty standard, or even ''less'' than standard, for most infantry Marines, but they view it as so after being allowed to slack off for so long.
* TyrantTakesTheHelm: Recon Platoon considers Highway being put in charge of them to be this.
** BaitAndSwitchTyrant: They later come to realize he's actually this.
** One of Highway's cellmates openly antagonizes him, expresses contempt for marines and calls him a homosexual. Highway violently shows him the wrongness of this stance.
** The Recon Platoon know that Highway is tough but figure that he is not tough enough to handle the Swede. They are extremely wrong.
* VeteranInstructor: Highway, again.
* WarIsHell / WarIsGlorious: Highway believes the latter but is training his Marines for the former.
* WhyDidItHaveToBeSnakes: Both Highway and Swede are afraid of heights. Highway points out that this is entirely rational as long as you don't let it get in your way.
-->'''Highway:''' Jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft is not a natural act.
* WithDueRespect: Highway does this to Major Powers, when he's getting yelled at for taking a hill after being ordered not to.
--> '''Major Powers:''' "Well, you disobeyed an order. I told you to stay in contact and not take this hill without me. Damn it! Get on your feet, Highway!"
--> '''Gunnery Sergeant Highway:''' "With all due respect, sir, you're beginning to bore the hell out of me."