"Trust me, I know what I'm doing."
"Looks like you and I are the only sane ones here."Sledge Hammer!
— Sledge, to his Magnum
is a television sitcom created by Alan Spencer that ran on ABC from 1986 to 1988. It is an unrestrained Parody
of the Cowboy Cop
genre (Dirty Harry
specifically), with David Rasche as Inspector Sledge Hammer
, a cop who shoots first and asks questions never
. He is partnered with Detective Dori Doreau (Anne-Marie Martin), and the two work for the ever-exasperated Captain Trunk (Harrison Page).
While Hammer respects his colleagues, his only true friend is his .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver
, complete with customized grip and etched sledgehammer signia. Hammer's affection for his gun is so deep that he showers with it, sleeps with it,
and even talks to it.
The series received critical acclaim, but struggled in the ratings, largely due to its numerous time slot shifts. Even so, Sledge Hammer!
attracted up to nineteen million viewers who followed the show religiously, along with a very abbreviated Comic Book
series from Marvel Comics
. Despite a season finale that ended with a nuclear explosion
, ABC changed its mind and renewed the show for a second season. The second season suffered from another horrible time slot (against The Cosby Show
) and a reduced budget.
Trust me, I know what I'm troping:
- Accidental Aiming Skills: Hammer's interrogation of a suspect in the pilot via a carnival-style shooting game, wherein he blindfolds himself before aiming for the balloon near the suspect's head...
Hammer: I always miss this shot.
[Suspect breaks down and spills the beans, but Hammer fires anyway and hits the balloon]
Dori: Wow, you hit the balloon.
Hammer: Yeah, I missed.
- Already Met Everyone: Tripped over in the second season premiere; it was set five years before the first, despite the fact that Hammer and Dori only met in the first season premiere.
- And This Is for...: Sledge Hammer does this to a hijacker, but after expelling his reasons he punches the hijacker one more time. When the hijacker asks "What was that for?!", Hammer replies "That was gratuitous!"
- Arab Oil Sheikh: One tries to buy Doreau.
- Awesome McCoolname: Sledge Hammer, of course.
- And his father, Jack Hammer.
- And (arguably) his mother, Armen Hammer.
- Ax-Crazy: Arguably Hammer himself, although it was often Bowdlerised for comedic effect.
- Important to note is that he never actually killed anyone; the censors presumably wouldn't allow it.
- Presumably he did at least kill the guy on top of the building that he imploded. And he did tell a reporter that he killed two thugs who robbed a grocery store (then proceeded to buy groceries immediately after).
- Beard of Sorrow: Sledge starts showing up to work looking disheveled and with unkempt stubble after the love of his life was stolen from him... that love being his gun of course.
- Bench Breaker: Doreau does this accidentally in "Wild About Hammer". The villain for that episode ties her to a chair. Sledge manages to untie her ankles from the chair before he's attacked. While those two are fighting, Doreau manges manages to stand herself up on her now freed legs, only to trip, fall over backwards, break the chair, and free herself from the rest of the rope.
- Berserk Button: Sledge reacts... badly to being called a wuss.
- Blasting It out of Their Hands: Done in nearly every episode by everyone, police and criminals alike.
- Bling-Bling-BANG!: The handle of his Magnum is made out of Ivory and has a drawing of a sledgehammer.
- Bottomless Magazines: A regular feature of the show, often with Lampshade Hanging. During one shootout, Captain Trunk even yells, "Where the hell is he getting all this ammo?!"
- Every time we look at the chamber of Sledge's Magnum it's not loaded, but ten seconds later the revolver can fire ten rounds without reloading.
- Buddy Cop Show
- Bullet Catch: A trick performed by Hammer's father, Jack, as a carnival performer. Sledge eventually needs to learn the trick.
- Butt Monkey: Poor, poor Captain Trunk...
- Catch Phrase: "Trust me, I know what I'm doing." (inevitably followed by disaster)
- Captain Trunk has a very simple, oft used one....."HAMMER!!!!!!!!!!"
- Character Title
- Da Chief: Captain Trunk.
- Comic Book Adaptation: Two issues, put out by Marvel Comics.
- Companion Cube: Sledge's Magnum.
- Consulting Mister Puppet: Sledge frequently talks to his gun for advice. However, if anyone's within earshot and asks him who he's talking to, Sledge will quickly cover it up.
- Cowboy Cop
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass
- Danny Elfman: Composed the music for the title.
- Detective Patsy: The episode "Play It Again, Sledge" has a woman hire Sledge as private investigator, to make him an eyewitness of her "self-defense" murder.
- Disproportionate Retribution: When he catches a speeder, Hammer ties the man to the hood of his car and drives around the parking lot at high speed.
- In the pilot, he ends a shootout by destroying the building the shooter is on with a rocket launcher.
- Donut Mess with a Cop: Mocked by Sledge.
"I would like to address that particular stereotype if I may. Now, your stereotypical donut is nothing but dough and sugar fried in fat, am I right? Now that fat gums up your arteries and goes to your brain, and you turn liberal. And the next thing you know, Barry Manilow is on the turn-table and you're not going to work and you're voting for gun control. You see what I'm saying? You see the connection? That's why I eat granola."
- Downer Ending: The season 2 finale concludes with Sledge pretending that he was kidding when he asked Dori if she'd marry him.
- Drives Like Crazy
- Empathic Weapon: Though the audience never sees anything unusual, Hammer treats his gun as a living, breathing entity.
- Subverted in one episode in which Hammer is hallucinating and the viewers do see his gun talking, complete with animated barrel/mouth.
- Excited Show Title!: The show's title uses an exclamation mark at the end.
- Expy: Of Get Smart, a childhood favorite of creator Alan Spencer. The shows even share one episode plot line ... Sledge/Max get fired from the police force/Control and decide to open a detective agency leading to Humphrey Bogart jokes (Max imitating him, Sledge seeing him).
- First Name Ultimatum
- A Fool for a Client: In one episode, Sledge is accused of murder and decides to defend himself. Right before the end of the trial, the judge asks the Prosecution if they have anything to say. The prosecutor responds that Sledge has already made all their points for them.
- Funny Background Event: in one episode where a serial killer is murdering one Elvis Impersonator after another, the chalk outlines for each slain Elvis are in the classic Jailhouse Rock pose (i.e. this one.)
- Dori and Trunk discuss a case involving an android thief while Hammer keeps being attacked by its detached cyborg arm in the background.
- Gag Dub: In the German version of the opening, someone shouts "ouch!" as if being hit by Hammer's bullet.
- Gag Series: The second season, even more than the first.
- The Ghost: Frequent references and jokes are made about Hammer's ex-wife, but she is not seen until one late episode (where she is played by David Rasche's actual wife). Made funnier when she is actually a nice, reasonable person, not the sadistic bloodsucker that Sledge describes.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Lampshaded when Sledge chases a criminal through a television studio with many shows being recorded. When Hammer catches him, the crook yells "Go to heck!" and then states that you're not allowed to say "hell" on television.
- Grievous Bottley Harm: Dori patiently waits while a thug tries to break a bottle to use on her before finally grabbing the bottle, breaking it pretty effortlessly, handing it back to him and them dropping him with a single kick.
- Gun Accessories / Hollywood Silencer: Inverted; Sledge has a loudener for his Magnum.
- Gun Porn: The opening title sequence is one big love letter to Sledge's Magnum.
- Gun Twirling: Sledge does this a lot, including in the above-linked title sequence.
- Hand Cannon
- Hand Wave: Expecting to be canceled, the producers ended season one with a nuke destroying the entire city. The show was then renewed for another season, so they just slapped a subtitle on the first new episode ( Sledge Hammer: The Early Years) and then carried on as if nothing had happened.
- Which creates continuity errors since the announcement states that this season takes place five years before, where Hammer met his partner only one year previously.
- Heart Symbol: Hammer's car has a bumper sticker reading "I ♥ VIOLENCE."
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Sledge.
- Hey, That's My Line!: In one episode where Hammer has Humphrey Bogart as a Spirit Advisor, Sledge says "Here's looking at you, kid!", and Bogey answers.... guess what.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Downplayed example. The ditzy Sledge does have his uses. He's inhumanly good in a firefight for example, and sometimes proves he's not as dumb as he looks. But its Doreau that keeps Sledge on track and does the real investigative work.
- I Call It "Vera": He calls his gun "amigo". Originally, he insisted his gun's name was "Gun." Though his relationship with his gun (the mere fact that he has a relationship with his gun) fits this trope.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: He may be clueless in many respects but he's really good with his .44
- Inkblot Test: Sledge received one as part of a psychological evaluation. He identified the pictures as two images of gun violence, "a field of pussy willows," "a [machine gun] blowing away the pussy willows," and "a duck handcuffing a naked woman." The psychologist remarks, "Funny, I've never seen the duck."
- Insult Backfire:
Trunk: You sadistic, depraved, bloodthirsty, barbaric...
Hammer: Is that why you called me in here? To shower me with compliments?
- Just Between You and Me: Lampshaded when an assassin has Sledge tied to a Death Trap, and tells him how he intends to kill the captain.
Sledge: I'll never understand why you guys explain your whole plan before you kill somebody.
- Knight Templar
- Lampshade Hanging
- Latex Perfection: Spoofed when a female KGB spy turned out to be a male KGB spy behind a latex mask. However, the rest of the body alterations were permanent so he/she could win the Miss Iron Curtain pageant.
- Lawful Stupid: Hammer
- Possibly a subversion, however, when you realize that Hammer has no qualms about ignoring laws against Police Brutality and excessive force...
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Employed several times. The most notable instance occurs in the first-season finale, when Captain Trunk barges in on a terrorist making a live television broadcast.
Trunk: Your show's been canceled!
Sledge: You talkin' to me?
- Lord Error-Prone
Sledge: The two men then pointed their shotguns at the clerk, so I took out my Magnum and shot and killed them both. I then bought some eggs, and milk, and some of those little cocktail weenies.
Reporter: Inspector, was what you did in the store absolutely necessary?
Sledge: Oh, yes. I had no groceries at all.
- Manchurian Agent: The villains in one episode try to turn Hammer into one by messing with his subconscious. It doesn't work; Hammer doesn't have a subconscious.
- Ms. Fanservice: Some of the things the script demanded of Anne-Marie Martin. Her skirt shrinks to micro-mini after interviewing a suspect in a sauna; the frequent karate high-kicks that ruck her hem up somewhere towards her waist; the cat-fights with female perps; and especially the one that takes place in a mudbath. Not to mention having to dress in very flimsy clothing as a "hooker" in a Vice Squad sting operation.
- Ann-Marie Martin was at the time married to novelist and Jurassic Park creator Michael Crichton. She recalls that his standard greeting when she arrived home after filming Hammer was "And what degrading and inelegant thing did they make you do at work today?"
- Mushroom Samba: In one episode, Hammer hallucinates that his gun is actually talking to him, and the barrel even moves like a mouth.
- Noir Episode: "Play It Again, Sledge", which specifically spoofs the Humphrey Bogart Sam Spade noir films. After getting suspended Sledge decides to become a private detective, and the Femme Fatale who comes to him for help frames him for the murder of her husband, all the while he's assisted by a Spirit Advisor of Bogart himself.
- No Indoor Voice: Trunk. He yells. A Lot! Sledge lampshaded it once by snarking that he was louder than most airports.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Several episodes suggest that Sledge uses this. Though he's written off by everybody as a violent idiot, sometimes he manages to crack the case with a sudden admission that he had been taking notes all along. This is Lampshaded in an episode when a game show host killed off a contestant who was getting close to the top prize. When Dori wonders how someone that smart got on the show, Sledge explains, "You see, he looks dumb, but turned out to be a genius; a trick I've used myself."
- Official Couple: Sledge and his gun, one of the rare instances of a canonical Cargo Ship.
- Parody Episode: The second season consisted almost entirely of these. ("Hammeroid" was a parody of RoboCop, "Vertical" was a parody of Vertigo, etc.)
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Sledge makes it clear from episode one that this is how he handles crime.
- Pistol-Whipping: Extremely subverted in one episode when Hammer sneaks behind a bad guy. Sledge pistol whips him on the head with his revolver, but the crook just grabs his head and starts shouting in pain. Sledge follows it up with a bottle to the head, but the bad guy still doesn't go down. Then Sledge jumps on the bad guy's back, piggy-backs him, gets him in a headlock, rams his head into a wall and he's still conscious.
- Police Brutality: Sledge sees this as a good thing, and pitches the benefits of being a cop to others on the basis that he gets paid to legally beat up and kill people.
- Reckless Gun Usage: Sledge all the time, though on this show people react like they should in real life, desperately trying to get out of the way. Played for laughs.
- Rule of Funny
- Running Gag
Sledge: [reaching into his pocket] I have something for you.
[Everyone takes cover as Sledge retrieves something other than his gun]
- Not to mention the inevitable disaster that follows whenever Hammer says, "Trust me, I know what I'm doing."
- Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: Done with Sledge Hammer in the title sequence.
- ABC wouldn't allow Sledge to shoot directly at the screen lest the older viewers have a heart attack, but the effect is more or less the same.
- Selective Squeamishness Suppression: In one episode, Hammer eats his lunch in the same room the coroner was performing an autopsy in.
- Shooting Gallery: Done in one episode, where Hammer simply shoots all of the targets regardless of whether they're civilians or crooks. Naturally, this annoys Captain Trunk to no end.
- Shout-Out: Creator Alan Spencer has often credited Get Smart as the inspiration for this show. In the pilot a suspect is in room number 86, Max Smart's agent number.
- Stay in the Kitchen: At first, Sledge doesn't approve of his partner being a woman, which leads to the following exchange:
Doreau: What, you think all women should be barefoot and pregnant?
Hammer: No, I encourage women to wear shoes.
- Strapped to a Bomb: It happens to Hammer, allowing him the chance to speak his catch phrase one last time before the series was expected to definitively end...
"Trust me. I know what I'm doing."
- Subverted Catch Phrase: When Sledge is turned into a cyborg, he starts talking in Spock Speak.
"Trust me. I am cognizant of what I am doing."
- Take That: Many examples, including a rather vicious takedown of fellow ABC program Max Headroom. ("My god! One hour with you would be hell!") Not to forget their feud with Mr. Belvedere, which also ran on ABC:
Yamamoto: I'm not answering any more questions! Leave! Right now! I want to get home in time to watch Mr. Belvedere.
Sledge Hammer: I guess somebody has to.
Yamamoto turned out to be that week's villain.)
- And in a later episode:
Dori: How did your father die?
Malovia: He was watching television, and he just fell asleep and never woke up.
Sledge: I hope he wasn't watching Mr. Belvedere. I'd hate to think the poor fella went out suffering.
- The show took a number of digs at the Republican Party. On the DVD commentary, the director notes that the network was okay with that as long as he gave equal time to digs at the Democratic Party. He never got around to it.
- One episode in the second season poked fun at Ted Turner's penchant for "colorising" black and white films by having the tag scene be in the worst coloring possible.
- Testosterone Poisoning: Sledge, full stop.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Sledge's solution for everything. In the series premiere, Sledge deals with a sniper on top of a nearby apartment building by pulling out a rocket launcher from his car's trunk and destroying the building.
- Toyota Tripwire: Done by Sledge in the premiere to catch a purse-snatcher.
- Trigger Happy: Hammer isn't just Trigger Happy, he's Trigger Ecstatic.
- Vengeful Vending Machine: When the soda dispenser in the police HQ goes on the fritz, takes money and fails to dispense soda. The member of the public involved, who must be from out of town, complains to the nearest policeman: Hammer. Who obliges by un-holstering his amigo, at which everyone runs for cover and Captain Trunk begins to bellow "No, Ham...". The dispenser gives in after several direct hits.
- In a different episode, Hammer does the same thing to a bank ATM that has swallowed his card and refused to give cash.
- Whole Plot Reference: Many episodes in the second season fell under this trope, as whole-episode parodies (e.g. "Hammeroid," "Vertical").
- Would Hit a Girl: In the first episode, Sledge shoots a female terrorist, then tells her, "Call me a feminist."
- Subverted twice when he fights a man who turns out to be a woman in disguise. And in another episode where, to his partner's horror, he punches out a female KGB agent, who is actually a man in disguise. (Which he quickly shows her.)
- Yandere: Jenkins in "Wild About Hammer".