In 1972,note a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... the A-Team. (Dun-Dun-Dun-Dunnn! Dun-dun-dun...)The A-Team is one of the most famous of the 1980s action series, running from 1983 to 1987.The four members of the A-Team are:
- Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith — leader of the team, a cunning master of disguise.
- Captain H.M. "Howlin' Mad" Murdock — the resident pilot, who may or may not be insane.
- Lieutenant Templeton "Faceman" Peck — the "charmer" of the team.
- Sergeant Bosco "B.A." ("Bad Attitude") Baracus — played by Mr. T, he is the team's strongman with a famous fear of flying.
The A-Team provides examples of the following tropes:
- Accent Adaptation: One episode has the gang supposedly going to Barcelona, Spain to foil a plane hijacking by unspecified Terrorists Without a Cause. Their plan includes Murdock infiltrating the plane by posing as a Spanish co-pilot, so he speaks English with a Spanish accent and throws a lot of Gratuitous Spanish. In the Spanish dub, Murdock speaks in this scene with a Catalan accent, which is both unexpected and hilarious.
- Ace Pilot: Murdock. If it has wings, he can fly it. ...and he might even be able to land it safely!
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Believe it or not, the series had a few of these. The most notable is the season 4 finale, involving their pursuer General Fullbright enlisting their help to go back to Vietnam to find his illegitimate daughter. The humor of the show is replaced by a somber mood, as the team reflects on their experiences in Vietnam.
- Actually, I Am Him: People looking for the team usually found Hannibal in disguise when they met with the person who was supposed to get them in contact.
- Adjective Animal Alehouse: In "The Big Squeeze", when Hannibal decides to use props from his movie producer friends to fake a new restaurant to lure in some Mafia extortionists, he sets up an Irish pub called "The Naked Lady."
- Air-Vent Passageway: Several episodes, including one where Murdock escapes from a locked room, with his hands bound no less, through a ventilation shaft. Hannibal and B.A. boost him into the shaft while Face distracts the guard.
- And the Adventure Continues: The last episode of the series ended with this discussion:Hannibal: Chasing thugs through the park...it's got a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
Face: It has a terrible ring to it.
Murdock: Just think, if we get a pardon, we may never have to eat a knuckle sandwich again.
B.A.: I wouldn't bet on it, Crazy Man. Looks like Hannibal's on the jazz again.
Face: What, what, wha-
Murdock: No, you - you tell me right now, you tell me right to my face, you tell me that you don't have a plan.
Hannibal: Well I - I was thinking, what are we gonna do when this thing's over? I mean, what are we really qualified to do?
Face: Go after...thugs in the park?
Hannibal: And...outlaw motorcycle gangs, organized crime figures...why, there's a world of slimeballs out there.
Murdock: I knew it. I just knew you had a plan.
Hannibal: Comforting, isn't it?
B.A.: I'll get the van.
- Always Camp: Hannibal takes advantage of this stereotype when playing a hairdresser in "Pros and Cons."
- Anti-Hero: Colonel Lynch, Colonel Decker, and General Fullbright all qualify as this as well as Hero Antagonist, especially the latter two who are more than willing to use destructive or shady methods in their attempts at apprehending the A-Team. Colonel Decker once even went so far as to work with a group of criminals to try and catch the team, though he did make it clear he wasn't happy to be doing so.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
- In the Season 2 premiere, "Diamonds 'n Dust", Murdock uses this to insult a South African store owner when he's pretending to be a English officer ("Col. Lexington") as he and Face try to "confiscate" some dynamite:Murdock: No kippers, no herring-bone tweed, no Rolls Royce petrol caps, no original pressings of "Hey Jude!!!"
Face: (mouthing) "Hey Jude?"
- Also by Murdock when the team is opening a fake restaurant in "The Big Squeeze."Murdock: Excuse me sir. If you're planning to open up a restaurant, let me introduce myself. My name is H.M. Murdock and I belong to the B.B.D.W.G.O.H. Failure to hire our personnel will lead to picketing, bad press, and no cookies before bed!
- In the Season 2 premiere, "Diamonds 'n Dust", Murdock uses this to insult a South African store owner when he's pretending to be a English officer ("Col. Lexington") as he and Face try to "confiscate" some dynamite:
- Artistic License – Gun Safety: A second season episode features a sequence where Hannibal Smith attempts to help defend a young woman and her son against a prison escapee invading their home. Hannibal's way of telling the woman to lock the front door of the house is to gesture with his loaded shotgun in an enclosed environment, pointing it directly at her. Strange considering that both the character Hannibal Smith and the actor that played him, George Peppard, are veterans of the U.S. armed forces.
- Asleep for Days: Inverted whenever they drugged BA in order to fly anywhere. They would tell him he's been asleep for two days and they had driven the whole way, when in truth they flew and it had been only a few hours.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The native chanting in The Crystal Skull (see the Lampshade Hanging entry).
- Badass Quintana in the pilot. He's a henchman for a good guy but due to a misunderstanding, he beats up B.A. and knocks out Hannibal with one punch. He is played by hulking Miguel Angel Fuentes.
- Badass Crew: A prototype example. Maybe the first in primetime TV.
- Badass in Distress: Murdock in "Bounty" gets abducted from the V.A. hospital by bounty hunters who think he can lead them to the A-Team.
- Badass Preacher: Reverend Taylor in "Pure-Dee Poison".Villain: Reverend, I'm not gonna listen to any more of your preaching.
Reverend Taylor: Well that's fine with me, 'cause I'm through sermonizing. (Pulls out a shotgun) Let us pray.
- Bad Guys Play Pool: Common in episodes set in the rural Southwest.
- Bad Samaritan: Prince, one half of the villain duo (along with corrupt INS agent Taggart) from the episode "Bad Time On The Border." He gets some respect in Mexico as a man who, for a hefty fee, helps down-on-their-luck Mexicans across the border to a better life in America. While aiding illegal immigration is already a crime, the truth about him is far worse. Far from helping them reach a better life, Prince and his thugs take the people they "help" to a camp in the wilderness, where they rob them at gunpoint of all their remaining possessions, then sell them as slaves to whatever border town sweatshop makes the best offer.
- Balloonacy: The team once escaped from prison in hot air balloons made from garbage bags, hair dryers and hairdresser's chairs. It was Murdock's idea, of course.Hannibal: Murdock, how'd I let you talk me into this?
Murdock (already floating away): I don't know—I have intermittent memory loss. *floats away cackling*
- Balls of Steel: A bad guy slams his rifle into BA's crotch with no effect.
- Band of Brothers: The main characters due to their shared combat experience.
- Bar Brawl: Multiple episodes, usually when the team is facing off against the villain of the week.
- The Barnum: Face genuinely reveled in being a Con Man, and never showed signs of wanting to reform. He seemed to love the scheme just as much as the payoff.
- Fridge Brilliance: Face, though not a coward by any stretch, often showed signs of not liking violence that much. He probably likes trying to con people so they can get away without a shootout or fistfight - not that he doesn't enjoy the con for its own sake, mind you.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Half the series is one long string of these after the other. From conning a plane for a nonexistent Texas millionaire to hitchhiking a landing on the pretense of a heart attack. In about five minutes.
- Bedsheet Ghost: Murdock's disguise in "Judgement Day".
- Big Damn Heroes: Look in a dictionary and if Mal Reynolds' picture isn't next to the definition, chances are a picture of these guys is.
- Bland-Name Product:
- Quite a lot in "Blood, Sweat, and Cheers," given the episode's focus on stock car racing. Most notably, a scene taking place just before a race shows the villain's car with a large "Firestom" logo, even using a slightly fancier version of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company font.
- In "Members Only" the country club that the episode revolves around is host to a number of famous people including "Sikorski", the head of "BiStar Pictures".
- Born Lucky: Hannibal Smith. He's either this or a bloody wizard. No matter what the situation, he will find a way to come out on top.
- The Boxing Episode: The season 3 episode "Champ!" in which the team protects an up-and-coming heavyweight boxer from a would-be drug dealer trying to threaten him into throwing his first big match.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Used by Murdock at a country club in the Season 4 episode "Members Only":Murdock: The tennis courts are night-lit, there's an extra putting green there, that's the front nine, and that's Faceman chasing someone into the rough.
- Briefcase Full of Money: In "The Beast from the Belly of a Boeing", Hannibal and Face recieve some money for a hostage situation and Face comments that it sure would be tempting to just take the money and run. Hannibal talks him down, but is clearly tempted himself.
- Building Is Welding: All the time. Sometimes taken to ridiculous extremes, such as when the team welds together a restaurant as part of their scheme to trick the villains.
- Busman's Holiday: "Incident at Crystal Lake". After Colonel Decker has been getting a bit too close, the team goes to the titular Crystal Lake national park for a relaxing vacation, but instead runs into a crew of crooks fresh off an armored car robbery. At the end the team agrees that busting bad guys is more fun than any vacation could ever be anyway.
- California Doubling: Especially egregious when California doubled for South America, Africa, and Borneo.
- Can't Get In Trouble For Nuthin'': In the episode "Pros and Cons" the team are trying to get arrested, but the local law enforcement fear that arresting tourists will bring in the FBI to investigate them. The team commit progressively worse and worse violations to try and get arrested, culminating in them crashing their car through the sheriff's office window.
- Carnival of Killers:
- "Deadly Maneuvers" had a syndicate of crime lords pay Major Douglas Kyle to assemble a Dream Team of mercenaries to hunt down the A-Team.
- Also Insane Wayne and his team from "Waiting for Insane Wayne," a team of mercenaries-for-hire who the team briefly impersonates then ends up fighting, though they're not nearly as bad as Kyle and his team.
- The Casanova:
Murdock: Dove è il barbiere più vicino? note
- Face, the Handsome Lech who can con anyone out of anything and is often seen with a woman on each arm.
- Subverted by Murdock in "Blood, Sweat, and Cheers". He manages to pull it off while impersonating billionaire playboy Giancarlo Figorrati, though it's really all thanks to Face speaking for him while he rambles nonsensically in broken Italian.
Girl: Oh, what did you say, Giancarlo?
Face: Ah, he said "your hair is lovely in this light."
Girl: Oh, he's so cute!
- Casanova Wannabe: Murdock as the "Hunk Man" in "Mind Games", oh so very much. When Face is released on a government pardon Murdock tries to replace him. It doesn't go well.Murdock: You sound like a... groovy chick. I'm a six foot, square-jawed bundle of fun. I've got a 'Vette, it's hot, I like to talk about... whales! I like sushi, and sharing. Perhaps I could squeeze you into my date-filled calendar book, say Friday? ... ...huh, must've got cut off.
- Cassandra Truth: The other three wouldn't believe Faceman that he was thrown out of a seventh floor window into a pool in "The Battle of Bel Air".
- Catch Phrase:
- B.A, any time he thinks the others will try to get him to fly: "I ain't goin' on no airplane!"
- Hannibal, about something turning out right by chance: "I love it when a plan comes together."
- Hannibal's standardized greeting, "What do ya say, [name]?"
- Chained to a Railway: The team does it to a villain in an episode set in, of all places, Miami.
- Chair Reveal: Murdock's back is seen for about a minute behind Hannibal and Face in "Members Only" before he turns around. They are at a very upscale country club where Face is trying hard to become a member, and Murdock is there as a guest of his doctor.
- Chase Scene: At least one per episode.
- The Chick:
"Whenever the studio slips an actress on to the team, she becomes a distraction. She always slows down the action. She's someone who's only there for the glamour shots. Everything stops for the sexy smiles – and I can't see why that's necessary on The A-Team."
- Amy Amanda "Triple A" Allen, a newspaper reporter who assisted the team in the first season and part of the second. She was eventually sent to Jakarta "on assignment" when conflicts between Culea and the producers led to her departure (either by firing or her simply getting fed up at having no dialog).
- The role of The Chick was next filled by Suspiciously Similar Substitute, Tawnia Baker, for the rest of season 2 and early portions of season 3 before she got married and moved to LA, with no new actress brought in to fill the archetype for the rest of the series.
- The new character of Tia was set up at the very end of Season 4 to become this, but due to the actress's contractual obligations, she was never seen or mentioned again.
- According to both Dirk Benedict and George Peppard, Triple A and her counterpart were there only because of studio demands, and the male leads felt that a female on the show slowed the action down too much.
- This trope was actually the reason George Peppard was so insistent on keeping women off the show. In his words:
- Chick Magnet: Face can attract women even when he's trying to focus on someone else.
- Chinese Launderer: One of Hannibal's most-referenced comic disguises.
- Cigar-Fuse Lighting: In one episode the team jury-rig a flamethrower, but fail to jury-rig a pilot light. Instead the instructions are: throw the cigar in front of you, then open up.
- Clear My Name: The premise of the fifth season, though it never came to be before the show was canceled.
- This is also what forced the team into hiding. "The Crime They Didn't Commit" was eventually revealed to be a bank robbery in Hanoi, Vietnam, which they were in fact ordered to do, but the man who gave them the order was killed and all evidence of his orders destroyed.
- In the fifth season premiere, they were cleared of the robbery when a former Vietnamese colonel testified in their court-martial that their commanding officer sent them to rob a bank in order for them to be captured by the North Vietnamese. Of course, by that time the A-Team was being tried for the murder of their commanding officer.
- Clip Show: The episode "Curtain Call" has several of the main characters remember scenes from previous episodes.
- Clothing Damage: Played for laughs. To impersonate a gangster and infiltrate a meeting, the team kidnap him and send Murdock in with his clothes. The gangster escapes and blows Murdock's cover in the middle of the meeting, but stops people from shooting him so as to not damage his clothes.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Murdock. It's never made entirely clear whether he's actually insane or just acting so he can keep living in the Veterans Administration Hospital. One way or the other, he's a textbook example of a Cloudcuckoolander, which B.A. absolutely hates.
- Cold War
- Colonel Badass:
- John "Hannibal" Smith
- Colonel Decker
- Comic Book Adaptation: Marvel Comics put out a short-lived comic based on the Amy Allen era.
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like:
- In "The Only Church In Town" the Mother Superior of the orphanage the team saves is quite unhappy with the Team using force to drive off the bandits terrorizing them. This is because the bandits are just a small squad from a much larger gang and angering them means the rest of the gang will return and try to destroy the orphanage.
- In "Harder Than It Looks" when the team rescues a girl from the terrorist group holding her hostage she fights them every step of the way and even holds them at gunpoint and demands they take her back. Her boyfriend is a member of the group, who has been questioning their methods and she knows the group's leaders are just looking for an excuse to off him. She's worried they'll think he helped her escape and kill him.
- In "Deadly Maneuvers", Murdock borrows one of B.A.'s necklaces (a sharp crescent moon) to cut their ropes and free them. In the process he inadvertently implies that B.A. is fat and also accidentally breaks the gold chain to the necklace, both of which B.A. complains about.
- In "Hot Styles" a large part of the plot revolves around the Damsel in Distress's unwillingness to let Face and his friends save her. It turns out the villain is also holding her young son, and she's afraid he'll be hurt if she tries to escape.
- Con Man: Face, who also operated as the team's Fixer.
- Consulting Mister Puppet: Murdock sometimes converses with a sock puppet. Another great way of annoying B.A.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment:
- One episode has the team knocking out B.A. (again) so they can get on a plane. This time however they're in the middle of a mission, so they can't wait for him to calm down. Hannibal decides that the only way to solve the problem is to let B.A. take his revenge on them after the mission is over, which Face and Murdock are horrified about. B.A. is creepily cheerful throughout the rest of the episode, and the Team dreads what he'll do to them. Finally, when it's all over, B.A. prepares to punish them. He lines them all up and calls them out on their flaws and why they annoy him. B.A. also reveals that instead of flying back, he's chartered a boat. As part of their payment, the rest of the team has to help with the upkeep as well as repaint the whole thing. The team decides they would've preferred if he had just beaten them up.
- Also used to interrogate a villain in "Mind Games". Murdock, as the Casanova Wannabe "Hunk Man" offers to charm the information they want from the enemy. Hannibal suggests that this would be equally as torturous as simply letting B.A. beat the crap out of the guy.
- Cool Car
- Their black van with custom red trim.
- Face's white Corvette with the big red stripe counts, too.
- Corrupt Hick: To judge from this show, every small town in rural America is controlled by one of these, or was until the A-Team passed through.
- Could Have Been Messy: Every episode has a scene where the A-Team and their opponents exchange billions of rounds of gunfire. Nobody is ever shot. EVER.
- Averted in the season four finale. Fullbright is fatally wounded by a Vietnamese general as the team makes their escape, and Hannibal retaliates by blowing up the shed he was in.
- Well, there are the two times in which Murdock and Face get shot, but both times, only a single bullet is fired.
- And in the first scene of the episode "Pros and Cons" (involving illegal prison fights), the warden strides up to the loser and points a gun at him - we don't see what happens next, but a rematch is unlikely.
- Covert Distress Code: "Red Ball One" and "Bag is Leaking" mean "big trouble" and "one of the team took some lead" as explained to Amy by Murdock, who receives the code from the team.
- Cowboy Episode: "When You Comin' Back, Range Rider?", pars one and two. The whole episode is partially played out like a Western, with the team dressing up like cowboys, using smaller guns, and stopping Bus' train. Murdock, as the Range Rider, especially plays it up, much to B.A.'s annoyance.
- Crazy Enough to Work: It wouldn't be The A-Team without it.
- Destructive Saviour: Very much so. The millions of dollars worth of property damage the A-Team causes per episode would be enough for them to be considered criminals even if they weren't already wanted by the government.
- Diegetic Switch: As the team decorates their own restaurant in an A-Team Montage in "The Big Squeeze", they bring in a piano, Faceman continues the background music on it, which starts again after he stops.
- Dirty Coward: Charles Lake in "Where Is The Monster When You Need Him?" Even given the situation, being held captive by a foreign war criminal, he's still takes it a bit far.Charles: Maybe if we tell him we'll do anything he wants, promise not to tell on him. He seems like a reasonable man, if we beg him maybe. Jenny can go to him, convince him!
Face: Charles, don't you think you're working this "heroic leading man" thing too much?
- Disguised in Drag: Happens several times on the show. In "Till Death Do Us Part", Murdock dresses like the bride while the team helps the real bride escape. At the beginning of "One More Time", Hannibal dresses like an old woman for one of his monster movies and is then chased by Lynch while still wearing his disguise.
- Distressed Dude: Face sure did seem to get captured a lot.
- The Ditz: Gas station attendant Kelvin in "The Little Town with an Accent" is somewhere between this and No Social Skills.
- Dub Name Change:
- B.A. Baracus in Latin America is called Mario Baracus and is voiced by Mario Sauret.
- In Spain, Faceman is called Fénixnote .
- For the French, B.A. is Barracuda.
- In Italian, to keep the "bad attitude" pun, it's P.E. Baracus (short for "pessimo elemento", that is, "bad element").
- Emotional Bruiser: B.A. Baracus.
- Episode on a Plane: "The Beast from the Belly of a Boeing".
- Evil All Along: Chuck in "Members Only".
- Even Evil Has Standards:
Tillis: (After discovering a bunch of fake business cards in Face's wallet.) Either you have a real problem holding down a job, or you're some kind of con artist. And let me tell you, I hate con artists, always trying to turn people off of their life savings.
- In the two-parter "The Bend In The River". The river pirate El Cajón is fine with sinking boats, robbing the passengers, and selling them into slavery. But then he discovers that his "business partners" are actually Nazi diehards who are trying to rebuild the Third Reich, prompting him to pull an instant Heel–Face Turn.
- Mob boss Crazy Tommy Tillis in the episode "Steel" - whose list of crimes shown in the episode includes murder, tax evasion, and destruction of property - has this reaction upon discovering Face's propensity for cons. Face even lampshades it.
Face: Yeah, I guess it's not an honest crime like gambling or drug dealing.
Wayne: A 15-year old kid? I'm sorry, chief. Me and my men don't raid nurseries.
- Also the mercenary Insane Wayne from "Waiting On Insane Wayne." Upon hearing that his target is already dead and the target's teenage son is the new target he initially refuses to take the job, and only changes his mind when he learns the A-Team is involved.
- Everybody Lives: All the freaking time.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: But we always see the goons crawling away, safe and sound.
- Failed a Spot Check: Has happened a few times to the team, most notably in "Incident at Crystal Lake." Face comes across a woman stranded on the side of the road whose car battery supposedly died hours ago... except she's blasting her car radio when he shows up. Face completely fails to pick up on this and nearly falls into Colonel Decker's trap as a result.
- Fakeout Escape: Hannibal effects an escape by hiding under his bunk and deceiving his captors into believing he has escaped; they leave the cell door open, and he makes a break for it.
- Fingertip Drug Analysis: A staple of the series. Played for laughs in "In Plane Sight" when Murdock accidentally sneezes into one bag.
- Five-Man Band: For part of the series, at any rate.
- The Leader: Hannibal
- The Lancer: Faceman
- The Smart Guy: Murdock (He might have been crazy, but he was able to come up with some damn good plans.)
- The Big Guy: B.A.
- The Chick: Amy in season 1 and part of season 2, then Tawnia in the rest of season 2. Also, Frankie Santana in season 5.
- They follow the Always Sunny model much better, actually: Hannibal is The Brains, Face is The Looks, Murdock is The Wild Card, and BA is The Muscle. The Useless Chick was a variety of, well, useless chicks.
- Flatline Plotline: The team is executed by firing squad at the start of the last season. It doesn't take.
- Flaw Exploitation: In "Deadly Maneuvers", the mercenaries hired to exterminate the A-Team exploit Face's weakness for a pretty girl, Murdock's love of animals, and B.A.'s love of milk to capture them.
- Friend to All Children: B.A., amazingly enough. He may be a big, tough guy who can easily smack down the villains of the week, but he loves kids, and they seem to love him as well.
- The Fun in Funeral: Hannibal's faux funeral in "The Big Squeeze". Murdock at first believes it to be a wedding, and later plays "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" on the organ, complete with the upbeat ending normally heard at a ballgame.
- Fruit Cart
- Game Show Appearance: Murdock on "Wheel of Fortune".
- General Ripper: General "Bull" Fulbright and Colonel Decker, both chosen to take on the A-Team because of their willingness to use unscrupulous tactics to secure victory.B.A.: Yeah, Hannibal and this guy mixed it up once in the Doom Club.
Amy: What, he didn't like the way you sugared his coffee?
Hannibal: No, I didn't like the way he blew up Cong hospitals like it was his favorite sport.
- Genre Blind: Loan shark Jack Lane in "The Big Squeeze." He ends the episode firmly on his boss's hit list, but even so it's curious how a moron like him managed to become a kingpin's lieutenant to begin with.
- Gentle Giant: B.A. Baracus, whenever women and kids are present.
- Handsome Lech: Face.
- Heel–Face Turn: General "Bull" Fullbright, shortly before he was Killed Off for Real.
- Hellhole Prison: The prison in "Pros and Cons." The warden encourages fighting in order to scout out candidates for the fight program. Those that do good enough are separated, trained, and forced to fight to death. Even for prisoners who can't fight it doesn't seem to be a great place. It's not a very safe prison (thanks to the afore-mentioned "encouraged fighting") plus the warden apparently thinks letting the prisoners get their hair cut is "coddling."
- Hero Antagonist: Colonel Lynch, Colonel Decker, and General Fullbright, along with their units. Though they oppose the A-Team they're not evil or corrupt - they're good soldiers who honestly believe that the A-Team are dangerous criminals who must be brought to justice (which is not an unreasonable belief).
- High-Altitude Interrogation: In one episode, the team interrogate a mook by having BA hold him over a cliff above the carnivore pit at a zoo.
- Hired Guns: The eponymous team, of course.
- In the fifth season episode "The Say U.N.C.L.E. Affair" the series paired Robert "Napoleon Solo" Vaughn (playing regular character General Hunt Stockwell) with former co-star David "Illya Kuryakin" McCallum.
- The episode "The Spy who Mugged Me", with Murdock posing as a James Bond-like spy in a Monte Carlo casino.
- Honest John's Dealership: One of these pops up in season 2's "Chopping Spree"; the owner runs a literal used car dealership. As part of the operation, Face goes there to work as one of the villain's salesmen. Suffice it to say, he does very very well.
- Ice-Cream Koan: Hannibal in his disguise as Irish pub owner Sean O'Shea rapid-fires these at everybody in "The Big Squeeze."Hannibal: As me dear departed father used to say, "always listen to the flow of the river and you'll always catch a trout."
Villain: What the Hell is that supposed to mean?
Hannibal: I don't know. Never figured it out, but I've always liked it.
- I Have Many Names: While the whole team had a ton of aliases, Face takes the cake for most names, even without counting aliases. According to the episode "Mind Games"..."Actually, your name was originally Alvin Brenner. You had it legally changed to Al Brennan, then to Al Peck. ...then to Holmes Morrison, then Morrison Holmes, and then to Templeton Peck."
- I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: "The Say U.N.C.L.E. Affair", in which Robert Vaughn is kidnapped by his "former partner" David McCallum.
- Improbable Piloting Skills: Murdock, of the "If it flies..." variety.
- Improbable Weapon User: The A-Team has welded together and used weapons ranging from soda cannons to cabbage guns. These are always more efficient than the machine guns their opponents typically use against them (or vice-versa, for that matter).
- Inconveniently Vanishing Exonerating Evidence: A larger scale version twice to the A-Team.
- The team were ordered by their commanding officer Morrison to rob the bank of Hanoi as part of a secret mission, but was then killed in an artillery strike and since the mission wasn't public knowledge the only people who knew the Team weren't just bank robbers were the Team themselves.
- The second was when it was revealed Morrison had been a traitor and had sent them in to be ambushed and killed, which gave them motive for Morrison's death. The witness who could prove that they weren't responsible ends up being killed by his criminal partners before the truth could come out.
- Inspector Javert:
- Instant Expert: According to Murdock, one day at the V.A. hospital he had a sudden and terrible migraine headache and by the time it passed he could read and speak fluent Mandarin.
- Instant Sedation: The team's most common method to get B.A. ready for air travel.
- Irish Priest: Faceman is disguised as Father Sean O'Herlihy in "Lease with an Option to Die".
- I Shall Taunt You: An implied example occurs in "When You Comin' Back, Range Rider?"; Face comments that B.A. must be getting "weak" if he can't break the rope they're tied with. B.A. breaks them quickly afterwards.
- I Will Show You X: B.A. would often respond in this way to whatever nonsense Murdock was spouting. Some of them barely made sense, but Murdock didn't always give him much to work with, and B.A. doesn't like to mince words.
- Kansas City Shuffle: In "Till Death Do Us Part", Hannibal brings back hamburgers for the team and the woman they've rescued. B.A., having heard them talking about flying, looks at his burger with suspicion and switches with Murdock. Murdock takes a few bites and falls over, apparently sedated. B.A., confident in having outwitted his teammates, takes a bite of Murdock's burger...and falls over himself.
- Killed Off for Real: General Harlan "Bull" Fullbright in "The Sound of Thunder"
- Knight Errant: A team of Knights Errant, in fact.
- Lampshade Hanging: At the end of the episode The Crystal Skull, the natives are clearly chanting "Who wrote this? Who wrote this?"
- Also in "Steel", when Murdock and Face arrive at a construction scene, where Hannibal and B.A. are duking it out with some goons, Face casually takes off his coat, rolls his eyes, and remarks that this should be predictable by now.
- Large Ham: Murdock, quite often.
- Last Breath Bullet: Murdock takes one as the premise of "Curtain Call". It occurs in a Batman Cold Open.
- Let's Get Dangerous: When Murdock stops acting crazy and started being Badass, usually at an episode's climax.
- Life Saving Misfortune: A non-fatal variation in the episode "Holiday in the Hills". Near the beginning of the episode, the team crashes thanks to Murdock having stolen their plane off a repair lot. Some of them, especially B.A., are not at all happy about this. Then, near the end of the episode, the team narrowly escapes Col. Lynch and realizes that, had they not crashed, they would have been right on time to fall into his trap.
- Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: The A-Team tends to get locked in barns or garages full of machinery and explosive things.
Hannibal (after a giant truck of destruction has burst out of a shed): Where, exactly, did you lock up my team?Bad Guy: In the old equipment shed.
- Lampshaded in one episode by Hannibal.
- Also lampshaded in one of the novelizations, when Hannibal notices how often the bad guys lock them in a room that has everything they need for them to escape.
- Lunatic Loophole: Murdock occasionally ends up being the only member of the team to escape arrest.
- MacGyvering: Generally once an episode, involving vehicles.
- Metallicar Syndrome: Since their van had a custom paint job, the authorities should have spotted them a lot more often than they did. Face Lampshades this in the Season 2 episode "Steel" when Hannibal tells him to keep tailing the episode's villain in his Corvette, which was white with black trim and a bright red stripe along the sides. Face says that the villain will definitely be able to tell he's been following him.
- Miscarriage of Justice: Pretty much the whole background.
- Mistaken for Gay: B.A. jokes about this when Hannibal uses a mirror to apply makeup to fake an injury. He's less jocular when a neighborhood block captain\survivalist sees four men living together.He ain't talking about what I think he's talking about.
- More Dakka: The team's M.O.
- Mr. Fanservice: Face. He probably also counts as a Parental Bonus since the show was technically aimed at children.
- Mr. Smith: Mentioned with regards to a CIA agent's obvious alias in "Mind Games."Hannibal: Nobody's named "John Jones."
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Done by Murdock while impersonating Italian billionaire playboy Giancarlo Figorrati in the episode "Blood, Sweat, and Cheers."
- Nitro Express: There was an episode where they were transporting dynamite - which is not normally volatile until/unless it has a blasting cap attached - but it was really really hot and as a result the sticks of dynamite were sweating nitroglycerin.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In "Members Only" there's a brief appearance by a film executive named "Jeff Sikorski," a dead ringer for Martin Scorsese.
- Nobody Can Die: Since it was classified as a children's shownote , you have the ridiculous premise in which the A-Team amasses a massive arsenal of machine guns and weaponry, faces off against a similarly armed force, exchanges thousands of bullets — and everyone lives. It wasn't until the series 4 finale that a recurring character actually died on camera. Discussion of a death was permitted, and you see at least two people executed (with Gory Discretion Shot at the ready), at least in the first couple of seasons.
- Averted in "The Rabbit Who Ate Las Vegas", Gianni Christian's second in command pushes him out a window (we see him plummet into a fountain several stories below) and he's actively reported to be dead. Unfortunately, the A-Team gets blamed for it.
- Also averted in "Skins". In the opening, park ranger Kim comes upon a group of poachers. When their attempt to bribe him fails, they shoot him, and the viewer sees his body fall to the ground.
- Related to this, in cases where death would be expected, such as car crashes, there is always a shot of the occupants getting out, apparently unharmed. Made ridiculous with particularly rough crashes, and an exploding helicopter.
- No Communities Were Harmed: "Diamonds 'n' Dust" takes place in Zulabwe, Africa, standing in for Zimbabwe. It has a significant population of European descent, some speaking with a Commonwealth accent, some with an American one. Cities Bulawayo and Salisbury (the latter already renamed to Harare at the airing of the episode) were harmed through a mention in the episode.
- No-One Could Survive That: In one episode, a helicopter crashes against a cliff, explodes, falls down, explodes again... and then bad guys crawl out from it.
- Novelization: There were ten books published in the 1980s; some (the first book (an adaptation of the pilot), When You Comin' Back, Range Rider?, The Bend In The River) were based on double-length episodes, others blended together two basically unrelated episodes (Small But Deadly Wars welded "A Small And Deadly War" and "Black Day At Bad Rock," Old Scores To Settle used "Recipe For Heavy Bread" and "The Only Church In Town," Bullets, Bikinis And Bells was based on "Bullets And Bikinis" and "The Bells Of St. Mary's"). Only one book was based on one standard-length episode (Death Vows, based on "Till Death Do Us Part") and only one wasn't based on an episode at all - Operation Desert Sun: The Untold Story, the sixth in the series and the last to be published in both the US and the UK (the rest were UK-only). For those keeping count, the other two were Ten Percent of Trouble ("Steel" and "The Maltese Cow") and Backwoods Menace ("Timber!" and "Children Of Jamestown").
- Obfuscating Insanity: Murdock. Combines with Obfuscating Stupidity to make his awesome moments of competence seem even more awesome. He's probably one of the supreme users of this trope.
- Murdock did it so well that it was unclear whether or not he actually was so traumatized by Vietnam that he did go insane, he was always like this, or it was all an act to throw people off.
- One episode had Murdock discharged by his doctor, claiming he was never insane. Without his particular character trait, Murdock essentially spends the episode moping but acting reasonable. When he goes back to the hospital to gather his things, he finds out the doctor had gone insane and was releasing patients because of it. Murdock quickly and happily goes back into the insanity ward.
- And doing so while doing a ham Richard Burton impersonation to boot!
- Murdock did it so well that it was unclear whether or not he actually was so traumatized by Vietnam that he did go insane, he was always like this, or it was all an act to throw people off.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Murdock plays this to the hilt whenever possible; Hannibal and Face aren't averse to it either.
- Omniglot: Murdock can speak several languages, claiming that one day he had a headache and could suddenly speak several Asian languages fluently. He also imitated various accents several times per episode.
- Once an Episode
- Hannibal, in disguise, contacts the clients of the week.
- B.A. says about Murdock, "The fool is crazy." (Or some variation on that.)
- The team breaks Murdock out of the insane asylum (until he's released in the final season).
- B.A. gets tricked into being drugged so they can put him on a plane.
- The team comes up with a plan that's Crazy Enough to Work...
- ...which involves Face pretending to be someone he's not...
- There's a bit of MacGyvering in an A-Team Montage...
- ... followed by a climactic Final Battle featuring lots of A-Team Firing.
- "I love it when a plan comes together."
- Other things that tend to happen a lot are Face jumping off the top of a van onto a bad guy, and Hannibal punching someone out and then putting a cigar in his mouth.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Face is pretty much the only member of the A-Team who regularly goes by his real name. Hannibal rarely ever goes by John Smith, B.A. Baracus and H.M. Murdock never go by their full names either.
- Overt Operative: Quite often the team goes by their well known names instead of an alias, even when they're supposed to be undercover.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Hannibal's 'disguises', usually a bad wig and maybe a moustache. Somehow it manages to fool even his fellow teammates from time to time.
- Parent Service:
- Face for the moms.
- Amy and Tawnia for the dads.
- People in Rubber Suits: In-universe, Hannibal's acting jobs.
- Pity the Kidnapper: In "Bounty", when Murdock gets abducted by bounty hunters he manages to drive his kidnappers nuts before they even get back to their hideout. Even death threats don't manage to shut him up.Villain: What are you, nuts?!
Murdock: Of course I am! You kidnapped me from the psychiatric ward of a V.A. hospital, STUPID!
- Plank Gag: During an A-Team Montage in "The Big Squeeze" while putting up restaurant props.
- Please Shoot the Messenger: In "Recipe for Heavy Bread", a former North Vietnamese soldier who helped the A-Team out was smuggled into the U.S. along with a note along these lines for the smuggler's accomplice. The murder attempt kick-starts the episode's plot.
- Police Are Useless: Multiple episodes established this quickly to explain why the client of the week needed to approach the A-Team instead of the cops to deal with the villain of the week. The cops were usually just being bought off by the villain in question, though sometimes the cops were the villains. On other occasions the small local police agencies were simply overwhelmed and outgunned by the criminal element. This ended in the final season due to the change in format.
- Posthumous Character: Ray Brenner was a fifth member of the team in Vietnam whom the others remember in a heroic and respectful fashion. In a first season episode they risk capture to attend and take part in his funeral with full military honors. They quickly learn from his widow (guest star Joanna Kerns) that he died trying to free his small hometown from a local outlaw family. They promptly seek revenge and justice for their fallen comrade.
- Prison Episode: "Pros and Cons"
- Pro Wrestling Episode: "Body Slam"
- Product Placement: An odd case. The van was supplied by GMC, but the grille and emblems were then blacked out and obscured by a brushguard making it indistinguishable from a Chevrolet. Confusing things even more, the prop van used for build montages was a Chevrolet, and the blacked out Chevy emblem could be clearly seen in certain shots.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: B.A. was the unusual protagonist example who'd let the mook get in a good punch or two before smiling, then defenestrating them. Inverted twice when B.A. met a giant Asian mook who could take his punches without flinching.
- Punishment Box: In the episode "Bad Time on the Border", Hannibal Smith is kept for some time in a box of corrugated scrap metal in the heat of the middle of the day.
- Put on a Bus:
- Amy "Triple A" Allen, mid-season 2 with the explanation that she was sent overseas on an important assignment for the paper.
- Tawnia beginning season 3.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The Mexican terrorists in the first episode, and the family holding Ray Brenner's town hostage in A Nice Place to Visit.
- Rated M for Manly: As described by Dirk Benedict himself in an interview on the TV show Bring Back."It was a guy's show. It was male driven. It was written by guys. It was directed by guys. It was acted by guys. It's about what guys do. We talked the way guys talked. We were the boss. We were the God. We smoked when we wanted. We shot guns when we wanted. We kissed the girls and made them cry... when we wanted. It was the last truly masculine show."
- Red Herring: In the episode "Moving Targets", the A-Team are hired to protect a sheikh's daughter on her way to her wedding, and the show makes a point of making it seem like the sheikh's head of security Jabar is a double agent, leaking security info to the rebels who want to kidnap the princess. It turns out the inside "man" was Princess Selena herself, since she'd been seduced by the rebel leader, Kalem.
- Revenge Before Reason: General Chow in season 2 episode 2 "Recipe For Heavy Bread." He's one half of a highly profitable heroin smuggling operation, but he's willing to jeopardize the whole thing to get revenge on a cook who helped four prisoners escape from his POW camp ten years ago.
- Right Under Their Noses: Hannibal loves this. Notable examples include sneaking onto an army base in "Say it with Bullets", and Hannibal impersonating a police officer in "The Maltese Cow".
- Ruthless Modern Pirates: "El Cajon" (The Coffin) and his river pirates in "The Bend in the River".
- Saw It in a Movie Once: "Breakout": When a couple of robbers coerce Murdock (at gunpoint) to drive the van to help them get away, and he employs some Badass Driver skills:Robber: Where'd you learn to drive like that?
Murdock (deadpan): I saw Cannonball Run five times.
- Scary Black Man: B.A.
- The Scrounger: Face.
- Shoot the Rope: Murdock owes his life to the sudden burst of Improbable Aiming Skills Hannibal gets when some Mooks use his life to try and get information out of B.A.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Done by Colonel Decker in an episode when he's forced to work with a group of criminals to try and capture the A-Team. The criminals, assuming Decker is a Dirty Cop, try to make friends with him. He shuts them down quickly, reminding them that the only reason they're not under arrest themselves is because the A-Team are a higher priority.
- The Smurfette Principle:
- Amy in season one and half of season two.
- Tawnia for the rest of season two and the beginning of season three.
- Sophisticated as Hell: Murdock, naturally.
- So Proud of You: Murdock discovers that former criminal A.J. Bancroft is Face's father. While talking to his son in one scene, said character just can't work up the courage to tell him, but he manages this:Any father would be proud of you.
- Special Guest: Later in the show's run, when ratings started to slip. Some appearances included Rick James, Boy George, and Hulk Hogan (in two episodes, nonetheless).
- In "There Goes The Neighborhood," the rock star our heroes had to guard was set to be played by Cyndi Lauper, but it fell through.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Many people spell Tawnia's name as "Tanya", between the strange spelling of her name and the fact that even the show spelled it wrong in her first appearance.
- Stay in the Kitchen: The A-Team are reluctant to even take women along with them for the most part, and make a point of trying to keep them out of harm's way. Off-screen as well, George Peppard worked to get rid of the female main characters, feeling they would slow down the action too much. Though he was mostly cordial to the actresses, Marla Heasley spoke of feeling unwelcome on the set and said in particular that Peppard told her on both her first and last episodes that nobody wanted her there except the network.
- Stock Footage: Most notably in "The Beast From The Belly Of A Boeing" (when Murdock crashes the plane into the airport's terminal, the scene's borrowed from Airplane!).
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Tawnia, who replaced Amy midway through Season 2 and stayed through part of Season 3, filled an identical role of a reporter and The Chick.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: "We ain't in South Carolina" - Murdock to B.A. in "Holiday in the Hills".
- Syndication Title: The 2-hour Pilot movie was cut to two 45-minute parts in Syndication, and renamed "Mexican Slayride".
- Take That: The character of Joe Skrylow in There Goes The Neighborhood is an episode long example aimed at survivalists. His dialog hints at racist, homophobic, and valor stealing tendencies, and the episode shows him to be an insulting, utterly inept, obese Glory Hound, Know-Nothing Know-It-All, who ends up pulling a Face–Heel Turn out of jealousy.
- Taking the Bullet: Murdock in "Curtain Call".
- Taught by Television: In "A Small And Deadly War" Face mentions that he learned most of his best cons from Dragnet.
- Team Dad: Hannibal.
- Temporary Substitute: For a single episode in Season 3, Decker was replaced by Colonel Briggs, who was simply intended to be a one-off character when Decker's actor, Lance LeGault, had a scheduling conflict. Briggs even mimicked all of Decker's mannerisms.
- Terrible Artist: Murdock is shown to be actually terrible while undercover as a painter in "Beverly Hills Assault".
- Too Dumb to Live: Far too many little, unarmed Mooks pick a fight with B.A.
- Took the Bad Film Seriously: In-universe. Being a fugitive, the best acting jobs Hannibal can get are Z-list People in Rubber Suits roles, yet he treats them as if he's going for an Oscar.
- Trash Landing: Too many times to count.
- The Triads and the Tongs: "The Maltese Cow", which dealt with a Chinese restaurant being threatened by a Chinese tong.
- Trickster Archetype: Murdock.
- Hannibal and Face can also fit this, to a slightly lesser degree.
- Trojan Horse: The team uses one to sneak into an enemy base. The horse was a delivery truck full of whiskey, and the base was a convent which had been taken over by South American guerrillas, who had recently run out of booze.
- 21-Gun Salute: One episode has the A-Team step in to give a funeral for one of their old military buddies who had tangled with the Villains of the Week. With Hannibal calling the orders, the other three fire their rifles several times in salute.
- Undercover as Lovers: Face and Amy in "The White Ballot".
- Unintentional Backup Plan: Frequently, prompting Hannibal to spout his Catch Phrase, "I love it when a plan comes together."
- Unwitting Pawn: Stockwell sets up the team in the final season.
- The Vietnam War: The A-Team of course, as well as Decker, having served in the war. The show is credited as being one of the first to portray it, and in a positive light to boot. "A Nice Place to Visit" had the A-Team attend the funeral of a soldier in their unit, with each character descending into hero worship over his actions in Vietnam before going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against his killers.
- Villain over for Dinner: Through B.A.'s eyes in "Lease with an Option to Die", with his mother and his vitriolic best bud Murdock.
- Virtue Is Weakness: In "Curtain Call", Col. Decker talks about how having one man wounded will make the A-Team's ability crumble as they try to save their injured member. He's right that it hampers them, but it doesn't stop them.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Murdock and B. A. actually care about each other a lot despite constantly insulting each other.Murdock (while B. A. is knocked out): I'm worried about him, Hannibal. It's been almost a full day and we haven't insulted each other—I think I may go into withdrawal soon.
- Walking the Earth: Because they're wanted by the military, though they typically stick to the Los Angeles area. They occasionally travel very far afield (most notably in a lot of season five, and in the season four premiere "Judgment Day").
- We Help the Helpless: As explained in the opening narrative.
- Weird Trade Union: Murdock and B.A. represent the BBDWOGH (an almighty kitchen worker union) and the AOAMS (Association of Angry Mud Suckers) respectively in "The Big Squeeze".
- What Kept You?: Face and Murdock are often captured or kidnapped, but pretty much always rescue themselves before the rest of the team arrives.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: B. A.'s fear of flying. He ended up giving one exception in one of the later episodes, when he learned that his mother was attacked by thugs; even then, he still had to be sedated within several minutes of flying. In another episode, he decides the cause (getting them pardoned) is enough to go on a plane; he still ends up passing out, but it's ambiguous whether they drugged him anyway, or whether he just went comatose (which happened on an early episode where he ended up on a plane).
- Wire Dilemma: Played straight in "Lease with an Option to Die".
- Would Hit a Girl: In one episode the gang are rescuing a kidnapped woman from the compound of a militia. She resists them because she's fallen in love with one of her captors. Since they're in a shoot out, Hannibal just knocks her out (offscreen) before resuming the rescue.