Patriotic Fervor

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"Nothing is pointless! And the reason is: Because I'm the President of the great United States of America! Yeeeeaaah!"
President Michael Wilson, Metal Wolf Chaos[1]

How patriotism is portrayed in fictional TV oscillates between two poles. At one pole a patriotic character is portrayed as the quintessential citizen and, likely, soldier. His actions are noble. This is mostly a Forgotten Trope in modern cinema, although it still pops up occasionally (often subverting the ideas of what makes someone patriotic, à la A Few Good Men, or the other attributes associated with patriotism, à la Forrest Gump). At the other pole, the character is a buffoon of some sort—an overly-officious blowhard, or a naif who has never done any thinking of his own, or even just a thug with a popular excuse for his actions. Very rarely, you get a mix, where the blowhard is genuinely loyal and commendable, if not always in a respectable way. This basically becomes the Sliding Scale of Patriotism vs Jingoism.

These poles can and often do reflect the personal political philosophy of the writer (and, contrary to what the stereotypes would have one believe, being right-wing does not necessarily make one more jingoistic, nor does being left-wing necessarily make one less patriotic). We can observe, though, that there are sometimes direct relationships between the popularity of a war and the number of noble or oafish patriots portrayed, which leads to the idea that the trope is Cyclic Trope. The writer may just be putting up a character in response to the mood of the public. Of course, films like Lions For Lambs, which lambast the war they portray and yet were massive flops at the box office, provide a big counterpoint to that theory.

Regardless of the motives, the Super Patriot is often a General Ripper or a Colonel Makepeace.

Captain Geographic often is like this.

It should be pointed out that this is far from being mainly an American idea, however, different cultures have different attitudes toward it. For example in British television, or in fact most other British media published after 1918, Patriotic Fervour is pretty much always an unsympathetic trait, usually played for laughs. Where the line is drawn between regular patriotism and fervor is also very different.

See Misplaced Nationalism for the internet equivalent. See My Country, Right or Wrong for when someone allows Patriotic Fervor to convince themselves that aiding an evil leader is their "duty".

Examples of Patriotic Fervor include:


Advertising[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Half of the commercial spots for the Mexican beer Corona (Specially during any of the soccer tournaments that the Mexican soccer team plays) that are aired on national television. The other half consists on Scenery Porn with a dash of Patriotic Fervor.
  • Molson Canadian, who produced comercials like I Am Anthem and the ever-famous I Am Canadian.


Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

  • Heroman. That's all that needs to be said, really.
  • The Legend of Koizumi is made of this trope, Mahjong, and insane amounts of Hot-Blooded.
  • Played darkly in the Alabasta Arc of One Piece, in which Big Bad Crocodile uses this to turn the people of the country of Alabasta against each other. He basically arranges events so that half of the population becomes convinced that the King is a self-serving Complete Monster out to ruin the country for his own benefit, so they start a rebellion and go to war against the other half who remain loyal to the King. Crocodile's description of his plan?


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • The difference in US and UK perceptions of apparent Patriotic Fervor is the reason why Captain Britain is pretty much unheard of in his 'home' country, considered equal parts sad and hilarious when people know he exists. This is why Patriotic Fervour wasn't a trope in Britain until recently.
    • Well, when the traditional symbol of your country (John Bull) is a grumpy, pompous old fat man, I can understand why he wouldn't be depicted often.
  • While good ol' Captain America (comics) was originally conceived as essentially propaganda, over the years he's been developed and deconstructed in enough ways to remain sympathetic to foreigners and internationalists.
  • The running theme of the Superman subplot in The Dark Knight Returns.
  • Freedom Fighters has Uncle Sam, Anthropomorphic Personification of the American Spirit, who is literally composed of this trope. No, really; Gods Need Prayer Badly, and his strength is direction proportional to the faith of the American people in America and its ideals, to the extent that if nobody had any such faith he'd cease to exist.
  • Parodied in PS238: The universe's local Captain Patriotic is getting up in the years, and both the Democratic and Republican party wants his successor to adhere to their party line. Thus, they push their own candidates, both of whom constantly try to out-patriotic the other on-screen. Did we mention both of said candidates are in primary school and none of their classmates understand anything of what they're doing?


Film[edit | hide]

  • The second film in the Rambo series is this trope.
    • The third film. Only than it's Afghani patriotism rather than American.
    • Considering that Rambo pretty much disowns America at the end of the second film because he's disgusted by the government's attempt to cover up Vietnam still holding American POWs, this trope may not apply to the Rambo films.
  • The president in Independence Day is a handsome young fighter pilot who helps save the world and gives a Rousing Speech about July 4 being Independence Day for the entire world, after America Saved The Day.
  • Played with in The Rock.

Gen. Hummel: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." -- Thomas Jefferson.
John Mason: "Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious," according to Oscar Wilde. *Hummel pistol-whips him* Thank you for proving my point.

    • That line about watering the Tree of Liberty with blood is one of the reasons the author of the Declaration of Independence may be seen as a bit of a Jerkass—it could be used to justify things like the French Terror.
  • Team America: World Police plays this for laughs.
  • 300 -Only to be expected. After all, That Was Sparta.
  • The end of Once Upon a Time In Mexico plays this straight, with the Mariachi saving the Mexican president, and the entire city fighting a military group attempting a coup.
  • Some of Chariots of Fire is about the difference between healthy patriotism and unhealthy. One of the best scenes shows athletes saluting each others flags and giving respect to each others patriotism in a spirit of comradeship-in-competition between idealistic youthful athletes. It gives the idea that for a short time the world was a fellowship of nations.
  • The Deltas deploy this in Animal House in order to deflect attention from the (accurate) charge that they supplied their underage pledges with alcoholic beverages and date-raped their female guests at a toga party. Eric Stratton argues that it's unfair to railroad the entire Delta fraternity because of the actions of a few bad apples. After all, one might as well scapegoat institutions of higher learning in general for allowing such organizations to exist at all—and, by extension, one might also condemn the United States of America for mismanaging its national educational system. And how dare you! That's unpatriotic!
  • Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters: Mishima and Isao have this badly. It doesn't end well for them.
  • Captain America the First Avenger puts less emphasis on Steve being a super-patriot and more on him being The Cape (trope). He just wants to help people, and the costume and Hitler-punching persona is cooked up by a propaganda machine he'd be a lot happier without.
  • The Torture Porn film Territories [dead link] is about a pair of psychotic super patriot border agents who capture, imprison and torture anyone they deem a threat to America (fuck yeah!).
  • Uncle Sam, a slasher about the title character killing off the unpatriotic (flag burners, draft dodgers, sleazy lawyers, soldiers, and politicians, etc.) But in reality, he's not some super patriot vigilante, just a psycho who likes killing people.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In Jingo! the nobles of Ankh-Morpork have an army consisting of officers with no experience leading troops with no training, yet they expect it to take no more than a day to defeat an army several times larger with years of experience. There's also little old ladies who try to shame the city's police officers for not abandoning their posts to join the army. The set-up is more than slightly reminiscent of the popular image of World War I. The book takes its name from the rhyme (quoted in the book itself) that gave us the word "jingoism".
    • Reg Shoe is another example from Discworld. In fact, when he actually GETS involved in a Revolution (in which nobody pays any attention to him), in the final battle that is the climax of Night Watch, Reg Shoe is killed by several crossbow bolts. His revolutionary fervor is so great that this doesn't stop him, and he only gets more enthusiastic as a zombie.
  • A combination of Patriotic Fervor and Daniel Webster's eloquence wins over the Jury of the Damned in The Devil and Daniel Webster.
  • "dulce et decorum est pro patria mori." [2] -Horace


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • A certain Disney Channel Original Movie called Tiger Cruise. A whimsical comedy about a bunch of military brats who participate in a fun cruise on the U.S.S. Constellation. The catch, you may ask? Well, 9/11 happens halfway through. The movie ends with the unveiling of a ginourmous American flag on deck. This movie is not only a thinly veiled recruitment ad for the U.S. Navy, but also projects some pretty one-sided messages regarding the aftermath of 9/11 (those being the "We shall never surrender" policy rather than the more appropriate "Never again" policy). Did I mention that the protagonist starts off as an artistic and pacifistic young girl who only came on the cruise to beg her father (C.O.) to come home and (for once) take care of his family? But don't you worry, America, her behaviour would soon be "corrected" .
  • Major Frank Burns on [[M*A*S*H]] was the quintessence of this trope. His Movie version adds religious arrogance to the mix.
    • Colonel Flagg (U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence Division), embodies a jingoistic, paranoid, "Americans are God" straw patriotism that is both funny and deeply disturbing at the same time.
      • During The Fifties it would not have been entirely unrealistic or entirely Straw to find Flagglike individuals in such a role. And in several other decades as well. And in Real Life they're even more disturbing.
  • Stephen Colbert is as American as it gets. Artist Todd Lockwood described the page image (the art for a tragically rejected World of Warcraft TCG card) as "I am Captain America (comics), and so can you!"
  • Most of the main characters from Babylon 5, although they are largely a group of ambassadors. While these are the more subtle and serious form, Clarke's supporters in the Earth civil war plot are very much the loud kind.
    • Perfectly natural. An ambassador is simply another kind of hired bargainer-a more glorified lawyer or broker. It is not unwholesome for him/her to show bias towards his client.
      • Delenn had an attractive sort of patriotism that was harmonious rather then discordant with the patriotism of other countries. She was also refined. Londo and G'kar tended to lean more to My Country, Right or Wrong though Londo was more genteel about his expression of it and G'kar more blunt.
  • Sam the Eagle of The Muppet Show runs on this trope.
  • The 3rd Rock from the Sun episode "Red, White, & Dick" centered on the aliens discovering patriotism. In an effort to be as American as possible, Sally, Tommy, and Harry looked over the Declaration of Independence. They latched onto the phrase "all men are created equal" and ended up creating a Does This Remind You of Anything? version of Commie Land. Meanwhile, Dick discovered that he was Canadian in his phony Earth identity and took the citizenship test (which is weird, since he was able to register to vote in the earlier episode "Dick the Vote").
  • JAG: Backed by the Pentagon


Music[edit | hide]


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • A FoxTrot strip had Paige claiming to be doing her Freedom homework (instead of "French homework"), to her mother's irritation.


Professional Wrestling[edit | hide]

  • The deeply patriotic American is a borderline Stock Character. Hulk Hogan in his prime, though, exemplified this trope. When the Hulkster left WWE for good for several years in 1994, Lex Luger rather awkwardly took over his role as the All-American Face.
  • The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff, whom he was Vitriolic Best Buds with, showed that this trope wasn't limited to American patriotism. (Volkoff eventually became quite fond of the U.S. as a result of his Heel Face Turn, and ironically found himself opposed to all-American Badass Sergeant Slaughter after Slaughter experienced a Face Heel Turn and became an Iraqi sympathizer.)
  • Exaggerated with the Jerkass heel Kurt Angle, who was so patriotic that he wore a starred and striped singlet and insulted Canadian people; and darkly subverted with John "Bradshaw" Layfield, who merely exploited patriotism as a vehicle to seize power.
  • Rene Dupree showed French Patriotic Fervor during 2003-2004 (which, if you'll remember the current events going on at the time, was when there was a huge backlash against France due to their actively trying to undermine the invasion of Iraq). He was then joined by Rob Conway, an American turncoat "French sympathizer", forming the tag team La Resistance, and getting Heel heat not only from the fans but particularly Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler (despite Lawler being a heel, or at least a Jerk with a Heart of Gold).
    • A couple of years later, Sylvan Grenier - the third La Resistance member - became the self-appointed Ambassador of Quebec, a heel who kept telling people that Quebec was the best place in the world. This culminated in a Smackdown from Montreal, where he got massive cheers.
    • Both Dupree and Grenier are actually Canadian, and after a while (perhaps to mitigate hostility among fans in France) they were billed as French-Canadian jingoists. (For context, French-Canadians are often viewed by Anglo-Canadians with even more disdain than Mexican-Americans are viewed in the U.S.) Humorously, Rob Conway was also billed as a Canadian despite being from New Jersey.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • The computer, some of the rebellions, and a lot of the players in Paranoia act on a twisted form of this trope.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • American Patriotic Fervor was the theme of the musical Strike Up the Band, which had the U.S. starting a war with Switzerland over either cheese or chocolate.
  • George M. Cohan's name was once all but synonymous with American Patriotic Fervor.
  • In the number "A Healthy, Normal American Boy" from Bye Bye Birdie, Patriotic Fervor is one device employed to avoid having to honestly answer questions about Conrad Birdie.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Zangief is the poster boy for this trope. AND MOTHER RUSSIA!!
    • Guile is a subversion. He gives off this vibe, but only makes a couple of quotes about being a man and nothing about being an American. He has an American flag tattoo to mirror patches worn on soldier uniforms, and his backstory is all about finding a missing friend from the military, as opposed to Zangief who usually fights FOR RUSSIA.
  • Metal Wolf Chaos: President Wilson covers both poles: he's apparently convinced he can do anything because he's the American president, but uses this power to single-handedly defend his country's BURNING FREEDOM!!! which is universally badass. Apparently, the Japanese think Americans defeat their enemies through hot blooded Patriotism!
  • Fallout 3: LIBERTY PRIME IS ONLINE. ALL SYSTEMS NOMINAL. WEAPONS: HOT. MISSION: THE DESTRUCTION OF ANY AND ALL CHINESE COMMUNISTS. AMERICA WILL NEVER FALL TO COMMUNIST INVASION. EMBRACE DEMOCRACY OR YOU WILL BE ERADICATED!
  • Played with in the case of Ulysses of Fallout: New Vegas. In the Old World Blues DLC, you can hear him speak of how he still believes in America despite having been wiped out two centuries ago and his most distinctive physical trait is his jacket with the Fallout setting's version of the stars and stripes. In Lonesome Road however, it's shown that he has a disdain for all the major factions of the Mojave and plans to wipe them out using the nukes of The Divide. Nonetheless, it seems that while he is a devoted patriot, he has no "homeland" to devote himself to, having long since deserted Caesar's Legion and having his would-be home ending up destroyed by the unwitting hands of the Courier.
  • Freedom Force - Minuteman and Liberty Lad are American-themed superheroes.
  • This trope is the backstory for the Korean characters of the Soul Series. Hwang and Yun-Seong are soldiers in the Imperial Navy seeking Soul Edge in order to fight Japan and prove their national superiority. Seong Mi Na is trying to prove that females can be as capable soldiers as male recruits.
  • The Soldier is often implied to suffer greatly from this in the Team Fortress 2 fandom. A number of his domination lines, though, cement his hilariously over the top jingoism. The fact that he has a grasp on reality that can charitably be described as 'tenuous' only makes it that much funnier.

"Stars and Stripes beats Hammer and Sickle, LOOK IT UP." (Upon dominating the Heavy, a Russian)
"America wins again!" (When dominating the German Medic)
"Your white flag does not stop American bullets." (Dominating the Spy, supposedly French)

  • The Jack Howitzer commercials in Grand Theft Auto's radio. All of them satirical over-the-top parody jingoism.

Howitzer: I'm an American! AND YOU'RE NOT! SO F***ING DIE!
Narrator: Rated RP for 'Really Patriotic'.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Bandit Keith in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series is a bizarre version of this, who "apparently likes to remind everyone that he's from America". Every other line that he speaks ends with him saying "in America!" or making references to being American. In a bizarre twist, he's Canadian.
  • JibJab studios released a video portraying President Barack Obama as a Superman-esque super-hero, and as such, filled it to the brim with Patriotic Fervor. The ending of the video in particular will make you want to salute the flag: Check it out here.
  • Matt of Two Best Friends Play loves to shout "America!" whenever he sees something patriotic. Or does something awesome. Or when he does something really stupid but thinks its awesome.
  • Skippys List has examples:

26. Never tell a German soldier that "We kicked your ass in World War 2!"


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Shortpacked!'s Ronald Reagan has the ability to break the legs of shoplifters through patriotic fervor, which also makes him immune to bullets. Better Than It Sounds.
  • Inverted in Scandinavia and The World with modern day Germany, who's afraid to wave his flag too much for fear of his people becoming too prideful (because bad things happen), and even freaked out when he realized his shirt was a flag.
    • This is played straight with the main Scandinavian trio, though, since they see the flags as a symbol of joy and happiness, and like waving them around for their birthdays. Or in this case Germany's.
  • Parodied with "American Eagle" and "USA Patriot Act", two of the metaprodigies at PS238 school. As candidates to replace Freedom Fighter (the Captain America (comics) Expy of the PS238-verse) they constantly try to outdo each other in Patriotic Fervor, to the bemusement and annoyance of their teachers and classmates:

American Eagle: Good citizens, can you lend a fellow American assistance? I'm in search of Mr. Alloy's classroom. I wish to further my education in science, so that I might contribute to the innovation that makes our country a leader in the quest for knowledge!

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • On one episode of Family Guy, Peter is swept up in a wave of pro-Americanism that ultimately leads to a crusade against immigrants, of which he, naturally, turns out to be one.

Peter (wearing a suit made of an American flag: This is how a patriot dresses.
Stewie: You look like the Statue of Liberty's pimp.

  1. The most American video game ever made... by the Japanese.
  2. "It is sweet and honorable to die for one's country."