Police Academy

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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"Does anyone else want to complain about my technique?"

Police Academy is a 1984 comedy film directed by Hugh Wilson, and starring Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall and G.W. Bailey. It grossed approximately $146 million worldwide and spawned six sequels of varying quality.

A new mayor has announced a policy requiring the police department to accept all willing recruits. Not everyone in the police force is happy about the new changes. The main character, Carey Mahoney, is a repeat offender (namely he's a Karmic Trickster with a bad habit of retaliating to offenses in criminal ways) who is forced to join the police academy as an alternative to jail, a proposal by the officer who has been lenient on Mahoney due to knowing his father. Mahoney reluctantly agrees to this and decides that he will get himself thrown out, which would leave him free of the deal. The new standards have resulted in a rather large Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, with Mahoney being the most normal and sane among them.

However, the chief of police, outraged by the mayor's lowered requirements, decides that the new cadets should be forced to quit rather than being thrown out. Lieutenant Harris, who trains the cadets, agrees with the plan and employs tactics to make their lives as miserable as possible so that they do in fact quit. Mahoney tries many schemes to get thrown out anyway, but begins to bond with his fellow cadets.

Among these characters include Moses Hightower, a Gentle Giant and former florist, Larvell Jones, master of both martial arts and vocal effects (played by veteran performer Michael Winslow), Karen Thompson, Mahoney's Love Interest and the main reason he doesn't bail out of the academy completely, Eugene Tackleberry, gun enthusiast and off his rocker in that regard, and Laverne Hooks, a shy, mousy woman who is also accident prone.

Gradually, and surprisingly, many of the misfits grow into competent officers.

This spawned a total of six sequel films, a live-action TV series, as well as a children's cartoon series and a fantastic amount of merchandising. There has also been talk of an eighth Police Academy film being directed by Steve Guttenberg.

The various sequels include:

  • Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment (1985). The misfits have graduated from the Academy. The film follows several of them in their first assignment to a police precinct. They have to face a local gang. The main character to not return is Officer Thompson, while it introduces Bobcat Goldthwait as the gang leader and a member of the force in later installments.
  • Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986). There are two Police Academies in New York. The first being the familiar establishment of the first film, the other being a military-style organization. With the city deciding to axe one of them, the former misfits want to ensure the survival of their academy.
  • Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol(1987). Commandant Eric Lassard (George Gaynes) decides that the police force is overworked and understaffed, so he comes up with the idea of recruiting civilian volunteers to work side-by-side with his officers in a program called "Citizens On Patrol" (COP). The former misfits have to do the training and deal with sabotage efforts from within the police.
  • Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach(1988). Lassard is reaching retirement age. But first he is invited to Miami to the National Police Chiefs Convention. He is to receive an award for his efforts. He brings along some of his favorite students. He unwittingly interferes with the plans of a local group of jewel thieves. The New York cops get to fight Miami criminals across Miami Beach and the Everglades.
  • Police Academy 6: City Under Siege(1989). New York City is facing a string of high-profile robberies by a gang. Lassard and his crew are assigned with capturing them. However the criminals seem to learn of any police plan ahead of time, indicating the presence of a Mole in the ranks. The gang members also appear to have skills equal to the most eccentric members of the force.
  • Police Academy: Mission to Moscow (1994). An attempt to revive the series. Russian Commandant Alexandrei Nikolaivich Rakov (Christopher Lee) needs help against the local mafia. He decides to ask for assistance from the United States police. Lassard and his crew get the assignment. Meanwhile, mob boss Konstantine Konali (Ron Perlman) plans to bring down any computer security system in the world.

The television incarnations of the franchise include:

  • Police Academy: The Animated Series (1988-1989). A Sixty-Five-Episode Cartoon produced by Ruby-Spears Productions and Warner Bros. Television. Featuring animated versions of the characters from the film series, along with a new supporting cast.
  • Police Academy: The Series (1997-1998). A live-action show, featuring some of the newest recruits of the academy. Sgt. Larvell "Motor Mouth" Jones was the only character kept from the film series. Lasted 1 season, 26 episodes.

Tropes used in Police Academy include:
  • Abnormal Ammo: Tackleberry's tear gas round in the second film and the tracking device from the seventh.
  • Actor Existence Failure: Unfortunately, Tackleberry won't be returning for the eighth movie.
    • Nor will Hightower.
    • Or House.
  • A Father to His Men: Commandant Lassard. Mahoney displays some signs of this also.
  • Animated Adaptation
  • Ass Shove: Lt. Harris and the horse, among other incidents.
  • Badass Biker: Tackleberry from the second movie on.
  • Badass Unintentional: The entire cast (Except Hightower, Callahan, and Tackleberry, who are just Badass. Oh, and Jones. Even Mahoney, sometimes. Actually...).
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Throw racist comments around Sweet-old Moses Hightower and he'll let you have it!!
    • And the race card had to be played twice to provoke a violent reaction. The first time simply invokes a stern look, while the second was in defense of a fellow officer.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Hooks.
  • BFG: Tackleberry's other weapons of choice other than Hand Cannons are generally these.
  • Birds of a Feather: when Tackleberry meets new partner Sgt. Kathleen Kirkland. Her family could probably count too.
  • Boobs of Steel: Callahan is demonstrably the best unarmed fighter among the female cast, as well as one of the most brutal cops in the show. Camera angles always accentuate her large chest.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Commandant Lassard, particularly as he is allowed to remain on well past retirement age. Most of the characters to a lesser extent.
  • California Doubling: The first four films were filmed entirely or primarily in Toronto.
    • Averted in the later films (the ones in Miami and Moscow were indeed filmed there, with the fifth film the only one of the series to be shot entirely in California).
  • Car Skiing: In the beginning of the first movie, Mahoney uses car skiing to park a belligerent businessman's car in an otherwise full parking lot.
  • Chain Link Fence: Spoofed in one of the movies when Lt. Harris and his minion climbs a chain-link fence only to have a caretaker come along and unlock the gate while they're climbing over it.
  • Chase Scene: Several, but that's to be expected with seven films and two series. Strangely, they rarely involve police cars...
    • The third film culminates with the instructors and cadets using jet skis to chase speedboats.
    • The fourth film involves hot-air balloons and propeller planes.
    • The fifth film has a chase involving airboats.
    • The sixth film has the Big Bad in a cherry picker, followed by both a monster truck and a bus.
  • Chew Toy: Leslie Barbara in the 1st movie, who only joined the police academy after getting picked on by a gang of bullies. He eventually gets his revenge on them during a citywide riot.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: A lot of characters disappear between each of the films:
    • Their First Assignment: Cadets Leslie Barbara, Karen Thompson, and George Martín.
    • Back in Training: Capt. Pete Lassard and Sgt. Vinnie Schtulman.
    • Citizens on Patrol: Cmdnt. Mauser, Sgt. Kyle Blanks, Mrs. Fackler, and Cadets Hedges, and Karen Adams.
    • Assignment Miami Beach: Sgt. Carey Mahoney, Officer Tomoko Nogata, Sgt. Chad Copeland, and Officers Sweetchuck and Zed.
    • City Under Siege: Officer Tommy "House" Conklin.
    • Mission to Moscow: Sgt. Nick Lassard, Sgt. Laverne Hooks, Sgt. Douglas Fackler, Lt. Proctor, Lt. Moses Hightower, and Commissioner Henry Hurst.
    • The only characters to not suffer from this were Cmdnt. Eric Lassard, Sgt. Eugene Tackleberry, & Sgt. Larvell Jones, who appeared in all seven films and both series. Capt. Thaddeus Harris appeared in only five of the films (he was absent in the second and third chapters), while Capt. Debbie Callahan appeared in only six (she was absent in the second chapter).
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Commandant Lassard, so very much. Larvell Jones might also qualify, playing video game sound effects in the middle of the night.
  • Cool Shades: Tackleberry's.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: A lot of the characters, but Eric Lassard is a repeat offender.
  • Cute but Cacophonic: Cadet Hooks is a soft-spoken, timid cadet for much of the 1st movie, but when she hits her sweet spot, she can be heard in Spain.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The sixth movie's plot.
  • Da Chief: Commissioner Hurst.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms
  • Dark Reprise: In several moments, the main theme is played in a different key.
  • Demoted to Extra: Eric Lassard in the second and, to a lesser extent, seventh films.
  • Diabolus Ex Nihilo: The climax of the third and fourth movies involve problems that appear out of nowhere, and presumably don't even exist before said climax. In the fourth movie, Harris inadvertently causes the crisis. Fackler unknowingly caused one in the first film.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Fackler is often the cause of these. In the first movie, he causes a citywide riot completely by accident.
  • Disguised in Drag: Cadet Martin in the first movie did this to a minor degree to sneak in and out of female cadets' rooms.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: In the sixth movie, a man drops a barbell on his chest in the gym and almost dies because everyone is too busy watching Callahan to notice.
  • Does Not Know His Own Strength: Hightower, he is rather careful around people but property damage can and has happened.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: Surprisingly for a comedy movie series about the police, this trope doesn't get played until the fourth film. Then Zed tries to teach the students the most important thing to know while on patrol: how to eat a doughnut.
  • Expy: Multiple times characters left, but were replaced by other characters with identical personalities and characteristics. For example, Nick Lassard, who joins the cast in the fifth movie, is identical in character to Carey Mahoney, who left after the fourth movie. Kyle Connors, who shows up in the seventh movie, is also near-identical to Mahoney and Nick Lassard. The characters Thaddeus Harris and Mauser are also almost identical.
  • Extended Disarming: In the 2nd movie, it involves Tackleberry and Kathleen Kirkland (new partner-turned-paramour whom he would later marry) getting ready for romantic relations. After the lights go out a forgotten sidearm discharges. Followed by a satisfied moan from Kirkland.
  • Fair Cop: Every single movie.
  • Fat and Skinny: Mauser and Proctor
  • Fauxreigner: In the first movie, George Martin pretends to be Latin American because the ladies love it.
  • Fetish Fuel Station Attendant: Just look at the number of Turn-On Tropes that apply to Callahan.
  • Flanderization: In the first and second films, Commandant Lassard is generally quite competent, if slightly ineffectual. Starting with the third film however, he becomes more and more absent-minded. May be justified because he is getting older.
  • Fruit Cart: Happens in the sixth movie.
  • Gay Bar Reveal: The Blue Oyster.
    • If you're in this movie, you're straight, and you hear "El Bimbo", RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!
  • Gentle Giant: Moses Hightower.
  • Hand Cannon: Tackleberry's sidearm. During its first appearance on the range in the first movie, when asked where he got it, he replies that it was from his mother.
  • Hassle-Free Hotwire: Zed, a criminal-turned-cop, accomplishes this by ripping out the appropriate wires and biting them.
  • Heel Face Turn: Zed is the lead villain in the 2nd movie. In the 3rd, he joins the police academy.
  • Helium Speech: In the fourth movie, the cadets swap an oxygen bottle for a helium bottle to prank Harris.
  • Hot Amazon: Callahan, and how.
  • IKEA Weaponry
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Tackleberry. He is able to write the phrase "HAVE A NICE DAY" by simple application of More Dakka.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: Seen in the fourth movie.
  • Knock-Knock Joke
  • Latin Lover: See "Fauxreigner", above.
  • Law of Inverse Recoil: Subverted in the fourth movie.
  • Leather Man: The denizens of the Blue Oyster Bar.
  • Lima Syndrome: In the fifth film, Eric Lassard gets taken as a hostage but the hostage taker eventually felt sorry for him.
  • Lowered Recruiting Standards: What kicks off the first movie's plot.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: In the third movie, Zed unhinged a door at the training grounds by screaming at the lock.
  • Marshmallow Hell: In the third movie:

"I love America!"

Cabbie "Look, wise guy, don't think a blue uniform scares me."
Mahoney "No, sir, this is not a scary uniform."
Cabbie "No, it's not a scary uniform."
Mahoney "Hightower!"
Bystander "That's a scary uniform."

  • Sequel Goes Foreign: Police Academy: Mission to Moscow.
  • Shooting Gallery: One of the training exercises in the first movie, and used to demonstrate how nuts Tackleberry is. Barbara accidentally fires his shotgun as soon as he picks it up and "kills" an innocent target, and then turns around to ask the instructor what to do next; he sweeps the shotgun muzzle across the entire crowd and everybody hits the dirt... except Tackleberry, who calmly remains standing and smiling.
    • Immediately followed by Tackleberry's turn, where he charges into the buildings and shoots one of the targets several times from behind.
    • Tackleberry is unconcerned about Barbara's inneptitude because he alone noticed that he had not pumped the shotgun after taking his shot.[1] Still wouldn't want to risk it myself, though...
  • Shrinking Violet: ...although Cadet Hooks can be damn loud when she wants to be.
  • Shout-Out: To Lethal Weapon in number 6, where Tackleberry's villain counterpart shoots a smiley face into a wall, then Tackleberry trumps him by writing HAVE A NICE DAY with his machine gun.
  • Spit Take: Tony in Police Academy 5.
  • Status Quo Is God: Became the case starting with the third film.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Lt. Mauser of the second and third films and Capt. Harris of the first and other sequels are extremely similar in personality. Both have an instant dislike of the protagonists and of Mahoney in particular, resulting in them being the butts of many pranks. In fact, they are so similar that when Harris returns for the other sequels, he's inherited Mauser's assistant, Proctor, and the character dynamic has not changed at all. The reason for this change was that Art Metrano (who played Mauser) was badly injured in a fall during production of the third film, and was unable to continue his role as Mauser, so therefore Harris was brought back.
    • Sgt. Mahoney of the first four movies, Sgt. Nick Lassard of the fifth and sixth movies, and Cadet Kyle Connors of the seventh movie, since they're all good-natured troublemakers who fight for justice.
    • One new character in the fourth movie seems intended to inherit Mahoney's role. For added points, he's played by David Spade.
  • Tan Lines: In the fifth movie, Harris is tanning on the beach. Nick writes "DORK" in sunblock on his chest. When he wakes up and walks on the crowded beach, Hilarity Ensues.
    • He did it because Harris called him a buttwipe for standing in his sun.

Nick Lassard: "Buttwipe, huh? Never Heard That One Before.

  • Terrible Trio:
    • The jewel thieves Tony, Mouse, and Sugar in Police Academy 5.
    • The Wilson Heights gang in Police Academy 6.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Cadets Blankes and Copeland (though they're more jerkasses, and racists).
  • Those Two Guys: Sweetchuck and Zed.
  • Toilet Humour: Several times, including a fart in court, swapping a shampoo bottle with a bottle of quick-setting glue and a spray-deodorant can with a pepperspray can, and a surrepitously-relocated porta-potty.
  • The Trickster: Mahoney.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Lt. Mauser.
  • Ultimate Job Security: Why Captain Harris hasn't been dishonorably discharged (or whatever the police equivalent is) is a mystery.
    • Kicked Upstairs maybe?
    • Proctor also. He's not exactly playing with a full deck, yet he makes it all the way up to Lieutenant.
  • Unfortunate Name: Cadet Leslie Barbara. Who is male.
  • Verbal Tic: Commandant Lassard. Many, many, many times.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Tony in Police Academy 5 (briefly).
  1. A pump-action shotgun must have the action manually cycled by 'pumping' the slide in order to load another round into the chamber from the magazine. Since Barbara had not worked the action, his weapon still had an empty chamber and would not fire.