R. Lee Ermey

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That's Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Ermey to you, maggot.

Gunnery Sergeant R. Lee Ermey (1944-2018) was a U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor turned actor/media personality. Ermey became a pop culture icon off of his brief but memorable role in the Stanley Kubrick film Full Metal Jacket, which had him play a foul-mouthed drill instructor whose sadistic training methods ends up driving one recruit insane and led to his death; incidentally, his scenes are one of the few times in which Kubrick allowed improvisation in any of his films.

The role made him the poster child for the trope Drill Sergeant Nasty and landed him work in other films (most notably Se7en, where he ironically plays against type as a rather mellowed out police captain), as well as a slew of voice-over work due to his distinct gruff voice, and ultimately a hosting job for several History Channel military-themed shows (Mail Call and Lock n' Load with R. Lee Ermey). He also guest-starred as the abusive ex-Drill Sergeant Nasty father of the title character of House.

He actually retired from the marines as a Staff Sergeant. In 2002, he was the first person in the Marine Corps to be promoted after retirement with an honorary promotion to Gunnery Sergeant.

R. Lee Ermey provides examples of the following tropes:

Person[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Adam Westing: In Saving Silverman.
    • Also, his Geico commercial.
  • Ascended Extra: Originally brought on to Full Metal Jacket for accuracy advice, his demonstrations of how to do a Drill Sergeant Nasty were so good that he was cast in his famed role.
    • Said demonstration was unflinchingly chewing out the camera with both tennis balls and rotten oranges being thrown at him, and he continued to chew out the camera for fifteen straight minutes, during which he never once moved, changed his expression, or repeated himself.
  • Badass: A U.S. Marine. 'Nuff said.
  • Cast the Expert: How he got his most famous role.
  • The Determinator: Was once in a car accident which knocked him off the road. He flashed his lights for hours until someone found him
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: He was the consummate master of this trope.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: He could be downright mellow and soft-spoken when he was not in Drill Sergeant Nasty mode. For that matter, in the bloopers that showed after Mail Call, he often came across as a bumbling old dad type when he flubbed his lines.
  • No Indoor Voice
  • Semper Fi
  • Shout-Out: Was the subject of many:
    • The anime series Full Metal Panic!, in addition to being named for Full Metal Jacket, has an episode where the protagonist plays Drill Sergeant Nasty to a rugby team; the English dub takes this up a notch by having him quote Ermey's character verbatim (albeit, alas, with censoring).
    • There's also this Japanese English phrase(?) book, which features an Army Moe-girl whose dialogue consists of nothing but uncensored Full Metal Jacket character quotes.

I rike you. Come ova to my house and fuck my shista.

    • Another anime example: Pani Poni Dash! has a few scene cut-away pictures of Ermey depicted in his Full Metal Jacket role. It's worth noting the animators spared no detail to his likeness.
    • The writers of 'Green Lantern have created a Green Lantern Drill Instructor character who is a slightly more mellowed out version of Hartman.
    • In StarCraft, the driver of the Siege Tank asks "What is your major malfunction?"
  • Throw It In: A good bit of the lines from Sgt. Hartman, in Full Metal Jacket, were adlibbed by Ermey, who was one of the few actors that Kubrick allowed to go off-script when shooting scenes.

I'LL BET YOU'RE THE KIND OF GUY WHO WOULD FUCK A PERSON IN THE ASS AND NOT EVEN HAVE THE GOD-DAMNED COMMON COURTESY TO GIVE HIM A REACH-AROUND!!

    • Note: He had to explain what a "reach around" was to Kubrick after ad-libbing the line.
  • Trope Codifier: Most Drill Sergeant Nasty characters take a page from his book (if they weren't played by him in the first place).
  • Younger Than They Look: He was only 42 when he filmed Full Metal Jacket. He looked almost the same from then as in his Geico commercial...over 20 years later.

Shows[edit | hide]

  • Bullet Time: What did you expect with all of the guns on Lock n' Load?
  • The Cameo: On the Artillery episode of Lock and Load, the hwacha, an ancient Korean multiple rocket launcher, is mentioned and shown being fired. It's the exact same one that the MythBusters Build Team constructed, as shown by the mismatched wheels, though this fact is not mentioned in the show.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Mail Call had the host note that watermelons were his "sworn enemy", and hence he used them as target practice. This gets carried over to Lock n' Load.
    • However, Ermey actually played with the trope in an episode of Lock and Load. "Some people think I don't like watermelons. Well, that's not true - I just believe you gotta kill it before you eat it."
      • In another episode, he commented that he had nothing against watermelons, it's just that heads are so much more expensive.
      • Maybe a shout out to FMJ, since the one thing Private Snowball wouldn't like was that (in addition to fried chicken) watermelon isn't served on a daily basis in his mess hall.
    • Another episode of Lock n' Load had Ermey mow down several jars of gumballs with an uzi, prefacing the destruction by saying "I HATE Gumballs, they cause tooth decay!!"
  • Fourth Wall Mail Slot: The main point of Mail Call
  • Hand Cannon: In a Lock and Load episode, when the host fired a .44 Magnum and got knocked down in the process, he promptly did not want to fire it again.
    • Actually, he just didn't want to fire it from the awkward crouched position he was in, as it put him off-balance and knocked him over. In another episode, he used a .44 Magnum in a test, despite that caliber not being around when the feature he was testing was invented. He used it just because he likes it better.
  • More Dakka: Look, Lock And Load was about firearms. What do you expect? (Taken to its logical extent with episodes devoted solely to machine guns, from the original hand-cranked Gatling onwards.)
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Ermey addressed this in an episode of Mail Call, pointing out how doing this is a good way to lose teeth.

"Semper Fi." (salutes) Carry on.