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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.

UPDATED: I’ve finally seen The Pacific on HBO and it’s honestly a tough call between The Pacific and Band of Brothers. Both are amazing shows, incredibly well done, but I think I’m actually going to choose BoB over The Pacific, maybe it’s the army vet in me, but the end of Band of Brothers, still gives me goosebumps (go on YouTube and watch the clip: Band of Brothers, ‘gory, gory, what a hell of a way to die’).


Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir

If you’re looking to take a break from military TV shows and films, then check out the dark humored War Memoir, by Iraq veteran Michael Anthony. Civilianized is a must read for any veteran, or anyone who knows a veteran, who has returned from war.

dark humored military memoir“An intense memoir.” -Kirkus

“I wont soon forget this book.” -Mary Roach

“A must read.” -Colby Buzzell

“[S]mart and mordantly funny.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Anthony delivers a dose of reality that can awaken the mind…” Bookreporter

Order your copy of Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir .

10 thoughts on “Top 5 Military TV Shows”

  1. 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. 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. 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.

  4. I AM THE SON OF A LIFER MARINE AND HIS WIFE A REAL MARINE IN MY BOOK ALSO, DAD WAS GONE MY Marine Mother did her duty in the states off base, oldest of 5 children in hard time abroad and hear ,I was not ready for the disrespect. Lived in Quantico my father just gets home and get duty to protect our Cpital they where put in trucks wrapped in chicken wire to stop bottles etc and there central camp to sleep was the Wash Senators Stadium and he just did a long tour in Nam and he and my Motherand we where on an officers base but we where enlised big difference but we were all Marine children , I had a hard time at the Ameriicans in put would not go not peacefully protest by those after troops that just put there lives in the line and came home and had to do it again put in harms way those complianers can go to the other countries and complain there try to find a safe place to sleep, I can say I do not like this I like free speech but this a attorney xmas for American people that do not have a leader and I don’t think untiln there is a leader the riots are coming from the inside and the transperanrcy that has not been but hidden and single parents is not the way inside leadership with education forced to learn if need be is a start no money we need leaders in the darkest corners so we can than help other people and coutries and not hate which is what this transparent leader thrives on today was a prime example a IRS HEAD JUST SAY YOUR SORRY NO BODY WAS BLAMING HIM BUT KNOW THEY WILL IT IS NOT HIS TIME TO BE PERSOAL BUT ASKFORFORGIVENESS IT WAS NOT HIS FAIULRE BUT IT IS NOW BECAUSE HE DID NOT ASK OR SAY THAT HE BACKED UP BECAUSE OBAMA SHOULD HEVE BBEEN SITTING NEXT TO HIN BE AN EQUAL NOT A PREMADONA WATHCING WHE HE SHOULD BE LEADING AND HELP THE IRS WOULD BE A DARN GOOD PLACE TO START. GOODS SPEED PLEASE. I TALK TO LONG BUT MY 6GRADE TEACHER WHEN I DELIEVRED THE WASKINTON NEW PAPERS WAS MISS LEE BIG TOUGHH AND NICE AND HER GREAR GAQNDFATHER WAS ROBERT E LEE WHAT A GREAT COUNTRY BUT A HIDING LEADER AND FIRE WHO HE HIRES IS THE WRONG EGG ISALUTE ALL TROOPS AND MOTHERS AND FAMILIES GOD BLESS LIKE THE IRS SAYS I HAVE A LONG CAREER AND NERVER USED FORGIVE HE JUST LIKE THE LEADER KNOW THAT THEY BOT NEED MENTAL HELP JUST TO LEARN WHAT THAT WORD MEANS FORGIVE EVEN IF IT IS NOT BECAUSE OF YOUR OWN ACTIONS AND OF ALL GOVT. ORGANIZATION THEY ARE PERFECT TO SAY THAT MAGIC WORD FORGIVE HAS A NEW MEANING WHEN THEREON THE OTHER FEET . HOPE MADE SOME SENSE AND EVEN PLEASE HELP THE MARINE IN MEXICO THAT SHOULD NOT BE A 5 TO 1 TERRORIST TRADE FROM THE LEADER OF WHO KNOWS WHAT, HE LIVES IN A RENT FREE WHITE HOUSE I WAKDE HAW MANY LIVE THERE NOW. GOD BLESS AMERICA WE WILL HELP THE REST ONCE WE FIX OUR OUW FORGIRNESS. SORRY ABOUT MY WRITING THE DISEASE MAKE ME SOUND LIKE A CRAJY MAN BUT I HAEVE LOVE FOR THIS COUNTRY AND TRASPARENCY IS NOT WOTKIB’
    G BLESS YOU ALL FAMILY FRIENDS AND FELLOWAMICANS GOD SPEED TOALL. WE ALL FORIVE CHECK THE BIBLE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I tried really hard to read your comment. I got the gist of it after some work but dang..

      You really need to take a typing class or figure something out because that was worse than a person who speaks English as a second language

      First, I have NO idea what any of that has to do with the top five military shows on TV.

      Second, I can respect your experiences. Just like I respect anyone’s life experiences but what the hell? There’s absolutely no coherence in the entire post. It must have been a liquor fueled rant brought on by one of the shows…or something. That’s the most optimistic thing I could think of. Seriously, it’s bad enough that the run-on sentences aren’t remotely coherent but there’s no rhyme or reason to the whole thing. I was at least on board when you described what I think was the disrespect your father received as a Marine during the Vietnam war by protesters but then there’s just this random stuff about the IRS??? And the riots? I follow current events and can guess you watch Fox News based on that but what the hell does this have to do with the top 5 military shows?

  5. I agree with three out of five of the top military TV shows. The Unit was a great show and your right the wives were awful in the show and the worst part. MASH and Band of Brothers are clearly the top two. I’ve never heard of Combat Missions before though it sounds interesting and Stars Earns Stripes was an awful and boring TV show. forget celebrities and their knee jerk praise the military I like shows that focus on just the military.

    1. based on your comment, I really think you’d like Combat Missions. It was only one for one season but it was a great TV show. I have my own thoughts on why it was canceled (The SWAT guys beat the military guys in most categories) but if you’re looking for a strictly action show, that’s real, and light on the drama (though there is some entertaining drama) then definitely checkout Combat Missions online if you can find it (I watched it all on YouTube, but I’m not sure if you still can, Google it though and check it out).

  6. I really don’t like M*A*S*H*. Hawkeye is a womanizing bully; women are not treated with any respect (almost always) but are the weekly sex object. Margaret (originally “Hot Lips”) evolved to some respect. Hawkeye often attacks anyone trying to run the unit in a half-way military manner; Frank is harassed because he is different; the anti-war ethos is simplistic (just stop shooting). Klinger is a recurring silly joke. Hawkeye and others are always whining about their privations while they sleep in warm tents and eat regular hot meals in (almost always) safety and get drunk and chase nurses, while not far way soldiers are sleeping in the mud and getting shot.

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