TV shows or movies with military characters

It occured to me that I can’t think of any TV shows where one or more of the characters is in the military, but it’s not centrally important to anythign in particular.

ie: Babylon 5, Stargate SG1, JAG, Pensacola: Wings of Gold, are all shows where the characters being in the military is a centrally important thing to the basis of the show and the stories. Are there any shows where one or more of the main characters are in the armed forces, but it’s more of a background thing than a central thing?

On “The West Wing,” military officers occasionally appeared (the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, or military briefers, etc.). Also, White House speechwriter Will Bailey was an Air Force reservist, IIRC, and candidate (and later President-elect) Matt Santos was a Marine Corps reservist.

King of the Hill - Bill is an army barber. It’s mentioned frequently and has been the basis of a couple plotlines, but doesn’t play a huge role in the show.

I’m not sure if this counts, but…

Happy Days - they explained Ron Howard and Don Most leaving the show by having their characters join the army.

Generally speaking, what’s the point of having a character in the military if you aren’t going to focus the show on it? Seems over-limiting to me.

Then again…

I Dream Of Jeanie - Both Tony and Roger are military, but as astronauts.

“Designing Women” - one of the decorators *Jean Smart’s character) was married to an Air Force officer, who appeared occasionally. There was an episode about him being sent to Iraq.

And the military aspect isn’t really the central theme–Major Nelson could have just as easily been a cop who found the bottle patrolling the beach.

I never watched Major Dad–how much of it was about the military?

Most of it.

I seem to remember something about Malcolm in the Middle’s eldest brother being in the military–but maybe it was just military school. Anybody remember?

The point would be to add to the character’s…characterization. Characters have jobs, hobbies, backgrounds. Like in the KOtH example, Bill is an Army barber. He could just have easily been a regular barber or a locksmith or a house painter. Any of those things might fit the character, and be usable in a variety of storylines.

I wonder if the dearth of military characters might be because the creators, writers, actors, producers, etc. of the shows are likely to come from demographic groups that don’t have strong military affiliations. In other words, the “creative” folks might not have too much experience with military folks, making it harder to write a military character. Shows that are explicitly about the military might attract writers who do know about it, or require the writers to learn about it, and they would consult advisors and such. But for some other show? Easier to make the next door neigbor a schoolteacher or something.

Yes, Francis in Malcolm in the Middle was just sent off to military school, not the actual military.

I didn’t think of this until I hit post on the last note, but the 2nd brother, Reese, does join the military (army, I think) for 2 episodes. Just until his mother catches up to him.

Don’t forget, Gomer Pyle USMC.

The guys on the various incarnations of Star Trek went out of their way on numerous occasions to say they weren’t the military. In fact, offhand the only person I can think of who ever called Starfleet “the military” was David Marcus.

I mention this just for the heck of it.

I don’t know if it counts, but on The Wonder Years, the Cooper’s oldest boy is killed in war, but since he wasn’t actually a main character, I’d say I’m reaching to make a connection.


Also, on Family Guy, Quagmire was in the Navy…

and on The Simpsons, Principal Skinner was in the Army, and he rejoins for one episode or two…


Arrested Development - The youngest Bluth brother, Buster, spent some time in the military before he got his hand bitten off by a seal.

In the shortlived Sixties TV drama American Dreams, one of the characters was an Army soldier in Vietnam, IIRC from the ads (I never watched the show myself).

Battlestar Galactica (both versions). The setting is a warship and most characters are in the Colonial Fleet.

Actually, Chief O’Brien’s military history becomes a fairly important character plot point later in TNG and in DS9. Seems he was something of a badass back in The Day, fighting in some of the more brutal battles between the Federation and the Cardassians. That said, he’s one of the few outright “military” characters in Star Trek that I can think of (Worf and Riker, and a small number of other Tactical and Security personel fit the bill, but you get the impression that most of the Starfleet officers you meet are just specialists who happen to be in an organization that has military responsibilities, rather than members of a dedicated armed force.)

(replying to various other thoughts in the thread)

From what I remember of Major Dad, it actually does seem to fit the bill fairly well, wasn’t the show centrally about being a family man in the military rather than about a military officer who happens to have a family?

I Dream of Jeanie is a good example too.

I guess I thought up this thread because I was watching an old episode of Due South, and the villian of the week happened to be a National Guardsman.