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Series: CHiPs
The full cast

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!
Gus: That happens in like every episode.
Psych, "And Down the Stretch Comes Murder"

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).

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.

Compare to Dragnet and Adam-12, other series centering on police officers in the Los Angeles area.


CHiPs provides example of the following tropes:

  • Absentee Actor: Only Robert Pine (Getraer) is present and correct for the entire run.
  • 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.
    "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
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Throughout six seasons, neither Ponch or Jon drew his weapon.
  • Do Not Pass Go
  • Down LA 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.)
  • Everything's Better With Motorcycles
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Gift of the Magi Plot.
  • 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)
  • Hot Pursuit: Once per Episode.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Highlight the spoiler under False Confession.
  • Sorry Billy, But You Just Don't Have Legs: An episode involves the younger brother of a CHP officer who'd been killed in the line of duty. He started posing as a cop in his brother's old uniform. When caught by Ponch and Jon, he protested that he couldn't join the CHP himself because he was colorblind.
  • Syndication Title: CHiPs Patrol
  • Weaponized Car: In one episode, Ponch and Jon took on "the Stunt Car bandits".

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alternative title(s): C Hi Ps
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