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David James Elliot and Catherine Bell star in this gripping legal drama with a military twist. The stories, often based on news headlines happening when the show was in production, feature themes of justice, truth, the American spirit with touches of humor and hints of romance. If drama in the courtroom isn’t thrilling enough, the JAG team takes to the field to see that justice is served.

JAG is the acronym for Judge Advocate General, the legal division of the military. Each show gives you a glimpse into Navy life, the good, the bad, the heartbreaking, and most of all the heroic, as Harm, Mac and the group take on everything from hostage situations and kidnappings to spies and terrorism. Many cases touch the characters’ lives personally.

Commander Harmon “Harm” Rabb, Jr. was a top Navy pilot until a crash ended his aviator career. Because he loved serving in the military, he went to law school and became a JAG lawyer. He is self-confident, accomplished, a good judge of character, always prepared, and is willing to pull dramatic courtroom stunts to prove his case. Is there a secret softie behind the buttoned-up exterior? Yes, whenever Mac is around.

Lieutenant Colonel Sarah “Mack” Mackenzie is a former alcoholic who suffered a difficult childhood, as her mother abandoned the family early on, and her father had a cold, somewhat cruel streak. Later, she was involved in an abusive marriage, but her painful past only served to make her stronger. She is every inch, every breath, a tough and determined Marine, who doesn’t think twice about going undercover to solve a case. She speaks Russian, Spanish, Japanese, German and Farsi. She, too, has a well-disguised vulnerability—for a pair of comfortable shoes, and Harm.

Lieutenant Budd Roberts, Jr. is a bit nerdy, appears kind of innocent, naïve, even. In other words, look out! Though he is not a tough-guy, combat officer, you don’t want to tangle with him in court or threaten his family. He will take you down with his wit and his smarts. Yes, he’s bright, but he’s also a bit clumsy and forgetful, often lending humor to tense situations. He’s known to use his awkward traits to his advantage. He might exploit his “shy boy” demeanor to eke out a confession from an offender! Then there are the UFOs. His obsession with science fiction actually comes in handy on a few cases.

Admiral Albert Jethro “A.J.” Chegwidden is a two-star Rear Admiral, former Navy SEAL and a combat hero, having won the Navy Cross for bravery while serving in Vietnam. He is the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, and has the difficult job of managing his team of, dedicated but sometimes unconventional, lawyers and abiding by the strict standards, policies and procedures set forth by the Navy. He handles frustration and anger in typical stoic style, but will, occasionally, lose it in an uncharacteristic outburst. Under his seemingly distant, military demeanor is a man who considers his staff his family. He cares for them deeply, especially since divorce kept him from seeing his own daughter grow up. He can appear gruff and distant, but he does have a sense of humor. His deadpan delivery of the occasional witty barb, might take the recipient off guard, but the veiled joke will also have serious implications. Being a man of honor and a role model to younger officers, he is known to display another courageous trait: apologizing when he is wrong.

The genuine chemistry between these and other characters, the timely and moving stories, the triumph of seeing justice served makes JAG an engaging and enduring show.