SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron

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That's right, they are that Badass.

"SWAT Kats, To the Jet!"


"Let's kick some tail!"




SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron (or, simply, SWAT Kats) was a Hanna-Barbera American animated television series created by Christian and Yvon Tremblay, two brothers from Montreal. The show ran on TBS and in syndication from 1993 to 1995, and it can currently be seen (sometimes) on Cartoon Network's sister network Boomerang. There were a total of 23 original episodes over two seasons, with one special Clip Show episode capping the series off. The story takes place in a fictional city ("Megakat City") inhabited by Anthromorphic felines (known as "Kats") and chronicles the adventures of two Badass Normal Superhero Best Friends who fight super-crime under Secret Identities.

Jake "Razor" Clawson and Chance "T-Bone" Furlong were once two humble officers of the Enforcers, teaming up as the pilot and Radar Intercept Officer of a fighter jet in the Enforcers' Air Force Squadron--until they accidentally destroyed their command headquarters and caused sizeable amounts of damage while in pursuit of a criminal. Their former superior, Commander Ulysses Feral, stuck them in long-term community service in a military junkyard until Jake and Chance managed to pay off their debt... which, considering their salaries, was likely to be never. (Never mind that the incident was Feral's fault in the first place; see Only I Can Kill Him for more details.)

Working at the salvage yard, Jake and Chance realize that people--including the Enforcers--throw a lot of perfectly useable stuff away; using their mechanic skills, they put discarded military equipment and weapons to their own personal use, building a high-tech fighter-jet (named "The Turbokat", which bears a striking resemblance the U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat, except with three engines and VTOL capabilites) to get back in the air and fight the numerous villains that are plaguing the city. Complete with new uniforms, masks, cool gadgets, codenames, an Elaborate Underground Base, and occasional help from allies (like Deputy Mayor Callie Briggs and Feral's niece Felina), they kick mucho super-villain tail and generally do it with style.

The Rogues Gallery includes, but is not limited to: the criminal mastermind Dark Kat, the undead sorcerer Pastmaster, mutated sociopathic Kat-turned-snake Doctor Viper, and robotic mafia gangsters Mac and Molly (better known as the Metallikats).

Episodes of the show followed a one-shot format, featuring completely self-contained stories and certain overarching themes and villains. The Status Quo Is God, however, does change every now and then, and only very few of the bad guys get Joker Immunity. On occasion, if the bad guy pushes them too far, our heroes will shoot to kill, and several villains -- like Mutilor, The Giant Bacteria, The Red Lynx and The Metallikats (at least for a while) -- found this out the hard way.

Unfortunately, SWAT Kats' attempts to break out of the Animation Age Ghetto came too soon for many people, and the series took criticism for its violent content. Even before that, the show underwent extensive Executive Meddling during its first season, forcing the creators to insert several inherently silly and "kid-ified" stuff aimed at younger audiences (which clashed horribly with the show's dark premise). This changed in the second season, since the first season's good ratings enabled the series to get an Animation Bump (and a slight makeover) that resulted in a Darker and Edgier style which proved to be a better fit for the show.

The show was cancelled after its second season, passed over in favor of Turner's "What A Cartoon!" project (which gave birth to future Cartoon Cartoons such as Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, and Johnny Bravo). At the time of its cancellation, SWAT Kats was one of Hanna-Barbera's highest rated syndicated shows, and there were three unfinished episodes in production (as well as established outlines for up to seven more episodes), which all got left hanging. Turner's excuse for the decision was that Hanna-Barbera had other cartoons which didn't "encourage kids to shoot people".

The show has a very strong cult following that continues to this day, becoming the source of numerous fan sites, a fair amount of fan fiction, and even online RPGs. What makes SWAT Kats fansites different from other shows' fansites? They developed a good reputation for their interlinking and close cooperation, which means most fansites will provide resource lists/links to most of the other fansites--and almost all of these sites, including a wiki dedicated to the show, are regularly updated to this day. This dedication remains a standing testament to the show's popularity.

SWAT Kats suffered from not having any true home video release following its demise (except for a pitiful handful of VHS tapes). Once the series was moved from Cartoon Network to Boomerang, that network's ever-changing schedule made it hard to figure out when/if they were showing it. In December 2010, the Warner Archive program started offering the complete series on DVD as an "on-demand" release, but stopped in 2011 due to unspecified issues (likely the fact that syndication cuts were used for the DVDs). Episodes were--and still are--widely circulated over the Internet, however, so it's not hard to watch the series if you're interested.

This show has a character sheet.

Tropes used in SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron include:
  • Abnormal Ammo: 99.9% of the weapons carried on the Turbokat, sometimes referred to as Missile of the Week.
    • In fact, the Turbokat only rarely ever uses normal missiles; there's even a button on Razor's control panel marked "Plain Old Missile".
    • This actually became a plot point in "Razor's Edge", where Razor believes he blew up a warehouse and injured two innocent bystanders. The first indication that the whole thing is a set-up, is that the missiles were non lethal, yet the warehose clearly blew up.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: How Dr. Viper gets around town.
  • Ace Pilot: T-Bone and Razor seem to favor a mix of Steamroller and Plugger styles. An example of an Ace with a back-seater - T-Bone's the pilot, Razor's the gunner/weapons officer.
  • Action Girl: Felina Feral.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Averted with Cybertron, played straight with Zed.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: Featured twice, in differing forms: in "Cry Turmoil" and "When Strikes Mutilor".
  • Air Vent Passageway: In "Destructive Nature".
  • Alien Invasion: "The Ci-Kat-A", "When Strikes Mutilor".
  • Aliens and Monsters
  • All There in the Manual: Promotional material made it clear that Dark Kat was actually a judge in Megakat City, who used his position to help protect his criminal side job. This was never explored in the series. For that matter it was never even mentioned. Very little was known about Dark Kat at all save for his status as a criminal mastermind, and his penchant for using odd, demonic looking hench-things he called Creeplings.
  • All Up to You: Done awesomely with Cybertron in "The Deadly Pyramid". SWAT Kats and The Enforcers are elsewhere, and he is forced to defend Callie from two giant mummies all by himself.
  • Almighty Mechanics: Chance and Jake.
  • Amazon Brigade: Turmoil's gang, which may or may not have been a Shout-Out to Sala and her Sky Pirates. Turmoil herself is most definitely a Shout-Out to M.Bison.
  • Animal Superheroes: Of course.
  • Animation Bump: Season 2. Not only was the animation of much better quality, the style more closely matched the tone and feel of the series. This isn't to say that the animation in the first season is bad (quite to the contrary), it just went from good to great.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Pastmaster's Time Travel watch and Tome of Time spellbook ("The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice"), and the Jeweled Headdress of Katchu Piccu in "The Deadly Pyramid".
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Happens about six times every five seconds. There's the Megasaurus Rex, The Giant Bacteria, The Giant Mummy, The Cyclops in "Bride Of The Pastmaster", Rex Shard the Crystal Giant, The Madkat, The Mutation City Monsters (and a giant Dr. Viper himself), The Giant frikkin' alien mothership, Dark Kat's Giant Black Widow, Turmoil's Giant Airship, The Giant Mutated Scorpions, Volcanus, and that's not even mentioning all the Giant Robots. Whew.
  • Attack Pattern Alpha In the event they're being followed by a heat-seeking missile, the SWAT Kats have "Plan Z" - which involves shutting down the engines in midair and launching a decoy missile to draw the heat-seeker off. Understandably, Razor hates this plan.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Most of the customized weapons in Razor's arsenal.
  • Awesome McCoolname: "SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron". Also pretty much everyone and everything associated with them, and for bonus points the names sometimes start with "Mega" or "Turbo".
    • "Chance Furlong" and "Jake Clawson" are some pretty cool names too.
  • Back from the Dead: The Metallikats (twice!) and Dr. Viper. Despite being a ghost, the Red Lynx probably qualifies as well.
  • Badass: Pretty much every hero and villain in the series.
  • Badass Bookworm: Razor.
  • Badass Longcoat: Feral, especially after he kills the Metallikats. Hard Drive also gives off a badass vibe, even if he doesn't do much with it.
  • Badbutt: Definitely Razor and T-Bone, but also sprinkled liberally throughout the show itself.
    • Partially averted, since they are a generous cut above normal Badbutts.
      • What the heck, they're badasses through and through, and they don't need to smoke or swear to make that point.
  • Bad Future: The oh-so-ironically-named "A Bright And Shiny Future".
  • Bamboo Technology: Apparently, all-natural volcanic gas works just fine for jet fuel.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animals: T-Bone and Razor in their pilot suits (but not in their civilian clothes, curiously enough), as well as Dark Kat and Dr. Viper (who's also a Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal). Proven useful when the SWAT Kats are able to use their foot claws easily. Otherwise averted -- the rest of the characters are Fully Dressed Cartoon Animals.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space Averted for the most part. When the Turbokat heads out into space – or when the heroes are engaged in some high-altitude dogfighting – the SWAT Kats are show wearing oxygen masks. Except when they’re not. Presumably the Turbokat cockpit has some level of artificial atmosphere but since the masks have a tendency to appear and disappear between shots, especially in the first few episodes, it’s hard to tell.
  • Berserk Button: Jake and Chance are this to each other if someone tries to hurt one of them. And if you so much as scratch a single hair on Callie's head, they'll both be on your ass. Also, shooting down Felina's plane with the hi-tech laser in your alien Mothership? Baaaaaad idea. Feral's gonna bring his entire frickin' squadron around for a house call.
    • For all their bickering and insult-trading, Mac and Molly (the Metallikats) really do care for each other. You hurt one of them, the other will be out for blood.
  • BFG: Appears here and there in the series, mostly used by the villains. The SWAT Kats themselves use one to make a dramatic entrance in "Night Of The Dark Kat".
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Dark Kat, Dr. Viper, the Metallikats and the Pastmaster. These villains made repeated appearances and were treated as serious threats each time. Each also tends to have something that makes them stand-out from the one-off villains. (Dark Kat, for example, played a role in the heroes' origin.)
  • Big Damn Heroes: Guess who? Feral and Felina also get this honour sometimes.
  • Big No: Callie in "Night of the Dark Kat", while putting Megakat City's money to good use by using a bag of cash to bring down Dark Kat.
    • Some of the villians (including Dark Kat and the Pastmaster) also do this when defeated by the SWAT Kats.
  • Blank White Eyes: The SWAT Kats have them; so do many members of the Rogues Gallery.
  • Blatant Lies: "The ENFORCERS can handle this!"
  • Blondes Are Evil: Turmoil, and to a lesser extent Lt. Steele.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Even though characters get beaten to hell and back all the time, there's practically never any blood. On the plus side, there are explosions that blow up entire characters, though.
    • One of the few times we see blood is when T-Bone gets bit by a mutant leech.
  • Bodyguard Babes: Turmoil's army is only female.
  • Body Horror: What happens to Morbulus in "The Giant Bacteria", as well as the fate of anyone bitten by the alien bugs in "The Ci-Kat-A".
  • Briefcase Blaster: In "The Dark Side of the SWAT Kats", the evil Mirror Universe version of Callie carries a gas gun in her briefcase.
  • Bus Full of Innocents: "The Deadly Pyramid", plus a TRAIN full of innocents who are eaten by "The Giant Bacteria".
  • Cape Busters: The Enforcers on occasion.
  • Catch Phrase: Razor's "Bingo"!
    • "SWAT KATS!! COME IN!"
      • "Yes, Miss Briggs?"
    • "The ENFORCERS can handle this!"
      • Hilariously lampshaded in the Mirror Universe episode "The Dark Side of the SWAT Kats" when Mirror!Feral uses the same phrase: "Now there's a statement that transcends dimensions!"
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: Referenced several times throughout the series.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: Seems to be part of the Enforcers' M.O.
  • Chainsaw Good: The Shredder Missiles from "The Deadly Pyramid".
  • Chase Scene: At least once an episode.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The chili pepper in "The Wrath of Dark Kat".
  • The Chosen One: In "Bride of the Pastmaster", Queen Callista believes Razor to be this. Later subverted when she admits that there were not one, but two heroes, so it becomes more of a case of a Chosen Two.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Whenever the different villains team-up, this is almost always the case.
  • City of Adventure: Megakat City.
  • Clark Kenting: The SWAT Kats used to work for Feral, but he can't figure out their identities. This in spite of the fact that the SWAT Kats have the same body types as Chance and Jake, and they're the pilot and gunner of a fighter jet... like Chance and Jake.
    • Vaguely understandable, seeing as how Feral probably had very little interaction with Chance and Jake ever, except the few minutes discharging them from the service.
  • Clear My Name: "Night of the Dark Kat". Also "Razor's Edge", even though it's actually T-Bone and Felina who go looking for answers.
  • Clip Show: "SWAT Kats--A Special Report".
  • Code Name: "T-Bone" for Chance and "Razor" for Jake.
  • Cool Bike: The Cyclotron and the Sandkat.
  • The Commissioner Gordon: Callie Briggs.
  • Contest Winner Cameo: While there was no actual contest, Dr. Konway from "Mutation City" was based on a fan who sent the Tremblays numerous fan letters.
  • Convection Shmonvection: Flying around inside a volcano...right above the lava... piece of cake!
  • Conveyor Belt O' Doom: Dark Kat tries to kill the heroes with one in "Night of the Dark Kat". He should have known better.
  • Cool Garage: The Hangar.
  • Cool Mask: The SWAT Kats' mask covers the entire top of the head and face, and is usually accompanied by a helmet for added protection.
  • Cool Plane: The Turbo Kat. Even more so because it's based (physically, anyway) on the already cool real-life F-14 Tomcat (of Top Gun fame), with the level of tech turned Up to Eleven. The damn thing can HOVER like a Harrier jumpjet, after all. Even the Falken and Wyvern could legitimately get jealous.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Tiger Conklin from "Caverns Of Horror".
  • Crazy Enough to Work: A Catch Phrase of sorts for Razor.
  • Crazy Prepared: You name it, the SWAT Kats have a gadget/mod for it.
  • Cyberpunk: Hard Drive, the "technology pirate".
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Mac and Molly Mange.
  • Damsel in Distress: Callie sometimes, although she never goes down without a fight. Also Ann Gora once in "Caverns Of Horror".
  • Darker and Edgier: "The Giant Bacteria" has the highest number of on-screen deaths in a single episode (see Bus Full of Innocents above). This also marks the beginning of T-Bone & Razor's "Kill if everything else fails" policy. Quite a punch, consider this was the show's first completed episode (it was second in broadcast order). Then there's Season 2 compared to Season 1.
  • Dating Catwoman: T-Bone's relationship with Turmoil.
  • Death Trap: "Night Of The Dark Kat".
  • Destination Defenestration: The Metallikats do this to Callie when she reveals that she was the one who denied their parole. Good thing the SWAT Kats were there for one of their Big Damn Heroes moments...
  • The Determinator: Both SWAT Kats.
    • Also Feral.
  • Die Hard on an X: "Destructive Nature" is Die Hard with Man Eating Plants.
  • Dirty Coward: Lt. Steele. At litterally EVERY chance, he tries to take over his boss Feral's job.
  • The Documentary: "SWAT Kats--A Special Report".
  • Don't Celebrate Just Yet: From "The Metalikats", when T-Bone and Razor pull a "Plan Z". Lampshaded with "We're not out of the woods yet."
  • Drill Tank: The Turbo Mole from "Caverns of Horror".
  • Drives Like Crazy: Mac Mange and T-Bone.
  • Earthshattering Kaboom: Mutilor attempts to do this after he's defeated. It doesn't work.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Hangar.
  • Emergency Transformation: The origin of the Metallikats.
  • Enemy Mine: A villainous example by the end of "Katastrophe". Though their alliance has fallen apart, Dark Kat, Dr. Viper and the Metallikats still have one thing in common: the SWAT Kats.

"Choose now, my villainous friends! Who do you hate more - me or the SWAT Kats?!"

  • Enter Eponymous: "Enter the Madkat".
  • Episode Title Card
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: And they all explode.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Enforcer Sergeant.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: The SWAT Kats and The Pastmaster for Callie and Queen Callista.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Dinosaurs are all over the place, mostly because of the Pastmaster. Even some of the robotic designs are dino-inspired.
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: The Pastmaster rings up a buncha zombies in his first appearance. Why? Just 'cuz!
  • Evil Laugh: Dark Kat, Viper, The Metalikats, Madkat, The Red Lynx, Mutilor, Turmoil... seems to be a mandatory requirement if you want to be a bad guy.
  • Evil Twin: In "The Dark Side Of The SWAT Kats", for T-Bone, Razor and Callie.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: Razor to Mutilor, doubles up as yet another Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Extra Eyes: Morbulus from "The Giant Bacteria". Lampshaded by Razor: "Hey, he does have eyes on the back of his head!"
  • Face Heel Turn: Both Zed and Dr. Greenbox.
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence/Family-Unfriendly Death: The series had plenty of both, which presumably led to the Executive Meddling, although both of these tropes got more frequent over time, not the other way round. There's a theory that the creators were going for something closer to their original concept as the series went on, which suggests that the Executive Meddling was at the beginning of the show--probably because HB was skeptical as to how it was going to be received. Its high ratings and popularity, however, may have enabled the Tremblays--and Glenn Leopold, who wrote the majority of the episodes--to wriggle free from some of the meddling, hence the Darker and Edgier Second Season (which caused Ted Turner to pull the plug even as the show was steadily growing in popularity).
  • Five Rounds Rapid: This is ALWAYS the Enforcers' one and only solution to a problem.
  • Foe Yay: T-Bone and Turmoil have this going on big time.
  • Foil: All over the place. There's T-Bone and Razor to each other, then there's Felina and Commander Feral, Felina and Callie, Callie and Mayor Manx, and also Mac and Molly (at least when they're not trying to kill each other).
  • For Science!: Even the non-villainous scientists and engineers in Megakat City seem pretty cavalier about the risks and consequences of their work.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: The entire cast.
  • Friend on the Force: Felina Feral.
  • Fungus Humongous: Dr. Viper's ravenous half cat, half mushroom assistant in "Katastrophe".
  • Furry Confusion: Anne Gora wears earrings in the human position, apparently fixed to her jaw.
    • Or they just dangle really low.
  • Furry Reminder: The series has quite a few, such as scenes in which the characters mention (or actually cough up) hairballs.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Razor.
  • Gatling Good: The gatling cement gun introduced in the first episode itself, which makes itself useful throughout the series (although not much).
  • Getting Crud Past The Radar: Madkat attacks Mayor Manx on a golf course just after the mayor has made a putt. Madkat turns into a giant beach ball-type head and declares that he wins "because my ball is bigger."
    • One of the mobsters smuggling catnip in "The Metalikats" has clearly just tested his shipment. He rubs specks of it from under his nose with a spacey expression, claiming it's "the good stuff."
      • Also Katscratch (the mobster boss) begins giggling stupidly and batting the little catnip ball with his finger. He's clearly under the influence.
  • Giant Eye of Doom: "Mutation City".
  • Girl Friday: Callie to Mayor Manx.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In "The Ci-Kat-A", a Giant Bug gets knocked off the Turbokat and is seen plummeting towards the rotorblade on an Enforcer chopper; the camera then cuts back to the other one that's still hanging onto the cool jet.)
    • In "Chaos in Crystal", Rex Shard turns various people and objects into crystal, including a corrupt prison warden who falls over and shatters. At the end of the episode, everything that's been crystallized is shown turning back to normal--except the warden, whose ultimate fate is never explicitly revealed.
    • Shadow Discretion Shot from "The Giant Bacteria", which shows the titular bacteria eating a cow and its owner in shadow. Apparently even showing the scene in shadow was too much; the farmer's demise was cut from the episode's broadcasts (but put back in for the DVD).
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck: "Crud" and "Tail" are the usual choice of swear-words in the show.
  • G-Rated Drug: "The Metallikats" starts with a band of mobsters smuggling, you guessed it, catnip.
    • Also, when Chance and Jake throw themselves down the couch to get some testosterone-filled entertainment, they bring out a six-pack of... not beer, but condensed milk.
      • Turmoil also breaks out the milk (and wineglasses) to share a toast with T-Bone.
  • Hanna-Barbera
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: The SWAT Kats/Chance and Jake.
  • High on Catnip: One episode opens with a gang of mobsters smuggling, well, catnip. Specifically, it shows a gang member who has clearly just tested his shipment proclaiming it "the good stuff" and rubbing powder from under his nose.
  • High-Speed Missile Dodge: Multiple examples. Subverted in "A Bright And Shiny Future", in which the SWAT Kats of the future are killed by Five Rounds Rapid.
  • Honour Before Reason: Feral's response to the Metallikats' offer to give away the identities of the SWAT Kats in exchange for their freedom: "I don't make deals with criminal scum."
    • That earned Feral the respect of many fans.
  • Humanlike Foot Anatomy
  • Humanoid Female Animal: Callie and Felina (and to a lesser extent Ann Gora and Dr. Sinnian) look basically like humans with tails, cat ears, and modified noses. Male kats are given much more exagerated proportions and fur.
  • Humongous Mecha: The bridge robot from "A Bright And Shiny Future", and the two robots piloted by the Metallikats in "Metal Urgency". Zed also turns into this after he goes Evil.
  • Hurricane of Puns: "The Giant Bacteria" has Viper letting loose a few of these on Morbulus, like "Quite an eyeful, isn't it?" and "We see eye to eye, Morbulus!"
  • The Hyena: Chop Shop may or may not be a literal one. For all of his 5 minutes in the series.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Describes Callie to a T.
    • The Enforcer Sergeant.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: How many missiles did they have in that freakin' jet?!
    • Though in at least one episode they DO actually run out of missiles.
      • Another episode implies that they DO restock their missiles between missions.
    • Not to mention additional vehicles like the bikes, hovercraft, drill-tank and so on.
      • The bikes are implied to be part of the seats of the Jet as part of their customizations. Also in the episode with the drill-tank, they saw on TV miners needing their help and loaded the drill-tank into their jet.
      • Lampshaded by Mutilor, when the Turbokat's cool customizations lets them follow him into space.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: The Pastmaster kidnaps Queen Callista (in "Bride of the Pastmaster"), and then her lookalike descendant Callie Briggs (in "The Deadly Pyramid"), in separate attempts to marry them. The SWAT Kats rescue the withered wizard's intended victim both times. Thank God.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Subverted in "Mutation City". Razor immediately realizes that T-Bone is no longer in control of himself and without any hesitation, leaves him pinned to the wall with a spider missile.
  • Identical Granddaughter: Taken to the extreme - Princess Callista is Callie Briggs' ancestor, but they're both completely identical.
    • Except for Callie's glasses, which the Pastmaster (who's in love with Callista) doesn't notice until "The Deadly Pyramid".
  • Idiot Ball: The Muggles and The Enforcers from the show often carry this around.
  • Improvised Weapon: After getting trapped in the past in "Bride of the Pastmaster", T-Bone and Razor trick out the Turbokat with whatever's at hand, including pepper stew.
    • Callie also does this during her Action Girl Awesome Moments. In "The Wrath of Dark Kat", she saves the SWAT Kats by hitting the titular villain with one of the money bags he'd stolen. In "The Ci-Kat-A", when alien-possessed scientist Dr. Harley Street is trying to "recruit" her, Callie says "I don't think so!" and smashes him on the head with her briefcase.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: From "Bride Of The Pastmaster": "The Hangar. That's just where we... hang out! Heh heh."
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: The elderly kats Razor accidentally injures in "Razor's Edge" are doing a good job of layering on the guilt and tearing his self-esteem apart when they taunt "You'd never be able to stop Dark Kat." No one up until this point knows that Dark Kat is behind the episode's attacks. This clues Razor in that the two kats are neither injured nor elderly, and the event was not an accident.
  • In Medias Res: The show goes straight to the action; no backstory, no origin. Until "The Wrath Of Dark Kat" (the third episode broadcast), we don't know how we got there.
  • In Space!: One could describe the series as "If Ace Combat got a Furry Fandom cartoon."
  • In the Back: "A Bright And Shiny Future" had three double-crosses: one by the Metallikats, one by the Pastmaster, and one by the SWAT Kats themselves.
    • Weird. "Katastrophe" also had three different ones: Dark Kat always planned to screw over everybody, so Viper anticipated that and decided to screw him first, and he recruited the Metallikats to screw Dark Kat with him. Also averted, in the sense that Dark Kat thought he could force the Metallikats to do his dirty work for him and screw Viper first. Please do not take any of these statements literally. If you do, considering we're talking about robots and mutated monsters, keep a bottle of Brain Bleach handy. Thank you for visiting TV Tropes. Have a nice day.
  • Irony: While Ted Turner canceled the show due to the violence, any personal vendettas notwithstanding, the classic Hanna-Barbera shows weren't exactly clean either, showing that Turner Did Not Do the Research when he compared SWAT Kats to the older shows. First, there's the racial and chauvinistic attitudes you'd normally see in cartoons from the 50s through the 70s, and even the 80s. For more specific examples though, you have Yogi Bear stealing peoples' food, Top Cat's mooching, a Retcon in an episode of The Jetsons' second season that George and Jane were never actually married due their priest being a conman, interpret that how you will, making Judy and Elroy bastards, and Captain Planet taking on issues way outside of its scope and premise, with more out there. Whereas the SWAT Kats were hard working characters applying their skills to protect innocent people, with equipment they made solely by rebuilding junked machinery, while also helping them in their day jobs.
    • It's even sillier considering Hanna-Barbera were one of the main studios to start making action adventure cartoons like Space Ghost and Jonny Quest.
    • The worst part is the whole thing is vaguely hypocritical: Violence was cited as one of the main reason Turner personally pulled the plug despite the show's high ratings. However, the violence in SWAT Kats is stylized and largely not imitative (consider how hard it would be to fight a giant bacteria monster with a VTOL-capable jet), compared with other Hanna-Barbera series which feature stunts and slapstick violence that kids could easily recreate on their own.
  • Jet Pack: The Kats have them. It was even the special for Razor in the SNES game of it. They only used them a couple times in the show though.
  • Just Think of the Potential: Really, what was Pumadyne expecting when they made a device that disables all weapons? To say nothing of what might have happened if the Enforcers had started abusing it.
    • Doctors Zyme and Hackle have good intentions on their side, but that doesn't help a bit when dealing with the fallout of their attempts to benefit kat-kind, a.k.a. Dr. Viper and the Metallikats.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: At the end of "A Bright And Shiny Future", Feral and Felina provide a distraction using the Turbokat while the SWAT Kats sneak in to get up close and personal with Mac and Molly.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Finally, FINALLY averted thanks to the Warner Archive program in December 2010.
    • Or not; they've since pulled the DVDs for no official reason, though unofficial reports claim it's because they accidentally used Edited for Syndication copies of the episodes instead of the original prints, something WB has been accused of doing in the past. So, if you've got a high-quality copy of the original airing of the show, pull a Doctor Who and send them in, and we might get a second chance at the DVDs.
      • This is weird, as the version of "The Giant Bacteria" on the DVD contains a scene cut from the broadcast versions where Viper feeds a farmer to his bacteria monster. It also restores "The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice"'s long missing Episode Title Card. The episodes themselves appear to be uncut, and all that seems to be missing is the "Today on SWAT Kats" promos before the TBS-era (season one) episodes, which are a fairly negligible omission. The real reason would appear to be that Warner used the wrong end credits for many of the episodes.
  • Killed Off for Real: Surprisingly often for a cartoon. So it's a fair point when, in "The Metallikats", Feral says, quote, "Mac and Molly have been dead for months." To which another guy exclaims, "No, no, they ain't dead!"
  • Killer Robot: The Metallikats; also, the Mecha-Mooks from "A Bright and Shiny Future" and Zed from "Unlikely Alloys".
  • The Ladette: Felina Feral.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Commander Feral. And his hair-cut is fierce!
  • Leitmotif: Almost every major character. T-Bone & Razor had one, as did Commander Feral. So did Viper, and Dark Kat. Heck, even The Turbokat has its own Leitmotif.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: The fate of Warden Meese in "Chaos in Crystal".
  • Lock and Load Montage: Apart from happening in the series, this can also be seen in the intros for both seasons.
  • Love Triangle: Callie and The SWAT Kats. One of the reasons Felina was introduced in Season 2 was to intentionally avert this on further episodes. It kinda-sorta backfired: now, instead of one triangle, fans started shipping two entirely different ones: One involving the SWAT Kats and Callie, and other involving The SWAT Kats and Felina. What do you even call that? A parallelogram with two sets of boobs?
  • Macross Missile Massacre: "Night of the Dark Kat", "When Strikes Mutilor".
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Viper.
  • Man-Eating Plant: Dr. Viper's specialty.
  • Meaningful Name: In gangster slang, a "moll" is the female associate of a gangster, and were often criminals themselves; it is also short for "Molly", as in Mange.
  • Mega Microbes: "The Giant Bacteria".
  • Mirror Universe: "The Dark Side of the SWAT Kats".
  • More Dakka: The Enforcers, always. Razor also uses this twice: once each in "When Strikes Mutilor" and "Razor's Edge".
  • Monster Clown: Mad Kat.
  • Monster of the Week: One of the series' central tropes.
    • Lampshaded in "Unlikely Alloys".

Razor: "What's that? Monster of the week?"

  • Mummy: "The Deadly Pyramid".
  • NameTron: The Cyclotron
    • And Cybertron.
  • The Neidermeyer: Lt. Commander Steele.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: According to some fans, Callie Briggs practically defines this trope.
  • So does Jake, to a certain extent.
    • Unsure why. Does any woman with glasses, regardless of profession, count as a nerd, now? Callie's really more managment than full-on nerd. Dr. Sinian would seem to fit this description better.
    • A better example is Callie seeming to fancy Jake, who is unabashedly nerdy, as stated above.
  • Never My Fault: Feral unfairly blames Jake and Chance for the damage to Enforcer HQ, even though it's his own fault the incident happened (he interfered with their attempt to catch Dark Kat, because he couldn't accept someone else might catch the crook).
  • Never Say "Die": Sometimes averted, though.
    • Those poor RedShirts, though...
    • In "Mutation City" Razor prepares to go after a sinking T-Bone and growls "If you drown, buddy...I'm gonna kill you!"
    • In "The Origin of Dr. Viper" a dead Elrod Purvis is stashed in a morgue with a clearly-labled DOA toe-tag (Dead On Arrival, for those who don't know). The morgue is also clearly labeled and referenced as such in dialogue.
    • "Mac and Molly Mange have been dead for months!"
    • If you keep count you can find, conservatively, 73 deaths in the first season ALONE. Some of which are pretty brutal. Not counting the casualties when Chance and Jake's Enforcer jet crashes into the headquarters. Additionally, there are 3 or 4 times where Feral should have died--them's some safety equipment. Hot damn. All the deaths, or even the near-fatal injuries are never mentioned.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: David Litterbin, the Talk Show host from "Enter the Madkat", is obviously based on David Letterman.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Dr. Greenbox. Originally, he was to be a botanist, in which capacity his surname would make sense; his field of expertise was later changed to "generic tinkerer" who works with machines, rendering his pun-tastic surname meaningless.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: In "The Giant Bacteria", Razor and T-Bone drop Morbulus into the ocean from what has to be at least a hundred feet up.
  • No Waterproofing in the Future: Averted with the Metallikats, at least in their first appearance - Callie tries to defeat them with a fire hose. It didn't work.
    • Played With in "Razor's Edge" with Dark Kat's Black Widow. The outside was waterproof, but the inside was not.
    • Averted again in "SWAT Kats Unplugged", where in a fit of improvisational tactics, the SWAT Kats try to knock over a water tower so that it falls onto the pursuing Hard Drive's jet and stalls out his engines, but it doesn't work.
  • Nuke'Em: Attempted by Dark Kat in "The Wrath of Dark Kat".
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Madkat. Subverted in that he does this both on and off screen.
  • One Head Taller: Molly to Mac.
  • Only I Can Kill Him: Played unapologetically straight - The SWAT Kats are the only ones who can win the fight. Everyone else, since, unlike our heroes they don't have gigantic testicles of steel, fails miserably. Every. Single. Time. Without fail.
    • Also, this trope plays an important role in the SWAT Kats' origin. While they were still Enforcers, Jake and Chance had Dark Kat's ship cornered. Unfortunately, Feral insisted on capturing the villain personally, and his interference resulted in Dark Kat escaping, Enforcer headquarters being damaged, and Jake and Chance getting thrown off the force--and deciding to become the SWAT Kats.
    • The Red Lynx can only die if he's killed by the descendant of the pilot who originally defeated him. Turns out to be Mayor Manx, of all people. Which causes some problems, to say the very least.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Callie's full name is Calico Briggs.
    • You can count the number of times T-Bone and Razor's real names (Chance and Jake, respectively) are used on one hand. In fact, they aren't even mentioned until the second episode "The Giant Bacteria"
  • Only the Chosen May Wield: "Bride Of The Pastmaster".
  • The Other Darrin: The stoic Enforcer Sergeant was voiced by Ed Gilbert for almost all of the first season. Jim Cummings took over his voice for the final two episodes of season one, and all his appearances in season two. Likewise, Dr. Greenbox was voiced by Robert Patrick in "Chaos in Crystal" but Nick Chinlund in "Unlikely Alloys".
  • Our Liches Are Different: The Pastmaster.
  • Uncle Wolf: Feral may seem harsh and quick-tempered, but he genuinely loves his niece and would do any think to protect her. In fact, he tried to prevent her from joining the Enforcers for just that reason.
  • Petting Zoo People: The entire cast.
  • Police Are Useless: Back-and-forth. The Enforcers are a fairly effective police force formed to fight super-terrorists such as Dark Kat. They do a damn fine job in "The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice". Without the SWAT Kats' plane and gear and only conventional gas grenades and a convenient tar pit, they took out a bloody tyrannosaur and were just this side of getting the Pastmaster on their own. But it seems that the show takes place during their "fall from glory"; 1). The quality of their equipment is falling - the Turbo Kat is built out of the Enforcers' garbage but easily outperforms their current gear. 2). Its leadership is becoming overconfident - T-Bone and Razor were Enforcers until Feral pulled an absolutely stupid Only I Can Kill Him on Dark Kat (imagine two nobodies nearly catching bin Laden when some big shot was around) and blamed them for the ensuing property damage. Feral got a bit better, and by the time of the show proper is more professional. Lt. Commander Steele is an extrapolation of this that nearly screws the entire city. Result? The Enforcers Can't Catch Up to two hardcore Badasses and the enemies that show up to challenge them.
  • Put on a Bus: Lt. Commander Steele. Apparently, Steele's ineptitude eventually got him replaced by Feral's more competent and able-bodied niece Felina, and he has not been seen since.
    • Also, Burke and Murray from season one, despite their apparent stated role as Chance and Jake's "babysitters", disappear completely by the time season two rolls around with no explanation given.
  • Punny Name: Ann Gora, Dr. Abby Sinian, and Dr. N. Zyme.
  • Red Alert: Scramble alarm type, the alert that always sounds when Callie uses her emergency communicator to them.
  • Redshirt Army: The Enforcers.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Chance/T-Bone and Jake/Razor.
  • Flying Into The Sunset: "The Giant Bacteria" ends this way.
  • Riding the Bomb: "Destructive Nature". Complete with a "Yeeeeeeeeeeeee-haaa!" from Razor, and Razor also does so in "Wrath of the Dark Kat" as he disables the bomb midflight.
  • Robot Buddy: Cybertron from "The Deadly Pyramid".
  • Rogues Gallery: See above.
  • Rogues Gallery Showcase: "Katastrophe", "A Bright and Shiny Future".
  • Screwed by the Network: as already described.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Pastmaster in "The Pastmaster Always Rings Twice".
  • Self-Constructed Being: The "micro-brain repair unit" featured in "Unlikely Alloys".
  • Sexy Secretary: Callie shares some aspects of this character trope, but she's actually the Deputy Mayor! (And basically does the mayor's job for him, which makes her a Hypercompetent Sidekick.
  • Ship Tease:
    • There were a few hints that Ann Gora's relationship with her cameraman Jonny was more than just professional.
    • Then there was that scene where Callie flirtily says "Bye, Jake." right after Chance bragged (out of earshot) about her "obviously" digging him. Rule of Funny, yes, but a tease nonetheless.
  • Shooting Gallery: The SWAT Kats have one in their lair.
  • Show Accuracy, Toy Accuracy: The SWAT Kats action figures were all redesigned from the characters' TV versions. Most drastic change: Dark Kat was apparently a cyborg, a revelation the show never even hinted at.
  • Shout-Out: Pumadyne, anyone?
  • Sitting on the Roof: T-Bone and Razor at the end of "Mutation City". The city is flooded, after all.
  • Skunk Stripe: Felina's hair color.
  • Sky Pirate: Turmoil.
  • Slash Fic: Tons of them involving the main characters, both male and female.
  • Slasher Smile: Most of the villains do this at least once. Strangely, the SWAT Kats do it fairly often, including in most of the publicity artwork. Just check out the page pic.
  • Sonic Stunner: The Banshee missiles. Further, their performance is what gives T-Bone the idea that saves the day in "Chaos In Crystal".
  • Space Plane: The Turbokat, literally. It can bust out four additional engines and go into space.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": In "The Wrath of Dark Kat", Steele insists his name is spelled with two E's, implying it is "Steel." However when we see his nameplate on his desk in "Enter the Madkat", it's spelled "Steele." Most fans take the latter spelling as the correct one, despite Steele's apparent preference. Possibly the nameplate is a misprint the Enforcers didn't bother to correct?
    • Or Steele was refering to the middle of his name: Steele vs Steale.
    • Actually, it's referring to the word "stele", which is a type of writing implement. He wants his name spelled with two e's because then it's a type of strong metal, as opposed to something like a pen.
  • Spider Tank: Dark Kat has one in Razor's Edge.
  • Sssssnaketalk: Dr. Viper.
  • The Starscream: Lt. Steele.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: In "Night of the Dark Kat", Hard Drive questions Dark Kat's decision to put the SWAT Kats in a Conveyor Belt O' Doom Death Trap instead of killing them outright. ("I still say you should’ve let me fry those two!") Dark Kat should have listened to him.
  • Stealth Pun: The Turbokat has a variable-sweep wing design. The most well-known plane in Real Life with such a design is the F-14 Tomcat. Though it may not exactly be a pun as a Shout-Out, as the Turbokat shares a LOT with the F-14 besides the wings. In fact, the only real differences are the additional engine, the ability to hover, and, to a lesser extent, the paint job. Razor's station in the back seat actually looks like a real-life Tomcat RIO console.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Rex Shard.
  • Superhero
  • Talking Animal: The entire freaking population.
  • Talking to Himself: Jim Cummings whenever Dr. Konway and Mayor Manx were onscreen together in "Mutation City". This probably cropped up a lot more on a smaller scale, as Jim Cummings seemed to voice a solid third of the one-shot and background characters.
  • Tanks for Nothing: The only purpose the Enforcer tanks serve is getting stomped by the Monster of the Week so the heroes can save the day.
  • Ten-Minute Retirement: "Razor's Edge".
  • That Poor Plant
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • This Is a Drill: Drillbit missiles, the Turbomole.
  • Those Two Guys: Burke and Murray.
  • Time For Plan Z: It involves shutting off the Turbokat's engines in mid-flight to lose heat-seekers. Razor hates Plan Z.
    • And to make it worse, they even have a decoy missile to help. The writers apparently never heard of flares.
  • Title Sequence Replacement: When the series was originally broadcast, some first season reruns used the second season Title Sequence.
  • Toasted Buns: The jetpacks in "Unlikely Alloys".
  • Totally Radical: The phrase "Radical Squadron" is part of the series title, but never used in the show itself.
  • Transformation Sequence: From Chance and Jake to T-Bone and Razor.
  • Trapped in the Past: In "Bride Of The Pastmaster".
  • Trapped in Another World: "The Dark Side Of The SWAT Kats".
  • Unobtainium: Aggresite from "Caverns Of Horror". Also played straight in "When Strikes Mutilor" with water, of all things. Turns out plain old agua is actually unobtanium for aliens, which is the reason for Mutilor's attack on Earth (Yeah, yeah, "Haven't they heard of ice?").
  • Villain Team-Up/Legion of Doom: The "Alliance of Evil" between Dark Kat, Dr. Viper and The Metallikats in "Katastrophe".
    • "A Bright and Shiny Future", meanwhile, sees a brief alliance between the Pastmaster and the Metallikats.
  • Weaponized Car: Jake and Chance convert one of their tow-trucks into the heavily-armed Thunder Truck in "When Strikes Mutilor".
  • Weirdness Magnet: Megakat City. Aliens, Monsters, Dinosaurs, Mobsters, Robots, Mobster Robots... where do these people come from?
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: From the military-owned junkyard, that's where!
    • Played straight in a few cases. Razor says that a couple of his missiles are diamond-tipped. Who the hell would throw away diamonds, or even diamond dust?!
      • Unless they're industrial diamonds, which are usually artificial.
  • What Happened To The Cat: Specifically, the farmer in "The Giant Bacteria". He simply disappeared after an awkward cutaway from him to Dr. Viper. The mystery was finally solved when a scene of him being fed to the creature by Viper was re-added to the episode on the Warner Archive DVD release.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: "Razor's Edge". Granted, it really wasn't his fault.
    • In "The Giant Bacteria", the SWAT Kats manage to defeat and capture a villain named Morbulus. Instead of holding him until the authorities got there or even going over to said authorities to hand Morbulus over, they decide to just mess around with Morbulus and Feral and just drop the villain in the water. Of course, Morbulus takes advantage of this and escapes. They never get called out on it by anybody other than Feral, who is actually right about the SWAT Kats screwing up this time around. Not only do the SWAT Kats get pissed and act like whiny children by blaming Feral for Morbulus getting away, but to make it worse, even Callie acts like a bitch and tries pinning the blame on Feral for the whole thing.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: As revealed in the episode "The Ci-Kat-A", which is about giant insectoid aliens, T-Bone is terrified of bugs.
  • Why We Can't Have Nice Things: A priceless historical site gets obliterated in "The Deadly Pyramid." Granted, it wasn't entirely their fault.
  • Wire Dilemma: Lampshaded and Averted in In "The Wrath of Dark Kat".

Razor: Piece of cake, just remember, "always cut the red wire." [opens the bomb, sees they're all red] Augh, Dark Kat, you miserable psycho!

    • He ends up guessing. Whaddaya know, it worked!
  • The Woman Behind the Man: It's pretty clear Deputy Mayor Callie Briggs is the one who really runs the city.
    • Which is a good thing, considering how lazy and incompetent Mayor Manx is.
      • Except when it comes to shooting down high-tech fighter planes piloted by ghosts, of course.
    • It's even Lampshaded in "The Metallikats" where Callie tells the titular villains that she, not the mayor, denied their parole.

Callie: Manx hasn't done an ounce of paperwork around here for years!