While this legendary show only ran for five seasons, its fan base grew and grew and continues to grow to this day. Whether you’re just now learning about this iconic piece of explosive eighties pop-culture, or you watched the A-Team from the very start, take a look at some trivia from a show that always knocked our socks off.
It Revitalized a Dying Network
When "The A-Team" hit the screen in 1983, NBC was in a downward trend. The slate of fall 1983 shows NBC had to offer been called “The Worst Fall TV Lineup in History,” which is actually a little hard to believe. However, the A-Team was an A-plus show, and it reversed the network with its popularity.
The show's co-creator, Stephen J. Cannell, told "People" magazine in 200 that the show lived in a world of its own and that it made good on how funny and different it was going to be. Thanks to its memorable cast, "The A-Team" was all that and more.
Who Are the A-Team?
The leading reason why viewers loved to tune in to this explosive show was the characters. Thanks to "The A-Team," we were introduced to the joy and wonder that is Mr. T, but that's not all.
Mr. T's character, BA Baracus, went down in history as a hard-nosed player who never gave up. George Peppard's Hannibal loved when a plan came together and used his skills at disguising himself to get anywhere. Dwight Schultz played Howlin' Mad Murdock, who was both insanely good at piloting anything and just insane in general. Dirk Benedict played “Face,” who could charm anyone. Any one of them could have led a show. Together, they were TV magic.
The Audiences Didn't Care
Every episode had massive leaps in logic: why was Murdock allowed to leave the psychiatric hospital where he lived? If the A-Team was undercover – and hiding from the military – why did they keep their distinctive van around? But none of it mattered.
The characters were so cool that audiences let the show get away with a lot. All that mattered was that Hannibal, Face, Bacarus, and Howlin' Mad Murdock took on another bundle of trouble with plenty of guns, style, and jokes. Whether it was to come to the aid of innocents or take down the bad guys — if you sat in front of the screen, you were in for a treat.
They Needed to Work on Their Aim
Despite being chock-full of guns, "The A-Team" was surprisingly family-friendly. Every time the guns came out, both our four heroes and the bad guys they battled with would miss every shot they took. It was, of course, out of the question to have the heroes killing on-screen.
Maybe it was because it was the eighties, or maybe it was because the producers knew there were kids watching, but they wanted to make the good guys heroic. In fact, during the entire run of the show, only one on-screen death was ever recorded, and it was hardly graphic.
Bring in the Stars
Of course, kids grow up. Eventually, the charm of the bloodless action started to wear off as more and more shows started to show real action and consequences. The shine was starting to come off "The A-Team," and while people still watched and enjoyed the show, it was becoming lackluster.
In order to jazz things up, the creators decided to add celebrities to the mix, including the eighties' Hulk Hogan, as well as, bizarrely, Boy George. Try as they might, however, it was to no avail, and the show called it quits after the fifth season.
A Bad Network Ending
The show packed it up in 1987, and instead of an explosive bang that had been part of the show for so long, it went out with a whimper. NBC mismanaged the final season badly, even airing some of the final seasons out of order.
They did air the series finale, “The Grey Team,” as the last episode, but they skipped the penultimate episode entirely. That episode, “Without Reservations,” aired after the finale, and only while reruns were airing. While it might be a little bit easier to take when a network does this for a show that never really got off the ground, remember – "The A-Team" saved NBC.
The A-Team Never Dies
This wasn't the end of the A-Team, however. In 2010, a movie version of the show appeared, starring the likes of Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, and Jessica Biel. Dirk Benedict, who played Faceman, and Dwight Schultz, who played Murdock, both made cameo appearances. The movie's success proved that there was still an appetite for the characters, giving rise to rumors of a new series.
Indeed, in September of 2015, Fox announced they were working on a reboot of "The A-Team." Original writer and producer Stephen Cannell's daughter, Tawnia McKiernan, is one of the writers. The team was to be made up of both male and female characters.
The Other Members of the Team
Apart from the four main characters, there were plenty of faces that appeared over the years. Carl Franklin played Captain Crane, an associate of Colonel Roderick Decker.
Crane was only a character on the show for two years, so it isn't noteworthy to forget his part. Franklin himself doesn't even consider "The A-Team" one of his career highlights. While he spent his time helping Colonel Decker try to hunt down the A-Team, his help didn't amount to much, and the team always slipped through his fingers. What has Franklin been up to since the show ended?
Actor, Screenwriter, Producer, and Director
During an interview with "The New York Times," Franklin said that he mostly played doctors and cops and for the sole purpose of paying his bills and support his family and children.
Franklin would eventually switch careers. He had an M.F.A. Degree in directing from the AFI Conservatory and became a director and producer with mostly low-budget films. Before he made the switch, however, he appeared in "The Rockford Files," "McClain's Law," "ALF," and even "Roseanne" in several episodes. He even made it into a few films, such as "The Legend of the Golden Gun" and "A Smokey Mountain Christmas."
Moving to the Big Screen
Nevertheless, many of his films are well-regarded, if not well-known. His best film is thought to be "One False Move," which won numerous awards, including the Independent Spirit Award for Best Director. He was also nominated for a Primetime Emmy after directing an episode of "House of Cards."
He's written "Punk," "Devil in a Blue Dress," and "Bless Me, Ultima," as well as directing them and others. His TV directing credits also include three other episodes of "House of Cards," four episodes of "The Leftovers," five episodes of "Partner," and four episodes of "Mindhunter." In 1996 he received a Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal from the American Film Institute for his outstanding body of work.
The Man After the A-Team
Colonel Decker himself spent his time on-screen trying to hunt down the A-Team, in order to bring them in for a crime they didn't commit, just like it says in the opening.
Lance LeGault played this antagonistic character, and he was already fairly well-known before he joined the team. He'd already appeared in movies such as "Stripes" and "Catch My Soul." Even more notably, he acted as a stunt double for none other than the king of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, in a number of films. However, he shot to big-time fame thanks to his role as Colonel Roderick Decker.
LeGault seemed to really enjoy his time on the show. All the way ahead in 2011, he talked to the website Galactica.TV, saying that George Peppard was why the A-Team worked so well. Apparently, the two met while he was working on a picture with Elvis when he did "The Carpetbaggers," so working with each other on "The A-Team" was great.
Wondering where else you can see LeGault? He was in "Werewolf" as Alamo Joe Rogan, and he also added his talents to "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation" as... Elder God #1.
LeGault Thought the Show Holds Up
In the same interview with Galactica.TV, LeGault heaped praise on the show, saying it was one of the most famous shows he'd ever worked on. In the interview, he recalled the immense popularity and viewership of 28-29 million people every week. Apparently, due to its many reruns, some people think the show was wrapped pretty recently.
While we can't exactly say that the show looks brand-new, the humor and energy of the show do sometimes surprise people, just because of how much television has changed in the decades since.
A Life Well Lived
Lance LeGault passed away in 2012 at 77 years old, leaving behind a wife and four children. He was noted for his work with Elvis, as well as his skill at playing military men, both serious and comedic. He'll always be remembered for his incredibly deep, gravelly voice.
His final appearance was as a truck driver in the film "Prince Avalanche," which came out in 2013. He added his voice to "Home on the Range" and often appeared as a tough guy or a villain, thanks to his low voice. He also provided voice-over work for commercials, including Dodge, Burger King, and 7-Up.
The Gals of the A-Team
As Dirk Benedict told the British show "Bring Back The A-Team" (guess what it's about), the show was a male-driven masculine show written by men for men. Of course, no show could get away with having no female characters whatsoever in the eighties, even though there weren't all that many.
The most well-known of these characters was intrepid reporter Amy Allen, played by Melinda Culea. She has assisted the team since the very first episode, but her final appearance was in episode twelve of season two.
She Was Hoping for More
Culea had little to do as Amy. It's well-known that the women on the show were eye-candy rather than characters in their own rights – Culea found that the atmosphere on the show was little more than a boy's club.
It does seem like the kind of show that didn't have a lot of space for female characters. Dwight Schultz remembers “little problems” with the actress during a 1984 interview with "TV Guide" magazine. While she did contribute to the success of the in-show A-Team, she did little more than showing up and saying very little. She wasn't part of the firefights and didn't have any other jobs.
Respect Takes Time
When Melinda Culea herself opened up to "Radio Times" magazine in 1983 about her role on the show, she admitted to desiring a bigger role. She said that gaining respect from her male coworkers was slow and difficult and that she was often ignored.
Her big idea was for Allen to find herself in the middle of the team's fights every once in a while – but since she didn't have any firearms experience, she would get in the way and add some comic relief.
Animosity on the Set
The male cast members all privately believed that the show never needed a female character. George Peppard was even thought to dislike Culea enough to want her off the show.
They reiterated this idea in "Bring Back The A-Team." The show was about Vietnam veterans (so, obviously, all men), which was the big reasoning behind the train of thought. While times have changed – women now serve in the military alongside men, for one thing – we have to admit they kind of had a point. For one reason or another, Culea was fired from the show after filming only a handful of episodes. She continued to appear in the title sequence, however.
Moving on to Other Things
Melinda Culea doesn't act much anymore – her final credit is the 2001 movie "Dying on the Edge" – but she's been in a number of pretty big shows, including "The X-Files" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
She's become an executive producer, which earns her plenty to live comfortably. She's been the executive producer for "Odds Are," a low-budget horror, mystery, and thriller movie that came out in 2018. She's also proven herself as a writer, releasing her first novel ("Wondago: An Illustrated Mystery Novel") in 2016. The book is technically a graphic novel (according to Amazon, at least), and reviews have been quite positive.
The Leader of the Team Himself
George Peppard was the leader of the A-Team as Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith. He was the brains of the group, the tactician, and a master of disguise. His tan safari jacket and black leather gloves were his constant mission outfit, and his constant cigar-chomping painted him as the guy in charge.
Peppard, however, wasn't much of a leader behind the camera, as he didn't get along with cast members that much he feuded with Melinda Culea, and it's been reported that he didn't get along very well with Mr. T, either. He explained it all to the host of the TV show "On The Jazz."
B.A Bacarus Had Some Unreasonable Demands
According to Peppard, Mr. T made a lot of demands about firing members of the crew that upset him in one way or another. This included a certain British wardrobe lady that Peppard was fond of. The cast members were eventually let go, which angered the older actor.
He told Terry Wogan from "On The Jazz" that he wouldn't speak to him for as long as 16 weeks. He then added that they did eventually lay the conflict to rest and get on with the show. Peppard had good reason to get on with the show.
Plenty to Pay Out For
Not only did the show further Peppard's career in a big way, but it kept the debtors off his back, as well. Peppard was a serial monogamist, but none of his marriages lasted very long. He had four divorces under his belt by the time he joined the show.
He explained to the "Los Angeles Times" that he had 25 years of alimony dipping heavily into his bank account. The incredible success of the show helped make Peppard into a viable actor for other roles, and it gave him enough funds to keep his ex-wives away. It was a giant boost to his career.
A Change of Fortune
Long before "The A-Team," George Peppard was famous for something else. You've likely seen him acting alongside Audrey Hepburn in her most famous film, "Breakfast at Tiffany's." But things had not gone well for the actor since then.
Broke and facing the trials of life, Peppard had to stay squeaky clean, or he might have even landed in the slammer. More than one publication asked if he was worried the bombastic and action-filled show would hurt his career. But he replied, saying that acting as Hannibal changed everything for him and allowed him to recreate his career.
The Death of Hannibal
One of Hannibal's on-screen habits, chomping on long, noticeable cigars, was something inspired by George Peppard. It's likely that this habit led to Peppard's death at the age of sixty-five, not all too old, all things considered.
In 1992 doctors diagnosed him with lung cancer, and two years after that, he passed away after contracting pneumonia. He was slated to star in another TV show, a "Matlock" spin-off called "The P.I." He left behind one wife, Laura Taylor, and four ex-wives. Due to excessive smoking, he had to have a part of one lung removed and then quit smoking, but it was too little, too late.
The Biggest, Baddest Earner
George Peppard was undoubtedly the most well-known actor that was part of the team, but Mr. T's B.A. Bacarus proved to be the breakout star. Everybody wanted more of the demolitions and gun experts, and Mr. T's salary began to reflect that, as he became the highest-paid actor on the show.
As you might have guessed, Peppard hated this fact, but he couldn't really do much about it – it's likely this is what led to the animosity between the two actors. Mr. T's incredible life was all about getting the respect he thought he deserved, and the show was just one way of doing it.
Don't Pity This Fool
Few lives are more fascinating than that of Mr. T. He was born Laurence Tureaud, and the moment he turned eighteen, he changed it to the now-famous moniker we all know him by.
Growing up in the fifties and sixties, Mr. T experienced plenty of intolerance, and so he was determined to get respect, even if it meant changing his name, so people had to call him “Mr.” Before he broke into acting, Mr. T worked as a bouncer at one club or another, building his image and cultivating his noteworthy mannerisms – as well as honing his body into an enviable one.
Throwing the First Punch
Mr. T's big break in Hollywood came from being cast as violent antagonist Clubber Lang in "Rocky III." In the film, he not only defeats Rocky to win the title, but he shoves Rocky's trainer Mickey Goldmill, which prompts a fatal heart attack for Mickey. In the rematch, as movie fans will know, Rocky comes back to reclaim his title.
Lang's catchphrase “I pity the fool!” is still spat by fans of "The A-Team" and Mr. T in general, despite the fact that Bacarus never utters the line. While Mr. T broke out with "Rocky III," it was "The A-Team" that made him a household name.
Nothing to Pity Here
Both before and after "The A-Team," Mr. T's life was incredible. Mr. T found out he had been diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma in 1995, but he didn't let it slow him down. He had dabbled in wrestling before becoming part of the movie and television business, and he continued to appear inside the ring in celebrity bouts up until 2001.
WWE inducted him into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014. While he hasn't had a huge number of acting roles, he did provide his voice for police officer Earl Devereaux in "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs." Most of his appearances have been as himself, something we're sure he enjoys.
Big Bling for a Big Man
While he might not be acting much anymore, Mr. T is still large and in-charge. During his heyday, the public knew him thanks to his huge collection of gold chains, rings, bracelets, armbands, earrings, and more. However, in a show of solidarity after Hurricane Katrina, he gave most of these away, preferring a slimmed-down look that nonetheless is still quintessential Mr. T.
The man is still instantly recognizable – he's so easy to recognize that his appearance in commercials sometimes doesn't even have him announce who he is. Pity the fool who doesn't recognize this legend!
The Wild One
"The A-Team" always had a lot of comedic tensions between Mr. T's character and Dwight Schultz's Howlin' Mad Murdock. However, Murdock wasn't even supposed to be part of the show past the first episode.
Producers thought that he was too hard to write for, and they were unsure how his character would fit in with the rest of the cast, but test audiences liked him too much. Thus, the show kept this wild and crazy pilot, and his spot in TV history is set in stone. It also put his actor Dwight Schultz on the map.
Getting His Big Break as a Madman
Schultz had almost no acting credits to his name when he got the role of Howlin' Mad Murdock. He had a few bit parts in TV and a role in the TV movie "When Your Lover Leaves," but then he exploded – almost literally – on the scene thanks to "The A-Team."
In 1985 the actor spoke with the "Los Angeles Times" about the role. Upon getting the original script, he loved the part and how funny it was. He realized he could adapt it to his talents and be versatile.
I'm Not Really Mad
In the same 1985 interview, the actor said that he hated the idea of being typecast. Schultz said: “No matter how versatile you are, you're only seen as being versatile in a very limited format. Casting directors ask, 'Can he be real?' They see me as only being capable of doing off-the-wall humor, of making funny sounds, of doing Jonathon Winters's [a famous comedian] voices.”
Thankfully, the versatility Schultz portrayed while on "The A-Team" helped him get lots of other roles – it's likely that you've seen him act elsewhere and might not have even known it was the wild child of "The A-Team."
A Fandom Bigger Than The A-Team
Schultz might not command the kind of crowds he used to, and he might not be getting big roles in movies; he still has plenty of work. He's been giving his voice to lots of different video games and animated projects and has had several small roles in TV and movies.
Still, he has an even bigger fandom to rely on as he hits the convention circuit – he played Lieutenant Reginald Barclay on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Star Trek: Voyager," as well as a few of the Star Trek movies. Yes, that's right – the meek and neurotic Barclay and the wild, a mentally unstable pilot from "The A-Team," are played by the same person.
Don't I Know That Voice From Somewhere?
If you've picked up a controller or turned on a cartoon in the last twenty years, there's a pretty good chance you've heard Dwight Schultz. Even as late as 2019, he's been lending his voice as Mad Hatter in "Young Justice: Outsiders." He was a big part of "Ben 10" as a trio of characters and voiced Dr. Animo in all the versions of the show.
He's a regular voice in the English translations of "Final Fantasy" games, starting with "Final Fantasy X," and he voices several characters from the "Mass Effect" series. You can even hear him snarl in the orc language in "Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor" and "Middle-earth: Shadow of War."
A Last-Minute Swap
The final member of the main cast is Dirk Benedict, who played Templeton “Faceman” Peck, often called just “Face.” Different pieces of media sometimes state that his nickname is actually “The Faceman,” including the pilot episode, but most places, it appears, drop the “the.”
As it turns out, Benedict wasn't the first actor to play this character – in the pilot episode, an actor named Tim Dunigan played the A-Team's charmer. But after the pilot episode was filmed, the producers, and Dunigan himself, agreed that Dunigan was too young to accurately play a Vietnam war veteran. The role went to Benedict instead.
Having a Great Time Every Day
Dirk Benedict loved acting on "The A-Team." During an interview with "Metro" magazine in 2009, he said that the comedy of the show was almost cartoon-like. The combination of just the right amount of reality with his funny co-stars made for an overall fun experience that could be broadcasted to both kids and adults.
While we know it wasn't all smiles and laughs behind the scenes; it seems right that a show based on action and fun was fun for the actors to work on.
When "The A-Team" wrapped, Benedict bounced around the entertainment world. Before he even joined the team, he was Lieutenant Starbuck on the original sci-fi show "Battlestar Galactica." He wrote and directed a 2001 movie, "Cahoots," he showed up on the theater stage, wrote books, and has had lots of time in the reality TV world.
He's even a little bit of a singer – he's never released an album, but he sang for a few tracks that appeared on the soundtrack for "The A-Team." Recently he's rumored to have a part in the TV mini-series "After Hell" as the angel Samael. The project is still in development.
Not Here to Make Friends
Dirk Benedict appeared on a number of reality TV shows, including "Celebrity Big Brother." His time on these shows didn't gain him any fans and didn't endear him to his fellow contestants.
He often complained about his housemates waking him up, and at one point, even grouched: “This is such a girlie show, that's why all the guys left. It drives you nuts!” It has the potential to drive the viewers nuts, as well. As much as he complained, Benedict finished third during his time on the show. He was also a common panelist on "The Hollywood Squares."
While Benedict hasn't been making big waves much these days, he did show up in the 2010's "The A-Team" in a cameo as a prisoner. The movie might not be critically lauded, but audiences seemed to like it (isn't that always the way?), and it made plenty of money back.
The original version of "The A-Team" will always be at the forefront of people's minds. Audiences from the eighties and goofy action fans forever will always love watching vehicles explode, guns go off, and the four principal actors have fun together. Not even Bradley Cooper can top all of that.
Where are We?
In many episodes of "The A-Team," the characters travel all over the world. From locations inside the United States to South America, Europe, and even Asia, there was no place the A-Team wouldn't go to rescue innocents and bring bad guys back for justice.
However, you might be surprised to know that, aside from a filming location in Mexico for the pilot, the show never actually left California. Thanks to the wide diversity of bios in the state, from hot deserts to green, rolling hills, and even huge forests, pretty much every environment they needed was only a few hours away.
Casting the Experts
Numerous members of the cast all had experience in the armed forces before filming. George Peppard was an artillery sergeant in the Marines. Eddie Velez (who played Frankie Santana, a special effects expert in the final season) was in the Air Force.
Mr. T was a member of the Military Police in the army. Robert Vaughn (General Hunt Stockwell) was a drill sergeant in the Army. No doubt this amount of experience helped make the show a little bit more realistic, at least when it came to the military aspects of the show.
The Crime They Didn't Commit
The central premise of "The A-Team" is they are on the run and undercover from the military, who are chasing them for a crime they didn't commit. That crime was revealed to be murder.
In 1972, the A-Team was sent on a special covert mission to rob the Bank of Hanoi of gold bullion in order to help facilitate the ending of the Vietnam War. They succeeded, though they found that their commanding officer had been murdered in a traitorous double-cross, and his headquarters burned to the ground. Since the mission was covert and unrecognized, they could not prove they were acting under orders and were sent to a maximum-security stockade.
The Only Death The Show Ever Had
Every episode of "The A-Team" had guns blazing, explosions shooting smoke into the air, and bad guys flying all over. Yet as we've discussed, the A-Team needed to work on their aim – they never shoot a single bad guy.
In fact, through the entire five seasons of the show, there is only one death in the entire show. Bad guys crawl out of cars, injured but alive, bullets go wild, and even injuries rarely appear on the main cast. The single death is even only implied: General Fulbright meets his end in a big explosion at the end of “The Sound of Thunder.”
This Is the Thanks We Get
"The A-Team" brought NBC back from the brink of collapse, but they had no love to give the show that saved their hides. The network actively sabotaged the show, and in fact, many network officials did nothing but badmouth the show to the press from the word go.
It was seen as politically incorrect since it had a positive view of Vietnam veterans, among other things. It was subjected to invisible advertising. Incredibly, the show got so popular. People called it a bad move to write for it. Even though it was one of the most popular television shows, it ended after five seasons for these reasons.
What Could Have Been
Numerous actors were considered for the major roles. James Coburn and Robert Conrad were both options for Hannibal. Tia Carrere, who played the daughter of General Fulbright (who was also named Tia), was supposed to join the main cast in the fifth season but couldn't get out of her contract to "General Hospital."
Hulk Hogan was going to appear more than just once but was too busy with his wrestling. A big idea Dwight Schultz had for the finale was that, for once, a plan doesn't come together, and the members of the team fall one-by-one, with Hannibal the last member in a desperate and futile fight for his life. It didn't take.
Just the Right Amount of Over the Top
Howlin' Mad Murdock was almost written out of the show before it aired, as the NBC executives found him too “over the top.” However, fans and test audiences loved the character, and the execs had no choice but to listen to the will of the people. We're all glad he stayed on.
Murdock's full name is H.M. Murdock, and no, we don't ever find out what the H stands for. What's more, Schultz had a direct hand in his character's look and feel. Those funny t-shirts that Murdock wears in every episode? Designed by Schultz himself.
While the show was well-liked in the United States, a pair of countries in Europe love it even more, including to this day. Belgium and the Netherlands both loved the show while it was airing in unprecedented numbers. Dwight Schultz and Dirk Benedict are still going across the pond to conduct interviews and appear at conventions, just because of this show.
The show was also a hit in the United Kingdom and even contributed to the decline of "Doctor Who's" popularity. Mr. T is beloved in the country, and the show still frequently airs in long three-to-four episode blocks on the weekend.
All the Worst Parts
Frankie Santana joined the team in the fifth season to draw in new viewers, but his character combined all the worst parts of the other four. He was a mechanic like Baracus but not very good at it; he had a screw loose like Murdock but not enough to make him crazy awesome.
He has a casanova-like face but without the charisma, and he was willing to put himself in harm's way like Hannibal but lacked the tactical ability to make it work. His character minimized the others, and since he had no combat experience, he couldn't help in firefights. It's likely his addition had the opposite effect and turned viewers away.
Some Things Might Not Fly Today
There are plenty of moments in the show that wouldn't make it in today's television world. Hannibal's near-constant smoking is just the beginning.
The characters make numerous chauvinist comments – Murdock even gooses a nurse in one episode and then blames it on another patient. There were jokes or comments about the LGBT+ community and threats made to villainous women, which are better not repeated. Thankfully, these practices are making their way out of modern television.