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Series: 21 Jump Street
"..You'll find you'll need us, 'cause there's no one else to call..."

The 1980s version of The Mod Squad, with a somewhat more believable premise. The series lasted from April, 1987 to April, 1991, with a total of 103 episodes in five seasons.

21 Jump Street was the Fox Network's first drama, and aired on its premiere night along with sitcoms Married... with Children, The Tracey Ullman Show, Duet and Mr President.

Here, it's about a special undercover police unit in an unnamed American city, where young-looking police officers infiltrate schools to investigate youth-related crimes.

The series made Johnny Depp a star, but a Teen Idol was the last thing he wanted to be. As such, he quit at his first opportunity, which made the show Jump the Shark at that moment.

A very well received film "sequel" (in a completely different genre) has been released, starring Jonah Hill (who also co-wrote the script), Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, and Ice Cube. Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise appear in cameos as their original-series characters, Tom Hanson and Doug Penhall. Holly Robinson Peete also returned as Judy Hoffs, in a slightly more substantial role.

This series provides examples of:

  • Adults Dressed as Children: More adults dressed as teenagers; the whole premise of the show is young looking police officers going undercover in high schools. Decades later, Depp would poke fun at the "fascist" nature of this premise.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Due to the show's attempts to confront such difficult issues as drug use and criminal behavior in high schools somewhat realistically, episodes often end this way, sometimes qualifying for a Downer Ending if a student they're trying to protect dies or goes to jail, but leaving the viewer with the question of what to do about the tragic circumstances that led to it.
  • Artistic License - History: Ioki is hiding the fact that he is Vietnamese, supposedly to avoid the ire of colleagues who may have fought in the Vietnam war. The strange thing is, Ioki would almost certainly be from (the former) South Vietnam, who were America's allies. (And even if he was from North Vietnam, his colleagues wouldn't know that.)
    • Unless their potential discrimination were based on resentment of being in the war instead of hatred for the enemy.
  • Badass Long Coat: Booker wears these on occasion, when not sporting a leather jacket.
  • Berserk Button: Hanson reaaally hates it when people make fun of how young he looks.
  • Bowling For Ratings: Hanson is an avid bowler.
  • Breather Episode: "Chapel of Love", in which the guys reminisce about bad dates over a poker game on Valentine's Day, could be considered this, coming right after a Very Special Episode about a teenager with AIDS.
  • California Doubling: Though supposedly set in the U.S., the fact that 21 Jump Street is shot in Canada is made by the fact that the extras/bit parts were hired locally and thus do decidedly non-US things like say "grade 3" instead of "3rd grade" and write graffiti with words ending in "-our" instead of "-or".
    • The only slightly blurred "Beautiful British Columbia" license plates are also a dead giveaway. And the bus route prominently displayed in the credits: Hastings.
  • The Chick: Judy Hoffs. However, she is the only one of officers to make Detective, and is depicted as being an intelligent, well rounded member of the cast. Her status as the chick comes from her tendency to rely on her feelings about the suspect, which often are proven wrong. Also, she tends to be addressed by first name more often than the other officers.
  • Clumsy Copyright Censorship: The American DVDs suffer from this - while the licensed music wasn't the WHOLE draw of the show, it was an important part of the atmosphere, and lyrics were often used to communicate plot, which makes chunks of some DVD episodes make very little sense now that they're backed by nothing but elevator music. The DVDs still sold enough to finish the show, possibly because there weren't many bootlegs in circulation. Uploads of the show now are almost always from this butchered version, even though the full versions do exist (see the Trivia page).
  • Coming of Age Story: Played straight for some of the rebellious teens featured. Subverted for Hanson, who spent his youth as an uptight Republican and doesn't go through his rebellious phase until after joining the Jump Street division.
  • Compulsory School Age: The cops are still adult age, but they look like high schoolers, so they have to go to high school to fight crime that happens in/around high school.
  • Crime and Punishment Series
  • Da Chief: After Capt. Jenko is killed off, Capt. Fuller takes over and makes it very clear from the beginning that he means business and giving him any lip is a bad idea.
  • Dawson Casting: By the cops inside the show.
    • As well as the students, especially in later seasons.
  • Dirty Harriet: Judy joined the Jump Street program because it was the only way she'd be able to get any other type of assignment. Of course, this didn't mean that she didn't still get just such an assignment occasionally.
  • Disguised in Drag: Both Hanson and Ioki had to do this for undercover assignments.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The theme tune was performed by Holly Robinson who played Officer Judy Hoffs on the show (with the "JUMP!" shout provided by Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise).
    • Incidentally, this is one of the few Stephen J. Cannell shows where the theme tune was not written by Mike Post (see also Hawkeye (not that one), Cobra, Street Justice and Missing Persons).
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Captain Jenko, We Hardly Knew Ye.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In "Best Years of Our Lives", this is pretty much everyone's in-universe reaction to Penhall when he starts telling incredibly crass jokes about suicide as a coping mechanism to deal with a student killing himself (and, as it turns out, his own mother doing the same back when he was just six).
  • '80s Hair: A huge offender.
  • Fan Sequel: 21 Jump Street Rangers, which takes place years after the original team's adventures. (The series also adapts Tomica Hero Rescue Force for added points.)
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck! : Happens frequently. "Good gaul-darn riddance!"
  • Hold The Unsolicited Ingredient: The episode "Gotta Finish the Riff"
    Reginald Brooks: [ordering pizza for his hostages] I want 10 with sausage, 10 with pepperonis. And no anchovies. I see one anchovy and I kill the librarian
  • I'm Going to Hell for This: In "Chapel of Love", after telling a story about the time he had an affair with his partner back in the 70s and getting ridiculed by the other guys got it, Captain Fuller points out that they're all going to hell anyway for playing poker in a church.
  • Manic Pixie Dreamgirl: An episode featuring a girl named Quincy, who sort of positions herself as this, dragging the straight-laced Hanson around and trying to convince him to "lighten up". Of course, her idea of fun is crime sprees and potentially-fatal thrill-seeking. She terrifies him, and ends up shot to death by security guards while robbing a house.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Young Johnny Depp.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Young Holly Robinson. There's an in-story reason for it sometimes, when they want her to pose as a "bad girl" and/or distract a perp.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Captain Jenko, an aging hippie who, in the first episode, has to teach Hanson how to act like a bad seed.
  • Older than They Look: The show was entirely based around the premise of cops who looked young enough that they could go undercover as high school students.
    • Which was pretty silly, and only sorta worked because of Dawson Casting. The actors standing next to ACTUAL high-schoolers would've looked hopelessly out of place.
      • Not silly considering many programs were based on cops passing as high school students.
  • Police Are Useless: The opinion of the Street Rangers from season three.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Penhall and Hanson, respectively.
  • Rewind, Replay, Repeat: In one episode, Officer Tom Hanson witnesses his girlfriend being shot in a convenience store robbery and feels guilty that he was unable to stop him. He spends his days watching the surveillance camera tape, replaying the same moment over and over, being obsessed over how much time it would take for him to have been able to stop the murderer.
  • Popular History: The show stands as a good example of what the 80's were actually like.
  • Sad Clown: Penhall.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up:
    • In the episode Woolly Bullies, the main characters recount the bullies who have plagued them in their youth. When Doug Penhall recounts his particularly bitter memories of such a tormentor, a friend suggests he seek the bully out and confront him. However, when Penhall does just that by finding the bully's current home, he learns that the bully is now a pathetic unemployed loser with an unhappy marriage to a shrewish wife. Delighted at this turn of events, Penhall decides not to speak to him and returns home quietly gloating how he got the classic best revenge by living well.
    • He even suffered a case of Threw My Bike on the Roof.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: Booker, who is totally rad and a good guy deep down, but is kinda dangerous and plays by his own rules. Like, totally.
  • Shotgun Wedding: Sal was rushed into marriage at a very young age by an angry father who caught him and his then-girlfriend fooling around, even though nothing sexual had actually happened between them (though it wasn't for lack of trying).
  • Stargate City: Filmed in Vancouver.
  • Stealth Sequel: The movie.
  • Sixth Ranger: Richard Grieco's character, Dennis Booker, for one season. His character was then given his own short-lived spinoff.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: David Barry Gray's Dean Garrett replacing Johnny Depp's Tom Hanson.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Happens with almost distrubing frequency. It helps that Johnny Depp's character was in his mid-twenties, not actually a student, and in the most egregious example, met before he was actually assigned to her school.
    • For bonus points, this happens in an episode that frequently mentions Van Halen.
  • True Companions
  • Vanity Plate
  • Very Special Episode: The show often dealt with hot-button issues, and often had a brief spot afterward with a phone number for the organization dedicated to addressing a particular social problem.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "Christmas in Saigon" is one of these in addition to being A Day in the Limelight for Ioki. "Chapel of Love" is one for the rest of the cast, as they all reminisce about bad dates (though in Hoffs' case, the bad date happened during the timeframe of the episode).
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Johnny Depp's attraction to eyeliner didn't start with Captain Jack Sparrow - during his time on this show, he was undercover in drag in "In the Custody of a Clown" and looked far too convincing.
    • In on episode, Hanson complains about being in drag for other cases, and laughs that it was getting him asked out by guys. Consider how effective he is in drag, it's hard to tell if he's joking or just laughing it off.
    • Harry dresses up as a woman so that his stakeout with Doug in season three looks like a regular date.
  • Woobie of the Week


1-800-MissingCrime and Punishment SeriesAdam-12
xXx: State of the UnionCreator/Mill Creek EntertainmentThe Commish
    Creator/Fox24
    Series of the 1980s3-2-1 Contact
20/20American Series24
The Criterion CollectionCreator/Hulu30 Days of Night

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