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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!"


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 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.


LT Tom Kazansky — "Iceman"

Played by: Val Kilmer

  • 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."
  • Karma Houdini: He was responsible for Goose's death, yet it's Maverick who faces a board of inquiry instead of him. Thankfully, he's not an Idiot Houdini, as he at least recognizes how serious the fallout is and feels sorry for pushing Maverick dangerously close to the Despair Event Horizon.
  • 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: 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

  • 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


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."
  • 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 

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