Top 5 Military TV Shows

There’s been a lot of military TV shows, some good, some bad, and I decided to make a list of which ones I thought were the best.  Let me know in the comments whether you agree or disagree?

5 Stars Earn Stripes New show, but I like it because it reminds me of number 2 on this list—but more on that later.

Stars Earn Stripes premiered on August 13th, 2012, and is in its first season.  The series is a reality TV show that follows a group of celebrities, accompanied by members of the United States Armed Forces and others, competing in various challenges for charity based off actual training exercises used by the U.S. military.

What’s Good:  It’s a good show because it shows celebrities in a different light—going through the tough training of the military—and it raises money for charities.  Plus, it’s a reality TV show so the military people are all real, badass, guys.  And it’s interesting watching these intense soldiers deal with more delicate celebrities.  Looks very promising.

What’s Bad:  They could’ve gotten some better, more interesting, celebrities.   Most of them I don’t even know who they are.  Hopefully there’s a second season, and hopefully they get some better celebrities.

4 The Unit.   Just started watching this show.

The Unit is off television now but it aired on CBS from March 7th 2006, to May 10th 2009.  It was an American action-drama television series that focused on a top-secret military unit modeled after the real-life U.S. Army special operations unit commonly known as Delta Force.

What’s Good:  Well, first off, it’s about Delta Force, and second off, Eric Haney, one of the founders of the real-life Delta Force, is an executive producer, and the show is based off his memoir.  So the show is the real deal and isn’t just some shit thrown together by a bunch of civilians.

What’s Bad:  The Worst part of the program is the military wives; they’re not painted in a good light at all, they’re SUPER annoying, and it makes their parts hard to watch.

3 MASH.  Set the bar for all military shows.

MASH is off the air but premiered on September 17th, 1972, and ran until February 28th, 1983, the final episode received a record-breaking 125 million views.  It was a military medical dramedy that followed a fictional medical hospital during the Korean war.

What’s Good:  They did an excellent job of capturing the behind the scenes and peccadilloes of a hospital unit in a war zone.  A lot of good comedy and since the show was a show that showed its politics it had a profound influence on American during its airing.  The episode are still good to watch even all these years later.

What’s Bad:  It’s an old show and has been off the air for a long time.  Most people my generation have never even heard of the show, little alone watched an episode.  Sometimes older shows can be harder to watch for a new generation because they won’t understand what’s going on/went on.

2 Combat Missions.  Great show!

Combat Missions aired from January to April 2002, lasting only one season.  It was a one hour long reality TV show hosted by former Navy SEAL Rudy Boesch.  The show pitted four teams of highly-experienced military and police operatives against each other in physical challenges and “mission” scenarios.  The mission scenarios has each team face off against the opposing “Shadow force” (not another team) using MILES gear in real-life combat situations.

What’s Good:  For starters, it featured people, not actors, from some of the most badass organizations around: SWAT, Marine Recon, Navy SEAL, Army Special Forces, Delta Force, and even a former CIA spook.  Watching some of the drama between these guys was awesome, and seeing how they handled each other in competition.  These guys are the best of the best and it was great to be able to see them all working together.

What’s Bad:  One of the guys on the show, A Navy SEAL, Scott Helvenston, went off to work for Blackwater after he was on the show, apparently he pissed off some of the wrong people and was killed while in Afghanistan.  Also, a SWAT guy won the show, so it didn’t make the military guys look too good.

1 Band of Brothers It was technically only a mini-series, but Band of Brothers was a great TV show!

Originally airing in 2001, Band of Brothers was a ten part, 11-hour television Word War II miniseries.  The series fictionalized the history of “Easy” company (part of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division) from jump training in the US to the capitulation of Japan and the end of the war. The events portrayed are based on research and recorded interviews with the real Easy Company veterans.

What’s Good:  It’s based on a true story, on a real unit.  Incredibly well casted, scripted, and the production value is amazing.  Everything about this show was great!

What’s Bad:  It only lasted one season—The Pacific, is supposed to be a sequel, in a sense, and based on Marines during WWII, but I haven’t seen it yet; it’s on the to watch list, though.

There you have it, my ranked best military TV shows in order.

Michael Anthony is an Iraq War Veteran and is the Author of: Mass Casualties: A Young Medic’s True Story of Death, Destruction, and Dishonor in Iraq.


  1. John says:

    Michael! You’ve missed all the best military shows from the history channel and the discovery channel! A lot of those shows have prior service veterans on them too and they are reality tv shows and a lot of them involve weapons and strategy!

  2. Dan says:

    Sadly, there are so many very well written military shows that this person has left off. Television shows such as the following: Hogan’s Heroes, I dream of Jeannie, Gomer Pyle USMC, The Rat Patrol, F Troop, Broadside, Operation Pitticoat, C.P.O. Sharkey, Tour Of Duty, Combat!, China Beach, Major Dad, The Phil Silvers Show (A.k.a. The Sgt. Bilko Show), Mister Roberts, The Wackiest Ship In The Army, Baa Baa Black Sheep (A.k.a. Black Sheep Squadron), At Ease!, Roll Out!, Call To Glory, The Dirty Dozen TV Series, For Love And Honor, Convoy, McHale’s Navy, Project U.F.O., No Time For Sergeants TV Show, Twelve O’Clock High, Roomies, J*A*G, Men Of Annapolis, Emerald Point N.A.S., The Lieutenant, Garrison’s Gorillas, E-Ring, Court Martial, Pensacola Wings Of Gold, The Gallant Men, Strange World, Supercarrier, Homefront, Homeland, Magnum P.I., NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, Lightning Force, Soldier Of Fortune Inc. (A.k.a. SOF: Special Ops Force), Soldier Of Fortune TV Show (1955), Army Wives, The Last Resort, Jericho (1966), Combat Hospital, Tales Of The Golden Monkey, The Army Show (1998), The O.S.S., Private Benjamin TV Series (1981), The A-Team, Run Joe Run, The Adventures Of Rin Tin Tin, Mona Clusky, Wonder Woman (Season 1), Keever And The Colonel, War Of The Worlds TV Series (Season 1), Cover-Up TV Series (1984), The John Forsythe Show (Season 1), Navy Log, Airwolf, and The Love Boat.

  3. Tracy says:

    As a life long military dependent (officer’s daughter, Navy wife) and one who did everything possible to make sure:
    I didn’t have to live in housing,
    I did not become one of the FDW

    I, unfortunately, must tell you that I know hundreds of military spouses/wives who not only act like the wives of the unit, they are worse. You would be surprised.

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