21 Jump Street (TV series)

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"..You'll find you'll need us, 'cause there's no one else to call..."


The 1980s version of The Mod Squad, with a somewhat more believable premise. The series lasted from April, 1987 to April, 1991, with a total of 103 episodes in five seasons.

Here, it's about the cases of a special undercover police unit where young-looking police officers infiltrate schools to investigate youth-related crimes.

The series made Johnny Depp a star, but a Teen Idol was the last thing he wanted to be. As such, he quit at his first opportunity, which made the show Jump the Shark at that moment.

Currently the episodes are available for streaming on Youtube--unfortunately without the original soundtrack.

A very well received film adaptation has been released, starring Jonah Hill (who also co-wrote the script), Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, and Ice Cube. Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise appear in cameos as their original-series characters, Tom Hanson and Doug Penhall. Holly Robinson Peete also returned as Judy Hoffs, in a slightly more substantial role.

Now has a fan made sequel series, 21 Jump Street Rangers, which takes place years after the original team's adventures. (The series also adapts Tomica Hero Rescue Force for added points.)

Tropes used in 21 Jump Street (TV series) include:
  • Adults Dressed as Children: More adults dressed as teenagers; the whole premise of the show is young looking police officers going undercover in high schools. Decades later, Depp would poke fun at the "fascist" nature of this premise.
  • Artistic License History: Ioki is hiding the fact that he is Vietnamese, supposedly to avoid the ire of colleagues who may have fought in the Vietnam war. The strange thing is, Ioki would almost certainly be from (the former) South Vietnam, who were America's allies. (And even if he was from North Vietnam, his colleagues wouldn't know that.)
  • Badass Longcoat: Booker wears these on occasion, when not sporting a leather jacket.
  • Berserk Button: Hanson reaaally hates it when people make fun of how young he looks.
  • California Doubling: Though supposedly set in the US, the fact that 21 Jump Street is shot in Canada is made by the fact that the extras/bit parts were hired locally and thus do decidedly non-US things like say "grade 3" instead of "3rd grade" and write graffiti with words ending in "-our" instead of "-or".
  • The Chick: Judy Hoffs. However, she is the only one of officers to make Detective, and is depicted as being an intelligent, well rounded member of the cast. Her status as the chick comes from her tendency to rely on her feelings about the suspect, which often are proven wrong. Also, she tends to be addressed by first name more often than the other officers.
  • Clumsy Copyright Censorship: The DVDs (and now the youtube videos) suffer from this - while the licensed music wasn't the WHOLE draw of the show, it was an important part of the atmosphere, and lyrics were often used to communicate plot, which makes chunks of some DVD episodes make very little sense now that they're backed by nothing but elevator music. The DVDs still sold enough to finish the show, possibly because there don't seem to be many bootlegs in circulation.
  • Coming of Age Story: Played straight for some of the rebellious teens featured. Subverted for Hanson, who spent his youth as an uptight Republican and doesn't go through his rebellious phase until after joining the Jump Street division.
  • Compulsory School Age: The cops are still adult age, but they look like high schoolers, so they have to go to high school to fight crime that happens in/around high school.
  • Crime and Punishment Series
  • Da Chief: After Capt. Jenko is killed off, Capt. Fuller takes over and makes it very clear from the beginning that he means business and giving him any lip is a bad idea.
  • Dawson Casting: By the cops inside the show.
    • As well as the students, especially in later seasons.
  • Dirty Harriet: Judy joined the Jump Street program because it was the only way she'd be able to get any other type of assignment. Of course, this didn't mean that she didn't still get just such an assignment occasionally.
  • Do-It-Yourself Theme Tune: The theme tune was performed by Holly Robinson who played Officer Judy Hoffs on the show (with the "JUMP!" shout provided by Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise).
    • Incidentally, this is one of the few Stephen J. Cannell shows where the theme tune was not written by Mike Post.
  • Eighties Hair: A huge offender.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Young Johnny Depp.
  • FOX: 21 Jump Street was the Fox Network's first drama, and aired on its premire night along with sitcoms Married... with Children, The Tracy Ullman Show, Duet and Mr President.
  • Least-Common Pizza Topping: The episode "Gotta Finish the Riff"

Reginald Brooks: [ordering pizza for his hostages] I want 10 with sausage, 10 with pepperonis. And no anchovies. I see one anchovy and I kill the librarian

  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: An episode featuring a girl named Quincy, who sort of positions herself as this, dragging the straight-laced Hanson around and trying to convince him to "lighten up". Of course, her idea of fun is crime sprees and potentially-fatal thrill-seeking. She terrifies him, and ends up shot to death by security guards while robbing a house.
  • New Age Retro Hippie: Captain Jenko, an aging hippie who, in the first episode, has to teach Hanson how to act like a bad seed.
  • Older Than They Look: The show was entirely based around the premise of cops who looked young enough that they could go undercover as high school students.
    • Which was pretty silly, and only sorta worked because of Dawson Casting. The actors standing next to ACTUAL high-schoolers would've looked hopelessly out of place.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Prinicpal in the pilot episode seems like a no nonsense, Jerkass that doesn't like what he deems delinquents. Come part 2 after breaking up a knife fight between an undercover Hanson and his suspect, Waxer; he fearfully warns Hanson that Waxer may kill him if he keeps antagonizing him. Even though he didn't like Hanson, he didn't want to see what he thought was a new, naive teenager getting killed.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni Penhall and Hanson, respectively.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In season 2, episode 12, Tom Hanson (Johnny Depp) wrestles a bear for a prize of $500. He ends up being tossed out of the ring about 3 seconds later.
  • Popular History: The show stands as a good example of what the 80's were actually like.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up:
    • In the episode Woolly Bullies, the main characters recount the bullies who have plagued them in their youth. When Doug Penhall recounts his particularly bitter memories of such a tormentor, a friend suggests he seek the bully out and confront him. However, when Penhall does just that by finding the bully's current home, he learns that the bully is now a pathetic unemployed loser with an unhappy marriage to a shrewish wife. Delighted at this turn of events, Penhall decides not to speak to him and returns home quietly gloating how he got the classic best revenge by living well.
    • He even suffered a case of Threw My Bike on the Roof.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: Booker, who is totally rad and a good guy deep down, but is kinda dangerous and plays by his own rules. Like, totally.
  • Stealth Sequel: The movie.
  • Sixth Ranger: Richard Grieco's character, Dennis Booker, for one season. His character was then given his own short-lived spinoff.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: David Barry Gray's Dean Garrett replacing Johnny Depp's Tom Hanson.
  • Teacher-Student Romance: Happens with almost distrubing frequency. It helps that Johnny Depp's character was in his mid-twenties, not actually a student, and in the most egregious example, met before he was actually assigned to her school.
  • True Companions
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Johnny Depp's attraction to eyeliner didn't start with Captain Jack Sparrow - during his time on this show, he was undercover in drag in "In the Custody of a Clown" and looked far too convincing.
    • In on episode, Hanson complains about being in drag for other cases, and laughs that it was getting him asked out by guys. Consider how effective he is in drag, it's hard to tell if he's joking or just laughing it off.
  • Woobie of the Week
  • Vanity Plate
  • Very Special Episode: The show often dealt with hot-button issues, and often had a brief spot afterward with a phone number for the organization dedicated to addressing a particular social problem.