Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys

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"Going to war without the French is like going hunting without your accordion."

The popular stereotype that the French suck at war. They surrendered to the Germans fairly early in World War II and would spend the next several years under the rule of the most infamous fascist regime in western history. Some people consider this a source of comedy, making it into a sort of Never Live It Down event. At least, if you ask American and British popular culture, especially since the mid-90's or so.

This is a specific and very common example of an National Stereotype. The French, so the story says, are useless at war, will surrender at the drop of a hat, and need to be bailed out by the Americans/British in any major conflict. Perhaps the historical enmity and mutual prejudices between the English and the French have been unthinkingly adopted by American culture, even though the French helped the former British colony during its War of Independence. The Law of Chronological Superiority isn't helping either: this trope isn't necessarily the prevailing opinion, but it is the most recent one, as France has not fought any major war since the one that earned them this label.

In truth, France has spent most of its history as the most organized, centralized, populous, militarily capable, and economically powerful nation in Europe. Just to give one example (admittedly major), the reason why the French were allowed into the Congress of Vienna at the end of the Napoleonic Wars (after being completely and utterly defeated) as a full party (contrast Imperial Germany at Versailles) was because every other party was absolutely terrified they would simply up and conquer Europe a second time, as they had under Napoleon. Even so, the French have a somewhat troublesome tendency to win battles but lose wars, as with Napoleon and Louis XIV. The French also fought a large number of wars, especially under their Sun King, that ended in draws or even victories that simply were not worth the cost, especially in the debt the French state accrued, debt it never found a tenable means of servicing. Nevertheless, France was and remains the military terror of Europe (possessing by far the largest military in the European Union), with France factoring most prominently into every single other European nations' strategic considerations.

Contrast Gauls With Grenades.

Examples of Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys include:

Anime & Manga

  • Axis Powers Hetalia: Sort of a Zig-Zagging Trope for France, depending on the time period. England even refers to him by the trope name in the dub.
    • Italy is a fully qualified Pasta-Eating Surrender Monkey. The series name means "Hopeless Italy". Quite explicitly, Italy can't even beat WWII France after Germany's taken him out. During the Renaissance, he's too young (i.e. little city states) and the story is basically falling in and out of Imperial control. Because the series keeps its history light enough for comedy, this is only Played for Laughs and part of his cuteness. The Axis is really a Comic Trio rather than a Power Trio.
  • Hellsing averts this beautifully, at least in the Dark Horse manga translation. Pip Bernadotte is the biggest Badass Normal in the entire series, and he speaks almost entirely in French Poirot Speak with a touch of Funetik Aksent and makes a few mentions of not having lived in London for long.


  • Antoine D'Coolette. In the first four years of the Archie Comics Sonic series, he was the very epitome of this trope. Until he fell in love with Bunnie Rabbot and took several levels in badass. Today his old ways are just something he can look back and laugh at himself over.
    • In some kind of unexpected subversion, Sonic himself seems to be French or of French descent, since his family all have French forenames: Bernadette (Mother), Jules (Father) and Charles (Uncle). That and his real name is Maurice.
  • In one Simpsons comic, Hank Scorpio was able to conquer France with nothing more than a cheese-melting laser. Note that the Laser was really only able to melt cheese and nothing else.
  • Ultimate Captain America (comics)'s "SURRENDER??!! You think this letter on my head stands for France?" This is probably the single most well-known anything that ever occurred in the Ultimate universe - and the bizarre thing about that is the fact that it makes no sense. Cap was frozen decades before the stereotype developed!
  • Peter Milligan and Mike Allred's run on X-Force had the title team's former manager try and create a new superhero group based around various absurd Captain Ethnics including a French member who appeared to be an actual monkey whose mutant power was knowing exactly the right moment to surrender (and whose codename was actually Surrender Monkey). The team's backers actually call the manager out on what ridiculous stereotypes all the superheroes are. The French monkey showed up in a later story line and was revealed to be an American agent with the job of creating anti-French sentiment but he went native because of his love of cheese and wine.
  • In one Punisher storyline that involved, among other things, an illegal black-ops arms selling operation arms including nukes and the return of the Russian who has breasts now thanks to the hormonal treatments that were part of the process that revived him after Frank decapitated him, there is one French officer who is treated like crap throughout. Nearly everyone he meets says that they "hate the French" though they don't give any concrete reasons; they just hate them. To be fair, everyone who says this is a bad guy. Also, the French officer is the only other major character to survive other than Frank, and Frank even lets him leave with the credit for bringing down the operation. He ends up becoming known as a hero and gets promoted to general.
  • Pointed out in Warren Ellis' Crecy that the French at the time were the Badass Army and the English were this trope (speculated to be parsnip eating surrender monkies). This comic is about The Heavily Outnumbered English Army giving France one of the most one-sided Curb Stomp Battles in History (guess who lost). With Annoying Arrows (annoying as they kill the fuck out of so many silly French kniggits that they eliminate the concept of knighthood).
  • Bucky of Get Fuzzy is known to give rants to this effect.
  • An Arlo and Janis comic discussing the origins of Cinco de Mayo ended with a shot at the French. The next day, Jimmy Johnson apologized for it on his blog.

Janis: The French army?
Arlo: I said it's a minor holiday.

  • The whole "Freedom Fries" debate is spoofed in a FoxTrot strip where Andy asks Paige how her French homework is coming along. Paige responds by just saying "Excuse me??" Andy repeats the question, and gets the same response again. Then she facepalms herself as she realizes what Paige meant:

Andy: Don't tell me you 've bought into this nonsense also...
Paige: My Freedom homework is coming along just fine!

  • Don't mention this trope to The Frenchman. He'll point out the fact that you personally, even if you're American, did not in any way "save" France from the Germans, then school you on most of the meat of this article, and then he'll rip out your eyes and feed them to you.
  • From the pages of Batman Annual, when Bruce Wayne tells the head of the Police Nationale that he wants to set up a Batman in Paris, he responds thus:

Police Chief: An American billionaire wishes to set up a private franchise of masked vigilantes in the country of...What was the term? "Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys"?


Fan Works


Polnareff: I'm French! We NEVER surrender!
Kakyoin: Yes, and I'm Japanese, we never attacked Pearl Harbor, now let's get outta here!


Films -- Animation

  • In Flushed Away, LeFrog calls his henchfrogs to action. They throw their arms up and yell, "We surrender!", to LeFrog's dismay.

Films -- Live Action

  • Ocean's Eleven: "They got enough armed personnel to occupy Paris!... OK, bad example."
  • Johnny English contains a fair amount of French bashing, because the main villain of the movie is French. At one point a British radio host asks his listeners to call him and say what they like about the French. He doesn't receive a single phone call.

"In my opinion, the only thing the French should be allowed to host is an invasion."

  • Shown in Casablanca, as the city of Casablanca is part of Vichy France and cooperating with the Nazis. Averted at the end when Captain Louis Renault decides he will be Neutral No Longer, symbolically throws a bottle of Vichy water into the trash and suggests to Rick that they leave Casablanca and join the Free French at Brazzaville.
    • The French also show their Heroic Resolve by defiantly singing "La Marseillaise" and drowning out the Germans in the bar.
  • Often averted in things starring Jean Reno. Flyboys, Tristar's Godzilla (1998) and Ronin all spring to mind.
    • While Godzilla tries to avert this, the French Secret Service lead by Reno's character does complain out loud about the food, and when Godzilla awakens from the torpedo attack, it is Jean Reno himself who suggests running away. Admittedly, that was probably the most sensible thing to do in that situation.
      • They're not complaining about the food, actually Jean Reno's character seems to like the donut, they're complaining about that God dammed filter Coffee that everybody in America or influenced by American pop-culture seems to love. Add to that, the flavor was French Roast.


Keep in mind that this section just archives jokes related to this trope as other people tell them, and should NOT be used for arguing about how right or wrong they are.

  • Sort of inverted (or maybe a double one?) by this one.
  • An old joke: "Why are there trees along the Champs-Elysees?" "Because the Nazis like walking in the shade."
  • Another joke:

Q: How many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris?
A: We don't know, they've never tried.

  • Old joke: An ad for a French rifle in the paper. Never fired, once dropped.
  • Another joke: If you're British, raise your hand. If you're French, raise two hands.
  • The three rules for French victory: 1) be led by a non-Frenchman, 2) be led by a woman, 3) fight yourself.
  • Why won't the French do "The Wave" at soccer games? It's a tactic reserved only for times of war.
  • Frances's response to German Reunification? They built speed bumps to slow down the panzers.
  • How do you confuse a French soldier? Give him a rifle and ask him to shoot it.
  • Why does France have a Foreign Legion? They could not find any Frenchmen to fight.
  • A British officer and a French officer are talking after one of their 18th century wars. The Frenchman asks "So, why do you British wear those ridiculous red coats? We can see you coming from a mile away in those things". The Briton replies "Well, it's for morale, you see. Whenever our men get shot, the people around them can't see the blood, because it blends into the fabric". The Frenchman stops, thinks for a second, and says "Brilliant! From now on, the French Army's uniform will include brown pants!"
  • The French Battle Tanks have 7 gears: 6 in reverse, and one forward in case the enemy attacks from behind.
  • Why do the French install mirrors in their tanks? So that they can watch the battle when they run away.
  • Disneyland Paris had to be shut down recently. Why? Because when the fireworks went off, all the French ran out in the streets and surrendered.
  • An elderly British gentleman visits France on holiday and is immediately asked to turn over his passport. He admits that he doesn't have it with him. Bemused, the French man behind the counter asks him: "Monsieur, have you been to France before?" "Yes," the old Brit replies. A smirk develops on the Frenchman's face. "And you did not bring your passport then?" He shakes his head "There was nobody around to give it to." "Impossible! The British have always had to show their passports when entering France!" The old man takes a long, hard look at the Frenchman before quietly telling him, "Well, the last time I was here, I came ashore on Gold Beach in June 1944, and I couldn't find any fucking Frenchmen to show it to."


  • The Onion's book "Our Dumb Century" discusses the French in its World War II articles: They surrender after a "Valiant Ten-Minute Struggle," then after Pearl Harbor, then again after Nagasaki.
    • In fact, pretty much every war that's mentioned in the book includes a headline somewhere on the page reading "France Surrenders." Even if France isn't involved.
  • This stereotype is often cited by sarcastic Harry Potter fans who note the discrepancy between Fleur Delacour's reputation and credentials and her actual on-screen performance. Cleolinda Jones lampshades hers in the Movies in Fifteen Minutes summary of Goblet of Fire.

Obligatory French joke: And the French champion has surrendered her egg right out from under the Welsh Green!

  • One of Dave Barry's books mentioned that his then-toddler son had somehow amassed enough toy guns to conquer a toy nation the size of France. "Come to think of it, he probably could have conquered the real France."
    • He stings both France and Italy in the WWII section of Dave Barry Slept Here, describing France's defeat at the end of an epic 35-minute battle, "at which point the Italian army's truck broke down."
  • Complaints about the French were so common during the time United States troops were stationed there in World War II that this pamphlet was written.
  • In John Ringo works mentioning the French, at times he has kind words to say about their soldiers (like the ones that kicked ass in the expeditionary forces of the Posleen War Series), but never about their political leadership.
  • This trope is explicitly Defied Trope by the French in World War Z, with disastrous results. The French felt that, after nearly a century of military humiliations (World War II, Indochina, Algeria), they needed to win a triumphant victory against the zombies in order to restore the nation's honor, and sent waves of soldiers into the Parisian catacombs to kill the quarter-million zombies down there. The reclamation of Paris was one of the bloodiest battles of the Zombie War.
  • Invoked explicitly in Tucker Max's book I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

"You fucking cheese-eating surrender monkey. I thought someone stunk around here. So if I start speaking German can I push you around and take all your stuff? Those hairy fucking stink-bags would be speaking Kraut right now if it wasn’t for us, and they aren’t the least bit appreciative. I hope they all fucking die, and your frog-sympathizing ass with them.”

  • Averted in Horatio Hornblower. Frenchmen are considered incompetent(the real French navy of the time was locked up in harbor, didn't get any sea training, had no gunnery practice,and beheaded all it's best officers at the start of the war So Yeah). However they are usually game enough for a fight.

Live Action TV

  • One episode of Spin City focused on the Mayor trying to get Paris to be New York's sister city.

Paul: Sir, do you really think you can take Paris?
Mayor: Why not? It's only been done by everyone who's ever tried.

  • Al Bundy liked to make jokes like these on Married... with Children, for instance noting how another character ran away "like a Frenchman from a cap gun."
    • When the actor Ed O'Neill later starred in a remake of Dragnet, he was investigating a murder, and interviewing a latina maid. Her boss (who was having an affair with her) said, "You wouldn't be interviewing her if she was French!". Sgt. Friday replied, "Well, I have a thing about the French."
  • Jeremy Clarkson, one of the presenters of Top Gear is given to using the phrase "Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys" when he refers to the French. He'll also modify the phrase when appropriate; e.g., during the Val Thorens ice race the other drivers were "cheese-eating sideways monkeys."
  • Unhappily Ever After: Mr. Floppy lists all the countries he'd like to nuke. Jack asks, "Can we kaboom France?" Floppy: "We don't have to -- France will surrender with a phone call."
  • In one episode from the final season of That '70s Show, Red and Kitty, having decided to move to Florida, are showing the house to a bunch of different families. Kitty mentions that a family with the last name Dubois is coming to view the house. Red, in his typical Jaded Washout fashion, complains about it.

Red: Dubois? Kitty, I don't want Germans moving in here!
Kitty: I think they're French.
Red: Yes, and if they buy this house, they'll give it to the first German who knocks on the door!

  • Captain Picard, despite Not Even Bothering with the Accent: "Signal the following in all languages and on all frequencies: 'We surrender.'" In the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint", no less.
    • Even in the 24th century, the French are Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys.
      • It Makes Sense in Context, though. Also, as the series progresses, the Enterprise (under Picard's command) engages in a number of badass battles, even genuinely hopeless ones such as where the ship has to fight off three Klingon attack ships whilst defending the Enterprise-C in "Yesterday's Enterprise" (the Klingons even hailing the crippled ship at one stage to demand surrender, Picard responding, "That'll be the day..."). Another great example comes from the eighth Star Trek film "First Contact", where Picard, using the knowledge of the Borg that he gained while being temporarily assimilated into their collective, is able to direct a beleaguered Federation fleet to fire an alpha strike at a weak point in an attacking Borg cube, blowing it away, the Enterprise-E herself delivering the coup-de-grâce in the form of a well-placed volley of quantum torpedoes... Ahem, sorry, this troper's nerdgasm is now over...
  • Allo Allo, the legendary sitcom, is all about the French resistance and how cowardly the main "hero" is. Also, it mentions the French surrendering approximately once per two episodes, so it qualifies that way as well...
    • Although they also repeatedly mention the British running away at Dunkirk.
    • And the series actually averts this trope as Rene is one of the few cowardly characters (and his cowardice extends to all situations). Most of his staff, the Resistance fighters and even Rene's mother-in-law generally are not keen to lay down arms.
  • In the "Ming Warrior vs. Musketeer" episode of Deadliest Warrior, this is waaaay averted. The Musketeers are presented as nothing less than 100% Badass (as are the Ming). The Musketeers defeated the Ming Warriors 674 times out of a possible 1000.
    • Season 3 full on inverts it, with Napoleon Bonaparte, Joan of Arc, and the French-born William the Conqueror all kicking ass in the first two episodes. Of those three, only Joan of Arc wins her matchup (against William), but their combined kills are nearly 7,500.
  • The Blackadder series a few off-hand reference to this, but none quite as prominent as in Blackadder: Back & Forth when the titular character travels through time to the Battle of Waterloo and has Napoleon portrayed as being strategically-inept, with another French soldier essentially stating that all of England's stereotypes of the French are quite true.
    • Though apparently without General Wellington leading the Brits, the French would have apparently won anyway, at least according to this picture.
  • Averted in Season 16 of The Amazing Race; a leg in France had WWI-themed tasks and described the bravery of the French soldiers against Germany.
  • Mike of Spaced once attempted a one-man invasion of Paris with a stolen Chieftain tank. He only failed because he decided to stop off at Euro Disney on the way.
  • Completely inverted in The Walking Dead. According to Dr. Jenner, the guy in the CDC bunker in the first season finale, France was not only the last country to fall to the zombies, but the French scientists kept working on a cure for The Virus until the end while the American CDC scientists abandoned their work and ran for the hills.
  • Brought up by a British art curator at the White House in The West Wing. C.J. Cregg is returning a painting to a woman whose family was stripped of its property during World War II by French Nazis.

C.J.: We contacted the French-
Limey Snob:[interrupting] Who promptly surrendered!

    • Actually, this is Playing with a Trope at best and Did Not Do the Research at worst In the above example, the British gentleman worked for the White House, and his exact words were 'who promptly surrendered it ('it' being the painting mentioned above) - and the British gentleman was exceedingly courteous, informing the woman of the painting's true monetary value, as well as informing her that the painting's value would continue to rise by remaining in its place at the White House. He was also gracious when the woman declined the offer to leave her painting there.
  • The Borgias subverts this to its fullest extent by presenting the French army as a pack of bloodthirsty, highly skilled warriors who've recently invented some extremely grisly war machines.


  • Averted in the French national anthem - it's one of the most bloodthirsty ever written. This is why it sounds so cool in Casablanca.

To arms, oh citizens!
Form up in serried ranks!
March on, march on!
And drench our fields
With their tainted blood!

  • Actually accepted in the Italian anthem in the second verse: "We were for centuries / Downtrodden and derided, /because we are not one people,/ because we are divided." But certainly not in the rest of it:

Where is Victory?
Let her bow down,
for God has made her Rome's slave.
Let us join in a cohort,
We are ready to die.
Italy has called.


New Media

Tabletop Games

  • Miniature wargame Bolt Action by British company Warlord Games does not feature France as a playable faction in the core rulebook. When added to the game via Armies of France and the Allies (which it shares, in roughly even page count percentage, with Belgian, Dutch, Polish, Greek and Partisan forces [1]) it's one of the few nations weighed down by a purely negative national rule, has free poorly trained infantry as one of its positive rules, and their rules don't cover past 1940 beyond a page about using their rules for Vichy forces (Yes, in the book for playing the allies!).
    • Warlord Games sells models for dead bodies as options for battlefield decoration/obstacles, but for whatever reason the only ones sold for Bolt Action are of the French. This one seems more of an oversight, as they offer a fairly extensive range of miniature corpses for their games based on prior conflicts (like Napoleonic or Roman).


  • Ruddigore suggested an early Stealth Parody of this trope with Richard's sea shanty. The French were offended, but the British tars of the song exercise their Patriotic Fervour by retreating from a French frigate without firing back at it because "she's only a poor Parley-voo" and fighting it would be "like hittin' of a gal."
  • Les Misérables averted this pretty hard, although they were fighting their fellow Frenchmen. The students on the barricade didn't surrender to anything but death itself:

'Enjolras:' Let us die facing our foes, make them bleed while we can!


Video Games

  • Averted in Medieval 2: Total War, where the supposedly cowardly French knights will charge into the fray because they are glory seekers. This also applies to the Feudal Knight unit in general, but the special French knights do it as well.
    • Majorly averted in Napoleon: Total War; if you play the British or the the French have taken Europe over all the way up to Poland by mid-game. If you are playing the Austrians...don't get too emotionally involved in the game.
  • The 2007 Simpsons video game had a level where Bart and Homer have to collect white flags in a French village during World War Two. The villagers, of course, do nothing but run away from them.
    • Although it should be pointed out that they're collecting them so that the French will have the resolve to fight back.
  • In Tom Clancy's EndWar, the very first scene released to the public was of Paris being destroyed.
    • Though to be fair, the Russians had completely overrun the city, and the American General calls in an orbital bombardment on his own position. He then calmly walks outside and stares down the Russian army as he waits for the Earthshattering Kaboom. I Surrender, Suckers indeed.
  • Tink in Disgaea 2 has a French accent. He is also a Dirty Coward... and a frog.
  • Thoroughly averted in the Neverwinter Nights module The Bastard of Kosigan, in which the hero leads the forces of the fictional county of Kosigan (on the border between France and the Duchy of Burgundy) against the French, who are competent, arrogant, and power-hungry, but by no means quick to surrender.
  • Averted in Dragon Age, in which the Orlesian Empire (based on accent and general culture the world's Fantasy Counterpart Culture to France) is quite militarily competent and managed to conquer and occupy the world's Fantasy Counterpart Culture of England for eighty years. And Leliana can be one of the most badass characters in your party at higher level.
    • Not to mention Riordan, possibly the most stone-cold badass in the game. He's introduced snapping a guard's neck through prison bars with his bare hands (after suffering extended torture and ill-treatment) and leaps onto the Archdemon's back from a tower to battle it singlehandedly in midair.
  • Punch-Out!! gives us Glass Joe, by far the weakest fighter in all his appearances.
    • He doesn't truly count, however, since you're more likely to TKO him than knock him out.
    • And even Doc praises him for not surrendering. It takes a lot of things to have a 1-99 record in boxing. Cowardice is not one of them.
    • It gets worse. The SNES game has Gabby Jay, who sports an identical 1-99 record and is even weaker, and worse, doesn't have a powered-up Top Ranked/Title Defense incarnation later on. In fairness, Germany's Von Kaiser isn't much better. Guess someone at Nintendo has a dim view of any nation that surrenders, regardless of when or how. (Kind of ironic, coming from a Japanese corporation.)
      • Is it particularly ironic? Piston Honda only comes out as the third worst fighter, after all.
    • Gabby Jay doesn't really seem to be French... he looks and sounds Southern American ("Come Awn!" "Yay!"). Maybe they started with Glass Joe, changed a few things to create a new character, and forgot to change the home town?
      • Little known fact, the one fight Gabby Jay won was against Glass Joe.
  • One cutscene of Armed and Dangerous has Rexus using his Jedi Mind Trick powers to cause two mooks to surrender by convincing them they were French. It is hilarious.
  • Zig-zagged in Team Fortress 2. The Spy class is stereotypically French with an outrageous accent, and his "Meet The" video portrays the RED Spy as a dashing rogue Magnificent Bastard who seduced the BLU Scout's mother and killed just about every member of the BLU team, but the other classes' domination taunts reveal that they see him as nothing more than a sneaky coward whose only skill is Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. The Soldier invokes the trope directly; some of his lines refer to the Spy as a 'rifle dropping coward' or with a white flag. Then again, the Soldier's grip on reality is rather lacking.
    • But then again those are insults like the Sniper is mocked for living in a "camper", the Heavy for being "fat", etc.
  • Command and Conquer Red Alert 2 multiplayer plays with this trope. If a player hits the function keys F1-F10 while playing, a country-specific voiceover will ask allies for help or will taunt the enemy. F6 sends a taunt calling on the opposing player(s) to surrender. If playing as France, the voice-over says "Surrender! No, I don't mean I surrender, I mean you surrender!"
  • In Call of Duty 3, a Scottish officer remarks that the French are only good at "kissin' and surrenderin'."
    • A statement which is then entirely contradicted by the exceedingly badass French Resistance, who win his respect over the course of the campaign. The French Canadian character is also one of the most badass men in the entire game.
      • The important word here being Canadian.
  • Of all the national stereotypes the Street Fighter series mocks, this is one that they surprisingly don't. There are two French characters throughout the series—Remy, a nihilistic Nietzsche Wannabe, and Abel, an MMA-style fighter who specializes in judo.
  • There's a downloadable Play Station 3 game called Pain - Exactly What It Says on the Tin, it's about launching a ragdoll into various urban and natural landscapes and watching him and his surroundings pay the price for your sadism. Firing your ragdoll at or even near the mime in the default city area prompts him to run away, arms raised, screaming, "I surrender! I surrender!"
  • Inverted in Europa Universalis, where France is the subject of much Memetic Mutation regarding the killer blue blob. Contrary to popular belief, it can in fact be defeated but it's not easy.
  • Thiery Trantigne in Odium is a coward, to the point where he screams in panic how they're all going to die even when facing the most pathetic of monsters. He also once expresses disgust at the thought of risking his life for a teammate.
  • Civilization - Civilizations get advantages from simplifications of national history. The French don't get disadvantages to the army because they don't give disadvantages to civs, but French bonuses are usually peaceful. But that could just reflect even greater love for French cultural achievements. Kinda played straight?
    • Civ III -Commercial and Industrious despite their leader being Joan of Arc. Unique unit: Musketeers - eh.
    • Civ IV - Now powers are part based on leaders, which are Louis XIV, Napoleon I and De Gaulle. Yeah! ... yeah, Napoleon got the Aggressive trait, but lost it in the expansions. He and De Gaulle ended up with Charismatic, with some military benefits. Musketeers - eh.
    • Civ V - Leader Napoleon I, has one of the few civs with two unique units - the Foreign Legion being particularly aggressive (and Musketeers again). Main benefit - culture.
    • Colonization - Diplomacy and starting economy bonuses.
  • Rise of Nations - Averted. Their "Power of Leadership" is so obviously meant to be "Napoleon: The Country" (their special units are all forms of heavy cavalry starting for Hundred Years' War knights to Napoleonic horse grenadiers, and they build siege units faster and cheaper) that the game kind of has to give them whatever economic bonus they had lying around - woodchopping. Also, one of the two French wonders give warring players advantages (the Versailles castle allows your supply wagon to heal your troops, twice faster if you play the French, while the Eiffel Tower expands your borders and doubles your oil production).
  • Averted in The Saboteur, as the French Resistance is solely responsible for driving the Nazis out of Paris. Near the end of the game's flashback sequence, while you're escaping pursuing German forces after escaping a Nazi facility, you can also see Frenchmen running out to shoot at the Germans with farming shotguns.
  • In The Sims 3, one of the books you can buy in the French holiday town is "The White Flag of Victory".
  • Serperior of the Pokémon Black and White games is confirmed by Word of God to be based off a snake and a French king. Its offensive stats are average, but it has high Speed and Defensive stats. In its normal form, it performs an adequate job providing support for the team and annoying the opponent. When it comes from the Dream World, however, it becomes amazing, turning into a nearly unstoppable Lightning Bruiser due to the fact that its Special Attack doubles from using a 140-base power STAB move. Overall, Serperior is a subversion of this trope.
    • No mention of Smeargle? He is pretty much THE French Pokemon. He even has a beret and everything!
  • In World of Tanks expect a lot of jokes about this if french tanks are on the field in the beginning of the battle, that is before the actual battle happens. After this its subverted to some degree: the later French tanks are some of the fastest on field and thus the first to engage enemies, often soon enough those didnt expect fire and are nowhere near cover, not to mention they can dish out a lot of damage in short time, killing you before you can even say cheese, but lacking armor for their speed and firepower, they will surrender fast if you so much as point your gun at them.

Web Comics

  • Frog from Sluggy Freelance: "We surrender! There! How's that? Does that take care of your hunger to disparage others for some 'larfs?'"
  • In Casey and Andy, Casey's secret persona of Dr. X is bent on conquering the world. None of his plans work and he sits dejected in his war room and sighs, then inspiration strikes, he calls up France and Declares war on them, they immediately surrender.
    • Later, France pesters Dr. X on every little detail of how the country should be run. He tells them to do what they would have done normally. The next day's newspaper has the headline "France surrenders to Germany", much to the surprise of the Germans.
  • Irregular Webcomic has this with French battle plan number one. Do note that DMM has inverted this trope before.
  • Ozy and Millie: This strip.

Web Original

  • A recent Unskippable for the opening cutscene of Onimusha 3, where modern day Paris get attacked by some kind of overwhelming invading monster force, killing hundreds. Somewhat subverted when the boys say something along the lines of

"I'd make a France surrendering joke here, but I'm not sure anyone else would do any better."


1555. No matter how well I roll on my intimidate check, France won't surrender.

  • did an article on false national stereotypes, with the "cowardly Frenchman" as the first example.
  • According to Benzaie, this is true. The Nostalgia Critic actually calls him a "surrender monkey" during the brawl.
  • Tiberium ecstasy is a C&C Tiberian Dawn parody. Nod takes over France. Counts of the stereotypes:
    • Guess what, they surrendered again(next mission location was France, and it was not under GDI territory)
    • The part where it shows videos of things, it shows an apc driver surrendering, and one of the GDI(suspected) soldiers saw that the apc had guns. They ran away after the apc driver surrendered.
    • The main team that was supposed to get money went to a town, and wanted to get money from a church building. The french person was lying about money, after one of them suggested to burn the french person, the final words for the unfortunate person was, "I SURRENDER."
    • Another french person went and shot the Nod soldiers, and ran after the flame trooper found out the person was shooting.
  • Linkara of Atop the Fourth Wall says that with the bad guys in the Kool-Aid Man comic showing real cowardice, it's time to stop mocking the French for this.
  • In the fanfiction Egg Belly, our favourite couple - Konoka and Setsuna - go out for dinner at Mahora Town's French restaurant. Ku Fei sneaks in to get a picture, steals the waiter's uniform and moustache, gets discovered, and - in the words of the author - "'Uh... Time for me to be French again... I surrender!'" wailed Ku Fei, turning about in the finest tradition of the French military and dashing for an alternate escape route- i.e. the window."
  • From episode 7 of Super Mario Bros the Parody Series:

French Submarine Captain: I have to use my country's military tactic. I surrender!


20. Must not taunt the French any more.


Western Animation

  • The Trope Namer is Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons in 1995. Having been forced to sub as a French teacher, the brief snippet of his "lesson" plays out as follows:

"Bonjourrrrrrrrr, ya cheese-eating surrender monkeys!"

    • After the 9/11 attacks, it gained a new popularity in American, especially conservative, media.
    • Even though this trope is mainly about American and English attitudes towards the French, the phrase was originally uttered by a character from Scotland, a country that had a long tradition of allying with the French against the English, arguably making this a case of Did Not Do the Research.
    • In his appearance in the cartoon, Scorpio asks Homer whether he should use his massive Death Ray to wipe out France or Italy, and when Homer makes his decision, Scorpio quips, "Nobody ever says Italy."
    • In the story of Joan of Arc, Homer remarks "Victory? We're French! We don't even have a word for it!!" [2]
    • Subverted in Treehouse of Horror VIII, when Mayor Quimby insults the French they declare war on Springfield, and destroy it with a neutron bomb.
  • The Sonic SatAM animation series did not last long enough for Antoine to develop out of this trope.
  • South Park episode "Fatbeard": "They're French, so they surrendered immediately." The fact that they surrendered to a nine-year-old with a plastic lightsabre is damning even by the standards of this trope.
    • It was an "Un Lightsabre Terrible!"
    • Also, in "Make Love, Not Warcraft" (2006)

Eric Cartman: Clyde, Clyde, if you had the chance right now to go back in time and stop Hitler, wouldn't you do it? I mean, I personally wouldn't; however, because I think it was awesome, but you would, right?
Clyde: I'm just gonna stop playing.
Eric Cartman: When Hitler rose to power, a lot of people just stopped playing. And you know who those people were? The French. Are you French, Clyde?


Easile-frightened people: We surrender! Please don't hurt us!
Bob the Goldfish: You people give up quicker than the French!

  • When a food fight breaks out at the United Nation School in The Critic, the French students immediately surrender despite being uninvolved.
  • Averted with Fifi in Tiny Toon Adventures, she is actually one of the bravest Tiny Toons.

Real Life

  • In an inversion, the French were the first to militarily support and diplomatically recognize the Libyan National Transitional Council, catalyzing the passage and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 by NATO and others.
    • Some analysts believe that ironically, this is because of their avoidance of the Iraq War; if the Western powers were a sports team, France would be the "fresh guy".
    • No, that was because Nicolas Sarkozy thought it was a good opportunity to make people forget he completely failed to support revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. And there may be some hidden reasons...
    • An Economist article actually referred to the trope by name. To quote, "Who's a cheese-eating surrender monkey now, eh?"
  • While France did perform poorly in WW 2 and the Franco-Prussian War, it has had quite a successful war history. During much of the modern era, France was an innovator in military matters and generally seen as the prime military power in Europe. Also, while France did fall rather quickly in WW 2, it managed to inflict quite some casualties on the Germans (for example, the Luftwaffe lost almost a quarter of its aircraft), with French soldiers performing quite adequately and brave. Finally, the Free French and the Résistance showed that the French people were willing to fight back, instead of surrendering and cowering.
    • After WWII, France also lost major colonial wars in Vietnam and Algeria. Their 20th century win-loss record isn't as good as their 19th century one.
      • Of course, this neglects that France didn't lose either war for military reasons. Both conflicts were lost due to political issues at home.
        • Though this is very true of Algeria, Indochina was lost by a military slow to adapt and (again) fighting a war against new tactics with the ones of the last and with terribly little support from its own population and politicians. The Paras and Legion learned, the leaders did not. Navarre and Cogny basically FAILED miserably and sacrificed the elite of the French army (fighting with extreme valour, endurance and elan) in a faraway and insignificant valley against a VASTLY superior Viet Minh force. The Paras and Legion officers then, determined to never loose a colonial war to insurgents again, took subversive warfare to a new level in Algeria.
    • Also, popular belief about how France lost World War II is terribly inaccurate. The popular version is that the French sat behind the Maginot Line while the Germans went around it, through Belgium. The truth is that the Maginot Line was designed to force the Germans to go through Belgium, but the whole basis for that plan was the Germans would never, ever repeat their World War I's tactics of going through the Ardennes. Thus, the French and British sent their best mobile forces to the wrong part of Belgium: the northern plains, instead of the seemingly impenetrable Ardennes forest. Had England and France planned better, noticed this earlier, or just left Belgium to the Germans and fortified the France-Belgium border, they would have been likely able to stop the German forces. Ironically Manstein's feint luring the Allies to N. Belgium to be trapped by the "sickelschnitt" was exactly the same basic tactic that Napoleon used at Austerlitz.
    • There's also the belief that the Germans plowed through France because their tanks were awesome while the French tanks were outdated crap. While the French tanks were based on more World War I lines, they were still rather solid and capable. The Char B1-bis was feared by the Germans, and one Char called Eure took out a whopping 13 German Panzer IIIs and IVs by itself—and in an ambush set up by the Germans no less. The reason French armor ultimately lost was that their best tanks were fuel hogs, there were no where near enough, and French tank tactics didn't use their strengths effectively.[3]
    • Both the Maginot Line issue and the tank issue were due to the fact that France was completely unprepared for war due to financial problems and the fact that it was still suffering from the consequences of the first World War where France was one of the countries to suffer the most losses. (Also the reason why France was so reluctant to agree to Chamberlain's appeasement policies.) This is illustrated by the story of Churchill asking General Gamelin where the French reserves were, to which Gamelin replied: "There are none." And the material and human losses of World War I meant that the majority of the population did not want another war (just like English politicians prior to Churchill had yield to Hitler's demands in Austria and Sudetenland to avoid a conflict). That'S why in May 1940, Petain was seen as a hero and the reasonable man, while De Gaulle was the hot-headed extremist.
      • France was unready for World War II but the point of the absence of reserves is not an illustration of that. "Reserves" has two meanings. One is simply troops that have been trained but left in civilian life to save economic strain and are not presently serving. This is the meaning most people are aware of who are not staff officers but do know people who were in the "reserves" . Another meaning is actual combat troops hoarded in the rear area to allow for contingencies as the fighting develops. That this was the actual meaning is shown by the French phrase Churchill used, Masse de Manoevre meaning "mass of maneuver". It is also shown by the commonsense reflection that France could not have run out of young men that fast no matter how much of an economic beating it had taken, whereas the meaning,"nearly every unit is engaged or out of position" can be pithily stated by "there is no reserve."
  • While Napoleon was, technically, not French, the soldiers under him definitely were. During the Napoleonic Wars, France controlled an empire comparable to that of Nazi Germany.
    • Plus, Napoleon also owed his military training and career to his service in the French army, and rose as far as he did thanks to the French Revolution.
    • Napoléon was French. Corsica belonged to France, albeit for a few month only, at the time of his birth. It doesn't seem he had any problem to join military school because of his origin.
  • In a further inversion, the national anthem of France, La Marseillaise, is one of the most martial and bloodthirsty of any nation at any period. To illustrate, the chorus refers to watering their fields with the impure blood of their enemies, and some of the verses are even more violent.
    • A common misconception, even among French people. The "impure blood" is not the blood of enemies, but the blood of the French themselves ("impure" meaning here "not noble", i.e. the common people). So it's about not being afraid to die to defend the nation's future, even if the leaders are defeated, which fits surprisingly well with the Resistance.
  • An analysis published by the American Army concludes that the French soldiers are amongst the best there is when they are properly led. It all comes down to leadership. Under a Napoleon, De Gaulle, Louis XIV, De Lattre De Tassigny or Bigeard they will fight like devils, but under a Petain they will not.
    • There has been quoted a 1940 discussion of Prime Minister Reynaud and General Gamelin, the latter having snapped: "I do not trust De Gaulle, he's just a youngster" (Gamelin being 68 by then). To which the Prime Minister asked De Gaulle (just before making him an Undersecretary of State for War) his age (50) and replied: "At your age, Napoleon had already made and unmade all his conquests and his career had ended."
      • De Gaulle was not a brilliant tacticist in the field, he was more of a forward thinker and an inspirational leader. In the 30's, he published several writings on the necessity to make more tanks and to better understand how to use them in battle; his views were dismissed because of his very tense relations with his former commanding officer, Petain, who happened to be one of the most decorated and revered hero of WW I.
  • French cavalry was hardly known for an unusual taste for surrendering. They do seem to have had a curious taste for charging to soon which they showed on several fields, notably Crecy, Potiers, and Agincourt. In one instance the French thought the King of Hungary a coward for urging caution when attacking the Turks even though the King fought them his whole life and knew what he was talking about. Perhaps the most famous instance of French horse charging to soon was Waterloo where the British were arrayed with bayonets sticking out like pincushions and mowed them down with musket fire when the horses were "reluctant" to impale themselves.
  • Curiously, Vichy France, perhaps the Trope Maker, is at best an ambiguous case. Its bureaucracy certainly was an example, as it did in fact suck up to the Germans and in fact were even more enthusiastic about things like rounding up usual suspects then was necessary to appease them, both for their own ambitions and to prevent reprisals on the civilian population. However the Vichy military was reasonably professional even if they had no cause to fight for save their own pride. While they almost always lost and certainly were not up to the level of a first class belligerent in efficiency, they did make a showing in places like Madagascar, Morocco, and Mers-El-Kabir.
  1. Note US, Commonwealth, German, Soviet, Japanese forces get their own book entirely to themselves, and while Italy splits one with minor axis powers, it and Finland get the clear lion's share of content.
  2. Just a joke, though; the French word for "victory" is "victoire."
  3. which multiple armies had difficulty with at the time since the tank combat paradigm had shifted rather drastically since World War I and most people were still experimenting with newer, untested tank tactics