Hawaii Five-O

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"Book 'em Danno. Murder one."


Hawaii Five-O is a detective show set in Hawaii, centered on the fictitious "Five-O" elite state police unit (a reference to Hawaii's status as the 50th state admitted to the United States) led by former Navy officer Steve McGarrett, as played by Jack Lord.

Running from 1968 to 1980, this show is synonymous with Hawaii, and its Instrumental Theme Tune (which became a hit single for The Ventures) is regularly played by the University of Hawaii marching band at home games for Hawaii sports teams. Appropriately, the overwhelming majority of the show was shot on location in Hawaii, only occasionally using studios in Los Angeles or other locations as called by episode plots. The show is currently available via various broadcast stations on syndication, on DVD, or streaming from CBS' website. Forerunner of Magnum, P.I..

A re-imagining titled Hawaii Five-0 (with a zero instead of an O) started in 2010.

Hawaii Five-O is the Trope Namer for:

Tropes used in Hawaii Five-O include:
  • Affably Evil: Wo Fat.
  • American Accents: Made use of Hawaiian dialect.
    • In "Full Fathom Five," McGarrett refers to a missing tourist as a "rich haole[1] lady from the mainland."
    • Fun drinking game: take a sip every time Chin Ho or Kono says "brudder".
  • Belly Dancer: Whenever a hula dancer appears, although this is usually limited to the opening credits.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: "One Big Happy Family". They're robbers, the father and son are murderers, and the mother is a heartless racist who in the denouement says they only kill people who aren't family... and only rob the people they kill because their victims won't be using the money.
  • California Doubling: Averted big time, and one of the first American TV shows to do so. That's part of what made this show very famous.
    • The two-parter "Once Upon a Time" was almost entirely shot in California because it was almost entirely set there. These episodes were among the few not to carry the "Filmed entirely on location in Hawaii" credit.
  • Catch Phrase: "Book 'em, Danno."
  • The Chessmaster: The team frequently maneuver baddies into confessions by insanely complex plots, anticipate traps and seem to walk into them, only to reveal backups (and tape recorders) in place right when the baddies inevitably tell all before shooting, etc. Example, Season 4 "Good Night Baby Time to die": a woman who is frightened because her framed boyfriend is said to be escaped from prison and coming for her, so she starts confessing to crimes (the framed prisoner is not really loose; he's doing it all under Five-O supervision in order to be absolved). Bad guys sometimes seem like Chessmasters, but of course their insanely complex plots always come a-cropper after baffling the team for about 40 minutes.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Kono.
  • Creator Cameo: Theme song composer Morton Stevens played a jazz drummer in the third season episode "Trouble in Mind".
  • Downer Ending:
    • In "To Kill or Be Killed", a soldier on leave from the war in Vietnam falls to his death, and his brother (suspected of being involved) is bidding to avoid the draft and flee to "Trudeau turf", alias Canada, to the disgust of his father -- a military man. It turns out that the soldier committed suicide because he couldn't face returning to what he felt was an unjust war; not only is the would-be draft-dodger caught, but his father disowns him by saying "Then I have two dead sons."
    • "Three Dead Cows At Makapuu, Part II" has a scientist aiming to release some short-lived but very deadly bacteria to protest chemical warfare being persuaded (partly due to a telephone operator who falls in love with him) not to do so, but the vial he stole is taken... and cracked. He manages to control the germ, but is himself infected and succumbs as McGarrett and the woman he loves watch.
  • Fanfare
  • Forensic Drama: It wasn't primarily this, but Che Fong showed up an awful lot.
  • Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics: The show's distinctive theme music is entitled "You Can Count On Me", and Sammy Davis Jr. at one point actually recorded it:

If you get in trouble, bring it home to me
Whether I am near you, or across the sea.
I will think of something to do.
I'll be on the lookout for you.
And I'll find you -- you can count on me.

  • Hula and Luaus
  • Joker Jury
  • Large and In Charge: Big Chicken, played by pre-WJM/pre-Pacific Princess Gavin MacLeod.
  • Long Runner
  • Made of Iron: McGarrett. As the series went on the script writers actually had some fun with Lampshade Hanging. One episode has a would-be killer fire at McGarrett several times with no effect until she screams, "What are you made of!?" McGarrett's response? It's not him but the bullets, which were blanks.
  • Magical Database: An early example, possibly the first for cop shows. The Honolulu Police Department computer was frequently called upon for information, sometimes for things that in real life weren't available in digital format until the 1990s or later.
  • Master of Disguise: Lewis Avery Filer.
  • Not So Different: The whole point of the 1969 episode "Not That Much Different".
  • Pilot Movie: Cocoon.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Five-O is supposed to be an elite unit of the Hawaii State Police. The closest thing Hawaii has to a state police is the Sheriffs Division within the State Department of Public Safety, and they're limited to specific duties such as acting as process servers and providing security at state facilities.
  • Rogues Gallery: Wo Fat; Tony Alika; Honore Vashon; Lewis Avery Filer; Big Chicken.
  • Serial Killer: "One for the Money", "I'll Kill 'Em Again", "Wednesday, Ladies Free" and others.
  • Syndication Title: McGarrett.
  • The Teaser
  • Television Geography: Mostly subverted, since most of the series was filmed on location in Hawaii, and locations were rarely specific enough to reveal obvious mistakes to most viewers.
  • Temporary Blindness: McGarrett in "Blind Tiger", when an assassination attempt failed to kill him.
  • Title Sequence
    • The opening titles are legendary.
    • The canoe-paddling end credits bit (introduced in Season 2; the first season has a flashing police light) is also very well known.
  • The Vietnam War: Many of the early season episodes revolved around the war, ranging from naval personnel smuggling drugs out of Southeast Asia, screwed-up veterans committing (or being victims of) crime, to con men taking advantage of military personnel on leave.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The 2-hour pilot, Cocoon, has Nancy Kwan (The World of Suzie Wong) playing Rosemary Quong, a mildly hippie grad student with a penchant for miniskirts. Nancy Kwan gets second billing in the opening titles, right after Jack Lord, and they have several scenes together, including a beachfront cookout, playing up the contrast between the free-spirited Rosemary and the buttoned-down straight-laced McGarrett. The ending suggests that Rosemary is going to be McGarrett's recurring love interest. She's never seen again.
  • Yellow Peril: McGarrett's Chinese nemesis, Wo Fat.
  • You Look Familiar: Actor Al Harrington appeared in five episodes, playing five different characters, before landing the recurring role of HPD Detective Ben Kokua.
    • Martin Sheen appeared in two episodes as different characters.
    • Bruce Boxleitner appeared three times as different characters -- and two of them were in the same season!
  1. Pronounced "how-leh" or "how-lee," it's the native Hawaiian word for "outsider;" can be used as a slang reference for tourists, mainlanders, or Caucasians in general.