The TV Show CHiPs: More Than Mirrored Sunglasses

CHiPs is a classic American television series that aired from 1977 to 1983. The show was created by Rick Rosner and follows the daily lives of two California Highway Patrol (that’s where “CHiPs” comes from) motorcycle officers as they patrol the highways and freeways of Los Angeles. The show mixes action, drama, and comedy and is known for its iconic motorcycle chases and stunts.

The show starred Larry Wilcox as Officer Jonathan “Jon” Baker and Erik Estrada as Officer Francis “Ponch” Poncherello, the two main characters. Other notable cast members include Robert Pine as Sergeant Joseph Getraer and Randi Oakes as Officer Bonnie Clark. If the name Pine sounds familiar, it’s no surprise. Robert Pine is the father of actor Chris Pine, who has starred in big hit movies such as the Star Trek reboot and, more recently, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

jon and ponch from the television show CHipS

The show’s theme song (which has a less-than-original name), “Theme from CHiPs,” was composed by John Parker and performed by the band “The Fevers.” The song is instantly recognizable and has become a pop culture icon.

The show is also known for its famous catchphrases and quotes, including “Ponch, you’re a lucky man” and “10-4, good buddy.”

The show is a police procedural drama classified as a mixture of action, drama, and comedy. While the show primarily focuses on the officers’ daily work and the crimes they investigate, it also features comedic elements, such as the bickering and banter between Baker and Ponch.

It should be noted that the show was also praised for its realistic portrayal of the CHP and its duties on the highways of California. So, it has that going for it.

Number of Seasons and Episodes

CHiPs ran for six seasons and a total of 139 episodes. The first season consisted of 22 episodes, and the remaining seasons consisted of 23 episodes each. The show was a huge success and was one of the highest-rated shows on television during its run. It was also syndicated in many countries around the world.

Each episode of CHiPs was a self-contained story, with the main characters investigating a different crime or incident each week.

the stars of the television show CHIPS, Jon and Poncharello


CHiPs featured a talented cast of actors who brought the show’s characters to life. The two main characters were California Highway Patrol officers Jon Baker and Frank “Ponch” Poncherello, played by Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada, respectively. Wilcox left the show after the fifth season and was replaced by Tom Reilly as Bobby “Hot Dog” Nelson for the sixth season.

Other notable cast members included Robert Pine as Sergeant Joseph Getraer, the officers’ commanding officer, and Randi Oakes as Officer Bonnie Clark. The show also featured a rotating cast of guest stars and recurring characters, including Bruce Jenner (now known as Caitlyn Jenner) as Officer Steve McLeish.

cast of the television show CHIPS

Despite the show’s popularity, some cast members had conflicts with the producers and left early. Estrada, for example, had a highly publicized dispute with the producers over his salary and was briefly replaced by Bruce Jenner before returning to the show.

CHiPs Theme Song

One of the most memorable aspects of CHiPs is its iconic theme song, composed by John Parker and performed by Larry Carlton. The upbeat instrumental tune is instantly recognizable and synonymous with the show.

The theme song perfectly captures the action-packed, fast-paced nature of CHiPs with its driving guitar riffs and catchy melody. It sets the tone for each episode and excites viewers for the adventures that await Ponch and Jon.

Interestingly, the theme song was not used in the pilot episode of CHiPs. Instead, the episode featured a different opening sequence with a voiceover explaining the show’s premise. However, the producers quickly realized the power of the theme song and incorporated it into the show’s opening credits, starting with the second episode.

The popularity of the CHiPs theme song has led to numerous covers and remixes over the years. It has also been parodied and referenced in various TV shows, movies, and commercials. The song remains a beloved part of pop culture and a testament to the enduring legacy of CHiPs.

the title screen for the television show CHIPs showing the name Chips overlaid on California seal

CHiPs Spin-offs

CHiPs has had several spin-offs over the years. Here are some of the most notable:

CHiPs ’99

In 1998, a made-for-TV movie called CHiPs ’99 aired, which served as a pilot for a potential new series. The movie reunited Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada as Jon and Ponch, who were now working as detectives for the California Highway Patrol. However, the series was not picked up, and CHiPs ’99 remains a standalone movie.

CHiPs Patrol

In 2005, truTV aired a reality show called CHiPs Patrol. The show followed real-life California Highway Patrol officers as they patrolled the highways and dealt with various situations. While not a direct spin-off of the original series, CHiPs Patrol was clearly inspired by CHiPs and its depiction of the CHP.

CHiPs ’79

In 2017, a big-screen adaptation of CHiPs was released, starring Dax Shepard as Jon and Michael Peña as Ponch. The movie was a comedic take on the original series and received mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike. While not a direct spin-off, CHiPs ’79 was clearly inspired by the original show and its iconic characters.

Famous Quotes

CHiPs had many memorable quotes throughout its run. Here are a few of the most famous:

  • “Ponch, you’re gonna be the death of me.” – Jon Baker
  • “99-Adam, see the man.” – Dispatch
  • “Hi, I’m Jon Baker, and this is my partner, Frank Poncherello.” – Jon Baker
  • “You’re not a cop; you’re a cowboy.” – Sgt. Joe Getraer


CHiPs remains a beloved classic television series that continues to entertain audiences today. Seeing Jon and Ponch rumbling down the highway on those massive motorcycles will send you back to the 1970s.