The series was notorious for its violence, which led to its early cancellation in its second season. However, its theme music is a classic that became a #1 hit single. Combined with the show's title sequence, where the cops jog in lockstep to grab their rifles and get to their transport van, this was the epitome of 1970s American TV cool.
The show was later given a film adaptation in 2003 starring Samuel L. Jackson, Colin Farrell, Michelle Rodriguez and LL Cool J. Courtesy of CBS, a TV series revival premiered on November 2, 2017, with Shemar Moore leading the new cast.
- Artistic License:
- In reality, SWAT troopers do not simply wait at headquarters for a muster signal; they operate in other capacities in the police department until called up to suit up for SWAT duty. Of course, the Rule of Cool dictated the title sequence be otherwise.
- Also, the missions in the series, which appeared to happen once a week in the series, was derided by real cops as being once in a lifetime things.
- City with No Name: Many of Aaron Spelling's cop shows — The Rookies, Starsky & Hutch, T.J. Hooker — are set in police agencies that resemble the Los Angeles Police Department, but are in unnamed cities. The police officers on "S.W.A.T." wear shoulder patches of the "W.P.D.", which is said to stand for "West Coast Police Department."
- Cop Show
- Deadman Switch: In one episode the boss of a bunch of crooks tries to escape by wiring himself to a bomb, with the switch in his hand. He demands and gets a truck, which he tries to escape in, driving one-handed. Naturally, something gets in his way, and he has to put both hands on the wheel — releasing the switch. Boom.
- Moral Guardians: The show was one of the targets as, unlike the later series The A-Team, SWAT would storm in and shoot to kill. Steve Forrest addressed this understanding where the guardians were coming from, he just felt they were wrong about his particular show. By 21st century standards, it's quite tame compared with TV shows that came later.
- Red Alert: The famous Title Sequence commences with a warbling siren as The Squad rush for their Wall of Weapons and leap into a van.
- Spinoff: From The Rookies.
- The Squad
- Stock Footage: The series commonly reused stock footage of the SWAT van responding to a call, among other things. In fact, a couple of episodes even reused the intro scenes from some other episodes.
- SWAT Team: Um...
- Turn in Your Badge: The pilot plays with this as Robert Urich's cop character, in the hospital after surviving an attack that killed his partner, picks up his badge is if he wants to resign. However, he then simply requests if his badge could be renumbered to his deceased partner's; the SWAT leader agrees to make the arrangements.