Four-Star Badass

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Truth in Television.

"There's two kinds of generals in the service. Some are dumber than a box of inbred chickens and get their job through political connections, and not actual battlefield skills. I'm the other kind. Learn the difference."

General Lumberdon, Antihero for Hire 2009-04-06

Soldier: "Where ya goin', General?"
Patton: "Berlin. I'm going to personally shoot that paper-hangin' sonofabitch!"

The Four-Star Badass is a badass that also happens to be a flag officer in a military hierarchy.

The Colonel Badass page explains that a Colonel is usually more Badass than a General because although a General has the higher rank (and may even be a certifiable Badass himself) they're usually relegated to desk duty and administrative tasks. This is also the reason why The Captain will always be the star of the show even if they don't have the same clout as a Commodore or Admiral.

However, some fiction writers don't subscribe to this notion. They believe that in order to have reached a four-star rank you had to have done some serious asskicking once upon a time. While some writers feel Badassery is a muscle that grows weak with disuse, the writers who subscribe to this trope feel it's more like riding a bike; you never forget how to do it. Even after years of sitting behind a desk, filing reports, cashing fat checks, and being saluted by everybody.

The important characteristic of Four-Star Badass is the badass. It's not enough for them to be The Brigadier or a Benevolent Boss (although they tend to share some of the same characteristics, like never saying "We Have Reserves" and being A Father To Their Men). They have to actually do something to earn the title. This usually involves rolling up their sleeves, ditching the desk, and mixing it up.

This happens in a number of ways:

  • The Four-Star Badass is the star: The Hero of the story also happens to be a General or Admiral, ensuring that they have to get involved in the story's conflicts and adventures.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning, Business As Usual: The Captain or Colonel Badass gets promoted. But they're The Hero so they continue to be badass.
  • The Future Badass route: If its a Speculative Fiction series, we may get an episode glimpse in which a protagonist, usually The Captain, is promoted, probably Twenty Minutes Into the Future.
  • Ten-Minute Promotion: They're promoted for a moment, but events (or themselves) conspire to demote them right back into a position where they're back in the field.
  • Da Chief To The Rescue: The Cowboy Cop or Military Maverick has gotten themselves in a real jam. Da Chief takes it upon themselves to personally get involved in order to rescue their subordinate. They might say something like "Sure X is a loose cannon, but dammit, they're MY loose cannon and I'm gonna get them."

Many examples of this trope will probably turn out to be Badass Grandpas and Grandmas, and sometimes Cool Old Guys and Cool Old Ladies. Often a contemporary of the Old Soldier.

While the Four-star thing is in the title, this applies to any character holding any level of General or Admiral rank, including Commodores.

Contrast General Ripper[1] and General Failure. May have a Chest of Medals.

No real life examples, please; with thousands of years of recorded history, there are enough of them to crash the entire wiki.

Despite the fact that this is named "Four-Star Badass", examples do not need to be confined to the US military. "Four-Maple-Leaf Badass", "Sword-and-Starburst Badass", and "Five-Bar Badass" don't have the same ring to it.

Examples of Four-Star Badass include:

Anime and Manga

  • Fullmetal Alchemist's Major General Olivier Mira Armstrong, who once single-handedly took on the superhuman Sloth armed only with a broad sword.
  • Field Marshal Tenpou and General Kenren from Saiyuki Gaiden.
  • The Generals of the Black Order in D.Gray-man, thanks to Asskicking Equals Authority- they're required to have a greater than 100% synchronization rate to get the post.
  • One Piece: The Admirals get their position for being the toughest bastards on the planet, sometimes being tasked with taking down entire crews of pirates...if the Pirates are strong enough to warrant such a beatdown.
  • Naruto: The Sandaime Hokage is generally regarded as an old war veteran and is depicted generally as a grandpa like figure. In the Chunin Exam Arc, he evolves into a Four Star Badass when he takes on two previous Four Star Badasses and one Big Bad, successfully destroying the other Four Star Badasses and permanently disabling the Big Bad, at the cost of his life and all of their souls (well, the soul of the Big Bad's arms, anyway). His character also overlaps with the Badass Grandpa trope.
    • Every Kage is expected to embody this trope. They are known as the strongest in the village, and while not always technically accurate they always rank up there. They are also fully expected to live and, if necessary, die for their village, as the Sandaime illustrated.
    • The fifth Kazekage, Gaara, takes this trope to the next level when he's voted to be badass enough to lead the other Kages. The Four Star Badasses elected him THEIR Four Star Badass. Badass.
    • Not exactly, he was voted to be the Field Commander General for the Shinobi Alliance Army. The Raikage is the Supreme General and holds the highest authority.
  • Nakago in Fushigi Yuugi
  • By the time Gundam Seed Destiny rolls around, both Kira Yamato and Cagalli Yula Atha count as this. The former is an Orb Admiral, while Cagalli is Commander-in-Chief of Orb's forces, though Kira rarely ever uses his position of authority instead having Marrue (A Captain) lead the Archangel.
  • General Lawrence, AKA Mr. X in Argento Soma. He's more of a Manipulative Bastard, true, but hanging the outcome of his Plan on himself and dancing through a Gambit Pileup (engaging in a serious Xanatos Speed Chess along the way) basically unscathed takes serious balls.
  • Admiral Dozle Zabi of Mobile Suit Gundam, a seven-foot tall Genius Bruiser who's Last Stand in the Big Zam killed thousands of Federation troops and bought his men time to escape.


  • General Maximus in Gladiator. But then, he is Russell Crowe.
  • Commodore Norrington, especially in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Complete with badass sword skills.
  • General George Patton who is a Trope Codifier if there ever was one. Apparently, he felt he was so badass he could shoot down warplanes with a pistol. But then again he did outsmart the Desert Fox, so maybe he was pretty badass after all.
    • For that matter, the Desert Fox himself - the original Magnificent Bastard - Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.
    • It should be pointed out that the "shooting a pistol at a passing plane mid-strafe" scene was completely written for the movie. However, Patton's son, a consultant for the movie, stated that if put in that position the General absolutely would have done the exact same thing. The immediately following line was also completely plausible: "Hell, I wish he'd land so I could give him a medal!"
      • While that does indeed sound plausible for Patton, it was quite common for people on the ground to work off their frustration shooting at planes with small arms. Standing out in front of the plane's path as if one was a matador is a bit much though.
  • Admiral James T. Kirk in the first four Star Trek movies. Naturally.
    • And his TOS crew is Genre Savvy enough to know it. When a new ensign protests Kirk's last minute command orders in The Motion Picture, Uhura coolly and effectively shuts him down with one sentence:

Lt. Cmdr. Uhura: Ensign. The possibilities of our returning from this mission in one piece may have just doubled.

  • Star Wars has a bunch but the best examples are two Generals who were heroes at the Battle of Endor. You know them popularly as Han Solo and Lando Calrissian. Han resigned later; Lando left the service but retained the rank, because as everyone knows, "General Calrissian" just sounds awesome.
    • Also from the battle of Endor, Admiral Ackbar.
    • General Maximilian Veers in The Empire Strikes Back. He led the Imperial Forces in their successful attack on the Rebel base at Hoth.
    • In the Clone Wars, Jedi Knights, while not soldiers by trade are all commissioned as Generals. Masters are High Jedi Generals or Senior Jedi Generals depending on the size of their Command. Padawans were all made Jedi Commanders, outranking the Clone Commanders.
    • He's a villain, yes. But there's no doubt that General Grievous was also a badass. Consider, when the man's cloak holds at least a dozen lightsabers; his souvenirs from slain Jedi. Think about that....
  • General W.R Monger in Monsters vs. Aliens.
  • General Oreius, the centaur commander of Aslan's forces in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe movie is particularly badass, as can be seen in the final battle.
  • In Behind Enemy Lines, Rear Admiral Leslie Riegart disobeys orders to abandon one of his stranded pilots and personally leads a force of Marines and Navy attack helicopters to rescue him, destroying a small Bosnian Serbian army in the process.
    • He's played by Gene Hackman. Badassness must be expected.
  • Admiral Greer in The Hunt for Red October. Played by James Earl Jones. Although Ryan, Cmdr. Mancuso, and Capt. Ramius do the heavy lifting, his willingness to gamble and let Ryan do his job resulted in a nuclear war being averted.
    • "Now, understand, Commander, that torpedo did not self-destruct. You heard it hit the hull. And I... Was never here."
      • Of course, at that point in his career, he's a retired Admiral (he retired from the service to take his position as Deputy Director of Intelligence at the CIA). Which makes him a Retired Four-Star Badass
  • In An American Carol we are treated to a scene where General George S. Patton is gunning down zombie ACLU lawyers with a non-automatic rifle. Despite being played for humor, it's pretty badass.
  • General Grey, played by Robert Loggia - Independence Day. He's pretty much the only person in the government who manages to keep a cool head throughout the crisis, besides President Whitmore, who himself is a badass from the Gulf War. It's really no surprise that in the movie's second act—by which point the Vice President has been killed off-screen by the alien invaders—General Grey becomes the President's de facto second-in-command and closest adviser. It's likely that in the movie's universe, General Grey emerges from the crisis with a Patton or Eisenhower-like level of respect, and it's likely that he's either going to be Whitmore's new VP or Secretary of Defense...and the most likely candidate to be Whitmore's immediate successor once his term of office is up.
  • Kurogane, in Ran, Akira Kurosawa's adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear. Kurogane is the general serving Jiro, second son the old warlord Hidetora. He assassinates the eldest brother Taro during the battle with Hidetora's forces. He refuses Jiro's order to kill his wife Lady Sue after he's been seduced by Taro's widow, the vengeful Lady Kaede who's been orchestrating the destruction of Hidetora's clan. At the end. when all her schemes have come to fruition and she has Lady Sue killed, Kurogane beheads in her in spectacular fashion. See Overdrawn At the Blood Bank
  • The original M, played by Bernard Lee in the James Bond films, holds the rank of rear admiral in the Royal Navy as well as being the head of MI 6.
  • Brigadier General John Buford in Gettysburg, whose single division of dismounted cavalry held off Henry Heth's forces on the first day of battle until the main Union force could arrive, and whose tactical foresight in battleground selection was a vital factor in the Union's victory.

"Got one brigade in position and that's all. We got the best damn ground around and they're hitting me with one brigade... lovely. Lovely!"

Comic Books


  • Admiral Honor Harrington. Actually a fair number of Admirals in the Honorverse.
    • In the Honorverse someone has to command fleets at the sharp point even if the bureaucracy is way back at Mission Control. It is not just an affectation that there is no room for "chateau generalship" in the Royal Manticoran Navy.
      • That is truth in television too. A prolonged commerce raiding/counterraiding contest can be directed from shore. However communications has never been good enough to allow that in a fleet action (it has not been tested sense then as there have been no full dress fleet actions sense world war 2). More importantly a fleet has a few dozen ships, while a twentieth century army sprawls all over the place.
      • At the same time generals have when they could gotten close to the front lines often because they were subalterns in WWI and did not remember chateau generalship fondly. Coincidently, chateau generalship was as much because of the circumstance of WWI on the Western Front which was one big siege. Thus it placed a premium on command rather then leadership, and it was not necessarily because of actual cowardice in officers who had after all signed on for a career they knew involved getting shot at. In places where there was room to maneuver like the Eastern front or Middle Eastern fronts of World War I or in the succeeding bits of chaos you do occasionally see a four star badass.
    • Henke, a friend of Harrington's is a badass on her own and she shows up in some of the later series.
    • Haven has several. They did after all survive Manticore.
    • Solarians with few exceptions are extremely bereft in the badassery department. That is because they have not fought a war for ages and are really mainly good at bureaucratic infighting. That would be the case if the Solarians were a more-or-less honestly run service and given how big a pork-barrel a military-industrial complex can be without the encouragement of an outside enemy (not to mention governments that value bootlicking more then efficiency), honesty is something you grade on a curve anyway. But the Solarian armed forces are not subject just to ordinary peacetime rot but like everything else in their government tend to be suborned by outright criminals. Moreover their technology and tactics are way behind the times, almost as much as the Chinese in the Opium war. However, so far Solarian admirals have not displayed cowardice at least. That just got their people killed in greater numbers. In other words the Solarian admirals are not badasses, they are targets.
  • Patrick McLanahan from the books of Dale Brown. Various other characters get promoted to stars without much loss in badassery too. To be honest, though, while he is still a good bomber crew member and Tin Man user if needs must, he now spends more time as Mission Control and fighting off politicians or other generals so that the lower ranks can do their job.
  • Discworld's Sam Vimes, Commander of the City Watch and one of the wealthiest if not the wealthiest man in the city (by marriage) by the end of Men at Arms, His Grace, the Duke of Ankh by the end of Jingo, and still giving the criminal element a good kick in the nadgers when he isn't fighting off quasi-demonic forces, foiling dastardly political conspiracies, or reading to his son, Sam Vimes Jr.
  • General Serpilin from Konstantin Simonov's WWII epic The Living and The Dead, especially in the first book, when his troops escape being surrounded by Nazis.
  • While the command structure in Starship Troopers can be defined as Authority Equals Asskicking, the Sky Marshals take the cake. In order to get that promotion, one needs to go through the command structures of both the Navy and the Mobile Infantry, starting from the bottom. Also note that the Sky Marshal leads from the front. In the book, the Sky Marshal who planned the disastrous Battle of Klendathu died on Klendathu. In the movie, it just had them resign, being a REMF (Rear Echelon Mother Fucker).
  • From David Drake's The Sharp End, a minor character: "Hellfire Hank Tedeschi had no manners and no patience. He successfully completed campaigns in minimal time and with minimal casualties among his own troops, because there was absolutely nothing else in the universe that mattered to him. He would cashier an officer in a heartbeat, and he was rumored to have knocked down underlings who didn't jump fast enough to suit him. Tedeschi believed in leading from the front. He'd killed people with his pistol, his knife, and his bare hands."
  • Dalinar from The Stormlight Archive starts reminding people exactly who he is near the end of The Way Of Kings. Right after laying a beatdown on his nephew who just happens to be king. And this is after giving up his Magical Sword to fulfill an oath to a slave.
  • The X Wing Series' Wedge Antilles put off promotion for as long as he could, preferring to be a commander, but eventually Ackbar talked him around. It did come with deskwork, unfortunately, but he still got to fly. His track record, before and after getting that rank, is nothing short of spectacular. During the New Jedi Order he tried to lose a battle so that he'd have a poor Vong commander to deal with, only to very much not lose. Then he ended up facing a very good Vong commander, and still managed to very much not lose.

Tycho: "We'll put that in your biography. General Antilles was so good he couldn't fail when he tried to."

    • There are actually a fair number of these in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, and a lot of them did start as Commanders.
    • General Luke Skywalker in Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor—the youngest general in his impressively-sized taskforce. The second-youngest is five years older than Han Solo. He's not bothered by the age gap. He's bothered by how the others assume that since he's a Jedi he automatically knows better, and people are afraid to question his plans.
    • Grand Admiral Thrawn. He was the mysterious alien Grand Admiral who, five years after Return of the Jedi, returned from the Unknown Regions to breathe life back into the flagging Empire, and listing off all the things that make him awesome would take a while, but there's a reason why he was one of the (many, many, many) pictures on the Magnificent Bastard page.
    • Supreme Commander Gilad Pellaeon: "Supreme Commander" is just about the highest military rank in the Empire. This was Vader's rank, back when the Emperor lived. Pellaeon earned it. A dedicated naval officer and the best second-in-command anyone could hope for, Pellaeon started service when he was fifteen and died in service when he was in his nineties, having seen the start of the Clone Wars, the rise and fall of the Empire, the subsequent rise of the New Republic and all that that entailed, the Vong invasion, and the unpleasantness that followed. He was the one who was always there to pick up the pieces when the head Imperial died, which happened worryingly often, and he got his rank by being quietly competent, knowing when to retreat, and outliving everyone else who was in charge. Pellaeon picked up on some of the tactical skill of his Grand Admiral, and when the time came he pushed for peace with the New Republic.
  • Morgan and Luccio in The Dresden Files. Morgan may be a complete dick but he there is no denying he is a badass. And Warden Commander Luccio taught him all he knows. Even resident insanely Badass wizard Harry Dresden is slightly scared of them.
    • Technically now that he is a regional Warden commander and Winter Knight Harry is one as well.
  • The Vorkosigan Saga's Admiral Miles Naismith of the Dendarii Free Mercenary Fleet, especially since he's really only a lieutenant in his "real" military identity.
    • Apparently, this runs in the family; his father is the bad-ass Admiral Aral Vorkosigan (the Lord Regent turned Prime Minister of Barrayar), whilst his grandfather was the great anti-Cetagandan military leader General Piotr Vorkosigan.
  • Dragaera's Sethra Lavode is probably the best example. She's not just a general, she's one of the greatest military minds in history, and she's not just a Badass, she's a 450,000-year-old vampire sorceress powerful enough to order gods around. Do not mess with Sethra.
  • Mat Cauthon from the Wheel of Time. He becomes a general by ending up in charge of a small group of soldiers, despite being a civilian, and using them to slaughter thousands of the best warriors in the world, and killing the head of the opposing army in single combat while trying only to run away so that his band of inexperienced soldiers doesn't get decimated. His solders know it too. In a later book:

Reimon:If I know Mat, he's planning us a battle. The Band of the Red Hand rides to battle again. It's been too long, if you ask me.
Tuon: A battle won't get you out of Altara
Talmanes: In that case, he's planning us a war

The other three nodded in agreement as if that were the most normal thing in the world.
Knife of Dreams
    • In general, the Great Captains are this trope when they get to show their stuff, especially Gareth Bryne and Rodel Ituralde, who are both blademasters as well. Ituralde is practically The Ghost for most of the series while the other great generals have appeared, until The Gathering Storm where he holds his own with a ragtag, unsupplied army against the Seanchan, who have greater numbers, air forces, and damane. And Bryne raised an army to besiege the greatest city in the world out of raw recruits. Shame he didn't get to use it.
  • Richard Hannay from The Thirty-Nine Steps is promoted quickly to Major-General once his determined badassery becomes apparent. Promotion dulls neither his skills nor his insane perseverance.
  • Dujek Onearm, Whiskeyjack and Dasseem Ultor from Tale Of The Malazan Book Of The Fallen all qualify in spades.
  • In the Dragonlance novels the elven princess Laurana is originally appointed a general for political reasons and isn't expected to be anything more than a pretty little figurehead. Instead she proves to be a brilliant tactician and fearless warrior and becomes known as the Golden General.
  • Sir Thursday from The Keys to The Kingdom was insanely badass, as well as having a fiery temper. His own soldiers were terrified of him.
  • Admiral Rybakov in The Sixth Battle subverts this: He decides to lead his remaining carrier airwing into its last battle. However, he's shot down and can't even take out an AAA gun when he crashes.
  • Generals in Romance of the Three Kingdoms typically lead from the front, as troops were mainly peasant conscripts with little training and less morale. So Four Star Badasses abound.
    • Lu Bu is possibly the best example, being known as the mightiest warrior of his day but not very bright when it came to actually leading an army.
    • Xiahou Dun ripped out his own eye and ate it after getting shot in the eye with an arrow. He felt it would be wrong to abandon his eye, since it came from his parents. And then killed the guy who shot him. He was forced to withdraw after that, though.
    • Guan Yu, who would eventually become a god of war and loyalty.
    • Zhao Yun. His resume includes fighting through Cao Cao's entire army (using one of Cao Cao's own swords for much of the fight after killing the weapon bearer) to rescue his lord's child.
  • While of course also a real life one, Belisarius goes over the top in the Belisarius Series. As does his wife, Antonina. And Rao. And pretty much everyone in command, actually. But the Four Star Badass amongst 6 novels worth of Four Star Badasses is Rana Sanga: a general so good he worries Belisarius on the battlefield (and comes the closest to killing him, even with Aide boosting Belisarius's reflexes and senses to superhuman levels), a swordsman so good that Valentinian swears he'll surrender immediately before ever facing him again in sword fight, and the man that went a full day in a fight with Rao, ending only when the two men were too exhausted to move.
  • And then continued by debating philosophy until everyone else declared a draw.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire all the major houses have at least one of these. Jon Snow and Dany Targaryen are also both shaping up to become this as well.
  • The Tortall Universe's Lord Sir Raoul of Goldenlake and Malorie's Peak, Commander of the King's Own. Notorious for finding excuses to stay in the field, even when ordered otherwise by the king. Nicknamed 'Giantkiller' for a reason. A desk knight, he ain't.
  • General Antonio Vega of Larry Bond's Vortex is the commander of the Cuban Expeditionary Force in Angola. A brilliant commander who leads from the front, he defeats the South Africans and outmanouveres the Americans using second-line and older equipment, and nearly beats the USA to Pretoria. He Knows When To Fold 'Em, cares about his men's lives, braves nuclear attacks when the South Africans truly lose their minds, and is one of the most memorable characters in the book. Being a Deadpan Snarker who'll stand up to Castro himself doesn't hurt either.
  • A fair few in Sharpe. Major-General David Baird in the early ones, based on the real life British general of the same name. The man personally leads the assault on Seringapatam with a claymore. By the end he is so covered in enemy blood his men don't recognize him.
    • Sharpe sometimes steps into this role, usually when he either manipulates ineffective superiors into taking the action he wants or when he simply decides the superior in question isn't up to the job and "promotes" himself.
    • General Harris didn't let losing part of his skull at Bunker Hill stop him crushing the Tipoo Sultan.
    • The Tipoo Sultan himself qualifies.
    • General Jean-Baptiste Calvet of the Imperial Guard is badass personified. Here are some of his better quotes:

Calvet: In Russia, I ate my own corporal.
Calvet: Human flesh tastes like skate. Did you know that, Ducos? Roast buttock of corporal, nicely peppered. Next time you eat skate, remember that.

      • His other achievements include getting his corps out of Russia intact (a feat in itself, though he just told us how), and impaling two Cossacks. At the same time.

Live Action TV

  • Jack O'Neill was promoted from Colonel Badass to Four-Star Badass in Stargate SG-1.
    • General Hammond put on fatigues every now and then and was never afraid to leave the desk when a more "personal" touch was needed. Also, Sam Carter's dad General Jacob Carter became one of the leaders of the Tok'ra resistance.
      • The writers were even kind enough to give Gen. Hammond a Badass Crowning Moment of Awesome. One episode found him serving as gunner in a Goa'uld vessel piloted by Teal'c. After a successful strafing run against the bad guys, Hammond yelled out a good-ol' Texas "Yee-haw!"
  • Star Trek: Voyager showed that Captain Janeway became FAR more badass when she became Admiral in the future.
  • Due to the weird system of Colonial rank, Commander Adama of the Battlestar Galactica is most likely equivalent to a Commodore. And he is certainly a Badass. And he became an even bigger badass when the President promoted him to Admiral.
    • Admiral Helena Cain was certainly a Ripper but she was undoubtedly badass.
  • Brigadier Sir Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart of the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce (later renamed the Unified Intelligence Taskforce) from Doctor Who.
    • In his final appearance in the main series, he is face to face with a world destroying demon. This doesn't seem to bother him at all.
  • General Benjamin Juma of 24 who's so badass he decided to lead a raid on the freakin' White House himself and even slapped the President. It's too bad he was a villain.
    • Turns out President Omar Hassan is a retired General in the Kamistani Revolutionary Guard. It explains a lot of the badassitude we see from him as Day 8 wears on.
  • Brigadier General Beckman from Chuck is trying to be this. In the later seasons she seems to be somewhat succeeding.
  • Rear Admiral Chegwidden in JAG fits the trope to a tee.

Chegwidden: Signor Amati, many people have tried to kill me one time or another. They're mostly dead. So there's a good chance that your brother-in-law will join them if he does come after me.... Does he have other sons?
Enrico Amati: Uno.
Chegwidden: When he comes... I'll regrettably kill him too.... And after him?
Amati: My sister will expect me to uphold the honor of mi familia.
Chegwidden: Then I'll have to kill you. I don't want to have to do that.
Amati: [in Italian] You're either a very *bold* man, or crazy!
Chegwidden: [In Italian] Not crazy. Practical.

    • Well what do you expect? Before he was a lawyer he was a Navy SEAL.

Chegwidden: My name is Admiral Chegwidden. I am the Judge Advocate General of the United States Navy. Before I leave this hangar, I will know the why and the how of Lieutenant Douglas Marion's death, or Commander Rabb, here, is gonna have your ass...and I'm gonna own your soul.

  • He may start out as a Major Badass, but Major Zod, the Big Bad of Smallville Season 9 eventually promotes himself to General as he and his Badass Army proceed to take control of Earth.
  • General Stockwell of the 5th season of The A-Team is shown to be a excellent marksman and hand-to-hand combatant as well as fluent in Chinese and always two steps ahead of everyone else. Of course, he is played by Robert Vaughn...
  • Several characters are this in Game of Thrones.
  • The Winds of War/War and Remembrance miniseries naturally shows a number of four star badasses. Victor Henry, the hero, ends up as one at the end when the war is over making him a four star retired badass. Von Roon who is an Insufferable Genius in the book, is an Only Sane Man in Hitler's court and takes the time to personally visit the front (and see the appalling sight of German soldiers trickling towards the rear). There are also Historical Domain Characters like Patton, Rommel, Halsey, Spruance, and others.

Tabletop Games

  • Generals in Warhammer 40,000 are among the most powerful units in their respective armies. This is especially true with the Imperial Guard. The rank-and-file are little more than cannon fodder who don't stand a chance in melee combat, while generals wield power swords, plasma pistols, and armour themselves with carapace armour and refractor fields.
    • Doubly true of the Space Marines. Promotions up through the ranks from basic footsoldier (Scout) to Brother-Marine, Brother-Sergeant, and Brother-Captain to Chapter Master. They can dual-wield most power weapons (the picture in the Codex shows one dual-wielding Thunder Hammers), call down orbital bombardments, and take to the field in Terminator armour, the best protection around.
      • Don't forget the founders of the Space Marine legions, the Primarchs. Apart from being so freaking badass that they all basically took over the planet they grew up on. Sanguinius apparently broke the back of a Greater Daemon of Khorne (AKA "Bloodthirster") over his knee in the Siege of Terra.
    • How about Eldar Autarchs? They have to master not just one, but several (preferably all of the eight different Warrior Paths. They lead from the frontlines, where they enjoy the benefits of personal forceshields and plasma grenades, in addition to their pick from an inventory which includes personal teleport generator, wings, psychic amplifiers for their battlecry, a hand-held directed fusion beam gun, a monofilament web-thrower, and a rapid-fire AP rocket launcher.
      • Farseers are also pretty badass - bending fate to bless their own units and doom their enemies, eldritch storms and literal mind rape as a psychic attack, spears that return like boomerangs once thrown while capable of piercing even the heaviest tanks in the game... This while running around on the field of battle, in spite of being several thousand years old.
    • Da Warboss of da Orks is da Warboss kuz e's da biggest, da stompiest, da choppiest, da short, 'e's da Orkiest Ork in da whol damn WAAAGHHH, an' 'e stomps anyone wuz sez diff'rnt.
    • The Tau Shas'Os qualify, too. The Tau culture is a culture where there are only two ways to retire from the field: Ascending to become a Shas'O and remaining in the rank for four years... Or going to the grave. The Shas'Os lead entire armies of fire warriors from the frontlines, with a minimum of 12 years of constant fighting required to ascend to the rank, and so every single Tau who manages to ascend to that rank is a Four Star Badass by design. The fact that they get the coolest armor and the biggest guns helps.
  • Legend of the Five Rings provides multiple examples: a number of Clan Champions, Emerald Champions and Family Daimyo, as well as Toturi Tsudao, General of the Imperial Legions, The Shogun Akodo Kaneka, and even the Splendid Emperor Toturi I himself all fit in here.
  • Used in Warhammer Fantasy Battle Fantasy Battles as well, where every race gets more powerful characters the higher in rank they are. This is explained with some like Chaos and Orcs, where brute strength does take you to that position (and is required to keep it), but not for Elves and Dwarfs that inherit their positions as leaders, but still are far superior to the best elites of their armies. The Empire makes a single exception to this with the general choice which only excels the captain in leadership and is otherwise equal to a captain.
  • In the Roleplaying game Rogue Trader you begin as one, and gets to chose how you became one.
  • Admiral Albadawi of the Terran Confederation in Traveller.
  • In the Exalted RPG, this is the norm. A few examples;
    • Leviathan is one of the favourites; a Lunar Exalt from the First Age, where he was the Admiral of the West, responsible for most of the Navy of First Age. His spirit form is an Orca, which only grew larger as he grew older - he currently considers most "giants of the deep" food, if not bite-sized food. His weapon is a giant trident, so heavy that you would need three or four mammoths to lift it - the name "Islebreaker" pretty much says it all. He is also, thanks to a custom shapeshifting Knack, his own military unit.

Video Games

  • While she probably doesn't hold an actual star rank in the Republic Fleet, the Jedi Exile held a position of such authority within Revan's army that she is commonly referred to as "General". Needless to say, she is a Jedi, too, promoting her to instant badass.
    • Ditto with Admiral Onasi and Mandalore the Preserver (formerly: Canderous Ordo). Remember how badass they were in the first game? There was also the little matter of your Player Character from that first game who said Exile was reporting to...
  • One could argue that General Armin Metrac of Killzone: Liberation is one of these. Most high-ranking Helghast Generals don't initiate in combat with normal soldiers. Most Generals don't sling around chainguns with under-slung rocket launchers with relative ease, either.
  • Generals Oka (Voltes V) and Igor (Dancougar) in Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden. They were quite willing to risk being shot to make damn sure the Titans were screwed over from trying to jack Great Mazinger. Kinda helps that Oka was an honest to God ninja.
  • Komato General Tor from Iji is equipped with the Phantom Hammer, a weapon designed for use in spaceship combat.
  • The Elites from the Halo series are promoted based on kill count- a Zealot, equivalent to a general or admiral, has personally slaughtered thousands.
    • Thel Vadam (the Arbiter) was formerly Fleetmaster in charge of the massive fleet that attacked Reach, and his skills in combat are on par with Master Chief (being a playable character).
    • Admiral Cole. Considered by many in-universe to be the sole reason the Covenant took more than a couple of years to wipe out humanity, his absolute greatest moment had to be taking on a Covenant fleet of hundreds with a single ship, badmouthing their religion and triggering their Honor Before Reason mentality with his taunts, luring them closer, firing hundreds of nuclear missiles into a nearby gas giant, which ignited the planet and turned it into a small star, wiping out the entire Covenant fleet. And he might still be alive.
    • The Didact. Forthenco might have been one too; "Lord of Admirals" was implied to be an inherited title (or something of that sort), but he did manage to hold off the Forerunners from humanity's capital for several years.
  • The General class in Fire Emblem is probably the strongest player class in the games, handicapped only by low speed and limited mobility. Furthermore in some games, they get the Great Shield ability, which allows them to occasionally nullify all damage.
  • Generals are surprisingly good at fighting in Hearts of Iron.
  • General Shepherd from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, who barehandedly defeats even Captain Price, who is de facto the resident Colonel Badass and rumored to be a Time Lord.
  • As problably isn't surprising for a former Colonel Badass, Commodore Blair, in Wing Commander Prophecy, qualifies. He even goes out on a mission with Lance Casey at one point, even though he's aboard the TCS Midway only as an observer on the ship's shake-down cruise.
  • The bodyguard units of your Generals and Princes (which includes the Generals) in the Total War games are some of the best cavalry units in the game. They are VERY good fighters.
    • Somewhat averted in Empire and Napoleon; they're the numerically smallest cavalry unit at full strength, and due to the fundamental shift in field warfare they're more of a (valuable) support unit.
  • In the Kingdom of Loathing, The Man is several times more powerful in every way than any other Frat Army soldier, and his opposite number The Dude is similarly stronger than the rest of the Hippie Army.
  • Mass Effect has Admiral Hackett, who is mostly a Memetic Badass rather than an actual one, since you never get to see him in action but his cool voice will give you missions from time to time and is the commanding officer of the entire Alliance fleet during the assault on Sovereign. There is also Captain Anderson, who will be promoted to Admiral if you choose Udina as the Councilor, who may punch his way into a high security platform and hack a computer after being shot, and surrendering only after making sure the Normandy is no longer ashore.
    • In the "Arrival" DLC, we finally get a look at Admiral Hackett, and it is quite clear from the sheer number of scars on his face that he has earned his rank.
    • According to Mass Effect 3's codex, Hackett started off as just an Enlisted before the First Contact War, and worked his way up the rank ladder, earning a commission, then earning a flag commission, and then becoming the top admiral in the Alliance Navy. His climb is the stuff of legends... according to the Codex.
    • Admiral or Councilor Anderson is still willing to kick ass with Shepard in the trailers of Mass Effect 3. Seeing that he was the first graduate of the N7 commando program in the Alliance Marines, he definitely qualifies once he gets some admiral's stars.
    • Admirals Han'Gerrel and Rael'Zorah definitely have badass aspects to their character. Depending on the viewpoint of the player though they might be tragically misguided.
      • Should Tali remain in good standing with her people, she ends up filling her father's spot in the Admiralty, due to being the eminent authority on the Geth and Reapers amongst her people due to her travels with Shepard.
    • The Cerberus Daily News brought turian General Partinax to the fore, who dueled Facinus leader Kihilix Tanus. His record is surviving seven duels, 5 to first blood and 2 to the death.
    • General Septimus was apparently this before his Heroic BSOD. Shepard can pull him out of it.
    • Now that Wrex is chief of all the krogan, he qualilfies.
  • Final Fantasy IX has General Beatrix from Alexandria, whom you never beat during the game. You fight her three times.
  • General Horace Warfield, the Terran Dominion's answer to the Zerg invasion in Starcraft II: Wings Of Liberty. Previous examples of four-or-better-stars in the series were impressive, but lacking true badassery. Warfield, however, holds the line on the ground in a suit of Marine armor on Char itself with his men, not from the bridge of a battlecruiser. He bayonets a zergling, only to get spined by a hydralisk—then punches the hydralisk right the hell out when it subsequently pounces on him. In the end, he needed rescue from Raynor with a BFG and a few Banshees, but the fact remains--he knocked out a hydralisk. Later, he's complaining that the medics wouldn't cut his arm off to halt the spread of the hydralisk's poison. Still later, he shows up...with a mechanical arm that can change into a gun.
  • Legate Lanius in Fallout: New Vegas. Averted pathetically with General Lee "Wait-and-See" Oliver.
    • The previous Legate Joshua Graham, also known as the Burned Man, was also horrifically terrifying in battle, though his poor understanding of warfare leads him to be more of a General Ripper.
  • General-turned-Governor-Militant Lukas Alexander of the 1st Kronus Liberators in Dawn of War: Dark Crusade. He's the supreme commander of all the Imperial Guard forces on Kronus, as well as political leader of Victory Bay and its provinces. But he fights on the front line in every conflict on the planet. Of course, you could say the same for most/all of the leaders (see the Warhammer 40,000 entry under Tabletop Games), but Imperial Guard merit and leadership systems best emulate real life ones, so Alexander fits this trope best.
  • General Donald Morden, the main antagonist of the Metal Slug series, certainly qualifies. Before he defected to the rebel army he was one of the most influential commanders in the Regular Army. Upon going nuts over the death of his son due to military incompetence, he then got a badass eyepatch (and a Badass Mustache) and defected to the Rebel Army. As a boss he fights from massive tanks and aircrafts, blasting away his opponents with his BFG.
  • In Star Trek Online, the Player Character becomes this upon reaching Grade 40 - Starfleet Rear Admiral or Klingon Brigadier General. This only improves at grades 45 and 50: Rear Adm. Upper Half and Major General, then Vice Admiral and Lieutenant General.

Web Original

  • Open Blue has at least two of these, Vice Admiral Royche, an NPC Man in Black who knows Kung Fu, and High Executor Altara Sigrdrífa, a historical figure, who personally led the Precursors' Praetorian Guard in battle.
    • Starting in v4, Admiral Flota Vladimir Ilyavich Tokarev, HERO OF THE TRIBES, now joins this list.
  • In The Salvation War, the fictional version of the aforementioned David Petraeus (the point of divergence being January 2008) led the combined human forces (albeit operationally only the US military) against the legions of Hell, leading to some of the most lopsided battles in human history. They've since been aimed at Heaven. Oh, and he has release authority over multiple nations' nuclear, biological and chemical arsenals (in Heaven anyway).

Web Comics

  • From Schlock Mercenary:
    • Captain Kaff Tagon and his father, General Karl Tagon. The former has his own mercenary company, which has played a pivotal role in almost every modern (for the comic) conflict. The latter is retired, pushing 70, and still remains in fighting condition, even when reduced to a head in a jar.
    • Admiral Breya Andreyasn's badassery isn't mostly of the physical type (though she can handle herself in a fight), but it's not some average person off the street that can string together a massive fleet from multiple interstellar-capable races for the sake of fighting a galaxy-threatening menace.
  • General Tarquin from The Order of the Stick - when he first arrived on the Western Continent, he conquered eleven different nations over the course of eight months, and was only deposed through the combined efforts of twenty-six others. And if this page is anything to go by, he's still got it even in his later years.
  • The Jager Generals in Girl Genius each qualify. And there are currently seven. An "average" Jägermonster is a Super Soldier who likes to fight enough to subscribe for indefinite military service despite knowing that the transformation is more likely to kill him immediately instead, is not just confident, but showy about it, and was good enough to actually survive for centuries like this. Generals apparently are not only "schmott vuns" who "knows pipple" (they do), but stood out far enough for long enough in this company.
  • Antihero for Hire has General Lumberdon. He talks funny, so time and again it comes up as a "sorrowful news" that even when not quite on top of the situation, he still knows better than to buy anyone's bullshit and can sort things out personally if needed.

Western Animation

  • Hawk from G.I. Joe. To a somewhat lesser extent, Flagg.
  • General Treister from Venture Brothers is apparently an example of this. He prefers a hands on approach to warfare, and continually excercises despite having had 8 heart attacks.
    • At the end of season 4, Treister hands command of The OSI over to Col. Hunter Gathers—a man who was inspired by Hunter S. Thompson. It's pretty much a given that he'll embody this trope.
  • General Rogard from The Iron Giant He displays his badassness while being chased by a berserk, gun covered giant. While Mansley panics, Rogard turns around and shoots at it with a pistol. He never even looked afraid.
  • Joseph Walsh of Galaxy Rangers. The rank is technically "Commander," but considering he is in command of BETA and much of Earth's defenses...
  • Although General Iroh of Avatar: The Last Airbender is retired, he was once the Fire Nation's most fearsome general and the only person in history to break through the wall of Ba Sing Se. By the time we meet him, he has dedicated his life to drinking tea, eating, shopping, playing pai sho, and making sure Zuko grows up right... but is still the only person besides Aang who has any chance of matching Ozai's combat prowess.
  • Sky Marshal Wade in Voltron Force is a villainous example, as he confronts the Voltron Force personally a few times.
  1. Though sometimes this guy may be badass enough to qualify, especially if his obsession came from leading the fight from the front and snapped after seeing the Enemy's atrocities firsthand.