Shawn: Dude, CHiPs was gonna come on like 20 minutes. What was I supposed to do! It was the one with the freeway crash where the car used the empty car-carrier trailer as a ramp and flipped in mid-air!CHiPs was a 60-minute comedy/drama on NBC about two California Highway Patrol ("CHiPs") motorcycle officers. The series ran for six seasons from 1977 to 1983. The stars of the show were Francis "Ponch" Poncherello (Erik Estrada) and Jon Baker (Larry Wilcox), along with their commanding officer Sgt. Joe Getraer (Robert Pine).Each episode of the show featured chase scenes and a series of accidents, many of which were choreographed scenes of cars flipping over and catching on fire. Throughout the entire run the two main characters never drew their weapons, the only police series which can claim that distinction.note Though Ponch and Jon are best friends on the show, the actors playing these two roles were known for their deep mutual dislike.A Made-for-TV movie was produced called CHiPs 99. Guess which year it came out in.A theatrical reboot, written and directed by Dax Shepard and starring Michael Peņa and Shepard as Ponch and Jon, was released in March 2017.Compare to Dragnet and Adam-12, other series centering on police officers in the Los Angeles area.
Gus: That happens in like every episode.
Gus: That happens in like every episode.
— Psych, "And Down the Stretch Comes Murder"
CHiPs contains examples of:
- Absentee Actor: Only Robert Pine (Getraer) is present and correct for the entire run.
- The Ace: T.C. from "New Guy In Town" can apparently do no wrong. He's so good at his job of CHP officer, the other officers start a pool betting on when he finally screws up. (T.C. even enters the pool himself to show he's a good sport.) He later admits that while his skills make him an excellent officer, it also makes it hard for him to make friends. At the end of the episode, he transfers to another location. Before he leaves, Getraer reveals that he missed a vital clue which could have solved the case earlier and counts that as a screw-up. Guess who wins the pool.
- Animated Adaptation: Casper and the Angels was sort of an unofficial one to both this show and Charlie's Angels, pairing Casper the Friendly Ghost with a pair of female space cops. (Hey, it was The '70s.)
- Awesomeness by Analysis: In the 1999 Made-for-TV movie, Ponch is able to identify that a set of skid marks were left by a stolen police bike based on the tread marks, due to their police motorcycles using a distinctive type of tire.
- Back in the Saddle: CHiPs '99 has Chips coming out of retirement to rejoin the California Highway Patrol, clashing with some of the younger officers on the way.
- Big Fun: Officer Grossman ("Grossy") fancies himself a comedian. In one episode it doesn't go over well because he tells a racist joke. The same joke is a hit when told by a black comedian, the man who wrote it."If you see a black guy driving fast, he's been shot at."—the punchline
- Cartwright Curse: In one episode Ponch finally finds true love. After the climax, Ponch and his girl have a picnic in the park... where she gets hit by a drunk driver. The episode ends with the girl dead in Ponch's arms, a rare episode where someone dies.
- Chick Magnet: Ponch. Many episodes had him trying to nurture a relationship with a young, hot babe.
- Cowboy Cop: In the 2000 revival movie, a mention is made of how thick Ponch's record was due to his various stunts. At one point, he jokes that they don't have to worry anymore, as computerized record keeping means that his stunts won't take up excessive file space anymore.
- Da Chief: Sgt. Joe Getraer was the Reasonable Authority Figure type.
- Doesn't Like Guns: Throughout six seasons, neither Ponch nor Jon drew his weapon.
- Down L.A. Drain: Seen a lot in Stock Footage, with the cops riding their motorcycles through it to get wherever they were going. Also serves nicely to remind the audience which part of California the show takes place in.
- Everybody Laughs Ending: Almost every episode. Unique in which they'd freeze on one character laughing over something, then another character reacting laughing and freezes, and so on.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: In most episodes, one or more car will flip or explode. Ironically, actual Pintos have been spared this fate. (Although one did end up at the bottom of a swimming pool.)
- Exact Words: In CHiPs '99 , Ponch explains that he spent his temporary retirement making a living as a painter. When a situation requires him to improvise a sling so a police chopper can lift him away on a rope, he explains that he learned how while working as a painter... painting the Golden Gate Bridge.
- False Confession: One episode has a man confess to numerous recent crimes to the point of annoyance. He would later be proven innocent and turned away. It turned out that he was planning to commit an actual crime and was confessing to the other ones to establish a "crying wolf" effect. Unfortunately for him, his plan is ruined when Ponch witnesses the crime he does commit and confirms his confession.
- Freeze-Frame Ending: The Stingers use multiple freeze-frames during the scene.
- "Friends" Rent Control: Initially averted by Ponch living at a mobile home in a trailer park. Later played straight when he moved into a fancy apartment by the marina. This led to jokes among fans about Ponch being on the take from criminals.
- Hollywood Police Driving Academy: Though Ponch and Jon avert this one themselves, the rest of the CHP (and for that matter everyone else on the freeway) turn it Up to Eleven at least once per episode! (see Idiot Ball, below)
- Hostile Hitchhiker:
- One episode had a trio of Valley girls who would hitch rides from strangers, hold them hostage with a water pistol, and rob them. Their crime spree ends when they try this on someone who recognizes the water pistol for what it is and threatens to commit sexual assault on them. Luckily, the officers intervene before anything happens.
- Inverted in an early episode. A pair of teenage girls hitchhike to get where they're going. This works well until the person who stops for them turns out to be a kidnapper. One girl abandons the other and Ponch and Jon come to the rescue.
- Hot Pursuit: Once per Episode.
- "How Did You Know?" "I Didn't.": In "Quarantine", Grossman tries to convince a bomb squad to violate the titular quarantine and take care of the pipe bomb dropped by the kid. While he's on the phone, Harlan casually walks in, picks up the pipe bomb, and opens it up. He discovers it's only a carrying case for the boy's meager possessions and not a real bomb. When Getraer asks Harlan how he knew it wasn't a bomb, he yelps and drops it.
- Identical Stranger: One episode has Bonnie go to a strip club with her friends. She watches a stripper who looks a lot like Ponch who starts his act wearing a CHP uniform. She later admits she had to look closely to be sure it wasn't him.
- Idiot Ball: Watch enough episodes and a viewer might come to the conclusion that (a) California Highway Patrol officers are complete morons, or (b) the show was written by former police officers from around Los Angeles out to make the CHP officers look like complete morons.
- In "Name Your Price", Ponch goes on a game show similar to The Price Is Right. He spends much of his off time visiting stores to learn the prices of items. When he gets called down, the featured item is a motorcycle, implied to be the same model he rides as a highway patrolman. He loses.
- The episode "Vintage '54" revolves around a series of classic car thefts. However, none of the stolen cars are from the '54 model year.
- Poorly Disguised Pilot: The fourth season two-parter "Ponch's Angels" and the fifth season episode "Force Seven".
- Recycled Soundtrack: Because of a musicians' strike, season four's "The Poachers" was "scored" by re-recorded Alan Silvestri pieces from other episodes, while several episodes of the same season were tracked with music Silvestri wrote for shows in previous seasons.
- Safe Driving Aesop: One example is the episode "Wheels of Justice" which starts with a multiple car accident caused by a drunk driver. His sober wife switches places with him while nobody's looking and he's acquitted since no one can prove he was actually driving. At the end of the episode, he gets into another accident while driving drunk. This time, his wife is killed.
- Salt and Pepper: A Cafe Con Leche example. As real life CHP officers seldom rode in pairs at the time, the pairing up of the brash Ponch and strait-laced Baker was originally explained by the former being on probationary observation by the latter.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Bruce Nelson for Jon Baker in the final two seasons. Lampshaded in Bruce's introductory episode when Ponch tries to get him to do the same things Jon liked.
- Syndication Title: CHiPs Patrol.
- Weaponized Car: In one episode, Ponch and Jon took on "the Stunt Car bandits".