It isn't the scarlet sash and the fancy hat that makes you a commissar, it's the way you wear them.
A subtrope of both Nice Hat and Bling of War. A large, high peaked cap similar to those worn by Banana Republic dictators. The trope namer is Warhammer 40,000, with Commissars wearing such caps. This headgear surely makes the wearer look badass in an authoritarian sense of the word. Sometimes decorated with elaborate silver or gold designs on the visor and/or the front of the crown, nicknamed "scrambled eggs" by military folks; the stereotypical Banana Republic leader's cap has so much of these that you can barely see the colour of the actual cap underneath.
Sometimes, especially if the cap in question is black with silver piping, it's Putting on the Reich.
Anime and Manga
- Forte in Galaxy Angel.
- Chiri Kitsu in an episode of Zoku Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei, when she subjects the teachers and other students to surprise inspections in order to catch them unprepared.
- Chocolat from Sorcerer Hunters wears one of these (and little else) when she's in "combat mode".
- Washizaki from Riki-Oh, the inspiration for Vega/M.Bison in Street Fighter in Video Games.
- Kanako Watanabe of Star Driver wears one of these as part of her Glittering Crux outfit.
- Russia in Axis Powers Hetalia wears one occasionally.
- In Bleach, a currently unnamed female member of the Vandereich wears one. It's curious that she's the only member of the group in possession of a cap like this.
- In A Small Crime, the character Kit wears a black peaked cap.
- M.Bison (played by Raul Julia) wears one in Street Fighter. To further stress the Putting on the Reich aspect, the metal Shadaloo symbol on the front looks rather eerily like a mix between the Nazi "Reichsadler" and the SS "Totenkopf" motif.
- One is part of the regalia of Paradorian President-For-Life Alphonse Simms in Moon Over Parador. Richard Dreyfuss wears it with a jaunty tilt that makes it much less impressive.
- Frantic. Michelle wears one when she first meets the protagonist played by Harrison Ford, along with a black leather jacket.
- The Great Dictator. Charlie Chaplin lampoons Adolph Hitler and wears a wonderful Commissar Cap with a XX logo in place of the swastika.
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel His Last Command, when Ludd is sent to get troops to the battlefield, he loses his cap getting there—across the battlefield—and their first question for him when he said he was a commissar was to ask where his hat was. (He gets them to the battlefield anyway.)
- The Grayson Space Navy's uniforms seem to be modeled after the US Air Force, so naturally they have these, complete with gold oak leaves and lightning bolts. It's stated that they seem to weigh at least 3 kilograms and cause the title character to feel like "some comic-opera costumer's idea of a prespace military dictator".
- Warhammer 40,000
- As noted above, the Commissars. Arguably a case of Putting on the Reich as well, as many commissars tend to wear black hats with skulls and eagle wings prominently displayed on the front. Does This Remind You of Anything? indeed. Commie Nazis In Space! Catholic Commie Nazis In Space
- Commissar Ciaphas Cain would, on the whole, prefer a helmet.
- The Commissar's Helm in Warhammer Online can only be accessed by entering a code found in copies of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, making them Revenue Enhancing Devices.
- Naturally, some of the Soviet Officers in the RedAlert games wears these.
- M. Bison from Street Fighter is never seen without his hat, except in one DLC costume. To further stress the Putting on the Reich aspect, the metal Shadaloo symbol on the front looks rather earily like a mix between the Nazi "Reichsadler" and the SS "Totenkopf" motif. And now Cammy has one, as of her second DLC costume.
- General Ahkboob from Total Carnage ("You suck at this game.")
- "Colonel Red" (Smash Daisuke) from Gunstar Heroes
- Brocken from World Heroes.
- The end boss of Final Fight 3, Something something Black. Who attacks you with a Riding crop.
- Sturm in Advance Wars. Greyfield from Days of Ruin also has one.
- Captain Allen Hamilton and Colonel Orson Perrault, of Ace Combat 5, both wear these, styled after the USAF.
- Diego Gaspar Navarro from Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception.
- Worn by General, Colonel, and other Repliforce soldiers in Mega Man X4. Colonel's sister Iris wore a beret. A less blatant one is worn by recurring character Signas.
- Mega Man X Command Mission's Redips wears one similar to Signas. Appropriate, considering his similar post.
- Omen Deng in Alpha Protocol rocks the Commissar look, and combined with his Badass Cape, it is awesome.
- Hogs of War: Fully promote a pig to the Hero rank, and they get one of these hats.
- Worn by Crow in Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon
- Salvatore in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice wears a black one.
- Raidou Kuzunoha of Raidou Kuzunoha vs. the Soulless Army and Raidou Kuzunoha VS King Abaddon wears one of these at all times, even when in the bath.
- The Chapeau of High Inquisitor Sally Whitemane in World of Warcraft. With a little luck, it can be yours.
- Major Rezner of the Eisengrad Army wears one in MS Saga: A New Dawn, along with a few other officers. It's always fun to have her finish off enemies with a Beam Pistol shot.
- Comrade Black, Big Bad of the De Blob games, has one that's as tall as he is. As do all his statues and his personal mech. He is careful not to lose it, even when he's been stripped of his resources, his military, and finally his clothes.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle:
- Rocky the Flying Squirrel would occasionally wear one while announcing a commercial break.
- It was certainly a must for Fearless Leader.
- The "Banana Republic" in DuckTales (1987) and Thembria in Tale Spin have people wearing these hats. Baloo wears one as well, albeit a less decorated one.
- Played straight in Real Life in the 1990s with Russians With Rusting Rockets and Russian cops. Unlike Reds with Rockets, they have these as part of uniform. But the caps are going to be abolished soon, replaced with smaller ones in the older Soviet style. Soviet officers did often have this kinds of caps as part of the dress uniform (hence the trope name), though Soviet caps were not quite as large as modern ones.
- An overview of Soviet uniform caps may be found here, showing civilian and military caps from various decades, with different designs—the collector's photos are widely copied for other websites.
- Modern huge peaked caps are disliked among the Russian military, derisively known as "Pinochet caps". They are also a case of Sukhomlinov Effect, becoming larger and more fanciful as the Russian army weakened and grew underequipped and undertrained.
- As of recent years, Russian military funding has risen again, and coincidentally, they have adopted smaller caps lacking the double-headed eagle of the Russian federation and look similar to Soviet caps.
- Across the world, this is a common feature of the uniform of high-ranking officers in the military and many civilian law-enforcement agencies in many Western nations have something like this as part of the uniform (or at least the dress uniform). In most of these cases, however, they tend to be smaller and a bit more modest than the stereotypical authoritarian model.
- On the other hand, for much of the Cold War, large-crowned American caps were bigger than their Soviet counterparts.
- The hat worn by Royal Air Force officers is nearly a subversion of the trope. Small and with horribly bent edges that sag downwards, it harks back to the time that all RAF officers were pilots and their hats were much abused, normally stuffed away in some pocket and thus scuffed and worn. In all other words, a mess, and in contrast to the hats worn by other ranks which are rather smart.