Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough YKTTW Discussion

Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough
(permanent link) added: 2009-11-02 19:14:31 sponsor: jason taylor (last reply: 2009-11-02 19:14:31)

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This is a type of ensemble, in which the top authority figure rules in a more refined way and the under boss in a more straightforward way. That is the Boss will be an Officer and a Gentleman and A Father to His Men . When he needs to intimidate he will use subtle means like a Death Glare . By contrast the Father Neptune , Sergeant Rock or if the crew is unlucky, Drill Sergeant Nasty will be harsh and direct in his method of rule. Sometimes direct to the point of using his fists which no higher-up should do. This is to some degree Truth in Television . Not only is it a holdover from class differences, it can be a useful psychological trick that bears relations with Good Cop/Bad Cop.


  • Glory The commander is an Officer and a Gentleman while the two sergeants are rougher and less refined. One is a Sergeant Rock and the other a Drill Sergeant Nasty.

  • Zulu In this the sergeant is a fairly good natured fellow, but has an "unpolished" feel to him.

  • In Top Gun, Tom Skerrit (Viper) and Michael Ironsides (Jester) are Trope Codifiers.

  • Michael Ironsides gets his chance to be Captain Smooth in Starship Troopers to Clancy Brown's Sgt. Zim who is of course the "sergeant rough".

Live Action TV
  • In Andromeda, Hunt is the captain smooth, while Valentine bears some traces of sergeant rough.

  • In the tv series Boston Public, the principal is smooth (shaved head!) and tactful, while the VP is a strict disciplinarian with a knack for intimidating... and the funny thing is that the principal is just a scowl away from being a Scary Black Man, while the VP is a short, slim and normally unremarkable white guy.


  • Over the Wine-Dark Sea: Menedemos is the Magnetic Hero while Diokles the Father Neptune type oarmaster, bellows at the men. Menedemos even describes to Sostratos this synergy between his method and that of Diokles.

  • Horatio Hornblower : In one scene, a bosun beats up a recalcitrant sailor. Hornblower is grateful that he is a Captain and too exalted to do such things as he is probably not a good enough fighter.

  • Shows up in the book Enders Game, and Ender even has a psychological reason for it: mercy and good consequences should come from his troops' immediate commanders, discipline and bad consequences from he, Ender, as the overall commander, mainly so it bonds his squads into tighter units willing to protect each other.
Real Life

  • This Troper actually experienced this when serving on a janitorial crew. Not to that extent as it was a civilian work crew, not a ship or army unit. But the first boss was nicer then the second boss.
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