The Neidermeyer

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"A PPPLEDGE PPPIN!!!"
"Get up, you faggots! Get up and fight!"
Neidermeyer, Animal House
"Stop exploding, you cowards!"
Zapp Brannigan, Futurama

A commanding officer with a complete lack of respect between himself and the troops. Because of his demonstrated incompetence, cowardice, inexperience, willingness to sacrifice troops for his own glory or to get promoted, or just being a psychotic level hard-ass, his authority is resented by the men in the trenches, and his orders are only obeyed because chain-of-command says so.

In more upbeat war shows, he's usually forced to learn An Aesop about his awful command style and adjust his behavior in a way that either changes him into a likable officer or results in his resignation, demotion, or transfer to a more suitable post.

In more cynical war movies there will be no escape from the petty and obnoxious brute, and the men simply grouse and wait for the day someone on the opposing side will get lucky and catch him in the crosshairs. The troops might even conspire to frag him if they get tired of waiting for the enemy to do the job.

If he is too tough to frag, though, the (un)lucky survivor of his tirades will become either a Yes-Man with no more backbone than he started off with a sense of "loyalty" to him, or The Dragon who seeks to become his successor when he dies/moves on. In a best case scenario, the successor may show much competence and merely view the man as a Cynical Mentor or Drill Sergeant Nasty, but not always. In this case, the other troops will remain as spiteful as ever, but find that the converted will easily take care of any sort of mutiny they try to pull off.

The Drill Sergeant Nasty is a Neidermeyer—or just acts like one—with the purpose of turning recruits into soldiers. A Sergeant Rock may act like the Neidermeyer but is nonetheless held in high regard because he wouldn't put his men through anything he isn't going through himself.

See also Miles Gloriosus for a more general application of this trope.

The polar opposite of this trope is "A Father to His Men". In many cases, a General Failure is basically a Neidermeyer with greater rank and thus even more scope for causing damage. If The Neidermeyer is a temporary replacement for the usual Reasonable Authority Figure, it may also be a Tyrant Takes the Helm story. A Neidermeyer lacking in authority is Gung-Holier Than Thou.

Named after the infamous blowhard ROTC commander Doug Neidermeyer from the movie Animal House. In the epilogue, it's revealed that he ended up being shot by his own troops in Vietnam. In the John Landis-directed segment of The Twilight Zone movie, we even meet the soldiers who shot him.

Captain Queeg of The Caine Mutiny is an alternate Trope namer often referenced in media, hence the expression "Queeg-like".


Examples of The Neidermeyer include:

Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Brigadier General Fessler from Fullmetal Alchemist might have set a record in shortest time between showing up and being offed by his own troops. In his few pages of life, his only plan of attack in a guerrilla war is to charge, he only thinks of glory for himself, and when the enemy attempts to surrender he refuses, at which point Colonel Basque Grand had had enough and shot him at point blank range. Maes Hughes then deems the shot a stray bullet, at which point everyone agrees (no planning was involved).
    • Archer in the 2003 anime version fits the trope pretty well too. Incidentally, the anime version of Grand isn't exactly the most lovable commander himself.
  • Ax Hand Morgan from One Piece. Gives Luffy an extra reason to kick some ass.
    • Also, Spandam can be considered one.
  • Miwa Sakimori from Daimos is this, and a General Ripper. He mostly hides behind his soldiers, or Daimos itself from danger. And when opportunity presents, he'll show his extreme racist tendencies by shooting actually harmless Brahmins. And all that's in his mind is... well, you guessed it, promotions.
  • General Colbert from Tekkaman Blade is also a real piece of work. Much like Miwa, he too is a racist (so much so he works with Murata Azrael in Super Robot Wars Judgement), treats The Hero like a traitorous piece of filth despite the fact he's pretty much the most effective means of defeating the Radam. Add in the fact he's also a pretty shameless General Ripper as well, and you've got a total asshole of a Neidermeyer as a result.
  • In the Saga of Tanya the Evil, Tanya, at least for the most part, doesn't see his troops as anything more than an asset and cares more about his promotion than their well being. Fortunately for them, he generally considers being perceived as caring about them as good for his chances of being promoted (and of course the best way of doing that is keeping them alive and unharmed).

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In the Elseworlds mini-series Generations by John Byrne, Superman's powerless son Joel Kent becomes this sort of officer and is shot by his own men in Vietnam.
  • Perhaps not surprisingly, an issue of Garth Ennis's Preacher features two examples of these. One is an incompetent lieutenant who gets a Viet Cong bullet when he's dumb enough to wear his officer's stripes bars while on patrol, and the other is a Jerkass sergeant who Jesse's father and Spaceman kill after he gets one of their friends killed.
  • Major Magnam from the Rogue Trooper story of the same name; his domineering, arrogant personality and contempt for regular soldiers leads to an entire Souther squad being slaughtered when they attempt to take a very well-fortified Nort installation. Rogue ends up sticking his biochip into a special containment device and keeping the gun on which it had been stored.
  • Parodied in the Golden Age MAD feature "Sheik of Araby!"

Soldat: Serjeant! I 'ave a bullet hole between mine eyes! May I seek le first aid?
Sergeant Guillotine: Slackair! Eet ees a superficial wound! Back to ze fight!

Film[edit | hide]

  • Lt. Marty Pascal, the executive officer of the submarine Stingray in the movie Down Periscope. Gets his comeuppance when he tries to mutiny against Dodge, and no one will stand with him. Dodge and the crew dress as pirates, blindfold him, and force him to walk the plank - right into the net of a fishing ship that takes him back to base. He thought they were actually going to kill him, though.
  • In Full Metal Jacket, Private "Gomer Pyle" blows away Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, who had driven him into a psychotic breakdown.
    • Although, to be fair, Pyle wasn't a model soldier, and when he did show improvement, Hartman did commend him. Plus there was the other Marines throwing a "blanket party" for him involving beating the poor guy with bars of soap.
      • Hartman is still a demonstrable failure as a drill instructor in several key aspects (he shows no awareness as to the true mental condition of his trainees, he is either unaware of or condones illegal bullying and assaults by trainees on each other even when its obvious enough to leave marks, and his actions in his final scene are a flat-out Too Dumb to Live), and the proper remedy for Private Pyle would have been to discharge him as unfit once it became apparent that he simply did not have the mental facilities to function as a Marine, not ride him into a mental breakdown.
  • Captain Stillman from Stripes.
  • Lieutenant Pavlov Dill in Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation was one of these, though he's more incompetent than mean.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Owen Thursday in Fort Apache (modeled on the real-life George Armstrong Custer) is an arrogant martinet to his own men; out of class snobbishness, obstructs the path of True Love between his daughter and a young lieutenant because the latter is the son of an Irish noncom; sees war as a path to personal glory; provokes a conflict with the Apaches that better diplomacy could have avoided; and, worst of all, gets most of his regiment slaughtered through tactical incompetence and stubborn refusal to listen to Captain Yorke, who knows the Apaches much better. For all of that, Yorke credits him with improving the quality of the regiment through his strict discipline.
  • Corporal Himmelstoss from All Quiet on the Western Front. He bullied the squad the movie focused on, and was relocated to WW 1's frontlines after "nearly killing a squad of rookies on the muddy field". He doesn't learn any Aesops, though - he just dies.
    • The squad even ambushes him, puts a sack over his head, and beats him bloody in the original book.
      • Also in the movie(s). Himmelstoss later is transferred to the front himself, after maltreating a recruit whose father turned out to have too much influence. He at first performs badly and chickens out of a charge, much to Paul Bäumer's disgust, but when an officer orders him to advance, Himmelstoss charges wildly. (In the second movie version he then is decorated for bravery and receives an Iron Cross from Kaiser Wilhelm himself). In the novel he makes up with his former victims and while acting as substitute company cook sees to it they get good food (chapter 7).
  • In The Dirty Dozen, Wladislaw is in prison awaiting execution for shooting his commanding officer, who, according to Wladislaw, was absconding over the hill with all of his unit's medical supplies.
  • Lt. Gorman in Aliens certainly qualifies for this, due to his relative inexperience, General Failure at managing the alien attack, rear echelon tactics and the resulting lack of respect from his troops.
    • Somewhat subverted in that while he was a bad officer, later on he tries to apologise for his behaviour, has no trouble submitting command to a more experienced and competent subordinate and shows great personal bravery and tries to save the marine who depised him the most.
    • Gorman only qualifies for this trope in the sense that his troops have very little respect for him, because he doesn't actually have very many legitimate military failings. What he does have is a complete lack of experience, which hoses him hard at several points in the movie, but every officer goes through that stage of development at one point in their lives and the vast majority of them survive it. Gorman fails because a) he was deliberately assigned to a mission well beyond his experience range, b) his much more experienced platoon sergeant was killed off in the first minute of action, c) the situation is entirely unlike anything any of the Marines were trained to deal with, d) his available military intelligence is pretty much at the absolute theoretical maximum of "bad" (that is to say, every significant fact he was given in his pre-mission briefing turned out to be substantially incomplete at best, if not wrong or deliberately falsified), e) his troops deliberately disobeyed the orders he gave that would have prevented much of the disaster[1] and f) through no fault of his own he is out of communication with his people at the critical moment of the engagement. Had his first assignment been a more standard military deployment there is every reason to believe he'd have done fine.
  • Lt. Col. Tall (Nick Nolte) in The Thin Red Line. He has veins in his teeth. Partly subverted in that he secretly has a low opinion of himself... and his tactics work.

Staros: We had a man, gut shot out, on the slope, sir. It created quite an upset.
Tall: Fine! Fine! Now what about those reinforcements!
Staros: My company alone cannot take that position, sir.
Tall: You’re not going to take your men into the jungle to avoid a god damned fight. Now do you hear me, Staros! I want you to attack. I want you to attack right now with every man at your disposal. Now attack, Staros!
Tall: It's never necessary to tell me that you think I'm right. We'll just... assume it.
Staros: We need some water... the men are passing out.
Tall: The only time you should start worrying about a soldier is when they stop bitchin'.

  • In Paths of Glory, General Mireau sends a division on a suicide mission to attack a heavily fortified German position just for the possibility of getting himself a promotion. After the attack fails, he blames the soldiers and orders random soldiers from the division to be executed for cowardice.
  • Lt. Ito from Letters From Iwo Jima, though if anything he's a mild example of what the real Imperial Japanese Military was like.
  • In Heartbreak Ridge, Major Powers is a good supply clerk with delusions of grandeur.
  • C.J. is introduced in such a way in 2004's Dawn of the Dead.
  • The Trope Namer, from Animal House.
  • The Manchurian Candidate: At least in the first movie, the fact that everybody in the squad likes Sgt. Shaw despite him being The Neidermeyer is a major clue that something's going on.

Literature[edit | hide]

  • Captain Queeg of Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny, and the movie and play (The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial) based on it, could almost be the Trope Namer. It is often used in media as an alternate name for this trope.
  • Generation Kill has several: Captain America, Encino Man ("Echo Mike"), Sgt. Maj. "Fucking" Sixta, though he was only acting that way to give the troops an outlet for their frustration, and even though he's an NCO, "Casey Kasem". (After the events of Generation Kill however, Kasem proved to be more akin to Sergeant Rock as a platoon sergeant when it came to combat.)
  • General Lord Ronald Rust from the Discworld novels doesn't actually get shot by his own men in Jingo, but his overbearing superiority and tactical incompetence make it very tempting. As a captain in Night Watch, he is knocked him unconscious by his own men when he orders them to fire on civilians.
    • Corporal Strappi from Monstrous Regiment.
    • While not in a military organization, Sergeant Fred Colon quickly becomes this after being promoted to Acting Captain in The Fifth Elephant. By the time Carrot returns to resume authority, Colon has fired or driven off all members of the Watch, with only a handful hanging around informally enforcing the law.
      • Fred differs from most Niedermeyers in that he is not a bad man, merely a very bad officer. He didn't want the promotion, and the stress drove him completely bonkers, convinced that if he can find out who is stealing sugar cubes (it's him doing it subconsciously) all the other problems will go away. He's incredibly relieved when Captain Carrot returns and he can be a sergeant again.
    • Actually, nearly every general in the armies of the Sto Plains (which is the area in which Ankh-Morpork lies) counts as this, since their general battle strategy is to hurl their men at the enemy and receive "glorious casualties", since apparently the number of fallen men equals how great the battle was for them. If they actually win anything, that's a nice albeit unimportant bonus. They see the famous general Tacticus as a dishonorable military leader because he had the distinct tendency to win battles and wars and bring most of his soldiers back alive.
      • The official metric goes something like this: First, both sides throw their men at each other. Then, you subtract your casualties from their casualties, and "if the answer is a positive sum, it was a glorious victory".
  • The Sharpe books were full of these. Some of them learned their lesson (kind of), some of them just ceased to be Sharpe's problem, and some were mercilessly bayoneted by their own troops.
    • Sharpe himself was The Neidermeyer for a while, after he first became an officer. And yes, his men did attempt to kill him. Luckily for him, that's easier said than done.
  • Captain Styles of the USS Excelsior is this in the Novelization of Star Trek III. We don't see very much of him in the movie, but the characterization is plausible from what we do see.
  • General George Armstrong Custer in Harry Turtledove's World War I Alternate History trilogy The Great War is like this. Although he lacks the "You're all worthless and weak!!" part, he is still more then willing to send the unfortunate men under his command into needlessly costly and bloody offensives that end up gaining little. He constantly tries to seek glory wherever he can and also is more then willing to hog it all and push all the blame on others when something fails. However, by the end of the trilogy, he later proves to be a competent officer when he disobeys the US general staff's orders on not using tanks in a concentrated formation. This leads to the US occupying Kentucky and later forces the Confederate States to surrender once other officers begin copying it.
    • That wasn't being a competent officer. That was being the same idiot he'd always been and happening to get lucky this time. As his aide-de-camp later (frequently) reminisces.
  • Lieutnant Lammio in Väinö Linna's The Unknown Soldier. Surprisingly, he survives the war.
    • It doesn't help that he replaces Reasonable Authority Figure Captain Kaarna.
      • Lammio's men did not loathe him for his weaknesses. They hated him because he had no weaknesses and absolutely no social skills. He was also a cocky martinet. It did not help that he was completely fearless and excellent soldier.
  • Captain Fisher, a.k.a. "Billy Liar", in Kim Newman's Alternate History novella Teddy Bear's Picnic. He gets fragged by his own troops using a white phosphorus grenade; a practice know as "white saucing". For the record, white phosphorous grenades are basically thermite, they burn at 5000 degrees or so. Not something you want on your flesh.
  • Captain Morton in Mister Roberts by James Heggen. Played in the 1955 movie by James Cagney, he is a tyrant, but the whole situation is mostly played for laughs.
  • Averted in The War Against the Chtorr ("A Matter for Men"). The hero Jim McCarthy, having just been made an officer after killing a rampaging Chtorran; tries to bully Dr Fletcher out of some Chtorran specimans. First she takes him down a peg by showing McCarthy that the Chtorran he 'killed' is still very much alive. Then she points out that everyone wants to look up to their superiors, so an officer's job is to inspire people, not boss them about. She finishes by congratulating McCarthy on his shooting, and asks him to bring flowers next time. McCarthy is highly embarrassed, but learns from the experience. In "A Season for Slaughter" however, when pushed too far by incompetent Major Bellus, McCarthy doesn't educate this Neidermeyer, he demolishes him. On worldwide live television.
  • Pretty much everybody in a position of authority in Catch-22 falls under this.
    • Except perhaps Major --- De Coverley, he's more of a Memetic Badass with an awe-inspiring reputation and fearsome appearance, but no real authority beyond renting apartments. Of course, like anyone who's not a complete bastard, he dies or disappears.
    • And Major Major, who really just wants to be left alone.
  • Imperial captain Joak Drysso, in command of the Super Star Destroyer "Lusankya" in the X Wing Series. Near the end, with his ship damaged and obviously beyond hope of winning the battle, he refuses an offer for surrender and orders the engines to full power, with the intention of ramming the planet and dying with his ship and crew in a blaze of glory. He is promptly shot by a subordinate, who then acts as captain and accepts the offer to surrender.
  • With the exception of the Paran siblings (Ganoes and Tavore), every single noble-born military officer in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Every one.
  • The Honor Harrington series is overflowing with these, including:
    • Pavel Young, and every one of his friends and/or relatives.
    • Pretty much any senior officer appointed by the High Ridge government.
      • Turned on its head by High Ridge's distant cousin Michael Oversteegen, who turns out to be an exceptional officer.
    • Most of the "People's Commissioners" in the People's Republic of Haven's navy.
    • One could argue Honor herself was at the beginning of On Basilisk Station. Though assigned to a backwater through no fault of her own, most of the crew blamed their exile on some unseen incompetence on her part.
  • Many Orc officers in all versions of The Lord of the Rings.
    • Averted by Shagrat, who cares about his men and is actually shown to be fairly noble. He even gets a good death.
  • Captains von Pader and Meier from the novels by Sven Hassel, not to mention quite a few other Nazi officers.
  • In the Lord Darcy short story "The Spell of War", Darcy, a young officer at the time, chooses not to notice that the commander of his unit—who'd been a tyrant and endangered the men—had a bullet entry wound on his back from a pistol...received when he'd been facing the enemy, who was using a rifle.
    • The man responsible for this Unfriendly Fire then goes on to do a Redemption Equals Death when he learns that the Captain's orders weren't really suicidally stupid (Though this was due to chance, not any hidden genius on the late Captain's part).
  • Two characters that are likened to each other in All Quiet on the Western Front: the psychotic, sadistic drill sergeant that the main characters train under, and the high school teacher that coerced all of his students into joining the military.
  • A couple generals in Urtho's army (I forget their names) in The Black Gryphon. Troops of all species dread being placed under their command because they're known for using tactics which would be gloriously victorious if they ever worked, but since they never work, are instead suicidally stupid. It eventually turns out they're traitors, and they plan on losing every time.
  • Lieutenant Weems from the first Doom novel. He was so incompetent and cowardly that he ordered his men to fire on a bunch of harmless monks protesting their war efforts mistaking them for suicide bombers even after one of his subordinates told him they were harmless. Flynn decked him for that, and that's why Flynn is stuck on suspension in the cafeteria on Phobos when everything goes to Hell. Throughout the novel Flynn has unflattering thoughts about Weems and thinks that Weems was the kind of guy who would side with the alien invaders if it meant saving his own skin. When Flynn finds the dead bodies of Weems and another officer who had entered a suicide pact after the aliens trapped them in a Fate Worse Than Death by fusing their heads together, he feels too much pity to hate the man anymore.
  • Lieutenant Bennett from The Cruel Sea. A lazy bully. Instead of being shot by his own men, he fakes illness to get out of the war.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Sky Masters, an inexperienced Captain second-guesses his air defence expert and, when one anti-air missile misfires, shuts down the point defence net in his Lawful Stupidity, allowing an antiship missile to get through and hit the carrier they were supposed to be protecting.
    • If this troper remembers correctly, said misfired missile had actually exploded and was tumbling back towards the launcher - keeping the other launch cells closed was a prudent thing to do; keeping on firing might have risked BOTH ships.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Major Frank Burns, from M*A*S*H - especially notably because he's an officer and not enlisted personnel or non-comm.
    • M*A*S*H also had several Foe of the Week commanders who either learned a lesson or were otherwise removed from command by the doctors.
    • When Major Burns left the series (due to having a psychological breakdown caused by the marriage of Major Houlihan -- which led to him causing havoc in Tokyo while on R&R), the Army, in its infinite wisdom, promoted him to Lieutenant Colonel and gave him a cushy job in a stateside Veteran's Hospital... which is extra disconcerting given that Major Burns was always made out to be as incompetent doctor.
      • Fridge Brilliance: By this point in the series, Burns' medical and military incompetence is well-known within the Army. At least three officers (Potter, Houlihan, Penobscott) have enough connections farther up the chain of command to ensure that, even if he remains in the Army, Burns never sees the inside of an operating room again. As a result Burns probably ended up in an administrative post with no actual hands-on medical duties... which, for a surgeon, is the equivalent of being Reassigned to Antarctica (and probably the end of his military career as well).
    • Hawkeye and Winchester both had their opportunity to be Neidermeyers when given the chance to command. Pretty much anyone other than Blake or Potter in charge of the 4077th ends up as this trope. The difference between them and Burns is that these episodes set up an An Aesop about the difficulty of true leadership when the rest of the main cast calls them out on it, and they see the error of their ways.
  • Colonel Crittendon on Hogan's Heroes is one of these. The Heroes' plans to murder him weren't entirely sarcastic.
  • General Melchett from Blackadder Goes Forth. Melchett is distraught by the death of his pigeon "Speckled Jim", yet blissfully uncaring about the fifty thousand men a week dying in the trenches. His bizarre tactics that help expedite the latter include "doing precisely what we've done eighteen times before" and "climbing out of [the] trenches and walking very slowly towards the enemy". Sadly, both are to some extent Truth in Television.
    • When walking very slowly towards the enemy, British soldiers were commonly marching behind a firewall of artillery that typically exterminated everyone trying to pop up and hurt them. When they lost the protection of that barrage (muddy ground and other unexpected holdups) is when things frequently went bad. Blackadder is wonderful satire, but has done terrible things for the understanding of Great War history.
  • Generation Kill: "Follow My TRACERS!"

Marine #1: He's got his fucking bayonet out. Doing his Rambo thing.
Captain America: FOLLOW MY TRACERS!
Marine #2: He's shooting at scraps of metal.
Marine #3: Can you believe that fucking retard is in charge of people?
Captain America: Engage those buildings!
Marine #4: Sir, that's more than 3,000 meters away. Range of my .50 is 1830.
Captain America: Move into position! Engage! ENGAGE!

    • It's worth noting the HBO adaptation of Generation Kill, discussed above, for how its portrayal of Captain America is a flagrant (but accounting for production times, probably coincidental) Expy of Captain Bannon from World in Conflict, below. Though it isn't saying much, Encino Man loses the tiny amount of sympathy he may have had in the book, with the actor playing him nailing the concept of the nickname perfectly; a man who's problem isn't lack of experience so much as lack of basic common sense.
    • While Captain America embodies this trope in the HBO version, don't forget Sgt. Major John "Fucking" Sixta who has more power than either of them—and uses it to continually insist on personal grooming standards while allowing the company to abandon their ammo supply truck in enemy territory.
      • In the final episode, Sixta reveals that his psychotic obsession with the men's grooming standards was a Genghis Gambit to give them an outlet for their stress.
  • Band of Brothers had two real-life examples:
    • The first is Captain Herbert M. Sobel. Sobel is portrayed as a petty tyrant whose harsh training earns him resentment from the men under his command. This is because he isn't tough on them because he cares about them and wants to teach them to survive in war. He's only tough on them because he cares about making himself look good. While he is an effective leader in the garrison environment he proves to be very poor in the field. It is the catastrophic incompetence he shows in combat exercises that causes a number of his NCO's to flat out refuse to serve under his command.
      • Although his behavior sparked a literal mutiny, some soldiers later admitted that his training methods had been effective in a round-about way.
    • The second is Lt. Norman Dike, who is given command of Easy Company during the war. It is implied that he got his position due to his pedigree and family connections, but is himself an "empty uniform" who can only feign competence. As Lipton put it; Dike wasn't a bad leader because he made bad decisions. He was a bad leader because he made no decisions. In the series, the only thing that holds the unit together is Sergeant Lipton's tireless efforts to maintain morale. After breaking down during an assault, Dike is immediately replaced with the vastly more competent Ronald Speirs.
    • And when Dike genuinely tries to give orders... he gets two men killed.
      • And before that, he told the whole company to stop in the open, and later stretched them far without getting anywhere.
  • In the Babylon 5 movie "In the Beginning," General Lefcourt approached then-commander John Sheridan to be the first officer to Captain Michael Jankowski. Sheridan refused, stating that Jankowski was a loose cannon and referenced how so many of his peers thought Jankowski an incompetent risk taker. In a twist, it is revealed that Hague knew this all along and wanted Sheridan to take the job since he needs someone competent to keep Jankowski in line. Then Jankowski started a war with the Minbari over his pride and stupidity, and we know how badly that went. Though to be fair, the Minbari captain was equally pigheaded, even going so far as to disobey a direct order from his government's leader, Dukhat to not take an aggressive stance.
    • At least the Minbari had the excuse of following an age-old tradition of keeping their weapons out in the open, instead of hiding them behind their backs, so to speak. The humans in turn interpreted the show of power as an intention to use it. This, coupled with the Minbari's scanners causing interference with the Earth ship's sensors caused Jankowski to panic and open fire.
      • Jankowski had the same excuse: he was following the age-old tradition among his people that if someone is coming at you brandishing weapons and preventing you from running away, which was his first instinct, you shoot first.
  • Though he isn't shown on-screen, in the Firefly episode "The Message," Mal and Zoe recount an instance where one of their superior officers acted exactly like this. However, in this case, the man was drunk off his rocker, and passed out, at which point one of the troops cut off the man's mustache and glued it to his own face.
  • Arnold Rimmer from Red Dwarf is a subverted one of these, as though having all the requisite personality traits, he lacks real authority, and the people he does outrank refuse to listen to him. Plus, he's dead already, so fragging's out of the question.
    • He does once get command of a small army, and actually manages to force a draw against a numerically superior enemy... though he did it by sacrificing all but two of his troops in a charge across an open minefield in broad daylight to serve as a distraction.
      • To be accurate, he got all of his Wax Droid troops slaughtered. Most in the aforementioned mid-day minefield charge, several melted as a result of the training he put them through, and the sole survivor was dispatched as an assassin with the full understanding/intention that she would die in her mission of killing the Evil Wax Droid leaders. The only reason he was remotely able to claim this as a victory was because, while the enemy forces were distracted, Kryten was able to get to the planetary temperature controls and adjust the planet's heat so that all of the Wax Droids melted. Lister was not impressed:

Lister: So you wiped out the entire population of this planet?
Rimmer: You make it sound so negative Lister. Don't you see? The deranged menace that once threatened this world is vanquished!
Lister: No it isn't pal, you're still here!

    • Further subverted in 'Balance of Power' in that Lister managed to outrank Rimmer by taking the chef's exam—the lowest rank on the ship that would still outrank Rimmer, and the one requiring the least effort to attain:

Rimmer: Chef? You want to become a chef?
Lister: Not really. I just want to become your superior.
Rimmer: But a chef? A white hatted ponce? That's not a real officer!
Lister: It outranks you, smeg-for-brains!

    • Red Dwarf also had the ship's backup computer Queeg 500, who was installed for an episode when the crew got sick of Holly's incompetence. Queeg turned out to be so strict that even Rimmer got sick of him.
      • And then it turns out that Queeg was Holly all along.
  • Captain Edward Jellico in Star Trek: The Next Generation seems like this at the start, but subverts it by the end. Placed in temporary command of the Enterprise, he systematically alienates most of the crew thanks to his hard and uncompromising command style, even having Data replace Riker as Number One after Riker keeps resisting his changes. Afte the first episode, the audience will assuredly hate him, and everything is set up to watch him fail in his mission while the primary Picard-is-captured plot yields the answer, showing him up. The second episode instead has him learn to loosen up just enough to recognize his flaws, and it's his tactics that not only win the day, but save Picard in the process.
    • AND he makes Troi wear a real uniform instead of her bunny suit, an order Picard never rescinded.
      • To be fair, that may have been an order from Starfleet Command to the effect that all ship's counselors had to wear the standard uniform, and Jellico happened to be the one to break the news (although given his personality, he did so with less tact than one would expect). Neither officer would have the authority to rescind the order in that case.
      • It is also part of Troi's character development; at the beginning, she was a psychologist/social worker practicing on a starship, but after that point she was a Starfleet Officer whose specialty happened to be applied behavioral sciences. (It was shortly after that she takes the exam for promotion to full Commander, and is called "Commander Troi" quite as often as she is called "Counsellor Troi."
      • It's also the only order that Jellico explained to the person receiving the order - which might be because Troi voiced well-thought-out concerns about the order in private, instead of reacting with petulance the way everybody else did to their orders. When one's subordinates are being insubordinate, it's easy to fall into this trope.
  • North and South US (the US one). Elkanah Bent treats Orry and George like scum. He gets Orry crippled by Mexican artillery. Orry cripples him, he murders Orry then George hangs him.
  • In Stargate Universe, Colonel Telford is The Neidermeyer in his early appearances. He utterly ignores not only the very immediate and life-threatening problems facing the crew in favor of the rules, but also completely ignores the fact that his host body is in terrible shape the first time around. In the episode "Earth", he usurps Young's command (albeit on orders from higher up) and nearly gets the entire ship destroyed. To add insult to injury, he abandons Destiny while this happens (which Dr. Rush had actually expected him to do and thus arranged the whole show just to make him look like an ass). Thankfully, this last one does not go unpunished; Young, having learned his lesson, never gives Telford the opportunity to try again, and burns him pretty good back on Earth for his actions.
    • Subverted entirely later on, when it's revealed that Lucian Alliance brainwashing is largely responsible for his behavior.
    • No he doesn't, after that his suggestions get ignored and the people on the Destiny won't trust him anymore.
    • General George Hammond from Stargate SG-1 was originally intended to be such a character, as this was how most commanding officers/superiors were treated in other television shows at the time. After talking with a U.S. Air Force consultant — who pointed out that a man who rose to Hammond's position wouldn't have got there if he had no respect for his inferiors, and vice versa — he was rewritten to be the show's Reasonable Authority Figure. Multiple times he's shown bending the rules or outright breaking them to get the job done.
      • Don S. Davis, who played General Hammond, had prior military experience as a company-grade officer in real life, who had worked largely in administration at headquarters. He was quite familiar with how real-life generals actually behaved, how badly the scripts of TV shows generally departed from that standard, and was not shy about sharing his experience with the creative staff.
  • Gordon Ramsay follows this trope in Hell's Kitchen, and any of his American-produced shows. However, Ramsay's behavior on the UK original of "Kitchen Nightmares" puts him much more in the Sergeant Rock personality trope. He may be harsh on the incompetent or misguided cooks, but he's doing it so the diners get the best experience and the cooks realize their own potential.
  • Crashdown in Battlestar Galactica Reimagined attempts to lead a squad on a hostile planet surface. Things go wrong. He gets two of the squad killed then is shot by Gaius Baltar when attempting to force a needless suicide mission.
  • Dwight Schrute from The Office becomes the civilian equivalent whenever he is given even the slightest amount of authority.
  • Lieutenant Charles Marimow in The Wire is referred to as "The Unit Killer" and a man who "does not toss away talent lightly. He heaves it with great force."
    • At a higher level, both Burress and Rawls are like this to the commanders beneath them, often using the COMSTAT meetings to berate and humiliate them for basically failing to win the drug war each month.
  • Both of The Squad's lieutenants on Over There. The first is nicknamed "Mad Cow" because "it's a disease that rots men's brains." The later one is shot in the back under ambiguous circumstances, with the finale leaving it open whether he was killed by the Sergeant Rock.
  • Dr. Kelso is this to the entirety of Sacred Heart Hospital in Scrubs. However, it is subverted in that he takes it upon himself to be the one they can all hate in order to unite them on a common front.

Machinima[edit | hide]

  • Sarge of Red vs. Blue is this type of leader, a bloodthirsty madman whose plans are fueled by his irrational hatred for the lazy and insubordinate Grif and his enemies the Blue team, being the only one to make Serious Business of the otherwise cold war between the two. Nonetheless, he is usually followed by the other soldiers, particularly the kiss-ass Yes-Man Simmons.
    • Or he would be if he wasn't so funny. The best order he's ever given was "Scream like a woman!"
      • I don't know. Operation Meatshield certainly had its merits.
    • Sarge is an awful leader, but a brilliant Mad Scientist. To date: three robots, one with a 10 megaton nuclear warhead hidden inside of it, one cyborg, one weather control machine, and one successful transfer of cyborg's organs into near-dead human.
    • He does show merit as a leader during several moments in season 8, most notably when he trusts Grif to help him take down Agent Washington, and later to help him rescue The Alpha device and take down The Meta.
    • Basically, he spends most of the series as this trope, then Character Development finally morphs him into Sergeant Rock late in the eighth season.
    • Simmons during his brief stint as leader of the Blood Gulch Reds.

Music[edit | hide]

  • Titular character in Running Wild's "Evil Spirit" who is referred to as a guardian and as a tormentor. After he is swept overboard from his vessel, rejoicement ensues.
  • Played for comedy in both videos by Twisted Sister: In "We're Not gonna Take It", The Neidermeyer is an irate dad; in "I Wanna Rock", the teacher is one. Either way, the guy ends up as the Butt Monkey. Note that both roles are played by the original Neidermeyer, Mark Metcalf.
    • And The Neidermeyer father appears in one video by Lit.

Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

  • Sergeant Snorkel in Beetle Bailey.
    • Far more so Lt. Fuzz, whenever he gets the opportunity to command troops. Snorkel's men do respect him as a soldier - they just really don't want to be soldiers, and are rarely seen in the field (which for the strip means war games and exercises) where this becomes apparent. Fuzz tries to copy Snorkel's treatment of subordinates, and adds in his complete incompetence and desperation for recognition.

Radio[edit | hide]

  • In The Navy Lark Captain Povey frequently falls into this category with his obsession for hounding the Troutbridge crew out of the Navy.
    • To be fair, the crew of the Troutbridge are completely incompetent/derelict in their duties

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Most of the Commissars in Warhammer 40,000. In fact, the 'Nam-inspired Catachan Jungle Fighters require a special saving roll before the game even starts to prevent them from fragging the Commissar (Oops, sorry sir!).
    • Similar to the Dinobots example listed below, one of the reasons Imperial doctrine normally prohibits Space Marine commanders from leading large-scale actions and campaigns in which the Marines and Imperial Guard fight together is that they tend to work the normal troops as hard as their Super Soldier battle brothers, often with fatal results.
    • Common Imperial Guard tactics employed usually boil down to "throw men at it by the regiment like a battering ram until it breaks." A noted battle cries of commissars is, "We will drown them in our blood and crush them under the weight of our own dead!"
    • Heck, every Imperial Guard officer above Lieutenant (and sometimes below) is either incompetent, a jerk, a glory hound, cowardly, or any combination of those. This goes up even into the Munitorium.
    • a Medal of Dishonor goes to Lord General Lugo, who's first act in Honor Guard is to order Gaunt and his men to step up their attack timetable to retake a holy temple, which subsequently explodes into a warp vortex (long story). He pins the whole thing on Gaunt, and assigns Gaunt to lead a convoy as punishment. He shows up again in Sabbat Martyr, where he's playing a minor character from his previous appearance as the reincarnated Saint Sabbat. This time, however, fate bites him in the ass when the girl actually BECOMES the reincarnated saint (again, long story), and he spends much of the rest of the book standing around looking dumbstruck, which for him, is not much of a stretch.
    • Subverted by Ciaphas Cain, naturally, who is Genre Savvy and certainly aware of this trope. He treats his men well and while he does genuinely care about them, he finds comfort in the fact that not being like every other Commissar in the guard greatly reduces his chance of being the victim of friendly fire.
      • Ciaphas Cain, HERO OF THE IMPERIUM, himself actually comments on how a great many Commissars die "heroic deaths" suspiciously far from the front lines. He spent his later years attempting to teach commissar cadets to subvert this trope, with admittedly mixed success (most who are chosen for the Commissariat are simply not the right personality type to be taught how to lead through respect rather than fear). Ciaphas Cain himself certainly wanted to avoid such a fate; "I want to die in a bed, preferably someone else's."
      • Same goes for Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt.
    • On the other hand, there's the legendary Lord Commander Solar Macharius, whose armies conquered a thousand worlds for the Emperor in the space of seven years. There's also Lord Castellan Ursarkar Creed of the Cadian 8th, Colonel "Iron Hand" Straken of Catachan, and Commissar Yarrick, who wears a Power Klaw he ripped off of an Ork Warboss, all of whom are competent and admired by their men.
    • In the computer spin-off Dawn of War, Imperial Priests often shout "WE LOST BECAUSE YOU'RE ALL WEAK!" when their squad regains morale.
    • There was Commander Kubrik Chenkov of the Valhallan Ice Warriors is an extreme example of this. His main tactics is sending legions of his own men straight at the enemy base without tank or artillery support or using them to draw enemy fire for his other forces, but unlike most cases his tactics really work.
  • Captain Jasper Stone from Deadlands was a really bad version of this. He was shanked by his own troops in the Battle of Gettysburg... only to rise as an undead and become Death's right hand man.
  • Excessively Righteous Blossom in Exalted. His military career was marked by repeatedly getting a battalion whittled down to about company size, and he made it very clear to everyone who would listen that he viewed this as a result of the incompetence of his soldiers. Especially hilarious since he is very talented - at personal combat - but has exactly no ability to recognise what his talents are, leading to both military and civilian careers crafted from incompetence and menacing with spikes of fail.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Mouri Motonari in Sengoku Basara. Unlike most Neidermeyers, he still manages to be popular by just coming off as a jerk, it helps that he's actually COMPETENT on his own; in Samurai Warriors and Warriors Orochi, it's Ishida Mitsunari who fills the role of sometimes-jerk up until through osmosis the "friendship" ideal from Sanada Yukimura and "honor and justice" from Naoe Kanetsugu rub off on him in his Samurai Warriors 2 ending. Then again, considering that in that ending he declares the end of rule by the majority, maybe he hasn't lost that.
    • And in the H-game parody Sengoku Rance, Kensei Uesugi doesn't even have Motonari's positives. To wit, he decides that in the middle of a war (which his nation is losing) to depose his niece and her senior commanders from command of the Uesugi armies, regardless of them being the most competent generals Uesugi has, and all because he's a chauvinistic pig. As result, with all the toughest generals of Uesugi out of action, Oda armies (led by Rance) can Curb Stomp Battle the Uesugi army. And, as the icing on the cake, even after the dumbest retard could tell they were losing, Kensei refuses to let the competent people free, if only to save his own (cowardly and inept) ass.
      • And, since Sengoku Rance has it's own version of Motonari, it should be mentioned that, aside from some severe Proud Warrior Race Guy like attitudes and ridiculously suicidal tendency to fight on the front lines, he's actually liked and respected by his troops.
    • The Sengoku Basara portrayal of Mitsunari is also not far from this. A psychotic individual who was formerly The Renfield to his lord Hideyoshi, he expected the same degree of fanatical loyalty. In his case however it wasn't so much that he was a jerk more that he was insane and had No Social Skills.
  • Orson Perrault, the commander of the protagonists' air base in Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War is this as well as corpulent, a horrible shot (he doesn't know that how emptying the magazine into the doorway where the targets were when the lights went out is a bad idea), and without giving Wardog Squadron and Pops a chance to explain themselves he assumes them all to be spies.
    • Lieutenant Colonel Ford attempts to land his plane on Sand Island despite the island being under attack and being told to wave off by the base. When Chopper lets slip that he thinks he's completely nuts and/or stupid, Ford threatens to write him up when he lands. It gets cut off when an enemy plane shoots him down.
  • Admiral Greyfield of Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. A complete coward and a sub par commander who's greatest skills are taking credit for victories, and shifting blame for loses. He threatens executions for any failure to follow his orders to the letter, especially the order to win the battle. His cowardice is so much that he relentlessly hunts down any that don't adhere to absolute rule no matter how many of his own men are sacrificed or caught in the blast of the super weapon used to kill a single dissenting captain, even resorting to executing enemies after surrender.
  • General Damon of Valkyria Chronicles. A completely inept commander who only attained his rank because of his noble status. He holds all of the militia as Cannon Fodder, possibly all of Gallia's citizenry, as his solution for attacking a notably larger Imperial force is to draft all the citizens they could into the militia and throw them all on a frontal assault. Bastard even had the balls to claim Welkin's victory at Ghirlandaio as his own. Though Selvaria's Final Flame in the citadel made that a sort of good thing.
  • We are losing this battle! Start fighting or I will find someone who can!
    • A few games (including some in this series) offer one player on each team a "command" role. Depending on the game, this role's importance varies from pivotal to merely important. Some games (thankfully) offer mechanisms to depose commanders who fit this trope.
  • Captain Bannon from World in Conflict is this trope to a T, panicking when faced with opposition his men should be able to handle, whining when fighting at a disadvantage instead of focusing on how to keep the fight going favorably, deriding the player's character for his competence, and shooting enemy infantry who were trying to convey their wish to surrender by waving white flags. In the end, however, he becomes arguably the most heroic character among the Americans followed by the narrative, volunteering to sacrifice himself to a friendly nuclear weapon so the approaching enemy will plow towards him into the blast radius, as retreating would've clued the Soviets in that something was wrong.
  • Kraze and Kanaan from Suikoden, who you'll grow to hate very much early on in the game. Kanaan is more or less a classic example of a real dirtbag who wants all the glory to himself but hides behind his soldiers. Kraze is more or less the same, but at least he he isn't given an option to be spared unlike most of the Imperial commanders.
    • You COULD spare him. But since not sparing him doesn't penalize you with not getting the best ending... well... Sure Why Not?
    • Snowe from Suikoden IV. He gets severe shellshock in the first battle (on the first shot, no less), abandons his men, and develops a Honor Before Reason complex in order to make up for it. And because of his lineage, gets promoted beyond his competency.
  • Lee Linjun from Super Robot Wars Original Generation 2 quickly makes himself known as a complete jerk. He constantly argues with the pilots (especially Excellen and Katina), is clearly jealous of Tetsuya (even though Lee outranks him and commands a ship), and fully cements himself as a Neidermeyer when he makes it clear that everyone is expendable, and he really doesn't care if any member of the crew lives or dies. Then he just defects to the Shadow Mirrors.
    • Lee apparently lost his wife and parents during the events of the first game (6-months prior) and hasn't had time to deal with his grief. He's too much of an ass for fans to feel much sympathy towards, but it does help explain his irrational behavior.
  • Sufficiently unhappy nobles in Dwarf Fortress act this way, ordering beatings and hammerings to any dwarf that ignores (or is incapable of fulfilling) their demands. Unsurprisingly, players tend to respond to such behavior with their own form of capital punishment.
  • Iron Grip has the Fahrong/Confederacy, where apparently every officer above the Sergeant is this and everybody below it is Cannon Fodder.
  • Zaeed Massani of Mass Effect 2 was apparently this, considering the fact that all his stories usually end with getting all of his men killed and info discovered in Lair of the Shadow Broker reveals that a major element for his betrayal by the Blue Suns was his inability to ensure loyalty. In fact, he's actually a poor choice for an end-game Fire Team/Distraction Leader.
  • Due to the open ended nature of the story, it is entirely possible that both brothers in Team Fortress 2 count as this. All of the mercs on both teams start haphazardly next to the other side, and can just run to battle in about 4 seconds, and everybody should die at least once. Given that the announcer seemed to be looking for this setup, it may be the brothers were intended to both become "the Neidermeyer".
  • Lt. Cole Phelps of L.A. Noire is such a Niedermeyer that it actually winds up driving most of the game's plot. Cole being paralysed with fear at a convenient moment ensured that he was the last man standing after a night fighting the Japanese on Okinawa, which made him a war hero and he rose rapidly through the LAPD as a result. His Marines, infuriated at this, decided to steal massive crates of guns and drugs from the military because they thought they deserved to get rewarded as well. Cole's order to burn out an enemy cave that turned out to be a field hospital gives one of his men massive PTSD and he is later revealed as the serial arsonist. This also so enrages the unit's medic that he actually shoots Cole in the back and goes on to lead the aforementioned heist.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

The Emperor: Tell me how your invasion fleet came to be destroyed by a group of inferior monkeys
Bleen soldier: Your eminence, the hu-mons have perverted our repulsor technology into a devestating weapon.
The Emperor: Yet you did nothing to punish them for this?
Bleen soldier: Um... Excuse me? We were... I dunno, occupied.
The Emperor: Occupied? What on Bleen were you doing other than advancing the mighty flag of your sovereign.
Bleen soldier: Screaming? Praying? ...fighting over the escape pods? The usual.

Western Animation[edit | hide]

Bender (with his Patriotism Circuits activated): Sir, I volunteer for a suicide mission!
Zapp: You're a brave robot, son. But when I'm in command, every mission is a suicide mission.

Zapp: Stop exploding, you cowards!"

Zapp: You see, Killbots have a preset kill limit. Knowing their weakness, I sent wave after wave of my own men at them, until they reached their limit and shut down. Kif, show them the medal I won.
Kif begrudgingly points at a prominent medal on Zapp's chest.

Zapp: Whatever it is, I'm willing to put wave after wave of men at your disposal. Right men?
Dead silence
Random Soldier: You suck!

Zapp: We made it through, Kif. How many men did we lose?
Kif: All of them.
Zapp: Well, at least they won't have to mourn each other.

  • In the Generation 1 Transformers, Megatron was competent, but selfish. This and his ego led him to doing quite a few stupid things and even abandoning Devastator in one episode. To be fair, it's really Starscream that was made out to be incompetent by the cartoon's writers, though his comic and toy bios show that he is far more brilliant.
    • The real gem, however, is Galvatron. This insane psychotic warfreak shot at his own troops and did more damage to his own army than the Autobots. Needless to say, if it weren't for a number of certain extenuating circumstances, the Decepticons would have recycled Galvatron a long time ago, no matter how powerful he was. Said circumstances mainly being that, because of the backstabbing treachery endemic in their ranks, the first thing that would happen when Galvatron got slagged would be civil war breaking out due to there being no clear-cut successor to Galvatron's rank. And this would doubtlessly be fatal to the Decepticons, due to them being stuck on a burned out world and barely scraping together enough fuel, parts and ammo to survive from day to day.
      • Actually, there is a clear-cut successor. Cyclonus was asked by Decepticon rank and file on more than one occasion to take command, but his response to this is always to reiterate that Galvatron should be in charge. In a way, it mirrors the attitude of his rival, Ultra Magnus.
    • Sentinel Prime from Transformers Animated is an example this kind of character among the good guys. Even in his younger days, he had zero respect for his peers, blaming the more responsible Optimus for Elita-1's presumed death, and as soon as he gained a command of his own, promptly began treating his men like worthless garbage, causing poor Bumblebee and Bulkhead much pain and suffering. He remains a jerk in the present day, taking every opportunity to viciously mock Optimus and his team's lower positions.
      • And it got worse when he became acting leader of the Autobots. How did that happen?
      • The head writer stated that his portrayal was meant to be evocative of the afformentioned Major Frank Burns.
    • Grimlock is occasionally shown to be a bit of a Neidermeyer in the comics when he's put in command of units other than the Dinobots, largely due to the fact that most Autobots aren't used to doing things The Spartan Way like the Dinobots are and Grimlock being unwilling to accommodate them. When he briefly took over the Autobots he threw the rulebook out the window—literally.
    • Many sub-commanders within the Decepticons fit into this trope, but none moreso than Motormaster, leader of the Stunticons. His team is a big ball of crazy, and he loves to do things like order the silence-fearing Wildrider to remain quiet on missions. The intense loathing that the rest of the Stunticons have for Motormaster causes their combined form Menasor to be utterly uncontrollable as none of his component minds are able to work with their leader's.
  • In Invader Zim, Zim is shown to be this type of leader in the episode Hobo-13 in that he needlessly sacrifices his squadmates so that he himself can get to the end of the obstacle course, including using his last remaining soldier as a battering ram to open a door. The Drill Sergeant (ironically played by R. Lee Ermey) who meets him at the end chooses to fail Zim due to his horrendous leadership skills and challenges him into combat in order to pass (which Zim does by cheating).
    • Of course, The Tallests are seen as worse than Zim, being a pair of petty, self-serving, and egomaniacal jerkasses, treating everyone beneath them with contempt and mockery, particularly the shorter Irkens. In fact, the Irkens are pretty much a race of Neidermyers.
  • In The Simpsons, Principal Skinner was shot in the back when he was a sergeant in Vietnam when trying to get Joey Heatherton to put some pants on. The depiction of his army career is basically the same as his current one, just with soldiers replacing Willy. That's of course you assume he's telling the truth in any of his flash backs, what with him not really being Seymour Skinner.
  • Capt Marcus of Exo Squad is the worse example. He's both a General Ripper and General Failure all roled into one. His battleplans usually end up getting ambushed and outgunned by the enemy.
  • Yo Yogi!: Dick Dastardly usurps Yogi's position as the head of the LAF (Lost And Found) section of Jellystone Mall and becomes a Neidermeyer to Yogi's friends. Later on, two kidnappers trick him into abducting Augie Doggie and he's now afraid of being sent to prison. He tries to get Yogi's friends to help him rescuing Augie but they won't follow him, so he brings Yogi back.
    • Dick Dastardly, period, on his own show Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines. The General believes him incompetent (just there to collect flight pay), Zilly tries to shirk his duties, and Muttley isn't above using blackmail to weasel a medal from him. Klunk is the only pilot that gives him an iota of respect.
  • Mr. Peevly from Help! It's The Hair Bear Bunch!. Any respect the zoo animals give him is purely tongue-in-cheek.

Real Life[edit | hide]

  • It should be noted that this sort of thing actually occurs in Real Life. While fraggings are uncommon (though they did occur in Vietnam), plenty of stories get passed around the modern military about which officers to avoid and who's a dirtbag.
  • World War II:
    • General Lloyd Fredendall was one of the original commanders of Operation Torch (the American invasion of North Africa). Once on the ground in Africa Fredendall had his headquarters built 70 miles behind the front lines, which was viewed as cowardly by both the troops under his command and by his peers and superiors. From there he proceeded to issue unsound commands that showed little grasp of military tactics, including a tendency to place infantry in positions where they could not receive decent air or artillery support. By most reports Fredendall was a swaggering, cocky man who did not listen to his subordinates. Even more unfortunately, his adversary in the campaign was General Erwin Rommel and his famed Afrika Korps. After the crushing American defeat at the Kasserine Pass Fredendall was relieved of command and replaced by George Patton, after which American forces actually started experiencing success in North Africa.
      • The irony is that Fredenhall was an excellent logistician. He was sent back to Stateside, where he made more for the Army logistics than any other general.
    • Patton himself has been accused of being more than a little of a martinet, far too concerned with the dress code in a combat zone (including the fact he demanded, and may even have gotten, front-line infantry to wear their ties), attacking Metz and the Vauban forts without proper preparation and demanding the attack continue after it became clear it was not going to succeed, and finally culminating late in the war with his famous tirade against a soldier who had been shot in the foot for cowardice (said soldier had already won a Silver Star for valor).
      • With regard to the slapping incident, the soldier in question was away from his unit without permission and legally Patton could have had him executed for desertion. What Patton did was the better option, albeit not the best one available.
    • There is one story that the sailors aboard a US Navy vessel were lining up for geedunk (ice cream) when two Ensigns shouted "Make way for officers" and started shoving through. Whereupon Admiral Halsey who had been waiting his turn patiently with every other sailor shouted "Get back where you belong!" With appropriate sailorly adjectives no doubt.
    • Hermann Goering, by 1945, was called the most hated man in Germany beccause of his obsession with fame, glory, Bling of War and rampant egomania. Given the competition at the time, it's quite an achievement.
    • Adolf Hitler. By the end of the War, many of his own men—particularly his generals—wanted him dead more than the Allies due to his repeated strategic blunders. Indeed, a few senior officers, many of them Junkers (contrary to common belief, the German nobility generally disdained or even outright hated Hitler), led a plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944. It failed, of course. On the bright side, it inspired the film Valkyrie.
      • To say 'strategic blunders' doesn't quite cover it entirely. After the defeat in Stalingrad (a defeat that occured purely due to Hitler's personal strategic intervention) Hitler went from "makes unreasonable demands and interferes in well made plans" to "totally detached from reality". The famous stories from his war room are that he would regularly issue orders to units that no longer existed or were so undermanned they might as well not exist, then when his plans didn't work out, would blame the subordinate who was "responsible". Most Generals were lucky enough that they would simply be demoted or put somewhere out of the way (Legendary General Guderian was one example), however some were not so lucky and would be executed for cowardice or "defying orders".
      • One well-known story from the war is that when the D-Day invasion began, Panzer groups sat idly by while the Allies invaded. The reason? Because they needed Adolf's ordered permission to get into the battle. He did not until late in the day, because he was asleep. And nobody wanted to be the one to wake him up and tell him the bad news.
    • Captain Herbert Sobel, former commander of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101 Airbornee. He was incompetent, petty, a Drill Sergeant Nasty, and a complete Jerkass. Many say that his Moral Event Horizon was raiding his troop's rooms and confiscating everything from magazines to nonregulation clothing. When he was replaced, everybody was happy. It should be noted, though, that while he was almost universally hated by every man who trained under him, those same men almost universally say that it was Sobel who made E Company into the elite unit it was because of his Jerkass, overly harsh treatment. (Yes, the portrayal of him in Band of Brothers is widely agreed to be perfectly accurate.)
    • An even more infamous example from the same war and company (and eventual miniseries) is 1st Lt. Norman Dike. He's been accused of delegating all duty to lower officers and NCOs during his tenure, and for disappearing from the front lines for hours at a time during the Battle of the Bulge; many of the men under (and over) him accused him of simply using the E Company assignment as a way to get "field experience" before continuing his climb up the ladder. Most infamous, however, is his historically-documented meltdown during the assault on Foy, Belgium. While trying to lead E Company on the Foy attack, he completely froze up from terror and was unable to give any commands at all, aside from one order for Easy to halt their advance into the town... in the middle of an open field. He was famously relieved of duty by Ronald Spiers, who would go on to lead E Company to victory in Foy. After this incident, Dike was quickly drummed out of the Airborne and was lucky to not be kicked out of the Army wholesale.
  • Since his Turtledove counterpart's been cited, one example might as well be named directly; George Armstrong Custer. He was a glory-seeking General that lost his wits, every man of his Seventh Calvary, and his life in the campaign that led to the Little Big Horn. And he got in that mess from increasingly frantic and frustrated desire for glory to turn to political advantage, no matter how many tribes or soldiers died to get it!
    • However, one incident that is largely forgotten is that Custer almost singlehandedly prevented a massacre when Philip Sheridan ordered an assault against the starved, exhausted and defenseless remnants of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House. Custer, realizing that the surviving Confederates were in no physical or emotional condition to fight anyone and were completely encircled, rode in front of the Union Army frantically trying to stop the attack. Custer's actions managed to delay the attack long enough for the famous surrender to be negotiated. Custer may have been a psychotic nut-case but he had nothing on Sheridan.
    • Custer led a cavalry force of 700 men to take out Sitting Bull and the 800 natives who had left a reservation. Ignoring his scouts (members of the Crow tribe) who told him the village they spotted had THOUSANDS of women and children and probably an equal number of warriors he split his force in half to "trap" the enemy. Custer's own group, about 200 soldiers personally led by him would end up facing at least 1800 native american warriors, warriors who had just fought off the other half of his armed force which had attacked the village. The only survivor from Custer's group was a horse called Commanche which had nearly a dozen wounds from bullets, arrows and spears.
    • What everyone always forgets is that he was a Colonel at this point, having been a General in the civil war, and wanted to regain his rank!
    • Custer had problems even before Little Big Horn: suspension from duty for a year for being AWOL, misappropriation of funds meant for provisions for reservation Indians, and during Reconstruction duty in Texas he only narrowly escaped being fragged by his own troops (namely, the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry, of which Custer had been given command and who resented his attempts at discipline). He was routinely called a 'dandy' and 'Ringlets' by his men as a result of his obsession with his personal appearance. Little Big Horn itself was the result of Custer's insubordination and happened when Custer and his men deserted their commanding officer (of note: Custer had earlier been denied independent command because of his continued use of his position and his men for political lobbying).
  • Most recently,[when?] this officer. For the link impaired, Holly Graf’s Neidermeyer behavior includes:
    • When approached for advice by a junior officer, Graf allegedly responded with “Don’t come to me with your problems. You’re a fucking department head”, and later “I can’t express how mad you make me without getting violent!”
    • Started a (confirmed) drag race with another destroyer that nearly resulted in a collision; the ships came within 300 feet of eachother. A photo from the deck of Graf’s ship shows the vessel heading straight toward the other. To make it worse, when the bridge crew went to sound a collision alarm (so all hands could brace and ready repairs), Graf ordered them to not sound the alarm. Such an alarm, after all, would have to be noted in the ship’s logs. That would mean she’d have to explain why she endangered two very expensive ships and a couple hundred lives in a pissing contest
    • Tired of delays leaving a port, she ordered that the ship accelerate to 25 knots instead of 10, despite being informed it was dangerous to do so. As a result, the USS Cowpens ran soft aground and mangled the ship’s propulsion screws. She then allegedly grabbed a British exchange officer by either the throat or the lapels (accounts differ), and began shouting “Did you run my fucking ship aground?!”. She then went on to order the crew to falsify records and claim they were moving at 10 knots.
    • Allegedly covered up the fact that her ship had struck a whale by ordering the crew into lockdown and temporarily terminating e-mail privileges.
    • Graf was such a dick to so many people that the crew supposedly began cheering when another officer arrived relieve and replace her aboard the USS Winston Churchill
      • YMMV, but she ended up with an FTN moment when the Asst. Secretary of the Navy decided she did nothing to earn anything less than an honorable discharge.
  • Ernesto "Che" Guevara was like this about half of the time more or less, depending on the source. While he was occasionally known for showing reckless bravery and some decent planning, at other times he was notably incompetent, fled from battle, and generally was a burden to his men. And he was verbally abusive to his men almost all the time and generally showed a disdain for "Bourgeoise tactics" that hardly helped matters at all. He is perhaps most infamously known for his "last stand", where according to most accounts he left the rest of his unit to fight it out against the Bolivian forces attacking him before surrendering afterwards with two loaded and primed pistols.
    • Despite leading revolutionaries in Africa, Guevara was often overheard to disparage his black fellow travelers, stating that black people did not have the intelligence to make communism work.
  • Captain Bligh had a reputation for this, but it's not really deserved: Yes, he flogged his men, but it was only because flogging was the mandatory punishment in the British Navy at the time. In fact, he was considered lenient compared to the other officers in the Navy. Yes, conditions were overcrowded on the Bounty, but only because Bligh couldn't say no to friends and relatives who needed jobs for their friends and relatives. And when they finally got to Otaheite (later Tahiti), Bligh let his men run around and do whatever they wanted for the five months they remained. The conditions that led to the famous mutiny were largely made out of a desperate need to get his by-now rather lax crew into some semblance of order and competency. In short, the supposed tyrant's greatest crime was being too accommodating.
    • Plus, after their mutiny, the crew returned to Tahiti and began treating the natives little better than slaves. Eventually the natives rebelled and killed nearly all of them.
    • It should be noted at this point that the famed Mutiny on the Bounty was not the last time Bligh faced a mutiny of those under him. His overly strict and by the book attempts to enforce discipline when he was made Governor of New South Wales sparked off the Rum Rebellion.
  • This happens often when the former military people end up in the areas, where the less straightforward methods are the norm. A good IT example would be Bob Belleville, the Apple's Software Manager for the original Macintosh development team. The guy was an alumnus of the same Xerox PARC lab as the most other Mac people, but his stint in the Navy had shifted his priorities somewhat. He once almost fired one of the critical OS developers over a dispute about the crucial part of software he felt was unneeded, and drove the chief OS architect to tears and filing his resignation (during the critical period of the OS development, mind you) because of his supposed insubordination. In both cases only a good chewing out by Steve Jobs himself made him relent somewhat.
    • A common problem with former military is re-socializing to the civilian world. Once you spend a long enough time in, it takes time to get used to the less formal (in appearance) environment of the civilian workforce. There are reasons why former military are often seen in jobs with known chains of command.
    • People who've worked for Jobs and left tend to have this view on him, considering his high standards. But since he's led Apple from nearly dead in the water to having more liquid assets than the US government in 10 years, people skirt by this.
  • Virtually every officer in the Imperial Japanese military, in large part due to their brutal discipline and rigid stratification between enlisted and officer ranks. Imperial officers and NCOs were literally supposed to make their men fear them more than they feared the enemy. This tended to backfire in the Air services because the more experienced enlisted pilots would simply abandon officers that they didn't like; actual fragging was normally unnecessary since being alone in a dogfight usually meant you were dead meat. According to one surviving enlisted pilot unpopular officers "often failed to come back."
  • Virtually every officer in the Imperial Russian military, because of the brutal means of discipline and strict social class differences. Almost all officers came from the privileged nobility, while the enlisted men were almost all force-levied conscripts. One particular example was Lieutenant Ippolit Giliarovsky on pre-dreadnought battleship Potemkin, whose uppity, cocky and bullyish behaviour sparked the mutiny onboard immortalized on Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin.
    • The Soviet military fared no better, largely due to the culture of dedovschina (literally, 'rule of the grandfathers') where senior conscripts were encouraged by the hierarchy to inflict extremely brutal hazing and bullying upon junior conscripts. The practice is responsible for as many as 3,000 deaths per year, although the Russian Defense Ministry classifies most of those as 'suicides'. The practice was partly responsible for the Strozhevoi Mutiny, the attempted defection of a Soviet frigate to Sweden in 1975. Lowering the mandatory service period to three years from five has eased the problem somewhat, but it still remains endemic to the Russian military even in the post-Soviet era.
  • Soviet General Grigory Kulik had a reputation of being erratic and a murderous buffoon. His personal command motto was: "Jail, or Medal." People under his command who he favored would receive (undeserved) honors, while those he didn't would be arrested for whatever reason he could think of. He would then shout his motto at his 'favored' subordinates to intimidate them if they were starting to displease him. Not only this, he was a stupendously inept officer who had no understanding of tactics and resisted all military innovations (such as tanks, rocket artillery, minefields, and sub-machine guns, all of which were effective). The only reason he survived for so long when other much more competent generals did not was because he himself had the personal favor of Stalin. He finally lost it after the end of WWII, when he was overheard criticizing Stalin. He was soon arrested, and eventually executed.
  • Second Lieutenant William Calley, commanding officer of the platoon that perpetrated the My Lai massacre, was regarded as incompetent and there had been discussions already within the platoon of fragging him.
  • The term 'fragging' refers to dispatching an unpopular military officer with a fragmentation grenade. The reasoning was that bullets could be traced to individual rifles, but grenades could not, and would destroy other physical evidence. Apparently the process was that a verbal, informal mention of difficulties with officer would be made. The next step was to place a grenade pin on the officer's pillow or other conspicuous place for him to find. If the message still wasn't coming across, a real grenade WITHOUT a pin would be placed in the general vicinity of the officer. In addition, apparently, the standing orders for a squad in Vietnam if their officer was killed was to return to base. Soldiers on a suicidal or otherwise dangerous mission sometimes were able to figure out the math on that one.
  1. While Gorman did commit an error in that he didn't explain why it was a good idea to not load standard ammunition, his troops shouldn't have needed an explanation just to do their jobs.