15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Reno 911!’
In 2003, a COPS spoof aired on Comedy Central that would span eight seasons and three films. Reno 911!’s sardonic take on law enforcement, with its mockumentary style and high rate of politically incorrect jokes, featured a string of famous comedians and actors over the years, and also that one time Carmen Electra showed up. We’ve rounded up trivia tidbits on the franchise filled with as much improv as it is with shots of Thomas Lennon in the tiniest cop shorts ever...
The Show Was Born From the Sketch Comedy Troupe Called The State
Creators Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon and Kerri Kenney-Silver were all part of the comedy troupe, The State, which had its own self-titled MTV show back in 1994. Other members of the troupe who appeared in Reno 911! include Joe Lo Truglio, Ken Marino, Michael Ian Black, David Wain and Michael Patrick Jann.
The Christmas Special Happened Because the Creators Wanted to Bring Terry Back
Lennon told Uproxx that they “wanted to find a way to have Nick Swardson as Terry play a pretty significant role. We’re like, ‘A Christmas special really has to have Terry Bernadino in it.’ So just the fun of what if what Clarence is to Jimmy Stewart, Terry is to Lieutenant Dangle? That was really just the whole thing. And then it was actually fun. It’s always fun to see when the Reno characters get to do something other than be cops just for a second.”
Improv With Jamie Lee Curtis
Garant told PopCulture that, for Curtis’ appearance in their eighth season on Roku called Reno 911!: Defunded, they didn’t give her anything and that she improvised all the way, keeping the entire cast on their toes. “She pitched to us. She was a fan. She wanted to come on and be somehow in charge of us from a different department,” Garant remembered. “She wanted shorts like (Lt. Jim Dangle) and an eye patch. So, we not only didn’t rehearse it, we didn’t write it, and we didn’t discuss it. She came into the briefing room and just started yelling at us. And actually, we did one take; it was wonderful.”
The Scene Used By the L.A. Police Department As a Training Video
There’s a scene in the original series where a man asks the Reno cops to put his sick dog down because he can’t afford it. They do it, only to have a woman freak out because it was her dog and the man just wanted all the barking to stop. According to the creators, this bit is used by the LAPD in a training video, cautioning officers to be wary of what citizens tell them.
Wendi McLendon-Covey Created Her Character While Working with The Groundlings
McLendon-Covey told Geek Girl Authority that Deputy Clementine Johnson was a character she created during her time with The Groundlings but that she wasn’t originally a cop: “She was just a freewheeling lady who knew she looked good and did not need your compliments, although please keep them coming. She was patterned off of my favorite aunt, who is no longer with us.”
Reno Itself Petitioned for the Show to Make a Comeback
After Reno 911! was canceled following its sixth season on Comedy Central, the city launched a campaign to bring the show back. It should be noted that the series wasn’t actually shot in Reno, Nevada; the townsfolk just really dug it. “Has it been uncomfortable at times for the city? Yes,” marketing director of Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority Michael Thomas said at the time. “But there’s so much noise going on in the world; it’s important to be part of the conversation. Besides, we have a sense of humor here. We don’t mind being the brunt of a joke.”
Deputy Raineesha Williams Has a Fake Butt
When Niecy Nash once walked the red carpet as her Reno 911!: Miami character dressed in a thong, she caused quite the stir. Nash told Essence she found it funny that so many people thought it was real. “First of all, Raineesha’s lower half is prosthetic; they took a mold of my real booty and built it out,” Nash explained. “Frankly, I thought my fake butt looked cute, but I don’t think a lot of people know that it isn’t real. Now, had Pamela Anderson waltzed on the red carpet with her triple D’s with her tiny body in a bikini, everyone would be saying she looked fabulous.”
How the Creators Would’ve Liked the Sixth Season to Have Ended
The show was canceled by Comedy Central following its sixth season, and both Lennon and Garant told Entertainment Weekly that if they knew it’d be the end (for the time being), they’d have gone out Twin Peaks style. “Ben and I had talked for a long time about doing a storyline that did wrap up, and it was inside a dream,” Lennon explained. “Lt. Dangle was taking like a Chantix, a stop-smoking drug, and basically, you’d been seeing a bad trip he’d been going through for years or something.”
“Yeah, the last season we were going to do, like, a six-episode arc that was like Twin Peaks,” Garant piped in. “In fact, we were going to try to get Kyle MacLachlan to be that sort of character as himself, and there would be a murder, and we would get to the bottom of it.”
The Cedric Yarbrough Character We Never Got
Lennon and Garant once said that Yarbrough pitched them a character called “The Naked Jamaican,” who ended up being developed but never made it onto the show. He even had a catchphrase: “I’m letting my skin breathe, man.” The actor himself confirmed this on Twitter when he once commented on Donald Trump’s dumb wall.
Natasha Leggero’s Audition Inspired Her First Character Appearance
The actress said during an interview that when she auditioned for the show, she improvised a bit “where I was being arrested and couldn’t find my pants. Then four months later, I got a call that I was to play ‘pantless hooker.’ They get inspired by your audition, and then they find a way to work you in.”
An Alternate Universe
The creators said they consciously decided not to feature COVID in their 2022 season, Reno 911!: Defunded. As Garant explained, “We talked about it, like are the background people wearing masks? Are we going to do any of that? And we just said, ‘No, this is a universe where that’s not existent.’ We also made the decision: no Trump. So, we had Weird Al Yankovic play Ted Nugent. So, any of our political energy went to that.
Real Cops Seem to Be Big Fans
Carlos Alazraqui (who plays Deputy James Garcia) told The Denver Post that cops generally really dig the show. He also once got an idea from an on-set cop. “Hollywood sends out these cops that are retired on bikes to watch the set,” he explained. “We were talking about PCP and blah, blah, blah, and he gave me the line, ‘Sometimes if a guy’s on PCP, he just needs a little extra stick time.’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m going to be using that for my character, thank you very much.’ So I stole it from him.”
The Christmas Special Was Filmed in an Operating Mall
Reno 911!: It’s a Wonderful Heist has the deputies organize a Christmas pageant at a local mall. Mary Birdsong told Screen Rant that the mall was open during filming, joking that “there are a lot of disturbed kids out there who thought they were going to see Santa.”
They Almost Did a ‘Die Hard’ Movie
The creators have had so many ideas for possible episodes and movies that it all seems endless. One of them was a movie that was pretty much Die Hard, only it would’ve been set at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, simply because they wanted the title to be Reno 911!: Miami Paris Las Vegas.
Lt. Dangle Was Inspired by Viggo Mortensen in ‘G.I. Jane’
Lennon, who plays Lt. Dangle, said that he was inspired by the actor in the 1997 movie. “Have you seen G.I. Jane lately? Watch G.I. Jane, you’ll be like, ‘Oh my God, Dangle’s outfit is totally stolen from Viggo Mortensen in G.I. Jane,” Lennon told CBR. “Blond mustache, blond highlights, sizzling tan legs, the whole thing. I just lifted it from Viggo.”