15th May 2020

Top Gun (1986)

Corrected entry: The call of "going ballistic" is totally wrong. Calling "we're going ballistic" is a warning call to all other aircraft that you have no control of your airplane and it's only being controlled by the laws of physics (diving, turning etc) and not the pilot.


Correction: While you are correct technically, I don't believe Goose was referring to the technical use of the phrase/term. He was using it as a indication of excitement. "My daughter went ballistic when she saw the new puppy."


The fact that you point out the mistake is correct isn't a good way to open a correction. Plus, there's no indication he's expressing "sudden excitement." On top of that, even if he did intend to say "we're excited", it would still be a character mistake to use a specific phrase that has a specific meaning out of context like you're suggesting.


I did not point out of the "mistake" is correct at all. I pointed out that what the poster stated is true (to my knowledge) about what going ballistic means in the technical flying a plane sense. However, this is not how Goose is using it. He was absolutely expressing excitement. Maverick states that they are going vertical. Goose replies "We're going ballistic Mav, go get'em." He is not saying it to alert other craft (thus the call out specifically to Mav). This was a phrase used a lot in the 80's, but not much anymore. "Dad is going to go ballistic when he finds out", or "She is going to go ballistic when we get to Disney." It expresses anger, excitement, craziness.


The NATO Brevity Code manual (google it), specifically mentions "going ballistic" as a the term to be used once you have lost control of your aircraft, a warning to others. It's a term that was adopted *after* the movie for expressing excitement.


When the couples are all together at the restaurant/bar (01:01:45), Carole tells Maverick, "He told me all about the time you went ballistic with Penny Benjamin" (the Admiral's daughter). So considering his wife, Carole, uses this specific slang expression it's believable that Goose also uses the slang in this way despite its "technical" use. During the earlier training mission (00:31:55), when Goose reacted to Maverick going vertical after Jester goes vertical, Goose, perhaps inappropriately, casually used the term only while speaking directly to Maverick, so if this is to be listed as any kind of mistake it would be a character mistake. This movie was released mid 1986, and excitedly "going ballistic" (just like "going bananas") was indeed used prior to this movie's release.

Super Grover Premium member

Yet, they are not losing control of the aircraft in that scene, and he is not warning other aircraft since it's not happening AMD he is only talking to Maverick (the pilot who would be well aware if they were ballistic). I don't know exactly when the term hit the main stream as a term of excitement but it's pretty clear to me that he is saying it that way. Classifying this as an error would be like saying the lines "a walk in the park Kazinsky" or "the defense department regrets to inform you that your sons are dead because they were stupid" are errors because neither is true. He wasn't reporting to anyone that they were ballistic. He was encouraging his pilot and just happened to use an aeronautical statement in his excitement.


From The Dictionary of Clich├ęs by Christine Ammer: "It began to be used to describe human anger in the 1980s and quickly caught on." No exact date, but was used in magazine articles in the late 1980's, so probably by around 1986 it was a popular expression.


Join the mailing list

Separate from membership, this is to get updates about mistakes in recent releases. Addresses are not passed on to any third party, and are used solely for direct communication from this site. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Check out the mistake & trivia books, on Kindle and in paperback.