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20 Favorite Military Movies and TV Shows

Many of us have a day off coming up to honor and remember the men and women who died while serving our country. Memorial Day means fireworks and cookouts. It means flying your flag and visiting cemeteries and memorials. It also means you might have some time on your hands to enjoy some small screen entertainment.

To help you I have compiled a list of my favorite military movies and TV shows. This is NOT a list of war movies. I just want to be upfront about that. Some of the movies are, but the list also includes comedies, movies with big music numbers, TV shows with actors I think are cute in uniform…

So that is why it is my favorite list. I would love to know what military movies or TV shows you and your family enjoy!

20 Favorite Military Movies and TV Shows

  • TV Shows or Movies about the Miliary 1 of 21
    Our favorite tv shows and movies about the military

    Military TV shows and movies cover such a broad range of services and genres. This list is what I consider to be the "couch list:" shows or movies that hold up to repeat viewings and a broad range of appeal. 

     

    Image Credit: IMDB

  • Stripes 2 of 21
    stripes

    I was too young to see this movie when it originally came out in 1981, but when I finally saw Stripes in college I fell in love. If you love Bill Murray you will love this film. If you love BROAD comedy you will love this film. 

     

    Murray has said of the film, "I'm still a little queasy that I actually made a movie where I carry a machine gun. But I felt if you were rescuing your friends it was okay. It wasn't Reds or anything, but it captured what it was like on an Army base: It was cold, you had to wear the same green clothes, you had to do a lot of physical stuff, you got treated pretty badly, and had bad coffee."

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • China Beach 3 of 21
    China Beach

    I watched China Beach because my Mother watched China Beach. The TV show aired on ABC from 1988 to 1991. What made the show so captivating was that it was essentially told from the perspective of women, military personnel and civilians, who were present during the Vietnam War.

     

    Image Credit: IMDB

  • A Few Good Men 4 of 21
    A Few Good Men

    Well obviously we all know the famous line about being able to handle the truth. Nicholson's, "You can't handle the truth!" was voted the twenty-ninth greatest American film quote of all time!  What you may not have realized is that this movie is an adaption of a play. It was adapted for the screen by Aaron Sorkin from his play of the same name.  Yes, the same guy that brought us The American PresidentThe West WingSports Night, The Social Network, and The Newsroom

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Army Wives 5 of 21
    Army Wives

    Army Wives is a drama on the Lifetime network and it had the largest series premiere in Lifetime's 23-year history. I watched part of the first season and catch it when it is on now. What I appreciate about the show is that it takes care to film on location whenever possible and many scenes are actually filmed at the Charleston Air Force Base.

     

    Image Credit: Lifetime

  • For the Boys 6 of 21
    For the Boys

    I can't think about this movie without singing. For the Boys follows the life of two fictional performers in the USO and follows them through many years and many wars. It will make you want to put on red lipstick and sing old standards.

     

    Image Credit: IMDB

  • JAG 7 of 21
    JAG

    One of my grandmother's best friends used to take her phone off of the hook whenever JAG came on. She was terrified that someone would call in the middle of her favorite show and bother her. Many times she would forget that her phone was off the hook so if we called her and got a busy signal we'd exclaim, "there must be an episode of JAG on". My grandmother would then call a neighbor to go knock on her friends door and remind her to check her phone.

     

     

    Image Credit: IMDB

  • Jarhead 8 of 21
    Jarhead

    The movie Jarhead is based on  the memoirs of  U.S. Marine Anthony Swofford. I would like to say it was because I was interested in seeing an adaptation of a memoir to screen that prompted me to see the film, but it was the shirtless Jake Gyllenhaal in a Santa hat promos. I found the film to be tragic and hilarious and eye opening. 

     

    Image Credit: IMDB

  • Memphis Belle 9 of 21
    Memphis Belle

    Harry Connick Jr. makes his feature film debut in Memphis Belle, a film about the 25th and last mission of an American B-17 bomber. This film has some beautiful flying scenes. Oh, and did I mention Harry Connick Jr.?

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Glory 10 of 21
    Glory

    Glory is based on the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first formal unit of the US Army to be made up entirely of African American men. It stars Matthew Broderick as Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the commanding officer. 

     

    Director Zwick did not want to turn Glory "into a Black story with a more commercially convenient white hero." Actor Freeman noted, "We didn't want this film to fall under that shadow. This is a picture about the 54th Regiment, not Colonel Shaw, but at the same time the two are inseparable."

     

    Image Credit: IMDB

  • Renaissance Man 11 of 21
    Renaissance Man

    There is probably a big chance that you never saw Renaissance Man when it came out in 1994. Not many people did. It was pretty much considered a flop. So why do I have it on this list? Because it's actually charming. It's Penny Marshall directing Danny DeVito and a young  Mark Wahlberg. And there is Shakespeare! 

     

    Image Credit: IMDB

  • Band of Brothers 12 of 21
    Band of Brothers

    If you haven't seen Band of Brothers then you need to add this to your streaming video queue. It's a ten part mini series that will last you 11 ours of binge watching. Band of Brothers is a fictionalized account of "Easy Company" (part of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment), assigned to the United States Army's 101st Airborne Division during World War II. 

     

    I was lucky to be able to watch this with my grandfather when he was still alive and it allowed us to talk about WWII.

     

    Image Credit: HBO

  • GI-Jane 13 of 21
    GI-Jane

    I saw G.I. Jane when it was released and I really, really wanted to like it. The truth is a kind of cringed through Demi's acting for most of the movie. I wasn't the only one as Demi earned herself a Razzie Award for her performance in this movie. 

     

    So why is it on this list? Recently I was looking at some of Roger Ebert's old reviews on his site and I happened to notice his review of G.I. Jane. It made me want to see the movie again. It made me want to give Demi Moore a thumbs up. And that is why it is on the list.

     

    Image Credit: IMDB

  • The Unit 14 of 21
    The Unit

    I watched The Unit because I am team Noel. (If that didn't make sense to you then you need to brush up on your JJ Abrams lore.) Scott Foley was one of the members of The Unit (heh), a show based on a  a top-secret military U.S. Army special operations unit commonly known as Delta Force.  

     

    Image Credit: IMDB

  • Three Kings 15 of 21
    Three Kings

    Many of us were in school when the the Persian Gulf War happened. The Three Kings is about a gold heist that takes place during the 1991 Iraqi uprising against Saddam Hussein. Also? There's Clooney. 

     

    (There almost wasn't Clooney. Director David O. Russell really wanted to cast Nicolas Cage but when he became unavailable George Clooney lobbied aggressively for the part. Thankfully it worked!)

     

    Image Credit: IMDB

  • Private Benjamin 16 of 21
    Private Benjamin

    One of my favorite movies, Private Benjamin is Goldie Hawn at her best. Seriously. She was nominated for an Academy Award for this role.

     

    In a review from 1980 People Magazine says, "These are caricatures to be sure, but Private Benjamin is a wonderfully campy, feminist answer to Gomer Pyle."

     

    Image Credit: IMDB

  • NCIS 17 of 21
    NCIS

    I love watching NCIS. This is a good thing because it is on all the time. I can find a new episode every week and I can also usually find a rerun several times a day.  The show has been on for over a decade and was recently named "America's favorite television show." 

     

    Image Credit: IMDB

  • MASH 18 of 21
    MASH

    I grew up watching last few seasons of MASH after dinner with my family. The adult humor went right over my head but I loved the slapstick comedy. I didn't really appreciate the show until I was older. When I happen to see that an episode is just starting I watch it. It always holds up. 

     

    Image Credit: IMDB

  • Top Gun 19 of 21
    Top Gun

    Go ahead. Take my breath away. When I think about THE military film of our generation Top Gun is what pops into my head first. It brought us a steamy romance, stunning aviator scenes, Ray-Ban sunglasses. 

     

    Image Credit: IMDB

  • Saving Private Ryan 20 of 21
    Saving Private Ryan

    I watched Saving Private Ryan with my grandfather, who had served in WWII. It was an incredibly emotional viewing for both of us and I will always appreciate and honor this film as being the key that unlocked a conversation with my grandfather about the war that I may never have had without it.

     

    Image Credit: IMDB

  • Biloxi Blues 21 of 21
    Biloxi Blues

    Matthew Broderick and Christopher Walken are both fantastic in Biloxi Blues. This movie is based on Neil Simon's semi-autobiographical play of the same title. It's bootcamp comedy. You know the drill. 

     

    Image Credit: IMDB

Other posts by Dresden you might like:
Baby Names inspired by the Military
Mamas Who Rock for a Cause
16 Baby Name Trends Inspired by Pop Culture

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