Career Ladder YKTTW Discussion

Career Ladder
The career of the protagonist, especially in a military context, is an important element of the story.
(permanent link) added: 2011-04-19 20:24:06 sponsor: anithri edited by: InTheMirror (last reply: 2014-03-19 18:08:10)

Add Tag:
Do We Have This One?, Needs More Examples, Needs a Better Description, Needs a Better Title, Up for Grabs.

Alt Titles: Climbing the Ranks

In a series with multiple installments, One or more of the antagonists is nurturing a career. Usually the series will include training, apprentice time, coming into his own (The Captain), and climbing into the highest ranks. This is often in a military context where the hero may start as a lowly soldier, but is rewarded time after time with promotions, better assignments and other recognitions. Tropes like Reassignment Backfire, The Neidermeyer, Field Promotion, Pointy-Haired Military Boss, and Tyrant Takes the Helm are often seen during the series.

Rank Up is related to a single promotion, and not a career. Workaholic is concerned with the negative ramifications of such dedication to a career.

Any organization that has a hierarchy is capable of supporting a Climbing The Ranks character. The military is the prime example, but police, government, intelligence, and corporate organizations also nicely fit.

Realistically this trope is used by millions around the world.

It falls into the Characterization Tropes and Military and Warfare Tropes groups.

Climbing the Ranks is most often seen in mediums that tell many different storys about the same character. Literature, Anime/Manga, Comic Books, Live-Action TV, Western Animation, Tabletop Games, Video Games



  • The Horatio Hornblower series shows him at all ranks from Midshipman to Admiral.
  • Since Honor Harrington is Horatio Hornblower IN SPACE!! (even the same initials) that naturally it follows the same Climbing The Ranks. Honor starts with her first cruiser command (On Basilisk Station) and followers her as she is knighted, ennobled, and ascended the ranks to Fleet Admiral.
  • The Richard Sharpe series follows him from footsoldier to Officer.
  • The Aubrey-Maturin series follows Jack Aubrey through only a few ranks, but a whole series of ships and assignments. Jack takes his career very seriously and his worst enemies are often the ones who threaten his career rather than simply his person.
  • The second half of Elizabeth Moon's Familias Regnant series (starting with Once A Hero) follows Esmay Suiza as she moves up in the ranks from newly-promoted lieutenant through her first command.
  • In the Discworld City Watch novels, Carrot and Angua both go from Lance-Constable to Captain.
  • Ryan starts off as a lowly analyst and eventually becomes President.

Live-Action TV

Replies: 22