Top Gun

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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Maverick: I feel the need...
Maverick and Goose: ...the need for speed!

Tom Cruise flies F-14 Tomcats and gives the Commie Landers the finger while playing volleyball.

Okay, a bit more detail. Top Gun (1986) was inspired by a magazine article on Navy pilots. The screenwriters and director Tony Scott (Ridley's little brother) viewed it as "Sports Movie meets jets". In it, a hotshot pilot named "Maverick" (Cruise) is sent to the TOPGUN training school, a five-week workshop where pilots learn how to really kick ass at Old School Dogfighting. Here Maverick has to deal with competition from fellow pilots, and conquer his own demons.

The film had full cooperation from the Pentagon, and much of its aerial combat was shot "reel for real" using actual Navy hardware. (So real, somebody died making it.) It was an unanticipated success and caused an immediate boost in Navy enlistment figures, to the point that they started putting recruiting booths right there in the theatre.

The movie was named to the National Film Registry in 2015.

After a whopping 36-year long Sequel Gap, Top Gun: Maverick was finally released in 2022.

Tropes used in Top Gun include:
  • Ace Pilot: Obviously.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The Top Gun school left Miramar years ago. It's now based in Nevada under a different name and teaches both air combat -and- ground-attack.
  • Anonymous Ringer: The nation whose air force the main characters fly against is never named. Speculation pegs it as South Yemen, a then Soviet client. IMDB suggests it was intended to be North Korea, which is rather unlikely as dialogue in the film establishes the setting as the Indian Ocean.
  • Award Bait Song/Ear Worm: Take my breath awaaaaaaaaay...
  • Bald of Awesome: Stinger, Maverick's commanding officer on the Enterprise.
  • Chekhov's Skill: A couple of notable ones:
  • Code Name: Aviator callsigns, but here they're far cooler than RL examples. The credits demonstrate this.
  • Colonel Badass: Commander Mike "Viper" Metcalf and Commander Tom "Stinger" Jordan definitely qualify.
  • Coming in Hot: Cougar goes a bit crazy after a close encounter with some MiGs, and has to be talked down, despite there being nothing wrong with his plane itself.
  • Cool Plane: The F-14 Tomcat.
    • And at least an honorable mention to the A-4 Skyhawk and F-5E Tiger II ("MiG-28").
  • Crowd Song: "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'"
  • Defrosting Iceman: Iceman, by the end of the film.
  • Did Not Do the Research: During the final dogfight, one of the officers informs Stinger that "both catapults are broken", rendering them unable to launch any reinforcements to back up the protagonists after Maverick launches. The Enterprise has FOUR catapults; two on the bow and two at the waist. The odds of all four breaking down at once are nigh on impossible.
  • Disappeared Dad: Maverick's father, who went down over 'Nam.
  • Dodge by Braking: The Trope Maker in modern film-making, Maverick uses this technique to make his enemies overshoot. It works every time.
  • Dogfighting Furballs: One of the major draws of the movie, the other being Ho Yay.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Averted by the instructors at Top Gun; while they may be stern taskmasters at times, they never raise their voices very much and really have their students' best interests in mind.
  • Experienced Protagonist: Maverick is already a capable aviator at the start of the film. TOPGUN is not a boot camp for complete nuggets; it exists to take already competent personnel and push them even further beyond.
  • Faceless Goons: With visors and masks, everyone is technically faceless in the fighting scenes, but the U.S. pilots wear colored helmets with their names on them and rarely use their visors, while the enemy pilots just have black always-visored helmets with a red star on.
  • Fan Service: The volleyball scene, the shower scene(s).
  • Fatal Family Photo:
    • Subverted -- Cougar has such a photo, but Maverick prevents him from crashing. He then resigns his commission.
    • Played straight with Goose. Once he says that he just wants to graduate from TOPGUN without incident because he has a family, the savvy viewer will know that he doesn't have long left.
  • Fighter Launching Sequence
  • Five Second Foreshadowing: Maverick shouts to "watch the canopy" as he's getting him and Goose to eject. Moments later, Goose's ejection seat crashes into the F-14's canopy that had failed to get out of the way in time and he dies because of it.
  • Follow the Leader:
    • Inspired several imitators, including Fire Birds and the short-lived TV series Supercarrier, as well as multiple air-combat video games.
    • The movie Navy SEALS with Charlie Sheen was requested by the Navy, who hoped it would provide a bump in enlistments the way Top Gun did.
  • Gatling Good: The shots of the MiGs firing their guns during the final dogfight cut to a shot of a Minigun firing. The F-14 carries an internal 20mm Vulcan cannon as well, but it's never used on-screen.
  • The General's Daughter: A high-speed pass over an admiral's daughter is mentioned.
  • Glasses Pull
  • Good-Looking Privates: There's not an ugly guy in the cast.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: While all pilots do wear helmets, none of the named characters have their sun visors covering their eyes while flying (not even strict "by the book" pilots like Jester or Viper).
  • Heroic BSOD: Maverick is stuck in one after Goose's death.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Maverick and Goose. It is strongly implied that they have been friends and flight-team partners for quite some time, and at one point Maverick calls Goose "the only family I've got."
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Blatantly and deliberately. "I'm gonna have somebody's butt for this!", the volleyball scene, "You can be my wingman any time...", "This stuff gives me a hard-on."/"Don't tease me." For many, the film is better known for its subtext than for its actual story. Val Kilmer himself is aware of this, referring to Iceman as the other gay character he's played besides Gay Perry in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
  • Improbable Piloting Skills: Maverick, most of the time.
  • Informed Loner: According to Iceman, Maverick likes to work alone. Apparently, Goose doesn't count.
  • "Join the Army," They Said: Retroactively, it was discovered that the film made an incredible recruitment tool for the Navy.
  • Just Plane Wrong: Very much so. In all fairness, the military pilots doing the flying pointed this out, and the filmmakers agreed to try shooting actual aerial combat. The results weren't entertaining enough, and Rule of Cool took the win.
  • Military Maverick: Call sign "Maverick".
  • Missile Lock On: Constantly during the aerial combat scenes. Ironically, most of the dogfights in the film take place INSIDE the minimum effective range of the missiles carried by the aircraft in the film, as noted by several characters when 'switching to guns', yet they go back to missiles by the time they actually fire.
  • Nice Guy: Goose, in spades. A devoted family man, liked by everyone, and pretty much the only one who can rein his impetuous partner in. Naturally, he dies two-thirds of the way through the film.
  • Nintendo Hard: The NES video game, thanks to those aforementioned carrier landings.
  • Nom De Guerre
  • Number Two: Jester to Viper.
  • Oh Crap: Wolfman's reaction to learning he's up against Viper.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Goose's actual name is never stated onscreen. Everyone, even his wife, just calls him Goose. His real name was Nick Bradshaw.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Maverick and Iceman. Maverick and Goose.
  • The Rival: Iceman.
  • Running Gag: The Air Boss can't seem to keep his coffee in the cup when Maverick's around...
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Also an Establishing Character Moment, in the beginning, Maverick aborts his landing to help the badly-shaken Cougar land his plane even though he's low on fuel himself.
  • Second Place Is for Losers
  • Serenade Your Lover: Featuring "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling"
  • Shirtless Scene: Beach volleyball.
  • Shown Their Work: With certain exceptions made because of Rule of Cool, this movie is a pretty accurate portrayal of US Naval aviation.
  • Technician Versus Performer: Iceman and Maverick, respectively. It's Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Truth in Television: The training accident that kills Goose was entirely possible due to the design of the Tomcat. Early Tomcats had Pratt & Whitney TF30 engines which were underpowered for the aircraft, resulting in compressor stalls at high angles of attack. The space in between the two engines would also easily result in a flat spin due to the massive amount of asymmetrical thrust should one engine crap out.
  • Weapons Understudies: A-4s and F-5s for MiGs.
    • Truth in Television: A-4s and F-5s were chosen by the actual TOPGUN training seminar for "Dissimilar Air Combat Training," which is military jargon for, "We can't get real MiGs, but these planes have similar flight characteristics to them, so they'll do." (They did actually have some in the Constant Peg programme, but their existence was classified at this point in time).
      • Life Imitates Art: The F-5s "playing" the part of MiG-28s in flat black paint jobs were planes from the actual seminar. They kept the paint job after filming was done.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Inverted, as Maverick's dad died in air combat, and Maverick is constantly reassuring himself that his father was, indeed, the ace that he has told himself since childhood. Viper, whose role is partly Big Brother Mentor, eventually assures him that this was the case.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Nicknames really but the effect is the same

Charlotte: I'm Charlotte Blackwood.
Maverick: I'm Maverick.
Charlotte: Did your mother not like you?
Maverick: No, it's my call sign.