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"Talk to me, Goose..."
Admiral "Hammer" Cain: The end is inevitable, Maverick. Your kind is headed for extinction.
Maverick: Maybe so, sir. But not today.
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Top Gun: Maverick is a 2022 American action/military drama film and the sequel to 1986's Top Gun. It is directed by Joseph Kosinski (TRON: Legacy, Oblivion) with a screenplay written by Peter Craig, Justin Marks, Christopher McQuarrie and Eric Warren Singer.

Tom Cruise reprises his role as US Navy aviator Peter "Maverick" Mitchell, who, after a 30-year career, hasn't been able (or did not want) to Rank Up beyond Captain. An unauthorized hypersonic jet test flight gets him in trouble... which gets him sent back to the formernote  home of TOPGUN at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, this time as a flight instructor. There, he finds himself having to train a whole team of elite pilots for a perilous mission. The team happens to include Bradley Bradshaw (Miles Teller), the son of Maverick's late friend Nick "Goose" Bradshaw.

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The cast also includes Val Kilmer briefly reprising his role as Thomas "Iceman" Kazansky, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Charles Parnell, Ed Harris, Glen Powell, Monica Barbaro, Lewis Pullman, and Danny Ramirez. Following multiple delays due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the film was finally released on May 27, 2022.

Previews: Trailer 1, Trailer 2, Super Bowl TV spot.


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Top Gun: Maverick contains examples of:

    A—H 
  • Ace Pilot: In addition to Maverick himself, every TOPGUN graduate in the film qualifies as this. Maverick himself is qualified as an official ace pilot in a traditional sense (five confirmed kills) by the end of the film, having gained two confirmed kills in addition to the three planes he shot down in the first film, making him the first ace pilot of the 21st century.
  • Actionized Sequel: Thanks to advances in camera and VFX technologies, plus cooperation from the US Navy, this film depicts more intense and detailed dogfights than its predecessor.
  • Activation Sequence: In the aftermath of the airstrike, after locating an F-14 on the enemy airbase, Maverick walks Rooster through the procedure to power it up, culminating in the roar of the old bird's TF30 engines coming to life.
  • Aerial Canyon Chase: The final battle involves one of these between Maverick's F-14 and an Su-57 Felon.
  • Aerith and Bob: A literal case, as among the typical callsigns (Phoenix, Hangman, Payback, Fanboy) there is a Bob. This wouldn't be a modern Tom Cruise film if there wasn't someone or something named "Bob".
  • Airstrike Impossible: The mission to take down an enemy uranium enrichment plant in an unidentified rogue country is definitely one of these, and heavily inspired by the Israeli Air Force's daring 1981 Operation Opera/Babylon. It is nigh impossible (pun intended) to the point that even TOPGUN graduates - already among the most exceptional pilots in the world who are selected to do this mission specifically because of it - have very low chances to survive. Hangman notes that even Maverick himself (or any pilot in history, for that matter) has never been through this kind of mission before.
    • The mission requires two teams of pilots making a high-speed flight at a very low altitude to get through a treacherous canyon in just two minutes (on the mission itself, there are even bridges in the canyon, forcing the pilots to fly sideways to fit through the gaps between the pillars), then make a sudden pull up to just barely avoid a mountain but not too high to trigger the SAM sites that cover the entire airspace above the canyon, meaning instant death to anyone who flies too high. They cannot fly too slow, either, as it will allow the enemy’s fifth-generation fighters that far outclass their F/A-18s to catch up to them and shoot them down like fish in a barrel.
    • The first team pilots must take out the tiny bunker above the factory to allow the second team pilots to take out the factory itself with two consecutive precision bombings (something that Maverick calls "two consecutive miracles.").
    • Then, they have to pull an extremely steep climb to clear the even higher mountain in their way, which subjects the pilots to over 9.5 G-force acceleration, beyond the maximum recommended limit for the F/A-18, that could black them out mid-flight.
    • Finally, if they somehow manage to survive all of that, they're immediately bombarded by anti-air missiles fired from SAM sites in all directions and pursued by any airborne enemy fifth-gen fighters on their way back home. Needless to say, it is a mission in which casualties are almost a certainty, and Maverick's main goal is to train his students hard enough to overcome these insane odds and get everyone back alive.
    • And then we have the two consecutive Spanners in the Works: first the other side moves to activate the facility early, cutting the training time by a week, and then Payback's laser target designator malfunctions, forcing Rooster to make an unguided dive-bombing attack.
  • Always Someone Better: Trace (callsign 'Phoenix') - one of the TOPGUN graduates gathered at a party at Penny's bar - remarks that everyone who graduated from TOPGUN is already among the best pilots in the US Navy and voices her skepticism about just how good their new flight instructor would be. Cue the scene cutting to none other than Maverick himself.
    Trace: Everyone here is the best there is. Who the hell are they gonna get to teach us?
  • And Mission Control Rejoiced: Twice in the film.
    • The first one occurs when Maverick manages to reach Mach 10 in the Darkstar, which is a more traditional version as it is literally set in mission control.
    • The second one occurs when Rooster scores the hit and destroys the facility, though Cyclone tempers this by reminding everyone in the war room that they're not done yet.
  • And Starring: With Ed Harris \ And Val Kilmer.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Rooster shoots down the enemy gunship as it's about to kill Maverick, causing his own plane to go down. Luckily, he's okay, but Maverick doesn't hesitate to chew him out for doing something incredibly reckless that could've gotten him killed, especially when Maverick himself had gone down earlier to save Rooster's life.
  • Anyone Can Die: Given the extremely high threat environment of the mission, casualties are thought to be inevitable, and this was constantly looming over Maverick and the mission candidates during training. Cyclone outright said that these are sacrifices that the Navy has to make in order to accomplish the mission. The advanced threats prompted Maverick to set extremely rigorous training parameters that are themselves very risky to achieve, but if successfully executed would greatly increase chances of survival. A few mission candidates went through Near-Death Experience over the course of the training. Ultimately subverted in the end, as everyone was able to make it out alive (at times through the skin of their teeth), although two Super Hornets were shot down by enemy air defenses.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When Maverick confronts Iceman about not telling him Rooster was one of the pilots in the TOPGUN program he has to train, Iceman asks whether Maverick would've agreed to come if he did.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Don't think, do", in reference to Rooster’s arc of overcoming his hesitation as a pilot in order to complete the mission.
    • "Talk to me, Goose", uttered by Maverick several times in the film, whenever he is unsure or conflicted about something. At one point, Rooster adopts a slightly altered version, "Talk to me, Dad", when he is overcoming his hesitation and adopting the idea behind the first described Arc Words.
    • "It isn't the plane, it's the pilot in the box." Throughout the film, several variations are heard on this, underscoring that they will be at a disadvantage due to their F/A-18's being inferior to the 5th-gen "Felons", and the difference will be who's piloting them.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Hangman, who thinks he's very superior to all the other pilots. Somewhat justified in that he is the only one out of them besides Maverick to have a confirmed kill of an enemy fighter, and then scores a second one saving Maverick and Rooster. His arrogance tends to make him leave his teammates behind, resulting in Phoenix saying his callsign is because "he'll always leave you hanging."
  • Artifact Title:
    • The TOPGUN part of it. Even though the school is frequently mentioned, Maverick's trainees are all TOPGUN graduates, not current students, and (as noted below) they're established to be training at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, roughly 450 miles from NAS Fallon where TOPGUN has been since 1996.
    • For that matter, the Opening Scroll, taken from the original film, explains that the formal name of TOPGUN is the Navy Fighter Weapons School; it was actually renamed the Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Program in 1996.
  • Artistic License – Military: While the film has impressive attention to detail, some liberties are still taken.
    • Maverick tries to conventionally train the pilots on the flight course, but they fail to complete the mission within its parameters. It's only when he's taken off the mission that he flies it himself and proves that it can be done in an even shorter timeframe than he's been pushing for. If this were a real exercise, the flight instructor would fly the course as early as possible to show the pilots how it should be done, and they would work towards achieving the parameters.
    • Maverick has been serving for 40 years. Considering that he was a Navy Lieutenant in 1986 (Equivalent to an Army, Marine Corps, or Air Force Captain), he must have been commissioned in at least 1982, as it normally takes four years to advance from Ensign to Lieutenant. So in 2022, he would have been serving for 40 years. Navy Captains who are not selected for promotion to Admiral must retire at 30 years of service, it's the law. Not even Ice's position as Commander, Pacific Fleet could protect him from that.
    • The film takes place mostly in San Diego, at NAS North Island (where Dagger Squadron is being trained) and NAS North Coast (where Iceman's office is). TOPGUN is currently based roughly 450 miles north of San Diego at NAS Fallon in Nevada, having moved there in 1996. Justified, as mentioned above, because Maverick is actually training TOPGUN graduates rather than current students for a combat mission.
    • This one is seen in both films: An entire carrier deck crew would not turn out en masse to celebrate a plane returning, no matter how happy they were. It's particularly egregious in this one, as firefighting teams are still actively hosing down the crashed F-14 in the background, not 20 yards away. If anything, the rest of the crew should be getting as far away as possible.
    • Iceman's office is implied to be at NAS North Island. In reality, the HQ for Commander, Pacific Fleet is 2600 miles southwest at Naval Base Pearl Harbor.
    • Also, once again, Mav is refusing to wear his motorcycle helmet.
    • Despite the known presence of Surface-to-Air missiles there was no effort to take them out of the equation, instead opting to only saturate the nearby airfield with Tomahawks to take it out of commission. Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) is not even mentioned, despite one quarter of American combat sorties in recent conflicts have been SEAD missions.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: The uranium enrichment facility is underground and surrounded by solid, impenetrable rock, and to destroy it requires a double-tap strike against a target that is only 3 square metres in size... an exposed ventilation duct. The first strike will merely blow it open so a second bomb can enter the facility and destroy it from the inside.
  • Award-Bait Song: Lady Gaga has recorded a song for the film called "Hold My Hand". Some have already considered it to be a Spiritual Successor to Berlin's "Take My Breath Away".
  • Bait-and-Switch: While the pilots are drilling for the strike mission, Coyote blacks out and nearly crashes, pulling up at the last second. Everyone's relieved, until a bird destroys Phoenix's engine.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: The plan to steal the F-14 involves Maverick and Rooster walking up to the enemy base and taking the F-14 by acting like they're pilots from the enemies' side. Maverick even tells Rooster to walk so that look like they belong instead of running around and looking confused.
    • Once he and Rooster are in the air, Maverick tries to bluff a pair of enemy pilots into thinking he's on their side, only for one to pull a sign-countersign that blows their cover.
  • Belly-Scraping Flight: At the end, after Maverick and Rooster have stolen an enemy F-14 from the nation the airstrike takes place in, Maverick takes off from a very short taxiway (since the runways are cratered and unusable) that's right up against a pair of large fuel tanks. He gets airborne, but his nose landing gear is sheared off by the crosswalk between the tanks.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Between Maverick and Penny in the ending.
  • Big Damn Heroes: First Rooster shoots down the gunship about to kill Maverick. And later Hangman destroys the fighter that would destroy the F-14.
  • Big Heroic Run: As per tradition, Tom Cruise gets to do his standard running in the scene where Maverick runs over to Rooster after he goes down.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Leaning more on the sweet than bitter. The mission to destroy the enemy uranium stockpile in the mountains succeeds with no casualties despite all odds, and Maverick and Rooster have reconciled their differences and both of them finally come to terms with Goose's death. However, Iceman has passed away from his throat cancer, and Maverick's flying days with the Navy are likely over, either due to him retiring or the numerous transgressions Maverick pulled over the years finally catching up to him without Ice to keep the Navy at bay. There's also the implication that the days of TOPGUN itself are numbered, due to the increased interest in switching to unmanned drones slowly making manned dogfighting obsolete. But Maverick has at least been able to end his Navy career with dignity and retire happily to pursue a relationship with Penny.
  • Bland-Name Product: The "5th gen fighters" nicknamed "Felons" the pilots go up against are obviously Su-57s. "Felon" is the Su-57's NATO reporting name.
  • Bookends: The first and last mission Maverick takes part in during the film both involve him making a spectacular crash after pulling a wild stunt (pushing the experimental Darkstar aircraft past Mach 10 in the opening, and flying directly over Rooster and Taking the Bullet during the mission to destroy the uranium depot. In addition, both of them involve the Arc Words "Talk to me, Goose".
  • Break the Haughty: Hangman, and to a lesser extent, Phoenix, are both fairly confident in their flying abilities. The former is humbled when he is the first to fail against Maverick; the latter is humbled when during a mission failure, Maverick forces her to say what she would tell Bob's family at his funeral when her actions lead to his "death" during an exercise, which she is unable to do.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: Maverick and Rooster escape the enemy base by stealing an F-14, which the latter outright describes as a "museum piece".
  • Bus Crash: Carole Bradshaw died between movies, and her dying wish to Maverick was to prevent her son from following Goose and becoming a pilot. He only succeeded in delaying him.
  • Call-Back: Lots of them, such as the exact same opening text in white letters on a black background about the history of TOPGUN (with the same font and music), an opening scene with planes in an aircraft carrier as "Danger Zone" plays, a fighter jet passing by Maverick who's riding his Kawasaki Ninja and wears his leather jacket, a Bradshaw playing "Great Balls of Fire" on a piano, the squad playing a beach game shirtless, Maverick flying inverted over another fighter, and a Bradshaw ending up serving as Guy in Back to Maverick in a F-14 Tomcat.
  • Calvin Ball: Maverick invents a game called dogfight football, which involves two balls so that the teams have to play offense and defense at the same time. The actors have stated in interviews that they were confused by the rules.
  • Character Aged with the Actor: Happened to both Maverick and Iceman.
  • Casting Gag: In the Japanese dub, this is not the first time we hear Yūma Uchida (Fanboy) voicing a fighter jet pilot (Hayate Immelman) whose senior officer (Maverick) is voiced by Toshiyuki Morikawa (Arad Molders).
  • Central Theme: Forgiveness, both of yourself and of others. Despite achieving an illustrious career since the events of the first film, Maverick is still haunted and plagued with guilt over Goose’s death during their time in the TOPGUN program. Goose’s son Rooster in turn resents Maverick over blocking his application to the U.S. Naval Academy, which Maverick had done to honor the Dying Wish of Goose’s widow Carole in order to keep her son safe. The major narrative arc of the film is them learning to come to terms with Goose’s death, allowing both of them to finally reconcile and heal.
  • Character Title: Maverick's name is in the title this time.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Earlier in the movie when the base commanders and Maverick are observing the recon satellite images of the enemy airbase, they noted that the enemy has some antique F-14 Tomcats in their arsenal. One F-14 survived the Tomahawk bombing of the base when the attack went underway, which is the one that Maverick and Rooster used to fly out of the enemy territory after they both got shot down.
    • At one point, Maverick pulls a Pugachev's Cobra to get behind Rooster in a mock-air battle, a move which gets him reamed by the base commander for recklessness. Maverick later pulls the same maneuver, this time to shield Rooster's Hornet from an incoming SAM.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: During the actual mission, Hangman is on reserve and desperately wants to get in the air to help deal with the enemy fighters when they begin to engage the protagonists. Guess who flies in to do a Big Damn Heroes moment to save Maverick and Rooster in the F-14 at the last possible moment.
  • City with No Name:
    • The US Navy's secret desert airbase hosting the Darkstar program is not named, but is most likely China Lake and not the Air Force base at Groom Lake, which is more popularly known as "Area 51".
    • The country building an unauthorized uranium refinery is never named, and it appears to be a vaguely Eastern European/Russian stand-in.Only Iran and the US ever flew F-14s. So unless those Tomcats on the ground at the airbase are secondhand...
  • Coming in Hot: Since Maverick and Rooster don't have a working tailhook or a nose wheel for their shot-up Tomcat, they have to crash-land on the carrier. Not even ejecting is an option.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Penny Benjamin, who appears in this film as Maverick's new love interest, was established in the original film as being the "admiral's daughter" mentioned by Stinger (James Tolkan) in one of the early scenes, as further elaborated on via the Noodle Incident Mav and Goose discuss at a bar.
    • The son of Goose also picked a bird callsign, Rooster.
    • During the mission, Maverick gets shot down protecting Rooster, similar to how his father Duke Mitchell was shot down and killed protecting his allies during the Vietnam War as revealed by Viper in the first film. Fortunately, Maverick fares a lot better than his old man and survived the experience.
  • Cool Boat: The opening scene features flight deck operations on the USS Abraham Lincoln. In the final mission, Dagger flight group is launched from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, while a salvo of Tomahawk cruise missiles is launched from the cruiser USS Leyte Gulf. In the CIC, the USS Seawolf is also shown to be one of the escorts, although not seen on screen.
  • Cool Helmet: Like the movie before it, every TOPGUN graduate has their own personal stylized helmet with their name on it.
  • Cool Plane: Well, it would hardly be Top Gun without them.
    • The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is the main protagonist plane flown by Maverick and the other pilots, with AEW&C support from an E-2 Hawkeye during the final mission. The F-35C Lightning cameos in the title credit sequence aboard the aircraft carrier, and the legendary F-14 Tomcat from the original returns in the climax. Maverick even flies a vintage World War 2-era two-seater P-51 Mustang at one point.
    • The chief antagonist plane is the (unnamed) Sukhoi Su-57. An Mi-35 helicopter gunship also briefly menaces Maverick before Rooster shoots it down.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: After Maverick and Rooster are shot down and trapped behind enemy lines, Maverick's solution of getting them out of there is to just waltz inside the bombed enemy airbase, hoping that the soldiers wouldn't notice or mistake them as their own pilots, then steal the sole remaining undamaged F-14 from an unguarded hangar and take it off from the taxiway because the runway is destroyed. They then banked on the enemy Su-57s to also mistake them for an allied plane initially so Maverick can take them by complete surprise to be able to defeat them in a far outdated plane.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Maverick is subject to this, although it's clearly by choice. He's probably the best fighter pilot in the world, but being a fighter pilot is all he wants to be. It does impact his naval career. He's a Navy Captain, equivalent to an Air Force or Army full colonel. He's not serving in a position befitting his rank. A Navy Captain would be commanding ships, submarines, Air Wings, or entire bases, not serving as an instructor pilot. Maverick is, however, perfectly happy with that, knowing he doesn't have the administrative, personnel, or political skills to really succeed or be satisfied in any of those positions. It's made clear several times that his being close friends with Iceman, who has risen to be one of the top admirals in the Navy, has allowed him to stay in the cockpit. Iceman probably has been looking out for Maverick ever since they met, knowing Mitchell is ill-suited for anything other than being a fighter pilot.
  • Crossover: Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown released the "Top Gun: Maverick Airplane Set" DLC on May 26th, 2022, the theatrical release day of the movie.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Even outnumbered two-to-one by the apparent best pilots in the Navy, Maverick absolutely demolishes his trainees in mock dogfights every time.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique:
    • The escape plan involves a perilously steep ascent up the mountains that forces the engine into 9.5 G-force acceleration, risking both the plane's structural stability and the pilot's health due to the intense pressure. One of the pilots who tries it suffers a gravitational loss of consciousness and nearly crashes.
    • Early on when training the pilots, Maverick uses the Cobra maneuver to quickly switch positions with a plane that's tailing him. This leads to a reprimand from Cyclone, as the maneuver is considered too dangerous to both the pilots and planes.
  • Darkest Hour: In the final battle, Maverick is confronted by a third Felon, but is unable to defeat it due to being out of bullets and weapons, and Rooster is unable to eject. Just as it moves in for the kill, Hangman saves the day and shoots down the enemy.
  • David Versus Goliath: The Navy already considered the F-18 underequipped to face the fifth generation fighter jets of the enemy. Well, imagine the F-14 Maverick and Rooster get. And they manage to defeat two aircraft!
  • Dead Guy Junior: Rooster is as close to being his dad Goose as imaginable. His introductory appearance, including playing "Great Balls of Fire", drives the resemblance home with all the subtlety of a hammer.
  • Desk Jockey: A fate Maverick doesn't want. Admiral Cain points out that at his age he should not still be a Captain, and Maverick makes clear his place is flying.
  • Determinator: When Maverick is told that "[his] kind is headed for extinction" by Admiral Cain, he has this answer:
    Maverick: Maybe so, sir. But not today.
  • Disappeared Dad: Amelia's father (Penny's former husband) is established as having abandoned his family long before the events of the film.
  • Disposable Love Interest: Maverick's love interest Charlie from the original isn't even mentioned. Instead, Maverick is given a new love interest, Penny, an Old Flame of his who was briefly mentioned in the original but never appeared.
  • The Dreaded: The enemy "5th generation fighters" (Su-57 Felons) are constantly spoken of in fear due to their stealth characteristics and superior maneuverability over the aging F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and the "museum piece" F-14 Tomcat, meaning they cannot realistically engage them in a straight-up fight even with the advantage of numbers.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: After Maverick and Rooster steal the F-14 from the enemy base, a few Felons spot them and assume that Mav and Rooster are on their side. They decide to play along for a while to avoid suspicion, but the Felons quickly catch on due to Maverick and Rooster not recognizing the other pilot's hand signals (which resemble a military-style challenge/response authentication). However, it was enough for Maverick to do a complete sneak attack on the first Felon, leveling the playing field.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • Iceman dies of cancer and gets a funeral with military honors and planes flying over. It occurs not long after he gets one last heartfelt scene with Maverick, who attends the funeral and hammers his Aviator wings onto the casket lid.
    • Maverick's private hangar has a shrine of photos and memorabilia from his youth, many which include his former copilot Goose. Both he and Rooster use it to pay their respects to Goose by the end of the film.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Even though Maverick's career as a naval aviator is over, all the pilots made it out of the mission alive, Maverick has finally come full circle with Goose's death and has become good friends with Rooster and Hangman, and has also once again found love with Penny Benjamin.
  • Eject... Eject... Eject...: Befitting a film about fighter pilots, several of them are forced to eject during the film.
    • Maverick ejects from the Darkstar after he pushes the hypersonic jet to its literal breaking point past Mach 10.
    • Phoenix and Bob eject after their plane suffers a bird strike and is critically damaged.
    • Maverick and Rooster eject from their F/A-18s after being shot down by enemy SAMs in the finale.
    • During the final battle, an Su-57 pilot can be seen ejecting just as it's about to get shot down by Maverick.
    • Subverted when, faced with an enemy Su-57 about to lock onto them, Maverick tells Rooster to eject from the enemy F-14 they hijacked. It turns out that the F-14 doesn't have functioning ejection seats (and presumably for this very reason, was abandoned in a hangar despite being airworthy and armed. That or the pilots failing to remove the safety pins since they didn't do a proper pre-flight inspection or checklist.).
  • End of an Age: Cain says this to Maverick before Maverick is sent to train the pilots, saying that his kind is headed for extinction. True to Cain's word, it seems to be heading this way, as Iceman has passed away from throat cancer and Maverick's career is all but over. Cain also means this about pilots in general, as the future of air combat seems to be focused on unmanned drones.
  • Faceless Goons: More so than in the previous film, the enemy fighter pilots' faces are all completely obscured.
  • Fake Static: When Admiral Cain orders Maverick to abort his test flight, he pretends to be unable to understand what he's saying and gives a deliberately garbled message back. Hondo rolls with it and claims he's at the speed where they've experienced communication problems.
  • Falling into the Cockpit: downplayed. Rooster has to take the back seat of the ancient F-14 Tomcat, much like his father did. The problem is, Rooster doesn't know how to do the Guy in Back job: he's always shown in the pilot seat, and he's flying an F/A-18E which doesn't have a back seat. Fortunately, all he really needs to do is the Hollywood version of the job: look out the back and tell the pilot where the nearest bandit is.
  • Failed a Spot Check: During one training hop, Maverick shows Rooster and Hangman how vigilant they have to be in the air by revealing he'd been flying just beneath them the entire time they were arguing over the radio.
  • Failure Montage: Once the dogfight trainings start, Maverick ruthlessly puts all the TOPGUN mission candidates on dead aim one after the other and they all end up going through his Physical Fitness Punishment in rapid succession.
  • Fanservice: It wouldn't be a Top Gun film without a scene dedicated to pilots displaying their fine bodies as they have a fun sports day at a beach. Both male and female TOPGUN graduates (and Maverick) all provide lovely eye candy for viewers to enjoy. It also serves a purpose in-story as well: Maverick lets his students have a day off and enjoy a nice moment bonding with each other in a friendly beach football game so they can work better as a team in the skies.
  • Fatal Flaw: Both Rooster and Hangman struggle with these, both of which are resolved by the end of the film as their characters develop:
    • Rooster: Has the tendency to overthink things and hesitate at critical moments, often leading him to miss opportunities. Maverick's trust in him gives him the confidence he needs, and he ends up taking the shot that destroys the enemy facility despite sub-optimal conditions.
    • Hangman: Phoenix informs us that Hangman got his callsign from his tendency to hang his wingman out to dry, abandoning them to go for the kill. He is humbled by not being selected to fly the mission, but ends up flying in support and saving Rooster and Maverick from an enemy fighter.
  • Flashback: a couple short ones at the beginning in the film catch watchers up with the death of Maverick's best friend and Guy in Back Goose. Goose (Anthony Edwards), his wife Carole Bradshaw (Meg Ryan) and the first film's Love Interest Charlie (Kelly McGillis) appear, uncredited, via archive footage.
  • Flat Character: Of the pilot trainees, Omaha, Harvard, Halo, and Fritz have pretty much no dialogue, quirks, or plot relevance.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Penny more-or-less tells Maverick that he's eventually going to come back home with his "[plane's] tail on fire". She's proved correct: he lands on the aircraft carrier after the final mission with the aircraft practically trailing fumes.
    • The caper in the climax is foreshadowed during the first act. Adm. Simpson shows Maverick recon footage of the airbase in question. F-14s are visible in the hangers, though no attention is drawn to them.
  • Guy in Back: Bob and Fanboy are Weapon Systems Officers sitting behind Phoenix and Payback, respectively. Unlike the previous film — where the RIOs were mostly another set of eyes — this one tries to show how backseaters monitor aircraft systems, operate weapons, and advise their pilots. Later, Rooster sits in the backseat of an F-14 and sees how complicated his father's job was while Maverick acknowledges that he is largely unfamiliar with what Goose needed to do in his specialist role.
  • Happy Ending Override: At the end of the previous movie...
    • Maverick seemed to let go of Goose, symbolized by him throwing the dogtags he kept into the ocean; now we find out he's still struggling with guilt and grief until completing the mission and reconciling with Rooster.
    • Maverick seemed to have matured and be ready to accept a position as an instructor at TOPGUN; now we find out he lasted two months, and if his instructional style is the same as it was back then, no wonder.
    • Charlie seemed to have chosen remaining in Miramar, as a civilian consultant for TOPGUN, and with Maverick; now we don't find out what happened there, because she's not even mentioned, but given he seems to have a long history of being on-again off-again with Penny Benjamin, one might guess.
  • Generation Xerox:
    • Upon seeing a photo of the TOPGUN class of '86, Hangman and Coyote point out that Rooster is a dead ringer for his father.
    • Downplayed in the character of Hangman. He's a Military Maverick who learns to be a team player as opposed to an Ineffectual Loner and Glory Hound. This is Maverick's Character Arc during the first movie in a nutshell, though accomplished in significantly less screen time.
  • Grand Finale: This movie feels like a true closure to Maverick's character arc that began 36 years ago: Maverick struggling to find peace with Goose, and his Passing the Torch to Rooster and the other TOPGUN graduates. By the end of it all, it appears that his days of a fighter pilot are over, but he has once again found love with Penny Benjamin, has reconciled with Rooster, and has finally come full circle with Goose's death.
  • Hammer and Sickle Removed for Your Protection: A non-communism-related example. The identity of the enemy country is never given. It has some aspects of Iran (an experimental nuclear program, F-14s still in service), some aspects of Russia/the Caucasus/Central Asia (a snowy climate, Su-57 Felons), and an insignia that doesn't match any real country.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Maverick, unhappy about Rooster coming back to rescue him, has his earlier teachings thrown back in his face;
    Maverick: What the hell were you even thinking?
    Rooster: You taught me not to think!
  • Honor Before Reason: Tactically, it was suicidal for Rooster to turn around to save Maverick, as he had run out of countermeasures in an area full of SAMs and with a pair of Su-57s coming in hot. He knew it, his wingmen knew it, his commander knew it, even Maverick knew it, but he did it anyways, as he took Maverick's advice to heart: "Don't think, just do."
  • Hope Spot: After shooting down the first Felon and defeating the second one in a dogfight, Maverick and Rooster seem to be in the clear when suddenly they are confronted by a third and final Felon they are unable to outrun. All hope seems lost when the Felon locks onto Maverick and Rooster and fires a missile at them... until Hangman arrives and shoots down the final Felon.

    I—N 
  • I Didn't Tell You Because You'd Be Unhappy: Rooster resents Maverick because Maverick blocked his application to the US Naval Academy, thus stalling his career. What Maverick didn't tell him was that Carole, afraid of losing her son the same way she lost her husband, asked Maverick to do it as her Dying Wish. Maverick kept it a secret so that Rooster wouldn't also resent his mother.
  • Iconic Outfit: Upon being sent to TOPGUN once again, Maverick puts his iconic leather jacket and aviator sunglasses on once more, albeit with some of the patches on the jacket's upper back altered in the trailer due to changes in geopolitics since the first film. In the cinematic release the Taiwanese and Japanese flags were restored to the jacket after Tom Cruise complained to the studio.
  • In Space, Everyone Can See Your Face: Maverick's test pilot suit, basically a space suit, features a helmet illuminated on the inside.
  • Internal Homage:
    • The opening titles and scenes are almost a recreation of the first movie's iconic opening: a sequence of fighter jets launching from a US aircraft carrier set to Harold Faltermeyer and Steve Stevens's "Top Gun Anthem" and Kenny Loggins's "Danger Zone".
    • When Maverick and Rooster stole an enemy F-14 Tomcat and got into a dogfight with an enemy Su-57, Maverick fires a missile at the enemy plane. The scene where the missile launched from the F-14 is an exact shot-to-shot recreation of how it was done in the first film.
  • Ironic Echo: Maverick repeats to Rooster his Don't Think, Feel flying philosophy from the first film. After they're both shot down, Mav is furious at Rooster for coming back for him, and Rooster retorts, "You told me not to think!" which renders Mav completely speechless. Comedy gold.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Arrogant ass that he is, Hangman does have a point in calling out Rooster for being indecisive and "thinking too much" when their mission will require split-second timing and lightning reflexes.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • While Hangman (seeing a pattern here?) is incredibly arrogant and thinks that he's superior to everyone else, he is ultimately a good guy and saves Rooster and Maverick from being killed by an enemy plane. After landing, he even shakes Rooster's hand on a mission well done, just as Iceman shook Maverick's originally.
    • Cyclone seems just a typical Obstructive Bureaucrat, but the mission itself reveals his coldness is due to being chiefly concerned with getting the pilots home alive, something Maverick's seemingly reckless teaching doesn't seem to be doing much to help. Once Maverick shows the attack run is possible by doing it himself, he appoints him flight leader to ensure the mission's success, though he's obviously less than thrilled about it.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: Maverick's days as a test pilot risk coming to an end when less and less pilots are needed with the rise of attack drones unless he pushes the Darkstar prototype plane to Mach 10, which of course he does. Drones replacing pilots more and more is also brought up later on.
  • Just Plane Wrong:
    • While the film is overall better about this than the original, it retains the mistakes with treating fighter cannons like machine guns (as opposed to autocannon firing explosive shells that would have disintegrated a hit plane in less than a second) and absurdly close-range air combat. The latter is mitigated but not completely erased by the fact that the pilots are training for and then implementing an Airstrike Impossible in a mountain range at extreme low altitude: the already-airborne Su-57s would probably still have been able to engage from beyond visual range once they were alerted to the F-18s' presence. Also, while the use of CGI Su-57s is better than using F-5 Tiger IIs in Warsaw Pact livery and pretending they're MiGs, at time of release there were only six Su-57s in active service, all of them with the Russian Air Force (the plane had severe Troubled Productioninvoked due to Russian corruption and financial problems).
    • The In-Universe reason for the F-35C Lightning II not being used is that the target is protected by GPS jamming. This is a fairly threadbare excuse: the F-35C is quite capable of using the same laser-guided munitions that were employed in the film, and its stealth features would make the approach significantly easier. The real-world reason is that the F-35C is unsuitable for filming actors in a real aircraft because it doesn't come in a two-seat model a la the F/A-18F (which Phoenix and Payback fly in the film),note  and that the Navy couldn't spare any for filming since they had only entered service in February 2019.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: As Admiral of the US Pacific Fleet, Iceman has apparently been covering for Maverick's recklessness and insubordination for decades now. Once he dies, Maverick is pulled from the mission and grounded practically before the sod on Iceman's grave plot has time to settle.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The movie mentions Goose's death from the previous film several times.
  • Lover's Ledge: Maverick woos and beds an Old Flame of his (Penny) again, and she wants to be an example to her daughter ("don't bring anyone home the first night"), so when her daughter Amelia unexpectedly comes back home, Penny shoves Maverick through the bedroom's window... and he lands in front of Amelia anyway.
  • Macross Missile Massacre:
    • A Tomahawk barrage is fired from the USS Leyte Gulf to destroy an enemy airfield.
    • Dagger Squadron is forced to evade a swarm launched from unmanned SAMs during the strike mission. Maverick and Rooster are shot down.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Phoenix is fond of calling Hangman "Bagman" when he's annoying her.
  • Manly Tears: Maverick cries while saluting at the funeral, as shown in the music video for "Hold My Hand".
    • Also, his eyes get visibly wet when he's talking with Iceman about Rooster.
  • Married to the Job: Despite it having been more than 30 years since 1986, Maverick remains a childless bachelor because he repeatedly declines to retire from being a naval aviator when others his age would have retired or pursued other career paths. Being the very best pilot actively serving in the US Navy has also caused Maverick to be frequently deployed abroad and away from Penny, his longtime on-and-off girlfriend. When he reunites with her on his assignment to train Dagger Squadron, she's become weary of restarting things with him again.
  • Meaningful Echo: Iceman tells Maverick to "let go" of his guilt over Goose's death just like Viper told him in the previous film.
  • Meaningful Funeral: Iceman gets one, with fighter jets flying overhead in a "Missing Man" formation, and sailors firing a 21-rifle salute.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Iceman has essentially become Maverick's Obi-Wan this time around, and when he's gone, that's when Maverick starts taking training for the mission seriously.
  • Military Maverick: Well, he's not called Maverick for nothing. And only Iceman being the Admiral of the entire damn Pacific Fleet prevented a dishonorable discharge for him all this time.
    Admiral Cain: Thirty plus years of service. Combat medals. Citations. Only man to shoot down three enemy planes in the last forty years. Yet, you can’t get a promotion, you won’t retire, and despite your best efforts, you refuse to die. You should be at least a two-star admiral or a senator by now. Yet, here you are, "Captain". Why is that?
    Maverick: It's one of life's mysteries, sir.
  • Mission Control: Several different characters and crews serve as this at different points in the film.
    • Hondo leads the ground control team for the Darkstar program, and directly communicates with Maverick during each test flight.
    • When Maverick trains Dagger Squadron at North Island Naval Air Station, a nameless controller serves as this, most notably allowing Maverick to fly a "surprise test flight" despite having no exercises planned that day.
    • During the actual mission, Cyclone and Warlock lead a US Navy carrier crew to command Dagger Squadron.
  • Mistaken for Aliens: Maverick walks into a diner after crash landing his test plane. When he asks where he is, a child tells him he's on Earth.
  • Mood Whiplash:
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: When Maverick's trainees are introduced to each other at Penny's bar, all of them are suave, confident, and have macho callsigns such as "Hangman", "Phoenix", "Payback", and "Coyote", . . . except "Bob", who not only stuns the other pilots with his very unmacho callsign, but spills beer on his uniform and has to clean it up in front of his new teammates. Phoenix asks him twice for his callsign, and at loss for words when he tells her that it's really just "Bob".
  • Nerves of Steel: Essential part of being a fighter pilot, but put on perfect display during Phoenix's bird strike accident. After sucking a bird into the engines, she quickly reacts and executes the proper procedures to shutdown the damaged engine and attempt recovery. She remains calm even as more systems begin to malfunction and the jet rapidly lose altitude. Once it becomes unrecoverable, she gives the ejection command, and punches out after her WSO Bob has ejected. Her professionalism and cool during stressful situations is likely a big factor why Maverick chose her as one of the pilots for the mission.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Despite being shown prominently in the trailers, the fictional Dark Star hypersonic fighter aircraft only appears in the opening and is never mentioned again after it.
  • No Escape but Down: Once Amelia arrives, Penny orders Maverick to leave her house through the window so as not to give a bad impression to her daughter. When he lands, she's right in front of him. This is followed by Mood Whiplash when she just says "Don't break her heart again."
  • Non-Residential Residence: After 30 years of service earning the salary of a Captain, Maverick's private residence is a former US Navy airfield somewhere in the American southwest desert. He doesn't live in a house, so much as having an entire hangar to himself that both serves as his living quarters and garage for his personal fleet of aircraft and motorcycles.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Maverick is Born Lucky when it comes to surviving a plane crash. Admiral Cain even lampshades this by saying that despite his best efforts, Maverick simply refuses to die.
    • The DarkStar completely disintegrates after reaching Mach 10.4 at insane altitudes. He had already traveled over the distance of at least the states of Nevada and Utah by the time the plane reached mach 5 before turning around, and was somewhere over Idaho by the time it hit Mach 10.4 and broke apart. The immediate next scene just shows him still shell-shocked, walking into a diner, taking a moment to drink a glass of water, and then finally asking where he was. (To be clear, this means Maverick managed to jump out of an aircraft that was going over two miles per second.)
    • Maverick gets shot down during the operation by Taking the Bullet for Rooster. The next scene shows that he was able to eject and activate his parachute, but he's none the worse for wear.

    O—Z 
  • Offscreen Breakup: Enforced. Charlotte "Charlie" Blackwood goes completely unmentioned in this film, with Mav having been in an on-again-off-again relationship with bar owner Penny for the past several years. Kelly McGillis says she wasn't asked to return, having aged much more noticeably than Cruise.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The looks on Dagger Squadron's faces when the "old guy" they took for several rounds and then tossed out of the bar is their new instructor.
    • Maverick's face when he's rudely woken from his coma by an enemy Mi-24 attack helicopter.
    • Even though his face is concealed by his flight helmet, the "Felon" pilot is shocked when Maverick suddenly takes one of the other "Felons" out in an old F-14 and again when he manages to get behind him in the Canyon.
  • Older and Wiser: Maverick returns to TOPGUN as a special instructor, drawing on his ~40 years of flying experience to help a new class of grads prepare for a special mission.
  • Older Is Better: Maverick has been called back to train new recruits in his own old-school dogfighting ways. And when it turns out he's the best pilot available, ends up on the mission.
  • Old-School Dogfight: Maverick was brought in because the mission might lead up to one of those, and few pilots still have experience in these. And sure enough, as soon as the target is blown enemy fighters are in pursuit!
  • Old Soldier: Maverick now has thirty years of service under his belt at the time of the film. He's also an Old Master, wiping the floor with the TOPGUN graduates on their first day of dogfighting training.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast: Asides from the opening sequence with the Darkstar, all of the scenes set in the United States seemed to be filmed with an orange filter; this appropriately fits with the chapparal and deserts of southern California where most of Dagger Squadron's training occurs. Once Dagger Squadron is deployed abroad to complete their mission, the finale is filmed with a blue filter to fit the cold weather and snowy mountains of the nameless enemy country.
  • Parent with New Paramour: Maverick renews his relationship with Penny, the owner of the bar near NAS North Island (and a character who was mentioned early on in the original film), who has had a daughter, Amelia, in the interim between the films.
  • Parental Substitute: Maverick outright says that he wanted to be the father that Rooster never had, and still can't help but feel protective and concerned about him even though Rooster heavily resents Maverick. He's gotten over it by the end, helping Maverick work on his P-51 in his off-time before Penny and Amelia show up.
  • Perilous Old Fool: Many of the navy brass and even the TOPGUN graduates Maverick will train all initially see him as this. And then Pete gets a chance to show them that he's Still Got It.
  • Precision F-Strike: Rooster gives out an astounded "What the fuck was that?!" when the Felon they were chasing pulls a Kvochur's bell to dodge an incoming missile they launched at it.
  • Promotion, Not Punishment: Maverick's demonstration that the maneuver was possible might've broken rules and wrecked a plane, but it also forced Cyclone to admit that instead of discharging him, he needs to instead endanger his own reputation putting Maverick as the mission leader.
  • Qurac: The movie does a rather valiant effort in not explicitly naming the rogue nation responsible for the unauthorized uranium refinery, but what few details that come through, such as the nation's mountainous geography, pursuit of a nuclear enrichment program in defiance of NATO, and stockpile of surplus F-14s seem to imply Iran or a fictional country inspired by it. They also use fifth-generation fighters called "Felons" which are dead-ringers for the Russian Su-57 "Felon". Russia has not even exported any of these yet in real life, so the rogue nation could be any country that has a decent relationship with Russia and might hypothetically obtain them 20 Minutes into the Future: Iran could still fit the bill, but so do a bunch of other countries in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, or Central Asia. As it is, the nation is never named outright, and the only identifying emblems on their aircraft and equipment is a red star and yellow ring roundel on the Felons, as well as an intentionally nondescript red bird of some sort on the F-14. The same roundels were also used on the enemy fighters in the original film, implying this is the same unnamed nation as then.
  • Race Against the Clock: In two separate ways:
    • The mission must take place before the enemy facility goes on line; the pilots lose a week of training time when the facility's timeline moves up.
    • Maverick puts a time limit of 2 minutes 30 seconds on the airstrike mission, as any longer than that will give superior enemy fighters time to arrive and reduce the survivability of the mission.
  • Rank Up:
    • Iceman is now the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, a position held by statute by a four-star admiral. He used the high rank to bail out Maverick every time he got into a mess with the Navy.
    • Maverick himself is now a Navy Captain. While Captain is a fairly high rank, the fact that Maverick hasn’t advanced to a much higher level after almost 40 years of service (with the implication that he's been stalled as a Captain for some time) is considered a black mark on his career.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Val Kilmer's throat cancer and its impact on his ability to speak caused Iceman to have similar medical problems in the film. Kilmer's few lines were digitized as he mouthed them out.
    • The In-Universe reason the F/A-18 Super Hornet is used in the film rather than the newer F-35C Lightning II (which would have had a much easier time reaching the target with its stealth capabilities) is that GPS jamming around the target would interfere with the newer plane's weapons. In real life the F-35C had only just entered limited service when the film was in production and wasn't available. Also, it doesn't come in a two-seat model like the F/A-18F, which would make it impossible to put Tom Cruise in a real plane (as in the original, they put him in the back seat of a two-seat aircraft with a camera mounted to the pilot's chair).
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The spin-around in mid air that the enemy 5th generation fighter uses to avoid a missile and get behind Maverick and Rooster is a real maneuver that modern jet fighters can use, called the Kvochur's bell. It takes 21st century avionics and thrust-vectoring which allows a pilot to literally stall his plane at extremely low speed to reverse direction and use engine thrust to rapidly get moving again. Older aircraft like the Tomcat and Hornet cannot do this because unlike modern jets, they can't generate lift or maintain control below a certain speed. In fact, while the US Air Force F-22 Raptor is capable of it, the US Navy hasn't ever operated a plane that can (thrust-vectoring was left out of the F-35 to keep costs down).
  • Remember the New Guy?: Penny, whose involvement with Maverick was mentioned as a Noodle Incident on the first film by Stinger (James Tolkan), and helps fill in the audience in what he did during the period after 1986.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: After Maverick defies orders to show that the mission can be done, Cyclone notes that he can either risk the lives of his pilots and the mission by demoting Maverick, or that he can risk his career by appointing Mav to team leader. When Maverick starts to respond, Warlock tells him that Cyclone was speaking rhetorically.
  • Riding into the Sunset: The movie ends with Maverick and Penny doing this while in the former's personal P-51 Mustang.
  • Rock Beats Laser:
    • Invoked with the choice to use the older F/A-18E/F Super Hornet over the Navy’s more advanced F-35C Lightning for the mission as the uranium enrichment facility they are targeting is protected by GPS jamming that affects the latter's precision weapons but not the former's.
    • Maverick manages to shoot down no less than two "Felon" enemy fighters with a F-14 Tomcat he and Rooster stole in the enemy base. F-14s first saw service in 1974. The enemy planes (actually Sukhoi Su-57s) first saw service in December 2020 (they weren't even in service when the film's shooting wrapped up, and weren't used in actual combat missions until the Russian invasion of Ukraine shortly before the release). To be fair, one of the Felons was shot down by a complete surprise attack from Maverick from behind, and the other is lured into a canyon at low altitude, where its advanced radar is confused by ground clutter and it is unable to utilize its superior maneuverability.
  • Romantic Ride Sharing: Maverick rides Penny home on his motorcycle multiple times, until she finally invites him into the house.
  • Ruritania: As detailed above, some context clues may indicate that the rogue nation TOPGUN is set to intercept may be Slavic if it's not Middle Eastern.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Maverick has reportedly gotten away with decades of shenanigans because of his best friend Iceman, now an admiral in charge of the Pacific Fleet. However, Iceman isn't just doing it out of loyalty to his friend; he genuinely believes that the Navy needs pilots like Maverick. Once Iceman dies of a long illness, Maverick gets shitcanned with extreme prejudice by Cyclone, until he demonstrates that his crazy plan to succeed in the mission can be done, by illegally doing it on the training course.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!:
    • Rooster disregards orders to see if Maverick is still alive. In doing so, he saves Maverick, but is also forced to join him on land as his plane is shot down.
    • After Iceman's death, Cyclone is ready to send Maverick packing due to his constant and flagrant disregard for military rules and the chain of command, until Mav (illegally) demonstrates that their mission can be completed his way. Cyclone is wary of jeopardizing his entire career to support Maverick, but he ultimately decides his career and the rules are not as important as the lives of the pilots Maverick will save. Cyclone knows the alternative is a much less risky plan which may achieve the objective, but will cost the lives of many of those pilots.
  • Seemingly Hopeless Boss Fight: In the final battle, Maverick manages to shoot down one Felon by surprise before engaging a second one in a one-on-one dogfight. After defeating it, Maverick is immediately confronted by a third Felon that he cannot defeat due to being out of ammo. After several evasive maneuvers, it eventually goes in for the kill... Until Hangman arrives at last minute and shoots it down.
  • Sequel Escalation: The first movie's climax was small-scale, simply consisting of a dogfight against some enemy MiGs. In this one? An Airstrike Impossible against an enemy base, followed by escaping from the hostile territory by stealing one of the jets, then the obligatory dogfight against the enemy fighters (only this time there are three of them as opposed to six, except all of them are destroyed instead of a few of them bugging out). Also, the hostiles this time are flying the Su-57 "Felons", which are way superior planes than the Hornets (and later a Tomcat) that the protagonists are flying, to the point that one of the reasons why the mission is as hard as it was is that Maverick wanted to avoid fighting them, and he only engaged them when he is simply left with no other options.
  • Sequel Non-Entity: Charlie, Maverick's love interest from the first film, is never even mentioned.
  • Shirtless Scene: This time, the beach volleyball scene is a beach football one, shirtless men (and women) included.
  • Shout-Out:
    • While the film doesn't directly call attention to it, "Fanboy's" flight helmet has his callsign lettered in the same font as Star Trek: The Original Series. If you pick that out, it's pretty obvious why he's nicknamed "Fanboy".
    • The mission itself is essentially a real world version of the attack on the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope — fly through a canyon to avoid anti-air defenses and strike an underground facility through a target that's only a few meters wide. Rooster even forgoes using the targeting laser when it fails to lock on and achieves the hit blind, and Hangman pulls a Han Solo by gunning down the fighter that's just a moment away from killing our heroes.
    • After the Dark Star explosion, Maverick ends up in a rural part of the country in a strange flight suit and when he asks where he is he's told "Earth." A near identical situation happened to Yuri Gagarin after his famous flight.
  • Sink the Lifeboats: A close variant when a helicopter gunship comes after Maverick after he ejects. While he's on the ground already, he's still trying to extricate himself from his parachute and barely gets clear of it in time to get to cover. Note that it's still a war crime to fire on an ejected pilot when they're on the ground without giving them a chance to surrender first.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Two of the TOPGUN graduates summoned to be trained for a special mission are women: Lt. Natasha 'Phoenix' Trace and Lt. Callie "Halo" Bassett. Only Trace makes the cut to participate in the main assault force on the mission, while Bassett stays in reserve.
  • Someone Has to Die: Subverted. The brass stress to Maverick that at least one person won't be coming back from the mission. Despite that, everyone actually survives. However, the Americans do suffer two casualties in F/A-18s shot down, albeit with the pilots escaping.
  • Spin-Offspring: Rooster, the son of Goose, is present.
  • Stock Footage: Some of Maverick's memories of Goose are taken from the first film (chiefly Goose at the piano at the bar and his death) and shown in Deliberate VHS Quality.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome:
    • Carole Bradshaw (Meg Ryan) is established as having died several years prior to the events of the film, and made the Dying Wish to Maverick to stop her son from pursuing his father's career as a pilot — a move which Mav only delays.
    • The film establishes that Iceman (Val Kilmer), despite still being active and protecting Mav's career throughout the years, is dealing with an aggressive form of throat cancer. After one scene meeting Mav in person and giving him some encouragement to support Rooster, Iceman passes away offscreen, with a subsequent military funeral held in his honor.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • While he did indeed become an instructor at TOPGUN like he wanted at the end of the first film, Maverick mentioned that his tenure only lasted for two months. Whether he was reassigned or left of his own volition is not made clear, but his flyboy antics and Hot-Blooded attitude were only barely tolerated as a student. As an instructor, he would absolutely be held to an even higher standard, regardless of his dogfighting accomplishments in the previous film.
    • The film shows that Maverick had been able to get away with his usual disregard for Navy rules and protocols due to being protected by Iceman, who had risen to the rank of Admiral since the events of the original film. Following Iceman’s death from throat cancer, Maverick’s superiors immediately try to take him off the mission and ground him permanently. While Maverick is allowed back on the strike team after proving his mission plan for the operation can succeed, it’s heavily implied that without Iceman covering for him, Maverick’s career in the Navy will be effectively over once the mission is complete due to all of his prior transgressions, though, as implied by his hammering his flying wings to Iceman's coffin, its likely Maverick was aware of this and did not intend to seek continuing his career or retired outright.
    • Coyote suffers from G-LOC (Gravitational Loss of Consciousness) due to being hit with over 9 G's worth of pressure when practicing for the pop-up strike. It is not uncommon to temporarily blackout due to such pressure. It might also be the reason why he is not chosen to go on the mission.
    • Maverick is constantly drilling the pilots as hard as he can with strict mission parameters. The pilots' constant failures eventually discourage them so much that they don't believe the mission is possible to complete, something Cyclone is quick to inform Maverick about. Maverick "borrows" a fighter and shows it's possible himself, which reinvigorates their spirits.
    • Rooster and Maverick are able to take down two technologically superior fighter jets in their aging F-14 by using unorthodox tactics to even the playing field (see Rocks Beats Laser above), but when the third Felon catches them in the open ocean with no ammo or countermeasures, it has them dead-to-rights... thankfully, Hangman shows up just in the nick of time in his fully-loaded Hornet to save their hides.
    • When Rooster finally turns on the F-14's radio and other electronics, he and Maverick can hear the radar warning receiver of an enemy radar locking them, but there was nothing on their radar screen. That's because the Su-57 is directly in front of them and is stealthy in the frontal sector. Also, the E-2 Hawkeye is able to detect the Su-57s because its lower frequency radar is better at finding stealth fighters.
    • The stolen surplus F-14 has loaded guns and missiles and countermeasures. What it doesn't have is a functioning RIO eject seat. Either the new owners skimped on that part of the maintenance, or that was precisely why it was in the hangar in the first place. Or the pilots simply missed removing the safety pins in their hurry to get out of there since they didn't bother doing any pre-flight inspection or checklists.
  • Survival Mantra: "Talk to me, Goose."
  • Taking the Bullet: Maverick puts his plane in front of a missile that would hit Rooster. It destroys his tail and sends him down to the forest below.
  • Tempting Fate / Thrill Seeker: Maverick could've just be satisfied that he managed to fly an experimental plane to Mach 10. No, he had to keep going faster until the thing had a critical failure.
    • One of the TOPGUN graduates jokingly makes a bet whoever gets shot down first during their dogfighting exercise should do 200 push-ups, with the unspoken expectation that Maverick will the one doing PT once they land. Cue everyone on the team except for Maverick doing that very same thing by the next scene, and some of them even doing it multiple times in a day.
  • This Cannot Be!: After Maverick and Rooster manage to get airbone in an F-14, Rooster activates his locator beacon, alerting the crew that he's alive. They quickly realize that Rooster is airborne and that the plane he's in is an F-14. Meaning that the only explanation is that Maverick survived as well and they're on their way back. Cyclone and Warlock are shocked.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: The objective is an underground uranium enrichment facility surrounded by mountains, automated SAM sites, and a nearby airbase, which would normally be a cakewalk for the F-35C, but the GPS jamming system makes the use of drones and an F-35 strike infeasible (presumably the jammer also prevents long-range GPS-guided cruise missiles and bunker busters from being able to hit the exposed ventilation duct), meaning the only way to get in is under the radar via a suicidal canyon run using laser-guided ordnance that doesn't rely on GPS, hence the need for F/A-18s and the TOPGUN pilots.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Bob, who for much of the movie had been the team's Butt-Monkey due to his nerdy-looking appearance, is declared to be the winner of the beach football game and everyone cheers him on. Even Hangman looks happy for him.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailer hypes up the antagonism between Maverick and Rooster is because the latter resents the former for his father's death. However, this can't be further than the truth when in reality, Rooster hates Maverick for stalling his career for 4 years because he blocked Rooster's application to the Naval Academy. The 'fight scene' portrayed in the trailer is also not between Maverick and Rooster, but Rooster defending Maverick's and Goose's honor against Hangman's mockery.
  • Training from Hell: Due to the extremely difficult and complex nature of the strike mission, Maverick subjects the mission candidates, all of whom are already considered among the best pilots in the Navy, to this. From ruthlessly dead-aiming them in dogfight exercises to flying at low altitude through treacherous canyon passages at high speed, to making an extremely perilous high-G ascent up a mountain that pushes the operational limit of their plane and risk the pilot themselves blacking out mid-flight, Maverick pulls absolutely no punch.
  • Trauma Button: Maverick gets one when he sees Rooster play "Great Balls of Fire" in the bar.
  • Triumphant Reprise: "Hold My Hand" plays several times throughout the film, before playing one last time as Maverick takes Penny flying in his P-51 Mustang and over the end credits.
  • Trust Password: Maverick tries one of these to an enemy pilot when flying a stolen F-14 back to the carrier by throwing up hand signals to the other fighter. When the pilot tries to sign back and Maverick cannot provide the proper response, a dogfight breaks out.
  • Underestimating Badassery: All of the TOPGUN pilots, particularly Hangman and Phoenix, are confident they can handle Maverick during the dogfight exercises. Maverick proceeds to serve them all Humble Pie by repeatedly defeating them.
  • Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway: Maverick's re-Establishing Character Moment in this movie is when he takes the Darkstar experimental supersonic jet prototype on an unauthorized test flight. The US Navy had wanted a plane that could achieve Mach 10, but pulled the plug on the project on the day that the Darkstar was supposed to test if it could handle Mach 9 because they thought investing in drone aircraft would be more productive. Maverick being Maverick, he intends to show Admiral Cain that he got his money's worth by attempting to do Mach 10 right now. He managed to pull it off and impressed everyone, and then he goes even faster...and ends up crashing the jet.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Played with. Maverick lays out the plan in excruciating detail, and strongly emphasizes how the plan is almost impossible. It will require "two miracles", he says, and the training backs him up. And even then, there's a conspicuous point where they accomplish their main objective and have to fly back through a hurricane of SAMs, which there is no plan for and they might not even survive. Rooster pulls off a different second miracle when the original planned miracle doesn't work out, and in the ensuing furball Maverick sacrifices himself to save Rooster, which was not part of the plan at all.
  • Video Credits: Like in the original, and with only one name (aside from Penny, the callsigns).
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: The enemy pilot who Hangman kills to save Maverick and Rooster only shows up about a minute before dying and most of the minute is spent following the heroes' reaction to his approach. In contrast, the first two Felons appear much earlier, get greater focus are only non-fatally shot down.
  • Wham Shot: During the mission, Dagger reaches the point in the plan where they have to fly through enemy anti-air missiles. The editing gets more and more chaotic until there's an unusually long-range shot showing all four fighters weaving back and forth, missiles on their tails, with the pilots' voices overlapping on the radio, just to show how bad things have gotten.
    • Shortly thereafter, Maverick and Rooster are flying their stolen F-14 towards home, when they realize two of The Dreaded Fifth-Gen Fighters are right next to them.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Rooster says this (with "shitting" instead of "kidding") when he realizes Maverick is planning to steal an F-14 from the base they just bombed.

"My dad believed in you. I'm not going to make the same mistake."

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