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Characters / Top Gun

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The characters of Top Gun and its sequel Top Gun: Maverick.

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TOPGUN Students


LT Pete Mitchell — "Maverick"

Played by: Tom Cruise

The protagonist of the first movie, Maverick is an Ace Pilot who's a bit too hot-headed and routinely defies orders to pull some wild heroics.

  • Ace Pilot: It's demonstrated repeatedly that he's damn good at flying, surprising even his instructor Viper at one point when he chases after him in a hop. The problem is that he often does aerial antics against orders.
  • Buzzing the Deck: On-screen, he swoops the tower twice much to the protests of his Guy in Back and the tower personnel: First after beating Jester in his first hop, and again after the final battle. Stinger mentions that Mav's done this repeatedly in the past over five other ATCs and "one admiral's daughter", although it's implied that that last case was figurative.
  • Due to the Dead: After the final battle, he tosses Goose's dog tags off the side of the carrier into the ocean, in a way evocative of Burial at Sea.
  • Graceful Loser: Due to Goose's death and his resulting diminished performance, he ends up losing out to Iceman for the trophy after a close race throughout the course. Mav then shows up at the graduation after doing some soul-searching and sincerely congratulates Iceman for the win.
  • Heroic BSoD: Goes through one of these after Goose dies.
  • Hot-Blooded: His ego is writing checks his body can't cash.
  • It's All My Fault: Blames himself for Goose's death, though everyone else, even Iceman (who admits to having some responsibilty in the incident) and Goose's wife, believe otherwise and reassure him it was simply an unfortunate accident he had no control over.
  • Military Maverick: True to his callsign, he likes to perform ridiculous stunts and other feats of unparalleled flying, even when it upsets his commanding officers, his wingmen, and his R.I.O.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red to Goose and Iceman's Blue.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: In the opening skirmish, he defies orders to land his low-on-fuel plane to assist Cougar's landing, as Cougar had become too traumatized by the missile lock the enemy got on him to keep his head in reality. This gets deconstructed after they land, as while Cougar gets to resign and go home to his family alive, Maverick and Goose (Mav in particular) get chewed out by Stinger for "writing checks your ego can't cash!"
  • Speed Demon: Maverick is an aerial daredevil with a knack for ego-stroking stunts and an intolerance for orders. He even states he has a "need for speed".


LTJG Nick Bradshaw — "Goose"

Played by: Anthony Edwards

Maverick's R.I.O. and best friend.

  • Guy in Back: He's Maverick's initial radio intercept officer.
  • Happily Married: He has a wife, Carole, who visits and makes it clear that the two have a healthy relationship with one another, and some children as a bonus.
  • Nice Guy: A devoted family man, liked by everyone, and pretty much the only one who can rein his impetuous partner in. Naturally, he dies two-thirds of the way through the film.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Goose's actual name is never stated onscreen. Everyone, even his wife, just calls him Goose. His real name was Nick Bradshaw.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue to Maverick's Red.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Goose delivers these a couple times to Maverick, reminding him that every time Maverick does something reckless they both suffer for it.


LT Tom Kazansky — "Iceman"

Played by: Val Kilmer

  • Easily Forgiven: While he did apologize for what happened to Goose, Maverick seemed awfully willing to forgive a guy whose Glory Hounding result in an accident that killed his best friend.
  • Ironic Echo: During the TOPGUN program, he calls out Maverick and says, "I don't like you because you're dangerous," not just to enemies but his wingmen. At the end of the film, during a post-skirmish celebration, he tells Mav, "You are still dangerous...You can be my wingman anytime."
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue to Maverick's Red.
  • The Rival: To Maverick, at first. Both of them are neck-and-neck for the trophy for most of the program, and in a late hop, he intentionally stalls the exercise to prevent Maverick from gaining a point advantage.


LT Rick Neven — "Hollywood"

Played by: Whip Hubley


LTJG Ron Kerner — "Slider"

Played by: Rick Rossovich


LTJG Sam Wells — "Merlin"

Played by: Tim Robbins

  • Guy in Back: He's Cougar's R.I.O. at the start of the film. Later he becomes Maverick's new R.I.O. when they have to clash with some enemy MiGs in real combat.

TOPGUN Instructors and Other Faculty


CDR Mike Metcalf — "Viper"

Played by: Tom Skerritt

  • The Dreaded: He's respected by his students on the ground, but during a hop where he shows up as one of the opponents, the cadets participating in the exercise all collectively piss their pants, except for Maverick.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He's very reasonable and father-like to Maverick after Goose dies, and doesn't really fault him when Mav's air performance subsequently diminishes. Ultimately he decides to risk his career to reveal to Maverick that yes, in line with what he's been trying to tell himself for years, his father did die honorably in combat.
    Viper: First, you've acquired enough points to show up and graduate with your Top Gun class, or you can quit. There'll be no disgrace. That spin was hell; it would've shook me up.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: He discloses classified information to reveal once and for all to an ailing Maverick that his father did indeed go down fighting and not in an act of cowardice.


LCDR Rick Heatherly — "Jester"

Played by: Michael Ironside


Other U.S. Navy Personnel


LT Bill Cortell — "Cougar"

Played by: John Stockwell

  • Heroic BSoD: After an enemy MiG screws with him by locking missiles, Cougar suffers a mid-air nervous breakdown.
    Merlin: Mav, we got a little problem up here. That MiG really screwed him up. I don't think he can make it back.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: After the traumatic encounter with an enemy MiG, he turns in his wings. He was supposed to go to TOPGUN, but Mav and Goose end up taking his place.


CDR Tom Jardian — "Stinger"

Played by: James Tolkan

  • Bald of Awesome: Completely clean-shaven up top, and he's the Enterprise's Carrier Air Group (CAG) commander.
  • Cigar Chomper: Almost every scene he's in has him puffing away on a cigar, even in the middle of monitoring the aerial combat at the climax.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Despite not liking Maverick for his reckless behavior, he sincerely wishes him and Goose luck when he tells them they're going to TOPGUN. Then when Iceman objects to Maverick being their backup, Stinger tells him to stow it.
  • Scotty Time: Demands it when both catapults are broken and it'll take ten minutes to scramble reinforcements.
    Bullshit ten minutes, this thing will be over in two minutes. Get on it!


"Air Boss" Johnson

Played by: Duke Stroud

The air traffic controller at Miramar.

  • Butt-Monkey: His tower ends up getting buzzed twice my Maverick, causing him to spill coffee on his uniform both times, and when he shouts at the TOPGUN instructors regarding the behavior of their "snot-nosed jockeys", not only do Viper and Jester not seem to empathize with him, but on the way out he accidentally crashes into someone carrying six cups of coffee.
  • Chewing the Scenery: When he's chewing out Viper and Jester because their students buzzed the tower:
    (Johnson crashes into someone carrying a tray full of coffee cups)
    Johnson: DAMMIT! That's TWICE! I WANT SOME BUTTS!!
  • Only One Name: His first name is never revealed.


Duke Mitchell

Maverick's father, who was killed in action with Viper as his wingman.

  • Classified Information: The fact that he did die heroically is classified because, as Viper puts it, it happened "on the wrong line of some map."
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Despite his own F-4 being hit, he stayed in the fight and knocked out three more enemy craft before he was finally shot down.
  • Posthumous Character: He's been dead for years before the events of the film. How he was killed — more specifically, whether he died fighting or in cowardice — is classified information that Maverick seeks to know about so that he can reassure himself that his old man was the aerial badass he always thought he was.



Charlotte Blackwood, Ph.D

Played by: Kelly McGillis

    Goose's Family 
  • Happily Married: From what is shown of their marriage, Goose and his wife Carole have a pretty healthy one with some kids who seem pleased with the parents they have.
  • Nice Girl: Carole is very sweet and caring to both Goose and Maverick, and when Goose dies, she has no chip with Mav and encourages him to please get back into flying.