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Luke, and his younger cousin Bo Duke live in an unincorporated area of the fictional Hazzard County, in Georgia. Luke and Bo own a 1969 Dodge Charger, nicknamed The General Lee, which is painted orange, with the Confederate Flag on top, and 01 painted on the sides. Luke and Bo evade the corrupt politicians of Hazzard County, such as Boss Hogg and Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane.
The Duke family, including cousin Daisy Duke and Uncle Jesse Duke, is well known for their role in the moonshine business among other interests. Bo and Luke had both been sentenced to probation for illegal transportation of moonshine. As a result, neither was permitted to use firearms, instead preferring to use bow and arrows. It should also be noted that the terms of Bo and Luke's probation included staying within the boundaries of Hazzard County (unless given special permission by their Probation Officer, who happened to be Boss Hogg).
Of the two Duke boys, Luke was considered to be the more intelligent, "cool-headed" one. Where Bo was the one known to get the two into trouble, Luke was the one who usually got them out of it. Luke was older, and more mature than his younger cousin Bo. He usually thought his way through situations that arose, in contrast to Bo, whose actions were much more precarious. In one episode, Bo mentions that Luke had served in the U.S. Marine corps. His service in the Marines is confirmed in the episode titled "Mason Dixon Girls" where Luke explains he learned to hang glide in the Marines and also in "Sittn' Dukes" where two convicts break out of prison and head to the nearby Dukes farm because one remembers Luke as his sergeant from the marines who busted him and as payback forces the Dukes to help them escape across the state line. However, when it came to fisticuffs, Luke was by far the more skilled fighter of the two, and was an amateur boxer in the Corps. Luke was also the more physical one, often performing stunts like jumping onto moving cars during high speed chases and rescuing Bo from sticky situations.
Luke's famous "hood slide" (as seen in the opening credits, originating from the second episode, "Daisy's Song") is the trick most commonly associated with the character. In a subsequent TV interview, Tom Wopat admitted that the move was actually a mistake; it originated when he was trying to vault over the car to get to the passenger side and his foot accidentally caught the edge of the hood, causing his leg to slide across it. They actually reshot it without the stumble, but for some unknown reason the show aired the slide with the stumble. The move eventually caught on and became the character's hallmark. Additionally, in this initial slide, Wopat caught his leg on the hood radio arial, leading to the arial being removed from all later examples of the car to avoid risk of injury.
Despite being quite a skilled driver, Luke rarely ever drove The General Lee; he usually preferred to ride shotgun because the General Lee had too much Horse power, which was why Bo drove the General Lee in almost every episode.
In the pilot episode, Bo commented (possibly just as a joke) that Luke was probably the father of at least two of the children who lived at the Hazzard County Orphanage.
According to the 1997 Reunion movie, Luke eventually would leave Hazzard for good, and put his military training to good use by becoming a fire jumper for the U.S. Forest Service. During training in Montana, he met and fell in love with a woman named Anita Blackwell, who was a talented singer. He convinced her to leave to pursue her dreams, and she became a successful country music star. Luke met her again in the 2000 Hazzard in Hollywood movie, although by then she was married.