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Series / Police Squad!

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"My name is Sergeant Frank Drebin, Detective Lieutenant, Police Squad, a special division of the police force. There'd been a recent wave of gorgeous fashion models found naked and unconscious in laundromats on the West Side. Unfortunately, I was assigned to investigate holdups of neighborhood credit unions. I was across town doing my laundry when I got the call on the double killing. It took me twenty minutes to get there. My boss was already on the scene."

After the success of the movie Airplane! in 1980, Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker returned to TV, resulting in Police Squad! (ABC, 1982). A blatant parody of 1950s- through 1970s-vintage cop shows (specifically 1957's M Squad and practically every Quinn Martin Productions crime drama ever made — Police Squad! even uses Hank Simms, the announcer for many QM shows), this Half-Hour Comedy featured Leslie Nielsen as Lt. Frank Drebin, and filled its half hour with an incredible panoply of fast-paced and hard-hitting puns, surreal non-sequiturs and over-the-top sight gags of the kind that had become familiar thanks to the ZAZ movies.

Unfortunately, ABC canceled the program after only six episodes, with network head Tony Thomopoulos giving as the reason that the show required the viewer to pay too much attention — a pronouncement that earned Thermopolous and the network a considerable amount of derision (TV Guide called it "the most stupid reason a network ever gave for ending a series"). Ironically, the producers themselves were actually grateful, as the six episodes they made were already stretching their ideas thin and they knew they'd never be able to keep up the level of quality much longer. To this day the show is remembered with fondness by many as a program that respected (and tested) the intelligence of its viewers even while making them roll on the floor with laughter. The entire series was released on DVD in 2006, and on Blu-ray in 2020.

Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker eventually revived the show (and reused many of its gags) in The Naked Gun series of motion pictures.

This show provides examples IN COLOR of:

  • The Ace:
    • As well as being a brilliant detective and a dab hand in a fight, whatever else Drebin turns his hand to in the course of his duties, he's always brilliant at it. Basketball, stand-up comedy, poker, locksmithing...
    • Johnny the shoeshine boy, Drebin's (and indeed the entire city's) sole informant. Not only does he seem to know literally everything about everyone, but he'll also have the documentary evidence in his pocket.
  • The Alibi: One episode had Drebin trying to break the alibi of a bombmaker who recently got out of prison in regards to a recent bombing. While the alibi was bogus, he wasn't the bomber — the reason he was lying about his whereabouts was because he was at a baseball game, and he hadn't cleared leaving the state to attend with his parole officer before he left.
  • Almighty Janitor: Johnny the shoeshine guy knows everything and will tell you about it— for a price. (He can even tell you about the afterlife.) Invariably, as soon as Drebin gets the information he needs and leaves, someone else will come for information, such as a surgeon asking how to perform open-heart surgery or Dick Clark asking about ska (and picking up some more youth cream).
  • Almost Dead Guy: The manager of the check-cashing store in the first episode. He stares at Sally in shock and says her name before staggering into the desk—where he signs and stamps some papers. Then he repeats "Sally!", staggers into the cabinet and files the paperwork. Then, after one final "Sally!" he falls dead.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Frank goes on some tangents that really raises some eyebrows. At one point he reminisces about a guy he lived with and seemingly laments how the guy's married with kids now as well as another moment where he gets really into pretending to be a crime boss's lover.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: "Married, one child. That didn't work out, so he married a grown woman."
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The show has a lot of retro 1960s aesthetics (for one thing, nearly every woman has '60s Hair) but also a lot of contemporary 1980s references.
  • And Starring: Rex Hamilton as Abraham Lincoln.
  • Anvil on Head: Georg Stanford Brown gets a safe dropped on him during the opening credits.
  • Assassin Outclassin': A joke in the opening credits shows Abraham Lincoln being targeted by John Wilkes Booth, who only manages to shoot his hat off, and Lincoln furiously returning fire with a revolver he had on his person.
  • As You Know:
    Frank: That sounded like a tuba in the background.
    Chief: Oh, that won't be easy to narrow down, this city is the tuba capital of the world.
  • A-Team Firing: Frank and a perpetrator are unable to shoot each other while hiding behind a bench and a garbage can that are only five feet away from each other.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Drebin's introductory monologue in the first episode talks about a baffling mystery of beautiful women being knocked unconscious and left naked all over town... which unfortunately, was assigned to somebody else while Frank investigated the double homicide at a local credit union.
    • The real joke here is that "a series of supermodels were found naked and unconscious in laundromats all over town. I was across town doing my laundry when I got the call..." implying that Frank was "doing his laundry" as a way of checking out the nude supermodels.
  • Bang, Bang, BANG: The opening credits have Frank firing at an unknown attacker. Then his boss, in the squadroom on the upper floors of the building, is fired on. Then Abraham Lincoln returns fire at his assassin.
  • Becoming the Mask: Any time the cops go undercover, they get a little too invested in their cover identity. For example, Norberg is more occupied with improving revenues on their key-making business cover than with dealing with the mob they went into business to attract.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The show had a running gag where guest stars were killed off in the very scene during the credits that introduced them. When the guest was Georg Stanford Brown, this trope came into play.
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Drebin mentions in his narration that at such a moment he asked the guy next to him to pinch him. Said guy, a big ugly bruiser, gives him an odd look and very carefully backs away.
  • Body of the Week: Along with Dead Star Walking, the special guest star was killed off as they were being introduced in the credits. (John Belushi was supposed to be one of these cameos, but when he died in Real Life his footage was cut).
  • Bond One-Liner: In "Rendezvous at Big Gulch (Terror in the Neighborhood)", after Frank beats up the Mafia goons and throws them out of his shop onto the street:
    Frank: Why don't you lie there until Thursday? That's when they pick up the garbage.
  • Book Ends: The first episode and the last episode kill off the Dead Star Walking in the exact same way.
    • The last episode was supposed to be John Belushi's turn as special guest star, but his untimely death forced the producers to quickly replace him, and recycle the way the guest is killed in the first episode.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Frank routinely fires about ten shots from his revolver without reloading.
  • The Boxing Episode: episode "Ring of Fear (A Dangerous Assignment)"
  • Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: In the first episode, where Frank visits a dentists office, There's a line up of teenagers in the waiting room with increasingly exaggerated braces, going from normal retainers to them having TV antennas attached and giant blocks of steel on either side of their head.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Frank mentions in the introductory monologue of the first episode that he was doing his laundry when a case came up. About halfway through the episode he finally gets to pick it up.
    • The 5th episode had the Chimpanzee.
    • In the third episode, Frank asks Ted where a rock thrown through his store window came from. Ted proceeds to explain how rocks were formed from the Earth's molten mass cooling down and solidifying into an igneous shell. Later, Frank asks the responsible gangsters to explain the same rock, to which one of the gangsters begin to repeat Ted's explanation.
  • British Brevity: A rare American variation, the network cancelled it after only six episodes. Ironically, the creators were actually grateful for this, they had already used many of their best jokes and admitted they had no idea how they would have been able to uphold the standard of quality for an entire season, if not multiple seasons.
  • The Butler Did It: He did. He needed the money. It was shown as the title in the Episode Title Card, but masked as usual.
  • The Cameo: In addition to the Body of the Week, many of the people who came to Johnny the Shoeshine Boy for advice, including Dick Clark and Dr. Joyce Brothers.
  • Catchphrase: The first and last line of the page header quote. Also:
    Drebin: [offering a cigarette to the victim of the episode's crime] Cigarette?
    Victim: Yes. I know.
    Drebin: (disillusioned) Well…
  • Celebrity Casualty: Each episode had a "special guest star" whose only function was to be killed during the opening credits. The stars so dispatched were Lorne Greene, Georg Stanford Brown, Robert Goulet, William Shatner, Florence Henderson note and William Conrad.
  • Chain of Corrections: An absolutely massive one in the first episode, lasting nearly a full minute as names get corrected.
  • Chair Reveal:
    • A chair does a slow turn... revealing another, identical, chair in the seat. The villain is standing off to the side.
    • Dutch is introduced in a spoof of Blofeld sitting in his revolving chair stroking a white cat. The camera never pans up, so he has to get off his chair and crouch in order to get in shot.
  • Cheated Death, Died Anyway: William Shatner survives being shot at, only for him to drink a poisoned drink and die that way instead.
  • Clumsy Copyright Censorship: Examples below:
    • In the original airing of "The Butler Did It", the party goers were actually singing "Happy Birthday to You". But in the VHS/Syndicated versions, they were singing a totally new song to the tune of the original called, literally, "Something Different".
    • "Testimony of Evil", the last episode, originally had Drebin singing Judy Garland tunes. Again, in the VHS/Syndication versions, these were changed to versions that sounded almost the same, but with totally made up lyrics, and the new singer sounding nothing like Leslie Nielsen at all.
      • Thankfully, the DVD release put back the original versions of those songs in those two episodes, along with Nielsen's original singing for his Judy Garland tribute.
  • The Comically Serious: Absolutely none of the cast seems to realize they're in a comedy, which is much of the humor. It's often noted that this was one of the reasons for the show's cancellation: the only way to tell when a line was a joke is to pay attention to what the character was saying.
  • Continuity Nod: Each episode ends with Ed or Frank talking about how the criminal of the week will join previous episodes' perpetrators in prison, eventually evolving into The Long List.
  • Cop Show: Or a parody thereof.
  • Covert Pervert: Look at the page quote. Beautiful women being found naked in laundromats on the West Side. Where was Drebin when the murder case was called in? In a laundromat.
  • Creator Cameo: Georg Stanford Brown directed Episode 5 and was the "Special Guest Star" for Episode 2.
  • Credits Gag: Every credits roll parodied the freeze frame ending by having the actors actually freeze instead of using a still shot.
  • Crime Reconstruction: Attempted in "A Substantial Gift (The Broken Promise)". The crime scene techs aren't able to get the actual scene to line up with Sally's testimony no matter what they do. Since the techs were using a loaded gun while trying to reproduce a double homicide, they end up taking a lot of casualties.
  • Damage-Proof Vehicle: Frank Drebin's green Plymouth seems to be one, no matter how many trash cans and kids bikes it hits it stays pristine.
  • Dead Star Walking/Death by Cameo: A guest star would be immediately killed off as soon as he/she is introduced, during the opening credits.
  • Dirt Forcefield: After a fight involving herpes and a signed Picasso, Frank Drebin seems relatively unscathed, but in the next shot we see him dusting himself off with several cuts and bruises all over his face and his hair mussed. After the next cut, he's spotless once again.
  • Dramatic Unmask: (Deliberately) Overdone to the point of absurdity in the climax of the first episode. Drebin confronts the clerk, and reveals that he knows that before she was a clerk, she had another identity, and then rips off her wig to reveal her true hair color. Then he reveals that she had another identity before that, and rips off another wig. And it keeps going through roughly half a dozen prior identities, all of which she was still wearing the disguises for one over the other, some of which could not possibly have been concealed under the wigs that were layered on top.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Every episode Drebin crashes into some garbage cans with his car. He hits one in the first episode, two in the second, and so on. And he once "drives back to the station" by literally driving there backwards.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Alan North's Ed Hocken is much more of an authority figure to Frank than the close buddy George Kennedy played in the later films. Peter Lupus' Norberg also is not the total klutz O.J. Simpson's Nordberg is later introduced to be.
  • Economy Cast: Parodied with Johnny the shoe shine boy, Drebin's only informant. Johnny already knows everything, why would Drebin bother going anywhere else?
  • Episode Title Card: The beginning of each episode shows a title on screen, and the voice over give a contradictory title. One is related to the plot, and the other is a red herring.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending/Every Episode Ending/Oh, Cisco!: Every episode's "Epilogue" involves Drebin and Hocken cracking a joke about the criminal they just sent to prison, followed by a mock-freeze frame (a.k.a. the "YEAH!" Shot listed below): the camera keeps rolling, but the actors stand really still.
    • In Episode 1, Drebin and Hocken are visibly blinking and struggling to hold their expressions as the credits roll.
    • In Episode 2, the episode's villain, Montague Martin, tries to escape, only to find the exits blocked by frozen cops or the Fourth Wall.
    • In Episode 3, the ending "freeze-frames" while Hocken pours Drebin some coffee, halfway through Drebin saying "when". The coffee continues to pour, and Hocken has to slowly raise his arm to keep it going as the pot empties. Eventually, Drebin's coffee cup overflows and falls out of his hand.
    • In Episode 4, Norberg walks into the scene after the freeze frame, and tries to find a suitable pose for himself to freeze on.
    • In Episode 5, a suspect (a dressed-up chimpanzee) starts to demolish the office, while the rest of the cast freeze-frames.
    • In Episode 6, Norberg goes to nail something to the wall, and the impact of his hammering causes the entire set to start falling down around the frozen actors.
  • The Faceless: Al, a cop at headquarters who was so tall his head was never seen. Here's what he looks like.
  • Fake Alibi: The suspect for Revenge and Remorse has an alibi that could show that he was unable to plant the bomb killing the judge. The fake alibi wasn't to cover for the murder, but to cover for a parole violation because he went to see a baseball game.
  • Finger in the Mail:
    • Frank and his fellow detectives tell the mother of a kidnapped young lady about a similar case they had in which the victim's ear was cut off and mailed to her parents. The story, naturally, horrifies the woman, especially as they prattle on about the possibility.
    • In another episode, mobsters have kidnapped a boxer's girlfriend to make him throw a fight. They start by showing a few of the normal items which he dismisses, then they show him her toaster (complete with toast popping up). During the fight, he checks the crowd and the mob's man is sitting there with her clothes dryer, and he keeps displaying household items up to an entire washing machine.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: In the last episode, Norberg states there's only one way to find out if these suspicious powders they found in the car are drugs, so he does one... then takes another "test"... and then a whole finger's worth... Norberg was always a little odd, but maybe....
  • The Fool: Drebin.
  • Freeze-Frame Ending: The show frequently parodied this by having the actors (try to) freeze still and failing, often with faces contorted into rictus laughter, while the credits rolled.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • The many times the view from the Police Squad office window changes from a generic city-scape to Paris, to a jungle.
    • The very, very long cadaver that is being carried out in episode 1.
    • Frank and Ed drive to Little Italy, which the projected background helpfully indicates by having the two drive away from the Colosseum. And at their destination, you can clearly see the Leaning Tower of Pisa out the window.
    • Episode 6 has two coroners trying to stuff a corpse into a cabinet while Frank and Ed discuss the case.
  • Generic Cop Badges: Lampshaded. Marked police cruisers are seen only in the background; they are highly official-looking black-and-white full-size sedans, very authentic except that the door decals read "POLICE CAR".
  • Knowledge Broker: Johnny the shoeshine guy, who can give you information on literally anything for a price.
  • Half-Hour Comedy
  • Happy Birthday to You!: Turns into...something different...literally.
  • Homage: Multiple brief recreations of famous and not-so-famous movie and TV moments, plus the series' entire recreation of the look and feel of 1950s police shows, particularly M Squad.
  • Hidden Depths: Frank bumbles at just about everything, and is even worse when he goes undercover. But he actually is a skilled entertainer/comedian when he poses as one. And is also a pretty skilled basketball player.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Police Squad spends five hours almost completely dismantling a car to find the drugs they suspected were being smuggled in it... which were sitting in an unlocked glove compartment. They then manage to restore the utterly destroyed car to near mint condition in a matter of minutes, although it ends up as an entirely different make and model of car.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": The boxing champ is exclusively referred to as "The Champ", even by the announcers. It might be a stage name, but considering how liberally this series uses Who's on First?...
  • Honey Trap: Dutch's Femme Fatale attempts this on Drebin.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: In one episode Frank tries to taunt a corrupt boxer with all sorts of insults, to which the man is polite and courteous. When the honest boxer Frank is managing says, "Forget it." that suddenly sets the corrupt one off and accidentally does the trick.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode had two names — the one displayed on the screen, and the one read by the announcer at the same time.
  • Improbable Weapon User: "Look out, Frank: herpes!"
    • "Watch out, he's got a painting! It's a signed Picasso!!"
  • The Informant: "What's the word on the street, Johnny?" Parodied with his absurdly immense amounts of information.
  • Lady in Red: Stella in "Rendezvous at Big Gulch (Terror in the Neighborhood)"
  • Latex Perfection: The Frenchman.
  • Literal-Minded: Every character whenever it was funny. A signature style found in all Zucker Abrahams Zucker comedies.
  • The Magic Poker Equation: Parodied in one episode, where Drebin lays down a full house and his opponent does the old "not so fast" and reveals his own hand: a straight. This then starts an argument over whether a full house beats a straight.note 
  • The Movie: The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad and its sequels.
  • Mysterious Informant: Johnny the Shoeshine Guy, who is essentially omniscient.
  • Nausea Fuel: In-Universe when Frank starts using overly-detailed metaphors to try and convince a crime victim that she can't let the mob turn the city into a festering cesspool. Other people in the squadroom yell at him each time he starts on a new description.
    "Come on, Frank, I'm trying to eat a tuna fish sandwich!"
    "Oh, Frank cut it out would ya, I'm talking to my mother!"
  • Narrator: Frank Drebin would fill this role during driving scenes, introducing himself with a different rank each episode and describing his thought process in a dead serious tone while unusual events played out in the rear window.
  • No Fourth Wall: Literally — whenever Olson would take Drebin to the lab where he'd run the episode's critical experiment, Olson would walk through the door — and Drebin would walk around the end of the set wall in which the door was placed.
  • Non Sequitur, *Thud*: Played straight when Buddy Brigs delivers the knockout blow to the Champ.
    Referee: How many fingers do you see?
    Champ: Thursday. [collapses]
    • This is actually reference to a real thing in some sports. When asked "How many fingers am I holding up?", a concussed athlete might respond with the wrong number or a completely different answer, which might be less than helpful in determining injury. Instead, athletes are trained to answer with a specific day of the week, Tuesday and Thursday being common, as a quick sign they're in their right mind. Any other answer is an indication that something is seriously wrong, which is what makes Champ's answer and subsequent fainting funny.
  • Once an Episode: Every episode Drebin will: Come in to work while narrating how he was in the middle of something else; consult Johnny the shoeshine guy for the word on the street (who will then be consulted by someone in a non-cop profession); consult Dr. Olson for forensic info (interrupting him in the middle of some dangerous or creepy experiment he's doing for some kid); crash into something while parking; offer a cigarette or something similar, only to have the offeree agree that it is indeed a cigarette; and mention that the current episode's arrestee would be joining every single criminal (listed off by name) who had been arrested in the previous episodes in Stateville Prison.
    • If you wondered which episode it was, count the number of garbage cans the car hits. Now, imagine if they had made more episodes.
    • There will be an Act II. The title will be some sort of play on the words "Act II".
      • Gesundheit.
    • A Special Guest Star will be introduced during the opening credits, who dies within thirty seconds.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: In "Ring of Fear (A Dangerous Assignment)", a mob assassin manages to get past a guard by disguising as a member of the press—and by "disguising as a member of the press", we mean "wearing a press hat and trench coat and claiming to be a member, while making no effort to conceal the grenades, ammunition, axe, and Cartoon Bomb he's carrying."
  • Only Sane Man: Inverted. In a series where everybody is The Comically Serious, Norberg comes across as seemingly the only person who knows he's in a comedy and acts accordingly goofy. One of the poker players that Frank plays against in Episode 2 also fits since while he seems to have a few screws loose, his behavior fits the comedic tone more than everybody else pretending like they're in a serious Police Procedural.
  • Orphaned Punchline: In "Testimony of Evil (Dead Men Don't Laugh)": "So anyway, the guy looked up at her and he said, 'Lady, I don't think I can take sixty-seven more of those!'"
  • Police Procedural: Well, in theory—definitely a spoof of the genre.
  • Press Hat: A mob hitman wears a press-credential hat to trick the guards into letting him go.
  • Pretty in Mink: Stella in "Rendezvous at Big Gulch (Terror in the Neighborhood)" wears a white fox stole.
  • The Professor: Mr. Olson.
  • Reverse Whodunnit: The opening of "A Substantial Gift (The Broken Promise)" clearly shows that Sally committed the crime.
  • Right-Hand Cat: The Villain of Episode 3 has a white one.
  • Rock Star Parking: Parodied; Frank Drebin parks no matter what objects might be in the way.
  • Rule of Three: The opening titles introduce "Leslie Nielsen as Detective Frank Drebin", who is in an alleyway when someone shoots at him and he returns fire. Then "Alan North as Captain Ed Hocken" who is also fired on and returns fire, even though he's in the police station. Finally, "Rex Hamilton as Abraham Lincoln". He's at the theater and, of course, someone shoots at him. He returns fire.
  • Running Gag: Drebin regularly goes places mentioning that "my boss was already there".
    • Sergeant Lieutenant Captain Drebin's rank changes every time it's said.
    • As the page quote says, in the first episode, Drebin notes that nude, unconscious fashion models that were being found in laundromats...but he's been assigned to something else. Every time he's in his car, he remarks that he was doing his laundry, or has the laundry with him.
    • In every indoor scene with a window, some strange background will be visible through it (the U.S. Capitol, the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa in a scene set in a "Little Italy" neighborhood).
    • While it didn't quite happen every episode, a few times Drebin and Hocken would step into an elevator, and then we'd see inside as they talked about the case. In the background, an unlikely passenger would enter, then the elevator doors would open to a setting that makes no sense for an elevator to be present, but makes sense with the outfit the passenger is wearing, who disembarks (A woman in a bathing suit who heads to a floor with a swimming pool; a matador who gets off at a bullring, for example).
    • Whenever a character decides to put a word out, they lean over on their desk, seemingly talking on a speaker phone. One reverse shot later, it turns out they're talking to a dwarf police officer on the other side of the desk.
    • Anytime one of the detectives prefaces a hypothetical with "let’s say," everyone then repeats the hypothetical.
  • Saint-Bernard Rescue: As an unexplained sight gag, a boxer's drunk girlfriend has a pet St. Bernard with a cask of brandy on its collar.
  • Serial Escalation: How many sight gags and bad puns can we fit into a half-hour show?
  • Shoe Shine, Mister?: Johnny the Shoe-Shine Boy, who knew everything, so much that he's listed on this site as an Almighty Janitor.
  • Shot at Dawn: One episode has Robert Goulet as the special guest star, smoking a cigarette. The camera pulls back to show him up against a wall with his hands tied, and then multiple squibs go off through his shirt.
  • Shout-Out: The original newspaper ads for Airplane! featured a picture of a 747 tied in a knot. The ABC TV Guide ads for Police Squad! featured a picture of a police revolver with its barrel tied in a similar knot.
  • Shown Their Work: All the advice and info Johnny gives out? Generally accurate. His explanation of Ska to Dick Clark for instance is often lauded to be right on the money about how and why it'll never achieve true mainstream popularity.
  • Someone's Touching My Butt: In the episode "Ring of Fear (A Dangerous Assignment)", when Drebin confronts the villain inside a steam room.
    Drebin: All right, hands up, Luca! I got a gun in your ribs!
    Mary: I'm not Luca, and those aren't my ribs.
  • Special Guest: Parodied; the intro credits to each episode introduce that episode's guest star, who are all instantly killed in various ways. The guests are Lorne Greene, Georg Stanford Brown, Robert Goulet, William Shatner, Florence Henderson and William Conrad.
  • Spinning Paper
  • Stylistic Suck: In "Testimony of Evil (Dead Men Don't Laugh)", Drebin goes undercover as a nightclub performer. He's terrible, but everyone loves him.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That: In one episode, Frank Drebin, out of nowhere, demonstrates that he's a pretty good street basketball player. This is never brought up again.
  • Teaser-Only Character: All of the celebrities killed during the opening credits. Also Rex Hamilton as Abraham Lincoln.
  • Throwing Your Gun at the Enemy: Lampooned in an episode, where both the cops and the villains throw their guns away after they run out of bullets in a shoot-out—and someone gets clonked on the head by a thrown gun, because both sides were only about six feet apart. In a different episode, once the gun-throwing starts, both sides suddenly have a large supply of empty firearms to keep tossing, which still make the *BANG!* sound effect when heaved.
  • Title Reading Gag: At the start of each episode a title card shows the title of the episode while the announcer announces a completely different title.
  • Turn Your Head and Cough: In the first episode, Sally Decker plans to rob the bank she works at. Just off-screen, Ralph Twice is opening up an account at the bank, and the overheard signing-up procedure grows increasingly surreal until the bank teller instructs Ralph, "Now, turn your head and cough."
  • Umbrella Drink: In the fourth episode, Drebin is given one with so many pieces of flair in it that it takes him a few tries before he can find a place he can put his lips to the cup to without getting an umbrella up his nose.
  • Visual Pun: Again, so very many. In one episode, Drebin follows a lead to the "Club Flamingo" bar. The mechanical sign shows a man clubbing a flamingo to death.
    • In another, "Here comes the tow truck." A truck arrives, resembling a toe. A toe truck.
    • In the 5th episode, the "Japanese garden" in question is a garden full of Japanese people in pots.
    • The same episode had a Glove compartment...full of gloves.
  • Vomiting Cop: Subverted: in response to seeing a picture of Alexander Haig.
  • Walk This Way: Students at a ballet school continue to imitate their teacher, even as she gets roughed up by the local mob.
  • Warrior Poet: Parodied with the champ, in reference to Muhammad Ali:
    Roses are red,
    Violets are blue,
    Sugar is sweet,
    • And later:
      Jack and Jill went up the hill,
  • Will Talk for a Price: Parodied. As long as you slip him a few bills, Johnny the Shoeshine will tell you everything about any subject, and can even provide you the documentation.
  • What's a Henway?: Built on this trope.
  • Who's on First?:
    • The first episode alone had a lengthy conversation that makes an art of this (By the end, Frank seems resigned to it):
    Sally: I was right here at my desk, working.
    Frank: And when was the first time you noticed something was wrong?
    Sally: Well, when I first heard the shot, and as I turned, Jim fell.
    Ed: He is the teller, Frank.
    Frank: Jim Fell is the teller?
    Sally: No, Jim Johnson.
    Frank: Who's Jim Fell?
    Ed: He is the owner, Frank.
    Sally: He had the flu so Jim filled in.
    Frank: Phil who?
    Ed: Phil Inn, he's the night watchman.
    Sally: If only Phil had been here.
    Frank: Now wait a minute, let me get this straight. Twice came in and shot the teller and Jim fell.
    Sally: No he only shot the teller, Jim Johnson. Fell is ill.
    Frank: Okay, then after he shot the teller you shot Twice.
    Sally: No, I only shot once.
    Ed: Twice is the hold-up man.
    Sally: Then I guess I did shoot Twice.
    Frank: Well, so now you are changing your story.
    Sally: No, I shot Twice after Jim fell.
    Frank: You shot Twice and Jim Fell.
    Sally: No, Jim fell first and then I shot Twice once.
    Frank: Who fired twice?
    Sally: Once!
    Ed: He is the owner of the tire company, Frank.
    Frank: Okay, now, Once is the owner of the tire company and he fired Twice. Then Twice shot the teller once.
    Sally: Twice.
    Frank: And Jim fell and then you fired twice.
    Sally: Once.
    Frank: Okay, all right, that will be all for now, Ms. Decker.
    Ed: We will need you to make a formal statement down at the station.
    Sally: Oh, of course.
    Frank: You have been very helpful. We think we know how he did it.
    Sally: Oh, Howie couldn't have done it, he hasn't been in for weeks.
    Frank: Well. Thank you again, Ms. Decker.
    Frank: Weeks?
    Ed: Saul Weeks. He is the controller, Frank.
    • Later:
    Ed: Sergeants, take her away and book her!
    Frank: [greeting the policemen] Sergeant Takeheraway...Sergeant Booker.
    • Also, Frank says he cracked the case "thanks to hunch back at the office". His boss suspected that, and so brought the hunchback along to see the bust. "Charlie, come on out here!"
  • Wingding Eyes: "No sale" eyeballs, animated onto a live-action boxer.
  • Work Com
  • "YEAH!" Shot: Parodied at the end of every episode.
  • Your Little Dismissive Diminutive: When Frank is minding a key-cutting shop in order to flush out a gang of extortionists:
    Extortionist: You'd better watch your little key store.
    Frank: What about my little keister?
    Extortionist: key store.

"Looks like they'll have to ruin their lives up in the Statesville Prison from now on..."


Video Example(s):


"Sally Decker has no record"

Frank Drebin takes off a series of wigs revealing the increasingly-ludicrous previous identities of supposed witness Sally Decker, before she reveals yet one more.

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / DramaticUnmask

Media sources: