Created By: girlyboy on May 19, 2011 Last Edited By: Patachou on May 5, 2015

Stock MacArthur Parody

A character parodies famous American general DouglasMacArthur.

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I shall return!

Today he is known mostly to history buffs, but there was a time when World War II general Douglas MacArthur was a well-known Badass In Charge, and an instantly recognizable figure in the media. Thus, characters in works from days past will sometimes find it amusing to put on a fancy general's hat, maybe a pair of Cool Shades, clench a corncob pipe in their teeth, and utter one of MacArthur's famous quotes (such as "I shall return," or, when appropriate, "I have returned!")

This is Played for Laughs often enough to be a stock parody, but, along with the funny, can also show that the character is adopting the mien of a Determinator, a Four-Star Badass, or, in some cases, an Old Soldier — all tropes associated with MacArthur. A sharp contrast between the parodying character's real personality and one of these archetypes can also be a source of humour.

This trope is a Stock Parody of an Historical-Domain Character.

Examples:

  • In Kiss Me Kate, Lilli's boyfriend General Harrison Howell is usually played this way.
  • The "I shall return" quote is frequently referenced in various amusing instances on M*A*S*H; on at least two occasions, a full parody is done — once when the characters are preparing for a visit from the real MacArthur and the very un-MacArthur-like Radar dresses up as the general for a rehearsal, and once when Trapper dresses up this way to mock Frank's overly-serious military manner in the episode "Five O'Clock Charlie".
  • In one Merrie Melodies cartoon (Bugs' Bonnets), Elmer Fudd acts like MacArthur (while rising dramatically from a lake) while under the influence of a general's hat. He utters "I have returned!" — subject to Elmuh Fudd Syndwome.
  • The Tex Avery cartoon Little Johnny Jet features an airplane version of MacArthur, only this one is based on a different quote: "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." And then he fades away.
  • The Chuck Jones cartoon From A to Z-Z-Z-Z has a young boy with Walter Mitty-style fantasies. At the end he gives a MacArthur impersonation, saying "I shall return".
  • In Mobile Fighter G Gundam, there was a MacArthur lookalike who commanded the Liberty Cannon against the Devil Gundam. It didn't do much though.


Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • May 19, 2011
    Duncan
    In Kiss Me Kate, Lilli's boyfriend General Harrison Howell is usually played this way.
  • May 19, 2011
    TonyG
    The Tex Avery cartoon Little Johnny Jet features an airplane version of MacArthur, only this one is based on a different quote: "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." And then he fades away.
  • May 19, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Not sure if this counts:
    • MASH: the camp prepares for a visit by MacArthur by having Radar dress up as MacArthur while they do a dry run. Radar has the uniform, pipe, etc. Then MacArthur shows up while they're in the middle of the practice session, and just drives thru camp without even slowing down.
  • May 19, 2011
    girlyboy
    ^ I think that definitely counts, as it was, of course, Played For Laughs.

    ^^ I shall have to mention other possible quotes in the description maybe, I suppose.
  • May 19, 2011
    peccantis
    A short list of typical quotes?
  • May 19, 2011
    girlyboy
    I... don't know. "I have returned" is the only one I've heard used in parodies much, but I am not very knowledgeable about this. If there's other quotes, like the "old soldiers" one, that be associated with him in media, then that might be mention-worthy. On the other hand, they could just go on the Quotes sub-page I suppose.

    Anywho, what we really need is more examples. We have four, which is excellent progress, but hopefully the number will grow a bit more in the coming days. ... On the other hand, given that it's a rather aged trope now, maybe there aren't too many other examples out there that anyone will have heard of... :P

    ... Also, I emphasize that this is totally Up For Grabs. Yes. :P
  • May 19, 2011
    SKJAM
    I should probably change my name to Partial Amnesiac....

    Kid's anime, RP Gish in structure, hero has a spongelike body structure and one of his Nakama is a Cat Girl. Anyhow, halfway through the series, the bad guys take over the country, and the puppet ruler is a Mac Arthur parody (who does a Heel Face Turn and a Heroic Sacrifice.)
  • May 25, 2011
    MorganWick
    I thought "I shall return" was more famous than "I have returned". In fact I didn't know Mc Arthur had actually said that and the OP's example wasn't just a Badass One Liner on Fudd's part.
  • May 25, 2011
    girlyboy
    "People of the Philippines: I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil..."

    Hmm. I'm not much of a history buff, actually. I was more familiar with "I have returned," but I don't know if that's actually the more commonly used one or not. Is "I shall return" actually more common? Anyway, I guess the trope could be re-written to place less emphasis on the quote, though I imagined it to be fairly famous... I dunno. Need more opinions on this.
  • May 25, 2011
    girlyboy
    For what it's worth, Google search for both phrases along with "MacArthur" gives decent results, but "I shall return" gives 165,000, while "I have returned" gives "only" 43,200. So it seems the former is indeed better-known. The PBS thinks it's more relevant: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/macarthur/filmmore/reference/primary/macspeech02.html But the results for "I have returned" indicate that it is also iconic.

    I guess both phrases are fairly iconic, with maybe "I shall return" somewhat more so? Perhaps both need a mention? Or perhaps neither?..
  • May 26, 2011
    Arivne
    Looney Tunes
    • The Chuck Jones cartoon "from A to Z-Z-Z-Z" has a young boy with Walter Mitty-style fantasies. At the end he gives a MacArthur impersonation, saying "I shall return".
  • May 26, 2011
    girlyboy
    I've edited the description a bit.

    Hmm. I think, aside from incorporating the examples from the comments, this is actually more or less launch-able. What say you, tropers?
  • May 26, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    Sure, go ahead.
  • May 26, 2011
    KZN02
    I recall in Mobile Fighter G Gundam that there was a Mac Arthur lookalike who commanded the Liberty Cannon against the Devil Gundam. It didn't do much though.
  • March 13, 2012
    girlyboy
    Wellp, I'm not sure what else to change here, but we have only one hat!
  • March 14, 2012
    VincentGaribaldi
    I've definately seen more examples of this, though it's hard bringing the specifics to mind. Another stock quote is "Old soldiers never die. They just fade away." He said it while addressing congress right before or right after his retirement.

    Pretty sure I've seen at least a few gags in cartoons where someone actually starts to fade away.
  • March 7, 2013
    JonnyB
    Douglas Mac Arthur has a TV Tropes page, btw.
  • May 5, 2015
    TonyG
    ^And that page has a section on references to him in pop culture, which so far only has the "From A To ZZZZ" example. Should we put this there or go ahead and make it a separate page?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=1soa4fn23afbs8fn1c6onix3