JAG was inspired by the first women to serve on a Navy combat ship

By: H&I Staff     Posted: December 12, 2022, 9:20AM   

Veteran television writer Don Bellisario is known for creating and writing some of the most memorable series on television including Black Sheep Squadron, Quantum Leap, JAG, and NCIS.

Following just a year after the end of Quantum Leap in 1994, Bellisario was without a series to write for the first time in several years. Uninterested in sitting around, Bellisario spent his time writing concepts, stories, and ideas until he found a new show.

1994 also just so happened to also be the same year that women were allowed to serve on Navy combat vessels. This historic milestone gave Bellisario a vision of a pair of F-14s with a female Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) being shown the ropes by her Carrier Air Wing Commander (CAG).

He wrote out a rough draft story about both the Naval officers that would end with the female RIO pilot being murdered. Seeing where his story could go, Bellisario did more research into the Navy and how they handled internal investigations that were similar to the story he was writing.

"I had to find out who investigates these things. When I found out JAG officers prosecute, defend and investigate, all with the same people, I thought, 'Wow, what a franchise,’” said JAG series creator Don Bellisario about the inspiration for the series.

Fascinated by a courtroom series set in the United States military, Bellisario wrote the pilot script for what would be the JAG tv series. He first approached NBC about his show and pitched it as Top Gun meets A Few Good Men. NBC would pick up the pilot and had the premiere air a year later in 1995.