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Secretary: I like Marines. They're polite, respectful, and very friendly.
[The Major knocks down the screen door as he walks through it]
Polly: They're strong, too.
This is not your standard sitcom. This is the story of Major John McGillis and the woman he fell in love with. And her three daughters.
So what separates this sitcom from all others? First of all, the military, specifically the United States Marine Corps, is portrayed in a positive light. Second, each plot does not revolve around the characters passing around the Idiot Ball and blatantly lying to each other. In fact, some of the characters might be considered a little too honest at times.
The entire series is available for viewing on Hulu.
Major Dad contains examples of:
- And Starring: From season two onward: "And Beverly Archer as 'Gunny' Bricker"
- Armies Are Evil: Inverted, Subverted, and Lampshaded. Heck, discrediting this trope seems to be almost the point of the show.
Major, she claimed that we exist to train young people to kill!"
"... Isn't that what we do here?"
- Backed by the Pentagon: At the end of the credits: "Special appreciation to the United States Marine Corps for their cooperation and valued assistance."
- BFG: Polly gets to fire one of these. And finds out that, yes, there is recoil.
- The Captain: Okay, he's a Major. And he's never exactly the guy officially in charge. But he might as well be.
- Child Soldiers: The youngest girl tries to be one to get the respect of the Major after eavesdropping on a dressing down he gave to one of the enlisted men.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Miss Gunderson and Sgt. James from the first season. Justified in that the Major had been transferred away from Camp Singleton. Averted with Lt. Holowachuk, who was coincidentally transferred to Hollister (to the same office, even) at the same time as the Major.
- The Danza: Gerald "Mac" McRaney as Major John "Mac" McGillis.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Season one of the show was set in the fictional Camp Singleton, where the Major commanded an infantry training school, had a blonde secretary a la Jennifer Marlowe, and had early trouble adapting to being a dad. This all was dropped in favor of a retool the following season.
- Even after the retool, the show still had early weirdness. Gunny was coldly methodical towards the Major (eliciting actual boos from the studio audience during her first scene) and General Craig was a bit more intimidating.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Polly E. McGillis. The E stands for Ester.
- Fourth Date Marriage: The Major proposes to Polly about three days after meeting her. And the marriage lasts!
- Lampshaded by Elisabeth when she wanted to date a Marine. This did not exactly help her case.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The radio station with the unscrupulous owner who wants the "Love Doctor" to give lame rhyming advice to people in need is named "KOCS".
- Good Looking Privates: Pretty much every male Marine on the show below the rank of Major was a chiseled, broad-shouldered hunk of Estrogen Brigade Bait.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Dann Florek shows up in the third episode as a Ted Baxter war buddy of the Major's, who tries to talk the Major out of marrying Polly.
- Laugh Track: Actually a live studio audience, but it's still there.
- Love At First Sight: More somewhere between this and Love At First Punch, only Polly didn't punch the Major, just trashed him and everything he's worked for in a news article.
- She did try to punch him, in an attempt that only further made his point about the validity of a "peace offensive".
- Mildly Military: Subverted and played straight all at the same time. General Craig is rarely 100% professional, except when there's a foreign dignitary or an inspection. Gunny and the Major, on the other hand, are military down to the calluses on their feet.
- Military Alphabet: Useful at home and in the office.
- Military Brat: Gunny, and of course the McGillis kids.
- Odd Couple: The Major and Polly. Straight-laced conservative Marine and an (at times self-described) fire-eating liberal (who doesn't even eat red meat). They argue and tease, but they also always respect each other.
- Officer and a Gentleman: The Major is very military, right down to putting a handkerchief on the floor before kneeling to formally ask Polly's hand in marriage.
- Only Sane Man: The Major has symptoms of this. Particularly since he's the only man in a house full of women. Including a teenager. Confusion ensues.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Both the Major and Polly try to be this. They don't always succeed in being reasonable but they learn; the Major especially takes time learning to tell the difference between being a reasonable military authority figure and being a reasonable parental authority figure.
- Really Gets Around: Gunny. Oh wow Gunny. Among other things, she's an expert on which motels in the tri-county area are suitable for staying at due to having stayed in most of them (and most of the rooms in them) at some point.
- Retool: The series changed setting after the first season as the Major got transferred.
- A few minor ones occurred between the pilot and the second episode as well. Most obviously, the Major's secretary got a lot younger and ditzier.
- Semper Fi: Well, duh.
- Straight Man: The Major is an example who actually gets a lot of the really funny lines because he's taking things seriously. Ditto for Gunny.
- Very Special Episode: Two were back to back in the final season. One episode saw Gunny's house get burglarized, and dealt with how she handled it; and the following episode had the Major confronting another major who had been abusing his wife and son. The end of the latter featured Gerald McRaney and Nicole Debuc out of character, giving a number to a hotline that abuse victims could call.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: When the Major's father visits, Mac reveals that he's never felt like his father has been proud of him. His father struggles with the words and finally says something that seems mild, but is delivered with such heartfelt emotion and has such an effect on Mac that it becomes a Tear Jerker.
- Why We're Bummed Communism Fell: Played with in an episode where a Russian major visits Hollister. Both Mac and Gunny admit to General Craig that they're unsure of how to feel, as they both had been trained in the Marines to distrust Russians.
- Yanks With Tanks: The Marines, specifically. Lots of Marines.