21 Jump Street

21 Jump Street

As if teenagers weren’t paranoid enough already, along comes 21 Jump Street to confirm that, yes, your new best friend could be a narc that would follow you around collecting incriminating evidence, ultimately busting you on some totally bogus charge during the slow dance at your prom. Not cool, dude.

That was basically the premise of the show: youthful looking cops go undercover in high schools and colleges to root out various evils like drugs, prostitution, alcoholism, jaywalking and gangs. Johnny Depp, in his breakthrough role, played the lead character of Officer Tom Hanson; the rest of the cast included Holly Robinson, Peter DeLouise and Dustin Nguyen. Officer Hanson, fed up with condescension and dismissal from both police colleagues and criminals, joins the Jump Street Chapel, a police precinct specializing in underage crime.

21 Jump Street aired from 1987 to 1991 and was a huge hit for the brand new FOX network. The show consisted of cautionary tales warning young people about the badness lurking out there but the use of hip music and modern slang camouflaged the moralizing fairly effectively. The series attracted a big teen demographic, largely due to Johnny Depp’s meteoric rise to teen idol status. Depp resented that particular brand of fame and left after the show’s fourth season. His departure may have led to the show’s cancellation but other factors were also at play.

The opening theme song, performed by Holly Robinson, was a hit as well, instantly recognizable as signaling the start of a riveting hour of crime-drama. A riveting hour of crime-drama with a lot of cutie actors, if we must be honest. Though five seasons were produced, FOX cancelled the show after the fourth season, leaving the final season to air on syndication. 21 Jump Street also gave rise to a spin-off, starring regular guest star Richard Grieco. Grieco’s character, Officer Dennis Booker, left the force to become a private eye and the show Booker debuted in 1989. Sadly, the character’s popularity in 21 Jump Street failed to transfer to the new series and Booker fizzled after only one season.

The rest of 21 Jump Street’s cast didn’t hit the jackpot like their teammate Johnny Depp. DeLouise spent some unemployment time after the show ended before joining Stargate: SG-1 as director and producer. Robinson went on to a few other sitcoms besides concentrating on her writing career and her family. Nguyen guest starred in various series, most notably SeaQuest DSV.

Nostalgic fans of 21 Jump Street were treated to a feature film adaptation in 2012, with a few of the original cast members including Depp making cameo appearances. Unlike the original series, the film offered far more comedy than drama and did very well at the box office, spawning a sequel released in 2014 called 22 Jump Street. Meanwhile, the original series is still fondly remembered by its many fans who, thankfully, have had no shortage of Johnny Depp movies over the years to fill the void.

If you faithfully tuned into 21 Jump Street each week, we hope you’ll take a moment to share your memories with us in our comments section below.

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