21 Jump Street was a television crime drama series that originally aired on the Fox Television Network from 1987 to 1991. The show was created by Stephen J. Cannell and Patrick Hasburgh. 21 Jump Street centered around police officers that looked younger than they were to work undercover in high schools as part of a youth crimes unit.
The hour-long 21 Jump Street was filmed near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It featured Johnny Depp, who said he signed on for six years because he thought the show would only last one year. At first, Depp refused the part and Jeff Yagher was cast as Officer Tom Hanson instead. But, 21 Jump Street co-creator, Patrick Hasburgh, really wanted Depp, and asked him again to take the role and that time Depp accepted. The scenes with Yagher had to be re-shot.
The pilot episode of 21 Jump Street aired on 12 April, 1987 in two parts, but on the same night. The show was a hit and continued for five seasons. The plots revolved around issues such as child abuse, drug abuse, drinking, racism and homophobia. The idea behind the special youth crimes unit was to catch would-be criminals while they were still in high school to try to stop them from becoming career criminals. Public service announcements, with members of the 21 Jump Street cast speaking about the main issue of a particular episode, often followed the show.
Holly Robinson, Peter De Luise, Frederic Forrest and Richard Grieco were some of the other notable names in 21 Jump Street besides Depp. Holly Robinson sang the lead in show's theme song with Peter De Luise and Johnny Depp on background vocals. Richard Grieco's character, Officer Dennis Booker, became a part of the show in the third season. Grieco was originally only supposed to be a guest star, but his character was so popular that a spin-off show was created. The show was called simply Booker and it was produced for only one year, 1989-1990, before Fox canceled it.
The title, 21 Jump Street, refers to the address of the old church which headquartered the youth crime unit on the show. Peter De Luise played Doug Penhall and Holly Robinson's role was Judy Hoffs. Johnny Depp wanted out of the role of Tom Hanson by the third year when he was receiving film offers. Depp's lawyers managed to help him escape his 21 Jump Street contract after the fourth year.