During the European campaign in World War II, a group of multinational POWs in a small German prison camp execute daring sabotage and spying missions right under the noses of their Nazi keepers. It's just like watching The Great Escape or Stalag17 — every week. And the best part? It's a comedy!Starred Bob Crane as Hogan, Werner Klemperer as the supposedly bumbling Colonel Klink, and John Banner as the lovable Sergeant Schultz. Aired from 1965 to 1971.Ironically, all the major recurring German army characters were portrayed by Jewish actors. (An old story claims that Werner Klemperer would only do the show when assured that the Nazis would never be anything close to successful or competent.) And Robert Clary (Cpl. Lebeau), born Robert Max Widerman, survived Buchenwald (12 other family members didn't).Hogan's Heroes is one of the first American sitcoms to feature a black character as an integral member of the cast. Kinchloe is Hogan's second-in-command and the camp genius (also very unusual for the time period). The producers cast a black actor to play Kinchloe in part to prevent the network from providing Southern stations with a "black-free" cut, as was common at the time — Kinchloe was too important to the story line for his scenes to be removed.
Adolf Hitler: Never makes an actual appearance, but Carter impersonates him several times.
After Show: Averted, due to Bob Crane's death. Word Of God is that Larry Hovis was working on a pilot for a "next generation" spin-off, involving the children of the original POWs, fighting in Vietnam.
Anachronic Order: The episodes tend to mention historic events of World War II and have the characters reacting to them. The plots of several episodes even rely on said events. But the events as depicted are not in order, the timeline jumps back and forth. For example one episode of season 5 ("The Big Gamble") and three episodes of season 6 ("To Russia Without Love", "That's No Lady, That's My Spy", "Kommandant Gertrude") mention the ongoing Battle of Stalingrad (August 1942- February, 1943). The characters learn of the end of this battle in a season 4 episode ("Guess Who Came to Dinner?"). An episode of season 1 ("How to Cook a German Goose by Radar") mentions the Allied invasion of Sicily (July-August, 1943) as a recent event. Two others episodes of the same season ("The Prince from the Phone Company", "Hello, Zollie") have characters mention strategic plans for the ongoing North African Campaign (June 1940-May 1943).
Anachronism Stew: Some things that aren't as obvious to viewers today, but they're there...
In "The Assassin", Hogan says "This might be the most important operation we run during the war, and we're not gonna run it like...like a high-school production of Arsenic And Old Lace!" (While the play first showed in 1939, and the film in 1944, sure high schools probably didn't start putting it on for a while after that.)
In one episode Hogan uses a variation of Steve Allen's What's My Line? catchphrase 'Is it bigger than a breadbox?' which was first coined around 1953.
Angry Guard Dog: Inverted — the dogs are always angry to the Germans, but the prisoners have them trained to a T.
It helped that the guy who brought in the replacement dogs was part of the German resistance to the Nazi regime. (And not the only minor character to be, either.)
Bilingual Bonus: Some in German (Klink, Schultz, etc.), and some in French (LeBeau).
Blatant Lies: "Stalag 13 has never had an escape!" (bonus points if someone's sneaking out in the background while Klink's saying it). Hogan arranges it so that the escaping guest stars are blamed on others, so that Stalag 13's perfect record stays intact: if Klink starts losing prisoners, the Luftwaffe, Gestapo or SS would replace Klink with someone competent. It's lampshaded by LeBeau at one point:
LeBeau: Oh yeah, not one escape. Maybe a hundred, but not one!
Hogan finds out that one of the new prisoners of war is actually a German spy, so they pretend to trust him and tell him they're going to take him to their secret hideout blindfolded. They then let some false information slip out while talking and make noises that imply their hideout is under the watertower.
In another episode the Heroes discover Klink has bugged Hogan's office and decide to use it to their advantage.
Turned against them by Hochstetter once. It almost got them all killed.
Bluff The Impostor: One of Hogan's mole-digging methods: Ask the new guy what outfit he was with. Inquire about several (nonexistent) members of that outfit. Act very concerned when he doesn't know who they are.
Bond One-Liner: Hogan fires one off after the Heroes blow up a fuel truck in "Drums Along the Dusseldorf".
But Not Too Evil: None of the main German cast, and only one of the recurring guest characters (Wolfgang Hochstetter, of the SS and later the Gestapo) is a member of the Nazi party.
Apparently Truth in Television. According to The Other Wiki, officers of the regular German armed forces were forbidden from joining any political party, which at that time was pretty much the Nazi Party.
Butt Monkey: Klink, at least to some extent Schultz. Among the good guys, it's usually Carter.
California Doubling: Made the "perpetual winter" continuity of the series unrealistic, with full green foliage in the surroundings, and the actors sweating in their caps and coats and acting like it's freezing outside when in actuality it was well over 90 degrees outside.
Cassandra Truth: Carter once had to get caught with a microfilm so they could give fake information to the Germans. He outright told everybody he met, and they thought he was a Gestapo agent with fake American papers. He got very frustrated. He finally gave up, asked a (real) Gestapo agent who was in the room checking papers for a ride back to camp, and was found out on the way.
Hogan standing around nonchalantly, and smirking. He also puts his hands on his men's shoulders a lot.
Klink swinging his clinched fist, and letting out a loud mutter.
Kinch raising his eyebrow.
Chaste Hero: Carter. Unlike the other characters, who are gaga for anything with two X chromosomes and a tight shirt, Carter is alternately confused and scared by female sexuality. The weird part is that in "Request Permission to Escape" his fiancée sends him a "Dear John" Letter. One wonders how he even got a fiancée in the first place. Ironically, in one of the last episodes, Carter becomes increasingly aroused at the prospect of visiting a beautiful dancer who happens to be with the Dutch Underground as a part of their latest mission.
Cloudcuckoolander: Carter again, and an argument could made about Klink and Schultz to some extent.
Kinchloe - Yellow (without his field jacket, his uniform is olive drab, which is similar to mustard, which is a shade of yellow)
Carter - Green (also without his leather flying jacket)
Comforting Comforter: In "Klink's Secret Weapon", Hogan drapes blankets over Kinch and LeBeau, who are so exhausted they just (like everyone else) collapsed into bed. It's a nice, quiet, and very sweet scene.
Con Artist: Hogan, naturally. The other heroes as well.
"Dear John" Letter: The first-season finale ("Request Permission to Escape") focuses on Carter, of all people, getting one of these. The fact that it's from MaryJane ("Gee, we've been going together since we were kids!") makes their trying to cheer him up even funnier.
Dueling Scar: General Burkhalter has a dueling scar. Leon Askin, who played General Burkhalter, actually got the scar while being beaten by members of the SS for being Jewish.
During the War: Like M*A*S*H, this show actually aired for longer than the war it takes place in (Hogan's Heroes ran for six seasons)—and the US didn't even get involved until 1941.
Early Installment Weirdness: The pilot episode is in black-and-white, Klink is actually a rather strict and stern camp commandant (though still a bit of a push-over), Carter is a one-shot character passing through Stalag 13 in his journey back to England as an escaping prisoner, a Russian POW named Vladimir is the camp tailor, all of the prisoners are part of Hogan's team and have access to the tunnels, and the tunnels are quite a vast underground network with various different departments (printing press, machinery shop, steam room, and a barber shop), and Burkhalter is a Colonel instead of General.
Elaborate Underground Base: The P.O.W.s had so many tunnels carved out that it's surprising the whole camp didn't sink into the ground. Occasionally holes did pop up, and it would be up to the gang to convince Klink that there were natural caverns or hot springs under the camp.
Interestingly the base actually came to be a bit less elaborate as the show went on. While the tunnels in the series proper never came to resemble the pilot's, there was still mention of the printing press and the metal shop (and the fact that prisoners other than the core group worked down there regularly). In later seasons the radio room is the only room shown, and forged papers seem to be solely Newkirk's job.
Expy: Stalag 13 is this, actually. There actually was a genuine Stalag XIII-C and Oflag XIII-B in Hammelberg, Bavaria. The Oflag was famous as the scene of a failed raid by Patton's troops in the closing days of the war, intent on rescuing the general's son-in-law, who had been captured in 1943. Other than the name, the real Stalag XIII-C bore no resemblance to the fictional Stalag 13.
Fake in the Hole: The POWs create a distraction by tossing a live grenade into Klink's office but without pulling the trigger cord (the equivalent of the pin on a potato masher grenade). This gives them time to pull off their Zany Scheme while the Germans are diving for cover.
Klink: This parachutist is an idiot! He didn't even pull the pin!
Hogan: That's the idea, Kommandant! The Allies are trying to win the war without violence!
Fake Nationality: Almost completely averted. John Banner was Austrian, the rest of the cast matched the nationality of their characters. Major Hochstetter — a character not in the main cast — was played by an American actor.
For Science!: In one episode, a Russian scientist invents a tracking device for the Nazis, just to test a theory. Fortunately he has an attack of conscience and sabotages it. The same for a man working on the atomic bomb.
Genius Ditz: Sgt. Carter is clueless about most things, but with either explosives or German disguises he's brilliant — his Hitler is especially lifelike. Also he's apparently very good at running businesses. If he wasn't such a Cloud Cuckoo Lander he'd be a very dangerous man.
Germanic Efficiency: Constantly undermined. Although occasionally we do see an efficient German (very memorably in "Hogan Gives a Birthday Party", when General Biedenbender gives Hogan a run for his money).
[Sound of bell ringing]
LeBeau: Roll call, colonel.
Hogan: [checking his watch] Thirty-one seconds early! Why can't these Germans learn to be methodical?
Lady Chitterley (falsely) implies very heavily that she spent a summer ménage à trois with Hogan and her husband. It's never specifically said, but everyone else gets what they mean — and are disturbed by it. LeBeau comments "We're French! We can all be friends!", referring to a (somewhat) love triangle that's sprung up with him, Hogan, and another Girl of the Week. Apparently this show likes its threesomes.
In "Everyone loves a Snowman" Hogan and his men are trying to hide a recently downed bomber crew and the Gestapo finds and needs to fill a false tunnel in the barracks. Hogan tells the airmen not to worry, "There are 20 barracks on this base and we have tunnels to all but one, barracks 4." Cut to the men standing in front of Barracks #4.
In "Six Lessons From Madame Lagrange", Hochstetter has LeBeau arrested and put in the cooler to teach Hochstetter to dance. Hogan goes to Klink and Burkhalter to protest, saying "Who knows what kind of torture he's giving him?" Cue LeBeau yelping in pain because Hochstetter is stomping on his foot.
Good News, Bad News: Lampshaded in the episode "Look at the Pretty Snowflakes", when Klink announces he has good news, and bad news, and the Heroes, to stall for time, argue over which of the two they want to hear first.
Schultz falls more under the Brilliant, but Lazy label. In one episode the heroes contrive to put Schultz in charge of the camp, but when he proves frighteningly competent at the job Hogan worked to return everything to the status quo... which Schultz preferred anyway.
It's just as likely Schultz and Klink know about pretty much everything and are secretly letting it all go as a Take That against their Nazi superiors.
Schultz: Colonel Hogan, if you ever do try to escape...? Hogan: Yeah? Schultz: Be a good fellow and take me with you.
Also this beauty from Schultz when the crew tries to push him too far on a bargain: "Sometimes I have to work for OUR side!!!"
, and then have to (very quickly) scheme to get to him again and disarm it when a mook inadvertently activates one of the timers without Claus noticing.
Then there's also the time they tried to kidnap Field Marshal Rommel.
Hilarious In Hind Sight: Colonel Klink and Sgt. Schultz often called LeBeau "Cockroach". LeBeau's actor, Robert Clary, is the only one living out of the original cast today.
Honey Trap: Besides the many, many women, Hogan occasionally operates as a male one.
Hollywood Darkness: Gets especially funny when an officer uses a flashlight to read a map and it's dimmer than the light around him.
Homage: The episode where Hogan & Co. trick a visitor into thinking he's flying in an airplane was a Shout Out to Batman: The Movie, where the United Underworld tricks the kidnapped Commodore Schmidlapp into thinking he's still aboard his yacht.
Indy Ploy: Because nothing ever, ever goes exactly as planned.
Hogan: We like to play these things out like Eliza on the ice—we sort of figure things out as we go.
Russian Spy Marya takes this to the next level by becoming an Indy Chessmaster. Her plans often center around purposefully getting Hogan and company into an unpleasant situation and then trusting that whatever wacky scheme they come up with to get out of the situation will benefit her cause as well, despite having no idea what they're specifically going to do.
Idiot Ball: Carter occasionally puts it down and becomes competent. In one episode he can barely manage speaking German, in another he can impersonate Hitler and fool someone who'd actually met him. In at least one episode Hogan draws attention to the fact that he's been spending some time on a ruse for Klink and decides to use it for the heist of the week. It's very possible that Hogan has several stunts going at any one time for fun as well as profit.
Just a Stupid Accent: Very few "Germans" speak actual German on the show. In fact, because of the Translation Convention, it gets to the point that it's never quite clear who's actually speaking what at any given time. Even the characters lose track at times. Klink, Schultz, and General Burkhalter's actors weren't fakes though. They really were German born (well, at least, the latter two were Austrian)... it doesn't make it any clearer who's speaking what though. On the other hand, there are quite a few authentic German throwaway lines, mostly by Schultz. And LeBeau's actor was actually French.
In "War Takes a Holiday" SS officer Wolfgang Hochstetter is tricked into letting Underground leaders go free. He is arrested by the SS at the end and it is likely he will face a firing squad.
In another episode a German general arrives with his group of ruthless elite soldiers, boasting to Hogan's face that he disapproves of prison camps—since he never takes prisoners. Even Klink is horrified by him. Then Hogan dreams up the plan of replacing the general's war game supplies with something a little more realistic...
Man of a Thousand Voices: Everyone when they're impersonating Germans, but Richard Dawson gets special mention for playing Newkirk and various German and British voices that sound nothing alike. This scene in particular, gives a good impression of his vocal talents
Maximum Fun Chamber: The Russian Front. Not ''that'' much of an unspecified place, but since it's used as a gag, never shown, and Klink is deathly afraid of it... (Actually, so is Schultz, but he gets threatened with it far less often) it probably fits. Given the casualties the Germans took on the Russian Front in real life, their fear is justified.
When it comes to insults and snark, rank is not an issue. In particular, Corporal Newkirk gets away with calling Sergeant Carter an idiot quite often. The men have a pretty strong bond between them and Carter in particular is probably too nice to pull rank on anyone. For contrast, in one episode, Carter gets a "Dear John" letter, and starts acting more traditionally military, for example refusing to budge until saluted correctly. Hogan exasperatedly asks him if he has to act so military.
Most of the time it's obvious that the men follow Hogan's orders and instructions out of respect, not deference to military rank. The amount of times he directly orders someone to do something is in the single digits, and its usually when someone's life is at risk. One example is when Hogan is disarming the security lock (a good-sized bomb) on a briefcase so they can find out what's inside. It comes down to a Wire Dilemma type event - turning the handle one way disarms the bomb, the other way triggers it. The men are right behind him, and only back up when he says "That's a direct order!"
"Operation Briefcase" was surprisingly dark, featuring an agent actually dying (offscreen) while in Hogan's care, when most involved escapes by the skins of their teeth. Even more unpleasantly, this episode dealt with the July 20th 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler—an attempt, as everyone should know, that failed.
In the Batman Cold Open of another episode, the guys are meeting an Underground agent who was a female impersonator before the war. Jokes fly, then Germans crash the meeting, fire at the good guys and take off in pursuit of the Underground agent. Hogan and his men get up again, Newkirk cracks a joke at the expense of the French... and they realise that LeBeau is still on the ground and has actually been shot. Cue one of the most dramatic moments in the (usually) comedic series when Newkirk does a 180 from his usual Deadpan Snarker persona and says quietly, "Colonel, my little mate's been hit." Though it turns out the bullet only grazed him, but LeBeau fainted anyway because he's Afraid of Blood.
"The Experts" also starts out pretty dark, possibly topping the other two examples. It begins with the Gestapo arriving in the middle of the night to arrest two Stalag 13 guards for black market operations. One is on vacation, but the other is at his post, so they go after him. Hogan is watching them arrest the man through the sink. A few seconds later, a machine gun is fired and the guard is dead.
Nice Hat: Just about all of them... Hogan with his Class A cap, Schultz with his Kraut helmet, LeBeau's beret, Newkirk's garrison (or field service in the UK) cap, Kinchloe and Baker's wool knit caps, Carter's leather flying cap, Klink's WWI leather helmet with the spike on top (which he never wears).
No Ending: The series never had a proper Grand Finale, so we will never know what happened when the Allied forces finally reached Stalag 13, and thus ending Hogan's mission, at the closing of the war.
Klink: The last time I missed a date with a woman, it took two policemen and a priest to talk her out of jumping.
No Swastikas: Sort of. Mention of the Bad Old Days on German TV is illegal, so the German dub replaces much of the discussions with talk of Klink's unseen housekeeper, and Nazi salutes become comedically contrived gestures. None of the main German characters are members of the Nazi party, Klink outright stating he doesn't like them a few times.
Not Even Bothering with the Accent: In the last two seasons, Hogan puts less and less effort into a fake German accent whenever he poses as a Kraut to the point that he eventually plays this trope straight in his last several masquerades.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: Sometimes Klink can be competent, or at least has the air of competence. One genuine example is in "Will the Real Adolf Please Stand Up?" where he's unfazed by Hogan's ploy, calls it out as a pack of lies, and tightens security further. Both Hogan and Schultz are caught off-guard. Another is in "A Man's Best Friend Is Not his Dog," where he and Schultz manage to keep Hogan on his toes for the majority of the episode.
Marya acts the part of an oversexed materialistic flirt, but her plans often run circles around Hogan himself.
Schultz is supposed to be a fool, and always claims to know "noth-ink!", but he's the only German soldier aware of the heroes' activities. When he actively helps the heroes his competence occasionally jumps, even if he still sounds like a fool. In peacetime he owns and runs the biggest toy company in Germany.
The British agent "Nimrod", who congratulates Hogan after Hogan convinces Hochstetter that Klink is Nimrod in order to get Klink rescued from the Underground. Later the real Nimrod is revealed to have slipped plans for a new German attack fighter into a model kit in Klink's office. This may imply that Nimrod is either Bulkhalter, Schultz, Hilda, or Klink himself.
Odd Couple: Hogan and Klink occasionally drift into this territory.
To maintain comedy, the show avoids mention of the more horrifying aspects of the Nazi regime.
Then there's the whole matter of Kinchloe and Baker being black, which is never commented on. Klink even refers to Kinch as "the most popular prisoner in the camp" and seems to agree with the notion. Really, the only time race is brought up is by the fact that Kinchloe can't exactly go walking around disguised as a German (and yet he makes a wonderful German over the phone) and when the German brass get upset that Kinchloe can outbox the luftstalag champion. Klink doesn't see the problem until Burkhalter brings up that other African-American who was known for athletically outperforming Nazi contestants.
Possibly lampshaded when Schultz runs across several of the crew (including Kinchloe) putting on German uniforms. "I know NUSSINK!"
Hogan's womanizing took on a new light when the seedy details of Bob Crane's private life came out. Crane also married Sigrid Valdis who played Hilda, the secretary with whom Hogan had an implied relationship.
Carter almost never takes off his gloves. If you look at one of the very rare scenes where he's bare-handed you can see that he's wearing a wedding ring. Larry Hovis, his actor, refused to remove it even while he was acting.
Recycled Plot: Only really noticeable in the pilot, which is a simplified and comedic rework of the basic plot of Stalag17.
Reassigned To The Russian Front: Klink is constantly being threatened with being reassigned to a much-less cushy position on the Russian Front if he screws up too much.
Refuge in Audacity: Hogan. Hell, the entire series in a meta-sense; it's a sitcom set in a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp. (Although they do stay away from the war-atrocities)
Rock Beats Laser: In "Drums Along the Dusseldorf", a flaming arrow takes out a truck of experimental fuel.
Running Gag: Several, mostly regarding the lack of Nazi competency. There's even a drinking game based on them. You can find it here.
Spiritual Successor: To Billy Wilder's Stalag 17. So much so, that the producers of Stalag 17 sued Bing Crosby Productions for plagarism. They lost. The pilot, in particular, has quite substantial similarities in basic plot to the film (both being based around The Mole). However, it's also a very obvious type of plot for a bunch of spies and saboteurs operating from inside an enemy POW camp. There's also Schultz who is more or less an Expy for Stalag 17's Schulz, except his friendliness with the POWs is genuine.
Staff of Authority: In addition to his monocle, carrying around a swagger stick tucked under one arm is the trademark of Colonel Klink
Tanks, But No Tanks: In "Hold That Tiger", the team steals a goddamn tank from the Third Panzer Division. The script calls it a Tiger, but it's actually an American M7 Priest self-propelled artillery vehicle dolled up in German colors. The same M7 later stood in for a German AFV in "One Army At a Time".
Theme Naming: The code-names are almost all fairy-tale-related: "Papa Bear", "Mama Bear", "Goldilocks", "Little Red Riding Hood", "The Big Bad Wolf", "Rumplestiltskin", etc.
The prisoners whistle the theme all the time ("The Gold Rush" has a great example).
Once, slowed-down, as a romantic interlude ("It Takes A Thief...")
Those Wacky Nazis: This show puts the "Wacky" in that phrase. It also goes to great lengths to establish that its German characters are not Nazis.
Too Kinky to Torture: Marya. In one episode Hogan has to tie her up and knock her out with the butt of his gun so it looks like she wasn't involved. She's ecstatic about it and Hogan can't bring himself to do it. He gives her the gun, telling her to knock herself out, and she does it with great eagerness.
"Darling, oh, they were brutal to me — let me tell you all about it!"
Trash the Set: After the series wrapped up production, the entire Stalag 13 set was completely recycled for a porno movie (not one of Bob Crane's home movies, an actual one), about a female Nazi mad scientist running a medical camp and performing torturous experiments on prisoners: the script called for the camp to be blown up, so the Hogan producers agreed, saving them the trouble and expenses of having the set bulldozed anyway.
If Colonel Hogan was a real person, he would have beat the hell out of Eisenhower after WWII. Just imagine President Hogan. Either that, or he would've replaced Richard Nixon as Eisenhower's VP. It all depends on Hogan's own political leanings.
In separate interviews, both Werner Klemperer and Richard Dawson have hinted that there was a possible seventh season in production, but was more than likely stopped, due to the series falling victim to The Rural Purge. There has also been some hinting that the supposed seventh season was to be the real last season, including a final episode in which the war ends, the POWs are liberated.
Who Needs Enemies?: Marya, the Russian spy. Not only was she blatant about her willingness to sell out the heroes to the Germans if it meant she succeeded in her missions, at least once her mission directly hampered the heroes' mission (while still hurting the Germans). Sure, she was an ally, but...
Willing Suspension of Disbelief: We are asked to believe that the saboteur heroes are able to operate inside Nazi Germany for multiple seasons of stories and not get caught. It's classic Rule of Funny. It even gets lampshaded in one episode, when it is noticed by the Gestapo that there is a group of unresolved incidents of sabotage surrounding Stalag 13. Naturally, a zany plan throws them off the track.
In one episode, Klink tells Hogan (who at that point had more or less ensured that he would be shot for incompetence) that "somehow, I don't hate you. In another time, perhaps we could even have been friends." Hogan actually winces.
Yes Man: Klink, whenever a kissable butt of higher rank than his own is present. Subverted when an SS Major comes into camp and openly admits to never taking prisoners (earning the ire of Hogan, who responds with the "we try not to kill people we've met" rule applicable on this show). Klink instantly stops trying to suck up to him.