‘The Fall Guy’: Five Ways in Which the Movie References the Original Series

(Warning: Spoilers ahead for The Fall Guy movie.)

Yes, The Fall Guy is based on a TV series.

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If you weren’t aware of that, it’s likely because you’re of a younger generation that wasn’t alive or old enough to remember the series, which hasn’t exactly re-entered the zeitgeist in the four decades since it went off the air. (An unscientific scan of social media shows more than a few folks who had no idea of the original IP.) But for moviegoers of a certain age, there are references to the series that inspire nostalgia.

The show, which aired from 1981-86, starred Lee Majors as a stuntman who moonlighted as a bounty hunter. The movie stars Ryan Gosling in the lead role, who is also a stuntman. While the movie is not an exact copy of the show, there are several ways in which the film references and pays tribute to the original. Read on to see how — and where the movie differs from the show.

The Characters

Gosling and Majors both played characters named Colt Seavers, who are stuntmen. While Majors’ version of the character worked as a bounty hunter as a side gig, Gosling’s version gets drawn into a criminal investigation at the request of a film producer with whom he’s worked for several years. Meanwhile, Emily Blunt plays Seavers’ ex-girlfriend, named Jody Moreno, which is a nod to the show’s character Jody Banks, played by Heather Thomas. However, while Blunt’s character is a camerawoman-turned-director, Thomas’ Jody was a stuntwoman.

The Truck

In the film version, Gosling drives a GMC Sierra, which is taken directly from the show, in which Majors’ character drives the same vehicle (though, obviously, an older model). In the movie, Gosling’s character borrows the truck from the set of the film that Blunt’s Jody is directing.

The Stunts

Each episode of the series featured a slew of stunts, as you would expect. But one stunt in particular was iconic to the show and was repeated throughout the series: Seavers’ GMC Sierra jumping over various obstacles and barriers while chasing the bad guys. In the movie, Gosling’s character also jumps over barriers in the truck. Director David Leitch, himself a former stuntman, has said that some of the stunts in his film paid homage to those in the show. “The first … truck jump in the movie, it’s inspired by the Fall Guy television show,” he said. “Every episode, you’d see the truck — the GMC Sierra — enter the chase from behind a hedge or bushes or over a wall. And it was always sort of this classic, like, here are the bad guys, and they would come in hot pursuit. And so we wanted to sort of do that same sort of jump with the new Sierra.”

The Theme Song

It doesn’t show up until the end of the movie, but the classic theme song, titled “Unknown Stuntman,” does make an appearance, but with some changes. The original was sung by Majors himself (though the end credits amusingly credited “Colt Seavers” as the singer). Blake Shelton covers the song for the movie, and it plays over the end credits.

However, the lyrics have been tweaked for a 2024 audience. The original featured references to several of the most popular stars of the ’80s, including Farrah Fawcett (who was once married to Majors), Bo Derek, Sally Field, Cheryl Tiegs, Raquel Welch, Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood. While Shelton’s cover keeps many of the same lyrics (and both tunes are, at their heart, love songs), the new version does away with the movie-star references. For example, the original song includes these lyrics in the chorus: “I might fall from a tall building / I might roll a brand new car / ’Cause I’m the unknown stuntman / That made Redford such a star.” But the new version tweaks the lyrics: “I might fall from a tall building / I might roll a brand new car / ‘Cause I’m the unknown stuntman / Who’d die to havе your heart.”

The Cameos

As one would expect with a film based on a classic show, there are some familiar faces who pop up (familiar, at least, to those who’ve seen the series). Major and Thomas both appear in a mid-credits scene where moviegoers find out what fate ultimately befalls the bad guys; the actors play officers who show up to arrest them.

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