That's an Order

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"Here's the beer. Here's the entertainment. Now have fun. That's an Order!"

Jean Rasczak, Starship Troopers

A Stock Phrase: Someone in command orders a subordinate to do something, and adds, "That's an order." It may be to overrule objection or to show seriousness. It may be worded differently (for example: "I wasn't asking"), but it's always to make clear that he's in charge and what he says goes.

Often used in jest, when the commander orders the friendly subordinates to do something extremely mundane, like asking for a coffee, or telling them to shut up, and jokingly adds, "That's an order."

May also be worded as "Do you need me to make that an order?" Often paired with a With Due Respect comeback on the subordinate's part.

Not to be confused with That Wasn't a Request, which is said by people who have no official command over others but, for the moment, are ordering them around anyway and are about to use force to back up their demand.

Can be Truth in Television in the military, but somewhat rare. This is because technically, anything a lower ranking person is told to do is considered an order, and both people know it. So actually saying "that's an order" is redundant.

Examples of That's an Order include:

Anime and Manga

  • In Black Butler Ciel to Sebastian when Ciel really means it: "This is an order." (Or "I command you," according to a different translation.) This may or may not make the order have a supernatural power of compulsion.

Comic Books

Fan Works

  • Played for angst in the Galaxy Rangers fic "Chrysalis". The Rangers are captured, and the other three believe Zach is dead, leaving Doc in charge. Doc is normally the Deadpan Snarker and wants nothing to do with command. After Niko is taken away and tortured, she is dumped back in the cell, and Doc uses this line on her to try and make sure she doesn't fall asleep and never wake up again.
  • Adds a drop of humor to what might otherwise be a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming in the Fullmetal Alchemist fic "Brilliancy." During a subtly emotional reunion between two military spouses, the higher-ranked one issues the directive "Never leave me again," which is followed with "That's an Order."
  • Happens a couple of times in Tiberium Wars. The first is when Commander Karrde is taking control of the battalion of GDI troops around the Pentagon, and has to verbally browbeat their commanding officer into following his orders. Later, when Nod Commander Rawne ends up at the research facility in Brazil, the local Black Hand general (who outranks him) refuses to take Rawne's advice to evacuate, and when Rawne presses him he emphatically tells him to shut up and take command of the garrison instead of questioning his orders in front of the command staff.
  • In chapter 12 of of Drunkard's Walk II, Douglas Sangnoir's commanding officer -- a weather-controlling super codenamed "Wetter Hexe" -- tells him to stand down from a confrontation, and bellows "That's an order, Mister!", with the thunder from the storm she's currently causing echoing her voice word-for-word.



  • In one Artemis Fowl book, Root tells Foaly the Insufferable Genius to do something, so Foaly asks whether it's an order. Root says it is, to which Foaly replies that he's not a soldier.
  • Shards of Honor: Bothari is back off his rocker after assassinating Vorrutyer. Cordelia attempts to order him to attention so she can give him a sedative. It doesn't go well.
  • Honor Harrington has this on an understandably regular basis, but a notable case is when Hamish Alexander illegally orders Honor not to have a duel with a civilian. She knows perfectly well that it's not in his jurisdiction, and moreover, wouldn't especially care at the moment.
  • In the novel The Man (which takes place in the mid-1960s), the first black U.S. president (who took office because of the deaths of the president, vice president and speaker of the House) tells his bigoted general he wants something done. The general makes some lame reply and the president tells him that it wasn't a suggestion but that "I order it, I order it now!"
  • Tom Clancy uses a variation in several of his books. Military characters almost never need to be told twice when given an order. But several characters with military backgrounds but civilian jobs occasionally deal with career soldiers who outranked them in their previous life. When these high-ranking officers want these civilians to do something, the civilians have their own opinions about it until they are told that if they don't obey, they'll be recalled to active duty, where they'll have to listen. Compliance usually follows quickly.
    • Most notably, a few years after John Clark left the Navy, he is contacted by an Admiral about a mission in Vietnam. There is a group of high-ranking POWs being held in an area that Clark visited previous as part of a previous operation, and the Admiral wants his know-how and expertise for planning a rescue attempt. When Clark demurs, obviously reluctant to go back after two previous tours, the Admiral offers him a choice: He can do the job as a civilian contractor with relative freedom, nice pay, and an expense account; or he can be recalled to active duty status with considerably less pay and placed under the iron thumb of military protocol. Either way, he's doing the job.
  • Subverted in Atlas Shrugged, when Mr. Thompson tries to coax John Galt into sacrificing his principles to save the country without giving him orders. Galt twice asks Mr. Thompson if what he's telling him is an order, and Mr. Thompson is quick to insist it's not.
  • Jake does a variant of this once in Animorphs, telling Ax it's an order from his Prince when the Andalite is balking at something. Possibly lampshading Jake's aggrivation in that he normally tells Ax not to call him Prince.
  • In Thirty-Four East by Alfred Coppel, World War III is starting because Air Force One crashed, killing the President, right after Middle Eastern terrorists kidnapped the Vice President, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs has reason to believe the Soviets had a hand in either or both occurrences (they didn't, but incompetence by a Soviet military intelligence officer sure made it look like they did). When the Vice President, rescued by cooperation between U.S. and Soviet peacekeepers in the Sinai, assumes his Presidential duties and commands U.S. forces to stand down, a ranking Soviet official orders the Soviet military commander to do the same.

"That will be difficult, Comrade Deputy Premier."
"Don't say "difficult" to me, Morozov."

Live-Action TV

  • Babylon 5: War Without End Part I: Sheridan tells Garibaldi this when the latter wants to follow them to B4.
  • Blackadder: "That is an ORDER, Baldrick!"
  • Doctor Who episode "The Two Doctors: Part 1"
    • "Evolution of the Daleks"

"Martha, that's an order."
"What're you, then, some sort of Dalek?"

  • Langt fra Las Vegas ("Show me your boobs! That's an order!")
  • Lost in Space episode "Return from Outer Space"
  • M*A*S*H: Hot Lips and Empty Arms, House Arrest and others.
    • Henry, Please Come Home

Burns: Take it out of here; that's an order.

    • Note that use of the phrase, when directed at Hawkeye or Trapper, was no guarantee that the order in question would be heeded.

Margaret: Frank, give them a direct order!
Hawkeye: Oh, do, Frank; we've never ignored one of those before.

Gibbs: Go. That's an order. Now leave.
McGee: It's an order I'm disobeying.

Sisko: Perhaps I didn't make myself clear, Doctor. This is not a request, it's an order. You will package eighty five litres of biomimetic gel for interstellar transport and deliver them to Cargo Bay 3. Is that understood?

    • Sisko also does this to Nog in "Paradise Lost". Let's just say that he can put the fear of God into any subordinate when he needs to.

Sisko: Cadet, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that I am asking you for a favor. I want a name, and I want it now, and that is an order! Understood, Mr. Nog?

Data: Take Commander LaForge into custody immediately.
Worf: Sir?
Data: That is an order.

  • Star Trek: Voyager episodes "Displaced", "Relativity", "Scorpion: Part 1", "Unimatrix Zero" and "Year of Hell: Part 2"
    • Played with in "Displaced", when it's Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres (both Lieutenants):

Paris: On your feet, that's an order!
Torres: You can't give me orders - we're the same rank.
Paris: I'm a bridge officer, and I have seniority.
Torres: Yeah, by about two days!

  • Star Trek: Enterprise episodes "Acquisition", "Desert Crossing", "Minefield" and "Shuttlepod One"
    • Minefield, when arguing about whose prediction was right earlier:

Captain Archer: So, how long was it?
Lieutenant Reed: I counted 10 seconds.
Archer: Ten? It was more like 20.
Reed: Respectfully, sir, it was 10.
Archer: I'm not gonna argue with you, Malcolm. It was 20. That's an order.

  • That '70s Show
  • The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles episode "German East Africa, December 1916"
  • Torchwood episodes "Captain Jack Harkness", "Meat"
  • Several episodes of Stargate SG-1 and, more rarely, Stargate Atlantis.
    • Generally only used with civilians (who will occasionally point out that they don't actually have to do what the military leaders tell them to) or with soldiers when being ordered to retreat and/or leave their leader behind.
  • Skinner tries (and often fails) to do this in The X-Files. Actually lampshaded in the episode "Triangle", in which Skinner orders Mulder to rest after being pulled from the sea. One of Mulder's friends laughs, "Not that he takes orders."
  • Barack Obama ordering General Odierno to crop Stephen Colbert's hair.
  • Even Hogan used it at least once - he was about to make a total guess at how to disable a bomb (a wrong guess would detonate it) and had already told his men to get back, but they weren't going to leave him.
  • Disney's The Swamp Fox had one of these, with Marion trying to prevent his girlfriend's house being burned down by ordering some of the group, who were members of his militia, to stand down and leave.
  • Mac uses this in CSI: NY to convince a mentally unstable man who believed he was a Marine to secure his weapon. Mac played into the man's delusion and pretended to be the guys superior giving him an order to secure his weapon.
  • An episode of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger has Ahim saying this to keep an injured Gai from getting back up and fighting the Monster of the Week. It's one of the rare moments where we get a peek behind her Yamato Nadeshiko exterior and start to understand exactly why she of all people is a Space Pirate.

Professional Wrestling


  • Ace Combat 6
  • Halo
  • X Fire
  • In Deus Ex if the player throws random objects at his boss, he'll respond "You'll behave like a professional, that's an order."
  • In Modern Warfare 2, General Shepherd says this to Price while telling him to stand down, when the latter shows him his plan to hijack a Russian nuclear missile sub.
  • Metroid Fusion, as Adam orders Samus to destroy SR-338: "That's an order! Any objections, lady?"


Lucas: That wasn't a request, Murdock.

Western Animation

  • Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines
  • G.I. Joe (1985), episode "Let's Play Soldier"
  • Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles, episode "Angels in the Night"
  • Transformers Armada
  • Beast Wars, episodes "Beast Wars: Part 1" and "Victory"
  • Tripping the Rift, episode "Miss Galaxy 5000"
  • Vakama Hordika to his Visorak army in Bionicle 3, after they hesitate to disband.
  • Birdman episode "Vulturo, Prince of Darkness". When Birdman has been defeated by Vulturo, he orders Avenger the Eagle to leave him and try to save some people nearby. When Avenger is reluctant to abandon him, Birdman makes it an order.
  • Jonny Quest episode "Terror Island". Race Bannon orders the boys to take the bulldozer down to the dock where they'll be safe. They disobey him and ram the building the others are trapped in, saving them from being eaten by giant monsters.
  • This happens in an episode of Adventures of the Gummi Bears ("Lower the drawbridge! That is a royal command!")
  • Mr. Krabs sometimes tells his employees that something is an order.
  • The New Adventures of Superman episode "The Force Phantom". The "force creature" attacking Superman is powered by a generator on the Deimosian ship. The Deimosian captain orders that the generator be turned up to deliver more power. When his lieutenant objects the captain says "That is an order!"
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Commander Zhao is requesting use of the Yu Yan Archers, an elite Fire Nation sniper unit, to capture the Avatar, but their commander is stonewalling him, claiming that the archers are too valuable to send after just one person. Cue the arrival of a messenger hawk with a letter for Zhao...

Zhao: It appears I've been promoted to Admiral. My request is now an order.

  • 1973/74 Superfriends episode "The Power Pirate". When the cruise ship Queen Victoria is in danger of washing up on the rocks Aquaman signals them to drop anchor. The captain orders that the anchors be dropped and his subordinate says that they'll never hold. The captain says firmly "That's an order!"