A Father to His Men

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Not all commissars lead through fear...

"Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons, and they will follow you into the deepest valley."

Ace: "Why do you guys call him 'Pops'...?"
Marco: "Because he calls us 'sons'. The world hates us for what we are, you know? So it makes us happy. Even if it's just a word...it still makes us happy!"

This commander cares deeply about his men and exhibits it constantly. A mentor to the officers under him, he takes a deep personal interest in their welfare and tries to keep them out of harm's way. He would never say, "We Have Reserves" (unless it would save more lives in the long run- but expect him to be torn up about it, though he may hide it almost perfectly—and certainly never to make him look better). Staff officers, engineers, and the Camp Cook will be treated with respect and made to feel as valued as the troops on the front line, though he'll not put up with bureaucratic nonsense. He will never lay claim to work actually performed by his subordinates, and will try to pass the credit to where it's due if it is misattributed to him. He will accept responsibility for any mistakes, even if it was not entirely his fault, especially if the failure would result in severe punishment for a subordinate. He often follows up by treating his subordinate's mistakes as Career Building Blunders. And when his subordinates actually die, he will make sure to remember all of their names and faces.

Usually a military mastermind (because obviously anyone who cares so much about the boys on the line has to know what he's doing, right?).

Strategic or tactical blunders are usually the fault of those above him or below him. His career is often handicapped or cut tragically short by the incompetent High Command, his true worth appreciated only by the men he commanded. Or at least, that's the impression he projects to the troops.

This character generally cultivates a father-figure atmosphere. He is a source of discipline and stability. Usually this is through a gentle reasoning tone, but sometimes he's a more strict (read harsh) father figure. In this instance expect a new soldier transferred to the unit to hate him, and for one of the older veterans to take him aside and tell a nice Pet the Dog story about the commanding officer. Sometimes all his soldiers are new; this will result in hatred until the soldiers either survive something that could have killed them, or accomplish a difficult objective, and realize that they would have died or failed without his strict training.

He is often utilized more as a device after he has left the scene, as an idealized counterbalance to the incompetent who succeeds him. This is probably because he's far more effective as a saint, and it'd be hard to maintain such an image when he's actually coordinating operations, especially cursed with Hollywood Tactics like he is. Indeed, an officer who learns You Are in Command Now may find his troops are Losing the Team Spirit over this commander's death—though he can issue a Rousing Speech reminding them that the dead commander would be So Proud of You if they soldier on.

Sometimes he's used to make the troops unhappy with their new commander, even if he is a good one- similar to the "You're Not My Mother" response given even to kind substitute authority figures.

Other times he's a character who gets called in to deliver an Aesop after the soldiers mess up. Or he might be a mostly off screen character who gives the main characters a reason to try and do better, and to be embarrassed when they make a stupid mistake.

When an enemy, he is often the Worthy Opponent or Friendly Enemy. If he's a subordinate, the Big Bad's lack of concern for his men may be a source of Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal.

Despite the title and the use of a male pronoun, this trope is sometimes Gender Flipped.

Most of the movie and TV examples in The Captain are of this type.

Sister Trope to Officer and a Gentleman, and they may overlap. If he is a Blue Blood, he will not care that his soldiers are commoners. This often surprises other Blue Blood officers.

Related to The Last DJ, Benevolent Boss. Compare Papa Wolf and the aforementioned Team Dad. See also The Patriarch and Reasonable Authority Figure. Contrast: Sergeant Rock who is also super-competent, but his leadership style is nasty; The Neidermeyer who is nasty and incompetent; Drill Sergeant Nasty who is either competent or incompetent as the Plot directs; a We Have Reserves commander treats his men in the opposite way.

Examples of A Father to His Men include:

Anime and Manga

  • The Ur Example of this in anime is of course, the Gundam saga's Captain Bright Noah. One of the Universal Century's most recurring main characters, Bright is world-famous for both the fatherly atmosphere he projects towards those under his charge, as well as for smacking the fail out of the more angsty ones. However he utterly fails to raise his own son, apparently, if we are to believe Hathaway's Flash.
    • The series also provides antagonistic examples such as Char Aznable, who remembers the names of every man under his command and mourns the loss of everyone lost to the pilot of the white mobile suit, and Prince Dozle Zabi, who actually does a badass Last Stand in order to get everyone in Solomon out to safety, from his wife and baby girl to the rookies.
    • Also from the Zekes, Rear Admiral Yuri Kellarny, who honestly and earnestly cares for his men despite being loud, obnoxious, and pissing off Ginias because he thinks it's fun. Most exemplified in episode 9 The Front Line.
    • Also, AEUG leader Blex Forer. He dies mid-story, though.
    • Zechs Merquise from Gundam Wing treats his men very well and get incredible respect and devotion in return, but saying "fatherly" might be a stretch (especially seeing as he's only 19 years old). Lucrezia Noin probably counts a little more, seeing as she's a pilot instructor and often takes the role of the firm but caring mother figure - so much so that she becomes Team Mom (one of them, anyway) to the Gundam Pilots after a Heel Face Turn.
    • Suberoa Zinnerman from Gundam Unicorn is this and particularly and especially to Marida, who he was willing to launch a near-suicidal assault on the Nahael Argama whilst it was in Earth orbit for after she was captured by the EFSF.
  • At first played straight, then horrifically and utterly deconstructed with Griffith and his Band of the Hawk of Berserk. Yes, he did genuinely cared for the people in his army, even going as far as to personally get to know them himself. However, after finding a dead child he'd grown attached to and suffering a Heroic BSOD (Which lead him to sell himself for one night to a perverted Baron for money), he realized he had to emotionally distance from his troops, ecentually reaching the point where he saw them more as tools that people. Well, except for Guts, that is.
  • Yang Wen-li of Legend of Galactic Heroes embodies this trope in all but appearance (being in his early 30s and having a surprisingly delicate appearance is somewhat at odds with the classic visual perception of this archetype). Several of his own mentors, such as Alexander Bucock and Sidney Sitolet, also are examples of this trope in action (and have the wizened appearance that customarily goes with it).
  • Captain Bruno J. Global, of Macross, and thus Robotech especially to Misa Hayase. Not just to his immediate bridge crew, but also to various fighter pilots he happens to know despite the isolation of command. In the novelization of Robotech, when the Bridge Bunnies start dating aliens, he's frustrated that they're not actually his daughters so that he can set a curfew or anything.
  • Maj. Andrei Kalinin is this to Sousuke in Full Metal Panic!, while Richard Mardukas seems to be the hardass version to everybody else, although in a twist he is particularly so toward Tessa, who is technically his superior but seems to respond to him more as a father figure.
    • These cases are more justified, though; Mardukas was best friends with Tessa's father, and Kalinin legally adopted Sosuke.
  • The pirate Whitebeard is like this to his men in One Piece. He explicitly refers to his crewmen as his sons, and they in turn call him "Oyaji" (which can mean father). Whitebeard is well-known to go to any length to avenge the death of any of his crew, which is what creates the current situation in the manga with the World Government planning to execute one of his elite, Ace. When one of Whitebeard's crewmen is tricked into turning on him, Whitebeard's response is to call the man a fool, provide a Cooldown Hug, and tell his "foolish son" he still loves him.
    • A very warped version of this is none other than the villainous Arlong. Despite being a Complete Monster to humans, he is as attached to his men as Luffy is to his own; because of that, he takes at least four different levels of Unstoppable Rage, each for his three defeated Elite Mooks and one when Luffy uses a fallen Mook as a shield to his bite attack.
    • On the Marine's side is Captain T-Bone, who is willing to tear apart his clothing to provide bandages for a train car full of injured soldiers. The extent to which he goes creeps some of the soldiers out, such as a bandage for a small bug bite.
  • Alexander Anderson, of Hellsing, has a sternly parental relationship with the younger members of Iscariot (at least some of whom he actually raised in the orphanage he works at) that becomes readily apparent in later volumes. Before going into his final fight with Alucard, he orders the subordinate members of the Iscariot advance guard to go back home to the Vatican, but they disobey, staying behind to help him get to the front of Alucard's soul army at the cost of many of their own lives.
  • In Galaxy Angel, Colonel Volcott is Forte's father figure, having taken her into his care from an early age.
  • Yuma Ansecto in Rave Master took in war orphans who grew up to form La Résistance. They call him "Daddy."
  • Bleach:
    • Juushirou Ukitake is known for the great concern and strong emotional attachment he shows to his subordinates, and generally displays the most "fatherly" attitude of all the captains. He also feels deep personal guilt if one of his subordinates is hurt or killed. Even after many years, he was still unable to replace his fallen lieutenant Kaien Shiba until both he and Rukia were able to heal enough for Rukia to become his lieutenant during the 17 month time-skip.
    • Subverted: Aizen was very much this to his subordinates, especially towards Hinamori, Renji and Kira. Then he revealed he had been a Magnificent Bastard all along.
    • Tier Harribel is like this to her Amazon Brigade.
  • To become a Hokage in Naruto, one must care deeply for everyone in the village. Hiruzen Sarutobi loved everyone in his village so much, he gladly died for them. This is what makes the Uchiha Massacre even more devastating for him personally. He basically have to off the entire clan to save the village. When he saw what Orochimaru did to his men, sacrificing them to raise the previous Hokages, he cried and berated his old student, rightly claiming that Orochimaru didn't learn anything.
  • Baccano!: Luck Gandor may not be the most moral of men, but damn if he doesn't care for his mooks. If you ever happen to work under him rest assured that, should you fall in the next mafia turf squabble (or even on your lunch break, really), he will honor your service to him and pay his respects to you -- then he will hunt down the men responsible for your death and he will make them pay. If they're lucky, he'll personally beat them to death with a chair. If they're lucky.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Misato Katsuragi tries to be this. Her success is more than slightly undermined by her own personal issues but at least she puts the effort in... which is rather more than can be said for Gendo...
  • Balalaika in Black Lagoon is a rather warped version of this. She actually was the commanding officer of her men when they were part of the Soviet military, and now that they're...no longer in the military, Balalaika's concern for her subordinates are her Pet the Dog moments. If you attack any of this Magnificent Bitch's men, you will be DEAD.
    • Note this extends to her part-time employees as well, most notably the Lagoon Company. She might be utterly ruthless, but her recurring Pet the Dog trait is her unswerving loyalty to her comrades, regardless of duration.
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: Princess Kushana is quite close to her Third Army and always has a little trouble coping with casualties.
  • Although she can be harsh, Sister Kate of Chrono Crusade genuinely cares for all of the exorcists under her command and often treats them as her children. In fact, she's generally portrayed as being harsh towards Rosette because she does care for her and is concerned for her.
  • General Tiedoll in D.Gray-man. Kanda doesn't appreciate it at all.
  • Villainous example: Mad Scientist Jail Scaglietti from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. Despite being the Big Bad and showing quite the thing for destruction, he regards the Number Cyborgs as his masterpieces and shows quite the care or them. Even to the Heel Face Turn-ed ones.
  • So Ra No Wo To: Lieutenant Filicia Heideman is A Mother To Her Women, and a vicious one if pushed. She's not above commiting minor (and major) treasonous acts for their well-being.
  • Captain Tsubasa has Hikaru Matsuyama, both during his time in the Furano Junior High team, and in the national team. It's thanks to him and this quality of his that the national team doesn't crumble after the humiliating Curb Stomp Battle at the hands of the Real Japan 7 team, the expulsion of the regulars, and the brutal Training from Hell from Coach Gamo in the World Youth Saga.
    • Being the captain of Japan and the titular hero, Tsubasa also displays this quality, albeit not as proeminently as Matsuyama.
  • Professor Zorndyke from Blue Submarine No. 6 applies in every interpretation of this trope. The literal creator of an entire army and race of chimeras, whose appearances range from adorable to nightmarish, Zorndyke is looked upon more as a father than a military power by his children. This feeling is mutual in that he cares for all his children and teaches them how to speak, read, and often prays for their safety. This relationship is often shown through his interactions with his son Zerg. At first glance Zerg seemed like a Complete Monster, razing entire cities of civilians, sinking entire fleets, and planning on wiping out the last humans with their own nukes. But as the series goes on we see that he does everything in an effort to please his father and make him proud (He also never refers to him as anything else but "Papa"). Probably the crowning moment of this trope was at the end of the series were all of Zorndyke's children carried their father's body into the sea for burial. The moment is truly saddening and tear jerking, even more so when Verg appears, exhausted and dying from his own wounds, who upon seeing his father's shrouded body cradles him and cries like an child, screaming for his Papa.
  • Marciano of Coyote Ragtime Show is a considered a mother to her Quirky Miniboss Squad, the 12 Sisters, who refer to her as such. Since she and the Sisters are all Ridiculously-Human Robots, they're as close to mother and daughters as they can be.
  • Meta Knight in the Kirby anime is this to Sword and Blade. He saved their lives, they serve him out of gratitude, and they tell people how great of a person he is and how he always looks out for them.
  • Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist. She and Buccaneer agree to a 24-hour time limit for him to search for the scouts lost in Sloth's tunnel, and the door is to be sealed even if they don't come back. It takes them over 24 hours to return since they douse the light to avoid getting attacked by Pride, but there's a door waiting for them because she gave the guy in charge of sealing it a broken watch and he knew what it meant. Also, in order to send his support team, she has no problem with shoving her superior into wet cement (and telling her men she'll take all the blame if anyone else ever finds out).
    • Mind, she stabs said General to death first, and there's also the whole plan to infiltrate the genocide conspiracy she'd just pumped him for information about.
      • It's worth noting that Olivier is a Social Darwinist, with a streak of General Ripper and only shows this tendency toward living or probably living soldiers. If the soldier is dead, he'll get last priority. "He's dead with a smile, so be it. We've got other pressing matters at hand."
    • Easily her equal in this trope is Roy Mustang. He once endangered an entire operation to rescue two of his most loyal subordinates from certain death, even though he's the one who ordered the operation and if his activity is known, explaining it will be difficult and probably ruin the "ruthless careerist" persona he employs as cover. (For this, his personal aide - one of the two he rescued - calls him an idiot. But she's allowed.) There's a reason his old unit from the war comes back to help in the finale - as one of them says in a flashback, he went out of his way to protect them from harm, and they credit him with being the reason they all survived.
    • Don't forget Brigadier General Hughes. He's like a doting father-figure (or brother, depending) to the entire military, particularly Roy, Ed and Al, as well as a (somewhat nauseatingly) devoted father to his daughter, Elysia. Rest in peace, Maes Hughes. The Meaningful Funeral proves just how much everyone really loves him.
        • Though, mind, the only actual subordinates of his we see are Brosh, Ross, and Schezka, who find him terrifying, and a couple of people who think he's kind of annoying. So he was very hands-off about the nurturing thing.
          • If he was nice all the time, he wouldn't have been able to join the army in the first place. And sometimes being assertive is part of his job.
    • Ling Yao has many shades of this, though he's a prospective heir to the throne of his country rather than a military officer. He strongly believes that a King is nothing without his people and absolutely despises anyone who sees their subordinates as expendable. NEVER tell him to leave behind an injured comrade, or that doing so would be worth it, not even if you are said comrade; Doing so will only make him pissed at you.
  • Code Geass has Andreas Darlton, a Britannian general and part of Princess Cornelia's military staff. He's a Reasonable Authority Figure and the first Britannian to give Suzaku a fair chance despite his race, and even supports the young man's being knighted after he proves himself. The trope is also literal: Darlton adopted five orphaned soldiers, serving as both their commander and father figure, training them up to become the elite soldiers known as the Glaston Knights (who are, in turn, fiercely loyal to their "father").
    • Cornelia herself is a Cool Big Sister for her men, especially her bodyguard. He has a really hard time convincing her to run away and let him buy her time. Seriously if you watch this episode alone, it's impossible to figure Cornelia is the Big Bad.
  • Doctor Franken Stein from Soul Eater has a few screws loose, but his students love him, and he cares for them more than he lets on.
  • The plot of Dorohedoro begins when the central character, Kaiman, kills a magic user. He does this every day, and in fairly large amounts, but this one was working for En, a major player in the Magic World, and he is very angry to find out someone's picking off his men. Later chapters show that En regularly treats his employees to various special events.

Comic Books

  • Just about every leader, or just high ranking member, of the X-Men is this.
    • Xavier, the founder, was a surrogate father to both Scott and Jean, as well as everyone else in the original five, he cares deeply about them and their safety, with one issue showing, in detail, every person Xavier let die and show how it effected him emotionally.
    • Cyclops, while this is often ignored or not noticed, has a tendency to be protective over new members, and often acts as Team Dad when around younger members. His greatest failure, the death of Thunderbird, haunted him for many issues, despite Scott being roughly the same age if not younger than him.
    • Emma Frost is a mother to her men, having been devastated to the point of a Heel Face Turn when her Hellions all died; she expresses this by her care for her young students, such as Gen. X, New X-Men, the New Hellions, etc. Special note is her care for Jullian Keller (whose codename, Hellion, was picked for her original team) and Noriko/Surge. She once used Mind Rape on a villain who threatened her students by removing the only positive figure from their memory, effectively causing them nothing but emotional pain for the rest of their cold existence.
    • Logan, while not a leader, is almost always a father figure to young, especially female, X-Men. When placed in charge of X-Force, he took special care over the other members. (This is probably because two of the members are only in their late teens-early twenties, while the fourth is his own child/clone who is no older than 17.) There's a reason he has one sidekick per generation.
  • Captain America. Any team he gets put in charge he treats like his family, possibly because of his late Sidekick Bucky.
  • Nick Fury during his more sympathetic moments. Special Mention to the Seige event, where he makes special attention to make it very clear that the plan to stop Osborn was his idea, so that if all fails, only he will be arrested for Treason.
  • Another Marvel example who has appeared in various titles (mostly The Avengers), the High Evolutionary. He tends to treat almost everyone in a rather paternal way, but he looks upon the Knights of Wundagore this way moreso than others. And seeing as he created them, one could say that he is their father.

Fan Works

  • Erico's fanverse for Mega Man features Doctor James Cain of the Maverick Hunters, who the troops revere as a father. For some, such as X and Zero, he's the closest thing to a real father figure they have.
  • Col. Edwards in The Return combines this with Colonel Badass.
  • Battle Commander Karrde in Tiberium Wars is deeply concerned about the welfare of the troops under his command. At the same time, he also has to grapple with the necessity of ordering men to their deaths and making battlefield decisions that result in victory at the cost of his troops' lives, which forms a major part of his character's personal conflict over the course of the series.
  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic Three Years at Sea, Shuang the Traitor is this to his crew. When Zuko sinks his ship, he says he will surrender quietly if Zuko spares his crew rather than taking them to certain torture and execution by the Fire Nation. Zuko being Zuko, he agrees.
  • Travels Through Azeroth and Outland has this in the form of Dallard Corwyn, a heroic human noble stationed in the Dragonblight.
  • Dragon Age: The Crown of Thorns has the dwarven noble protagonist during his brief time as Commander, before his deliberate Zero-Approval Gambit. In fact, even though said gambit is executed flawlessly, his men, or at least one very high-ranking military figure, never believe in his guilt, to the point where said high-ranking warrior threatens the Assembly with leaving for the surface, along with his whole house, unless they give the prince a trial, which they do, much to Bhelen's chagrin. What makes this even more interesting is that they were all proven right when Trian, who is still very much alive, revealed himself.
  • It's not uncommon in The X-Files fics for Skinner to be cast in a substitute-father role to Mulder and/or Scully, and Scully's mother, while a civilian, frequently mothers Mulder as well.
  • The Mustangs are a father and mother pair to the men of both their old unit and their current one, in the Elemental Chess Trilogy.
  • Sulov Koskium of the BZPRPG is a father to his squadron.
  • Big Boss fills this role in Stray, for FOXHOUND. Literally, since FOXHOUND's membership includes two of his cloned offspring.
  • In the Buzz Lightyear of Star Command Fan Verse of For Good, Evil Emperor Zurg is considered a twisted sort of father figure to his "freak show staff".


  • Used in K19: The Widowmaker: Mikhail Polenin, the first captain of the K-19. All his men love him, he takes an interest in them and is a great submarine captain... then five minutes in, he's demoted and replaced by Alexei Vostrikov, who is a drill-obsessed hardass. Not only do the men hate him because he overworks them, they feel that their "rightful" captain has been wronged.
    • Almost called out by name when the Vostrikov is incredulous that the sub's crew would bring their fears directly to his predecessor.

Polenin: A crew is like a family. The captain is the father.

Bob Wallace: We ate, and then he ate. We slept and then he slept.

  • John Wayne's character in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
  • Russell Crowe seems to play these characters well. The Roman general he played in Gladiator cared deeply for his men, and in some ways even more for his fellow gladiators. Captain Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander is this even moreso.
  • In Apocalypse Now, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) alludes to Lieutenant-Colonel "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" Kilgore (Robert Duvall) as falling into this trope. Arguably he comes across as more of a Cool Uncle or Older Brother.
  • The Captain in Das Boot is very much like this, although he is only thirty years old and the men are in their late teens.
  • It's very understated, but Captain Nemo appears to have this relationship with his men in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. This is a nod to his source material, as these men continued to follow him even after he was exiled from his homeland, where he had been a prince in the ruling family before their massacre.
  • Captain Staros in The Thin Red Line. His parting words to his men are: "You've been like my sons. You are my sons."
  • General Robert E. Lee in Gettysburg. Exemplified in one scene shortly after the titular battle, where Lee apologizes to his men for their defeat at the hands of the Union army and takes all the blame for their failure. His men, on the other hand, refuse to blame Lee and plead with him to send them back into battle to redeem themselves.
  • General Kuribayashi from Letters From Iwo Jima tries to be this, but the other officers in the army have the soldiers still be Red Shirts, and the only one this has good effect on is Shimizu.
  • Hunter, in Crimson Tide, leads from the bottom up, contrasting with The Captain's lead from the top style.
  • In Star Trek, Captain Pike is practically young Jim Kirk's "Well Done, Son" Guy.
    • And in Star Trek: The Original Series, Spock was willing to risk his life out of loyalty to Captain Pike.
      • Even better - Spock ends up risking Kirk's life out of loyalty to Captain Pike. Now that's something.
  • The Guns of Navarone. Miller snidely suggests that Mallory play this part when he's trying to convince Mallory to shoot The Mole.
  • In The Rock, the "being torn up about sacrifices" part leads Brigadier General Francis Hummel into the villainy. It's notable how everyone even remotely knowlegeable still talk all respect about him even after he initiates a hostage/terrorist plot. Which he intended to be just a bluff.
  • Kimberly states this in the film version of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers when she tells Zordon that he has been "a father to us all" as he is dying.
    • In an early script, Dulcea said Zordon was an inspiration. If he dies, a part of those he inspired dies with him, and the universe will suffer an "imparable blow".
  • Wolfstan in Black Death.
  • Major West in 28 Days Later is a dark version of this.


  • Sun Tzu's The Art of War suggests a "Stern Father" approach to leading one's men. One commentator relates a story of a general who personally cared for an ill soldier. When the soldier's mother heard of it, she burst into tears: her husband, who served the same general, never abandoned the man afterward and died in battle as a result—and now her son was going to be the same way.
  • Sima Yi from Romance of the Three Kingdoms has shades of this.
  • In The Book of Mormon, Captain Helaman's 2000 young soldiers call him "Father", and he refers to them as his sons.
  • His Excellency von Lychow in Arnold Zweig's World War I novels.
  • Lieutenant Rasczak from the Starship Troopers novel is presented very much this way, especially after he died making pickup on two of his men.
  • Lampshaded in Dune when Duke Leto Atreides risks his life and the priceless spice to save his men, someone comments that a man such as that would inspire fanatical loyalty. It's implied that this is why the Emperor wants him dead, because he fears Leto will use his popularity to depose him.
    • See also Miles Teg, a descendant of Leto Atreides 5000 years later. While his actions are never gone fully into detail, he is so like Leto that even an awakened Duncan Idaho ghola is driven into fanatic loyalty, seeing the same Atreides core of integrity.
  • In the Aubrey-Maturin stories, Jack Aubrey is all over this trope.
  • An almost inadvertent example of this trope is Metellus Pius (aka 'the Piglet') of Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series. He fusses and clucks over his troops more like a mother than a father to make sure they are in fighting trim when the time for action comes. At first his motives are purely practical but the glow of his men's gratitude and affection gradually changes that. In the end he cares for 'his boys' as they care for him.
  • Aral Vorkosigan, specifically how he treats his men during the two pre-Miles books, Shards of Honor and Barrayar, by Lois McMaster Bujold. He's explicitly said to love Koudelka "like a son", bending the rules to keep him on as a secretary when he would have been medically discharged. If one applies this metaphor to Bothari... a little Oedipal complex? That's sorta scary how well it fits, especially his incident during the Escobaran war...
    • Bujold loves this trope: she also used it in Paladin of Souls - Lord Arhys is just such a man, and it is outright stated that his patron god (the Father, natch, one of the five gods) feels the same way about him. So much so, in fact, that his soul is taken up by the Father despite never having fathered a child.
    • He did have a daughter by his first marriage.
  • Lord Suffolk in The English Patient is like this, especially for Kip, who considers the English sapper unit to be his real family. This is a definining feature in his backstory.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe: Kal Skirata was the only family his clone troops ever knew, and he did care about them as though they were his children; he allowed his own sons to disown him, in order to keep the clones safe because they needed him more.
    • A rare literal example later on: he formally adopts the main characters as sons near the end of the war.
    • Despite what Karen Traviss wants you to believe, the Jedi were as fathers to their men, the Clone Troopers, despite their origin. They treated them well, giving advice, etc. Many willingly sacrificed themselves to save their Clone Troopers.
    • While it doesn't come off so much in the movies, in his own way Darth Vader is like this to Imperial troops. Unlike many other commanders, Vader would fight on the frontlines with them, not expect anything from them he wouldn't do himself and was generally a very strong guarantee of success in most of the battles he led.
  • Sergeant Jackrum in Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Monstrous Regiment, who refers to his unit as "my little lads". Of course, there's all kinds of irony in Jackrum being A Father to His Men: "he's" actually A Mother To Her Women.
    • And, of course, Polly's own motherly nature shows throughout the book, often landing her in charge even when she's not technically in charge.
    • Don't forget Commander Sam Vimes.
  • Capt. Aivars Terekhov in the Honor Harrington spinoff The Shadow of Saganami is the textbook example, strict and caring at the same time, and even complete with the Bad Dreams.
    • Honor herself is clearly a mother to her men, albeit a properly distant one in the military sense (but definitely capable of being a Mama Bear if anyone harms them).
    • Klaus Hauptman, shipping magnate and for a while a political rival of Harrington's had some of these qualities. He was an arrogant jerk but he felt an obligation to his employees and went out of his way to protect them. He also made a point to apologize to his servants if he ever took out his frustrations on them.
  • From Robert A. Heinlein, there's Rhysling's infamous song "The Captain is a father to his crew", which should never be sung in mixed company.
  • Dan Abnett's Tanith First-And-Only had Colonel-Commissar Gaunt in this role, but Colm Corbec, Gol Kolea, and to a lesser extent Viktor Hark all exhibit signs of this.
    • In The Guns Of Tanith, several people try to persuade Gaunt this it is beneath his dignity to involve himself in the question of whether a Ghost trooper accused of rape and murder is guilty. He counters with the fact that the troopers actually win his battles, and a general is impressed by such views, which he hasn't heard in some time.
    • Some subordinates also show it. In Straight Silver, Raglon is deeply guilt-stricken when his first mission as a sergeant results in half his troopers dying. When Gaunt's reassurance reveal that Raglon is hiding something, and Gaunt digs for it, Raglon tries to put him off with, "I was in command, sir" before telling Gaunt that Costin had been drunk, and then tries to save Costin from Gaunt.
    • In His Last Command, Wilder also fits under this trope, suffering somewhat because good as he is, he is not Gaunt. And Mkoll, seeing a scout whom he met only recently knocked through a Chaos warp gate, says No One Gets Left Behind—and jumps through. Despite its being cold and wrong on the other side, and the other scout's freaking out, he gets him back to safety.
  • In Sandy Mitchell's [Warhammer 40,000]] novels, Ciaphas Cain does his best to pose as this (and later, to pound into the heads of cadets that this is elementary self-preservation). Apparently, he's completely successful; both Sulla and Tayber, in the excerpts from their works, effuse about his boundless concern for his subordinates.)
    • However, whether Ciaphas Cain is a true father to his men or not is a matter up to debate, though considering how many times his biographer notes he followed this trope when being coldblooded would be more rational, signs point this being true.
      • One can at least argue that he makes a good example of why a commissar that encourages his men through care rather than fear is more effective. As he himself states, commissars who use fear to boost morale are for some reason more susceptible to "accidents" from his subordinates, which in turn would plummet morale to oblivion in the end.
      • At the same time, he is so oblivious to how beloved he is by his men - and indeed most of the Imperial Guard - that, when an assassin tries to kill him, he points out that it would have made more sense to kill other officers or the Planetary Governor - not realizing that his death would be devastating to morale.
  • The trope is mentioned in one of the Flashman novels, which the Cain series is strongly based on. On the eve of the Mutiny, an Indian sepoy says that his old commanders said their soldiers were like children to them (in a good sense), not like the arrogant idiots now in command.
  • Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Horus Rising opens with the Warmaster sends one of his men, Sejanus, to parlay with a planetary emperor, and Sejanus is murdered.

The commander's grief was absolute. He had loved Sejanus like a son.

    • In Mitchel Scanlon's Descent of Angels, when Brother Amadis tells Zahariel he had saved his friends, Zahariel tells him he was protecting his squad, and then tries to fight off collapse on the ground he had to get the squad back. Amadis assures him that he will take care of it, as Zahariel's done enough.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Ultramarines novel The Killing Ground, Barbaren remembers with scorn his predecessor as colonel, who thought bringing his men back alive was important.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 Blood Angels novel Red Fury, when the Flesh Tearer Noxx gets Kayne into a situation where he can challenge him, Rafen, being Kayne's sergeant, breaks his fingers and says that since Kayne can not face him, he will take his place.
  • In Ben Counter's Warhammer 40,000 novel Chapter War, at the climax Sarpedon tells Eumenes that the position of Chapter Master is not a prize for the proud but a position of responsibility. Then they Duel to the Death.
  • Raj Whitehall from S. M. Stirling's The General novels fits this trope to a tee. He tears himself up inside over his losses and turns into a raging Papa Bear when his men are slaughtered.
  • Admiral Cyrus Stableford in Tranquilium. Possibly even more so, Gleb Marin later in the novel (especially when he becomes the Tsar of Palladia). The latter actually muses in some detail on how this is a necessary component of good leadership, and makes sure to cultivate a strong bond with those under his command. Both have highly loyal crews and/or troops that support them through the political thick and thin.
  • In the Malazan Book of the Fallen, Dujek is portrayed as this. Like Adjunct Lorn points out, "He's not just a man. He's ten thousand men and in a year's time, he will be 25 thousands men".
    • Whiskeyjack as well, to the Bridgeburners.
  • In Artemis Fowl, Julius Root is this to LEP Recon, or at least to Holly Short.
  • Not the case with Horatio Hornblower, who attempts to maintain proper distance and reserve between himself and his crew. They worship him anyway, because he's absolutely fair to them, and utterly brilliant in battle.
  • The title character of "Leiningen Versus the Ants", despite not being military. Even facing a gruesome death from a giant art swarm, Leiningen's plantation workers refuse to abandon him, even when offered an escape route and their full pay to take it. When their only hope comes down to a suicide mission Leiningen takes it upon himself rather than having one of his men attempt it.
  • Dalinar Kholin and Kaladin from The Stormlight Archive. Also, Dalinar is attempting to train his son Adolin to be this.
  • Subverted in The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. The protagonist tries to fulfil this trope when he becomes a major but fails, partly because he's not suited to the role but mainly due to Time Dilation he's a relic from the past who doesn't understand the language and culture of contemporary humans.
  • Gaius Marius is one to the Primigenia in Emperor: The Gates of Rome by Conn Iggulden. A couple of his legionaries even explicitly refer to him as a father figure.
  • In David Drake's Northworld trilogy, Hansen blames himself for the deaths of anyone who fought on his side—because either they died following his orders, in which case he got them killed, or they died not following his orders, in which case he got them killed by not being able to make them see that what he ordered was the right thing to do.
  • Magnus from Juliet Marillier's Heart's Blood mostly for Anluan, although the others look up to him a great deal as well
  • General Belisarius in David Drake and Eric Flint's Belisarius novels is this, right down to the military genius part.

Live-Action TV

  • Captain James T. Kirk in Star Trek: The Original Series exemplifies it: he often berated himself when he lost any of his crew.
    • Spock risks both his and Kirk's lives to help Captain Pike, who is portrayed as having been this trope before becoming a bit of a vegetable.
    • Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation is also a fatherly type (some would say even more than Kirk).
    • We might as well keep going: Sisko, Janeway, and Archer all frequently displayed this trope.
      • Sisko, being an actual father is probably the best example, since he knows exactly what to do to pull this off intentionally.
  • M*A*S*H: Both Cols. Blake and Potter, to the 4077th. Radar actually comes out and says this in Blake's case, as his own father died when he was very little. Poor Radar.
  • President Bartlet in The West Wing, who cares for, stands by and defends his staff even at great political cost, although this is a more metaphorical example, as his "soldiers" are not actual soldiers.
    • He does at one point refer to Josh as 'my son' - while telling off God for Josh's near death a year earlier...
  • William Adama from the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica certainly gives off this impression, affectionately referred to by most as the "Old Man", and displays paternal affection for his crew in return (at one point, he is shown going through memory exercises to recognize the new recruits by face and name; at another, he sits with a dying female pilot and talks about having a daughter). Which is funny given how crappy his relationship with his actual son can sometimes be.
    • At least until the events of "The Oath". Damn you Gaeta! Indeed, it is the realization he can no longer trust some of his crew as if they were family that, among other concerns, finally breaks Adama's spirit and drives him to drink and pills.
    • The scene in "The Farm" where he breaks down and weeps over Boomer's body in the morgue is another particularly good example.
    • Special mention of Starbuck, who was like that from the pilot. It doesn't hurt that she was in love with and going to marry his son Zack, and therefore was almost his daughter-in-law. Adama takes it very hard on the occasions where it is thought that she was dead.
      • Adama even goes so far as to call Starbuck his daughter in some of the last episodes.
    • The time that Admiral Cain was going to have several of Adama's men executed and Adama almost had the Galactica attack the Pegasus over it.
      • Which is ironic, given that Adama once threatened to murder Cally over something somebody else did.
    • Interestingly, it seems that this attitude was instilled by his uncle Samuel...a hitman for the Ha'la'tha, a.k.a. the Tauron Mob.
  • Captain (eventually Admiral) Sir Edward Pellew in the Horatio Hornblower mini-series.
  • In Hogan's Heroes, Colonel Hogan's codename is even Papa Bear. He may tease his men on occasion, but he'd go to any lengths to protect them.
  • Dr. Bailey on Grey's Anatomy is a harsh overlord but is also very defensive of the interns in her charge. On occasion she even seems to see herself as a mother figure, such as after Denny's death.
  • Stargate SG-1: It is stated more explicitly in the licensed novels that Colonel Jack O'Neill takes this view of his team, particularly Daniel, who is younger than he is.
    • Interestingly, Daniel, having been on the original Abydos mission, was originally the only member of SG-1 to know that O'Neill had been ready to commit suicide because his actual son Charlie shot and killed himself with O'Neill's gun on accident.
    • General Hammond also behaves like, and is seen as, a father to the rest of the SGC, with SG-1 his favorite sons and daughter.
    • Weir is simply born by this trope. All her subordinates (except Kavanaugh, of course) are willing to die for her and not out of duty but because that's how much they like her. She was also the only leader of Atlantis who truly didn't mind her subordinates routinely throwing the rulebook out of the airlock because she knew they will win the day. Carter also did this because while she was on SG-1, she also broke the rules frequently. Woolsey, on the other hand, was the polar opposite of Weir. Too bad they can't unfreeze her since she's a security risk, being a replicator and all.
    • While on the topic of Stargate, Stargate Universe completely averts this trope since it's a three-way power struggle between three factions: Rush (scientists), Young (soldiers) and Wray (civilians). Wray is too weak to do anything on her own and Rush is a straight-out ass so the crew look to Young for leadership and he appreciates it (though we are yet to see the backlash of Rush making Spencer's suicide to look like a murder and framing Young for it; the reason is that Young threw Rush off the ship and lied that Rush got caught in a rockslide).
    • The trope is later played straight in the episode 'Cloverdale' where, in Scott's imaginary mundane world, Young is literally his father.
  • Played straight by Richard Winters in Band of Brothers, where due to his leadership and exceptional concern for them, the men of Easy Company universally consider him the best commanding officer they ever had. Subverted in the case of Sobel. While the men of Easy Company attribute their survival during the war to his harsh training methods, he was incompetent in (simulated) combat and had no sympathy for his men. They returned the feeling.
    • Slightly less evident because he had to manage the entire regiment, but Colonel Robert Sink is more or less stated to be so in the book. David Webster, a member of Easy Company, noted that while the Allied generals would all talk about how their soldiers were eager to go out there and kill Germans, Sink actually knew that the boys hated fighting and tried to make the best of the situation when he could; the soldiers preferred Sink.
      • This is less evident in the miniseries, where at one point Sink orders a repetition of a night raid because the first raid made him look good to his superiors. Winters, fulfilling the trope, cancels the mission to avoid risking his men's lives.
  • Lt. Giardello in Homicide: Life on the Street represents the police version of this trope in many ways; although gruff and aggressive, he'll go to bat for any one of his detectives, and is greatly respected by them in return.
  • NCIS: Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, full stop. This probaby has something to do with the horrible death of his wife and daughter stealing his chance to be a literal father. It's most notable with Abby, who's close to the age his daughter would have been. In addition, Tony seeks his approval in a manner reminiscient of a "Well Done, Son" Guy (and, in the later seasons, actually gets the 'Well Done'), while Ziva has explicitly stated that Gibbs is more of a father to her than her real father, distant Chessmaster Eli David.
    • NCIS also likes playing with this sometimes, such as one episode where everyone is giving Gibbs gifts for his birthday, and waiting to see which one he likes best. In the end, he chooses Abby's, and Ziva just smiles and says "she'll always be the favorite."
    • Though Ziva has now become as much of a daughter to Gibbs as Abby. In one episode, when she's considering marrying the man she's been seeing, the whole team (including Gibbs) takes it as given that Gibbs will be the one to walk her down the aisle, and when it falls apart at the end he comforts her just like a parent.
  • Jason Gideon from Criminal Minds, to the point where when he leaves the team he leaves a letter of explanation solely for Spencer Reid, whose father abandoned his family when he was young.
    • Making him more of a Disappeared Dad to his men.
    • Hotch can be this way too.
      • Isn't he more like a mother?
  • Gil Grissom from CSI, especially when dealing with the younger members of the team, most visibly Greg, Nick and Warrick (especially right before Warrick gets killed, and afterwards).Jim Brass has also been this at times.
  • Mac Taylor from CSI: NY, especially with Lindsay, and occasionally with Danny.
  • The A-Team: Col. John "Hannibal" Smith, the A-Team's leader, can fall under this. He smiles at Murdock's antics like a parent watching their young child act out fantasies, he can keep B. A. under control, and he reminds Face to keep his wandering eye in check and focus on the task at hand. Hannibal also has this cute habit of referring to the other members of the A-Team by their military ranks (Captain, Lieutenant, and Sergeant, respectively), even though they've all technically been discharged, and they often refer to him as "Colonel." He also always has unwavering faith that his men will get the job done.
  • Emile Danko, the Volume Four Big Bad on Heroes, zigzags this. On the one hand, he chews out Nathan Petrelli when he thinks Petrelli is being insensitive about the loss of those who were killed when Petrelli's family members interfered with their operations, and later gives a Rousing Speech calling for vengeance against a shapeshifter who killed several of his men. On the other hand, it is very heavily implied that he allowed Sylar to kill one of his men so that he could steal his identity and take his place.


  • The eponymous character of Dispatch's "The General".

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myth and Legend

  • Abraham, a father to his people and at least four ethnicities (at least two of which are extant).

Tabletop Games

  • Iron Kingdoms: Captain Phinneus Shae, pirate captain of the Talion. As his crew are all outcasts and wanted by the Cygnaran army for mutiny, he is willing to kill himself against an undead captain, to keep his crew safe.
  • Imperial Guard commanders in Warhammer 40,000 tend to be either this or General Rippers.
    • Only War has attitude of the commanding officer as a property of a regiment, since it affects how the unit acts in and out of combat. Some of the types fits in - Choleric (Hot-Blooded "lead-from-front" type, but also easily angered or provoked; soldiers are hard to surprise), Maverick ("one of the men" type considered ill-disciplined and unpredictable by other brass; soldiers are resistant to fear) and Sanguine (optimistic sort who inspires with speeches and personal heroism, but also underestimates danger; soldiers are better at surviving injury).


  • Cyrano De Bergerac: This trope is Deconstructed by Carbon de Castel-Jaloux' attitude (see the quote of Sun Tzu in literature above): He is the captain of the Cadets of Gascony, a nobleman who pays his own company, so he only is obliged to obey his superiors in military matters. He is troubled at the Siegue of Arras, because all his men (to whom he refers as his sons!) are starving. His superior, The Marshal of Gassion, Count De Guiche, asks him to punish his men for disrespecting a superior officer (himself). Using his prerogative, Carbon de Castel-Jaloux chooses not to. After that, De Guiche informs him that his company is the bait in a gambit that can win the battle. Carbon de Castel-Jaloux is completely willing with the plan to send all his company to death because that is what a Gascon soldier is supposed to do. Notice that if he has punished his men – soldiers in an army are supposed to respect a superior, no matter how despicable they found him - his company would not have been picked to fight a suicide mission.

Video Games

  • General Leo of Final Fantasy VI.
  • Metal Gear:
  • Commander Gore from Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey gives off very strong vibes of this. This only makes his death, however, temporary, a much harder Player Punch.
    • And later on in the game, he comes back, as an Ubergestalt. At first he appears to have done a Face Heel Turn, but defeating a particular boss later brings him back to his senses and memories, and returns to the Red Sprite with final words of encouragement for the Strike Team. Depending on your Character Alignment, he'll either decide you're unworthy of your existence, or assist you in destroying the Scwarzwelt and saving humanity.
  • Although the Kirby series isn't exactly known for its deep characterization, what we see of Meta Knight's interactions with his endless army of Faceless Goons seems to indicate he plays this role for them—yet another one of the reasons he's the resident Worthy Opponent and Hero Antagonist.
  • Captain Brenner/O'Brian in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, who indeed serves as an idealized counterbalance to the leader of the other Rubinelle/Laurentinian faction.
  • Lt. Colonel Daitetsu (from Super Robot Wars) actually mentions that he feels this way to his second in command, Tetsuya.
  • Master Big Star from Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice fills this role nicely. The late King Kricheveskoy also appears to have been one, if Etna's accounts are anything to go by.
    • King Kricheveskoy definitely fits in Disgaea. The vassals scattered around the castle make many mentions of it: when a former enemy of the late king's shows up and attacks Laharl, they go to his defense explicitly in honor of Kricheveskoy's legacy. Later, after Laharl becomes the new Overlord, one of them even says he cannot think of anyone but Kricheveskoy as truly being the Overlord. None of them ever have anything but kind words for him, and they mention him often.
  • Greil from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance is like this, saying things like "It doesn't matter what our blood ties are; we are all family. So if you don't want to cause your family any grief, then live!" By the end of the game, his son Ike has taken on the same role.
  • Commander Dietrich Kellerman, aka Silber One from Ace Combat Zero was this. To a lesser extent, so was Victor Vochek and his successor, Ilya Pasternak to the rest of Strigon Team in 6.
    • Ace Combat Zero also featured a female version, though in a minor unnamed and unseen character. In one mission you are ordered to destroy a Belkan base with a female commander who can be briefly heard through radio transmissions. Upon other transmissions from the soldiers in the base, it can be heard that they greatly admire her, for her beauty as well as her courage, and all see themselves as equivalent to her sons. At the end despite a brutal defeat she even reassures her troops and says they all fought well and with honor.
  • Selvaria Bles is arguably a female version of this trope according to the DLC. Taking the front lines alongside her soldiers, giving up her cot for exhausted subordinates, rewarding her troops for going above and beyond their normal duties
    • Hell, there are hints of this even in the main story. More often than not, she'll issue the order "All Units Heal".
  • Takeda Shingen from Sengoku Basara cares deeply about his men, and in particular has a fatherly affection for his young ward Yukimura. Chousokabe Motochika is also a good example, though he's rather young so his crew tend to see him more as an older brother than a father.
    • Tachibana Muneshige also states that he views his soldiers like they are his family.
  • Shi-Long Lang, the Interpol agent from Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth is intensely devoted to his men and is adored by them in return. This is both played for laughs (as when he insists that the 99 agents under his command should not count off from 1 to 99, but should all count off as '1' because they're all #1), and played totally straight when he takes a bullet for one of his agents, even though she had been revealed as a spy in his unit and a wanted murderer not five minutes prior, on the grounds that she was still one of his agents, and therefore it was his responsibility to keep her from harm.
    • There's a scene earlier than the above spoilered one that highlights just what extremes Lang takes this trope: He gives one of his men a birthday present. But it's not for the man he gave it to; It's for the man's younger brother's wife's younger brother.
  • Total War games often have 'Uncle to his men' as a trait for Generals—it generally results in increased morale. 'Social Drinker' also qualifies, as the description involves him having a flagon or two with his men.
  • Mass Effect: Commander Shepard can clearly be this in both games if played as a Paragon; striking up friendships with all his/her subordinates and often passing along compliments, encouragements, and risking his/her and the party members' lives to rescue them in the sequel, as well as fulfilling the 'cut up about losing a squadmate' portion of the trope quite handily in the first game... Some variants of Renegade Shepard could also qualify as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold version of this.
    • Captain Anderson is also this, especially towards Shepard. Mass Effect 3 reinforces this in particular with Anderson's last words to her/him.

Anderson: "You did good, [child/son]. You did good. I'm proud of you."

  • Played with for magnificent, Crazy Awesome and funny effect in Samurai Warriors 2: Nene is a mother to her men - in that she warns them to be careful with their knees and elbows, tells the enemy to stop firing cannons so as not to wake the neighbors (and upon beating them, remarks: "Such weak enemies! Who's feeding them anyway?" with some concern on her face), and, in general, seems to be blissfully unaware of how a battle between two armies is supposed to work - made all the funnier by the fact that she's a very skilled warrior, and that the morale of the men who hear her motherly warnings increases.
  • Surprisingly, General Donald Morden from Metal Slug was said to have been this back when he was a Vice Admiral in the Regular Army. When he eventually resigned due to his son's preventable death, everyone formerly under his command followed him out, sheerly from loyalty.
  • Super Mario: Bowser (an actual father, incidentally) is often portrayed this way:
    • Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story seems to paint Bowser as this, as his minions follow Bowser of out of respect for him, despite his numerous losses. For example, before Bowser's minions notice him about to rescue them, they talk amongst themselves how Bowser would surely help them out of their situation. This is likely due to Bowser being the most competent person in their army.
    • Super Mario RPG paints him as this too, he meets up with a goomba that had gone AWOL from the koopa troop and had kids sometime after, rather than throwing a fit and demanding he comes back, he acts understanding and excuses the goomba for his running away and wishes him the best of luck, which paints him as genuinely nice to his own.
  • Lars Alexandersson of the Tekken series.
  • Airforce Delta Strike has Holst Prendre being this to Brian.
  • In Wild ARMs 2, Cocytus Ptolomea is an Anti-Villain and Friendly Enemy whose greatest concern is for the men who serve under him. Ptolomea's dying wish is for ARMS to save his men from demise.
  • Aveline Vallen in Dragon Age II is the den mother to the Kirkwall guards once she becomes captain—not that she ever coddles them, and she gets upset if anyone ever questions if she does.
  • God of War: Kratos to his fellow Spartans. Even when he becomes the god of war in the second game he does not forget them and they become his most devoted and favored followers. In God of War 3 the Spartans stay loyal to Kratos even in death itself—it is their strength he calls upon in this game, as opposed to the Olympians in the first game and the Titans in the second.
  • Coronado De Cava lampshades this in Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 3: Lair of the Leviathan when he tells Guybrush and Morgan about his crew members (Bugeye, Moose, Santino and Noogie), "I may have been a stern leader, but I loved them like sons."
  • King Volechek from Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, who gives his life to save his people from the Apocalypse How that he unleashed
  • Vilena Donton, the Guildmaster of the Fighter's Guild in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Bonus points since her son Viranus is part of the Guild. Unfortunately, her doting and overprotective nature causes her to make mistakes and she reacts very badly when Viranus is killed, blaming and kicking out the most competent members of her guild (including you).
  • World in Conflict: Both Nikolai Malashenko and Vladimir Orlovsky have this trait. Malashenko often specifically refers to the men, both when praising and berating you. Orlovsky's wife writes to him saying all the women there who husbands are under his command are truly lucky because they know he cares for them, and he rebukes Malashenko sharply when he insinuates that Orlovsky isn't taking adequate steps to care for the men.
  • Resident Evil: Surprisingly enough, Albert Wesker, of all people, might be this to S.T.A.R.S., if his line upon The Reveal that he's Umbrella's mole within STARS is anything to go by (also doubles as an Even Evil Has Standards):

Wesker: "The Tyrant virus leaked, polluting this whole place... and unfortunately, I had to give up my lovely members of S.T.A.R.S...."

Web Original

Web Comics

  • Kristoph Gavin Ace Attorney has a somewhat literal example with Kurtis Gavin.
  • The Order of the Stick: When standing between Miko and Belkar, Roy says that he learned in school that the commander does not abandon one of his people in the face of the enemy.
  • Schlock Mercenary Captain Kaff Tagon cares for and takes care of his men this way. And insulting him is a good way to get a faceful of fist from the men

Western Animation

Real Life

  • Robert E. Lee of the Confederate States of America; his men actually referred to him as "Marse Bob" ("Marse" being an old word for "Mister").
  • And general William Tecumseh Sherman for the North. Known to the troops as 'Uncle Billy'.
  • George B. McClellan could be considered a real life Deconstruction. He thought so highly of his men that he wasn't willing to risk them against the Confederates, and thus passed up several opportunities to either capture Richmond or defeat Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. To make things worse, when he ran for President on the Democratic Party ticket in 1864, the men he once commanded voted strongly Republican.
  • Erwin Rommel
    • And in that same vein, Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring, nicknamed "Uncle Albert" by his troops.
    • Still in the same vein, General der Fallschirmtruppe Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke. His men actually acclaimed him, when he took his leave, calling him "Vater Ramcke" (Father Ramcke).
    • And still in the same vein, Generaloberst Hermann "papa" Hoth.
  • Blücher (*WHINNY*) actually called his men "my children" and was called "Father Blücher" by them. The historian David Howarth says that he was able to behave like that largely because he was so old while a younger general would have had to be more distant.
    • In your actual German he was called "Papa Blücher", and the younger general Howarth was thinking of was The Duke of Wellington, who was a lot more formal and stand-offish towards his soldiers.
  • Alexander Suvorov, the best military commander in the history of Russia and one of the few undefeated commanders in world history. The guy camped out with his soldiers even after he became a Field Marshal to stay aware of their morale and motivate them.
  • Leonidas, in the same vein. It has been said that he had a nickname for every Spartan at Thermopylae, and that he refused to sleep in the only tent, preferring to sleep in the mud with the men.
  • Colonel Robert Gould Shaw was beloved by his African-American Civil War regiment. Probably because he treated them with more respect than many of them ever knew in their lives.
  • General Sir John Monash, in WWI. He continually promoted the concept that a commander's role is to, above all else, ensure the safety and well-being of their subordinates. Notably, after the Battle of Hamel, where his leadership led to a 92-minute victory in conditions which would have otherwise taken months, his men remarked that the most extraordinary thing about the battle was not the tactics, the weapons or the incredible success of the operation, but the fact that Monash had hot meals delivered to the troops whilst the battle was ongoing.
  • General (later Field Marshal) Sir Herbert Plumer, Britain, World War One—men used to fight to be sent to his command, and few other generals of any army on either side took better care of their soldiers. Most of his attacks worked. The few that didn't were drowned in mud at Passchendaele. At the start of an attack, he would sometimes be found on his knees in prayer in his quarters, pleading to God for the safety of his men. In tears. And that was when victory was certain...
  • Speaking of World War I, Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck, a Blue Blood Prussian general who led two thousand black African troops in perhaps the most successful guerilla campaign ever, driving the British and Portuguese out of Deutsch-Ostafrika and even invading enemy territory while hopelessly outnumbered. He appointed black officers (unheard of in a colonial European army, although it wasn't as if he had any hope of getting new German ones) and learned to speak their language fluently ("We are all Africans here.") Forced to cut rations as the British wore him down, most of his men stayed loyal and fought on rather than desert. After the war, he gave his men signed certificates so they could secure their back-pay from the ruined Imperial German government. By the time they were finally payed in 1964, many of them had lost said certificates but were able to prove their identity by performing the German Manual of Arms, which they still remembered thanks to his strict drill and discipline.
  • Also in World War 1, Lieutenant Siegfried Sassoon, was known for two things, besides being a great war poet: 1) being a brave, charismatic leader whose troops were devoted to him and 2) leaving the war in protest when he thought it had gone on for too long. He won a Military Cross for bringing in the wounded for 1½ hours under heavy fire. He's also one of the main characters in Pat Barker's The Regeneration Trilogy, in which he struggles with the knowledge that he is safe in England while the foot soldiers are dying in France, and later goes back to protect them.
  • Lt. Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr. was specifically picked to lead the Tuskegee Airmen because he had survived the Army's segregation better than most anyone and thus could provide both an understanding and leadership to the other Black pilots. Their service record indicates he was most definitely the right choice.
  • Rowland Hill, a British General who served in the Peninsular War. His nickname "Daddy Hill" just about sums him up. He was reportedly only ever heard to swear on two occasions, and often showed great generosity to both officers and men alike. Not to mention that he was a pretty capable commander.
    • This carried over to his appearance in Sharpe's Eagle.
    • Ditto other generals in the same theatre, like "Black" Robert Craufurd, commander of the British Light Division (which was one of the best formations in Europe, and the Frenchman Marshal Victor, who was called "le beau soleil" by his adoring troops.
  • Sir John Moore, who commanded the British Expedition to Spain in 1806. After a combination of Napoleon, poor supplies from home, Spanish incompetence and a brutal winter forced him to retreat, he held his army together through a gruelling retreat, and men still loved him. He died to make sure they could successfully be extracted at La Corunna. There was not time for a proper burial, so:
    • Marshal Soult considered him such a Worthy Opponent and so respected him that he built a monument to mark his spot.
  • A rather sinister and almost literal example is "Close Enough" Timeline/Laconic:Theodor Eicke|Theodor Eicke]], known as "Papa" to his men.
  • This could be more or less literal in Highland regiments, some of whom were lead by commanders who were chiefs back home and had many in their regiment who were either blood relations or at least fellow clansmen
    • The Highlands were an unusual example of this because the organization of their tribal society made a regiment a prearranged package; they just had to gather at their chiefs bidding as they had always done and formal military arrangements were just an add-on. However it was the case in many places that the Colonel would be a local noble who would recruit from his particular district.
  • Field Marshal Sir Colin Campbell had a very close, almost family like, relationship with his men. This lead to him being able to get them to stand before the Russian cavalry in what became known as The Thin Red Line, two ranks of British soldiers against a massed charge of enemy cavalry. They even began an un-ordered counter charge as the Russians began to rout which he stopped with a cry of "93rd, damn all that eagerness!"
  • Michiel de Ruyter, a Dutch Admiral who served his country in the 17th century and scored several victories against the English. He was called "Grandfather" by his men.
  • Grigoriy Potyomkin (yes, that Potyomkin/Potemkin), if the later accounts of those who served under him are any indication. Aside from the usual stuff (and there was a lot of it; he commanded armies in the field, after all), he also used his position and courtly influence to change the Russian uniform; the new uniform was much more comfortable and optimal (arguably the best in Europe at the time) than what was used before and after, and was incredibly popular among the common soldiers in particular.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte cared a great deal for his men, often working on the front line and living in the same conditions as his men, and going to great lengths to ensure their morale was kept up, as well as frequently praising and rewarding them. The biggest example of this was the aftermath of the Battle of Austerlitz (widely regarded as Napoleon's finest victory), where he gave his men great praise, gave rewards of 2 million gold francs to his officers, 200 francs to each of his soldiers, arranged for large pensions for the widows of his fallen men, and personally adopted the war orphans.

"A man does not have himself killed for a half pence a day and a petty distinction. You must speak to the soul to electrify him."

  • Gaius Julius Caesar. The man would do the grunt work alongside his men at times, the result being absolute loyalty to him.
  • George Washington was not just America's first president, but also one of her most beloved generals.
  • 'Uncle Bill' Slim, commander of the 14th or 'forgotten' British army in Burma. when he was defeated originally in 1941 and had led his men out on one of the longest retreats of all time, they cheered him as they passed.
  • Hans Langsdorff, the final commander of Graf Spee, sacrificed his honour in the eyes of the German Navy by refusing to take his crippled ship into the waiting guns of the Royal Navy. He chose instead to scuttle her and keep her from the hands of the enemy whilst saving the lives of his 1100 crew. His great 'sin' in the eyes of the establishment was to not go down with his ship, he was in fact prevented from doing so by his own officers. When he got back to shore he ensured his men were safe and looked after and then followed her into history with a shot to his own head. His crew mattered more to him than his life or his honour.
  • Chester Nimitz, who commanded the US Pacific Fleet for World War II, was frequently described by those who worked with him as remarkably even-tempered. Many people described him as an almost grandfatherly figure, utterly lacking in the ruthlessness that was usually associated with reaching an Admiral's rank; the only burden he would place upon his subordinates was that of his unwavering faith in their abilities. He frequently served as a moderating influence on some of his more acerbic subordinates, and also as shield from the mercurial behavior of his own superior, Ernest King.
  • Alfred the Great was not just this but practically considered the father of the nation of 'England' having united the various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms under one banner. He was noted for his honour and bravery in battle as well as his keen intellect- well known for being the only English monarch to receive the title 'the Great'.