Rear Admiral A.J. Chegwidden: Your record here reads like a cross between Top Gun and A Few Good Men. Lieutenant Commander Harmon Rabb, Jr.: Sorry about that, sir. Rear Admiral A.J. Chegwidden: I'm not. The Navy needs heroes. Now more than ever. Pilloried in the press by a liberal media, underfunded by an election driven Congress and shooting ourselves in the foot every time a sailor gets horny. Lieutenant Commander Harmon Rabb, Jr.: Yes, sir. Rear Admiral A.J. Chegwidden: Now, if I repeated those words to the press, the Secretary of the Navy would demand my resignation. For while my words are as true as the blue ice in the Arctic, they're politically incorrect. And today's Navy, Mr. Rabb, sails on the sea of political correctness.
— Season 1, Episode 14, "Smoked".
JAG, an acronym for Judge Advocate General, is a long running TV show (1995-2005), about judge advocates (pentagonese for lawyers in military uniform) in the Department of the Navy's Office of the Judge Advocate General, who deals with military justice matters wherever the forces of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps go in the world.Created by veteran showrunnerDonald P. Bellisario for Paramount Network Television and originally pitched to the networks as a Top Gun meets A Few Good Men, the show lasted one season on NBC before being canceled. It was picked up by CBS the following season, and they turned into one of the most successful shows in their history.The first and, to a lesser extent, the second season focused primarily on action packed pre-trial field investigations, while the third and later seasons joined that formula together with an equal amount of courtroom and office drama in the stylistic vein of L.A. Law. Many episodes have storylines which often were Ripped from the Headlines, e.g. the war in the Balkans, introduction of female combat pilots on aircraft carriers, espionage, racial bigotry, fraternization charges, a U.S. sailor accused of raping Japanese woman in Japan, homosexuality in the Armed Forces in the days of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", crooked contractors, The War on Terror, homeless veterans, senior officers insulting foreign allies, miscarriages of justice, AWOLs & desertions, the Guantanamo Bay detention center, and so on and so forth.JAG has a number of dramatic episodes, some of which were based loosely on historical events. The main characters are so involved in them, that considering that they are lawyers, it tends to strain your Willing Suspension of Disbelief. Although the show was quite successful ratings-wise, which the longevity alone suggests, it never generated much buzz in the hypemachine, and it never received any major awards beyond 3 technical Emmys. Much of that is probably due to the fact that JAG was not, by industry standards, perceived as cutting-edge but rather conventional in its set-up, and that the largest demographic audience share was elder Middle Americanote That U.S. perception bias was probably lost on many foreign audiences, as JAG was by its fifth season shown in 90 countries around the world.In any case, its popularity led to a spin-off launched through a Back Door Pilot in its 8th season, NCIS, which has managed to become more popular and has remained longer on the air than its parent series.
Character tropes added here, please. The Recap Page needs love as well.
Note that the tropes on this page are divided into an overall series section (at the top) and a specific-to-an-episode section (below). Thanks.
JAG as a series provides overall examples of:
Ace Pilot: Harm was a naval aviator before becoming a lawyer. He still flies whenever he can, and even gets back on flying duty for part of a season.
Adventure Towns: Harm and Mac’s line of work (court cases and/or field investigations) takes them all over the world, i.e. wherever the US Navy and Marine Corps forces are stationed. Not to mention the occasional CIA undercover stuff and Harm’s private searches for his MIA father.
Although, it has to be acknowledged that well more than half the episodes featured situations that were completely removed from reality. You don't have to look very far. Even the promo picture above shows a female character with her hair down to her shoulders, which is not allowed in uniform.
Retired Rear Admiral Paul T. Gillcrist, hired as a technical consultant had this to say:
There's one issue that really used to bug me, but now I accept it. When they show people flying in planes or taking off from an aircraft carrier, they never wear their oxygen masks. I understand, though, that the director wants to make sure that we can see the actors' faces. I sort of gave up on that battle.
Artistic License - Ships: Almost all US Navy vessels on the show, other than decommissioned ones or historic references, have fictional names. This may have been intentional.
In "Cowboys & Cossacks", the exterior of the Russian destroyer is actually stock footage of a British Type 42 destroyer.
And the Admiral's replacement Major General Gordon Cresswell, USMC
Bilingual Backfire: More than once, a character accidentally tipped their hand because they didn't realize that one of the heroes (usualy Mac) could understand their language, or at least recognize key words in it, such as the Spanish name for the United States (estados unidos).
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The main cast can fall into this at times. General Cresswell lampshades this in season 10 "The Sixth Juror" when he finds Bud having a hobby of code breaking, helping Harm on a case by phone, but still got all the work assigned done, Harm and Mac's usual antics when on a case and Petty Officer Coates being made a juror on said case and pushed the rules by investigating whether another juror was having an improper relationship with a witness in the trial. In summary, the General can abide by these antics, as long as the work done continues being exceptional.
California Doubling: Except for the pilot episode (partly shot on a decommissioned aircraft carrier in Texas), location filming in Washington DC for two season 4 episodes and a season 5 two part episode filmed in Sydney, Australia, the series was entirely shot in California locales.
The crew certainly took advantage The 100th and 101st episodes "Boomerang", filmed on location in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia into Scenery Porn. And also the parts of early season 5 episodes filmed aboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis certainly did that as well.
Chest of Medals: This trope is somewhat suprisingly averted, as the main characters actually have far fewer ribbons (in terms of quantity not quality) than Navy and Marine Corps personnel in real-life similar positions do have.
Although few judge advocates has ever earned the Navy Cross and Bronze Star with "V" (like Chegwidden), a Silver Star and two Distinguished Flying Crosses (like Rabb), or the Bronze Star (like Turner).
Cool Ship & Cool Boat: Various US Navy vessels appear throughout the program, with one of the most prominent being the fictional USS Seahawk.
A common practice on JAG was to use [[No Communities Were Harmed fictionalized names for warships]], such as the carriers USS Seahawk and Patrick Henry and the submarine USS Tigershark.
Cool Plane: Harm more than once climbs into the cockpit of an F-14 Tomcat and also flies F-18s, C-130s, a stolen Mig 29, a Boeing 747 airliner, and the Aurora spy plane by the time the series ends. Not to mention his very own Stearman biplane "Sarah". (named after his grandmother and not his co-worker).
Costume Porn: As the series features full display of the uniforms from the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps worn by mostly good looking people. It’s ironic, though, that the episode ("Gypsy Eyes") for which the show did in fact win an Emmy for best costuming hardly featured any U.S. military uniforms at all.
Sturgis' father, the Navy chaplain, also qualifies as he served in both Korea and Vietnam as well.
Deadpan Snarker: The main characters, with the exceptions of Bud and Harriet, are prone to this. Chedgwidden is the king of this trope though.
Devil's Advocate: Happens often in JAG when one of the characters has to either prosecute an innocent person or defend an obviously guilty one. In addition, it is more frequently used in sparring arguments between the characters, both inside and outside of court. A Truth in Television.
Disappeared Dad: Harm's father was shot down over Vietnam on Christmas Eve 1969 when he was a kid, and Harm's attempts to find him were a recurring subplot for the first three seasons.
Admiral Chegwidden, while a part of his daughter Francesca's life, wishes that he was there for her more than he was. His daughter loves him, however.
Eagleland: Comes in a mixed flavor, but generally the military is almost always of type 1 (Navy & Marine Corps in particular), while civilians and civilian life is at times portrayed as type 2.
Early-Installment Weirdness: The show switched networks after the first season, and experienced a Re Tool as a result, mostly resulting in much of the supporting cast being replaced. Given that the show centers around the military, the cast switch was remarkably easy to explain as being Truth in Television. Further, the pilot episode has Harm paired with Lieutenant Caitlin Pike who would be replaced by Lieutenant Meg Austin in the first season.
Economy Cast: Even though the show was on the air for ten seasons and had loads and loads of characters this trope came into play. For instance, if there would be an issue somehow involving the CIA, Clayton Webb would never be far away.
Evil Virtues: From time to time, the heroes will be dealing with a Well-Intentioned Extremist (or even a relatively heroic character who is simply serving a different nation at cross-purposes to the USA). Other times even the more petty villains will Pet the Dog, such as in "Shadow", where the Hollywood Nerd "Techno Pirate" who had hijacked an experimental torpedo is quick to try and comfort Meg Austin when he realizes she is having a full-blown claustrophobia attack in the confines of a submarine.
Final Season Casting: Rear Admiral A.J. Chegwidden (John M. Jackson) retired at the end of season 9 and was replaced in the final 10th season by Major General Gordon Cresswell (David Andrews). Lieutenants Gregory Vukovic (Chris Beteem) and Catherine Graves (Jordana Spiro) were also last season additions.
Ghost Extras: There are many people in the bullpen but they rarely ever interact with speaking characters. It gets particularly obvious that every staff meeting only includes lead and recurring characters, and sometimes also the guest star.
The Government: JAG is largely an aversion of this trope; as the protagonists work for Uncle Sam, the creator and show runner is a veteran, and the show was supported by the Pentagon; not surprisingly the portrayal of the government at large (excluding the actions of certain individual characters), and the military justice system is overall very favorable. However the CIA (mostly through the character Clayton Webb) is often portrayed, in contrast to the benign U.S. military, as either (depending on the story) ruthless, inept and/or shortsighted.
Honesty Is the Best Policy: This trope is a recurring theme on the show and is brought up in several episodes. The resolution of the eight season episode "Need to Know" is a good case in point. However, the twist is that there should be honesty among the Americans, but maintaining a false facade towards others is okay.
In Harm's Way: Harmon Harm Rabb, Jr. is a real trouble magnet and almost a trope codifier. Other characters on the show often make the, by now, Incredibly Lame Pun that Harm is in harm’s way and the like.
Identical Son: Harmon Rabb Jr. is identical to Harmon Rabb Sr. (save for the latter's mustache).
Constant references are made to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (and upon occasion even the Manual for Courts-Martial) terminology and articles: particularly articles 31 and 32, the first is the equivalent of Miranda Rights for service members, and the latter is about pre-trial investigation and hearing. It Makes Sense in Context.
A lot of naval aviation jargon show up in the Pilot Movie and is completely justified as Bud points out to Caitlin Pike:
Caitlin Pike:You a pilot, ensign? Bud Roberts:No, ma'am. It's just that everybody uses pilot jargon on a carrier.
"Recovery" in the first season has Harm point out that the Air Force has pilots while the Navy has aviators.
Another episode ("Heroes", the one with the submachine gun fired in the courtroom), Mac claims that Marines never duck. Harm asks her what Marines do, and she replies. "They take cover.".
Interservice Rivalry: A very common trope, used quite extensively in this series. Sometimes it could be something as basic as military people v. civilians, or lawyers vs. non-lawyers, or JAG vs. NCIS. Sometimes it's intra-service rivalry (e.g. submariners vs. aviators), or even intra-intra-service rivalry (e.g. naval aviators of plane type X v. naval aviators of plane type Y.)
The Navy/Marine rivalry/siblingship is often touched on: as one part of Harm and Mac's constant bickering, the all too short-lived rivalry between Gunnery Sergeant Galindez and Petty Officer Tiner, or in any other permutation as the needs of the story dictates.
In "Shadow", a crewman aboard a helicopter asks Commander Lindsey if the case he is escorting really contains a hundred million in gold. Lindsey demands to know where he heard that, and the sailor admits he heard it from a Marine. Lindsey jokes that the sailor should never listen to Marines. And it's only forty million.
After making five carrier landnings in a row with Harm, McKee says:
You're making me wish I'd joined the Air Force.
The Marine provost marshal at the SeaTac base in "Brig Break" obviously didn't think too highly of Navy lawyers. And who could really blame the poor guy with Rabb outfoxing him several times.
Harm occasionally indulges in good-natured smack talk with Air Force pilots in "Recovery":
Meg: You could have used a little more runway. Harm: You want long roll-outs, fly the Air Force. Meg: Careful, Harm. We're in their territory. Harm: There are a lot of friendlies around here, Meg. The space program likes Navy pilots. We make their best astronauts. Meg: Right, I think I read that somewhere in Kepler's laws of planetary motion. Harm: Hey, all I need to say is that the first American in outer space was not an Air Force jock. They put up a man who knew how to make a trap. Meg: Then why was the first man in orbit a Marine?
In "Heroes", Harm ridicule the ability of NCIS special agents:
Bud: NCIS didn't find anything in his apartment, sir. Harm: I'm surprised they found his apartment at all without a trail of doughnuts.
Yet "Blind Side" had a far more specific example of intra-intra-service rivalry: Harm (an F-14 Tomcat driver) gets into a game of pool against a pair of F-18 Hornet drivers (in the military, the pilots understandably take a lot of pride in the aircraft they fly). One discretion cut later, and we discover that Harm and his pool partner evidently won their opponents pants in the game when he holds them up as a trophy to show Mac.
In "Code of Conduct", the Army prosecutor lampshades the mere perception of it by opening his remarks with:
This is not the Army-Navy Game...
Jurisdiction Friction: Occurs in several episodes. Not only with external parties (i.e. non-military) such as local police and prosecutors, other federal agencies or foreign government entities; but often the local commanding officer does not like the presence of JAG officers from Washington in his/her fiefdom.
In "Desert Son", Captain Reed does not like Harm interfering in his unit's training with their investigation, especially as he sees it as open and shut. This leads directly to Poor Communication Kills.
Long-Lost Relative: Harm spends a substantial portion of the show (seasons 1-3) searching for his father, who went MIA during the Vietnam War. His father escaped custody, and was later shot and killed, but not before meeting a Russian woman and fathering another son, Sergei.
Long Runner: Ran for ten years, on two separate networks.
Mildly Military: Averted. For a staff corps office they take military protocol very seriously.
Take for instance when another admiral walks into the bullpen in "Mixed Messages", the Gunny yells "Admiral on deck!" and everyone stands to attention without the slightest degree of hesitation, as if at boot camp.
Acknowledged in an interview with retired Rear Admiral Paul T. Gillcrist, who worked as a technical consultant on the show:
Another thing is the way people talk. Admirals don't normally say things like "at ease" or "dismissed" to JAG officers. They may speak like that in battle, or on the parade grounds, but not in an office environment. But, again, that's just something they do for the sake of the show.
This revealing comment was given by the other technical consultant, retired Master Sergeant Matt Sigloch:
David was invited to go to D.C. to actually go to JAG headquarters. And he came back to me and said that there were some people kind of upset with the show. Apparently, their senior officers are telling some of the junior officers, "You people aren't even as squared away as the people on the TV show. You guys look sloppy compared to them." So David suggested that we loosen things up, but Don didn't want to.
Mission Briefing: Almost a Once per Episode on JAG. Usually it is Admiral Chegwidden who, following the opening title sequence, hands a new case or mission to either Harm, Mac or to them both.
Oddly Small Organization: The Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy appears much smaller in the series than in real life, so small that Harm, Mac and Sturgis on occasions are temporarily assigned as Acting Judge Advocate General; despite the fact that in real life there is a flag officer serving as Deputy Judge Advocate General, not to mention all the Captains/Colonels (Assistant Judge Advocate General for X) serving as heads of the various departments; although it’s supposed to be the same size as in real life, as Chegwidden in the NCIS backdoor pilot stating he has 750 people under his command, which was the actual real-world case in 2003.
Although never stated in-verse, it’s quite possible that the Deputy Judge Advocate General, who in real-life is also dual-hatted as Commander of Naval Legal Service Command (NLSC), has his office at the Washington Navy Yard (as in real life), while the fictional Falls Church office mostly houses OJAG staff and the judiciary.
Establishing Shot: in season two and onward, the exterior of the in-universe JAG Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia is shown once or twice in most episodes: in Real Life it's an American Red Cross building in Pasadena, California.
Every Episode Ending: Every episode on JAG, except the Pilot Movie, ended with a freeze frame, usually of one or two of the main characters either smiling or showing a concerned look.
Overranked Soldier: Averted mostly, even though the investigation's and field work done by Harm and Mac are borderline.
Permission to Speak Freely: Used frequently for when a lower ranking officer wants to speak to senior officer. Occasionally denied by the senior officer.
Plot Parallel: Used in just about every single episode post the first season.
Promotion to Opening Titles: Both Bud (Patrick Labyorteuax) and Admiral Chegwidden (John M. Jackson) did this at the start of Season 2. Turner (Scott Lawrence) and Coates (Zoe McLellan) did likewise in the final season.
Put on a Bus: Lt. JG Caitlin Pike was reassigned between the pilot and the first regular episode, while Lt. JG Meg Austin was present for most of the first season, but disappeared with little explanation at the start of the second. Mostly averted with other characters, however.
Rated M for Manly: The first season of JAG on NBC was essentially an Action Series, where the protagonist just happend to be a lawyer. Thus the show was marketed and made according to this trope. When the show moved to CBS, it was retooled to include more legal drama and soap opera elements, partially to appeal more to female audiences.
Catherine Bell's pregnancy in late season 8, as her character temporarily served as judge to hide the fact. And later that season she followed Clayton Webb on a secret mission to Paraguay posing as his pregnant wife...
Indirectly through Ripped From Theheadlines, as numerous incidents and happenings affecting the military are used as material for episodes, such as the 2001 April 1st collusion of a American and Chinese plane, or Clinton era budget cuts. One episode had Rabb going up against the Rogue Warrior.
Directly through 9/11 and the resulting armed conflicts in the Middle East, from the seventh season onwards.
Running Gag: Whenever a promotion is announced, there are accusations of the officer being "out of" or in "incorrect" uniform. Crosses into Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when Admiral Chegwidden retires and promotes Bud beyond his "terminal" rank
Shown Their Work: The research and accuracy became better through the years the show was running, though inaccuracies could always be found. Having a Marine Corps veteran as its creator, executive producer, and show runner probably helped. Being Backed by the Pentagon probably helped a great deal too. They did sometimes even cite real military case law.
It should be noted that none of the starring characters who are military lawyers became that without having prior military service: Harm started out as an aviator, Mac was an administrative officer, and Bud was from the beginning a public affairs officer. AJ started out as a Navy SEAL, served in The Vietnam War in that capacity, and was transferred later to surface warfare. Sturgis began his career as a submariner. This makes for interesting characters, as opposed to Mildly Military straight-out-of-law-school-graduates, as they can relate to and interact differently with the various communities in the Naval Services. This is not completely unrealistic as the Department of the Navy has a law degree program which allows officers in the Navy & Marine Corps to earn a law degree at an accredited law school on Uncle Sam’s dime, conditioned that they fulfill service obligation following graduation, which must be within three years. Suffice to say, this program is quite sought after and competitive to enter.
Slave to PR: A very common trope for this show. The protagonists work for the Department of the Navy and although they are primarily concerned with the proper functioning of the military justice system, the overall PR ramifications are never far away from their minds or actions. The news media, congressional people or other groups often play up various incidents. PR considerations are often hinted at by superiors (usually the SECNAV) and are often talked about behind closed doors (to avoid the appearance of unlawful command influence).
The Pilot Movie features an exchange between the CNO, Admiral Drake, and the JAG, Rear Admiral Brovo, where it's made clear that the mere appearance of things (the ongoing Seahawk murder investigation and an upcoming Navy strike mission) are more important to consider than the actual facts.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: For the protagonists, pragmatism is usually the best solution to any given problem. This is not surprising given that they're military officers. The show overall is somewhat idealistic regarding the ability of the U.S. military to almost always do the right thing.
To the show's credit, however, they were able to do some clever things with that stock footage via computer technology, including have Harm interact with then-President Clinton and Bud do likewise with then-President Bush.
Story Arc: Although JAG is mostly a procedural in the sense of "new episode, new case", there are plenty of arcs too.
One major story arc for the first four seasons of JAG was Harm’s search for his long lost MIA father, although it was latent in most episodes not directly addressing it.
Office Romance: Bud Roberts falls in love with co-worker Harriet Sims, gets married, and are allowed to work in the same office because Harriet is, courtesy of Admiral Chegwidden, "temporarily assigned" to the office for several years...
Romantic False Lead: Quite a few. All the romantic false leads for Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie from died one way or another. The Cartwright Curse also affected Harmon "Harm" Rabb, Jr. too, but with the difference that only one of them died.
Starting in season 7, The War on Terror and subsequent U.S. military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and fictional Al-Quaida terrorists became the basis for story arcs.
There are also several episodes where members of Congress or White House staffers in concert with Strawman News Media concocts scandals that turns into a politically expedient witch hunts. Also, the evidence behind it is always shown as nothing more than either conjecture or hearsay.
Temporary Love Interest: Harm and Mac had through the years various love interests, none of them lasted more than a season. Also Admiral Chegwidden had several short-lived love interests. Averted, of course, with Bud and Harriet, who remain married from season 3 to the end of the series.
Title Drop: Occurs throughout the series times whenever a character introduces oneself followed by he/she is from JAG or is a JAG lawyer. Individual episode names are also often, but not always, dropped.
In "Brig Break", Harm looks out the window and sees the prisoners exiting the brig and herding Meg Austin onto a bus. He immediately shouts "BRIG BREAK" before trying to stop them from escaping.
The most incredible flying stunts on the show were re-enactments of actual events.
Until it diverged with Cresswell becoming the JAG, in reality there has yet to be a Marine serving as Judge Advocate General of the Navy since Col. William Remey, the first Navy JAG.
Which simply makes a Marine serving as Navy JAG a distinct improbability, not an impossibility, considering that less than 500 of 1500 judge advocates in the DON are Marines.
Two Star Badass: Rear Admiral Chegwidden and his replacement Maj. Gen. Cresswell.
Un-Cancelled: After the first season, the show was canceled by NBC. However, CBS picked it up immediately after NBC canceled it upon discovering that the show was absolutely huge in Australia and was slowly gaining a cult audience in the United States. CBS proceeded to turn it into the biggest hit on the network. NBC did keep a finger in the pie by securing exclusive cable syndication rights for its USA Network.
The Vietnam War: Given the many Military Brats, this conflict also connects with several characters who are too young to have served themselves. AJ served in that war while in the Navy SEALS and earned the Navy Cross. Harm's father was shot down over the skies of Vietnam and was declared MIA. Tom Boone served with Harm's father and was later accused for having participated in war crimes. Mac's father and uncle served during the war and the uncle returned alive with the Medal of Honor around his neck. Clayton Webb's father ran the CIA's Phoenix program back then. Both Bud and Sturgis' fathers also served at that time.
Workaholic: All the characters to some extent, but particularly with Admiral Chegwidden who in a season four episode ("War Stories") is forced on leave and we see that he is incredibly bored. Although some of the characters do have meaningful hobbies other than work, like Harm (his Stearman biplane), Mac (Dinosaur bones) and Bud (Star Trek), it’s still implied that they work very long hours and have a limited social life.
Episodes of this series provide examples of:
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555: In "Heart & Soul" Mac says the number to her office phone is 555-0171.
Abandon Ship: The Russian destroyer in "Cowboys and Cossacks".
Abandoned Area: In "Sightings", the Naval Air Station at Del Rio, which was shut down after the Cold War. Truth in Television for many military installations, which have a history of being shut down and reopened and shut down again depending on the needs of the military. Some get turned into civilian airports or put to other uses if there is any demand for the real estate, but others simply gather dust.
Aborted Arc: Harm’s Russian half-brother Sergey is not heard from anymore post season eight.
In episode "Nobody's Child", pregnant Harriet Sims accidentally gets to see crime scene photos of the corpse of a brutally murdered girl and freaks out. A few episodes later in "The Adversaries" she sees the dead girls identical twin sister and gets flashbacks of the photos.
During the show's last two seasons, Harm became the legal guardian for a teenage girl named Maddie, who was abandoned by her father, who was driving when her mother died in a car accident(it was later revealed that her father was sober behind the wheel at the time). During the show's final season, Maddie was badly injured in a bi-plane crash and faced paralysis. Although Harm was being reassigned to London during the show's finale, he promised that he and Maddie would be together and that he would help her rehabilitate from her injuries.
African Terrorists: In the season 4 episode "Embassy", when Harm & Mac are at a reception at the Sudanese embassy in Washington, it’s seemingly taken over by a rebel faction supporting an opposition leader. It actually is an elaborate setup by the asshole ambassador to make him look like a hero and discredit the opposition.
Against My Religion: In the season nine episode "Posse Comitatus", Bud investigates a Navy reservist physician who suddenly claims conscientious objector status when called on serve in Iraq because he became a Quaker. When Bud informs him that after separation his medical practice would at the same time also lose the military health plan affiliation, he backs down.
Played with in "Soul Searching". Webb reveals information to Chegwidden of a soldier they both think highly of, the admiral going as far as saying he saved his soul. During a attempt to rescue him from terrorists Chegwidden explains his friend didn't call out a sniper target, as they were dressed as a nun. Killing nuns was clearly against his friend's religion and Chegwidden leaves it ambiguous whether he would have taken the shot.
Air-Vent Passageway: In "Sightings", Harm and Meg escape the oncoming Colombians by climbing through an air vent.
Alphabet News Network: ZNN, the fictional counterpart to CNN. Often ZNN is just in the background, but sometimes it becomes the very center of the story.
In "Sightings", Harm and Meg debate the possibility of this, given the blinding lights in the sky, deafening noises, and strange smells people have been reporting. Harm is dismissive of it and tries to find mundane explanations, while Meg is more open to the possibility. Harm is right, as it is revealed to be drug runners employing an elaborate cover-up.
In the episode "Vanished", an F-14 Tomcat has disappeared in The Bermuda Triangle. On a helicopter flight back to shore, skeptical Harm spots that nerdy Bud is reading a book titled “The Abductee’s Survival Manual” and starts a conversation on the topic (see quotes.) It eventually turns out that the missing F-14 has nothing to do with aliens, but they do manage to get several vital clues to the puzzle from UFO enthusiasts.
Almost Famous Name: Harm once offered to introduce a pair of sailors to Jennifer Lopez in exchange for them helping him out. It wasn't till after they've helped that we find out this Jennifer is his dental hygienist.
Alternate History: In JAG there really was a smoking gun connecting Saddam Hussein to Al-Qaeda, discovered by U.S. troops in one of Saddam's palaces, as seen in "Lawyers, Guns and Money". However this information appear to be classified (for some reason), because a year later Harm, Mac & Bud prepare their defense arguments before the International Criminal Court in "People v. SecNav" and Mac explicitly states that there is no smoking gun connecting Al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein.
Ambiguous Situation: In "Boot", someone attacks Austin in the gas chamber, but it's impossible to see who. It's possible that Private Whitley was trying to kill her because she was on her trail, or that Private Johnson was trying to rough her up out of spite.
Actually Harm concedes that he doesn't know enough about civil law/tort to handle it himself. Enter Bud, who see through the scam.
America Won The War and America Will Save The Day: In season 9's "People v. SecNav", the Secretary of the Navy (with presidential approval) goes before the International Criminal Court in The Hague to stand before charges of war crimes in Iraq and is defended by Harm & Mac. He faces an aggressive prosecutor with a French accent.
Edward Sheffield: Ever since our founding, America has been the symbol of hope for the world, and we remain so today. We accept our responsibility, which all civilized nations should, to fight against oppression and tyranny. But when we fight, we don't fight for land or oil or money or to impose our will. We take up arms against violent men who threaten our freedom and the freedom of others.
ICC Prosecutor: I commend your lofty goal of saving the world. But some might say the hundreds of Iraqis civilians you killed is nothing short of evil.
Edward Sheffield: The unintentional deaths of civilians is a tragic consequence of war. The purposeful slaughter of American civilians followed in the Middle East by jubilant dancing in the street, that is evil!
ICC Prosecutor: Did the world ask you to be its saviour?
Edward Sheffield: In 1917, in 1941, and throughout the 40 years of the Cold War, the world asked us for help. And we gave it. But now the war on terrorism has begun, and we can't wait to be asked. We must do what has to be done.
ICC Prosecutor: So you feel free to attack any nation of which you disapprove?
Anchored Ship: This was the case with Harm and Mac for almost nine seasons until it was resolved in the very last episode, "Fair Winds and Following Seas"; due to the fact the they are both career-oriented military officers working at the same place. Plus multiple other vauge excuses were made throughout the series.
Season 9's "What If?" is an Elseworldstory inspired by a series of identical fortune cookies. Harm and Mac are married and about to divorce, Chegwidden's retired and married to his current girlfriend, Sturgis is working as manager for his girlfriend, Bud and Harriet aren't married, Coates is helping in a sting operation to catch thieves, and the head of JAG is Cmdr. Alison Krennick, unseen outside of flashbacks since the first season.
Anti-Villain: Colonel Matthew O’Hara in "We the People" is a Marine Corps legend who earned the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War, but he’s grown tired of American degradation of society with street crimes and corrupted politicians, so he and a few other Marines snatches the Declaration of Independence transported in a mail truck on its back from a restoration job. What no one knows at the outset is that the Colonel is the uncle of Major Sarah Mackenzie.
Arc Number: In "Brig Break", the number 7 is repeated throughout the episode in various contexts. The keycode to disable the nuclear bomb has a 7 in it, Austin mentions at one point that they have 7 minutes left, and finally they disable the bomb with 7 seconds left.
Area51: In the "The One Who Got Away", while flying for the CIA, Harm is detailed to fly the Aurora spy plane from a secret location, which even the usually reliable Title In names as "Diamond Lake, Location classified".
Harm: So what is this place, anyway?
Allen Blaisdell: The Directorate for Development Plans Area.
Harm: I thought that was Area 51.
Allen Blaisdell: DDP hasn't been there for years.
Andy Watson: It's kind of difficult to do top secret flight ops, huh, on a base surrounded by tourists with telescopes and video cameras.
However, in a later scene we do see on a flight map that the base is located somewhere around the Nevada Test Site.
In "Impact", although the story is set around Twenty-Nine Palms, California, the secretive Bradenhurst Corporation test area exhibits many subtropes commonly associated with Area 51, such as: use of deadly force authorize signs, armed private security guards, mysterious unidentified aircraft originating from that area, and blanket security cover for the whole operation. And Clark Palmer when interrogating Harm also says:
Listen, since when did top secret become everybody's business? Do you have any idea how many nutcases we have trying to break onto this site because they think we have crashed spaceships and aliens on ice out here?
In "Ice Queen", the NCISBackdoor Pilot, Harm is arrested as the prime suspect for the murder of Lieutenant Singer and as he’s being handcuffed Gibbs ask a question he wasn’t prepared for:
Commander Rabb: Can you tell if someone's guilty by their eyes? Special Agent Gibbs: I can. Commander Rabb: Yeah? Well, look in mine. Ask me. Ask me Special Agent Gibbs: Would you kill for your brother?
In "Shifting Sands", Bud asks Rear Admiral La Porte how non-English speaking Bedouin tribe could break American English codes if it wasn't his daughter, who was injured, found by the tribe 12 years previously, and fell in love with the sheik, who did it. The Admiral is stunned and broken as he realizes his daughter was guilty of treason.
Art Shift: The two part episode of JAG in season eight which served as a backdoor pilot for NCIS had much faster cuts and a completely different musical score from the usual fare on JAG: whenever the NCIS characters were on screen (except for when they went to JAG HQ).
In one episode, Harm's partner is kidnapped by a gang in South Central Los Angeles. They tell Harm to drive back to Camp Pendleton, grab one of their members who has joined the Marines, and bring him back in one hour. Camp Pendleton is 90 miles from Los Angeles - even with no traffic it would be extremely difficult to make the drive down there in one hour, let alone back.
In several episodes they also drive awfully fast, judging by stated Zulu times, from Washington, DC to both Norfolk and Blacksburg in Virginia.
Asian Store-Owner: In "Wedding Bell Blues", Harm goes to the dry cleaner to get his Dress Whites uniform back in time for Bud’s wedding, but is has been mixed up with a police uniform from another customer. The Indian owner will only help Harm locate the other customer if he agrees to take his daughter on a date.
Ass in Ambassador: Ambassador Bartlett in "War Cries". Worth noting, she's only an ass to her fellow Americans at the embassy, when she meets with a Peruvian government official, she is the model of composed behavior.
Awesome Mc Cool Name: In "Déjà Vu", we learn that when Harm at age 16 traveled to Vietnam, through Thailand and Laos, to look for his father, he was aided by a former special ops soldier named Colonel Stryker.
Bad Date: Bud shows up too late at his first date with Harriet in "Washington Holiday" because his car had a flat tire.
Badass Grandpa: The season 3 episode "Yesterday's Heroes" has three retired underwater demolition divers (one played by Ernest Borgnine) in Florida avenging on a South American drug dealer who'd hurt one of their grandchildren.
Badass in Distress: Happens to Harm in the climax of "Déjà Vu" when he's attacked in his apartment.
Banana Republic: Subverted in the ninth season episode "Secret Agent Man". While on a CIA mission in the Philippines, Harm’s partner Beth O’Neill has managed to get caught by the local police. Harm goes to the police station and tries to first play the act of an ignorant American tourist. When that doesn’t work he changes to a tactic which completely misfires.
Harm: All right, I get it. What's it gonna cost?
Police Officer: What? You think that we are some kind of banana republic here where every official is for sale? You listen to me. You just go back to your nice comfortable tourist hotel and you think about it. (Starts shouting aggressively in Tagalog)
At the beginning of "Innocence" in season 4 it's the Navy Judge Advocates versus the Navy Chaplains.
Also "The Boast" in season 9 where Harm and the Admiral witness a Navy pitcher hit a Marine batter during a friendly baseball game, leading to the pitcher being charged with assault.
Batman Gambit: In the climax of "Shadow", the crew informs Grover that they have seized control of the torpedo only to realize it has locked onto the Tigershark as a new target. Grover instructs Meg on how to disable the torpedo, only to find they had never been able to gain control of his laptop or the torpedo to begin with.
Bud Roberts: Well, the medical examiner faxed over more autopsy details for Agent Turque.
Harmon Rabb: Can I see them?
Bud Roberts: Sorry, sir. Agent Turque instructed me that these were for his eyes only. In fact, his Exact Words were, "Don't hand any faxes over to Commander Rabb."
Harmon Rabb: I see.
Bud Roberts drops one copy of the report for Harm to pick up.
Bedlam House: In "The Martin Baker Fan Cub", paraplegic Vietnam veteran Roscoe Martin (from "King of the Fleas") has been placed in a secured psychiatric ward in a VA hospital, rather than in prison due to Harm’s lawyering skills. Now he’s charged with second degree murder for the death of a fellow patient who jumped out of a window. While the hospital isn’t bad, it’s understaffed. Roscoe, quite obviously, don’t like being institutionalized there, is described by a doctor as the most disruptive patient, and he makes an escape with a few other patients.
Bedouin Rescue Service: In "The Black Jet", bedouins have seized the downed jet, but proves to be helpful, and while Harm takes off in the downed jet, Mac and Keeter manage to sneak out of Useful Notes/Iran with the aid of the bedouins.
The Bermuda Triangle: An F-14 fighter plane disappears in the Bermuda Triangle in third season episode "Vanished".
Better to Die than Be Killed: After Mustafa Atef, the in-universe Al-Qaeda number 3, was sentenced to death by the military tribunal in "Tribunal", he committs suicide in his cell without uttering a sound.
In "Enemy Below", both Harm and Sturgis, in their own ways, prevents Al-Qaida terrorists and a defected Russian submarine captain to unleash a dirty bomb on U.S. Carrier Battle Group in the Indian Ocean.
Bikini Bar: Bud Roberts’s womanizing drunk old sailor father has his son’s bachelor party in a strip club of this variety in "Wedding Bell Blues".
Bilingual Backfire: In "Silent Service" Sarah Mackenzie is on a submarine as part of a fact-finding mission to determine whether women should be allowed to serve on submarines. A sailor looks at Mac and says, in Russian, "Do you think they'd look like her?" Another sailor says, also in Russian, "No, more like sperm whales," and they both laugh. Mac, who is fluent in Russian, says, "Let me know if you see any sperm whales. I thought they were rare in these seas."
In "To Russia with Love", where she and Harm travel to Russia, two hotel clerks make some crude remarks about him 'being able to afford' a woman like Mac (they are in civvies). Mac steps forward and rattles off a quick, untranslated, reply, then tells Harm not to bother trying to look up what she said in his phrasebook.
In "Nobody's Child", Harm and Mac questions a convicted child molester who had violated the terms of his parole and watched school children from his car and said he listened to Als ich bei meinen Schaffen wacht in his car, which Mac correctly translates from German to As I watch over my sheep and by doing so really gets his attention.
The 5th season episode "Rogue" begins with a statement that it's not based on any real person or event; but even the episode title is a play on Richard Marcinko and his Red Cell team that would play terrorists to test military security. They apparently really were able to infiltrate nuclear subs (how much of this is fiction is a matter of debate, but the team was real.) Justified as even with his court martial and trial at the beginning of the decade the Navy was still very much trying to keep Marcinko's SEAL Team Six and Red Cell under wraps when the episode aired in 1999.
The following episode, "The Colonel's Wife", also starts with the same disclaimer and is clearly inspired by the real-Life story of a military wife stationed abroad who in effect became a drug courier.
The 7th season episode "Head to Toe", although its starts with a disclaimer, is clearly inspired by the famed lawsuit (McSally v. Rumsfeld) U.S. Air Force pilot Martha McSally brought against the Secretary of Defense for having to wear the Abaya while stationed in Saudi Arabia.
Blinded by the Light: In "Sightings", this is one of two methods the UFO has of rendering people helpless.
Bomb Disposal: In "Brig Break", Harm races to get the nuclear bomb far enough from the base before it goes off, while Meg and Pike try to figure out the code to disable it.
"Heroes" introduced a hamburger chain called Beltway Burgers.
An Oceanic Airlines flight to Seoul gets hijacked by South Korean radicals in 5th season episode "The Bridge at Kang So Ri". Luckily enough our heroes take care of the situation.
The faulty F-14 maintenance contractor in "Flight Risk" is named Froehlke.
Building of Adventure: JAG Headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia has had its fair share of hostage situations, impostors, screaming births and courtroom antics (including assault of counsel and an automatic weapon fired in the courtroom).
Burial at Sea: At the end of "Need to Know", the families of the crew of a submarine that foundered off the Soviet coast in 1968 on a secret mission gets to see a declassified film of the burial at sea that took place shortly after recovery of the wreckage.
Buried Alive: Mentioned in the 3rd season episode "Vanished". The villain orders one of his underlings to kill the hostage and bury them in the woods. The underling seems to interpret this literally by asking if they are to be buried alive. The villain replies by saying he’s not heartless and he can shoot them first.
Butt Monkey: The writers obviously had the recurring character Ted Lindsey to fill this role.
Bud and Harriet both do this in the season 3 episode "Wedding Bell Blues" with separate parents, Bud with his blowhard, semi-abusive working-class father and Harriet with her meddlesome Southern Belle mom.
Mac in season 4 gets one of her own against her mother in "Second Sight" at the deathbed of her father.
Canada, Eh?: Clayton Webb getting assigned to a station in Canada ("Need to Know") was considered punishment for leaking classified information, and Harm expresses sympathy that he was getting assigned there, despite Canada's status as a first world country that's culturally a fair bit like the US, speaks the same language, and is only a short flight from his home in the DC area.
Career Versus Man: In "Scimitar", Colonel Al-Barzan is fascinated by the strong-willed Meg Austin, leading to a discussion (and dismissal) of this trope:
Colonel Al-Barzan: How can work compare to the caresses of a man you love?
Lt. J.G. Meg Austin: I wasn't comparing them, Colonel. You were.
Colonel Al-Barzan: A woman like you needs a strong hand.
Lt. J.G. Meg Austin: I already have a strong hand. My own.
The Cartel: In the second season episode "The Game of Go", a U.S. Marine is captured by a drug baron in Colombia while on joint operation with the Colombian authorities.
Chekhov's Gun: In the episode "Brig Break", Lt. Kate Pike and Lt. Meg Austin have a minor disagreement weather the proper title of the visitor's registration form for the brig is -77401 or -77501. At the climax, gunnery sergeant in charge of the brig has activated a nuclear weapon and it can only be deactivated by entering a five digit code. Since the Gunny had perversely tormented Meg by telling her the 5-digit code he picked "has a seven in it", Meg, Harm and Kate desperately try to choose a string of numbers with a seven in it that Gunny might have used on a regular basis.
A more literal example from the same episode: It is mentioned early on that after Quinn was caught trying to smuggle a Stinger launcher off base, they did a complete inventory and found that another one was missing. Much later in the episode, the gunnery sergeant reveals the missing Stinger and fires it at a pursuing helicopter. The missile bounces off the helicopter's rotor without detonating, revealing it to be a dud.
Cherry Tapping: In "Boot", Meg and Johnson are selected to fight each other with pugil sticks, with any blow to the head (and only a blow to the head) being counted as a kill. Johnson manages to disarm Meg and proceeds to repeatedly beat her without going for the headshot. Meg in turn manages to trip Johnson, get her pugil stick, and gently tap her in the faceplate.
Christmas Episode: JAG had five of these, once per season following the fourth (save the show's sixth season) and with the common sight of Harm visiting the Vietnam Memorial his father was shot down on Christmas Day. One episode aired on Christmas Day 1997, but had nothing to do with Christmas.
CIA Evil, FBI Good, NCIS Incompetent: The CIA and other espionage agencies are evil or morally gray/grey. The FBI is portrayed as using Jurisdiction Friction to take control of the investigation and refusing to cooperate with others. And with a dash of Early-Installment Weirdness for the sequel show, NCIS, NCIS agents, before the in-show pilot "Ice Queen", were prone to Jurisdiction Friction and overlooking evidence that Harm or other lawyers would notice and solve the case. In fact, only the JAG lawyers acts fair and balanced. Everybody else is only concerned with saving their own asses.
Cigar Chomper: Harmon Rabb occasionally smoked cigars, until third season episode "The Return of Jimmy Blackhorse" when he had decided to quit.
In a review panning the series in its first season, TV Guide even characterized it as:
... macho swaggering, muscle-flexing, cigar-chomping military men who can’t stop whining about having to share their Navy with sailors in skirts.
Many minor characters; particularly senior military officers, intelligence officers and businessmen are often seen chomping cigars: Tom Boone in the Pilot Movie, Captain Reed in "Desert Son" (Bonus points for lighting up his cigar just before ordering his artillery battery to fire), Gunnery Sergeant Granger in "War Cries", the Aryan Nation militia leader in "Brig Break", Percival Bertram in "Act of Terror".
The third season ended with a Bolivian Army Cliffhanger in "To Russia with Love" where Harm and Mac's plane is hit by a missile behind a cloud, while in Russia looking for Harm's father.
Cliffhanger Copout: In the next season resolution, in "Gypsy Eyes", we see that they managed to eject before the plane exploded.
The sixth ended with Harm lost at sea, having ejected from his F-14 trying to get back in time to catch Mac's wedding.
The seventh ends with Bud stepping on a landmine while trying to prevent an Afghan boy from doing likewise.
The eighth ended with Harm leaving JAG to save Mac and Webb against orders.
The ninth ends with Webb apparently killed and the Admiral's retirement.
The series itself ends with something like a cliffhanger, leaving the audience wondering if either Harm or Mac will retire after they decide to marry and whether they'll end up in London or San Diego afterwards.
Clip Show: JAG only had one: "Lifeline" in season 6. Though there were a couple of brief clip-show-style moments in a few other episodes.
Cold Sniper: In "High Ground"; when a promise by his former CO not be deployed to Bosnia is reversed by the new Colonel; Gunnery Sergeant Ray Crockett shots the rear mirror of the Colonel’s car, when moving at 1 000 yards distance, as a warning before he takes off to the hills.
But he's also at the same time a Friendly Sniper, because he felt he was unjustly treated and never meant to harm anyone.
Colonel Badass: Commander Harmon "Harm" Rabb, Jr. and Lieutenant Colonel Sarah "Mac" Mackenzie, obviously.
Thai Colonel Patano in "Déjà Vu". It's made clear that the only reason Harm isn't dead is because Patano never had the intention to kill him.
Comforting the Widow: In "Pilot Error", Harm spends time with the deceased Lt. Luke Pendry's family, having known them when he was still alive.
Commie Land: Harm goes twice to China and twice to Cuba on the show.
Common Nonsense Jury: Basically the plot of the season ten episode "The Sixth Juror" when Petty Officer Jennifer Coates is brought in as juror and starts asking pertinent questions which no one had thought about.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: In the second part of season 5's "Boomerang", after Harm and Mic get into a fight that inadvertently breaks Bud's jaw (he stepped in between their simultaneous punches), Admiral Chegwidden, with the approval of Mic's superior officer Captain Howell, offers them "non-judicial punishment". He takes them to an empty building, opens the door, and tells them they are not to leave until they inflict damage and pain on each other equal to what they inflicted on Bud. The next day in court, they both look like they went 10 rounds with the heavyweight champ.
Captain Howell: I always did like Yank SEALs.
Cool Car: Harm owns a '70s Chevy Corvette. It gets stolen and stripped for parts, but he eventually builds a new one. Mac buys herself a more modern Corvette at one point. Something of a Kick the Dog moment, however, as this was in the same episode that Harm's Corvette was stolen and stripped.
Cool Old Lady: Porter Webb, CIA officer Clayton Webb’s mother, a former NSA analyst who is perfectly comfortable with her son’s fake deaths and other cloak and dagger shenanigans.
Cool Shades: On JAG, all Naval Aviators has at least one pair.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: this trope is often used as defense contractors will sell faulty equipment at premium prices often resulting in deaths of service members. Any military officer who aids them is always portrayed in a very negative light.
"Pilot Error" plays with this: Two aviators are killed when their F-14 crashes during a test of a terrain-following autopilot being considered by the Navy. The company rep believes it had to be pilot error, as the equipment works fine on Air Force jets, and goes so far as to dig up dirt on the pilot to discredit him. When Harm is able to prove the autopilot had been malfunctioning (it wasn't designed to deal with the abuse of carrier landings), the company rep accepts it without argument and promises that the problem will be corrected to prevent further deaths.
In "Act of Terror", Percival Bertram is a wealthy businessman (looking like a Corrupt Hick) who supports right-wing conservative politicians and brands himself as a super-patriot (i.e. a Warhawk) advocating that the U.S. should take gloves of with respect to terrorists to U.S. interests in the Middle East. However, the alleged super-patriot finances terrorism in the Middle East against U.S. interests (supposedly to create a self-fulfilling prophecy gaining his own business interests.)
Harm fired a loaded MP-5 during a trial in "Heroes". The key piece of evidence in the case was a submachine gun that allegedly failed to fire due to a malfunction. Harm proceeded to pick up the gun, which had evidently never been unloaded, and fired it into the ceiling. This did get him an epic ass-chewing, and the judge would continue to hold this against Harm for at least 7 more seasons. No one else lets him forget about that either.
Bud later uses a loophole in the building regulations so that the incident, which has evidently caused a structural weakness in the leaking roof, will not count as a black mark on Harm's record.
During the military trial of a terrorist Harm uses questioning that violates the spirit of the law. Both the judges and the defense tell him to stop.
Crash Course Landing: Harmon Rabb lands a 747 airliner belonging to Oceanic Airlines in "The Bridge at Kang So Ri" after having taken out South Korean radical-left hijackers. Considering that he’s a pilot, he only gets a reminder of how big a 747 really is.
In the pilot episode, he ends up having to land a damaged Tomcat that he was riding in the back seat of. While he was actually trained to fly the Tomcat, he was about five years out of practice and suffered from night blindness. Another Tomcat pilot helped guide him in.
Crazy Homeless People: In "The Guardian", Harm and Mac defend a homeless former Navy SEAL, in civilian court, who is accused of killing three men while thwarting a convenience store robbery.
Creepy Mortician: Averted with recurring character Lt. Commander Teresa Coulter, a Navy pathologist. The only creepy thing about her might be the deep southern accent.
To a lesser degree, you have Meg Austin, who is fluent in Spanish, as befitting an educated woman from Texas.
Damned by Faint Praise: When President of the Captains' Promotion Board, Chegwidden could only give a bare minimal compliment to Commander Lindsey. Then the board made further inquiries and Chegwidden's real feelings showed through.
Dangerous Deserter: In the season nine episode "Shifting Sands" a Navy petty officer believed to be lost since the first Gulf War is found in Iraq, married to a Bedouin sheik. It turns out that she’s provided intelligence to Saddam’s regime through the years.
A Day in the Limelight: Just about every supporting character on the show got an episode an season when they were the lead.
Or an episode when they were put on trial (the "People v. X" episodes, among others). Harm got two.
Death of the Hypotenuse: An unusual example in "Pilot Error", in that it was the object of both parties' affection, Harm's friend and Annie's husband, rather than one of the competitors, who dies.
Death World: A non-science fiction example; several episodes in the later half of the 7th season depicts Afghanistan as one.
Decoy Trial: The episode "Defenseless" has a female Ensign in the U.S. Navy killing the Turkish military attaché in Washington. To convict the perpetrator, murder charges are brought against the Ensign who actually, unbeknownst to everyone involved in the trial, is a fake identity of a an officer with Naval Intelligence and evidence is by purpose stacked against the ensign to maintain US-Turkish relations. In spite of this, the Ensign's defense counsel, Harmon Rabb, manages to get her acquitted.
Deep Cover Agent: Harm's new neighbor, Meghan O'Hara, in "Washington Holiday" turned out to be a trained assasin, whose mission was to killDesignatedGirlFight the Romanian king while in DC.
Designated Girl Fight: Meg Austin vs Angelique in "Déjà Vu", after Angelique drugged Harm and tried to murder him.
Despair Event Horizon: In "King of the Fleas", Roscoe Martin tells the story how had as a POW during the Vietnam War been tricked into revealing the names of the pilot inmates at the POW camp, and was then forced to watch as the Vietcong executed the rest of them, which had plagued him ever since. Subverted in that after he had killed the camp commander in the present-day (1997-98), he regained some hope again, as evidently seen in "The Martin Baker Fan Club".
Determinator: In "Desert Son", we learn that General Williams made three trips in a damaged helicopter to rescue a special operations team, after having most of his leg blown off and the rest of his crew killed. That's why he got the Medal of Honor.
Didn't See That Coming: In 1st season episode "Sightings", Colombian drug smugglers use the underground facilities of a supposedly abandoned navy base in Texas where they have a cocaine processing facility without the locals knowing anything about it. The Colombians also used a helicopter equipped with lights and low-frequency emitters, appearing as a UFO, to scare away the locals. Obviously, they didn’t foresee that the disappearance of a young local girl would lead the Navy to send two of its most resourceful investigators and foil the whole operation.
"Code Blue" in the second season had Hamas terrorists take over a DC hospital where the Israeli defense minister was receiving a heart transplant. Unfortunately for Hamas, Harm was there to save the day. A few Shout Outs and an Incredibly Lame Pun ensues, along with hilarity.
In Season 6 "Retreat, Hell", Gunny Galindez must protect a Korean War veteran and survivor of the Chosin Reservoir from a dirty sheriff and friends in New Mexico who want him dead so they don't have to give up their land that was illegally taken from the veteran's family years ago.
Dirty Harriet: Mac goes undercover in season 5 as a Chief Petty Officer trying infiltrate a Wicca group, including getting herself sky-clad.
Admiral: Signor Amati, many people have tried to kill me one time or another. They're mostly dead. So there's a good chance that your brother-in-law will join them if he does come after me.... Does he have other sons? Enrico Amati: Uno. Admiral: When he comes, I'll regrettably kill him too. And after him? Enrico Amati: My sister will expect me to uphold the honor of mi familia. Admiral: Then I'll have to kill you. I don't want to have to do that. Enrico Amati: [in Italian] You're either a very bold man, or crazy! Admiral: [In Italian] Not crazy. Practical.
Double Agent: Sina Kazzari in "The Black Jet", who at first is assumed to work for the Americans, but later turns out to be working for the Iranians as well.
Dragon-in-Chief: In "Scimitar", Colonel Ahmad Al-Barzan who obviosly works for Saddam Hussein, but for plot purposes he is the highest ranking official the heroes have to deal with.
Drawing Straws: In "Retrial", the wives of the bigamist prosecuted by Mac drew straws on who shouldn't divorce him.
Dressing as the Enemy: From "Brig Break", in addition to the handful of bad guys who actually are Marines, several others use uniforms to infiltrate the base.
Drill Sergeant Nasty: The season 1 episode "Boot" presents a pair of female instructors training female Marine recruits at Parris Island. The senior of the two is Staff Sergeant Carrington, (played by Julie Caitlin Brown). While Harm and Meg quickly figure out they are hiding something and suspect that one of them killed a recruit, it is revealed that the junior instructor, Sergeant Gonzales, was carrying on an illegal relationship with the base Provost Marshall, and Carrington was helping cover for her.
Another season 1 episode, "The Brotherhood", has a retired Gunnery Sergeant who runs a boot camp for troubled kids.
Drinking On Duty: In "Desert Son", Lt. Williams jokes that he's not hungover, but rather "still drunk" just before the friendly fire incident, and later claims his hangover to have caused his mistake, before changing his story and letting Boone take the blame.
Drives Like Crazy: One episode a young ensign from Jersey played by Sarah Silverman, who absolutely tears across base in a Humvee, hardly ever looking at the road, rambling on about whatever comes to mind, and generally terrifying poor Bud and even making Harm nervous. Bud is forced to have her drive him somewhere on the other side of base because he's in a hurry, and finds her driving much less terrifying if he takes his contacts out first.
Dropped After the Pilot: The two episodes that comprised the Poorly Disguised Pilot for NCIS had a character named Vivian Blackadder on Team Gibbs. Come the first episode of the spinoff, she's nowhere to be seen, and her slot on the team is quickly filled by new recruit Caitlin Todd.
Drowning Pit: In "Cabin Pressure", Harm along with the ship’s sergeant-at-arms and an enlisted sailor accused of murder are trapped below deck on a ship that ran aground. The Dirty Cop left Harm and the sailor to drown when getting rescued and claimed that they were already dead; but in this show The Hero never dies…
Drugs Are Bad: In the episode "JAG TV", Harm investigates the death of a sailor onboard an aircraft carrier who apparently committed suicide by jumping in front of an F-14 during landing. Turns out the reason was his drug use plus other personal problems.
Duel to the Death: In "Dog Robber (Part 1)", Mac deals with two Naval Academy midshipmen (and fictional descendants of Burr & Hamilton) who staged a failed duel.
Ejection Seat: Played straight, averted, subverted, and discussed in various different episodes. Also part of the backstory for both how Harm became a lawyer and how his dad ended up Missing In Action.
Elaborate Underground Base: In "Sightings", the abandoned military airfield was built with underground aircraft shelters, being used by drug runners to conceal their operation.
Electric Torture: Clayton Webb, while on an undercover mission in Paraguay together with Mac, is subjected to this particular kind of torture in the season eight episode "A Tangled Webb". Mac is also about to treated the same, but then Harm arrives and saves them.
Elevator Failure: Bud takes the elevator not realizing it is malfunctioning in the episode "Yeah Baby".
Emergency Impersonation: In "Sightings", after Meg is captured, she is made to announce over a loudspeaker that Lt. Rabb should hand himself over or she will be killed. Since they don't know J.D. is there as well, and haven't seen Harm yet, J.D. and Harm change clothes, allowing J.D. to serve as a distraction while Harm sneaks in to do his hero thing.
Empty Quiver: In the episode "Empty Quiver" a nuclear torpedo disappeared during transfer to a submarine. Subverted when it was discovered that, through a series of minor missteps (including a short blackout due to transferring to ship's power), the missile was ejected into the harbor. Sturgis notes that while it was an accident, it was very likely all of the sailors involved would never serve on any combat ship again.
Engineered Public Confession and Bluffing the Murderer: In "Killer Instinct" (season 6), the defendant is a petty officer on an Aircraft Carrier suspected of murdering a subordinate (by throwing overboard at night), because they were incompetent at their jobs. One crucial piece of evidence is not admissible in court because the ship's CO did not have probable cause for issuing a search warrant, and this necessitates a different strategy from the prosecution. Harm does the standard Perry Mason Method, knowing beforehand that the defendant will not fall into the trap and make him overconfident. And when Bud later has his turn to question him, he begins by asking the defendant several questions that Harm had asked earlier, then proceeds to make several other basic errors before dropping his notes in mid-question, and finally drives the pedantic defendant into a rage, before revealing that he was Obfuscating Stupidity and it was all part of a plan.
Petty Officer Duell: Some people don’t belong in the United States Navy.
Lieutenant Roberts: No, but the Navy won’t kill them.
Ensign Newbie: Both Bud and Harriet literally starts out as this.
Episode on a Plane: An Oceanic Airlines (how typical) flight to Seoul gets hijacked by South Korean radicals in season 5's "The Bridge at Kang So Ri". Luckily enough our heroes take care of the situation.
Everyone Knows Morse: Played straight in the season 4 episode "Embassy", when Harm is taken hostage in the Sudanese embassy and the FBI has already decided to cut off the embassy’s electric power, Harm signals the word power in Morse code by failing to light a cigar, and this is noticed by Bud at JAG Headquarters through ZNN live coverage and Clayton Webb relays it the FBI.
Everything Is Online: In "Shadow", Grover claims to control the torpedo via his laptop, and is able to set off various bombs he has concealed throughout the ship. It is lampshaded that the only way he is able to do this is because he arranged for extra pieces of equipment to be installed in the submarine while it was still under construction.
Everything's Worse with Bees: In the first season episode "High Ground", after breaking brig and taking to the hills Gunnery Sergeant Ray Crockett is spotting Marines approaching and instead of shooting at them, he shots at a bee’s nest above them…
Exact Words: In season 8 episode "Friendly Fire" acting judge Harmon Rabb and his clerk Jennifer Coates realize that both prosecution and defense have missed evidence which would give the defense a crucial edge in showing reasonable doubt. However, Judicial Conduct rules are strict and interference beyond the scope of his duties in the case is a court martial offense. However when Harm realizes the rules only prohibit from giving advantageous help to the side which would gain the advantage. So he nudges the prosecution to look over where he found the evidence. Upon discovering it, they must give it to the defense. And with that, the case was over.
Faking the Dead: Clayton Webb does this, twice, with Harm and Mac unintentionally doing likewise on one occasion.
Fallback Marriage Pact: In season four at the end of "Yeah, Baby", Harm and Mac agrees to have a child together in five years if neither have a significant other some time in the future.
False Reassurance: In "Cowboys and Cossacks", Harm and Bud conspire with the officers of a Russian warship to take command of the ship away from the Captain, who seems intent to go rogue and attack an American warship. Bud asks if they could be charged with mutiny for this, and Harm assures him that legally, they can't. Because it's technically an act of terrorism.
A variation in "Sightings". Harm notices a puddle on the tarmac and touches it before rubbing it between his fingers. It's aircraft engine oil. Which wouldn't be weird to find at an abandoned military airfield except that it should have dried up long ago unless a plane was there very recently.
In "The Brotherhood", Captain Overton identifies a stash of drugs this way (specifically, he knows it's Crank (crystal meth) rather than Crack (cocaine). Harm snarks at him, asking how he could know, and Overton explains that he was in a street gang before cleaning up and joining the Marines.
Foot Dragging Divorcee: Mac had an abusive husband who refused to sign the divorce papers. And then he wound up dead and Mac was tried for murder.
In "Boot", Austin finds a letter mailed to the deceased recruit, which included a newspaper clipping about her. On the backside is a clipping about a female suspected wanted in an armed robbery case, with a partial photo of the suspect (and the episode's villain).
Also in "Boot", the swamp around Paris Island is mentioned early on, and the movie the two D.I.s are watching was in fact made in response to an incident where several Marine recruits drowned in the swamp. The climax of the episode takes place in the swamp.
Flare Gun: In the episode "Full Engagement", Harm and Mac crash land his Boeing-Stearman biplane in the woods and fall afoul of a group of poachers who have recently shot and killed a park ranger. The Mac shoots one of the poachers with a flare gun in self-defense (at very close range) because they don't have any real weapons on them.
Flashback: Harm gets one in "Déjà Vu", fleshing out a bit of his Back Story, where he at age 16 went on foot into Vietnam trying to find his father, who went MIA. He met a girl his age who ended up being shot dead while he watched, unable to help.
Frame-Up: In "Ares", The Mole planted floppy discs with corrupted software code from the eponymous weapons system with an innocent colleague, to steer attention away from his own planned escape.
Freudian Excuse: Angelique's reason for the killings in "Déjà Vu". Her father was a Navy Lieutenant who left her and her mother behind when Saigon fell. The North Vietnamese raped and murdered her mother when they found out she had an American officer for a lover.
Funny Background Event: Harm gets quick-and-harsh training in "Force Recon" so he can go undercover as a Marine gunnery sergeant. This training takes place in his salty trainer's yard, and in the background throughout you can see the neighbors looking over the fence and reacting incredulously.
The General's Daughter: Bud's brother Mikey ends up briefly dating the daughter of the series' last JAG, Maj. Gen. Gordon Cresswell.
Good Cop/Bad Cop: In the season fifth episode "Into the Breech" of JAG, when Bud and Gunny go to the ex-wife of an old sailor they're looking for to testify at a hearing, Gunny says to Bud that they should approach it as good cop and bad cop to obtain a positive result.
Gunny: Lieutenant, we play Mutt and Jeff. Do you wanna be good cop or bad cop?
Graceful Loser: In "Pilot Error", once presented with solid evidence that the autopilot system may have in fact malfunctioned due to not being designed with the abuse of Navy carrier landings in mind, the Macroplex executive accepts this and promises to have the newly discovered flaws corrected.
In "Scimitar", Harm and Meg gets the captured marine out of an Iraqi prison.
In "The Black Jet", Harm and Mac gets Keeter out of an Iranian prison.
Grumpy Old Men: Basically, every Admiral/General or senior NCO on the show near retirement will exhibit these traits. It goes for those who have already retired too. It’s justified, since those characters are almost always involved to some extent in an investigation or trial.
Gulf War: Several references to that conflict are made throughout the series. In the 4th season episode "Mr. Rabb Goes to Washington", rumors are spread on a cable news network (ZNN) that Sarin nerve gas was used by U.S. Marines during the invasion of Kuwait in 1991.
The first Secretary of the Navy in the series, Alexander Nelson, gets called before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to answer for his unauthorized intelligence activities carried out by JAG lawyers. Ironically enough, the Chairman of the Committee, Edward Sheffield, ends up becoming his successor.
In the pilot episode, Admiral Brovo makes the assumption that if the investigation into Lt. Arutti's death is negatively portrayed in the press in the wrong way, as in the Tailhook investigations, he might be made a political scapegoat by the feminists on the hill.
In "Mr. Rabb goes to Washington" Harm assists Congresswoman Bobbie Latham in her House subcommittee hearings on the alledged use of sarin nerve gas by U.S. Marines at the time of the Gulf War.
He Knows Too Much: In the episode "Someone to Watch over Annie", the ten year old son of Harm's Romantic False Lead by accident gets to see a murder at Andrews Air Force Base while slipping away from his school class when on a tour. It turns out the bad guys are weapons smugglers who don't shy away from killing witnesses.
Hearing Voices / Cuckoo Nest: In first season episode "The Prisoner", when Harm is taken to a Chinese military prison he begins to talk with, what appears to be, another prisoner in another cell who turns out to be his father. However, we see on the surveillance cameras that Harm is talking to no one, and the Chinese later explain that it’s all due to the drugs they’ve administered.
Heroic Sacrifice: Gunnery Sergeant Granger dies during the street ambush in "War Cries".
Hey, That's Mine!: Subverted in "Rogue". Harm is talking to a Richard Marcinko expy, and at some point, the guy holds up Harm's wallet, criticizing him for letting the guy steal it, pointing out that he could use the ID contained within to allow him access onto the base. Harm then tells him to open the wallet, revealing that the ID card holder inside contains only a note saying "Arrest Me".
Honor Before Reason: In "The Colonel's Wife", the eponymous wife has involuntarily become a drug courier in order to protect her husband's anti-drug program in Useful Notes/Panama from blackmail. When the facts are about to be revealed, she gets herself killed in order to save her husband's honor.
Hollywood Hacking: Meg's failed attempts to seize control of Grover's computer, in "Shadow", lead to various responses, ranging from an animation of Grover giving a raspberry, to other concealed bombs being armed.
Hollywood Healing: Subverted. If a main character is injured, they will remain so for a few episodes. Then there's Lt. Bud Roberts who never gets his leg back and we see him working with a prosthetic for the rest of the series.
Subverted in places, particularly less than five minutes in the pilot episode, where one of the aviators and air crew of the USS Seahawk (one of the series fictional Aircraft Carriers) banter about what taking out Klingons and Romulans would mean when painting on kill symbols onto the F-14.
Played almost straight in other places, like with Bud and his various "nerdy" interests.
And then the straight examples and subversions meet at an intersection when Bud finds common ground with a Taliban prisoner they are trying to interrogate, who turns out to be a huge Trekkie (and who ends up spilling some important details when talking about his experiences related to the show.)
Hollywood Silencer: The first season of JAG had these in several episodes, including "Brig Break" and "Hemlock".
Harm's Romantic False Lead Rene Peterson, in seasons five to seven, is very much a personification of this trope. An up and coming director of commercials and music videos, her neurotic personality traits are very much the anti-thesis of all the main characters.
Admiral Chegwidden’s brief stint as technical advisor in "War Stories" was brought to an abrupt end because his can-do due-diligence gung-ho attitude was ultimately not very compatible with the nonsensical herd instinct of the Hollywood folks.
Hospital Hottie: Beverly Tromatore (played by Catherine Bell) in the season 8 episode "Each Of Us Angels".
Foreshadowing of course the fact Bell would play a nurse in Army Wives.
How Unscientific!: The show usually kept itself grounded in something resembling reality... except for the episodes involving Mac's psychic powers and Bud's near-death experience. And then there was that one time in "Ghost Ship" a villainous plan involving a fake ghostly vision was foiled by the appearance of a real ghost.
In "War Cries", one of the Marines throws himself over the Ambassador in the car to shield her during the ambush while they make their escape.
In "Tribunal", Mac is made a human shield by a suspected Taliban in Afghanistan with a knife aimed at her throat. She manages to get of his grip and beats him up.
Hunting Accident: 3rd season episode "With Intent to Die" had Admiral Chegwidden’s mentor decease at such an occasion, and Chegwidden refuses to believe it was either a suicide or an accident. Turns out he was right.
I Am Spartacus: Lampshaded in "Desert Son". Harm and Reed get into a fist fight. Later, General Butler demands to know who started it. In unison, both men declare "I did!" General Butler is not impressed, and demands that someone explain to him what happened.
I Coulda Been a Contender: Bud's college roommate Ron Katz who became a dot com millionaire at one point had asked Bud to become his business partner. Bud ponders in "The Colonel’s Wife" what could have been if he had taken that path. Ultimately, he realizes that if so, he wouldn't have met his wife and had their kid.
I Never Said It Was Poison: Played straight in "Washington Holiday", when the team were witnessing a failed assassination attempt on the Romanian royals. Told that the would-be assassin had named him as being behind the plot, the Evil Chancellor protested that it was ridiculous to accept the word of a woman who had been subjected to lengthy police questioning. Of course, nobody had mentioned that the assassin was female...
Minister Kepish: Your Majesty, how can you possibly believe the lies of a woman tortured by the Belgian police?
King Josip: How did you know the assassin was a woman, minister? They didn't even tell me that until an hour ago.
Idiot Ball: In the season 5 episode "Drop Zone", Mac grabs hold. She is prosecuting a Navy SEAL for causing deaths and injuries of some of his trainees in a jump exercise. When she leaves the office, in her car she found a medical report about the defendent, including his admission he was taking drugs during the time of the mission, and so guilty. She shouldn't have this as it was meant to remain between Doctor and patient. Using her legal knowledge, she doesn't call the police to dust for prints nor the judge to inform him. She kept it and then burned it, but was still found out for merely possessing it by the defense attorney Lt. Singer. As a result, Mac nearly loses her career for her actions.
Another example shows them playing with it intentionally. In "Killer Instinct", Rabb and Bud are prosecuting an officer that they believed murdered weak soldiers by throwing them overboard, but the court case wasn't going so well. The murderer grew in confidence seeing that their lawyer tricks weren't working, which Rabb caught on to. So, at one point during questioning, he acted defeated and (in a prearranged move) called Bud to continue the questioning. Bud proceeded to act like an idiot, dropping his papers, asking the same questions over and over again and stumbling around the courtroom, which riled the murderer, eventually leading to his confession on the stand.
Also in "Killer Instinct" the skipper of the ship the alleged murderer served on holds it as well by acting without due process and searching the alleged murderer's locker without proper justification. Had he held off for one hour, Harm and Bud would have given him the justification, but his rush for answers made the evidence illegally obtained. Thus making it inadmissible.
If Jesus Then Aliens: Played with in "Psychic Warrior", in which a skeptical mathematician was asked by Rabb on the stand, in a case dealing with a Navy experiment on remote viewing, if he believed in God. He reluctantly admitted it. Rabb then criticized his lack of belief in the possibility of psychic phenomena.
The Illegal: In "Sightings", a terrified Mexican man in tattered clothing appears outside J.D.'s trailer just before the bright lights and deafening noise hit (and Cathy's disappearance). It seems he was trying to escape from the Cartel's underground base, where illegal immigrants were being forced to work in the drug running operation.
Impersonating an Officer: In "JAGathon", an enlisted Navy corpsman saves a man’s life in a traffic accident, but at the same time he wears the uniform of an officer (with an enlisted SWO pin) and is spotted by a superior who apparently recognizes him.
Injun Country: "The Return of Jimmy Blackhorse", in the third season is set in a contemporary version.
Insane Equals Violent: Averted in "The Martin Baker Fan Cub", where only one of the four escaped mental patents from a VA hospital exhibits violent behavior (by grabbing a sidearm from a police officer) and two others are completely harmless with the mental acuity of small children.
In "The Martin Baker Fan Club", Harm begins to explore the possibility of an insanity defense after his client made an incriminating outburst in the courtroom.
In "Act of Terror", a Marine guard is charged for murder after he shot a terrorist suspect during a prisoner transfer. Harm, as defense counsel, begins to explore the option of an insanity defense, but he’s taken off the case by the defendant who has hired a different attorney.
Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: Strangely enough for a military-themed show, they never played this trope straight. Inverted at the end of "High Ground", when the hardened old master sniper is told by the colonel to pin his chevrons back on.
Internal Affairs: In the season five episode "Contemptuous Words", Harm is suspected of having written an unsigned op-ed piece in newspaper denigrating the then-president Bill Clinton, and internal affairs are brought in.
Admiral Chegwidden: Hell, I tried to keep this thing in-house, but to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, pursuit of the matter’s been turned over to the Office of Inspector General.
Commander Rabb: OIG? Admiral, they land a crooked JAG, their budget goes up.
Admiral Chegwidden: Oh, hell yes.
Interrogation Montage: The episode "JAG TV" has a scene like this, with Mac interviewing the husband and Harm with the wife suspected of killing her husband's lover.
"Flight Risk" had Harm investigating a military contractor after a faulty plane crashed killing both pilots. There was evidence of poor work, cannibalized parts, putting military personal at risk, and he takes up a pilot's offer to fly in one of the planes. The plane malfunctions due to Rabb's flying, and he is accused of doing this deliberately, but it is the evidence he needs and the pilot makes a tacit admission that the repair crews are lowest bidder and the contractor is more concerned with profits than safety.
Japanese Politeness: Harm and Mac faces this trope in the episode "Innocence", which is set in Japan.
Jerkass Has a Point: Gunnery Sergeant Granger makes a number of valid observations in "War Cries", about the danger of their security situation when challenged on his unrelenting leadership and training style.
The Judge: There were several judges as recurring characters.
Both Harm and Mac, under various circumstances, gets to serve on the bench in later seasons.
Justice by Other Legal Means: Invoked on at least 2 different occasions when an aviator did something which was clearly the wrong thing to do (e.g. accidently killing Russian peacekeepers in Serbia, and intervening in civilian law enforcement in the U.S.), but got acquitted of all significant charges all thanks to having Harm as his defense counsel. After the trial, however, the CO informs the aviator that he’s permanently grounded and will undergo extensive evaluation. In any case Uncle Sam always wins.
Season 5’s "Rules of Engagement": The Aviator acquitted is grounded and reassigned to a stateside post. He later resigns his commission.
Season 9’s "Posse Comitatus": The Marine helicopter pilot is grounded as well.
1st season episode "Scimitar", set in Useful Notes/Iraq (in 1996 during the reign of Saddam Hussein), has an American Marine convicted for violating their territory. While the first part of the trial seems, if not sympathetic to the prisoner, remotely interested in distributing justice, at one point Harm manages to prove that the Marine was on the Kuwait side of the border. Then, a recess is asked, and when they come back, the witness changes the original distance that would prove the prisoner's innocence, and the records from where he stated the other distance just magically vanish.
4th season episode "The Black Jet", set in Useful Notes/Iran has an American on trial for violating their airspace. While the first part of the trial seems, if not sympathetic to the prisoner, remotely interested in distributing justice, at one point Rabb manages to prove that the planes were miles outside the country's airspace. Then, a recess is asked, and when they come back, the witness changes the original distance that would prove the prisoner's innocence, and the records from where he stated the other distance just magically vanish. Good thing it was a Decoy Trial and the plan was to break out the prisoner anyway.
The "trial" held by the South Korean hijackers in "The Bridge at Kang So Ri".
Kick the Dog: In "Desert Son", Lt. Williams shoots Boone when confronted with the proof of what he's done, then shoots the radio so the heroes will have to drive Boone back to the camp to get medical assistance rather than try to chase him.
Harm and Mac travel to South Korea along with an Army General to investigate an alleged massacre that took place at the time of the war in the fifth season episode "The Bridge at Kang So Ri".
Gunnery Sergeant Galindez helps an old Hispanic Marine veteran of the Korean War who fought at the Chosin reservoir in the sixth season episode "Retreat, Hell".
Lady Drunk: The first season episode "War Cries" gives us Ambassador Bartlett, a snarky career politician who discusses matters of state and embassy security while sipping scotch. As the episode continues, we see that she has quite a bit to drink about.
Land Down Under: Australia didn’t exactly go unnoticed in this series. One of the recurring characters, Mic Brumby, was an Australian naval officer originally on exchange duty in season 4. In season 5 the production team actually went to Sydney to film the two part episode "Boomerang" on location in Oz. The fact that the creator and executive producer had an Australian wife is probably the chief explanation for all this.
Played with for laughs in "In Country", before taken very seriously in the following episode, "Enemy Below". Harm and Mac end up wrecking their Humvee amidst a minefield, and Harm ends up stepping on the Hollywood click-and-wait variety of mine. Mac takes cover on the other side of the Humvee while Harm prepares to drop a weight on the mine and leap away, barely escaping in the process (along with landing on Mac in quite the Ship Tease arrangement).
In the next episode, "Enemy Below", Lieutenant Bud Roberts steps on a mine, and this one goes off immediately, leaving him severely wounded just before the credits roll.
Lt. Williams' fate in "Desert Son", accidentally killed by an artillery strike fired by the same battery he was spotting for when the accident happened.
In "Boomerang, Part II", Chegwidden and Captain Howell, Mic's superior in the Royal Australian Navy, deliver this onto Mic and Harm for throwing punches and ended up breaking Bud's jaw in two places when he got between the punches. After Bud covers for the two, Chegwidden decides on a "non-judicial punishment" is chosen and Mic and Harm are put in a storage unit until they inflict the same level of harm onto each other as they did to Bud.
Latin Land: An 1st season episode takes place at the U.S. embassy in Peru.
Harm and Mac goes to Useful Notes/Panama in "The Colonel's Wife".
In the last two episodes of season 8 and the first of the 9th season, Mac goes undercover as Clayton Webb's wife on mission in Useful Notes/Paraguay where they aim to stop terroist Sadik Fahd from establishing a base. But everything does not go according to plans.
Lemming Cops: In "Dangerous Game", a Virginia deputy sheriff pursues a speeding car with civilian dressed Navy Seals and accidently gets himself killed. The Navy Seal who drove the other car stands trial for negligent homicide. While this is obviously not played for fun, the writers were genre-savvy enough to have the sheriff back at the station watching Smokeyandthe Bandit.
This just in, one of the Navy F-14 Tomcats shot down a couple of Serbian MIGs over Bosnia this afternoon. Listen to this, the radar intercept officer in the Tomcat was a woman! Boy, you thought getting shot down by a woman in a bar was bad! Oh my God!
Another thing about that female aviator, now, this has got to be very embarrassing, to Bill Clinton and Dan Quayle, now women their daughters' age have more combat experience than they do.
Later when it moved to CBS, in "JAG TV", Mac lands a publicly televized case which all of a sudden receives national attention. On a segment of The Late Late Show the then-host Craig Kilborn has this to say about Mac:
Now, officially, she's a colonel in the Marines. But to me, she's a major babe.
(Kilborn holds up picture of Mac in a bikini.)
I think we now know why the Marines are first on the beach.
Let Us Never Speak of This Again: When Admiral Chegwidden receives a mysterious tape with no return address in his office, he has Tiner play it. It is a video of the Admiral's fiance dressed seductively holding the roses he sent her quoting Shakespeare and inviting him to a very special dinner. The Admiral cuts the tape off midway and tells Tiner to never speak of this again. Tiner wisely claimed nothing happened.
Harm's stepfather Frank Burnett tells him this when he visits his mother in "To Russia with Love":
Frank Burnett: I figured out early on that I could never live up to your father in your eyes. I wasn't a Blue Angel. Hell, I never even wore a uniform.
Harmon Rabb, Jr.: Frank.
Frank Burnett: But although you never thought about me as your father, you're the only son I ever had.
From "Desert Son": General Williams to Lt. Boone, the only friend of the careless Lt. Williams that he approves of.
Limited Advancement Opportunities: Averted mostly - most of the officers among the regular main cast and some of the recurring characters all get promoted at least once.
Harmon Rabb starts the series as a Lieutenant, is promoted to Lieutenant Commander midway through Season One, becomes a Commander in Season Five, and finally reaches Captain in the second-to-last episode of the series.
Sarah Mackenzie starts the series as a Major and is promoted to Lieutenant Colonel by the fifth year.
Bud Roberts starts off as an Ensign, is promoted to Lieutenant JG (and the opening credits) when he joins JAG in the second year, reaches Lieutenant in the fourth season, and is promoted to Lieutenant Commander in Season Nine.
Harriet Sims' career path follows Bud's pretty well, going from Ensign to Lieutenant JG by Season Four to full Lieutenant at the end of Season Six.
Even recurring characters such as Thomas Boone (first Commander Air Group- or CAG- aboard aircraft carrier Seahawk, then a Rear Admiral) and Caitlin Pike (first Lt. JG, later a full Commander) get a promotion or three, albeit offscreen. Episode 200, in addition to promoting Petty Officer Jennifer Coates to Petty Officer 1st Class, even showed a what-if scenario where Cmdr. Alison Krennick, unseen since the first year outside of a flashback to a Lost Episode, was Rear Admiral and heading JAG.
One example of Truth in Television in relation to promotions comes with the final season - upon Adm. Chegwidden's retirement, a new character, Col. Gordon Cresswell, is promoted to Maj. Gen. to fill his position as JAG. A variation comes earlier when Secretary of the Navy Alexander Nelson is forced to resign and Senator Edward Sheffield is appointed to the position.
Several characters went without promotions however, but these were either due to seniority (Chegwidden), being late additions to the series (Turner), being unpopular with their co-workers (Cmdr. Lindsey, Lt. Singer), or being murdered (Lt. Singer, by Cmdr. Lindsey).
One episode has Commander Teddy Lindsey up on a promotion list to Captain but Admiral Chegwidden as chair of the promotion board will not recommend him despite Lindsey being a rigged favourite of the then-Secretary of the Navy Alexander Nelson.
Logic Bomb: In "Ares''," the eponymous computerized weapons control system onboard a destroyer in the Sea of Japan goes havoc and starts firing at friendly aircraft, as programmed by the North Korean Mole. However, Harm’s partner Meg is en route in a helicopter: the on the spot solution advocated by Harm is for the helicopter to fly low altitude (20 feet) and at low speed (20 knots), thus simulating a ship, which the computer won’t target.
Loose Lips: In "People v. Rabb", when Admiral Chegwidden says that what he's about to say is sensitive, Bud replies that My loose lips will sink no ships.
Lost Episode / Cut Short: Something of a unique example - the first season was to end with an episode called "Skeleton Crew", which ended with a Cliff Hanger of Harm being arrested for murder. It wasn't aired by NBC, but did air in reruns on USA Network and was included in the DVD release. While the original episode was never used, footage from it was later included in the third season's "Death Watch".
Low Clearance: After they first board the submarine in "Shadow", Harm manages to smack his head on low ceiling support twice within five minutes. He ruefully lampshades this.
The Mafiya: Pretty much every time a storyline involves either Russians or when the main characters go to Russia, this trope almost instantly comes into play.
Making Love in All the Wrong Places: In the pilot episode, Lt. Arutti and Lt. Painter has sex in a transport plane parked on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Seahawk.
Manipulative Editing: In "Desert Son", Lt. Williams has a female DJ (who has a crush on him) edit a tape recording of a radio conversation to make it sound like Lt. Boone transposed a set of numbers, when in fact Boone had perfectly relayed the incorrect coordinates Williams had sent him. Harm picks up on the editing because there's an analog hiss on the edited portion due to the DJ's different equipment.
Manly Tears: At the end of the JAG episode "Critical Condition", Harm breaks into tears of relief after learning that Bud has survived his operation.
Master Computer: In "Ares", the eponymous computerized weapons control system onboard a destroyer in the Sea of Japan goes havoc and starts firing at friendly aircraft, as programmed by the North Korean Mole. But Harm et al eventually sorts it out.
Master of Disguise: JAG had several. The eponymous assassin Hemlock in "Hemlock", rogue DSD agent Clark Palmer in "Imposter", and Al-Qaeda associate Sadik Fahd in "Persian Gulf".
Mata Hari: In eight season episode "Dangerous Game", Chegwidden tells Rabb that a new attorney, Lieutenant Commander Tracey Manetti, on the recommendation of the new SecNav will work at JAG, Rabb quips "Mata Hari in our midst". It later turns out (in a later episode) that she actually was assigned there as the Secretary's pair of extra eyes and ears.
Maybe Ever After: Played with in the last episode. During the last ten minutes, Harm and Mac finally admitted their love for each other after nearly a decade and she accepted his marriage proposal. However, as she was being reassigned to San Diego, and he was reassigned to London, the show did end on a question mark, as they literally flipped a coin to determine whether Mac would resign from the Marines or Harm from the Navy so they could be together.
Meaningful Funeral: In "Pilot Error", Harm and Meg attends the funeral of Lt. Pendry, which is complete with military honors and fighters flying the missing man formation. It is meaningful to Harm because Pendry was his friend and the loss for the son of the deceased mirrors Harm’s own loss of his father at roughly the same age.
Metaphorically True: In "Dungaree Justice", the article 32 hearing of Mac’s dubious actions in "People v. Mac" takes place and it is discussed to what extent she had lied in the earlier episode.
Lt. Commander Alan Mattoni: Major Sarah Mackenzie, having taken a lawful oath in a trial by court-martial that she would testify truly, did wilfully, corruptly and contrary to such oath, testify falsely regarding the killing of her husband, Christopher Ragle.
Lt. Commander Harmon Rabb: Sir, Major Mackenzie did testify that she shot and killed her husband. There was no lie there.
Lt. Commander Alan Mattoni: But she omitted certain details, including the fact that Lieutenant Colonel Farrow was present at the time.
Lt. Commander Harmon Rabb: She took the blame, sir, to protect an innocent man.
Lt. Commander Alan Mattoni: A lie of omission, no matter how noble the intention, is still a lie.
Lt. Commander Harmon Rabb: Yes. But for it to be perjury, it must be material to the case. Murder charges against Major Mackenzie and Lieutenant Colonel Farrow were subsequently dismissed. Therefore, I submit: the detail of Colonel Farrow's presence was not material, and the omission of said detail should not be considered perjury.
Harm, Sturgis and Admiral Chegwidden are graduates of the United States Naval Academy.
Bud's younger brother Mikey attends the United States Naval Academy in the later seasons.
Military Brat: Harmon Rabb is a Generation Xerox example (right down to his dad looking identical to him in flashbacks, plus a mustache). His dad being shot down during Vietnam and declared MIA forms a central part of Rabb's character arc as he tries to find out what happened to him.
Also the case with most of the rest of the cast - Mac's biggest influence was her Marine uncle, Bud's father was a Master Chief (and he himself fathers four kids of his own with Harriet), Sturgis' father is a Navy Chaplain, and Maj. Gen. Cresswell's daughter is attending the Academy by the time the series ends. Of the main cast members, Chegwidden is the only one who isn't stated to be a military brat or the parent of one.
In "Survivors", Rabb also had to locate a former soldier who apparently kidnapped his son. According to the son, the son was a military brat. It gets a bit convoluted when the ending heavily implies that the son might be the Reincarnation of his father's best friend who was killed in action back in The Vietnam War.
Military Moonshiner: In "Cabin Pressure", Harm & Mac are sent out to a ship to investigate the death of a moonshiner.
Military Salute: In "War Stories", Admiral Chegwidden bawls out a sailor who failed to salute him while passing. The "sailor" snaps at him sarcastically, because it turns out he was an actor in a movie being shot next to JAG HQ.
Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: In "Brig Break", a handful of prisoners busting out of the brig gradually escalates into a plot to destroy the base with a nuclear explosion and selling stolen nuclear weapons to Saddam Hussein.
The episode "Secrets" revolves around an escaped prisoner trying to prove his innocence.
In "Retrial", a sailor had unbeknownst to him hired a transsexual prostitute. When finding out, the sailor changed his mind and the prostitute threatens him with a knife. The sailor defends himself and accidently stabs the prostitute and runs away in fear and shame. Not long thereafter, another man comes and viciously stabs the prostitute to death. The sailor is convicted for the murder, but only because the military prosecutor, presumably on purpose didn’t follow up on a lead from the local DA in order to further his own political ambitions as being "tough on crime".
Misguided Missile: Done more than once on. Commander Rabb put himself in front of a "dirty nuke" missile aimed at a Carrier Group after it closed too close to be shot down to lead it away until it's fuel ran out. And in a separate instance: A similar trick was done with a torpedo, drawing it into one submarine to save another.
The first season episode "Shadow" subverts it: The villain is lead to believe the submarine has managed to draw the torpedo towards it, and gives the code to self-destruct it... only to realize the torpedo had never left its original target.
Mistaken for an Imposter: In the episode "Imposter", Clark Palmer had Rabb tied up in his apartment and impersonated Rabb in court to frame an innocent defendant in court with planted evidence. When Rabb eventually gets back to JAG the Marine security guards thinks he's the imposter.
Mistaken for Terrorist: JAG has an inverted example predating 9/11. In 6th season episode "Valor", Sergeant Joan Steele was found with terrorists attempting to sabotage a US warship in the vein of the attack on the USS Cole. It is unclear whether Steele was kidnapped and succumbed to Stockholm Syndrome or was a Military Maverick on a mission of her own trying to stop the terrorists. It turns out to be the latter, as she was killed in an explosion stopping them.
In "War Cries", the boy, his sister who the Marine was dating, and their mom were all sleeper agents for the Shining Path, and weren't even related to each other.
In "Brig Break", Gunnery Sergeant Gentry.
In "Ares", Lieutenant Commander Gino Campisano is the senior weapons officer running the eponymous computerized weapons system onboard the destroyer: and suddenly, while off the North Korean coast, it starts to go crazy, operating without human input, and allowing no vessels other than ships to approach it. What no one knows is that Campisano is a North Korean mole, planted in the United States many years ago.
Murder by Mistake: In the Pilot Movie, Lieutenant Carter accidently threw Lt. Arruti overboard in anger because she wore a jacket with Lt. Cassie Puller's callsign Lobo on the back. Cassie had beaten Carter in weightlifting three times and he couldn't stand being beaten by a woman.
"Cowboys and Cossacks" plays with both this trope, and the Barratry gag from The Hunt for Red October, when Harm and Bud, while guests aboard a Russian destroyer, conspire with one of the Russian officers to take the ship from the renegade Captain. Harm explains to Bud that what they are doing can not be legally defined as mutiny, given that they are not members of the crew. Technically, it's an act of terrorism.
In the episode named "Mutiny" Mac prepares to give a speech on the infamous mutiny on the USS Somers, which actually happened, and three officers were hung at sea by the Captain Makenzie (no relation to her) with flimsy evidence at best and the subsequent inquiries into whether this was a just response or he murdered three of his own men.
My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: In the episode "Fighting Words", a Marine tries to say, "Stop or I will shoot," in Arabic during a classroom training session, but according to an Iraqi woman who's helping with the class, he actually said, "Stop or I will release the mice."
My President, Right or Wrong: In "Contemptuous Words" Harm is accused of writing an op-ed article which contains a harsh opinion against then-President Clinton, going well beyond insubordination. To help defend him, a right-wing lobbyist group helps pay for a private lawyer. During a mock-cross, the lawyer forces Harm into a corner when he cannot say he would condone a higher ranking officer to play loose with the truth and having sexual relationships with subordinates as President Clinton did.note It is revealed one of the leaders of said group actually wrote it to try and get Harm to join their cause. When the truth comes out, Harm tells one of the group's leaders while he may have personal issues with President Clinton's actions. However, Harm makes it perfectly clear that President Clinton is the Commander-in-Chief and it is a military officer's legal and moral duty to serve and obey the President whoever he may be.
Never My Fault: Lt. Williams in "Desert Son" is incapable of taking responsibility for his own actions. His dying words are "Why me?", unable to accept that everything that has happened to him has been his own doing.
Also earlier in season 3 when Mac very briefly worked for a civilian law firm, and Harm's 10-Minute Retirement to fly jets in Season 5.
News Reel: First 20 seconds of "Port Chicago" begins with an authentic Paramount News Reel.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In the season four episode "Innocence", Harm first thinks that he’s made a deal with the Japanese prosecutor who smiled and bowed in a friendly manner. It turned out that he had been greatly offended and had contacted the Japanese Prime Minister who told the press that U.S. Authorities were uncooperative and obstructive, and thus forced them to handover the suspect to Japanese authorities.
Night-Vision Goggles: Used by the Colombian drug smugglers in 1st season episode "Sightings", and later used by Harm against them.
No Antagonist: In "Mishap''," Harm’s former RIO, Lieutenant Elizabeth Skates, acts as LSO when a crash occurs aboard the aircraft carrier USS Patrick Henry. Skates gets court-martialed for alleged culpability in the incident, but it turns out she was not doing anything wrong; but rather that the entire crew was overworked and underfunded (lack of manpower, lack of spare parts etc.). Captain Ingles acts as the Hate Sink, by charging Skates in the first place and impeding Harm’s request for documents: but he didn’t act maliciously or with any hidden motives other than to maintain his prerogative of command and unit cohesion.
Webb: There's one thing I've always admired about SEALs, admiral.
Chegwidden: What? Just one?
Webb: Your code of never leaving a man behind. In the Company, we not only leave them behind, we deny ever knowing them.
Deconstructed in the season seven episode "Code of Conduct" where going back was against orders and cost the life of another soldier to rescue the one who was left behind.
Nonviolent Initial Confrontation: In "Scimitar", Harm and Meg are officially in Iraq (during the time of the Saddam Hussein regime) to act as legal counsel for the captured American Marine, so the Iraqis, including the villain, treat them as welcome guests at first.
Mac: Nothing personal, but that last meat loaf you made was nasty.
Harm: Are you dogging Harm's special meatless meat loaf?
Mac: Let's put it this way: if you were to make the Harmon Special on this ship, they'd have to unload it with the toxic waste.
No Party Given: The political affiliations of both SECNAVs are unknown. The political affiliation of Congresswoman Bobbie Latham is never explicitly stated, but many of the issues she supports are definitely left-wing (and thus can't be a republican by any stretch of the imagination).
No Woman's Land: The season 7 episode "Head to Toe" centers on this. A female naval aviator serving with the U.S. Air Force in Saudi Arabia is defending herself on not wearing an abaya, and arguments are made for abiding by the culture and appeasing terrorists (Osama bin Laden is even quoted as Americans in the Middle East being cause for Jihads, meaning the abayas will protect women) and against the subjugation of women and treatment of foreigners. When Mac is subjected to this poor treatment she sides with the defendant.
Similarly, the way Lt. Austin is kept out of the loop on the secret mission to free Corporal Anderson mirrors the dismissive attitude that the male Iraqi officers have towards Lt. Dumai.
In the episode "Baby, It's Cold Outside", Harm uses this trope as a defense tactic. His client is dishonorably discharged black Marine Drill Instructor who pushed his black recruits harder than the whites because he refused to accept their crap and wanted to turn them around into decent young men. When two men died on a force march through a swamp, he plead guilty and faced the consequences of his actions. The prosecutor, intending to put him away for life with the Three Strikes law for a later crime of felony assault, is also a black man who refuses to cut favors for his fellow blacks and sees the parallels between himself and the defendant. The prosecutor agrees to remove the third strike from the mans record in exchange for just two years in jail.
In "In Country", Bud bonds with a suspected terrorist in a unusual example of this trope. Both are fans of Star Trek, and Bud uses this to obtain information about an attack.
In "When the Bough Breaks", when Bud's recovering from his leg injury, he befriends the Admiral's current girlfriend, a professor of Shakespeare, by noting how several episodes of Star Trek borrow from some of Shakespeare's plays.
Obfuscating Disability: In the season 3 episode "Yesterday's Heroes", retired navy diver Artemus Sullivan (played by Ernest Borgnine) is avenging the death of his grandson by a drug dealer. When meeting Harm & Mac at first, Sullivan pretends to be in a senile vegetable state of mind.
Obligatory War Crime Scene: The promotion of Rear Admiral Thomas Boone to Vice Admiral is called off in "A Separate Peace" because of credible sources claiming he took part in war crimes during The Vietnam War when working closely with CIA officers. He didn't do it, but witnessed such actions under protest.
Obstructive Vigilantism: In "Dungaree Justice", a female sailor passed out in a bar and at closing time, the owner helped her out to her car. When she woke up, she discovered that she had been raped. Some of her shipmates decide to exact vengeance on the bar owner, who they assumed to be the perpetrator. However the bar owner is proven to be medically impotent. The real perpetrator turns out to be one of the shipmates who didn’t like having females serving in the navy.
Old Soldier: Captain Reed in "Desert Son" served in the enlisted ranks before bucking for officer. As a result, he's unusually old and salty for a Marine Captain. And of course there is GeneralWilliams.
Omnidisciplinary Lawyer: Harm argues before a Navajo Tribunal Court in "The Return of Jimmy Blackhorse" and an Australian Court (New South Wales Supreme Court, dressed in gown and wig attire.) in "Boomerang, Part II". ** Mac argues before a Sharia court in "The Princess and The Petty Officer".
And both Harm and Mac defends Secretary of the Navy Edward Sheffield at the International Criminal Court in "People v. SecNav".
Averted in "Innocence" where they hire a Japanese attorney.
Also in "Standards of Conduct" where it's clear that neither Harm nor Sturgis has any intimate knowledge nor experience with civil cases (but Bud does).
Harm is suspected of murdering a Russian Mafioso in "People v. Rabb".
Mac is suspected to have participated in the killing of her husband in "People v. Mac".
Harm is suspected to have published an anonymous Anti-Clinton piece in "Contemptuous Words".
Gunny is suspected to be a gay basher and Tiner is assumed to be homosexual in "People v. Gunny".
Bud Roberts was charged for dereliction of duty in "Exculpatory Evidence".
Admiral Chegwidden is Caught on Tape hitting a high school student in "Code of Conduct".
Jennifer Coates is a murder suspect in "There Goes the Neighborhood".
One of Us: In-universe example; Bud is a Star Trek fan. In one episode, unable to get a suspected terrorist to talk, Bud mutters to himself, "What would Captain Kirk do in this situation?" The suspect then answers, "He would tell you to respect the Prime Directive." Bud ends up engaging the suspect in a discussion of Trek, leading to his getting the suspect to open up to him. In another episode, he has a spirited conversation with Admiral Chegwidden's girlfriend, a literature professor, on Shakespearean themes in classic Trek.
He and Harriet named their second son James Tiberius Roberts. One Of Us indeed!
Only Law Firm in Town: Often it makes you wonder why Harm, Mac et.al. at JAG Headquarters gets to act as trial and defense counsel from an wide array of cases from all around the Navy & the Marines and why they're not handled by the command staff judge advocates out in the field.
In the pilot episode Admiral Brovo makes a suggestion that there wouldn't have been a perceived need to send HQ people out to the USS Seahawk if the missing RIO had been a male for political purposes.
It's suggested many times that they're sent out in the field to be impartial whenever there's a concern that the local judge advoctates might not be, or that there are none present on the location at all.
Organization with Unlimited Funding: Funding, provided by U.S. taxpayers, is never really an issue, and often in court-martials held in Virginia, foreign nationals as witnesses are flown in from across the world.
Subverted though in "Father's Day" when Harm, Mac and Bud had a tight budget; due to Harm's tortious interference with the secret business of the Bradenhurst Corporation in a previous episode.
Out-of-Character Alert: In season 2's "Secrets", Admiral Chegwidden is being held at gunpoint inside his office, and tells Bud over the phone to get him a specific case file. Harm and Mac realize the file the Admiral asked for is about a sailor who held his CO hostage, tipping them off.
The first few acts of "Sightings" play more like an episode of The X-Files.
The episode "Each of Us Angels" is about an old man telling stories about his experience on a hospital ship during the storming of Iwo Jima.
The first few acts of "Sightings" play more like an episode of The X-Files.
Pædo Hunt: In "Nobody's Child" there are initially few clues as to who the killer of an unidentified African-American girl on a naval facility is. Harm's initial hunch is to look after convicted pedophiles. It turns out that the killer wasn't a pedophile: but a pedophile was able to give valuable information that solved the identity puzzle because he had violated terms of his parole by watching children.
Paid-For Family: One episode has a marine refusing to testify in his own defense, because he believes it will dishonour the memory of a dead friend. Vic, his lawyer, brings in the dead friend's father, who reads a letter his son sent him about how the thing that killed him was an accident waiting to happen, which gives the marine courage to tell the truth about how his friend died. Both the father and the letter were fake— Vic hired an actor to encourage his client to take the stand. Of course, this action being morally suspect at best, the lawyer does get called on it by his superiors.
In "Ghost Ship", Harm and Mac are saved from a fire by a real ghost.
"Psychic Warrior" deals with psychic phenomena.
Pardo Push: During Harm's brief return to flying carrier operations, he found himself flying with another Tomcat during the Kosovo War. The other jet was damaged and losing fuel, and would not make it over a mountain range before they could leave Serbian territory note It is a general rule of thumb in air warfare to try and avoid bailing out over the area you just bombed, for obvious reasons. Harm used his own jet to physically push the other plane to keep it in flight long enough to clear the mountains. This was based on a Real Life incident.note Of course, an Air Force pilot did it in real life.
Passed Over Promotion: Commander Lindsey spends much of "Baby, It's Cold Outside" trying to avoid this trope. He does have the support of the Secretary of the Navy. However, the Captains Promotion Board felt in the Navy, lacking much field experience, being a pencil pusher only, and Chegwidden admitting to the assembled board that he would accept his people (Mac and Harm) doing questionable actions but considers Lindsey untrustworthy and wouldn't have him back in his command serves to ensure Lindsey is not made Captain.
Persians with Pistols: In "The Black Jet", Harm and Mac stages a jailbreak of downed pilot Keeter from an Iranian prison, and is chased by the Iranian Army to the location of the not-crashed airplane.
Pet the Dog: In "Shadow", When Grover first notices Meg suffering a claustrophobia attack, his first reaction is to try and comfort her, before he goes back to taunting her. Meg is able to exploit this by convincing him to let her play games on his computer, giving her a chance to take it away from him.
Played straight in "Real Deal Seal", Medal of Honor recipient and Navy Seal team leader Lieutenant Curtis Rivers note played by Montel Williams, who did serve in both the Marines and Navy rips off the SEAL-trident of a congressional candidate falsely claiming to have served in Vietnam as a Navy Seal.
Subverted in "Take It like a Man" where a former Marine who served in the Invasion of Panama claims to have earned the Silver Star. It turns out that he did deserve it, but had never been awarded it because none of his team members would back up his story.
Plagiarism In Fiction: In the season nine episode "Secret Agent Man", one of Mikey Roberts’ classmates at the U.S. Naval Academy is accused of plagiarism.
Plea Bargain: they are offered regularly, but often turned down.
In "Head to Toe", opposing counsels make a deal, but when the defendant gets into even more trouble, the deal becomes untenable.
Pocket Protector: In "Déjà Vu", Colonel Patano's life is saved by a metal plate in his chest that stops a bullet. The plate itself was the result of an old war wound.
The marine provost marshall in "Brig Break" is outwitted by Harm.
Sheriff Polk tries to be helpful in "Sightings", but he's a one-man department responsible for patrolling the entire abandoned base and the surrounding area. It doesn't help that J.D. has a reputation for outlandish claims anyways, and that the only explanation he has for Cathy's disappearance sounds like something out of a sci-fi film. He does eventually find Cathy (trying to call for backup for Harm and Meg), but is killed by the drug runners almost immediately after.
The deputy sheriff in "Survivors" is outfoxed by Harm.
In "Death Watch", we learn that NCIS Special Agent Turque never found the murderer of Diane Schone in "Skeleton Crew".
Subverted by Team Gibbs in "Ice Queen" and "Meltdown".
Police Brutality Gambit: In "Survivors", a shell-shocked Marine colonel intends to take his son, whom he believes to be the reincarnation of a war buddy from The Vietnam War, to a cabin in the woods. Faced with an arrest warrant, he has a scuffle with an unsympathetic deputy sheriff at a gas station. Having almost reached the cabin, with the help of Harm, the cops also arrive. The incensed deputy sheriff tries to arrest Harm, but Meg claims that she has a tape from a surveillance camera at the gas station, which would show that the deputy sheriff had committed acts of Police Brutality. Although it's later revealed that Meg had no such video, the deputy sheriff had in fact been more brutal than necessary at the gas station and backed off from arresting Harm as a precaution.
Political Correctness Gone Mad: The very first appearance of Admiral Chegwidden on the show, in "Smoked", has him ranting a lengthy tirade about the state of political correctness imposed on the Navy in the wake of the Tailhook Scandal.
The same topic is furthermore alluded to many times by other characters in the first and second seasons, in less explicit terms.
In fact, in the pilot movie, Lt. Pike is sent along with Harm to investigate the disappearance and death of a female officer explicitly because of this trope. Mind, the Admiral requesting a female officer be sent along for the investigation also insists that she should be "easy on the eyes", suggesting that the trope is not without merit.
Harm and Captain Reed in "Desert Son" do not get along, and Reed gives the bare minimum of assistance when Harm and Meg go to investigate the accident site. This plus one knocked over road sign nearly get Meg and Harm killed when they accidentally enter the Free Fire Zone.
In "Scimitar", Meg is not let in on the secret part of their mission and is left to improvise when she discovers that Harm is in danger.
Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie: The first two episodes after September 11 included several references to the terrorist attack and subsequent conflict in Afghanistan. Plot A was Harm trying to work with a retired admiral (to resolve a problem in China, who America needed as an ally in the fight against terrorism), who was going to turn him down but agreed to help resolve a problem after 9/11. Plot B has Mac presiding over two soldiers who were dueling, and she is upset that they were being idiots when their brothers and sisters are fighting and dying in the war on terror. Gunny is recalled to active service and Chegwidden wishes he could go with him. Future promos would place the series during the war on terror. Osama bin Laden made a case a woman facing legal action hard (American bases in the Middle East as cause for Jihad, and the Americans subjecting women to Middle Eastern standards that the defendant had issues with). Harm reunites with his co pilot to fly security over the Superbowl. And a Seebee who supposedly died on 9/11 tries to avoid media attention after he saves his team from a terrorist attack, as when the widow of his business partner, who did not make it out, comes forward.
Polyamory: Mac has to defend polygamists in both "Killer Instinct" and again in "Retrial". In the latter episode there's even a Continuity Nod to the first, despite taking place several seasons later.
POW Camp: In "King of the Fleas", paraplegic Vietnam veteran Roscoe Martin tells Harm about his experiences as a POW and the Despair Event Horizon it was. It all comes down to that he’s seeking legal representation for a fateful stabbing he had committed the same day on a Vietnamese immigrant, who actually turned out to have been the POW camp commander.
Prison Episode: JAG had "The Prisoner" in its first season in which Harm was held by the Chinese.
Protocol Peril: The main story in "Head to Toe" is about a female Naval Aviator who refuses to wear the abaya and show deference to the locals while stationed at a U.S. Air Force base in Saudi Arabia.
Psychic Powers: The fifth season episode "Psychic Warrior", deals with a Navy Intelligence experimental program, STAR GAZE, on remote viewing in which one of the test subjects committed suicide.note This is based/inspired by the now declassified DIA program known as STAR GATE. No, not that bogus one.
In "Boot", "The Marines Hymn" is sung by female Marines during an exercise.
In "Heroes", both Harm and Mac get to whistle their respective service song.
In "Trojan Horse", a marine who won an American Idol-like competition closes the episode by singing the Marine Hymn.
Public Secret Message: In "The Black Jet", Jack Keeter has downed in Useful Notes/Iran with a secret airplane and is detained by the authorities. When first meeting Harm and Mac, accompanied by an Iranian official in prison, he says “No Martin Baker” several times over. Harm later decodes the message: Martin Baker is the manufacturer of ejection seats, and thus Keeter didn’t eject but landed the plane and was captured elsewhere.
Qurac: Despite having several episodes taking place in the Middle East, JAG subverts this trope by always using real countries, no matter how unfavorable the portrayal may be.
In "Shadow", Commander Ted Lindsey evidently got caught in the crosshairs during the Senate hearings after the events of the pilot episode, so Admiral Brovo reassigned him to serve as Harm's boss. Or as Lindsey puts it, Brovo felt that Lindsey should "get the hell out of Dodge." Admiral Drake also informs Lindsey that if Harm and Meg can't resolve the situation before the US government ends up paying the ransom, Lindsey will be hit with this trope again.
Admiral Chegwidden hints at the possibility in "We the People".
Lieutenant JGs don't joke with admirals, son, it could get him transferred to a supply ship in the Aleutians. Joking is strictly an admiral's privilege only.
Reality Ensues: In "Brig Break", a group of right-wing militiamen armed with automatic rifles encounters a Sea Stallion helicopter equipped with armor protection and machine guns. The fight lasts about two seconds before the militiamen are forced to retreat into the woods.
Realpolitik: This way of reasoning is often used by Clayton Webb and other CIA characters to justify their actions.
But we all know that your only intent is to bolster your own campaign for the state’s attorney. You’re nothing but a hypocrite and an opportunist and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna have a bottom feeder like you further your personal ambition trampling the integrity of this office.
Recap By Audit: In "Soul Searching", Harm and Bud goes over the budget request for the office in which it appears that Harm’s firing of an H&K in the courtroom (two seasons earlier in "Heroes") has caused a structural damage to the roof. Through clever lawyering, Bud makes the outstanding expense go away under a building health plan.
Recruiters Always Lie: Subverted in "Promises" (season 5) where a young female sailor is court-martialed for going AWOL after she simply had enough of swabbing the deck of a destroyer. Back when she signed up at the recruiter she was almost promised education as an air traffic controller, but she didn't Read the Fine Print of the contract which stated "subject upon availability and to the needs of the Navy".
Red Alert: The trope is seen in several episodes in the contemporary U.S. Navy sense.
Red China: In the two-part episode "Dog Robber", a U.S. reconnaissance plane has to make an emergency landing in mainland China.
In "Pilot Error", A growing body of evidence suggests that Pendry and McKee had an affair, including the two going to visit a doctor for what appeared to be an abortion. McKee had actually suffered a miscarriage, and the child was their commanding officer's, rather than Pendry's. Pendry was simply there for emotional support.
In "Brig Break", the Aryan Nation folks pretty much stop being relevant one scene after being introduced.
In "Boot", Private Johnson isn't the villain. She's just a Jerk Ass.
Refuge in Audacity: In "Sightings", the villains' plot: Run an illegal drug refining operation at an abandoned American military base in Texas, knowing that the authorities expect to find any such facilities in Mexico or Central America, and use a flashy attention-getting setup to make locals confuse it for a UFO sighting, in turn making the authorities dismiss it out of hand.
General Williams in "Desert Son", former Commandant of the Marine Corps and Medal of Honor recipient. Even as a retiree, he still warrants his own helicopter transport and honor guard.
The trio of retired underwater demolition divers (one of them played by Ernest Borgnine), in "Yesterday’s Heroes", whom despite living at a retirement home in Florida decides to take on a drug dealer.
Admiral Boone (Terry O'Quinn), the wingman of Harm's dad, is recalled to active duty in season 7.
Revealing Cover Up: In "Déjà Vu", Colonel Patano, the Thai Embassy chief of security, bribes a witness into telling the cops that he didn't see anything. Which is entirely true, as he really didn't see anything. However, he decides to tell Harm about the bribe.
In "Brig Break", Petty Officer Quinn, who turns ou to be an agent from Naval Intelligence working undercover.
Happens in "Scimitar". One complication though is that Harm and Austin do not know who the Reverse Mole with codename scimitar is, and they must find out without revealing themselves. Scimitar's identity is finally revealed when she arrives at Harm's room and [[spoiler: turns on the shower so they can talk in private.
In "Brig Break" the Gunnery Sergeant in charge of the brig uses a right wing militia group as a decoy to keep base security busy while he steals nuclear weapons for Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
The group known as The Defenders in "We the People" is called this by Clayton Webb.
In the "Vanished", a right wing militia group called Freedom Brethren kidnaps the wife and child of a F-14 pilot, and convinces the aviator to bring them the aircraft and to shoot down a certain civilian airliner. If demands are not fulfilled, the wife and child will die.
In "Rivers' Run" Harm and Mac defends Navy Seal Lt. Curtis Rivers in a kangaroo court under the common law, as interpreted by anti-government separatists in West Virginia.
Road Sign Reversal: A sign marking an entrance into the Free Fire Zone in "Desert Son" has been knocked down, which nearly gets Harm and Meg killed.
Rogue Agent: Clark Palmer, former DSD agent who has tried to either kill or frame on Harm several occasions.
Royal Mess: In the world of JAG ("Washington Holiday"), Romania has restored its monarchy but the King and his heir are living under assassination threat from hardliners who don't want their country to join NATO.
While Romania once had a monarchy, abolished by the communists, the people in this episode are fictitious. The country did however join NATO in 2004.
In "Scimitar", Harm and Meg along with the freed marine sergeant struggle to get out of Iraq (in 1996) and into Kuwait in an armored limo, chased by an Iraqi gunship helicopter, and assisted by a US Army attack helicopter. It's that kind of show.
Russian Guy Suffers Most: In "Cowboys and Cossacks", the Russian captain of a soon to be scrapped destroyer decides to attacka U.S. destoryer in a final blaze of glory. Meanwhile, the gloomy crew indulge in drinking vodka and smoking cigarettes.
In a later season, Harm's Russian half-brother ends up as a POW in Chechnya.
Chegwidden serves as defense counsel to the captured Al Qaeda third banana in "Tribunal" because he doesn’t want anyone of his people to be forced to defend him. However, Sturgis volunteers to sit second chair because he wants to “be part of history”.
Also, from an American point of view, Fidel Castro in "Tiger, Tiger".
Scam Religion: The Wicca religion is portrayed as such in "The Witches of Gulfport".
In "Brig Break" when Lieutenant Austin is taken hostage.
Lt. Caitlin Pike: Major Aspinal ordered us to start an investigation! Lt. Harmon Rabb: He suggested, Kate. I don't have to follow suggestions. Lt. Caitlin Pike: To him a suggestion is as good as an order. Lt. Harmon Rabb: Damn it! Thay have my partner! I'm sorry Kate, but if that was you out there, would you want me to start an investigation or come after you?
In "Impact" when a UFO-like UAV from the Bradenhurst Corporation kills Marines with impunity in an accident, Harm is determined to bring them to justice.
In the Pilot Movie, Lt. Arutti was secretly married to Painter. They kept it a secret because the Navy would not have allowed them to serve in the same unit.
In "Boot", between Sergeant Gonzalez and Major Klein. Harm decides to overlook it on the condition that they will turn themselves in if Sergeant Gonzalez is not accepted into the officer commissioning program, which she was previously mentioned to be a shoe-in for.
Secret Test of Character: Harm failed one in "In Thin Air". The Admiral assigned him to defend a mechanic accused of manslaughter in the death of a Navy pilot. Harm did a poor job because he believed the mechanic was responsible, forcing Chegwidden to take him off the case. Afterwards he revealed that the only reason Harm got the case was to see if he could put aside his personal feelings, because the Admiral was looking at assigning him to serve as a judge on a temporary basis.
Seppuku: An American admiral stationed in Japan committs suicide in the episode "Innocence" for what he perceived to be a failure on his part. The characters can’t help by commenting how Japanese it was.
Self-Destruct Mechanism: In the season eight episode "Need to Know", Harm, Mac and Sturgis is investigating why a submarine on a CIA mission in 1968 foundered off the Russian coast. There are rumors floating that so called spec-boats had self-destruct charges aboard but this is flat out denied, and the cause of the sinking was in fact caused by a collision with a Soviet sub.
In "Heroes", Harm and Mac have the following exchange:
Mac: If you have some evidence I should know about...
Harm: You'll eventually get it, and then you can plea-bargain.
Mac: In your dreams, commander.
Harm: Oh, you don't wanna be in my dreams, major.
Mac: Red light, commander.
Harm: Red light? (Pause) There was nothing sexual in what I said. And if you think there was, then maybe I should be giving you the red light, major.
Serial Killer: JAG has had several, but Ax-Crazy child-killer Charles "Charlie" Lynch in season 4 is by far the most despicable.
In "Déjà Vu", Harm and Meg suspect the murders of multiple Navy Lieutenants around Arlington National Cemetery are related. A local cop points out it could just be statistics: Washington, DC has both an unusually high murder rate and an unusually high Navy Lieutenant rate compared to other cities. Obviously, it's a serial killer.
Sexual Extortion: In the first season episode "The Prisoner" Harm has been captured by the Chinese while sailing off the coast of Hong Kong (in 1996 before the 1997 transfer). Commander Allison Krennick has through unofficial contacts learned of Harm’s whereabouts and a Chinese traitor is willing to bring him back in exchange for political asylum in the United States. The Assistant Secretary of State is reluctant at first, but when Krennick threatens to call his wife and say that she’s his lover he quickly changes his mind.
The only witness to the latest murder in "Déjà Vu" is a retired Navy SEAL who works as a groundskeeper at Arlington National Cemetery, and who spends much of his time drinking.
J.D. in "Sightings", a former Navy SEAL who harbors a very strong distrust of the Government in general.
Colonel Matt Anderson in "Survivors" who has many flashbacks to The Vietnam War and believes his young son to be the Reincarnation of a dead war buddy.
In the second season episode "The Guardian", Chief Petty Officer Paul Bauwer, a homeless former Navy SEAL, is accused of killing three men while thwarting a convenience store robbery which he did to protect his young son who doesn’t know who he really is.
Shotgun Wedding: The trope is mentioned in "Wedding Bell Blues" by Bud’s father.
Big Bud: Hey, this isn't a shotgun wedding, is it?
Lieutenant Commander Jordan Parker, first introduced in "Jaggle Bells". Romantic False Lead to Harmon Rabb in season 4.
Lieutenant Commander Vera McCool, counseling, at first reluctant, Sarah Mackenzie twice onscreen in season 9 & 10. Mac is ordered by Admiral Chegwidden to see a psychiatrist in "Take It Like a Man", following changes in behavior after the events in "Persian Gulf". At first the therapy seems to be ineffective, but when seen in the season 10 episode "The Four Percent Solution" it proves to be effective.
Shut Up, Kirk!: In "Scimitar", Lt. Dumai tells off Lt. Austin for her attitude towards Iraqi gender attitudes:
Lt. Dumai: Your country is like a child who has learned nothing yet thinks it knows everything. Let your civilization survive its first thousand years; then perhaps we'll begin to listen.
Sink or Swim Mentor: This trope occurs several times on JAG, usually it is part of either an ongoing court case, or a preliminary investigation, where an instructor may have pushed the envelope too far.
Captain Coonan in "Force Recon".
Skewed Priorities: In "Brig Break", the group of right-wing militiamen seeking to overthrow the government learn that one of their co-conspirators is a black man, and their leader proceed to demand that the tall blonde female US military officer (Meg) whose government they are fighting against is protected from him.
Snipe Hunt: In "Iron Coffin" Mac sends the entire Russian Navy and Intelligence on one. To explain, Mac is on a US sub as Harm is on a Russian one. The Russians are about to test fire a new torpedo (a previous test of the same type turned on the sub that fired it and destroyed it. The Americans know it but the Russian captain doesn't know this) and Mac makes the captain break silence to warn about this. To prove she knows what they are about to do, she cites happenings on the Russian sub she couldn't know happened. When asked how the Americans can possibly know all the details happening on a Russian Sub, rather than admit the US sonar tech is so advanced they can clearly hear the Russians conversations, Mac tells them the sub and every other sub since the Cold War has had bugs put on them by American Agents. The US Captain compliments Mac on this as it will cause the ones fooled to waste a lot of manpower and resources.
The episode "High Ground" has an NCO Friendly Sniper with Improbable Aiming Skills becoming a Cold Sniper, due to the fact that his Colonel didn't give a damn about an agreement he had made with the predecessor to not ship him off to a combat zone ever again.
The female assassin in "Washington Holiday" carries one of those sniper rifles convertible to components for a stealthy getaway.
Social Services Does Not Exist: Subverted in season 9, when Harmon Rabb seeks to be the guardian to Matilda "Mattie" Grace: because social services are very thorough.
Sociopathic Soldier: Roscoe Martin, the paraplegic Vietnam veteran in "King of the Fleas" and "The Martin Baker Fan Club", is the broken soldier type who while getting himself in trouble manages to manipulate people around him (including Harm).
Sonic Stunner: The other method used by the UFO in "Sightings" to subdue and intimidate people.
Soviet Superscience: The 6th season epispde "Iron Coffin" features the supercavitating Russian torpedo VA-111 Shkval, which for an uninformed viewer might come across as pure fiction. However, the Shkval in the episode has a serious design flaw as it retargets the submarine which launched it. The Americans have observed it before, but the Russians thinks the Americans are interfering.
Speak Ill of the Dead: In "Pilot Error", there are persistent rumors that Lt. Pendry had been having an affair with his female wingman, and that this may have contributed to the crash.
Spinning Paper: "Contemptuous Words" opens with a printing press spinning, however, the relevant content is read in the following scence.
Split-Screen Phone Call: Only used once; in the 8th season episode "Persian Gulf" in a dramatic moment, when Mac speaks to Al-Qaeda terrorist Sadik Fahd.
Spy Satellites: In the second season episode "Rendezvous", a murder case is solved by obtaining photos from a Russian spy satellite showing that the defendant's car was present at the scene of the murder.
Standard Female Grab Area: Frequently. One example is used as evidence against Harm in the investigation into Singers murder.
Stalker Shrine: DC Detective Frank Coster had one of these with secretly taken photos of Mac in the, rather aptly named, episode "The Stalker".
It turns out to have essentially been this for the Navy SEAL who initially was presumed to have been murdered in "Heroes".
"The Martin Baker Fan Club" starts with a former naval aviator jumping out of a window at a VA hospital.
Stay in the Kitchen: In "Scimitar", Lt. Dumai is not terribly well respected by her Iraqi male peers, and does her best to keep her head down rather than draw their ire.
Stereotype Flip: J.D. in "Sightings", a drunken drawling man living in a trailer near the border, dismisses the possibility that the Mexican man he saw near Cathy could be responsible for her disappearance. In this case, because he could see the man was scared out of his wits.
Stockholm Syndrome: Is explicitly mentioned twice on JAG: 6th season episode "Valor" where it is used in its straight meaning, and in 9th season "A Tangled Web: Part 2" where it’s used jokingly.
Harm: You expect the spaceships to be lined up along the tarmac?
Meg: Very funny.
Harm: Seriously. If there was a race advanced enough to travel millions of light-years to Earth, I truly doubt we could catch them, no matter how much we wanted to.
Suicide by Cop: In "Deja Vu", this is attempted by Colonel Patano, who opens up a gunfight with Harm with the intent of letting Harm win in order to cover up for the killer.
Super Cell Reception: In "Tiger, Tiger", Harm's cell phone starts ringing, despite being onboard a frigate out in the Mexican Gulf somewhere between the Florida Keys and Cuba, and he had tried to use before to no avail. Moments before it started ringing, Harm told the terrorists holding the ship's crew as hostage something to the effect that "It won't work out here." The caller is Mac, but she plays the role of an ignorant tourist. After the non sequitur call is over, Bud explains it away as an atmospheric distortion, which the terrorist buy for lack a better explanation.
Super Reflexes: In "High Ground", Gunnery Sergeant Crockett, a hardened master sniper, catches a fly by its wings. Harm does the same at the end of the episode.
Surpassed the Teacher. In "JAG TV", Mac as trial counsel (prosecutor) in a televised murder case faces her old law professor Juanita Ressler as defense counsel. Ressler knows how use the media to her advantage, while Mac is utterly dismissive of interview requests and is overwhelmed and distracted by the sudden interest of the media in her as a mysterious sex object. Following words of wisdom from Admiral Chegwidden, Mac begins to spin-doctor the media to her advantage which brings forth new evidence from anonymous sources which helps to convict the defendant for murder.
In the second season episode "The Guardian", Bud is trapped inside a church with a crazy homeless veteran who is a murder suspect and a MPD SWAT team is sent to the church and captures the suspect, but only after Harm has done his usual share of heroics.
In "The Martin Baker Fan Club", A MPD SWAT team enter Harm's appartment after on of the crazy fugitive veterans grabbed a side arm from a police officer. The suspect is arrested but another veteran is shot at.
The opening of "The Colonel's Wife" is of a San Diego SWAT team, while on a drug bust, discovers the origin of a drug shipment.
In "Persian Gulf", an MPD SWAT team enters after Mac killed the terrorist Fadik Sahd.
Tampering with Food and Drink: The murder victims in "Déjà Vu" are drugged before they are murdered, so they can't put up a fight. Harm avoids drinking the champagne when he thinks he's Alone with the Psycho. But he did eat the chocolate she gave him.
In 1st season episode "Sightings" (1996), Harm asks a ten year old girl: Do you know how to operate a cellular phone?
In 3rd season episode "Impact" (1998), when escaping from the Bradenhurst facility, Harm captures a 3.5" floppy disc containing digital photos of the UFO-like UCAV, taken directly out from a digital camera.
Mac resigns to become a civilian lawyer in "Impact", only to realize she was far happier in the Corps. Turns out, in "People v Rabb", that Admiral Chegwidden had never actually processed her discharge papers, and she was allowed back in.
Harm had his vision impairment fixed and went back to flying Tomcats for a short while, before his new commanding officer convinced him that he was too old to be competitive as an aviator against all the younger pilots, despite his skill, and that he would do the most good as a judge advocate.
Harm actually did resign his commission at the end of season 8, and went to work for the CIA for a few episodes. After being fired from the CIA for lack of discretion: he was reinstated in the beginning of 9 by the Secretary of the Navy upon the recommendation of Admiral Chegwidden, due to a lack of qualified personnel.
In the pilot episode, when Harm and Kate searches the deceased female officer’s belongings in her cabin, her bodybuilding roommate Cassie comes to change and as Harm gentlemanly offers to leave, she quips "Why? Never seen a naked sailor before?” before he even gets a chance to, as shown from the back. Both Harm and Kate get noticeably uncomfortable in their facial expressions. When Cassie has left, Kate asks Harm:
Kate: Did you see the muscles on her?
Harm: I wasn't looking at her muscles.
Also, in the first part of two-parter "Boomerang", Harm and Bud walks on the beach when takes of her bikini top, which makes Bud clearly distracted.
Tracking Device: Used by Clayton Webb in his first dealing with Harm and Mac, in "We The People", to track their rental car. However, they're Genre Savvy enough to leave it.
A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: In "Father’s Day", Corporal Wetzl runs a tank over his CO’s tent, claiming to be distracted about the divorce from his drug-addicted wife and impending custody hearings on their infant son. Frustrated by the countless lies spun in court and in the media by his wife and her lawyer, he takes action of his own, commandeering a tank with his son inside. He blows up a TV van and gets into a stand-off. Eventually Harm and Mac manages to get him to surrender by bringing his grandmother on the spot.
Training Accident: In "Force Recon", Harm is sent undercover as a Gunny to investigate a Marine captain who is suspected of exposing his recon marines to dangerous situations, such training in an area with live artillery shells hitting the ground.
The Troubles: In the season 2 episode "Trinity", Harm and Mac go to Belfast to investigate the disappearance of an infant child whose mother is an American naval officer, and the father, who is an active member of the IRA.
Turn Out Like His Father: Annie Pendry's biggest fear concerning her son Josh, after his father is killed in a plane crash in "Pilot Error". She points out that Harm became a fighter pilot after his own father went missing in Vietnam, further reinforcing her concern.
Unflinching Walk: In "Boot", Staff Sergeant Carrington and Sergeant Gonzalez slowly pace up and down the length of a gas chamber full of tear gas, singing the Marine Corps Hymn while the recruits are hardly able to breathe.
Under The Mistletoe: * JAG: Harriet kisses Bud under a mistletoe she holds up out in the bullpen in "Jaggle Bells".
Undercover as Lovers: Mac and Clayton Webb went undercover as husband and wife on a CIA mission in Paraguay in season 8/9.
The episode "Brig Break" has Meg Austin discovering that Petty Officer Quinn is an undercover agent for Navy Intelligence trying to infiltrate a group of gun runners. He ends up getting killed by Sergeant Lowell soon after Austin figures it out.
Played for Laughs in "Boot". After everything she has put her through, Staff Sergeant Carrington is stunned to discover that Private McEntire, a problem recruit she had been singling out, was in fact Lt. Meg Austin. Austin assures her she knew it wasn't personal.
Vacation Episode: the two-parter "Boomerang", filmed and set in Australia, could be seen as an example of this trope.
Vigilante Execution: The season four episode "Act of Terror" has two vigilante executions. First, a suspected terrorist is transported back the United States but a Marine guard shots at him on live TV coverage. The Marine is charged with murder in a court-martial. However, the suspected terrorist survived because he wore a protective vest and the FBI takes the suspect away for interrogation unbeknownst to everyone. Harm discovers this because there was a major discrepancy between the autopsy report and the video footage. The Marine charged with murder receives top civilian counsel provided by a right-wing businessman. But it turns out that the businessman has made money transfers to terrorist suspects in Saudi Arabia, and while he agrees to let the FBI apprehend the next receiver, that one is gunned down in a drive by shooting. The episode ends with the businessman smiling.
Walk and Talk: Happens frequently, both at the headquarters building in Falls Church and onboard Navy ships.
Wealthy Yacht Owner: It is mentioned in "Wedding Bell Blues", when the future in-laws meets, that Harriet’s wealthy father owns a yacht.
'"”Big" Bud Roberts: So, Rollo, I hear you have a yacht. Roland Sims: Well, a small yacht. Lydia Sims''': It is not that small, Roland.
We Need a Distraction: In "War Cries", the Shining Path operatives have a pair of pretty girls wave at the Peruvian soldiers standing guard outside the U.S. Embassy so an old lady can walk past them and leave a bomb.
Wedding Day: Bud and Harriet’s wedding in the season 3 episode "Wedding Bell Blues".
"Well Done, Son" Guy: Lieutenant Williams in "Desert Son" feels that his father has always considered him a failure. What's worse, is he's right, and his father's low opinion of him is well-founded.
In first season episode "Shadow", a civilian contractor onboard an nuclear attack submarine (SSN) holds the sub ransom, through his lap top computer, with which he supposedly can activate charges or to have them explode automatically unless he stays online.
Doubly subverted in "Rogue" where the Rogue WarriorExpy and his men, not only captures a nuclear attack submarine (SSN), as per orders, but also takes it to sea and threatens to attack New York City unless a ransom is paid. Turns at that the end that the intentions were honorable: a wakeup call to make officials aware of the threats posed by terrorists such as Osama bin Laden...
With Due Respect: That phrase occurs many times on the show, which is not surprising given its military theme.
In "Gypsy Eyes", when Admiral Chegwidden learns that Harm and Mac are missing in Russia on Harm’s private quest to find his long lost father, the Secretary of the Navy forbids Chegwidden from going over there, to which the old Navy SEAL courteously replies.
Admiral Chegwidden: With all due respect, Mr. Secretary, you don’t want to try to stop me.
Witness Protection: A witness to a crime doesn't want to testify because he's in DOJ witness protection in the season 5 episode "Front And Center".
Wham Line: In "Desert Son", after Boone has been found to blame for the mishap, Williams is out spotting for artillery strikes again, and remarks that he never knew how much better he'd be at spotting artillery simply by doing it while sober. The corporal riding in the humvee with him is stricken speechless by the implications of this remark.
What If?: JAG's 200th episode revolved around the main characters making different decisions (or events that occurred one way in the "prime" timeline happening the other way). The episode was even titled "What If?".
The White House: Harm & Mac first met in the Rose Garden in "We The People", following an presidential awards ceremony where Harm recieved his first Disthinguished Flying Cross.
Episode "Each Of Us Angels" focuses on a group of Navy nurses before and during the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Also the episode "Port Chicago" is based on a real-life accident during WWII.
"Yes"/"No" Answer Interpretation: In "Tribunal", Sturgis is assigned as co-defense counsel for the fictional Al-Qaida No 3 in the military tribunal held aboard a warship, and has an Army Special Forces captain on the stand to answer questions about unconventional warfare by US Forces and that of unlawful combatants. The implication of the final question being that there's not always a distinct difference between them.
Sturgis: One final question. On certain operations, Special Forces personnel remove all insignia. Your dog tags, anything that could identify you. Is that correct?
Army Captain: That's classified, sir.
Sturgis: Let the record reflect that was not a no.
You Look Like You've Seen a Ghost: Used more than once in several ways on JAG, first when Harm meets a Vietnamese woman who reminds him of someone he saw die years before in "Déjà Vu", again when he meets Major Sarah MacKenzie, who is a dead ringer for Lt. Diane Schonke, a murdered Naval officer Harm used to know ("We The People"), and finally when Mac confronts the officer who murdered Schonke, who is so startled by what appears to be the ghost of their murder victim that they stumble backwards off a pier and are crushed to death by the ship moored there, in "Death Watch".
Your Cheating Heart: In "Pilot Error", Pendry was very close to his female wingman, Lt. McKee, leading to many rumors that the two had an affair. Harm, McKee, and Pendry's widow all insist that no affair took place, for different reasons (Harm refuses to believe his friend would have done such a thing, McKee admits to having had feelings for him, but knew it wasn't meant to be, and Pendry's wife insists that their relationship was too strong for such a thing to happen.) McKee did have an affair... with her commanding officer, but not with Pendry.
Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The second season episode "Trinity", featuring the IRA characterized them as rugged yet heroic freedom fighters, with the main characters aiding them for a while (in fairness it was to recover the infant child of a US service member stationed in the UK and an active IRA member based in Northern Ireland) and the episode amazingly goes so far as to portray a suicide bombing by an IRA man against the British as an Heroic Sacrifice. The episode naturally thus goes out of its way to demonize the main RUC detective as a Dirty Cop, or even worse.... However, the episode did not portray the British as evil per se, as one exchange between Harm and Mac near the back at Heathrow Airport suggests that the British authorities will deal with the Dirty Cop.
Mac: The Brits picked up Hutchinson in Londonderry. Have him on a suicide watch.
Harm: Well, they wanna make sure he gets to trial.
This episode was broadcast before the Good Friday Agreement when The Troubles were still ongoing, which just adds to the Unfortunate Implications seeing how the show was indirectly rooting for a then active terrorist group.
The Yugoslav Wars: Many episodes in seasons 1-5, including the Pilot Movie, takes place against the backdrop of this conflict. ** It's also established in canon that Mac somehow served in Bosnia at some point before season 2 began.