Series / The A-Team
aka: The A-Team

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.

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 — played by George Peppard, he is the leader of the team, a cunning master of disguise.
  • Captain H.M. "Howlin' Mad" Murdock — played by Dwight Schultz, he is the resident pilot, who may or may not be insane.
  • Lieutenant Templeton "Faceman" Peck — played by Dirk Benedict, he is 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.

Each episode would start with a bunch of innocent people being menaced by a bunch of people with guns, who want their land, water, taxi company etc.

They would go talk to a man who they thought would get them in contact with the A-Team. Most of the time, it would turn out to be a member of the A-Team — Hannibal in disguise who had to make sure the people in question are not part of a trap to capture the team.

They would go along to the location of the activity in their Cool Car, which in their case was actually a distinctive-looking custom van — an odd choice for a group who are supposed to be in hiding. There they would do a lot of A-Team Firing, beat up the baddies and often MacGyver up an armored vehicle over the course of an A-Team Montage.

The show ran for five seasons, with several minor cast changes along the way; the show's eventual decline was attributed to the constantly-recycled and extremely formulaic plot. Attempts to win viewers back, by both changing the overall premise and having the A-Team overseen by a former antagonist, worked for only a short while.

Logic and credibility were usually ignored for the series' trademark over-the-top explosions, but the show never took itself particularly seriously, anyway: most of Hannibal's disguises were paper-thin, the villains were usually mostly-inept and somewhat one-dimensional, and the weapons that the Team cobbled together from miscellaneous parts were invariably more effective than the machine guns that the episode's villains used.

A big-screen version was released in June 2010, with Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley and Quinton Jackson as the team. The trailer can be seen on YouTube. Tropes go to the respective page.

The A-Team provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abandoned War Child: "The Sound of Thunder" has the Team hired by a man who learned he has a child from the Vietnam War.
  • 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'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."
  • Always Know A Pilot: A large part of Howlin' Mad Murdock's usefulness to the team is that he can fly anything that Face can scam. This makes him very useful for transportation (though they have to work around B.A.'s fear of flying).
  • 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 meat pies, 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!
  • 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 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: From the almost father-and-son-like relationship between Hannibal and Face (or between Hannibal and Murdock) to Vitriolic Best Buds B. A. and Murdock, to Face and Murdock's Odd Friendship (really, how can a suave con man and a crazy pilot be best friends? Just ask Face and Murdock), they're more like a family than just a team of ex-military acquaintances. For instance, in the Season 2 finale, when Murdock gets shot in the chest during a job in the middle of nowhere, they pull out all the stops and even face possible capture by the military in order to save him. They even include the "we can insult each other, but when outsiders do it we close ranks" bit.
  • 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. This makes sense when you think about it; Face, though not a coward by any stretch, often shows 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.
  • 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".
  • Bloodless Carnage: for all the shooting and car crashing that takes place almost every episode, there were surprisingly few on-screen deaths and injuries.
  • 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: In the Season 4 episode "Members Only", Murdock starts giving Hannibal a tour of a country club (Murdock goes there often as his psychiatrist's guest) and then discovers a plot point that is (somewhat) nastier than the other normal things:
    Murdock (sounding posh): 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.
    Cut to Face running after someone
  • Briefcase Full of Money: In "The Beast from the Belly of a Boeing", Hannibal and Face receive 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.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • Far too many little, unarmed Mooks pick a fight with B.A.
    • The villains of the week, even having received a sample of the A-Team's handiwork (not to mention the ones who know who they are from the start), never call it a day while the damage is minimal; they insist on provoking them further by threatening them or their clients. It never ends well.
  • 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.
  • 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:
    • 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.
    Murdock: Dove è il barbiere più vicino? note 
    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: Neither Hannibal nor Murdock believe Faceman that he was thrown out of a tenth 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!" (or some variation)
    • Hannibal, about something turning out right (sometimes by chance): "I love it when a plan comes together."
    • Hannibal's standardized greeting, "What do ya say, [name]?"
  • Chained to a Railway: In order to get Councilman Prescott to sign a paper they tied him to railway tracks at the end of a tunnel. He wouldn't talk at first, but soon he noticed a train approaching from the far end of the tunnel and signed it, only for Hannibal to leave that guy tied to the tracks. Of course it was then revealed that the oncoming train was just Murdock on a bike, complete with a high-powered lamp, a fake chimney and a tape player with train sound effects.
  • 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.
  • The Chick:
    • 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:
    "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."
  • Chick Magnet: Face can attract women even when he's trying to focus on someone else.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?", parts 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.
  • Cut Phone Lines: Examples: Season 1 ep. 6, "Black Day at Bad Rock" where bikers cut down a pole and Season 2 ep. 10, "Water Water Everywhere", where phone lines at a water plant are cut.
  • 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.
  • 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").
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • 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.
    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.
    Face: Yeah, I guess it's not an honest crime like gambling or drug dealing.
    • Also the mercenary Insane Wayne from "Waiting For 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.
    Wayne: A 15-year old kid? I'm sorry, chief. Me and my men don't raid nurseries.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Friendship Moment: With the heroes of the series being a Band of Brothers, it's not exactly surprising when there are moments affirming how they feel about each other.
    • In "Holiday in the Hills", B.A. makes sure to tell Murdock to be careful with the makeshift plane they cobbled together, as it's not as durable as what he's used to.
      Murdock [in an accent]: I didn't know you cared, sweetheart! [pulling him closer] Thanks, B.A.
      B.A. (smiling): Don't thank me. Just keep it off the trees.
    • The episode "Curtain Call" — from B.A. looking after the injured Murdock, to Hannibal telling him that "we go out together or we don't go out at all", to Face risking getting caught by Decker to get the medical supplies needed to keep Murdock alive — is a long list of moments that demonstrate how much the other members of the group care about their crazy teammate.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Gone Horribly Right: A humorous example from "Mind Games"; Face, irritated at Murdock refusing to give back his role on the team (Murdock had taken it over when Face was released on an apparent government pardon), starts doing a "Howling Mad Murdock" impression. Unfortunately, that's when the V.A. staff arrive, and with Face acting cuckoo and wearing Murdock's clothes, they can't tell that he isn't Murdock and drag him out the door.
  • 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.
  • Homage:
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, whereupon Murdock pops up and asks, "How did I do?"
  • 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.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: When Murdock stops acting crazy and started being Badass, usually at an episode's climax.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: In "Mexican Slayride Part II", the people in the bar who the team gets into a fight with trying to learn Massey's whereabouts are actually good guys as well, but nobody realizes they're on the same side until after they've fought and B.A. and Hannibal have been punched out.
  • 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.
    • Lampshaded in one episode by Hannibal.
    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.
    • 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.
    • Perhaps the most bizarre example of this is the episode The Heart of Rock and Roll, where the team is captured inside a prison, yet are inexplicably locked up in an unguarded workshop. The guards don't even bother handcuffing them.
  • Lunatic Loophole: A non-fatal variation; Murdock occasionally ends up being the only member of the team to escape arrest.
  • 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.
  • Mr. Smith: Mentioned with regards to a CIA agent's obvious alias in "Mind Games."
    Hannibal: Nobody's named "John Jones."
  • 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, doing so while doing a ham Richard Burton impersonation to boot!
  • Odd Friendship:
    • Face and Murdock. The insane, delusional, wise-cracking pilot and the suave, handsome, unrepentant Con Man probably shouldn't be best friends, but they are. Then again, they're both chameleon-like tricksters during scams. In fact, of the whole team, they're probably the most alike. You just can't tell at first glance.
    • Murdock and B.A. Murdock's the Ace Pilot in the team; B.A.'s afraid of flying. And that's just the start of their differences. At the end of the day, however, each has the other's back without reservation. Lampshaded by the song "Opposites Attract" being played over a Montage of the two of them at the end of "Curtain Call."
      We're opposites
      We're idiots
      But we're still friends.
  • Old Beggar Test: A non-magical variation in "Mexican Slayride Part I". Hannibal tests Amy's character by appearing to her as a beggar who needs money. Amy has compassion on the beggar, which helps convince Hannibal that she's a good person.
  • 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 Initials: "B.A" Baracus (because of his nickname "Bad Attitude" and his real name "Bosco Albert") and "H.M." Murdock (because of his nickname "Howling Mad").
  • 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: Some of Hannibal's 'disguises' are along the lines of a bad wig and maybe a moustache. Somehow it manages to fool even his fellow teammates from time to time.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything:
    • In theory, The A-Team are a band of mercenaries who lease their skills out for cash so they can stay on the run. However, they never seem to ever participate in a job that's even slightly shady and they rarely seem to get paid for whatever they do.
    • Hannibal is a double example. Technically, he has a day job as an actor, but his work with the A-Team means that whenever he's seen around a movie set, he's usually pulled away by some business (much to the dismay of the other people on the set).
  • 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 for long.
    Villain: What are you, nuts?!
    Murdock: Of course I am! You got me from the psychiatric ward of a V.A. hospital, STUPID!
  • 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.
  • Pro Wrestling Episode: "Body Slam" starred Hulk Hogan in a plot that made heavy use of Hogan's wrestling career (including footage from a 1984 match vs. Greg "the Hammer" Valentine, presented as legit), and featured several WWF faces as un-billed extras in a scene where they fight off that episode's villains. In the segment featuring the Hogan-Valentine match, the ending is altered to show the bad guys entering the arena to confront and assassinate Hogan (don't worry, they're stopped in time).
  • 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.
    • In "Double Heat", Face tries to punch out the guy who helped the kidnappers nab Jenny when he blocks his path. Unfortunately, the guy doesn't even flinch.
  • 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.
  • 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 "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.
    • Garber from "There's Always a Catch." Decker, who's made it clear he doesn't like Garber any more than Hannibal, has given him a chance to get away with no repercussions and ordered him to leave town. However, he can't resist stopping by to kill the Mayers and wreck their boat for causing him trouble.
  • Right Under Their Noses: Hannibal loves using the tactic of being in a place that's so near the enemy that nobody would expect them to be there. Notable examples include sneaking onto an army base in "Say it with Bullets", and Hannibal impersonating a police officer in "The Maltese Cow".
  • 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, he explains it as the result of film-watching:
    Robber: Where'd you learn to drive like that?
    Murdock (deadpan): I saw Cannonball Run five times.
  • Scary Black Man: B.A. was played by large, African-American actor Mr. T and was nicknamed "Bad Attitude" for a reason. Some mooks (those who don't insist on Bullying a Dragon) are suitably cowed when he gets in their faces.
  • Shoot the Rope: In "The Duke of Whispering Pines", some mooks are trying to get information out of B.A., so they try to hang Murdock to get him to talk more. As soon as the car Murdock was stood on reverses away to leave him dangling, Hannibal and Face drive in and Hannibal shoots the rope.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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 blowing the team's cover out of jealousy when he sees the (false) news that they kidnapped Stevi.
  • Taking the Bullet: In "Curtain Call", Murdock jumps in front of a villain trying to shoot Hannibal.
  • Taught by Television: In "A Small And Deadly War" Face mentions that he learned most of his best cons from Dragnet.
  • 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". In order to complete Face's disguise as Joe Morgan, Hannibal has Amy masquerade as his new wife.
    • In "Pure-Dee Poison", Hannibal and Tawnia pose as a guy and a girl going out for a drink to get into one of the bars.
  • 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. Given that the "virtue" in question is loyalty to their injured friend, it overlaps with a platonic version of Love Is a Weakness.
      Colonel Decker: [The A-Team] think as one, feel as one, and act as one. But with a wounded man in their midst, they cease to be that. The good of the unit becomes the good of an individual. And that will be their undoing.
    • It occurs again when Hannibal surrenders to him because Murdock is too weak to be moved. He remarks that Hannibal should have tried to shoot his way out, as he himself wasn't hurt.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: A fair portion of B.A.'s dialogue is devoted to insulting Murdock and trying to get him to shut up. Sometimesnote  B.A. actually tries to throttle Murdock. Murdock sometimes takes a break from being a pest in B.A.'s general direction to insult B.A. B.A. actually complains about being saved from a life-threatening injury because getting Murdock's blood might make him like Murdock; Murdock encourages these fears after giving the blood. However, it's clear that they care about each other quite a lot. B.A. really worries about Murdock when Murdock is in trouble, and Murdock really does try well-meaningly to help B.A. learn to deal with airplanes, among other instances of sincerely meant aid. There is even one episode where the B.A./Murdock dynamic seems to flip, so that Murdock is giving B.A. much more grief than he's getting. B.A. also told off at least one person outside the A-Team who complained that Murdock should shut up, and it was nicely done.
    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").
  • 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". Near the end, Plout's men attach a bomb to the apartment building's boiler. The team arrives before it goes off, but B.A. can't check for sure which wire is the right one to cut, so he has to pick one and hope it's the right one.
  • Would Hit a Girl:The gang are rescuing a kidnapped woman, Miss Teasdale, from the compound of a militia. She resists them because she's in love with one of her captors (who was her boyfriend beforehand and has begun questioning the group since he realized with what kind of group he was dealing). Since they're in a shoot out, Hannibal just knocks her out (offscreen) before resuming the rescue.
  • Wrench Whack: "Knights of the Road". When Tyler's men move in on her, Jenny picks up a wrench and swings at them. It ultimately does no good, and one of the men takes the wrench from her to bust up her and her father's tow truck.