List of stock characters in military fiction
This is a list of
stock characters that are used in military fiction.
* The Arrogant Pilot (aka Flyboy): this character arrives on base after the premise of the story has been established. The arrogant pilot, along with his distinguished training and combat record are gossipped about before he appears. Is disliked by fellow military due to his overconfidence and initially not trusted by fellow pilots. Traces of this stock character are apparent throughout the manga “Area 88,” and the Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer characters in the film "Top Gun", who are notably parodied in the comedy "
Hot Shots" by Charlie Sheen and Cary Elwes, respectively. Panther Carosoof the "Star Fox" series can also be considered an Arrogant Pilot.
* The Bitter War
Veteran: A man who fought as a soldier during a war; he usually leaves home a naïve young man, experiences the horrors of war, and returns home embittered and deranged. He often has flashbacks and nightmares about the war. Examples include John Rambo, of " First Blood" and its sequels, Cliff Hudson of " Dead Rising", Lieutenant Dan Taylorfrom " Forrest Gump" and Travis Bicklefrom " Taxi Driver".
*The Captain is a mercenary or retired soldier (whose rank is often self-bestowed). He constantly extolls his bravery and strength with impossible stories that even he doesn't believe.
Crazy General: a high-ranking general who goes crazy and starts a war, or worse, such as General Jack D. Ripper does in "". This includes most of the generals depicted in "M*A*S*H", Gen. Maddox from "1941", especially Lt. General Bartford Hamilton Steele ("three E's, not all in a row") played by Harry Morgan the season before he returned as Col. Sherman T. Potter.
* The Drill Sergeant: Harsh, bitter and sarcastic, this character will either be loved or hated (or in some cases killed) for his iron will. Often his constant ordering and rigorous training might turn out to be for the good; an example of this is Career Sergeant Zim from "Starship Troopers", or it can be done intentionally, such as
Gunnery SergeantHartman from " Full Metal Jacket". A Real lifeexample of this character type is Herbert Sobelfrom " Band of Brothers".
* The Major (or Jolly War Veteran): lovable, awkward, and more than a bit daft. He is usually a veteran of one of the World Wars, and frequently sings old military songs (melancholy or dance-tune are typical). Military aphorisms and lingo pepper his speech. A comedic streak of alcoholism sometimes adds tragic charm to the Major. Examples include the Major from "Soap" or "
Fawlty Towers", and almost every harein Redwall, although they tend to have more active and serious military roles. A "drunken major" features prominently in " Vile Bodies" by Evelyn Waugh.
* The Military Man: Typically career military (although there are retired variations). Harsh, unforgiving, authoritarian, and usually associated with the negative aspects of the military, e.g.,
Major Frank Burnsof "M*A*S*H" or Sarge of " Red vs. Blue".
* The Idealistic Lieutenant: More seasoned than the Raw Recruit, the Lieutenant is nonetheless fairly young. He has to learn that what worked in Officer's Training School isn't necessarily going to fly in the field, and that lesson costs a couple of defeats that nearly break his faith in himself as a leader.
* The Pompous War Colonel: more shown in comedy, this kind of character is very nostalgic about his war days (often overlaps The Major). In fact, even if there is no war at all, he still treats everyone as if they were all in his military and makes them do silly war things. The British version, best exempified by David Ley's
Colonel Blimp, often served in a Colonial unit and has little or no military education. Examples include Colonel Hathi of The Jungle Book and Fowler of Chicken Run.
* The Incompetent Enlisted Man: An enlisted soldier who is good-hearted and likeable, but cannot do anything right. Often ends up performing undesirable menial tasks. He often earns the audience’s sympathy, but fails to advance himself in the army. Examples include
Lou Costelloin some Abbott and Costellofilms and Corporal Upham in Saving Private Ryan, Goldie Hawn's character, Private Benjamin.
* The Incompetent Officer: Usually from a wealthy background, the incompetent officer is usually senior to the hero and an antagonist. Normally has an inflated view of his own abilities, leading his men into numerous disasters, e.g., Sir Henry Simmerson and numerous others in the "Sharpe" series of novels. A real-life example is
Norman Dike, who was portrayed in " Band of Brothers".
* The Raw Recruit: Young, naive and impressionable, the Raw Recruit has to learn how to live with military discipline and understand the reasons behind the way the military works. He often ends up in a position of leadership (as an Idealistic Lieutenant) by the end of the story. Juan Rico of "Starship Troopers" is such a character. They may have a "tragic" death towards the end of the movie, particularly if they show the protagonist a picture of a fiance or wife they "have back home". Parodies of this character include Private Jimmy from '
Red vs Blue' and Dead Meat from the comedy Hot Shots!, whose obviously impending doom is played for laughs.
* The Solid Noncom: Almost always a sergeant; takes the Raw Recruit under his wing while advising the Idealistic Lieutenant through his moments of self-doubt. In American stories, is likely from Brooklyn or the Great Plains; in British ones, is liable to be from Scotland.
* The Rough
Sergeantis basically the stereotypical sergeant seen in many movies, but this can apply to any soldier with this attitude. The rough soldiers usually are still in action but are liked by many of the troops they are with, but usually die by the end. When these soldiers die, it it is usually put in a very dramatic form. Examples of this character are Kat from All Quiet on the Western Front, Sgt. Elias and St Sgt. Barnes from Platoon, and Lt Col. Kilgore from Apocalypse Now.
* The Apone Clone is essentially a different version of The Rough Sergeant. This character is usually a black version of The Rough Sergeant, and serves as the real leader in a unit lead by The Incompetent Officer. The name is taken from Sergeant Al Apone from the movie aliens, who served as the inspiration for this stock character. These characters usually laugh and say, "Bay 12, please". Examples include Apone, Sergeant-Major Avery Johnson from the Halo series of video games, Staff Sergeant Griggs from Call of Duty 4, Sergeant Mac Eliot from Predator, and numerous other characters.
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