The A-Team is one of the most famous of the 1980s action series, running from 1983 to 1987.
The four members of the A-Team are:
- Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith — played by George Peppard, he is the leader of the team, a cunning master of disguise.
- Captain H.M. "Howlin' Mad" Murdock — played by Dwight Schultz, he is the resident pilot, who may or may not be insane.
- Lieutenant Templeton "Faceman" Peck — played by Dirk Benedict, he is the "charmer" of the team.
- Sergeant Bosco "B.A." ("Bad Attitude") Baracus — played by Mr. T, he is the team's strongman with a famous fear of flying.
Each episode would start with a bunch of innocent people being menaced by a bunch of people with guns, who want their land, water, taxi company etc.
They would go talk to a man who they thought would get them in contact with the A-Team. Most of the time, it would turn out to be a member of the A-Team — Hannibal in disguise who had to make sure the people in question are not part of a trap to capture the team.
They would go along to the location of the activity in their Cool Car, which in their case was actually a distinctive-looking custom van — an odd choice for a group who are supposed to be in hiding. There they would do a lot of A-Team Firing, beat up the baddies and often MacGyver up an armored vehicle over the course of an A-Team Montage.
The show ran for five seasons, with several minor cast changes along the way; the show's eventual decline was attributed to the constantly-recycled and extremely formulaic plot. Attempts to win viewers back, by both changing the overall premise and having the A-Team overseen by a former antagonist, worked for only a short while.
Logic and credibility were usually ignored for the series' trademark over-the-top explosions, but the show never took itself particularly seriously, anyway: most of Hannibal's disguises were paper-thin, the villains were usually mostly-inept and somewhat one-dimensional, and the weapons that the Team cobbled together from miscellaneous parts were invariably more effective than the machine guns that the episode's villains used.
The A-Team provides examples of the following tropes:
- Abandoned War Child: "The Sound of Thunder" has the Team hired by season-long adversary General Fullbright, who learned he has a child from the Vietnam War.
- Accent Adaptation: One episode has the gang supposedly going to Barcelona, Spain to foil a plane hijacking by unspecified Terrorists Without a Cause. Their plan includes Murdock infiltrating the plane by posing as a Spanish co-pilot, so he speaks English with a Spanish accent and throws a lot of Gratuitous Spanish. In the Spanish dub, Murdock speaks in this scene with a Catalan accent, which is both unexpected and hilarious.
- Ace Pilot: Murdock. If it has wings, he can fly it. ...and he might even be able to land it safely!
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Believe it or not, the series had a few of these. The most notable is the season 4 finale, involving their pursuer General Fullbright enlisting their help to go back to Vietnam to find his illegitimate daughter. The humor of the show is replaced by a somber mood, as the team reflects on their experiences in Vietnam.
- Actor Allusion:
- In an episode with a science fiction con, a guy in a original Galactica Cylon suit walks past "Face". In the episode in question, it's actually Hannibal in the costume. The Actor Allusion was all Dirk Benedict's idea. While filming at Universal Studios for the second season episode "Steel", Dirk spotted a park employee dressed as a Cylon, and decided he wanted to film a little nod to his days as Starbuck. The director told him it was a dumb idea, but let him do it anyway. So, they had the Cylon-clad actor stroll nonchalantly across the frame while Face was all "don't I know you?" Fortunately for Dirk, the scene ended up being quite funny and they kept it in the credits up to season 5.
- There were also allusions to George Peppard and his previous roles:
- Hannibal's off-kilter words of wisdom in episodes such as "The Big Squeeze" seem like exaggerations of similar quotes he said as Thomas Banacek in Banacek.
- In the episode "The Rabbit Who Ate Las Vegas", Amy mentions that it's a shame Hannibal's being chased by the military as he is "a terrific actor" after Hannibal goes to great lengths explaining how he'll play his "character", a reference to Peppard's infamously stringent adherence to method acting, even when playing unchallenging roles.
- The entire fifth season episode "The Say U.N.C.L.E. Affair" runs on this trope as not only was Robert Vaughn a series regular and David McCallum playing the villain of the week, but the episode was structured to parody and reference episodes of The Man from U.N.C.L.E..
- In one episode, Isaac Hayes plays a prisoner at the mercy of the top of the prison's pecking order. This seems like a huge reversal of fortunes compared to his time as The Duke of New York.
- Actually, I Am Him: People looking for the team usually found Hannibal in disguise when they met with the person who was supposed to get them in contact.
- Adjective Animal Alehouse: In "The Big Squeeze", when Hannibal decides to use props from his movie producer friends to fake a new restaurant to lure in some Mafia extortionists, he sets up an Irish pub called "The Naked Lady."
- Air-Vent Passageway: Several episodes, including one where Murdock escapes from a locked room, with his hands bound no less, through a ventilation shaft. Hannibal and B.A. boost him into the shaft while Face distracts the guard.
- Alliterative Name: B.A.'s full name is Bosco Baracus.
- And the Adventure Continues: The last episode of the series ended with this discussion:Hannibal: Chasing thugs through the park...it's got a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
Face: It has a terrible ring to it.
Murdock: Just think, if we get a pardon, we may never have to eat a knuckle sandwich again.
B.A.: I wouldn't bet on it, Crazy Man. Looks like Hannibal's on the jazz again.
Face: What, what, wha-
Murdock: No, you - you tell me right now, you tell me right to my face, you tell me that you don't have a plan.
Hannibal: Well I - I was thinking, what are we gonna do when this thing's over? I mean, what are we really qualified to do?
Face: Go after...thugs in the park?
Hannibal: And...outlaw motorcycle gangs, organized crime figures...why, there's a world of slimeballs out there.
Murdock: I knew it. I just knew you had a plan.
Hannibal: Comforting, isn't it?
B.A.: I'll get the van.
- Always Camp: Hannibal takes advantage of this stereotype when playing a hairdresser in "Pros and Cons."
- Always Know a Pilot: A large part of Howlin' Mad Murdock's usefulness to the team is that he can fly anything that Face can scam. This makes him very useful for transportation (though they have to work around B.A.'s fear of flying).
- Anti-Hero: Colonel Lynch, Colonel Decker, and General Fullbright all qualify as this as well as Hero Antagonist, especially the latter two who are more than willing to use destructive or shady methods in their attempts at apprehending the A-Team. Colonel Decker once even went so far as to work with a group of criminals to try and catch the team, though he did make it clear he wasn't happy to be doing so.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
- In the Season 2 premiere, "Diamonds 'n Dust", Murdock uses this to insult a South African store owner when he's pretending to be a English officer ("Col. Lexington") as he and Face try to "confiscate" some dynamite:Murdock: No kippers, no herring-bone tweed, no Rolls Royce petrol caps, no meat pies, no original pressings of "Hey Jude!!!"
Face: (mouthing) "Hey Jude?"
- Also by Murdock when the team is opening a fake restaurant in "The Big Squeeze."Murdock: Excuse me sir. If you're planning to open up a restaurant, let me introduce myself. My name is H.M. Murdock and I belong to the B.B.D.W.G.O.H. Failure to hire our personnel will lead to picketing, bad press, and no cookies before bed!
- In the Season 2 premiere, "Diamonds 'n Dust", Murdock uses this to insult a South African store owner when he's pretending to be a English officer ("Col. Lexington") as he and Face try to "confiscate" some dynamite:
- Artistic License Gun Safety: A second season episode features a sequence where Hannibal Smith attempts to help defend a young woman and her son against a prison escapee invading their home. Hannibal's way of telling the woman to lock the front door of the house is to gesture with his loaded shotgun in an enclosed environment, pointing it directly at her. Strange considering that both the character Hannibal Smith and the actor that played him, George Peppard, are veterans of the U.S. armed forces.
- Asleep for Days: Inverted whenever they drugged BA in order to fly anywhere. They would tell him he's been asleep for two days and they had driven the whole way, when in truth they flew and it had been only a few hours.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The native chanting in The Crystal Skull (see the Lampshade Hanging entry).
- Badass Crew: A prototype example. Maybe the first in primetime TV.
- Badass in Distress: Murdock in "Bounty" gets abducted from the V.A. hospital by bounty hunters who think he can lead them to the A-Team.
- Badass Preacher: Reverend Taylor in "Pure-Dee Poison".Villain: Reverend, I'm not gonna listen to any more of your preaching.
Reverend Taylor: Well that's fine with me, 'cause I'm through sermonizing. (Pulls out a shotgun) Let us pray.
- Bad Boss: General Stockwell. Aside from getting the team charged with first degree murder and sentenced to execution so that he could recruit them, he also has no problems withholding vital information from them when it suits his purposes, and treats them (and his other operatives) as if they're expendable. Notably, when he recruits them, the best he's willing to say to them is that "not all" of the missions he gives will be Impossible Suicide Missions with a less than 1% chance of survival.
- Bad Guys Play Pool: Quite commonly in episodes set in the rural South, we'll be introduced to the villains of the week at the local drinking establishment, playing pool.
- Bad Samaritan: Prince, one half of the villain duo (along with corrupt INS agent Taggart) from the episode "Bad Time On The Border." He gets some respect in Mexico as a man who, for a hefty fee, helps down-on-their-luck Mexicans across the border to a better life in America. While aiding illegal immigration is already a crime, the truth about him is far worse. Far from helping them reach a better life, Prince and his thugs take the people they "help" to a camp in the wilderness, where they rob them at gunpoint of all their remaining possessions, then sell them as slaves to whatever border town sweatshop makes the best offer.
- Balloonacy: The team once escaped from prison in hot air balloons made from garbage bags, hair dryers and hairdresser's chairs. It was Murdock's idea, of course.Hannibal: Murdock, how'd I let you talk me into this?
Murdock (already floating away): I don't know—I have intermittent memory loss. *floats away cackling*
- Balls of Steel: A bad guy slams his rifle into BA's crotch with no effect.
- Band of Brothers: From the almost father-and-son-like relationship between Hannibal and Face (or between Hannibal and Murdock) to Vitriolic Best Buds B. A. and Murdock, to Face and Murdock's Odd Friendship (really, how can a suave con man and a crazy pilot be best friends? Just ask Face and Murdock), they're more like a family than just a team of ex-military acquaintances. For instance, in the Season 2 finale, when Murdock gets shot in the chest during a job in the middle of nowhere, they pull out all the stops and even face possible capture by the military in order to save him. They even include the "we can insult each other, but when outsiders do it we close ranks" bit.
- Bar Brawl: Multiple episodes have the team facing off against the villain of the week's goons in a bar or some other similar establishment.
- The Barnum: Face genuinely reveled in being a Con Man, and never showed signs of wanting to reform. He seemed to love the scheme just as much as the payoff. This makes sense when you think about it; Face, though not a coward by any stretch, often shows signs of not liking violence that much. He probably likes trying to con people so they can get away without a shootout or fistfight - not that he doesn't enjoy the con for its own sake, mind you.
- Bash Brothers: Very much so. Hannibal knows the strengths and weaknesses of each of the other three team members, and knows exactly how to best use their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Different as they may be, when they all fight together, it's a bad day for slimeballs everywhere.
- Face and Murdock especially seem to be this. They have a very effective tag-team fighting style.
- Doubly so for Murdock and B.A. They usually drive each other nuts, but together they are a force of nature.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Half the series is one long string of these after the other. From conning a plane for a nonexistent Texas millionaire to hitchhiking a landing on the pretense of a heart attack. In about five minutes.
- Bedsheet Ghost: Murdock does a standard bedsheet-over-head in "Judgement Day".
- Big Damn Heroes: The A-Team bursts in at the last minute to save the day a lot. Even if it's not for a civilian, they tend to take turns doing this for each other.
- Bland-Name Product:
- Quite a lot in "Blood, Sweat, and Cheers," given the episode's focus on stock car racing. Most notably, a scene taking place just before a race shows the villain's car with a large "Firestom" logo, even using a slightly fancier version of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company font.
- In "Members Only" the country club that the episode revolves around is host to a number of famous people including "Sikorski", the head of "BiStar Pictures".
- Bloodless Carnage: for all the shooting and car crashing that takes place almost every episode, there were surprisingly few on-screen deaths and injuries.
- Born Lucky: Hannibal Smith. He's either this or a bloody wizard. No matter what the situation, he will find a way to come out on top.
- The Boxing Episode: The season 3 episode "Champ!" in which the team protects an up-and-coming heavyweight boxer from a would-be drug dealer trying to threaten him into throwing his first big match.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: In the Season 4 episode "Members Only", Murdock starts giving Hannibal a tour of a country club (Murdock goes there often as his psychiatrist's guest) and then discovers a plot point that is (somewhat) nastier than the other normal things:Murdock (sounding posh): The tennis courts are night-lit, there's an extra putting green there, that's the front nine, and that's Faceman chasing someone into the rough.Cut to Face running after someone
- Briefcase Full of Money: In "The Beast from the Belly of a Boeing", Hannibal and Face receive some money for a hostage situation and Face comments that it sure would be tempting to just take the money and run. Hannibal talks him down, but is clearly tempted himself.
- Building Is Welding: All the time. Sometimes taken to ridiculous extremes, such as when the team welds together a restaurant as part of their scheme to trick the villains.
- Bullying a Dragon:
- Far too many little, unarmed Mooks pick a fight with B.A.
- The villains of the week, even having received a sample of the A-Team's handiwork (not to mention the ones who know who they are from the start), never call it a day while the damage is minimal; they insist on provoking them further by threatening them or their clients. It never ends well.
- Busman's Holiday:
- "Incident at Crystal Lake". After Colonel Decker has been getting a bit too close, the team goes to the titular Crystal Lake national park for a relaxing vacation, but instead runs into a crew of crooks fresh off an armored car robbery. At the end the team agrees that busting bad guys is more fun than any vacation could ever be anyway.
- "Without Reservations" had General Stockwell grant the team 2 weeks without any assignments. Murdock invites Face and Frankie to his new job at an Italian restaurant, which gets everyone there held hostage by mobsters. It took B.A. ordering a pizza to stop them.
- Can't Get in Trouble for Nuthin'': In the episode "Pros and Cons" the team are trying to get arrested, but the local law enforcement fear that arresting tourists will bring in the FBI to investigate them. The team commit progressively worse and worse violations to try and get arrested, culminating in them crashing their car through the sheriff's office window.
- Carnival of Killers:
- "Deadly Maneuvers" had a syndicate of crime lords pay Major Douglas Kyle to assemble a Dream Team of mercenaries to hunt down the A-Team.
- Also Insane Wayne and his team from "Waiting for Insane Wayne," a team of mercenaries-for-hire who the team briefly impersonates then ends up fighting, though they're not nearly as bad as Kyle and his team.
- The Casanova:
- Face, the Handsome Lech who can con anyone out of anything and is often seen with a woman on each arm.
- Subverted by Murdock in "Blood, Sweat, and Cheers". He manages to pull it off while impersonating billionaire playboy Giancarlo Figorrati, though it's really all thanks to Face speaking for him while he rambles nonsensically in broken Italian.
- Casanova Wannabe: Murdock as the "Hunk Man" in "Mind Games", oh so very much. When Face is released on a government pardon Murdock tries to replace him. It doesn't go well.Murdock: You sound like a... groovy chick. I'm a six foot, square-jawed bundle of fun. I've got a 'Vette, it's hot, I like to talk about... whales! I like sushi, and sharing. Perhaps I could squeeze you into my date-filled calendar book, say Friday? ... ...huh, must've got cut off.
- Cassandra Truth: Neither Hannibal nor Murdock believe Faceman that he was thrown out of a tenth floor window into a pool in "The Battle of Bel Air".
- B.A, any time he thinks the others will try to get him to fly: "I ain't goin' on no airplane!" (or some variation)
- Hannibal, about something turning out right (sometimes by chance): "I love it when a plan comes together."
- Hannibal's standardized greeting, "What do ya say, [name]?"
- Chained to a Railway: In order to get Councilman Prescott to sign a paper they tied him to railway tracks at the end of a tunnel. He wouldn't talk at first, but soon he noticed a train approaching from the far end of the tunnel and signed it, only for Hannibal to leave that guy tied to the tracks. Of course it was then revealed that the oncoming train was just Murdock on a bike, complete with a high-powered lamp, a fake chimney and a tape player with train sound effects.
- Chair Reveal: Murdock's back is seen for about a minute behind Hannibal and Face in "Members Only" before he turns around. They are at a very upscale country club where Face is trying hard to become a member, and Murdock is there as a guest of his doctor.
- The Chick:
"Whenever the studio slips an actress on to the team, she becomes a distraction. She always slows down the action. She's someone who's only there for the glamour shots. Everything stops for the sexy smiles and I can't see why that's necessary on The A-Team."
- Amy Amanda "Triple A" Allen, a newspaper reporter who assisted the team in the first season and part of the second. She was eventually sent to Jakarta "on assignment" when conflicts between Culea and the producers led to her departure (either by firing or her simply getting fed up at having no dialog).
- The role of The Chick was next filled by Suspiciously Similar Substitute, Tawnia Baker, for the rest of season 2 and early portions of season 3 before she got married and moved to LA, with no new actress brought in to fill the archetype for the rest of the series.
- The new character of Tia was set up at the very end of Season 4 to become this, but due to the actress's contractual obligations, she was never seen or mentioned again.
- According to both Dirk Benedict and George Peppard, Triple A and her counterpart were there only because of studio demands, and the male leads felt that a female on the show slowed the action down too much.
- This trope was actually the reason George Peppard was so insistent on keeping women off the show. In his words:
- Chick Magnet: Face can attract women even when he's trying to focus on someone else.
- Chinese Launderer: One of Hannibal's most-referenced comic disguises was that of an old-timey Chinese launderer.
- Cigar-Fuse Lighting:
- In one episode, the team jury-rig a flamethrower, but fail to jury-rig a pilot light. Instead the instructions are: throw the cigar in front of you, then open up.
- In Without Reservations, Hannibal gets an idea when he sees a gas stove and leaves it running, then throws his lit cigar in the kitchen as a distraction.
- Clear My Name: The premise of the fifth season, though it never came to be before the show was canceled.
- This is also what forced the team into hiding. "The Crime They Didn't Commit" was eventually revealed to be a bank robbery in Hanoi, Vietnam, which they were in fact ordered to do, but the man who gave them the order was killed and all evidence of his orders destroyed.
- In the fifth season premiere, they were cleared of the robbery when a former Vietnamese colonel testified in their court-martial that their commanding officer sent them to rob a bank in order for them to be captured by the North Vietnamese. Of course, by that time the A-Team was being tried for the murder of their commanding officer.
- Clip Show: The episode "Curtain Call" has several of the main characters remember scenes from previous episodes. Also qualifies as A Day in the Limelight for Murdock, since many the scenes involves Capt. Murdock (who's been seriously injured).
- Clothing Damage: Played for laughs in "The Little Town With an Accent". To impersonate a gangster and infiltrate a meeting, the team kidnap him and send Murdock in with his clothes. The gangster escapes and blows Murdock's cover in the middle of the meeting, but stops people from shooting him so as to not damage his clothes.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Murdock. It's never made entirely clear whether he's actually insane or just acting so he can keep living in the Veterans Administration Hospital. One way or the other, he's a textbook example of a Cloudcuckoolander, which B.A. absolutely hates.
- Clumsy Copyright Censorship: A few of the episodes got removed from syndication, or edited, because they contained guest appearances and licensed material that the show's owners later lost (or never had) the rights to. Netflix and Hulu also blocked certain episodes in certain countries, during the time when the show was on their services. A notable example is "Wheel of Fortune" in which Murdock appears on the titular game show and wins a pickup truck, which appears again in a few other episodes before being destroyed in "The Little Town with an Accent", and the episode where he won it getting removed creates a minor plot hole. Other cuts include characters (usually Murdock) singing along to popular songs, particularly Murdock singing "Jumpin' Jack Flash" while he takes off in the plane in the pilot episode, which got edited out after the first airing and doesn't even appear in the DVD version of the episode.
- Colonel Badass: "Hannibal", in this case, has nothing to do with the Serial Killer, but rather the Carthaginian general who almost brought down the Roman Republic. This Hannibal is that good. "I love it when a plan comes together."
- Colonel Decker, the second Colonel who tries to catch the team and somewhat more competent than Lynch. He was picked for the job because of his unorthodox warfare techniques.
- Comic-Book Adaptation: Marvel Comics put out a short-lived comic based on the Amy Allen era.
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like:
- In "The Only Church In Town" the Mother Superior of the orphanage the team saves is quite unhappy with the Team using force to drive off the bandits terrorizing them. This is because the bandits are just a small squad from a much larger gang and angering them means the rest of the gang will return and try to destroy the orphanage.
- In "Harder Than It Looks" when the team rescues a girl from the terrorist group holding her hostage she fights them every step of the way and even holds them at gunpoint and demands they take her back. Her boyfriend is a member of the group, who has been questioning their methods and she knows the group's leaders are just looking for an excuse to off him. She's worried they'll think he helped her escape and kill him.
- In "Deadly Maneuvers", Murdock borrows one of B.A.'s necklaces (a sharp crescent moon) to cut their ropes and free them. In the process he inadvertently implies that B.A. is fat and also accidentally breaks the gold chain to the necklace, both of which B.A. complains about.
- In "Hot Styles" a large part of the plot revolves around the Damsel in Distress's unwillingness to let Face and his friends save her. It turns out the villain is also holding her young son, and she's afraid he'll be hurt if she tries to escape.
- Composite Character: Frankie Santana from season 5 combines aspects of all the other team members. He's a bit of a loose screw like Murdock, a mechanic like B.A., and a Casanova like Face, though not to the same extent as any of them. This is part of why he wasn't a very popular character.
- Con Man: Face's profession when the team doesn't have a job on hand, and he puts those skills to (literal) good use when they are on a job.
- Consulting Mister Puppet: Murdock sometimes converses with a sock puppet. Another great way of annoying B.A.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment:
- The episode "Moving Targets" has the team knocking out B.A. (again) so they can get on a plane. This time however they're in the middle of a mission, so they can't wait for him to calm down. Hannibal decides that the only way to solve the problem is to let B.A. take his revenge on them after the mission is over, which Face and Murdock are horrified about. B.A. is creepily cheerful throughout the rest of the episode, and the Team dreads what he'll do to them. Finally, when it's all over, B.A. prepares to punish them. He lines them all up and calls them out on their flaws and why they annoy him. B.A. also reveals that instead of flying back, he's chartered a boat. As part of their payment, the rest of the team has to help with the upkeep as well as repaint the whole thing. The team decides they would've preferred if he had just beaten them up.
- Also used to interrogate a villain in "Mind Games". Murdock, as the Casanova Wannabe "Hunk Man" offers to charm the information they want from the enemy. Hannibal suggests that this would be equally as torturous as simply letting B.A. beat the crap out of the guy.
- Corrupt Hick: To judge from this show, every small town in rural America has an evil hick who exerts extra-judicial, feudal-like control over it, or had until the A-Team passed through.
- Could Have Been Messy:
- Every episode has a scene where the A-Team and their opponents exchange billions of rounds of gunfire. Nobody is ever shot. EVER.
- Averted in the season four finale. Fullbright is fatally wounded by a Vietnamese general as the team makes their escape, and Hannibal retaliates by blowing up the shed he was in.
- Well, there are the two times in which Murdock and Face get shot, but both times, only a single bullet is fired.
- And in the first scene of the episode "Pros and Cons" (involving illegal prison fights), the warden strides up to the loser and points a gun at him - we don't see what happens next, but a rematch is unlikely.
- Covert Distress Code: "Red Ball One" and "Bag is Leaking" mean "big trouble" and "one of the team took some lead" as explained to Amy by Murdock, who receives the code from the team.
- Cowboy Episode: "When You Comin' Back, Range Rider?", parts one and two. The whole episode is partially played out like a Western, with the team dressing up like cowboys, using smaller guns, and stopping Bus' train. Murdock, as the Range Rider, especially plays it up, much to B.A.'s annoyance.
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: In "The Maltese Cow", Murdock spends the episode doing a bad Philip Marlow impression, in character as Mack Murdock, rambling nonsensically about the titular bovine. Halfway through the episode, the team encounters a mobster who happens to be carrying the week's MacGuffin - a statuette of a cow-like monster, containing microfilm. Even Murdock is surprised, and later admits that it was terrifying to see the thing he'd made up actually appear for real.
- Cut Phone Lines: Examples: Season 1 ep. 6, "Black Day at Bad Rock" where bikers cut down a pole and Season 2 ep. 10, "Water Water Everywhere", where phone lines at a water plant are cut.
- Darker and Edgier: Season 5 starts with the team being captured and put on trial, with the charge escalating from robbery and desertion, up to first degree murder, and then being apparently executed by firing squad. It then puts them under the control of Manipulative Bastard General Stockwell, who sends them on far more morally gray missions than those they usually chose to take on as fugitives. It also has multiple Character Deaths, and the dramatic discovery of who Face's father is, right before that man also dies.
- Denser and Wackier: In contrast to season 5, season 4 was this. The camp was ratcheted up, even for a show that was already pretty campy. The very first episode has Hannibal impersonating a villain with a ridiculous spray tan, an even more ridiculous fake Italian accent, and his mouth constantly open as if he's trying to catch flies. The rest of the season follows suit, with zany characters like Double Reverse Quadruple Agent Betty Richter/Sarah Teasdale (even the team never really finds out who she is) from "The Doctor Is Out", plans to save the day that sound like they came from Bugs Bunny, and Special Guest appearances from Hulk Hogan, Rick James, and even Boy George.
- Destructive Saviour: Very much so. The millions of dollars worth of property damage the A-Team causes per episode would be enough for them to be considered criminals even if they weren't already wanted by the government.
- Diegetic Switch: As the team decorates their own restaurant in an A-Team Montage in "The Big Squeeze", they bring in a piano, Faceman continues the background music on it, which starts again after he stops.
- Dirty Coward: Charles Lake in "Where Is The Monster When You Need Him?" Even given the situation, being held captive by a foreign war criminal, he's still takes it a bit far.Charles: Maybe if we tell him we'll do anything he wants, promise not to tell on him. He seems like a reasonable man, if we beg him maybe. Jenny can go to him, convince him!
Face: Charles, don't you think you're working this "heroic leading man" thing too much?
- Disguised in Drag: Happens several times on the show. In "Till Death Do Us Part", Murdock dresses like the bride while the team helps the real bride escape. At the beginning of "One More Time", Hannibal dresses like an old woman for one of his monster movies and is then chased by Lynch while still wearing his disguise.
- Distressed Dude:
- Face gets captured, beaten, and tied up with some frequency, though that doesn't necessarily mean he won't have freed himself by the time the rest of the team arrives.
- General Stockwell ends up as this once, being captured by villains in "The Say U.N.C.L.E. Affair".
- The Ditz: Gas station attendant Kelvin in "The Little Town with an Accent" is implied to have mild mental retardation. He has No Social Skills that cause him to have a lot of trouble dealing with others, and at one point is asked to carry some tires into the garage and has to be told to carry them one at a time instead of all at once. He means well, though, and ultimately does become a fairly competent mechanic after some tutoring from B.A.
- Double Date: "The Trouble With Harry" features Face and Murdock attempting to go on a date with identical twins. It goes off the rails when Hannibal calls needing their assistance with the case.
- Dub Name Change:
- B.A. Baracus's first name and nickname was changed in several countries:
- In Latin America is called Mario Baracus and is voiced by Mario Sauret.
- For the French, B.A. is Barracuda.
- In Italian, to keep the "bad attitude" pun, it's P.E. Baracus (short for "pessimo elemento", that is, "bad element").
- In Japanese, B.A. Baracus keeps his original name, but is nicknamed "Kong". This is made clear in the opening credits, where each Japanese voice actor would do a short self-introduction (in character) when their character appeared on the screen. B.A.'s opening line translates as "B.A. Baracus, AKA Kong!"
- Templeton Peck's nickname "Face" was also changed in several countries:
- In Latin America it was downplayed, as they named him "Faz", which besides sounding similar is actually Spanish for "face", albeit it was said to be a play on how "Faz" sounds similar to the "fas" in "fascinador" ("fascinater").
- In Spain, his nickname was "Fénix" ("Phoenix").
- In Italy he was called "Sberla" ("Slap"), standing for "Faccia da Sberle" ("Slapface"), an Italian slang for a lovable scoundrel.
- In Brazil, his nickname was "Cara-de-Pau" (literally "Wooden face"), a Portuguese slang for "cheeky", "daring" or even "asshole".
- In Poland, "Buźka" ("Cute face").
- In France, "futé", which means "smart".
- In Hungary, his name was "Szépfiú" ("Pretty boy").
- In Russia, his name was "Красавчик", which stands for "handsome".
- In Korea, his name was "멋쟁이", which stands for "handsome" or "stylish".
- In Taiwan, his name was "小白", as in "小白臉", literally "little white face", a phrase used to describe a good-looking, pampered, and sleek man.
- B.A. Baracus's first name and nickname was changed in several countries:
- Emotional Bruiser: B.A's a tough, intimidating Scary Black Man but is often shown as a friend of little children.
- Episode on a Plane: "The Beast from the Belly of a Boeing", as the name could imply, is about a hostage situation taking place on a flying Boeing in which the team are part of the hostages.
- Evil Counterpart: The fake A-Team in "Showdown!", which only consisted of three members (there was no counterpart of Murdock, which offended him).
- Even Evil Has Standards:
Tillis: (After discovering a bunch of fake business cards in Face's wallet.) Either you have a real problem holding down a job, or you're some kind of con artist. And let me tell you, I hate con artists, always trying to turn people off of their life savings.
- In the two-parter "The Bend In The River". The river pirate El Cajón is fine with sinking boats, robbing the passengers, and selling them into slavery. But then he discovers that his "business partners" are actually Nazi diehards who are trying to rebuild the Third Reich, prompting him to pull an instant HeelFace Turn.
- Mob boss Crazy Tommy Tillis in the episode "Steel" - whose list of crimes shown in the episode includes murder, tax evasion, and destruction of property - has this reaction upon discovering Face's propensity for cons. Face even lampshades it.
Face: Yeah, I guess it's not an honest crime like gambling or drug dealing.
Wayne: A 15-year old kid? I'm sorry, chief. Me and my men don't raid nurseries.
- Also the mercenary Insane Wayne from "Waiting For Insane Wayne." Upon hearing that his target is already dead and the target's teenage son is the new target he initially refuses to take the job, and only changes his mind when he learns the A-Team is involved.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: Cars seem to flip over and explode at the drop of a hat. But we always see the goons crawling away, safe and sound.
- The Face: They don't call him "Faceman" for nothing.
- Failed a Spot Check: Has happened a few times to the team, most notably in "Incident at Crystal Lake." Face comes across a woman stranded on the side of the road whose car battery supposedly died hours ago... except she's blasting her car radio when he shows up. Face completely fails to pick up on this and nearly falls into Colonel Decker's trap as a result.
- Even better, the song she's listening to on the radio is Blondie's "One Way Or Another." ("One way or another, I'm gonna find ya! I'm gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha!")
- Fakeout Escape: Hannibal effects an escape by hiding under his bunk and deceiving his captors into believing he has escaped; they leave the cell door open, and he makes a break for it.
- Fingertip Drug Analysis: Members of the team usually do this if they find out that the case of the week is drug-related. Played for laughs in "In Plane Sight" when Murdock goes to do this, but accidentally sneezes into one bag.
- Flatline Plotline: The team is executed by firing squad at the start of the last season. It doesn't take.
- Flaw Exploitation: In "Deadly Maneuvers", the mercenaries hired to exterminate the A-Team exploit Face's weakness for a pretty girl, Murdock's love of animals, and B.A.'s love of milk to capture them.
- For Want of a Nail: Face and Murdock get kidnapped and tortured by gangsters three times over the course of one episode because Murdock answered Face's car phone.
- Friendship Moment: With the heroes of the series being a Band of Brothers, it's not exactly surprising when there are moments affirming how they feel about each other.
- In "Holiday in the Hills", B.A. makes sure to tell Murdock to be careful with the makeshift plane they cobbled together, as it's not as durable as what he's used to.Murdock [in an accent]: I didn't know you cared, sweetheart! [pulling him closer] Thanks, B.A.B.A. (smiling): Don't thank me. Just keep it off the trees.
- The episode "Curtain Call" — from B.A. looking after the injured Murdock, to Hannibal telling him that "we go out together or we don't go out at all", to Face risking getting caught by Decker to get the medical supplies needed to keep Murdock alive — is a long list of moments that demonstrate how much the other members of the group care about their crazy teammate.
- In "Holiday in the Hills", B.A. makes sure to tell Murdock to be careful with the makeshift plane they cobbled together, as it's not as durable as what he's used to.
- Friend to All Children: B.A., amazingly enough. He may be a big, tough guy who can easily smack down the villains of the week, but he loves kids, and they seem to love him as well.
- From Camouflage to Criminal: the government's official position on them, which is whey they need to clear themselves of the original charges.
- The "Fun" in "Funeral": Hannibal's faux funeral in "The Big Squeeze". Murdock at first believes it to be a wedding, and later plays "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" on the organ, complete with the upbeat ending normally heard at a ballgame. The funeral ends with the "deceased" taken out inside a coffin to the hearse with the guests smiling and laughing. This is because Jack showed up just to spit in the supposedly-dead Sean O'Shea's face, only to get stuffed in the coffin himself.
- Game Show Appearance: "Wheel of Fortune" has Murdock appearing on, well, Wheel of Fortune.
- General Ripper: General "Bull" Fulbright and Colonel Decker, both chosen to take on the A-Team because of their willingness to use unscrupulous tactics to secure victory.B.A.: Yeah, Hannibal and this guy mixed it up once in the Doom Club.
Amy: What, he didn't like the way you sugared his coffee?
Hannibal: No, I didn't like the way he blew up Cong hospitals like it was his favorite sport.
- Genre Blind: Loan shark Jack Lane in "The Big Squeeze." He ends the episode firmly on his boss's hit list, but even so it's curious how a moron like him managed to become a kingpin's lieutenant to begin with.
- Gentle Giant: B.A. Baracus is a towering mountain of a man, but is impeccably polite whenever women and kids are present.
- Gone Horribly Right: A humorous example from "Mind Games"; Face, irritated at Murdock refusing to give back his role on the team (Murdock had taken it over when Face was released on an apparent government pardon), starts doing a "Howling Mad Murdock" impression. Unfortunately, that's when the V.A. staff arrive, and with Face acting cuckoo and wearing Murdock's clothes, they can't tell that he isn't Murdock and drag him out the door.
- Handsome Lech: Face. It helps that he's an awesome Con Man who tends to scam his way into penthouses, so he can make women believe he's rich and powerful.
- HeelFace Turn: General "Bull" Fullbright, while admittedly a Hero Antagonist, verged into General Ripper territory, being down to using unscrupulous tactics to capture the team (and even ignore an episode's bad guys and main conflict in the way), but he managed to become sympathetic of the team shortly before he was Killed Off for Real.
- Hellhole Prison: The prison in "Pros and Cons." The warden encourages fighting in order to scout out candidates for the fight program. Those that do good enough are separated, trained, and forced to fight to death. Even for prisoners who can't fight it doesn't seem to be a great place. It's not a very safe prison (thanks to the aforementioned "encouraged fighting") plus the warden apparently thinks letting the prisoners get their hair cut is "coddling."
- Hero Antagonist: Colonel Lynch, Colonel Decker, and General Fullbright, along with their units. Though they oppose the A-Team they're not evil or corrupt - they're good soldiers who honestly believe that the A-Team are dangerous criminals who must be brought to justice (which is not an unreasonable belief).
- High-Altitude Interrogation: In "Uncle Buckle-up", the team interrogate a mook by having BA hold him over a cliff above the carnivore pit at a zoo.
- Hired Guns: The eponymous team, of course. As the opening narration declares, "If no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team."
- In the fifth season episode "The Say U.N.C.L.E. Affair" the series paired Robert "Napoleon Solo" Vaughn (playing regular character General Hunt Stockwell) with former co-star David "Illya Kuryakin" McCallum.
- The episode "The Spy who Mugged Me", with Murdock posing as a James Bond-like spy in a Monte Carlo casino.
- Honest John's Dealership: One of these pops up in season 2's "Chopping Spree"; the owner runs a literal used car dealership. As part of the operation, Face goes there to work as one of the villain's salesmen. Suffice it to say, he does very very well. In fact, he tells Hannibal that he's had to actively work to slow down lest his coworkers think his sales are all plants.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Jack Lane's assistant. While he takes his job seriously, he's more rational about approaches and tries to stop Jack from doing reckless things against Hannibal because of his constant trolling, which he's proven right twice. It's no surprise when their boss puts him in Jack's position later.
- Ice-Cream Koan: Hannibal in his disguise as Irish pub owner Sean O'Shea rapid-fires these at everybody in "The Big Squeeze."Hannibal: As me dear departed father used to say, "always listen to the flow of the river and you'll always catch a trout."
Villain: What the Hell is that supposed to mean?
Hannibal: I don't know. Never figured it out, but I've always liked it.
- I Gave My Word: General Stockwell lives by this, though he's also very careful about controlling when he makes a promise, and when he only implies one.
- I Have Many Names: While the whole team had a ton of aliases, Face takes the cake for most names, even without counting aliases. According to the episode "Mind Games"..."Actually, your name was originally Alvin Brenner. You had it legally changed to Al Brennan, then to Al Peck. ...then to Holmes Morrison, then Morrison Holmes, and then to Templeton Peck."
- Imaginary Friend: Murdock has a few, most notably his invisible dog, Billy, who is mentioned in several different episodes.
- In Harm's Way: They call it "being on the jazz." While the entire team enjoy their capers to an extent, Hannibal in particular qualifies. He loves living on the edge and pushing his luck, never complains about things getting hard (though he does get upset when clients try to stiff him), and of course he loves it when a plan comes together.
- I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: "The Say U.N.C.L.E. Affair", in which Robert Vaughn is kidnapped by his "former partner" David McCallum.
- Improbable Piloting Skills: Murdock, of the "If it flies..." variety. So long as it can fly, he can pilot it like a pro. And that's not taking into account that he's insane (admittedly, the series never made it clear if this was a case of Obfuscating Insanity or not, but if it was an act, he certainly didn't bother to turn it off while flying).
- Improbable Weapon User: The A-Team has welded together and used weapons ranging from soda cannons to cabbage guns. These are always more efficient than the machine guns their opponents typically use against them (or vice-versa, for that matter).
- Inconveniently Vanishing Exonerating Evidence: A larger scale version twice to the A-Team.
- The team were ordered by their commanding officer Morrison to rob the bank of Hanoi as part of a secret mission, but was then killed in an artillery strike and since the mission wasn't public knowledge the only people who knew the Team weren't just bank robbers were the Team themselves.
- The second was when it was revealed Morrison had been a traitor and had sent them in to be ambushed and killed, which gave them motive for Morrison's death. The witness who could prove that they weren't responsible ends up being killed by his criminal partners before the truth could come out.
- Inspector Javert: The team always had a well-intentioned military law enforcement officer who honestly (if wrongly) believes that the team are bad guys and doggedly pursues them in a Stern Chase, seeking to get them. They were:
- Colonel Lynch in Season 1, with a one-shot return in Season 3.
- Colonel Decker in Seasons 2, 3 and the early episodes of season 4. Decker crosses into Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain territory, as he was the one who was most consistently a failure at catching them, and because of it never gets any respect from other characters.
- Temporary Substitute Colonel Briggs in a single Season 3 episode.
- General Fullbright in Season 4.
- Instant Expert: According to Murdock, one day at the V.A. hospital he had a sudden and terrible migraine headache and by the time it passed he could read and speak fluent Mandarin.
- Instant Sedation: The team's most common method to get B.A. ready for air travel. No matter the method, he always goes out like a light in just a few seconds.
- Irish Priest: Faceman is disguised as Father Sean O'Herlihy in "Lease with an Option to Die".
- I Shall Taunt You: An implied example occurs in "When You Comin' Back, Range Rider?"; Face comments that B.A. must be getting "weak" if he can't break the rope they're tied with. B.A. breaks them quickly afterwards.
- I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: The season five episode "The Say UNCLE Affair" reunites Robert Vaughn with his The Man from U.N.C.L.E. costar David McCallum, playing General Stockwell's former ally.
- I Will Show You X: B.A. would often respond in this way to whatever nonsense Murdock was spouting. Some of them barely made sense, but Murdock didn't always give him much to work with, and B.A. doesn't like to mince words.
- Kansas City Shuffle:
- In "Till Death Do Us Part", Hannibal brings back hamburgers for the team and the woman they've rescued. B.A., having heard them talking about flying, looks at his burger with suspicion and switches with Murdock. Murdock takes a few bites and falls over, apparently sedated. B.A., confident in having outwitted his teammates, takes a bite of Murdock's burger...and falls over himself, whereupon Murdock pops up and asks, "How did I do?"
- B.A. is aware of this in another episode, as he continuously switches hamburgers with his team by guessing what Hannibal would be thinking at that point. He eats the drugged burger after deciding that the last burger which would have the drug in it would be the one he started with.
- Murdock, while working as a waiter in an Italian restaurant and standing in for the pizza chef, is held hostage by mobsters who are planning to kill an attorney general due to arrive. When B.A. comes in to order a pizza while unaware of the crisis, the mobsters find out about Murdock's fairly standard attempt to call for help after finding a help request written on a paper napkin. What they didn't know was that the real message was the pizza that B.A. just walked off with, since he wrote 'HELP' on it with anchovies. Bonus points for Murdock probably knowing that B.A. hates anchovies, otherwise he and Hannibal would've eaten the message.
- Killed Off for Real: For a series where people miraculously survive sprays of bullets or at best have close calls (and even then, very sporadically so), General Harlan "Bull" Fullbright, who had been a consistent Inspector Javert for the team in Season 4 getting killed in the Season 4 finale "The Sound of Thunder" certainly stuck out.
- Knight Errant: A team of Knights Errant, in fact. The team offer their services to anyone, actively seeking wrongs to right, and seldom hesitate to get involved when they run into one.
- Lampshade Hanging: At the end of "The Crystal Skull", the natives are clearly chanting "Who wrote this? Who wrote this?"
- Also in "Steel", when Murdock and Face arrive at a construction scene, where Hannibal and B.A. are duking it out with some goons, Face casually takes off his coat, rolls his eyes, and remarks that this should be predictable by now.
- Large Ham: Murdock is a ridiculously larger-than-life character, quite often. They don't call him "Howling Mad" for nothing.
- Last Breath Bullet: Murdock takes a mook's last breath bullet as the premise of "Curtain Call". It occurs in a Batman Cold Open.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Murdock spends the show's final episode wearing a t-shirt that says "FINI", Latin for "THE END". At the end of the penultimate episode, he wears a shirt that says "Almost FINI".
- Leonine Contract: How Stockwell gets the team to work for him in season 5. He gets the charges against them upgraded from the relatively minor robbery and desertion which would have earned them 20 years in prison, to first degree murder and treason which would earn them a guaranteed death sentence. He then allows them to escape on the condition that they perform a specified number of missions for him, after which they will all receive full presidential pardons.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Murdock's usually crazy, but when he drops the act and gets serious he becomes even more awesome.
- Let's You and Him Fight: In "Mexican Slayride Part II", the people in the bar who the team gets into a fight with trying to learn Massey's whereabouts are actually good guys as well, but nobody realizes they're on the same side until after they've fought and B.A. and Hannibal have been punched out.
- Life Saving Misfortune: A non-fatal variation in the episode "Holiday in the Hills". Near the beginning of the episode, the team crashes thanks to Murdock having stolen their plane off a repair lot. Some of them, especially B.A., are not at all happy about this. Then, near the end of the episode, the team narrowly escapes Col. Lynch and realizes that, had they not crashed, they would have been right on time to fall into his trap.
- Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: The A-Team tends to get locked in barns or garages full of machinery and explosive things.
- Lampshaded in one episode by Hannibal.Hannibal: (after a giant truck of destruction has burst out of a shed) Where, exactly, did you lock up my team?Bad Guy: In the old equipment shed.
- Also lampshaded in one of the novelizations, when Hannibal notices how often the bad guys lock them in a room that has everything they need for them to escape.
- Perhaps the most bizarre example of this is the episode The Heart of Rock and Roll, where the team is captured inside a prison, yet are inexplicably locked up in an unguarded workshop. The guards don't even bother handcuffing them.
- Lampshaded in one episode by Hannibal.
- Lunatic Loophole: A non-fatal variation; Murdock occasionally ends up being the only member of the team to escape arrest.
- MacGyvering: Generally once an episode, involving vehicles. One episode had them locked in a cell with nothing of use at first glance, so what do they use to get out? the beds!
- Metallicar Syndrome: Since their van had a custom paint job, the authorities should have spotted them a lot more often than they did. Face Lampshades this in the Season 2 episode "Steel" when Hannibal tells him to keep tailing the episode's villain in his Corvette, which was white with black trim and a bright red stripe along the sides. Face says that the villain will definitely be able to tell he's been following him.
- Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot:Many, many episodes follow this format. The team will be brought in to deal with what appears to be some petty criminals, or perhaps a shady businessman trying to bully his rivals into closing up shop. However, when they dig deeper they'll find that enemy is only hired muscle for some much bigger villain with much grander plans, usually involving drug-dealing, terrorism, or land development.
- Miscarriage of Justice: Pretty much the whole background. The team are former soldiers that were framed for a crime they didn't commit and became fugitives as a result.
- Mistaken for Gay: B.A. jokes about this when Hannibal uses a mirror to apply makeup to fake an injury. He's less jocular when a neighborhood block captain/survivalist sees four men living together.He ain't talking about what I think he's talking about.
- More Dakka: The team's M.O. is to unload as many rounds of ammunition at the problem at hand as possible. Hell, the show's name is written with it in the title sequence.
- The Most Wanted: The series is about a group of former soldiers that were Frame-Up for a crime they didn't commit and were expulsed. After that, they were chased by the army and now act as an undercover group helping people in need, becoming US' most wanted team.
- Mr. Smith: Mentioned with regards to a CIA agent's obvious alias in "Mind Games."Hannibal: Nobody's named "John Jones."
- Which becomes Hypocritical Humor when you remember that Hannibal's actual name is literally John Smith.
- Mr. Vice Guy: Face is even more prone to try to live large than the rest of the team, does cons even between assignments, is a big-time womanizer, and a few times during the show needs to remind Hannibal that they are mercenaries (in the sense that they are doing the deed of the day for some amount of money). Still is a pretty reliable member of the team.
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Done by Murdock while impersonating Italian billionaire playboy Giancarlo Figorrati in the episode "Blood, Sweat, and Cheers."Murdock: Dove è il barbiere più vicino? note
Girl: Oh, what did you say, Giancarlo?
Face: Ah, he said "your hair is lovely in this light."
Girl: Oh, he's so cute!
- Mythology Gag: The episode where a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica walks by on a movie set. Incorporated into the opening theme from season 3 onwards.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The villain of the pilot episode is named Malavida Valdez. Malavida is literally translated as "bad life" and is essentially the hispanic version of "Thug Life." The same actor later played another villain with a name to run from in the two-parter episode "The Bend in the River", El Cajon aka The Coffin.
- Nitro Express: There was an episode where they were transporting dynamite - which is not normally volatile until/unless it has a blasting cap attached - but it was really really hot and as a result the sticks of dynamite were sweating nitroglycerin.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In "Members Only" there's a brief appearance by a film executive named "Jeff Sikorski," a dead ringer for Martin Scorsese.
- Nobody Can Die: Since it was classified as a children's shownote , you have the ridiculous premise in which the A-Team amasses a massive arsenal of machine guns and weaponry, faces off against a similarly armed force, exchanges thousands of bullets — and everyone lives. It wasn't until the series 4 finale that a recurring character actually died on camera. Discussion of a death was permitted, and you see at least two people executed (with Gory Discretion Shot at the ready), at least in the first couple of seasons.
- Averted in "The Rabbit Who Ate Las Vegas", Gianni Christian's second in command pushes him out a window (we see him plummet into a fountain several stories below) and he's actively reported to be dead. Unfortunately, the A-Team gets blamed for it.
- Also averted in "Skins". In the opening, park ranger Kim comes upon a group of poachers. When their attempt to bribe him fails, they shoot him, and the viewer sees his body fall to the ground.
- Related to this, in cases where death would be expected, such as car crashes, there is always a shot of the occupants getting out, apparently unharmed. Made ridiculous with particularly rough crashes, and an exploding helicopter.
- No Communities Were Harmed: "Diamonds 'n' Dust" takes place in Zulabwe, Africa, standing in for Zimbabwe. It has a significant population of European descent, some speaking with a Commonwealth accent, some with an American one. Cities Bulawayo and Salisbury (the latter already renamed to Harare at the airing of the episode) were harmed through a mention in the episode.
- No One Could Survive That!: In one episode, a helicopter crashes against a cliff, explodes, falls down, explodes again... and then bad guys crawl out from it.
- Novelization: There were ten books published in the 1980s; some (the first book (an adaptation of the pilot), When You Comin' Back, Range Rider?, The Bend In The River) were based on double-length episodes, others blended together two basically unrelated episodes (Small But Deadly Wars welded "A Small And Deadly War" and "Black Day At Bad Rock," Old Scores To Settle used "Recipe For Heavy Bread" and "The Only Church In Town," Bullets, Bikinis And Bells was based on "Bullets And Bikinis" and "The Bells Of St. Mary's"). Only one book was based on one standard-length episode (Death Vows, based on "Till Death Do Us Part") and only one wasn't based on an episode at all - Operation Desert Sun: The Untold Story, the sixth in the series and the last to be published in both the US and the UK (the rest were UK-only). For those keeping count, the other two were Ten Percent of Trouble ("Steel" and "The Maltese Cow") and Backwoods Menace ("Timber!" and "Children Of Jamestown").
- Obfuscating Insanity: Murdock. Combines with Obfuscating Stupidity to make his awesome moments of competence seem even more awesome. He's probably one of the supreme users of this trope.
- Murdock did it so well that it was unclear whether or not he actually was so traumatized by Vietnam that he did go insane, he was always like this, or it was all an act to throw people off and to get a free place to live.
- One episode had Murdock discharged by his doctor, claiming he was never insane. Without his particular character trait, Murdock essentially spends the episode moping but acting reasonable. When he goes back to the hospital to gather his things, he finds out the doctor had gone insane and was releasing patients because of it. Murdock quickly and happily goes back into the insanity ward, doing so while doing a ham Richard Burton impersonation to boot!
- Murdock did it so well that it was unclear whether or not he actually was so traumatized by Vietnam that he did go insane, he was always like this, or it was all an act to throw people off and to get a free place to live.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Murdock is extremely smart, but generally plays dumb to keep people underestimating him. He does this so well, that even Face — though not Hannibal — who knows him well, will fall into underestimating himnote .
- Odd Friendship:
- Face and Murdock. The insane, delusional, wise-cracking pilot and the suave, handsome, unrepentant Con Man probably shouldn't be best friends, but they are. Then again, they're both chameleon-like tricksters during scams. In fact, of the whole team, they're probably the most alike. You just can't tell at first glance.
- Murdock and B.A. Murdock's the Ace Pilot in the team; B.A.'s afraid of flying. And that's just the start of their differences. At the end of the day, however, each has the other's back without reservation. Really brought to the fore by the 3rd episode of the 5th season, where Murdock thought the other three had been killed by firing squad, and when he discovers they're alive, B.A. is the first one he rushes to and hugs - and B.A. returns the hug (though he quickly adds "Never thought I'd be happy to see you"). Lampshaded by the song "Opposites Attract" being played over a Montage of the two of them at the end of "Curtain Call."We're oppositesWe're idiotsBut we're still friends.
- Old Beggar Test: A non-magical variation in "Mexican Slayride Part I". Hannibal tests Amy's character by appearing to her as a beggar who needs money. Amy has compassion on the beggar, which helps convince Hannibal that she's a good person.
- Omniglot: Murdock can speak several languages, claiming that one day he had a headache and could suddenly speak several Asian languages fluently. He also imitated various accents several times per episode.
- Once an Episode:
- Hannibal, in disguise, contacts the clients of the week.
- B.A. says about Murdock, "The fool is crazy." (Or some variation on that.)
- The team breaks Murdock out of the insane asylum (until he's released in the final season).
- B.A. gets tricked into being drugged so they can put him on a plane.
- The team comes up with a plan that's Crazy Enough to Work...
- ...which involves Face pretending to be someone he's not...
- There's a bit of MacGyvering in an A-Team Montage...
- ... followed by a climactic Final Battle featuring lots of A-Team Firing.
- "I love it when a plan comes together."
- Other things that tend to happen a lot are Face jumping off the top of a van onto a bad guy, and Hannibal punching someone out and then putting a cigar in his mouth.
- Only Known by Initials: "B.A" Baracus (because of his nickname "Bad Attitude" and his real name "Bosco Albert") and "H.M." Murdock (because of his nickname "Howling Mad").
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Face is pretty much the only member of the A-Team who regularly goes by his real name. Hannibal rarely ever goes by John Smith, B.A. Baracus and H.M. Murdock never go by their full names either.
- Overt Operative: Quite often the team goes by their well known names instead of an alias, even when they're supposed to be undercover.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Some of Hannibal's 'disguises' are along the lines of a bad wig and maybe a moustache. Somehow it manages to fool even his fellow teammates from time to time.
- Parent Service:
- Face for the moms. In Season 3, the showrunners seemed determined to show off his arms and legs as much as possible and even gave him his first Shirtless Scene in the season premiere.
- Amy and Tawnia for the dads; while Amy was a bit more understated as she usually dressed practically for the occasion, Tawnia was more blatant, being always made up for the nines.
- People in Rubber Suits: In-universe, most of Hannibal's acting jobs consist of Creature from the Black Lagoon-type B movies, with him playing the monster in costume.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything:
- In theory, The A-Team are a band of mercenaries who lease their skills out for cash so they can stay on the run. However, they never seem to ever participate in a job that's even slightly shady and they rarely seem to get paid for whatever they do.
- Hannibal is a double example. Technically, he has a day job as an actor, but his work with the A-Team means that whenever he's seen around a movie set, he's usually pulled away by some business (much to the dismay of the other people on the set).
- Pity the Kidnapper: In "Bounty", when Murdock gets abducted by bounty hunters he manages to drive his kidnappers nuts before they even get back to their hideout. Even death threats don't manage to shut him up for long.Villain: What are you, nuts?!
Murdock: Of course I am! You got me from the psychiatric ward of a V.A. hospital, STUPID!
- Plank Gag: The standard "person carries long planks, turns around and accidentally hits somebody standing behind/next to them" gag happens during an A-Team Montage in "The Big Squeeze" while putting up restaurant props.
- Please Shoot the Messenger: In "Recipe for Heavy Bread", a former North Vietnamese soldier who helped the A-Team out was smuggled into the U.S. along with a note along these lines for the smuggler's accomplice. The murder attempt kick-starts the episode's plot.
- Police Are Useless: Multiple episodes established this quickly to explain why the client of the week needed to approach the A-Team instead of the cops to deal with the villain of the week. The cops were usually just being bought off by the villain in question, though sometimes the cops were the villains. On other occasions the small local police agencies were simply overwhelmed and outgunned by the criminal element. This ended in the final season due to the change in format.
- Poorly Timed Confession: In Season 5 "Family Reunion", Murdock finds out partway through the episode that one of their clients for the episode, A.J. Bancroft, is Face's Disappeared Dad. Bancroft begs Murdock to let him break the news, but he can never quite work up the nerve and dies before managing to do it. This leaves Murdock to tell Face about it. As Face has always been upset about never having a family growing up, he understandably does not react well.
- Posthumous Character: Ray Brenner was a fifth member of the team in Vietnam whom the others remember in a heroic and respectful fashion. In a first season episode they risk capture to attend and take part in his funeral with full military honors. They quickly learn from his widow (guest star Joanna Kerns) that he died trying to free his small hometown from a local outlaw family. They promptly seek revenge and justice for their fallen comrade.
- Prison Episode: "Pros and Cons", involving illegal prison fights and team getting themselves arrested to infiltrate the prison.
- Pro Wrestling Episode: "Body Slam" starred Hulk Hogan in a plot that made heavy use of Hogan's wrestling career (including footage from a 1984 match vs. Greg "the Hammer" Valentine, presented as legit), and featured several WWF faces as un-billed extras in a scene where they fight off that episode's villains. In the segment featuring the Hogan-Valentine match, the ending is altered to show the bad guys entering the arena to confront and assassinate Hogan (don't worry, they're stopped in time).
- Product Placement: An odd case. The van was supplied by GMC, but the grille and emblems were then blacked out and obscured by a brushguard making it indistinguishable from a Chevrolet. Confusing things even more, the prop van used for build montages was a Chevrolet, and the blacked out Chevy emblem could be clearly seen in certain shots.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...:
- B.A. was the unusual protagonist example who'd let the mook get in a good punch or two before smiling, then defenestrating them. Inverted twice when B.A. met a giant Asian mook who could take his punches without flinching.
- In "Double Heat", Face tries to punch out the guy who helped the kidnappers nab Jenny when he blocks his path. Unfortunately, the guy doesn't even flinch.
- Punishment Box: In the episode "Bad Time on the Border", Hannibal Smith is kept for some time in a box of corrugated scrap metal in the heat of the middle of the day.
- Put on a Bus:
- Amy "Triple A" Allen, mid-season 2 with the explanation that she was sent overseas on an important assignment for the paper.
- Tawnia beginning season 3, although she was at least given the dignity of being written out properly, as she married an explorer whom the team had rescued previously, and went on an around-the-world all-expenses honeymoon.
- Rated M for Manly: As described by Dirk Benedict himself in an interview on the TV show Bring Back."It was a guy's show. It was male driven. It was written by guys. It was directed by guys. It was acted by guys. It's about what guys do. We talked the way guys talked. We were the boss. We were the God. We smoked when we wanted. We shot guns when we wanted. We kissed the girls and made them cry... when we wanted. It was the last truly masculine show."
- Red Herring: In the episode "Moving Targets", the A-Team are hired to protect a sheikh's daughter on her way to her wedding, and the show makes a point of making it seem like the sheikh's head of security Jabar is a double agent, leaking security info to the rebels who want to kidnap the princess. It turns out the inside "man" was Princess Selena herself, since she'd been seduced by the rebel leader, Kalem.
- Red Scare: Averted for the first four seasons, with the closest the show came to getting into politics of the day being "The A-Team is Coming, the A-Team is Coming!", which featured a KGB operative... as one of the good guys, trying to stop a rogue Russian general from starting World War III. Season 5 played it absolutely straight, though, with the Soviets being the villains of episodes far more often than not. Justified, though, as that season had the team recruited by retired General Stockwell specifically to take on missions against the Soviet Union which the US government couldn't take on for diplomatic reasons.
- Revenge Before Reason:
- General Chow in "Recipe For Heavy Bread." He's one half of a highly profitable heroin smuggling operation, but he's willing to jeopardize the whole thing to get revenge on a cook who helped four prisoners escape from his POW camp ten years ago.
- Garber from "There's Always a Catch." Decker, who's made it clear he doesn't like Garber any more than Hannibal, has given him a chance to get away with no repercussions and ordered him to leave town. However, he can't resist stopping by to kill the Mayers and wreck their boat for causing him trouble.
- Right Under Their Noses: Hannibal loves using the tactic of being in a place that's so near the enemy that nobody would expect them to be there. Notable examples include sneaking onto an army base in "Say it with Bullets", and Hannibal impersonating a police officer in "The Maltese Cow".
- Ruthless Modern Pirates: "El Cajón" ("The Coffin") and his pirates in "The Bend in the River" are a group of modern-day pirates operating on The Amazon.
- Saw It in a Movie Once: "Breakout": When a couple of robbers coerce Murdock (at gunpoint) to drive the van to help them get away, and he employs some Badass Driver skills, he explains it as the result of film-watching:Robber: Where'd you learn to drive like that?
Murdock: (deadpan) I saw Cannonball Run five times.
- Scary Black Man: B.A. was played by large, African-American actor Mr. T and was nicknamed "Bad Attitude" for a reason. Some mooks (those who don't insist on Bullying a Dragon) are suitably cowed when he gets in their faces.
- The Scrounger: Face's greatest specialty. In a Noodle Incident he even scrounged up a '53 Cadillac convertible in the middle of the Vietnam jungle (all he has to say about that is: "trade secret").
- Secret Test of Character: Used constantly. Knowing the military is always hunting for them, Hannibal will meet the prospective client in a disguise of some sort to make sure this isn't some sort of trap. Once he's convinced they really are in need of help and not being used, he removes the disguise in front of them to call in the team.
- Shoot the Rope: In "The Duke of Whispering Pines", some mooks are trying to get information out of B.A., so they try to hang Murdock to get him to talk more. As soon as the car Murdock was stood on reverses away to leave him dangling, Hannibal and Face drive in and Hannibal shoots the rope.
- Show Within a Show: Given that Hannibal's day job is acting, there are naturally a few of these for him to be a part of. The most commonly mentioned is Aquamaniac, a series of low-budget horror movies starring an expy of the Gill Man from Creature from the Black Lagoon.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Done by Colonel Decker in an episode when he's forced to work with a group of criminals to try and capture the A-Team. The criminals, assuming Decker is a Dirty Cop, try to make friends with him. He shuts them down quickly, reminding them that the only reason they're not under arrest themselves is because the A-Team are a higher priority.
- The Smurfette Principle:
- Amy is the one woman in an otherwise entirely male ensemble in season one and half of season two.
- Tawnia is the same for the rest of season two and the beginning of season three.
- So Proud of You: Murdock discovers that former criminal A.J. Bancroft is Face's father. While talking to his son in one scene, said character just can't work up the courage to tell him, but he manages this:Any father would be proud of you.
- Special Guest: Among those who made guest appearances were Dean Stockwell, Boy George, Isaac Hayes, Hulk Hogan, Rick James, David McCallum, Yaphet Kotto, Sid Haig, Mako, Michael Ironside, Ernie Hudson and John Vernon.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Many people spell Tawnia's name as "Tanya", between the strange spelling of her name and the fact that even the show spelled it wrong in her first appearance.
- Stay in the Kitchen: The A-Team are reluctant to even take women along with them for the most part, and make a point of trying to keep them out of harm's way. Off-screen as well, George Peppard worked to get rid of the female main characters, feeling they would slow down the action too much. Though he was mostly cordial to the actresses, Marla Heasley spoke of feeling unwelcome on the set and said in particular that Peppard told her on both her first and last episodes that nobody wanted her there except the network.
- Stock Footage: Most notably in "The Beast from the Belly of a Boeing" (when Murdock crashes the plane into the airport's terminal, the scene's borrowed from Airplane!).
- Stupid Good: In the episode "Semi-Friendly Persuasion", Karl Peerson, the leader of the Society of Man, falls into this. He runs an Amish-esque commune which is sworn to non-violence, but his community is threatened by a gang of local thugs who view them as "freaks." Karl fully intends to give in to the bullies and even openly insults the A-Team when his son calls them in, claiming their violent ways make them just as bad as the villains. He then asks them to protect his people while figuratively tying both hands behind their backs and calling them murderers and villains the whole time. Even at the end, when the actual villains have been defeated, he holds to his stance and makes it clear that he intends to leave town anyway, feeling that he can't possibly stay in his new home knowing that it was won by violence.Hannibal: You can build your meeting house now. You don't need us.
Karl: Here? After this?
Hannibal: Why not? Sykes and his buddies will be in jail for a long time. You're safe, and you earned it.
Karl: Earned it? With all the anger and destruction and injury around us? Not even you can believe we earned it with that... Are you expecting me to thank you?
Hannibal: No...no, even though you're one of the most narrow-minded men I've ever met in your own way, I admire you for one thing, Karl. You don't change your tune when you win. Most people do. Did it ever occur to you where people like you would be without people like us?
Karl: Goodbye, Colonel.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Tawnia, who replaced Amy midway through Season 2 and stayed through part of Season 3, filled an identical role of a reporter and The Chick.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: In "Holiday in the Hills", the team escapes from a difficult mission in Guatemala, only for their crappy plane to stall out and crash in the hills of South Carolina. B.A., naturally, was knocked out for this and when he comes to the plane is out of sight and he's told that they had to escape on foot after he was knocked out by a concussion grenade. He insists that they're lying, and that the place they're in doesn't look anything like Guatemala. Murdock quickly chimes in with "Well, it's not South Carolina!"
- Syndication Title: The 2-hour Pilot movie was cut to two 45-minute parts in Syndication, and renamed "Mexican Slayride".
- Take That!: The character of Joe Skrylow in "There Goes The Neighborhood" is an episode long example aimed at survivalists. His dialog hints at racist, homophobic, and valor stealing tendencies, and the episode shows him to be an insulting, utterly inept, obese Glory Hound, Know-Nothing Know-It-All, who ends up blowing the team's cover when he sees the (false) news that they kidnapped Stevi.
- Taking the Bullet: In "Curtain Call", Murdock jumps in front of a villain trying to shoot Hannibal.
- Taught by Television: In "A Small And Deadly War" Face mentions that he learned most of his best cons from Dragnet.
- Team Dad: Hannibal smiles at (and sometimes plays along with) Murdock's antics like a parent watching their young child act out fantasies, he can keep B. A. under control, and he reminds Face to keep his wandering eye in check and focus on the task at hand. He also has this cute habit of referring to the other members of the A-Team by their military ranks (Captain, Lieutenant, and Sergeant, respectively), even though they've all technically been discharged, and they often refer to him as "Colonel." He always has unwavering faith that his men will get the job done, and his nerves of steel are likelier to be rattled by something threatening Face, B.A., or Murdock than him.
- Temporary Substitute: In "Fire", Decker was replaced by Colonel Briggs, who was simply intended to be a one-off character when Decker's actor, Lance LeGault, had a scheduling conflict. Briggs even mimicked all of Decker's mannerisms.
- Terrible Artist: Murdock is shown to be actually terrible while undercover as a painter in "Beverly Hills Assault".
- Took the Bad Film Seriously: In-universe. Being a fugitive, the best acting jobs Hannibal can get are Z-list People in Rubber Suits roles, yet he treats them as if he's going for an Oscar.
- Trash Landing: Several times, brawls end up with the team or some mooks being thrown from high altitudes and their fall being broken by an open dumpster or an open trash fill.
- The Triads and the Tongs: "The Maltese Cow", which dealt with a Chinese restaurant being threatened by a Chinese tong.
- The Trickster: Murdock in general disobeys normal rules and conventional behavior. Hannibal and Face can also be considered this, to a slightly lesser degree.
- Trojan Horse: The team uses one to sneak into an enemy base. The horse was a delivery truck full of whiskey, and the base was a convent which had been taken over by South American guerrillas, who had recently run out of booze.
- 21-Gun Salute: One episode has the A-Team step in to give a funeral for one of their old military buddies who had tangled with the Villains of the Week. With Hannibal calling the orders, the other three fire their rifles several times in salute.
- Tyrannical Town Tycoon: A majority of the antagonists are rich tycoon jerks who use their business to control the town.
- Undercover as Lovers:
- Ungrateful Bastard: There are a couple of instances where the A-Team help out someone who didnt really appreciate it but special mention has to go to Karl Peerson, leader of the pacifist community, from Semi-Friendly Persuasion. He has a strict policy of non-violence but is so narrow minded that it ends up in Stupid Good territory, where he would rather allow his people to be continually persecuted than defend themselves. He openly insults the team regardless of how many times they help him and undermines all their efforts by giving in to the thugs in the end.
- Unintentional Backup Plan: Frequently, even though Hannibal's original plan didn't work out, something else that may or may not be completely unrelated accomplishes the same goal, prompting Hannibal to spout his Catchphrase, "I love it when a plan comes together."
- Unwitting Pawn: Stockwell strong-arms the team into working for him the final season.
- Verbal Backspace: This was one of the gags commonly used between Frank Santana and B.A.Frankie: Frankie Santana don't ride the waves no more! From now on, we fly or we drive!
B.A.: (Balling up a fist.) Hey, man. If it's a choice between flying or taking a boat, we're gonna take a boat!
Frankie: Well, I'll take that choppy boat ride over some smooth flight any day.
- Villain Over for Dinner: Through B.A.'s eyes in "Lease with an Option to Die", with his mother and his vitriolic best bud Murdock.
- Virtue Is Weakness:
- In "Curtain Call", Col. Decker talks about how having one man wounded will make the A-Team's ability crumble as they try to save their injured member. He's right that it hampers them, but it doesn't stop them. Given that the "virtue" in question is loyalty to their injured friend, it overlaps with a platonic version of Love Is a Weakness.Colonel Decker: [The A-Team] think as one, feel as one, and act as one. But with a wounded man in their midst, they cease to be that. The good of the unit becomes the good of an individual. And that will be their undoing.
- It occurs again when Hannibal surrenders to him because Murdock is too weak to be moved. He remarks that Hannibal should have tried to shoot his way out, as he himself wasn't hurt.
- In "Curtain Call", Col. Decker talks about how having one man wounded will make the A-Team's ability crumble as they try to save their injured member. He's right that it hampers them, but it doesn't stop them. Given that the "virtue" in question is loyalty to their injured friend, it overlaps with a platonic version of Love Is a Weakness.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: A fair portion of B.A.'s dialogue is devoted to insulting Murdock and trying to get him to shut up. Sometimesnote B.A. actually tries to throttle Murdock. Murdock sometimes takes a break from being a pest in B.A.'s general direction to insult B.A. B.A. actually complains about being saved from a life-threatening injury because getting Murdock's blood might make him like Murdock; Murdock encourages these fears after giving the blood. However, it's clear that they care about each other quite a lot. B.A. really worries about Murdock when Murdock is in trouble, and Murdock really does try well-meaningly to help B.A. learn to deal with airplanes, among other instances of sincerely meant aid. There is even one episode where the B.A./Murdock dynamic seems to flip, so that Murdock is giving B.A. much more grief than he's getting. B.A. also told off at least one person outside the A-Team who complained that Murdock should shut up, and it was nicely done.Murdock (while B. A. is knocked out): I'm worried about him, Hannibal. It's been almost a full day and we haven't insulted each other—I think I may go into withdrawal soon.
- Walking the Earth: Because they're wanted by the military, though they typically stick to the Los Angeles area. They occasionally travel very far afield (most notably in a lot of season five, and in the season four premiere "Judgment Day").
- We Help the Helpless: They've taken on the role of mercenaries who only take jobs from people who can't get help from anywhere else.
- What Kept You?: Face and Murdock are often captured or kidnapped, but pretty much always rescue themselves before the rest of the team arrives.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: B. A.'s fear of flying. He ended up giving one exception in one of the later episodes, when he learned that his mother was attacked by thugs; even then, he still had to be sedated within several minutes of flying. In another episode, he decides the cause (getting them pardoned) is enough to go on a plane; he still ends up passing out, but it's ambiguous whether they drugged him anyway, or whether he just went comatose (which happened on an early episode where he ended up on a plane).
- Wire Dilemma: Played straight in "Lease with an Option to Die". Near the end, Plout's men attach a bomb to the apartment building's boiler. The team arrives before it goes off, but B.A. can't check for sure which wire is the right one to cut, so he has to pick one and hope it's the right one.
- Would Hit a Girl:The gang are rescuing a kidnapped woman, Miss Teasdale, from the compound of a militia. She resists them because she's in love with one of her captors (who was her boyfriend beforehand and has begun questioning the group since he realized with what kind of group he was dealing). Since they're in a shoot out, Hannibal just knocks her out (offscreen) before resuming the rescue.
- Wrench Whack: "Knights of the Road". When Tyler's men move in on her, Jenny picks up a wrench and swings at them. It ultimately does no good, and one of the men takes the wrench from her to bust up her and her father's tow truck.