Sledge Hammer!

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"Trust me, I know what I'm doing."
"Looks like you and I are the only sane ones here."
—Sledge, to his Magnum

Sledge Hammer! is a television sitcom created by Alan Spencer that ran on ABC from 1986 to 1988. It is an unrestrained Parody of the Cowboy Cop genre (Dirty Harry specifically), with David Rasche as Inspector Sledge Hammer, a cop who shoots first and asks questions never. He is partnered with Detective Dori Doreau (Anne-Marie Martin), and the two work for the ever-exasperated Captain Trunk (Harrison Page).

While Hammer respects his colleagues, his only true friend is his .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver, complete with customized grip and etched sledgehammer signia. Hammer's affection for his gun is so deep that he showers with it, sleeps with it, and even talks to it.

The series received critical acclaim, but struggled in the ratings, largely due to its numerous time slot shifts. Even so, Sledge Hammer! attracted up to nineteen million viewers who followed the show religiously, along with a very abbreviated Comic Book series from Marvel Comics. Despite a season finale that ended with a nuclear explosion, ABC changed its mind and renewed the show for a second season. The second season suffered from another horrible time slot (against The Cosby Show) and a reduced budget.

Not to be confused with Sledgehammer.


Trust me, I know what I'm troping:

Hammer: (Blindfolds himself before aiming for the balloon near the suspect's head) "I always miss this shot."
(Suspect breaks down and spills the beans, but Hammer fires anyway and hits the balloon)
Dori: "Wow, you hit the balloon."
Hammer: "Yeah, I missed."

  • A Fool for a Client: In one episode, Sledge is accused of murder and decides to defend himself. Right before the end of the trial, the judge asks the Prosecution if they have anything to say. The prosecutor responds that Sledge has already made all their points for them.
  • Already Met Everyone: Tripped over in the second season premiere; it was set five years before the first, despite the fact that Hammer and Dori only met in the first season premiere.
  • And This Is For: Sledge Hammer does this to a hijacker, but after expelling his reasons he punches the hijacker one more time. When the hijacker asks "What was that for?!", Hammer replies "That was gratuitous!"
  • Arab Oil Sheikh: One tries to buy Doreau.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Sledge Hammer, of course.
    • And his father, Jack Hammer.
  • Ax Crazy: Arguably Hammer himself, although it was often Bowdlerised for comedic effect.
    • Important to note is that he never ACTUALLY killed anyone, the censors presumably wouldn't allow it.
      • Presumably he did at least kill the guy on top of the building that he imploded.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Sledge starts showing up to work looking disheveled and with unkempt stubble after the love of his life was stolen from him... that love being his gun of course.
  • Bench Breaker: Doreau does this accidentally in "Wild About Hammer". The villain for that episode ties her to a chair. Sledge manages to untie her ankles from the chair before he's attacked. While those two are fighting, Doreau manges manages to stand herself up on her now freed legs, only to trip, fall over backwards, break the chair, and free herself from the rest of the rope.
  • Berserk Button: Sledge reacts... badly to being called a wuss.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Done in nearly every episode by everyone, police and criminals alike.
  • Bling Bling Bang: The handle of his Magnum is made out of Ivory and has a drawing of a sledgehammer.
  • Bottomless Magazines: A regular feature of the show, often with Lampshade Hanging. During one shootout, Captain Trunk even yells, "Where the hell is he getting all this ammo?!"
    • Every time we look at the chamber of Sledge's Magnum it's not loaded, but ten seconds later the revolver can fire ten rounds without reloading.
  • Buddy Cop Show
  • Bullet Catch: A trick performed by Hammer's father, Jack, as a carnival performer. Sledge eventually needs to learn the trick.
  • Butt Monkey: Poor, poor Captain Trunk...
  • Catch Phrase: "Trust me, I know what I'm doing." (inevitably followed by disaster)
  • Character Title
  • Comic Book Adaptation: Two issues, put out by Marvel Comics.
  • Companion Cube: Sledge's Magnum.
  • Consulting Mister Puppet: Sledge frequently talks to his gun for advice. However, if anyone's within earshot and asks him who he's talking to, Sledge will quickly cover it up.
  • Cowboy Cop
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass
  • Da Chief: Captain Trunk.
  • Danny Elfman: Composed the music for the title.
  • Detective Patsy: The episode "Play It Again, Sledge" has a women hire Sledge as private investigator, to make him an eyewitness of her "self-defense" murder.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: When he catches a speeder, Hammer ties the man to the hood of his car and drives around the parking lot at high speed.
    • In the pilot, he ends a shootout by destroying the building the shooter is on with a rocket launcher.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: Mocked by Sledge.

"I would like to address that particular stereotype if I may. Now, your stereotypical donut is nothing but dough and sugar fried in fat, am I right? Now that fat gums up your arteries and goes to your brain, and you turn liberal. And the next thing you know, Barry Manilow is on the turn-table and you're not going to work and you're voting for gun control. You see what I'm saying? You see the connection? That's why I eat granola."

  • Drives Like Crazy
  • Empathic Weapon: Though the audience never sees anything unusual, Hammer treats his gun as a living, breathing entity.
    • Subverted in one episode in which Hammer is hallucinating and the viewers do see his gun talking, complete with animated barrel/mouth.
  • Executive Meddling: Early episodes had a Laugh Track added by the studio because the executives felt the show was too violent without it. It was removed from the DVD release.
  • First Name Ultimatum
  • Funny Background Event: in one episode where a serial killer is murdering one Elvis Impersonator after another, the chalk outlines for each slain Elvis are in the classic Jailhouse Rock pose (i.e. this one [dead link].)
  • Gag Dub: In the German version of the opening, someone shouts "ouch!" as if being hit by Hammer's bullet.
  • Gag Series: The second season, even more than the first.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck: Lampshaded when Sledge chases a criminal through a television studio with many shows being recorded. When Hammer catches him, the crook yells "Go to heck!" and then states that you're not allowed to say "hell" on television.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: Dori patiently waits while a thug tries to break a bottle to use on her before finally grabbing the bottle, breaking it pretty effortlessly, handing it back to him and them dropping him with a single kick.
  • Gun Accessories / Hollywood Silencer: Inverted; Sledge has a loudener for his Magnum.
  • Gun Porn: The opening title sequence is one big love letter to Sledge's Magnum.
  • Gun Twirling: Sledge does this a lot, including in the above-linked title sequence.
  • Hand Cannon
  • Hand Wave: Expecting to be canceled, the producers ended season one with a nuke destroying the entire city. The show was then renewed for another season, so they just slapped a subtitle on the first new episode ( Sledge Hammer: The Early Years) and then carried on as if nothing had happened.
  • Heart Symbol: Hammer's car has a bumper sticker reading "I VIOLENCE."
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Sledge.
  • Hey, That's My Line!: In one episode where Hammer has Humphrey Bogart as a Spirit Advisor, Sledge says "Here's looking at you, kid!", and Bogey answers.... guess what.
  • I Call It Vera: He calls his gun "amigo".
    • Originally, he insisted his gun's name was "Gun." Though his relationship with his gun (the mere fact that he has a relationship with his gun) fits this trope.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: He may be clueless in many respects but he's really good with his .44
  • Inkblot Test: Sledge received one as part of a psychological evaluation. He identified the pictures as two images of gun violence, "a field of pussy willows," "a [machine gun] blowing away the pussy willows," and "a duck handcuffing a naked woman." The psychologist remarks, "Funny, I've never seen the duck."
  • I Resemble That Remark:

Trunk: "You sadistic, depraved, bloodthirsty, barbaric..."
Hammer: "Is that why you called me in here? To shower me with compliments?"

Sledge: "I'll never understand why you guys explain your whole plan before you kill somebody."

  • Knight Templar
  • Lampshade Hanging
  • Latex Perfection: Spoofed when a female KGB spy turned out to be a male KGB spy behind a latex mask. However, the rest of the body alterations were permanent so he/she could win the Miss Iron Curtain pageant.
  • Lawful Stupid: Hammer
    • Possibly a subversion, however, when you realize that Hammer has no qualms about ignoring laws against Police Brutality and excessive force...
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Employed several times. The most notable instance occurs in the first-season finale, when Captain Trunk barges into a terrorist making a live television broadcast.

Trunk (to terrorist): "Your show's been canceled!"
Sledge (to Trunk): "You talkin' to me?"

Sledge: "The two men then pointed their shotguns at the clerk, so I took out my Magnum and shot and killed them both. I then bought some eggs, and milk, and some of those little cocktail weenies."
Reporter: "Inspector, was what you did in the store absolutely necessary?"
Sledge: "Oh, yes. I had almost no groceries at all."

  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Several episodes suggest that Sledge uses this. Though he's written off by everybody as a violent idiot, sometimes he manages to crack the case with a sudden admission that he had been taking notes all along. This is Lampshaded in an episode when a game show host killed off a contestant who was getting close to the top prize. When Dori wonders how someone that smart got on the show, Sledge explains, "You see, he looks dumb, but turned out to be a genius; a trick I've used myself."
  • Official Couple: Sledge and his gun, one of the rare instances of a canonical Cargo Ship.
  • Pay Evil Unto Evil: Sledge makes it clear from episode one that this is how he handles crime.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Extremely subverted in one episode when Hammer sneaks behind a bad guy. Sledge pistol whips him on the head with his revolver, but the crook just grabs his head and starts shouting in pain. Sledge follows it up with a bottle to the head, but the bad guy still doesn't go down. Then Sledge jumps on the bad guy's back, piggy-backs him, gets him in a headlock, rams his head into a wall and he's still conscious.
  • Police Brutality: Sledge sees this as a good thing, and pitches the benefits of being a cop to others on the basis that he gets paid to legally beat up and kill people.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Sledge all the time, though on this show people react like they should in real life, desperately trying to get out of the way. Played for laughs.
  • Rule of Funny
  • Running Gag

Sledge (reaching into his pocket): "I have something for you."
(Everyone takes cover as Sledge retrieves something other than his gun)

    • Not to mention the inevitable disaster that follows whenever Hammer says, "Trust me, I know what I'm doing."
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: Done with Sledge Hammer in the title sequence.
    • ABC wouldn't allow Sledge to shoot directly at the screen lest the older viewers have a heart attack, but the effect is more or less the same.
  • Second Season Downfall
  • Selective Squeamishness Suppression: In one episode, Hammer eats his lunch in the same room the coroner was performing an autopsy in.
  • Shooting Gallery: Done in one episode, where Hammer simply shoots all of the targets regardless of whether they're civilians or crooks. Naturally, this annoys Captain Trunk to no end.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: At first, Sledge doesn't approve of his partner being a woman, which leads to the following exchange:

Doreau: "What, you think all women should be barefoot and pregnant?"
Hammer: "No, I encourage women to wear shoes."

  • Take That: Many examples, including a rather vicious takedown of fellow ABC program Max Headroom. ("My god! One hour with you would be hell!") Not to forget their feud with Mr. Belvedere, which also ran on ABC:

Yamamoto: "I'm not answering any more questions! Leave! Right now! I want to get home in time to watch Mr. Belvedere."
Sledge Hammer: "I guess somebody has to."

    • And in a later episode:

Dori: "How did your father die?"
Malovia: "He was watching television, and he just fell asleep and never woke up."
Sledge: "I hope he wasn't watching Mr. Belvedere. I'd hate to think the poor fella went out suffering."

    • The show took a number of digs at the Republican Party. On the DVD commentary, the director notes that the network was okay with that as long as he gave equal time to digs at the Democrat Party. He never got around to it.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: Sledge, full stop.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Sledge's solution for everything. In the series premiere, Sledge deals with a sniper on top of a nearby apartment building by pulling out a rocket launcher from his car's trunk and destroying the building.
  • Toyota Tripwire: Done by Sledge in the premiere to catch a purse-snatcher.
  • Trigger Happy: Hammer isn't just Trigger Happy, he's Trigger Ecstatic.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Many episodes in the second season fell under this trope, as whole-episode parodies (e.g. "Hammeroid," "Vertical").
  • Would Hit a Girl: In the first episode, Sledge shoots a female terrorist, then tells her, "Call me a feminist."
    • Subverted twice when he fights a man who turns out to be a woman in disguise.
  • Yandere: Jenkins in "Wild About Hammer".