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The end of the Civil War was near
F Troop was an American television sitcom that aired on ABC from 1965 to 1967. It centered on the men and officers of Fort Courage, a fictional U.S. Army outpost in Kansas. The commanding officer is Capt. Wilton Parmenter, a good-hearted but accident-prone leader who fell into his rank after inadvertently instigating the final charge at the Battle of Appomattox. Due to his ineptitude, his superiors gave him command of Fort Courage, a dumping ground for the Army's useless soldiers.
Much of the show's humor came from the schemes of Parmenter's non-commissioned officers, Sergeant O'Rourke and Corporal Agarn. They often conspired with the local Indian tribe, the Hekawis, as they operated their illicit business, O'Rourke Enterprises. Parmenter also had to fend off the marriage-minded plans of his girlfriend "Wrangler" Jane, a local shopkeeper/postmaster. The Hekawis watched their goings-on with bemusement, though they often got roped into their shenanigans.
- Accidental Aiming Skills: Parmenter is notorious for his inability to hit a target. Instead, he wins gunfights by accidentally making ludicrously complicated trick shots, followed by his men pretending they were deliberate. He ends up with a reputation as a sharpshooter as a result.
- Actor Allusion: Agarn's distinctive hat is a Shout-Out to Larry Storch's standup comedy persona
- Action Girl: Wrangler Jane, obviously.
- Affectionate Parody
- All Knowing Singing Narrator: "The Day They Shot Agarn"
- Alternate Company Equivalent: Some believe F Troop to be a Live Action TV copy of the Glenn Ford comedy film, Advance To The Rear.
- Anachronism Stew: "That's Showbiz", which features a rock 'n' roll band at Fort Courage. Lampshaded by O'Rourke, who notes they seem to be ahead of their time.
- A "rock" band was also seen in "Lieutenant O'Rourke, Front and Center", but the focus is on the Playbrave Club they appear at.
- Attractive Bent Gender: Agarn, dressed as an "Indian maid", to coax the Loco Brothers out of their cave. Made funnier by the fact that Wrangler Jane, an actual woman, had failed in an earlier bid to do the same.
- This was also the source of the clip shown on Freakazoid.
- Balloon Belly: Agarn acquires one at the end of "Survival of the Fittest".
- Blind Mistake: Happens regularly with Private Vanderbilt, thanks to his 20/900 vision. He once allowed two Indians wearing feather head-dresses to enter the fort unchallenged, and later explained "I thought they were turkeys." (Vanderbilts inability to distinguish Indians from turkeys is actually a Running Gag, though it's usually played the other way.)
- Blind Without'Em: Private Vanderbilt, the fort lookout. Subverted in that his vision is horrible even when he is wearing his glasses.
- Captain Ersatz: B. Wise from "Spy, Counter, Counterspy" is essentially Maxwell Smart from Get Smart in an Old West setting. They even borrow a couple of his Catch Phrases. Justified as it would be unlikely for Smart to have time-travel capabilities. And also averted, as Wise proves to be a traitor.
- Casting Gag: Trooper Duffy (Bob Steele) is an elderly cavalryman who claims to be the sole survivor of the Alamo, and regularly recounts his exploits there. Steele was previously a 1930s and '40s Western movie star, and had once been in a movie about meeting Davy Crockett at the Alamo.
- Catch Phrase: Many.
- O'Rourke's "I don't know why everyone says you're so dumb" to Agarn.
- Agarn's response, "Who says I'm dumb?", as well as "I'm warning you, Dobbs!"
- Parmenter's "Please, Jane, not in front of the..." after she kisses him at an inopportune time.
- Catch Your Death of Cold: Captain Parmenter gets soaked multiple times in "The Majority of Wilton", causing this trope.
- Comical Translation: Trooper Hoffenmueller, who speaks German, Cherokee, Sioux, Apache, Hekawi...and absolutely no English.
- Cowgirl: Wrangler Jane.
- Dawson Casting: Inverted with Wrangler Jane, a twenty-something woman played by 15-year-old Melody Patterson. She got the part by initially lying about her age. The truth was not revealed until an on-set tutor pointed out her real age to one of the producers.
- This gave the producers a bit of trouble, as once her true age had been found out and due to a host of ethical/legal/squick issues, they couldn't have Ken Berry perform normal romantic scenes (such as kissing or embracing) with Melody Patterson, at least until she turned 16 (presumably the age of consent at the time). To get around it, the writers had Wrangler pursue a completely oblivious Parmenter fruitlessly — until the second season, by which time it was kosher for her to do romantic scenes. Suddenly, Parmenter took a more active romantic interest in her.
- Door Step Baby: Chief Wild Eagle leaves Captain Parmenter one after he accidentally saves the chief's life in "A Gift From the Chief".
- Double Vision: Used no less than five times on the show. Because Larry Storch was good with accents, he played three of Agarn's "long lost" cousins, one from Mexico, one who was French-Canadian, and one from Russia, in three separate episodes. Forrest Tucker and Ken Berry also got one episode each where they had to play opposite themselves.
- Dreadful Musician: Private Dobbs, an inept bugler who regularly mangles standard tunes like "Reveille", "Assembly" and "Retreat".
- During the War
- Ensign Newbie: Captain Parmenter
- Evil Twin: Kid Vicious, the outlaw who happens to resemble Captain Parmenter who shows up in "Wilton the Kid".
- Expository Theme Tune
The end of the Civil War was near,
- Except for the first episode, that was done rather 'newsreel' style right at the start, where they gave the intro story without the lyrics. Makes more sense also if it's mentioned that Parmenter's family were all high-ranking military types. Captain (Wilton) Parmenter was the lowest ranker in the family, at least until then.
- Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics: For the second season, the show switched from black and white to color, and the opening title sequence was redone as a result. Inexplicably, the original Expository Theme Tune was replaced with a lyrics-free instrumental version.
- Friendly Enemy: Ostensibly, Fort Courage's mission is to "keep the peace" against the Hekawi Indians. In reality, the Hekawis are pacifists and the two factions tend to leave each other alone (except for the Hekawi's business deals with O'Rourke).
- Gilligan Cut: One instance of this was referenced in Freakazoid.
- The Gunslinger: Wrangler Jane, the best shot in Fort Courage.
- In the battle in the first episode, all the troopers in the fort combined shot seven Shugs. Wrangler Jane got seventeen.
- Honest John's Dealership: Sergeant O'Rourke, whose get-rich-quick schemes tend to fail. He manages to maintain secret ownership of the local saloon, though.
- Haunted House: Featured in the episode "V For Vampire," which guest-starred Vincent Price.
- Historical Domain Character: Ulysses S. Grant and General George Custer make appearances in the first season.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: O'Rourke.
- Ice Cream Koan: Chief Wild Eagle has an old Indian saying for every occasion, though their applicability varies wildly. Lampshaded on occasion when he admits he doesn't know what a saying is supposed to mean.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Most of the men at Fort Courage graduated from there. This is made clear in an episode where Agarn was brought before a firing squad and all the soldiers instead shot the water tower he was standing next to.
- Injun Country: Averted HARD due to Rule of Funny. The Hekawi tribe was portrayed as a harmless group of schemers who are solely interested in making business deals with white settlers. Much of the characterization of the tribe is actually based around Yiddish comedy, and the show even teases the myth that they're the lost 13th tribe of Israel.
- The Klutz: Captain Parmenter, aided by Ken Berry's excellent pratfall skills.
- Large Ham: Larry Storch as Corporal Agarn, who shamelessly mugs the camera and chews the scenery at every opportunity.
- Maintain the Lie: A recurring plot in the series, usually when the Hekawis have to feign being savage indians for a visitor to Fort Courage. One episode even required Agarn teaching the Hekawis how to do a war dance...
- Meaningful Name: The full name for Wrangler Jane, who runs the town's general store, is Jane Angelica Thrift.
- Military Moonshiner: Sergeant O'Rourke, who technically gets around it by paying the Hekawis to make his whiskey for him. He does provide the raw materials and parts to repair the still, and distributes the finished product at the local saloon, which he secretly owns.
- The Pratfall: Captain Parmenter demonstrated the technique frequently.
- Punch Clock Villain: Literally, with the Hekawis. They have no time for villainy when they're busy making souvenirs for O'Rourke to sell (at a 50% cut) and distilling whisky for the town saloon.
- Punny Name: This is how the Hekawi tribe got their name:
Chief Wild Eagle: "Many moons ago tribe move west because Pilgrims ruin neighborhood. Tribe travel west, over country and mountains and wild streams, then come big day... tribe fall over cliff, that when Hekawi get name. Medicine man say to my ancestor, 'I think we lost. Where the heck are we?'
- Rambling Old Man Monologue: Often attempted by Private Duffy, when he gets going on his tales of the Alamo. He's usually interrupted.
- Reassignment Backfire
- Recurring Extra: Trooper Duddleson, who made 27 appearances and rarely said a word.
- Runaway Fiance: Miko, in the episode "From Karate With Love".
- Running Gag: Agarn makes a clever suggestion to O'Rourke, who compliments him by saying, "Agarn, I don't know why they say you're so dumb!" A few minutes later, Agarn suddenly asks, "Who says I'm dumb?!"
- Another one occurs whenever the fort's cannon misfires. Agarn kicks it in frustration, whereupon one of its wheels comes off. It then sends a cannonball into the lookout tower, knocking it over and sending Private Vanderbilt crashing to the ground.
- The loose floor board in front of Capt Parmeter's office
- Vanderbilt's lookout reports especially his tendency to call the fort to arms to repel "Indians" whenever he sees a flock of turkeys.
- Samurai: Played by Mako in "From Karate With Love". He's sent to catch Miko and return her to her arranged marriage; instead, he falls in Love At First Sight.
- Status Quo Is God: After O'Rourke is promoted to lieutenant in one episode, Agarn, Dobbs, and Hoffenmueller are promoted to sergeant, corporal, and bugler, respectively. When O'Rourke gets himself demoted back to sergeant by the end, he demotes Agarn, who demotes Dobbs, who takes his bugle back from Hoffenmueller. And the whole thing is lampshaded by Captain Parmenter, who declares he's happy that Four Courage is back to normal.
- Theme Naming: When listing the troopers, many background ones were named after famous pairs: i.e. Lewis and Clark, Gilbert and Sullivan, Stanley and Livingston, and so on.
- Many of the Parmenter clan, who had names like Hercules, Thor, Achilles...and Wilton.
- Took a Level In Jerkass: Parmenter, in the episode "Old Ironpants". He was back to his normal self by the end, thank goodness.
- Truth in Television: "The Day They Shot Agarn" was based on an actual rule that appeared in post-Civil War army manuals; if a soldier lost a prisoner in transport, he was expected to carry out the prisoner's sentence.
- Unsuspectingly Soused: A sick Captain Parmenter accidentally imbibes one too many "cures" for his cold in "The Majority of Wilton". Hilarity Ensues.
- The Western