Maverick: I feel the need...The movie in which Tom Cruise flies F-14 Tomcats and gives the Commie Landers the finger while playing volleyball.Okay, a bit more detail. Top Gun (1986) was inspired by a magazine article on Navy pilots. The screenwriters and director Tony Scott viewed it as "Sports Movie meets jets". In it, a hotshot pilot named "Maverick" (Cruise) is sent to the TOPGUNnote training school, a five-week workshop where pilots learn how to really kick ass in an Old-School Dogfight. Here Maverick has to deal with competition from fellow pilots, and conquer his own demons, while still finding time to romance his civilian instructor Charlotte (Kelly McGillis).The film had full cooperation from the Pentagon, and much of its aerial combat was shot "reel for real" using actual Navy hardware. (So real, somebody died making it.) It was an unanticipated success and caused an immediate boost in Navy enlistment figures, to the point that they started putting recruiting booths right there in the theatre.In June of 2015 it was confirmed that a sequel was in development with Tom Cruise reprising his role as Maverick.
Maverick and Goose: ...the need for speed!
Maverick and Goose: ...the need for speed!
Tropes contained therein:
- Ace Pilot: Obviously. As far as particular styles:
- Iceman is described as a Steamroller. To paraphrase Goose, he just stays on you and harries you relentlessly until you make a mistake.
- During one exercise Viper and Jester collaborate as a Plugger and Bushwhacker/Sniper respectively, with Viper drawing an overeager Maverick off while Jester sneaks up on him from another direction.
- Mav doesn't really have any particular style; he flies almost entirely on instinct. At one point he flat-out states to Charlie that, "You think, you're dead."
- Actually Four Mooks: The MiG pilots like to fly in close formation to disguise their radar signatures as fewer planes than are actually present. This is Truth in Television, and has also been used by American pilots from time to time.
- Anonymous Ringer: The nation whose air force the main characters fly against is never named. Speculation pegs it as South Yemen, a then Soviet client. IMDB suggests it was intended to be North Korea, which is rather unlikely as dialogue in the film establishes the setting as the Indian Ocean.
- Artistic License – Military: Practically the trope example. Too many to count. Too many to comprehend. People with military experience know better than to start a drinking game listing everything wrong with this picture, because that much booze would kill you. The one thing they did get right was that F-14's do take off from and land on aircraft carriers.
- As Himself: T.J. Cassidy as himself.
- Award Bait Song/Ear Worm: Take my breath awaaaaaaaaay...
- Badass Biker: Maverick, when he's not flying.
- Badass Boast:Iceman: I don't like you because you're dangerous.
Maverick: That's right, Ice... Man. I am dangerous.
- Badass Mustache: Goose and Viper.
- Bald of Awesome: Stinger, Maverick's commanding officer on the Enterprise.
- Boy Meets Girl: A classic, if initially a little strange, example. Boy bangs girl in bar before finding out she's one of his instructors. Boy and girl fall hard. Girl gets job in D.C. and leaves. Girl hears boy came back to be an instructor in his own right and flies out to see him.
- Bruiser With A Soft Centre: Maverick.
- Maverick's CO, Stinger, also counts. He's built like a fireplug and he tears both Maverick and Goose a new asshole, but he begins with a soft "Maverick, you just did an incredibly brave thing..." and ends with "Good luck, Gentlemen."
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Maverick. He's too hotheaded for his own good, but he's one of the absolute best pilots around.
- Buzzing The Tower: Maverick has a history of doing these over control towers, and one admiral's daughter. In the course of the film he does it twice more, both time causing the control Sergeant to spill coffee on himself.
- Chekhov's Skill: A couple of notable ones:
- "I'll hit the brakes, he'll fly right by."
- The MiG-28s flying in tight formation so as to disguise their individual radar signatures.
- Code Name: Aviator callsigns, but here they're far cooler than RL examples. The credits demonstrate this.
- Commanding Coolness: Commander Mike "Viper" Metcalf and Commander Tom "Stinger" Jordan definitely qualify.
- Coming In Hot: Cougar goes a bit crazy after a close encounter with some MiGs, and has to be talked down, despite there being nothing wrong with his plane itself.
- Cool Old Guy: Viper.
- Cool Plane: The F-14 Tomcat.
- And at least an honorable mention to the A-4 Skyhawk and F-5E Tiger II ("MiG-28").
- *Cough* Snark *Cough*: Iceman's reaction to Maverick's MiG story.
- Crowd Song: "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"
- Deadpan Snarker: Goose, by a long shot."Is this your idea of fun, Mav?"
"The Defense Department regrets to inform you that your sons are dead because they were stupid."
- Defrosting Iceman: Iceman, by the end of the film.
- Disappeared Dad: Maverick's father was shot down and killed in an unnamed conflict.
- Disqualification-Induced Victory: The pilot Cougar loses his cool and turns in his wings. So Maverick and Goose get a slot at the Fighter Weapons school in his place. Their commander wanted to ground them both after their antics with Soviet Migs.
- Dodge by Braking: The Trope Maker in modern film making, Maverick uses this technique to make his enemies overshoot. It works every time.
- So as not to give the wrong idea, he only does it twice, each time to a different opponent which is why it is listed above as a Chekhov's Skill.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Averted by the instructors at Top Gun; while they may be stern taskmasters at times, they never raise their voices very much and really have their students' best interests in mind.
- The Dreaded: Viper. Oh, sure, he might just be an instructor, but even his presence on the field is enough to give the trainees pause.
- Due to the Dead: Maverick throws his dearly departed friend's dog tags into the sea after winning the dogfight.
- Eject...Eject...Eject...: Maverick to Goose.
- Faceless Goons: With visors and masks, everyone is technically faceless in the fighting scenes, but the U.S. pilots wear coloured helmets with their names on them and rarely use their visors, while the enemy pilots just have black always-visored helmets with a red star on.
- Notably, the U.S. pilots are also frequently shown flying with their oxygen masks dangling to the side. This provides a minor Lock and Load Montage - the pilots snap their masks in place when they are about to enter combat.
- Fanservice: The volleyball scene, the shower scene(s).
- Fatal Family Photo: Downplayed. Cougar has such a photo, but Maverick prevents him from crashing. Cougar then turns in his wings, meaning he's resigning from being a pilot.
- Fighter-Launching Sequence
- Flipping the Bird: Maverick does it to the MiG pilot while inverted and snapping photos. Goose does it to the entire briefing room while telling the story of their aerobatic international relations.
- Gatling Good: The shots of the MiGs firing their guns during the final dogfight cut to a shot of a Minigun firing. The F-14 carries an internal 20mm Vulcan cannon as well, but it's never used on-screen (though it's referenced a couple times when various planes get too close for missiles in the simulated dogfights). No MiG fighters in reality carry a gatling gun; the only MiG plane to use one is the MiG-27, a ground attack airplane.
- The General's Daughter: A high-speed pass over an admiral's daughter is mentioned a couple of times, but we never hear the whole story. It's within the realm of possibility that Maverick didn't literally do a high speed pass over the admiral's daughter; in fact it's strongly implied that Stinger was being figurative and that Mav had a fling with her.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: This film practically flaunts crap for the radar. How they managed a PG rating with that sex scene is a miracle.
- Glasses Pull: Maverick, near constantly.
- Guy in Back: Goose, for Maverick, here referred to as a RIO (Radar Intercept Officer). Slider, for Iceman. Later, Sundown and Merlin take Goose's place.
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: While all pilots do wear helmets, none of the named characters have their sun visors covering their eyes while flying (not even strict "by the book" pilots like Jester or Viper).
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Maverick is stuck in one after Goose's death.
- Cougar has one in-flight after an enemy fighter gets a missile lock on him.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Maverick and Goose. It is strongly implied that they have been friends and flight-team partners for quite some time, and at one point Maverick calls Goose "the only family I've got."
- Hot-Blooded: Maverick, who likes yanking stunts like the picture-taking with the MiG at dangerously close range and abandoning his wingman for a perfect shot. His ego's writing checks his body can't cash, and it's noted he got it from his father.
- Hot Scientist: Charlie, the leggy blonde astrophysicist, definitely qualifies.
- Improbable Piloting Skills: Maverick, most of the time.
- Inappropriately Close Comrades: Just averted; the makers of the film were asked by the US Navy to change Maverick's love interest from a female enlisted member of the Navy to a civilian contractor with the Navy, due to the US military's prohibition of fraternization between officers and enlisted personnel.
- Insistent Terminology: Maverick corrects Charlie when she calls him a "pilot." Truth in Television, the Navy has Aviators, not "pilots."
- Introduction by Hookup: Mav tries to pick up a random blonde at a bar near the base. Next day the blonde, Charlie, is briefing him and the other Top Gun students on the performance differences between the MiG-28 and the American planes standing in for them. After he corrects her on something her intel says the 28 can't do but he saw it pull off:Charlie: You never told me you were a famous MiG insulter.
Maverick: Would it have made a difference?
Charlie: Not in the ladies room, no.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Iceman.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Iceman's criticisms of Maverick's flying habits (particularly involving wingmen) are repeatedly shown to be accurate, to the point where most of Maverick's character growth involves them finally sinking in.
- "Join the Army," They Said: Retroactively, it was discovered that the film made an incredible recruitment tool for the Navy. However, one must be an officer to fly.
- The Navy still won out though. While many of those that joined the Navy were unable to fly (either because they weren't officers, or just didn't meet the requirements to be a pilot), many of those that joined would likely end up working on the F-14 (among other aircraft). Given that the F-14 is an exceptionally complex aircraft to maintain, the Navy needed those maintainers just to keep the prized Tomcats flying.
- Just Plane Wrong:
- Very much so. Most notably, all combat takes place within what the military would consider spitting distance; the flame-out scene, which is a real defect of the F-14, should have happened much earlier than it did. In all fairness, the military pilots doing the flying pointed this out, and the filmmakers agreed to try shooting actual aerial combat. The result was that you couldn't see anything, and Real Life bowed to Rule of Cool.
- During the dogfight scene, the MiGs are shown repeatedly firing their gatling guns. Not only are there no air superiority MiGs that have gatling guns, but the guns are shown almost fully exposed so that the barrels can be seen rotating. Modern fighters that do have gatling guns (actually rotary cannons) carry them internally, within the fuselage, so as not to interfere with the air flow over the plane. The cannons actually fire through a small opening and none of the cannon is exposed.
- There is no such plane as the MiG-28. Even if there was, MiG naming traditions mean that it would be a odd-number. The only even-numbered Mikoyan-Gurevich plane was the -6, a ground-attack aircraft from World War II.
- Averted in the spin and crash. Earlier F-14s with the TF30 were legendary for their problems, including air-flow and flameouts. Add to that the Tomcat's nasty spin characteristics, the fact that a spin will push the crew forward away from the ejection handles (later models moved them), and to top it all off, one RIO died exactly the same way that Goose did.
- Also an amusing In-Universe example when American intelligence on the fictional MiG-28 says that the plane has problems pulling negative Gs, except that in the opening sequence Mav followed, then got above, one through a -4 G dive and was close enough to give the other pilot the finger from two meters above him.
- Love Theme: Berlin's "Take My Breath Away", which plays pretty much anytime Maverick and Charlie are together.
- Military Maverick: Call sign "Maverick".
- Missile Lock On: Constantly during the aerial combat scenes. Ironically, most of the dogfights in the film take place INSIDE the minimum effective range of the missiles carried by the aircraft in the film, as noted by several characters when 'switching to guns', yet they go back to missiles by the time they actually fire.
- Nice Guy: Goose, in spades. A devoted family man, liked by everyone, and pretty much the only one who can rein his impetuous partner in. Naturally, he dies two-thirds of the way through the film.
- Nintendo Hard: The NES video game, thanks to those bloody difficult carrier landings.
- Nom de Guerre: All of the aviators. Gets a Lampshade Hanging when Maverick introduces himself this way to a stranger.
- Noodle Incident: Apparently one reason Mav's still just a lieutenant (besides being a Bunny-Ears Lawyer) is because he hit on an admiral's daughter at one point. Or something to that effect.
- Number Two: Jester to Viper.
- Oh Crap!:
- Wolfman's reaction to learning he's up against Viper, as well as Goose's.
- Maverick and Goose's reaction when they realize that their new instructor is the woman they'd hit on the night before.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Goose's actual name is never stated onscreen. Everyone, even his wife, just calls him Goose. His real name was Nick Bradshaw.
- Plot-Driven Breakdown: The carrier's catapult breaks down in the climax, preventing the launch of more aircraft to assist Maverick and Iceman.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Maverick was already upset at Charlie for dressing him down for pushing the envelope at a training exercise debriefing. It didn't help that she nearly hit two cars trying to follow him afterward.Maverick: JESUS CHRIST! And you think I'm reckless?! When I fly, I'll have you know that MY CREW! AND MY PLANE! COME FIRST!
- Rated M for Manly: And...HOW!
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Maverick and Iceman. Maverick and Goose.
- However, Maverick wears a BLUE helmet, while Goose wear's ORANGE.
- The Rival: Iceman for Maverick, who doesn't like Maverick's habit of abandoning his wingmen. Ice wins the Top Gun trophy, but Mav eventually earns his respect in the final battle when he at last learns to never abandon his wingman thereby saving Iceman's ass.
- Running Gag: The Air Boss can't seem to keep his coffee in the cup when Maverick "buzzes the tower".
- "I'm sorry, I hate it when he/she/it does that."
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Also an Establishing Character Moment, in the beginning, Maverick aborts his landing to help the badly-shaken Cougar land his plane even though he's low on fuel himself.
- Second Place Is for Losers: Viper says it best during orientation:"Gentlemen, this school is about combat. There are no points for second place."
- Serenade Your Lover: Featuring "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling", albeit for a one-night stand than a lover.
- Shirtless Scene: Beach volleyball.
- Shown Their Work: With certain exceptions made because of Rule of Cool, this movie is a pretty accurate portrayal of US Naval aviation.
- Special mention goes to the accident resulting in Goose's death; both the engine flameout due to jetwash and the danger to the RIO of ejecting during a flat spin are known faults of the F-14A.
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: The relationship between Maverick and Charlie, especially at first.
- In real life, Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis despised each other.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Cougar. It's because of his Heroic B.S.O.D. in the beginning that Maverick and Goose get to go to Top Gun.
- Teacher/Student Romance: Between Maverick and Charlie.
- Technician vs. Performer: Iceman and Maverick, respectively. It's Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs: When Maverick and Goose first meet Iceman and Slider at the bar, Slider says, "It's Mr. Iceman to you."
- Time Marches On:
- The Top Gun school left Miramar years ago. It's now based in Nevada under a different name and teaches both air combat -and- ground-attack.
- F-14s, which feature so prominently in the film, have all been retired from service with the Navy. While the A-4 as a aggressor has also been retired, the navy still uses the bad guys plane the Mig 28 (in reality the F-5)for aggressor combat.
- Despite still being a minority, it would now be very unusual for absolutely no women to be seen serving aboard a carrier.
- The USS Enterprise has since been deactivated.
- Tomboyish Name: Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood.
- Tragic Bromance: Goose dies in a training accident, and Maverick almost dies on the inside.
- Weapons Understudies: A-4s and F-5s for MiGs. A-4s and F-5s were chosen by the actual TOPGUN training seminar for "Dissimilar Air Combat Training," which is military jargon for, "We can't get real MiGs, but these planes can be modified to have have similar flight characteristics of just about any soviet fighter (the f-5 interestedly enough is still the most maneuverable fighter in subsonic flight in the US military except for thrust vectoring planes), so they'll do." They did actually have some Russian planes in the Constant Peg program, but its existence was classified at that time.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Inverted. Maverick's dad died in air combat, and Maverick is constantly reassuring himself that his father was, indeed, the ace that he has told himself since childhood. Viper, whose role is partly Big Brother Mentor, eventually assures him that this was the case.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Maverick spends most of the movie flying unpredictably and/or recklessly, putting himself, his wingmen, and his aircraft at risk. Consequently, he ends up on the receiving end of these from his commanders, his peers, his girlfriend, and even Goose. Seemingly the only reason he hasn't been thrown out of the Navy altogether by now is because he's just that good.
- First, Stinger gives him an earful after he risks his aircraft to rescue Cougar and Merlin.Stinger: Maverick, you just did an incredibly brave thing. WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE DONE WAS LAND YOUR PLANE. You don’t own that plane, the taxpayers do! Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash. You’ve been busted and lost your qualifications as section leader THREE TIMES, put in hack twice by me, with a history of high-speed passes over five air-control towers, and one admiral’s daughter! … Now don’t kid yourself, your family name ain’t the best in the Navy. You need to be doing it better and cleaner than the other guy.
- Iceman tells Mav off in the locker room for his cowboy tendencies in the air on two separate occasions.Iceman: You guys really are cowboys. … You’re everyone’s problem. Every time you fly, you’re unsafe. I don’t like you because you’re dangerous.
Iceman: Maverick, it’s not your flying, it’s your attitude. The enemy’s dangerous, but right now you’re worse than the enemy…you’re dangerous and foolish. You may not like the guys flying with you, and they may not like you. But whose side are you on?
- Later, after Maverick leaves him to chase after Viper, resulting in both of them being shot down in the exercise…
- Viper after Mav breaks the hard deck in the first TOPGUN exercise (and then buzzes the tower on the way back in).Viper: You took [the shot]…AND BROKE A MAJOR RULE OF ENGAGEMENT. Then you broke another one with that circus stunt fly-by. Gentlemen, TOPGUN safety rules exist for your safety and that of your team. They are not flexible, nor am I. Either obey them or you are history. Is that clear?
- Goose expresses his concerns in their quarters after their trip to Viper’s office.Goose: When I realized we were off to TOPGUN, all I could think about was that trophy. I’ve got to be straight with you, Mav…right now, I just hope we graduate. I’ve got a family to think about, I can’t afford to blow this. I know the Academy rejected you because you’re Duke Mitchell’s kid and you have to live with that reputation. But it’s like you’re flying against a ghost. It makes me nervous.
- Sundown gets on Maverick’s case when he refuses to take an easy shot at Jester after Goose’s death.Sundown: What do you mean, “It doesn’t look good?” It doesn’t GET to look any better than that!
[After landing] Sundown: Hey, we could have had him…we could have HAD him, Mav!
Maverick: [grabs Sundown] I will fire when I'm goddamn good and ready! You got that?!
- Charlie confronts him in the airport lounge after he apparently quits TOPGUN.Charlie: So I’m too late. You’ve already left. You didn’t learn a damn thing, did you…except to quit. Well, you’ve got that maneuver down real good. So long, Pete Mitchell.
- While Mav is having his “Talk to me, Goose” moment during the climactic dogfight, Merlin is yelling at him in the background.Merlin: C’mon, Mav, get back to the fight! Ice is in trouble, what the hell are you doing??? He won’t last down there alone!
- First, Stinger gives him an earful after he risks his aircraft to rescue Cougar and Merlin.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Nicknames really but the effect is the same.Charlotte: I'm Charlotte Blackwood.
Maverick: I'm Maverick.
Charlotte: Did your mother not like you?
Maverick: No, it's my call sign.