"Just the good ole' boys, Never meanin' no harm Beats all you never saw, been in trouble with the law since the day they was born Straightenin' the curves, Flattenin' the hills Someday the mountain might get 'em, but the law never will
Makin' their way the only way they know how That's just a little bit more than the law will allow Just the good ole' boys, Wouldn't change if they could Fightin' the system like a-two modern day Robin Hoods."
An American action/comedy series running on CBS from 1979 to 1985. The show followed the adventures of "good ole boys" Luke and Bo Duke, in the fictional Hazzard County, Georgia. The boys spend their time tweaking the nose of corrupt county commissioner "Boss" Hogg, who always has his eye on acquiring the Duke family farm. Hogg retaliates by keeping the incompetent Sheriff Rosco Purvis Coltrane always on the Dukes' trail for violating their probation.The series is remembered for its wild car chases, campy Southern setting, and Catherine Bach's near-criminally short shorts, which subsequently acquired her character's name as a generic term: "daisy dukes".A theatrical motion picture version of the series was made in 2005 starring Seann William Scott as Bo, Johnny Knoxville as Luke, Jessica Simpson as Daisy, Willie Nelson as Uncle Jesse, and Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg, with a 2007 made-for-TV prequel. Two made-for-TV reunion movies with the original cast were also made, in 1997 and 2000. (What's often forgotten these days is that the original series was itself a loose adaptation of a 1975 theatrical film called Moonrunners, which featured essentially the same premise and the same characters under different names...or, in the case of Uncle Jesse and Sheriff Rosco Coltrane, the same names!)Besides adding to the desirability of 1968-69 Dodge Chargers, the show is also a major contributor to their rarity, having used up over three hundred over the course of the series (reportedly: 309).
This show provides examples of:
Absentee Actor: James Best and Ben Jones each boycotted parts of season 2 due to disputes with the producers, while John Schneider and Tom Wopat missed most of season 5 as contract holdouts. Even Catherine Bach and the General Lee (we can count the car as one of the stars in this case!) are absent from one and only one episode each ("To Catch A Duke" and "Mary Kaye's Baby" respectively).
Averted by John and Tom when the whole cast offered to join their boycott of season 5. Catherine mentioned offering to walk off with the two of them, but they told her not to. According to one source, they said that solving the pay dispute that was the reason they left was "man's work," but another simply said that they knew if all three of them walked, there'd be no show to come back to. Also averted by Denver Pyle and Sorrell Booke, the only cast members to appear in every episode.
Anti-Villain: Enos, Type IV . Never really portrayed as corrupt or evil, and despite his Designated Villain role (by default by being on the same side as Boss Hogg) he becomes quite sympathetic and likable over the course of the show.
Enos is plagued by a strong sense of duty. He's a deputy, and sworn to uphold the law. Unfortunately for him, Boss Hogg controls the law. At times, one has to wonder if his goofing up isn't at least somewhat intentional as a way of helping the Dukes. Especially considering that he was able to become the head of the Los Angeles SWAT team.
What's more, Enos is never viewed by the Dukes themselves as being one of Boss Hogg's cronies. They realize that he's just doing his job and is simply too honest to be a part of anything crooked that Boss has come up with. Even when he's chasing them, they hold no malice towards him. In fact, they consider him to be probably the most honest man in the County and -they say it out loud more than once- the only real law in Hazzard. Whenever they need actual help from the law, it's Enos that they turn to.
The fact that Enos has a huge crush on Daisy also means that he's very reluctant to harm the Dukes, and makes it hard for them to view him as an enemy.
Enos' successor, Cletus, isn't quite so incorruptible — he's a Hogg, after all — but he too harbors no real ill will toward the Dukes and basically goes along with Boss and Rosco to preserve his job rather than out of any actual enthusiasm for their schemes.
Artistic License - Economics: In one episode, Boss Hogg makes a deal to get any money in a trunk, while the local museum gets everything else. The money turns out to be Confederate money, which Boss and the show treat as if it were worthless. Genuine Confederate currency is very valuable, and if Boss were careful in his selling, he would make several times the face value of the bills.
On the police radio: "This is sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane."
And his giggling "Oh Goo-goo-good! I love it! I love it!"
Enos: "Possum on a gum-bush!"
Celebrity Star: Although multiple episodes had the "Celebrity Speed Trap" gag at the end (usually for shows that ran short), three episodes were framed entirely around the Special Guest Star – Loretta Lynn ("Find Loretta Lynn"), Mickey Gilley ("The Sound of Music – Hazzard Style") and – in his only onscreen appearance – Waylon Jennings ("Welcome Waylon Jennings").
Chase Scene: The show's signature was its wild police chases, featuring as many jumps and wrecks as budget would allow.
Sorrell Booke died in 1994, three years before the first reunion movie aired. Rather than hire another actor who could reasonably play Boss Hogg, it was decided to also reveal that Boss had passed on. A tender scene is seen early in the film, where Rosco sees a large portrait of Boss hanging in his office and gets emotional. It is revealed that Boss had died not long before the events of the first reunion movie, the circumstances of which are not told.
Denver Pyle died in 1997, just months after the first reunion movie aired. The writers of the second reunion movie, aired in 2000 – which depicts, in part, a homecoming celebration in Hazzard – make several references to Uncle Jesse being deceased but well thought of, some two years after the Duke patriarch's passing.
Chronically Crashed Car: A borderline example. The General Lee doesn't count in-universe, but in reality they had to use 300 different cars to shoot it. With them having to use a number of 1970 and 1971 Dodge Chargers for the stunt work, because they couldn't get enough of the proper 1969 model.note In the final seasons, even the later model Chargers became scarce, and the producers were forced to use miniatures for the jumps.
The police cars are straight examples.
In the Mad magazine parody of the show, Boss Hogg is shown as having the franchise for new police cars for the county, which is why he tolerates the constant destruction of the police department fleet.
They applied it inconsistently in season 1 before combining it with the now-famous freeze-frame format from season 2 onwards.
Cool Car: The General Lee, a 1969 Dodge Charger stock car with welded doors, a proudly Confederate paint scheme, a horn that plays a bar from "Dixie," and uncanny ability to do multiple long jumps with the Dukes never worrying about having its structural integrity irreparably damaged. Several other characters also have signature vehicles, including Daisy's yellow Plymouth Roadrunner (and later her white Jeep CJ), Uncle Jesse's rusty old Ford pickup, Cooter's tow truck, and Boss Hogg's white Cadillac convertible with bull's horns on the hood.
Courtroom Episode: "Coltrane vs. Duke," from Season 4. With Boss' support — and also sensing an opportunity to finally help his little fat buddy foreclose on the Duke farm — Rosco files a $50,000 suit in Hazzard County Court, claiming that his latest failed chase of the Duke boys and resulting crash resulted in critical injuries. (Rosco is at worst shaken up but otherwise is unhurt.) While mainly played for laughs, such as Rosco demanding that Boss cater to his every whim and read to him Jack and the Beanstalk, and the Courtroom Antics (Boss hiring one of his lackeys to play a doctor, claiming that Rosco's injuries were legit), there is also high drama as Jesse — tearfully conceding defeat, when Rosco and the fake doctor play their parts perfectly — actually has his nephews and niece pack everything up. Of course, in the end, the Dukes manage to outwit Rosco with a few surprise witnesses of their own.
Criminal Doppelgänger: A frequent trope in several episodes, and a particular favorite trick used by Boss Hogg and Rosco in their never-ending quest to frame the Duke boys:
"Double Dukes," where Boss hires two men to rob Hazzard Bank, and to make the heist convincing to the community and most importantly the authorities, has the men wear clothing, wigs and masks resembling Bo and Luke. Boss even has a Dodge Charger painted to resemble the General Lee. Of course, Bo and Luke are able to prove their innocence and expose their doubles.
"The $10 Million Sheriff," where a vicious bounty hunter paints a stolen Dodge Charger as the General Lee, fooling Bo and Luke.
"Too Many Roscos," where an experienced bank robber named Woody has a facelift so he can exactly resemble Rosco. He does this as he and his two associates run the patrol car driven by the real Rosco off the road and into a lake, kidnap him and allow the community to believe that the real Rosco to be presumed drowned. After the community begins mourning the presumably dead sheriff, "Rosco" reappears, much to the joy of the community. Although there are obvious clues that this man is an imposter—namely, by bungling simple facts while remembering in detail an expected armored car delivery to Hazzard Bank — the community is fooled, and this allows Woody and his friends to pull off a seemingly easy bank robbery.
"Twin Trouble," where twin jewel thieves use this to their advantage by having one of the sisters pull off the robberies and the other be somewhere else, claiming complete innocence and non-involvement in the crime. Bo is dating the "innocent" sister while Luke saw the other one pull off the robbery, naturally leading to conflict before the Duke cousins realize what is actually happening.
Crossover: Boss and Enos make a guest appearance in an episode of Alice.
Damage-Proof Vehicle: As the countless cars totaled over the show's run to keep up the illusion reveal, the General Lee is borderline indestructible.
Darker and Edgier: Boss and Roscoe in the film. While they had their moments of comedy, they weren't bumbling comic relief characters, and were legitimate threats.
Dawson Casting: Several times is was mentioned that Enos was childhood friends with the Duke cousins, but Sonny Shroyer is about 20 years older than any of the Dukes. Currently, the Duke actors are between 50 and 60, Shroyer is 75.
To be fair though, Shroyer has always looked much younger than he actually is.
John Schneider was 18 when he was hired to play Bo, whose character is said to be in his mid-20s when the series began. (Indeed, the casting directors were looking for a mid-20s man, and Schneider has recalled in interviews where he lied about his age (and background) to audition for the part.)
Deep South: The show features an exaggerated depiction of the Deep South, filled to the brim with Civil War-obsessed moonshiners, yokels and corrupt officials.
De Fictionalization: The only permissible place to display a Confederate flag in this day and age? The roof of a Dodge Charger. Subverted in the movie; see Setting Update.
Directed by Cast Member: Multiple instances, with episodes directed by James Best, Sorrell Booke, Denver Pyle, John Schneider and Tom Wopat (Schneider directed the Series Finale, which he also co-wrote - he was the only cast member to write an episode).
Doesn't Like Guns: In the pilot, one of the Duke boys explains that they don't carry any firearms because they're on probation. Later mentioned by the narrator early in the actual series. Fortunately, they have dynamite arrows.
Jesse and Daisy are exempt from this. Daisy in particular is good with guns, having put 6 bullets from a revolver though the same hole during her testing to become a deputy.
Boss Hogg, despite his dishonesty, hates violence and won't go in for violent schemes where someone could get hurt.
Early-Installment Weirdness / Lighter and Softer: The first season of the show had a decidedly more adult tone, with references to sex, booze, etc. and more serious corruption from Boss and Rosco. When it was discovered that the show was becoming popular with children, the producers toned that stuff down and Flanderized the show and its characters into something more broadly comedic and harmless.
The whole show can be seen as a Lighter and Softer version of the Moonrunners film.
Enemy Mine: The occasional episode would have Boss and/or Rosco forced to team up with the Dukes against an outside foe. Also, episodes where one of the cronies working with Boss would violently turn against him (usually after the villain thought that Boss was secretly working with the authorities (or the Dukes, if the bad guy was aware of them) to bring him to justice).
Boss used to be Jesse's best friend. And Rosco used to be an honest lawman.
Even Evil Has Standards: Boss Hogg never actually physically hurt anyone. In one episode, he refused to get involved in selling drugs, despite his history as a moonshiner.
Even Low-Level Crime Has Double Standards: Jesse Duke is a former moonshiner, and only stopped after signing an agreement with the US government in exchange for Bo and Luke being put on probation rather than imprisoned for running the illicit booze. He blew his stack, however, when they showed up with a water heater box filled with marijuana.
Another example of this: when a rich asshole from Savannah with a stick the size of Texas up his ass tried to wrest custody of his grandson from the child's mother simply because she happened to grow up in backwater Hazzard, Boss was as pissed off as the Dukes.
If the love of money is the root of all evil, Boss Hogg is more evil than Satan. But he is quite firm on his stance that he doesn't want anyone to be killed by his schemes. He has turned against some of his former associates when they tried to kill the Dukes. What he does, he does for greed. Not for evil.
One episode spells it out plainly, where the Balladeer intones that while Boss is totally crooked he will NOT tolerate violence and will not get involved in any scheme where someone could get hurt. Boss is greedy for money, but will not have anyone physically hurt to get it.
When Bo and Luke are mistaken for dead and Rosco thinks he's responsible, he takes it harder than anyone else, including Daisy and Jesse. He says that more than a few times, he's let them go on purpose and that mostly, he was just in it for the thrill of the car chase.
James Best has described his portrayal of Rosco's mentality as "A big kid who likes car chases".
Evil Minions: Boss Hogg has the entire Sheriff's office under his command. Of course, this consists of two men, both pretty incompetent. And Enos definitely isn't evil or corrupt. He's always in the dark about Boss' schemes -as he would probably arrest Boss if he knew the truth- and is just following orders from Roscoe.
Evil Twin: Inverted in Jefferson Davis "Boss" Hogg's good twin Abraham Lincoln Hogg, who drives a black Cadillac and dresses◊ in black.
Fake Nationality: Sort of. Despite all the southern charm (and southern stereotypes) of the show, none of the four main actors were actually from Dixie. (John Schneider was from New York, Tom Wopat was from Wisconsin, Catherine Bach was from Ohio and the '69 Dodge Charger was from Michigan.) Due to the popularity of the series, they have been accepted as honorary Southerners, however.
Meanwhile, Denver Pyle (Uncle Jesse) was from Colorado and Sorrell Booke (Boss Hogg) was from Buffalo, New York. (Booke was actually a graduate of Yale.)
Fixing The Game: The Duke boys once rig the roulette wheel of a traveling casino.
Flanderization: In the first season, Rosco was portrayed more sympathetically and intelligently (well, barely), himself a victim of Boss Hogg's manipulations due to the loss of his pension. Later seasons showed him as a willing accomplice in Boss's schemes and far more idiotic.
Framing the Guilty Party: In a movie based on the series, Boss Hogg took the Duke Farm from the Dukes by framing them with moonshining. As Daisy put it, they framed the Dukes because they were too stupid to find real proof. (their moonshine still)
Harpo Does Something Funny: In later seasons Sorrell Booke and James Best were often allowed to ad lib once the producers realized the duo's comedic chemistry. Both Best and Booke submitted ideas to the writers, which were almost always used; several of these acts were used in their real-life birthday party package.
The Duke boys would likely be barred from driving for, at the very least, eluding a law enforcement officer (even if Rosco had no legit reason to stop them).
Boss Hogg would long have been sent to prison for consorting with counterfeiters, bank robbers, mobsters, racketeers, con artists and so forth, all with the goal of defrauding Uncle Jesse out of the Duke farm. The only reason he was kept out of prison is because otherwise, there'd be no show.
Rosco would be de-certified as a law enforcement officer, not only with consorting with Boss Hogg in his illegal schemes, but because of general incompetence.
Hillbilly Moonshiner: Uncle Jesse & Boss Hogg were both moonshiners. The Duke boys are permanently "on probation" for running Jesse's moonshine.
Humans Are White: An egregious non-SF example. The show takes place in a part of the USA where practically every other person is African-American. But you wouldn't know it from watching the show, which features all of one Black character (Sheriff Little). This probably qualifies as Politically Incorrect History.
Except that Sheriff Little was probably the only officer of the Law the Dukes respected. He was honorable, if strict, and an all-too-rare non-stereotypical Black on TV. Not to mention that he was a Black man occupying a position of authority such as Sheriff in the south.
Hyper Competent Sidekick: Enos is considered by the Dukes, and pretty much all of Hazzard, to the only 'real' law enforcement in Hazzard County. Despite his inherent innocence, Enos is very serious about being a good deputy and when the chips are down he can be counted on. He's good enough to have distinguished himself on the LAPD and was able to take down Frank Scanlon, a professional hitman, unarmed. And, if someone should ever threaten Daisy that will definitely hit his Berserk Button (Actually, Scanlon was holding Daisy hostage at the time when Enos laid a beating on him.)
I Gave My Word: Boss Hogg is as crooked as the day is long, but if he "spits and shakes" with you, he'll stick to his word no matter what.
I Know Mortal Kombat: The 1998 film, Species II has a non-video game example referencing this show. A clone being experimented on escapes from a government research laboratory, stealing a military humvee in the process. When asked how she learned how to drive, one of the scientists working on her explains that her favorite show is The Dukes of Hazzard.
Ironic Echo: In "Cool Hands Luke and Bo," Bo and Luke, and later Boss Hogg and Rosco, make the mistake of entering Osage County, ruled by the feared Colonel Claiborne and Sheriff Cathcarte. All four are captured and sent to Claiborne's roadside chain gang on trumped-up charges. When Rosco protests, "You can't arrest me, I'm an officer of the law!", Cathcarte smugly replies, "We can do anything we want! This is our county now!"
In the climax of the episode, the four escape and race toward Hazzard, with Claiborne and Cathcarte in pursuit. The chase ends in a car crash. As everyone tries to clear their heads, Bo and Luke grin and point out - to Boss Hogg and Rosco's thrill and Claiborne and Cathcarte's horror - that they've crossed the county line, and are now in Hazzard. As Boss Hogg and Rosco gleefully arrest their former tormentors, Cathcarte protests, "You can't arrest me, I'm an officer of the law!" and Rosco smugly replies, "We can do anything we want! This is our county now!"
Jiggle Show: The show is often called a Jiggle Show because of the abundance of Fanservice. Actual jiggling, however, was usually averted for Daisy, who tended to wear rather modest tops and almost always wore a bra. But there were exceptions.
Jurisdiction Friction: Rosco Coltrane and Boss Hogg were not on the best of terms with the sheriffs of the neighboring counties, and friction arose when the common car chases would take the Dukes across the county line.
Limited Wardrobe: With the exception of Daisy, most of the main characters wore the same outfits day in and day out, except for when the story called for something else:
Bo wore a yellow button-front long-sleeved shirt (cuffs rolled up) over a blue T-shirt and jeans.
Luke's trademark was a blue button-front shirt (cuffs rolled up) and jeans. In season one, the shirt was plaid under a Levi's jean jacket. From season two, he took to wearing just a plain blue shirt, buttoned only halfway.
Uncle Jesse was identified by his beige/off-white button-front long-sleeved shirt with dirty bib overalls.
Cooter often had a khaki work shirt, jeans and a ballcap.
Boss Hogg was rarely seen without his white continental suit and cowboy hat.
The sheriff's department – Rosco, Enos and Cletus – were almost always seen in their sheriff's uniforms, even in social, off-duty situations. (More than once, Rosco was seen with a beer in his hand... while wearing his sheriff's uniform!) And even when out of uniform, Rosco was rarely without his black cowboy hat.
Mean Character, Nice Actor: Sorrell Booke and James Best, in contrast to their Affably Evil characters Boss Hogg and Rosco P. Coltrane. Both were well-respected by their castmates and genuinely loved children... so much that during the height of their popularity — from the peak of the original CBS run to the late 1980s, when the show was one of the top syndicated hits — Best and Booke were available to appear at children's birthday parties, where they would appear in-character as Boss and Rosco (and do several of their comedy bits and pretend that they were going after the Duke boys).
Ms. Fanservice: Daisy. So much so that short tight jean shorts were called "Daisy Dukes" for quite a while.
Multiple Demographic Appeal: The show features two hunky guys as its main characters as well as a half-naked hot chick. The Deep South setting is constructed to appeals to Northerners and Southerners alike. The characters are all unapologetic about their way of life, including Confederate sympathies and illegal moonshining, but everything is taken to such cartoonish levels that Northerners can laugh at the silly rednecks. And once they realized that even kids were getting attracted to the car chase scenes, they worked themselves just a little softer to keep parents from complaining.
Non-Fatal Explosions: The Dukes are always blowing things up, but, being the good guys, never hurt anyone.
Jesse Duke: "The Dukes revenge on property, not people."
Not So Stoic: The rare instances when Boss Hogg — or a bit more commonly, Rosco — when a loved one close to them was in genuine trouble by a particularly dastardly villian. This use of the trope reminded fans that, despite their outright lack of ethics, beneath it all Boss Hogg and Rosco did have morals and were decent people who were truly concerned about the safety of everyone, even their sworn enemies the Duke family.
Much rarer, but it has happend, when Bo and/or Luke cried when someone was in grave danger. The most blatant example was in "Too Many Roscoes"... when Rosco was thought to have driven his car into a lake and didn't re-emerge (he had actually gotten out of his police car safely, but was kidnapped by a gang of bank robbers).
Even rarer, with Uncle Jesse... although there have been instances where he was genuinely saddened by a development or rift in his family.
Daisy: After Enos warns the Dukes that he'll have to try to help capture Bo and Luke. "Why'd you stop by to warn them?"
Enos: "What I do on my lunch hour is my own business. The rest of the day, my soul belongs to the law."
Put on a Bus / Brother Chuck: Bo and Luke went off to "join the NASCAR circut" at the start of season 5; once they returned midway through that season, replacements Coy and Vance were sent off to "tend to a sick relative"... and never seen, heard from, or spoken of again.
Cletus also disappears without a trace in season 5, although he later shows up for the reunion specials.
Rosco also left "to be re-trained" for a while. He was replaced by some Sheriffs of the Week, until they settled on Grady Bird, played coincidentally enough by the original Other Darrin (Dick Sargent), to replace him during the rest of his absence. Roscoe eventually returned.
Quip to Black: The narrator would regularly do this on an action sequence freeze-frame. (The Dukes jump a chicken house: "Looks like the boys have flown the coop." Cue dramatic steel-guitar lick.)
Racing The Train: In at least one episode, the villians barely made it across a railroad crossing with a train coming, to escape pursuit by the Duke boys and the General Lee. Bo simply used a convenient ramp to jump over the train in eventually catching the baddies.
RetGone and Unperson: Combined for Coy and Vance, the Season 5 replacements for Bo and Luke (when John Schneider and Tom Wopat walked after a dispute with the producers). Prior to the fall 1982 season opener, there was never any indication that Coy and Vance existed... and when Bo and Luke returned, there was never any mention (or so much as an acknowledgment) of them afterward.
Reunion Show: Two reunion movies were made with most of the original cast (Sorrell Booke passed away before the movies were made, and Denver Pyle's final performance was in the first one).
Robin Hood: Thematic elements, underlined by the Duke Boys' use of dynamite-laden hunting arrows as one of their preferred weapons. It's even lampshaded in the theme song.
Scarecrow Solution: When the Dukes are mistakenly declared dead, they fake a haunting by coating the General Lee with glow-in-the-dark paint and spook Boss Hogg into abandoning an attempt to frame them for a theft.
The Seventies: Downplayed, since the show takes place in a rural, rather backwards area that isn't very influenced by the then-modern fashions and design. Still noticeable in the cars (at least the newer ones) and in the fashions worn by visiting city people.
In the TV version, she wears flesh-colored tights underneath due to TV censorship rules; in the film adaptation, where she could freely show her legs, she does just that. (Of course, she wouldn't have worn tights if the TV version was made today, since today, bare legs would usually get away with a TV-14 rating, which happens to be commonplace on TV shows broadcast today, particularly in Prime Time.)
The tights were not so much about the bare legs as much as not wanting any accidental cheek or "camel toe" to show; also, Catherine Bach has noted that the shorts were so tiny and snug that Going Commando was absolutely necessary in order to fit into them.
Witness Protection: One episode featured a newcomer whose land Boss Hogg wanted to buy. The problem was that the newcomer was under the trope.
Written-In Absence: Both in Season 2. Sonny Shroyer (Enos) was missing for two episodes due to appendicitis (they gave Enos appendicitis as well) while James Best (Rosco) left for a while due to a contract dispute (so they shipped Rosco off to the academy for re-certification). Also, John Schneider was absent for an episode because he was filming a TV movie (this was before the great merchandising dispute in season five) so Bo spent a weekend with the Marine Corps.
Wrongful Accusation Insurance: All those car chases, and the Duke Boys are never arrested for resisting arrest. Of course, by the end of the episode they usually have evidence of some sort of wrong-doing that could nail Boss Hogg, so perhaps a more literal example of this trope.
They tried. Resisting had been mentioned, but usually by the time they got to that point, the Dukes already had their ammo against Boss and Roscoe, so it tended to be forgotten.