The Rookies is an American crime drama series that aired on ABC from 1972 until 1976. It follows the exploits of three rookie police officers working in an unidentified city for the fictitious Southern California Police Department (SCPD).
In the introductory episode of the series, the presence of several street gangs contributes to a tension-filled atmosphere. The Rookies are assigned with the challenge of maintaining order amongst the rivaling street gangs, with Willie Gillis arising as the mediator between the gangs.
The internal affairs workers at the station are getting word of police shakedowns. They order an investigation to take place, with Lieutenant Ryker's rookies, Danko, Webster, and Gillis, under suspicion as suspects.
Terry and Willie, while doing routine spot checks, uncover a petty thief involved in a larger fur scandal. He agrees to give information against the two criminals who orchestrated the plan. However, due to a technicality, their trial is dismissed and they set their eyes on revenge. After several attempts to drag him back into their world of crime, Webster puts an end to the two felons criminal actions.
Willie, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, is struck by a bullet in the leg by a criminal wearing a monster mask. He is left paralyzed temporarily. Further investigation reveals a criminal's passion for horror films. As the case becomes more complex, Terry and Danko track the small-time crooks down to an auction, where they foolishly try to escape the law.
Terry and Willie become involved with Brother Toby, a former drug addict now turned evangelist. They admire his mission to help other junkies become sober. He is framed by the father of one of his followers, because of the father's disagreement with Toby's religious beliefs. He is put in the situation where it appears that he violates his parole by selling drugs. Willie and Terry have the harrowing task of proving Toby innocent, in which they ultimately succeed.
A man disguised as a police officer kidnaps the daughter of a wealthy family, the Sloans. The Police Squad are quick to react to the kidnapping. Meanwhile, the kidnapper writes a ransom note demanding two hundred thousand dollars, only for the Sloans' maid to steal it and concoct her own fake note in an effort to get the money instead. Her devious plot is uncovered and the police get back on track with the real note. Danko, Webster and Gillis notice that Ryker appears to be distracted. A fainting spell places him in the hospital, where he confides in Jill that the kidnapped girl may in fact be his biological daughter. A phone call from the kidnapper cues the officers into searching areas around the airport. Finally, the officers discover the kidnapper along with the girl in a power plant, with Ryker leading the way. After an active shoot-out, the kidnapper is brought to justice as Ryker rescues the girl. Later, Ryker visits her in the hospital, never revealing his paternal relation to
Responding to a robbery complaint, Webster and Gillis arrive at the building and enter into a criminal-chase. Thinking he is being fired at, Gillis returns gunshots. He strikes one of the criminals, David Palmer, only to find out that the teen is unarmed and now gravely injured. Gillis is overcome with guilt. An inquest is scheduled until the teen dies on the operating table. Gillis, on mandatory leave from the Police Squad, attends David Palmer's funeral, observing from a distance. Later that evening, Gillis receives the first of several anonymous phone calls informing him that he did not kill David Palmer; the Squad, consequently, begins further investigation. In reenacting the crime they discover that a third bullet was fired (from the gun of one of the escaped teens), which caused the fatal wound of David Palmer. The two other criminals are caught searching for the third bullet, and it is Gillis who convinces them to surrender, thereby restoring his honor.
Assigned with the task of protecting a valuable witness, Danko and the Officers must exercise caution regarding visitors to the prison. When a professional killer disguises himself as a professor seeing to interview Sol (the witness), Danko denies him the opportunity. Nevertheless, Danko does agree to help the 'professor' by accompanying him to an aircraft hanger where he claims he is meeting a friend. At the hanger, the killer reveals his true intention: to force Danko to wear deadly explosives while he holds the trigger, forcing the Police Force to negotiate Sol. Both Sol and the police refuse to compromise until a visit from Jill ultimately convinces Sol to help out. The Squad devises a plan that appears favorable to the killer but actually leads to his murder and Danko's safe release.
After a third woman is murdered the Police Squad take action. In order to solve the mysterious murders and prevent future ones, the Squad welcomes two women officers to the force, Dawson and Conway. A plan is created which places Dawson and Conway in an apartment complex together, with Webster and Gillis across the hall. Dawson is assigned with taking out a personal ad as the murdered women had all done. Later, when leaving a party, Dawson is murdered. Despite the devastating loss, the plan continues with Conway as the new target. This particularly disturbs Webster because of his growing affection for her. Consequently, he leaves the case. However, Webster saves the day by stopping the criminal from his last attempted murder and rescuing Conway, who is captured by the murderer.
In an effort to prove he's no 'old man', Officer Danko chases down a fleeing criminal. While he succeeds in apprehending the thief, his partners Webster and Gillis fail to catch the criminal's brother, who is also running from the law. Danko testifies in court against the criminal he caught, thereby infuriating the brother who is unassumingly observing in the courtroom. Consequently, he begins to terrorize Danko's wife, Jill, with mysterious phone calls. Not wanting to upset her husband, Jill confides in his co-officers. When Danko finds out, he is confronted with the issue of whether or not to change his testimony in court, to appease the terrorizing felon and save he and his wife. What follows includes a climactic car-chase ending with the inevitable arrest of the second criminal.
The rookies are given the task of protecting a controversial Army General who has recently returned to the country after serving in Vietnam. The rookies must deal with mob control, as well as actively track down a sniper who hits the General. The rookies most valuable clue is an old army rifle, used in the General's shooting, whose owner the rookies must uncover.
The police squadron has a new terror on their hands: two snipers who are shooting indiscriminately at anyone who is dressed in a uniform. Terry Webster, who unfortunately loses his eyesight, is their most recent target.
Easy Wyatt is a cop with many years behind him on the force. His ranch has recently been the target of destruction in a new plan to build a freeway. Wyatt is becoming mentally unstable, and his instability is slowly spiraling deeper and deeper. Once the best officer in the squad, Wyatt's shaky state is evident when he attempts to prevent the bulldozers from digging by holding them at gunpoint.
The rookies are on the hunt for a runaway girl. Their strongest clue to solving the case is a tattooed foot. However, the rookies are missing a vital piece of information: the man that claims to be the girl's father is actually the one who is out to murder her, and is the cause for her self-imposed disappearance.
Gillis enters a tough situation when he is presented with a boy who is trapped in a police car which is on fire. He chooses to shoot the boy, promptly catching the internal affairs division's attention. They launch an investigation into the event and Gillis to see if he has committed a mercy killing, and to try to get closure in the case.
In their off duty time, the rookies become involved in a camp for deviant, delinquent children and adolescents. Because of their involvement, the community's view regarding them, and the police force as a whole, is at risk.
A junkie addicted to dope sets his eye on swiping 82 million dollars worth of cocaine which has been confiscated. He will soon find that his plan is confronted with complications: the police have tagged the drugs for disposal in the ocean.
An old friend of Terry Webster's unleashes an attack on a patrol car officer. Webster investigates further to try and discover the logic behind the seemingly nonsensical incident.
A daring plan is crafted by a convict's wife to release a prisoner from incarceration: an innocent and helpless police officer, who is undergoing surgery, is taken hostage. The rest of the medical staff in the operating room is also put at risk, including Jill Danko, Mike Danko's wife.
An extremely ill young boy is desperately waiting for a suitable bone marrow donor; without a bone marrow transplant, he will die shortly. However, the biggest obstacle is that the boy's father, who has compatible marrow and is the only possible donor, is currently on the run. He is trying to evade the police as well as the syndicate.
The rookies try to disengage a robbery network by leaving the undesirable city slums and working in the suburbs. They discover that the main suspect is a dear, old friend of Lieutenant Ryker's. The man is also a special security guard of the community.
The rookies are presented with a ""difficult"" court case. While the case is essentially an open and shut, obvious manslaughter conviction, trouble arises: the most important element in the conviction, the only witness, is discovered to suffer from mental retardation.
The rookies may be confronted with a problem worse than the nurse who holds a grudge against all police officers: they discover that her younger brother is associating with thugs who are the organizers of a current neighborhood protection scandal.