Created By: MrInitialManJanuary 19, 2012 Last Edited By: KoverasDecember 21, 2015
Troped

Respected By The Respected (last hat?)

A character\'s cred is established by other tough characters addressing them with respect.

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Trope

Formerly called Badasses Call Him Sir. Alternative titles: Cred By Deference...

"When I come callin', the devil still answers with 'sir'."

When writers want to hint at the true extent of a recently-introduced character's power or influence without going into detail about it, they instead have already-established and respected characters address them in a deferential manner. After all, if a well-known badass treats this person with utmost respect, so should everyone else if they know what's good for them. Done too blatantly, however, it may come across as Character Shilling.

Does not include regimented forms of address, such as when speaking to someone higher in the chain of command: a badass private may refer to a general as "sir", but that doesn't automatically mean the latter is a Four Star Badass. Villain Cred is a subtrope limited to Villains. Compare also The Knights Who Say Squee, where younger heroes seek to emulate their older idols, Well Done Son Guy or So Proud Of You, where a character strives to be respected by the ones they respect. Compare/contrast The Dreaded, who is defined by the fear everyone else shows of them.

Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Gamma, the world's current top superheroine, Puella Magi Mika, comes running when Yuri Kitajishi—ostensibly a muggle—gives her a call, and she even salutes her—because Yuri is actually Lily Cure, the retired top superheroine of all times and Mika's former mentor. Later on, the alien hero Mighty Blow's strength is hinted at when the freaking zoo lions bow to him out of their own volition.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic of Reality Checks Nyxverse, Twilight Sparkle's father Night Light, during a tirade against an especially annoying reporter, delivers a Badass Boast listing all the accomplishments of his son and daughter and the various special ponies they are involved with, and finishes up with "...and every one of them calls me SIR!"

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Emperor Palpatine's first appearance in the Star Wars saga, Darth Vader—who had been the scariest bad guy until then—kneels to take a phone call from his "master".
  • In a Cut Song from Little Shop Of Horrors called "I'm Bad", Audrey II boasts that the Bride Of Frankenstein calls him "Mr. Audrey Sir".
  • In a deleted scene from We Were Soldiers, a group of soldiers are discussing their new assignment when one of them mentions the Sergeant Major they'll be working under is Sergeant Plumley. One of them recognizes the name and launches into a story about when he was a new recruit he served under a badass Sergeant Rock that was Covered In Scars, a double Medal of Honor awardee, who effortlessly humiliated an Ensign Newbie who tried to dress him down. He then reveals that said sergeant wasn't Plumley but was a guy who worked under Plumley... and was scared absolutely shitless of Plumley.

    Literature 
  • The first person we see Harry Dresden, the protagonist of The Dresden Files, show genuine respect to is his mentor, Ebenezar McCoy. Other characters are surprised to hear Harry call him "Sir." Much of this is because Ebenezar was a father-figure to him, but he is also one of the most powerful wizards around, becoming a member of the Senior Council the first time the readers are introduced to him.
  • In He, Lover of Death, Senka watches the ineffectual dandy he robbed earlier casually grill the huge constable who is keeping the entire Wretched Hive of Khitrovka in terror, and realizes just how deep in trouble he is when the constable displays nothing but head-bowing humility in front of him. The "dandy", of course, turns out to be the series' overarching protagonist.
  • In Jingo, a general of the Klatchian Army is surrounded by D'regs and asks Carrot, who's leading them, why they haven't already attacked. Carrot explains that he asked them not to because Commander Vimes wouldn't like it. The general promptly surrenders, telling an aide who questions him that "This man can make water run uphill, and he has a commander!"
  • In Henry Lion Oldie's short story "The Last One" (later incorporated as a chapter into the 1992 novel The Road), a futuristic martial arts competition is interrupted when a younger contestant insults an old one-armed Japanese spectator, prompting every black belt in the attendance, including the contest judges, to jump to the old man's defense. It turns out the latter is actually Gohen Miyagi, a legendary Old Master who trained most of said black belts, and whose arm was amputated after he used it to break through the supposedly impenetrable Deflector Shields protecting competitors from serious injury and to kill his opponent in a contest for insulting his own teacher earlier.

    Music 
  • It is said of the title character of the Jim Croce song "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" that
    All the downtown ladies call him "Treetop Lover"
    All the men just call him "Sir"

    Video Games 
  • Master Chief, the protagonist of the Halo series, is addressed as "sir" by other marines—which wouldn't raise any eyebrows, since they're in the military... except Master Chief Petty Officer is a non-commissioned rank, and noncoms are never addressed as 'sir', unless the speaker does so to show a special form of respect, which Master Chief deserves and then some.
  • In Mass Effect 3's tutorial, James Vega breaks regs by saluting Shepard and addressing him/her by rank as a show of respect, despite Shepard currently being suspended awaiting Court Martial and thus rating neither rank nor salute. This is lampshaded by Shepard.

    Webcomics 

Will go under Admiration Tropes and Fame And Reputation Tropes.
Community Feedback Replies: 54
  • January 19, 2012
    TwoGunAngel
    • It is said of the title character of the Jim Croce song "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" that
      All the downtown ladies call him "Treetop Lover"
      All the men just call him "Sir"
  • January 20, 2012
    ChunkyDaddy
    Video Games
    • Halo - the protaganist is called Master Chief. Of course, that's his official rank and title. When he is in a group of marines, all of them refer to him as "Sir"
  • January 20, 2012
    SpiderRider3
    Parodied in Holes with Mr. Sir
  • July 18, 2012
    MorganWick
    I just think of "sir" as a term used towards someone higher in the chain of command. A private who might be badass would refer to a general as "sir", but that doesn't mean the general is a Four Star Badass. Thus, the name seems nonindicative and the description could use some fleshing out.
  • July 18, 2012
    JonnyB
    I think it's referring to "sir" as a sign of respect to someone who's superior.

    Mr T would be an enforced version of the trope, since he changed his name so people would be forced to call him Mister.

    The Most Interesting Man In The World and Chuck Norris would probably also fit in this trope but I don't have specific examples.
  • July 18, 2012
    MorganWick
    ^Okay, but how apparent would that be from the title?
  • August 26, 2012
    Andygal
    At one point a big deal is made of Harry Dresden calling Ebenezer Mc Coy "sir", since Harry hardly ever treats anyone with that kind of respect.
  • August 26, 2012
    cygnavamp
  • September 22, 2012
    MrInitialMan
    Jonny B has it correctly. In essence, this is someone even badasses acknoweldge as their better.
  • September 22, 2012
    henke37
    • In Ace Attorney Gumshoe greets people with "pal" unless it is someone he considers his superior, then he calls them "sir", even if he is talking about Franziska who is female.
  • February 13, 2013
    randomsurfer
    On The Simpsons Drederick Tatum, a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Mike Tyson, stops a prison riot while he's incarcerated by quietly saying "hey come on you guys, shut up." The other inmates immediately stop what they're doing, apologize to him, and meekly return to their cells.
  • February 13, 2013
    Larkmarn
    This seems like The Same But More Specific of Character Shilling.

    Regardless, the Halo one isn't an example because the marines are lower ranked than MC, they have to call him sir.
  • February 16, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Film
    • Emperor Palpatine from the Star Wars saga. Darth Vader kneels to take a phone call from this man. "What is thy bidding, my Master?"
  • August 16, 2015
    Koveras
    I don't think this is the same as Character Shilling, since "shilling" implies that the character isn't really as tough as the writers want to us to think. In this case, the writers subtly hint at the character's true extent of power/influence by indicating that already established badasses know something about him that makes them treat him with respect—and so should everyone else, including the audience.

    • In Gamma, the world's current top superheroine, Puella Magi Mika, salutes Yuri, ostensibly a muggle, upon meeting her—because Yuri is actually Lily Cure, the retired top superheroine of all times and Mika's former mentor. Later on, the alien hero Mighty Blow's strength is hinted at when the freaking zoo lions bow to him out of their own volition.
  • August 16, 2015
    Dalillama
    ^^^ They still shouldn't be calling him sir. Master Chief Petty Officer is a non-commissioned rank, and noncoms are never addressed as 'sir'. ("Don't call me sir, I work for a living!")

    • In Discworld/Jingo, an enemy commander surrenders to Carrot with these words: "This man can make water run uphill, and he has a commander." That commander is Sam Vimes
  • August 16, 2015
    sgamer82
    • The first person we see Harry Dresden of The Dresden Files show genuine respect to is his mentor, Ebenezar McCoy. Other characters are surprised to hear Harry call him "Sir." Much of this is because Ebenezar was a father-figure to him, but he is also one of the most powerful wizards around, becoming a member of the Senior Council the first time the readers are introduced to him.

    • In the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic of Reality Checks Nyxverse, Twilight Sparkle's father Night Light, during a tirade against an especially annoying reporter, delivers a Badass Boast listing all the accomplishments of his son and daughter and the various special ponies they are involved with, and finishes up with this trope.
      The Elements of Harmony swap Hearthwarming gifts with us. The fruits of my loins are forces of nature, boy. My daughter juggles ursa minors for a pastime, makes Nightmare Moon sit in the corner when she's naughty, and turned a Chaos god into a birdbath. She and her friends destroyed the Grand Galloping Gala and Princess Celestia applauded. My son slaps armies out of the sky by snogging his wife. My daughter-in-law sits on a THRONE and held the sky up for three days by sheer force of will. And every one of them calls me SIR!
  • August 17, 2015
    Laevatein
    In regard to characters of higher ranks, this section from Write A Badass is probably relevant:

    A real badass doesn’t have to be in charge

    A lot of people equate being a badass with a license to push people around. Nothing could be further from the truth. Pushing people around creates more trouble than it solves. Experienced badasses know this. As a result, they try to avoid ordering people around as much as possible. Most are perfectly content to allow others to give the orders. Samurai and Ninja were badasses, but they usually served greater powers in exchange for priveliges and payment. Look around you at the next LARP you attend. The guy issuing the orders is probably not a real badass. The guy who he issues them to, who just nods his head and goes away, IS a badass. Especially if it results in half a dozen casualties.

    In the Five Man Band, The Lancer is all too often the badass, for the simple reason that the leader is the only one with the charisma to keep them in line long enough to stop killing things for long enough to advance the plot between shoot-outs. The badass doesn't need much charisma when everything around them is dead within about twelve seconds.
  • August 18, 2015
    randomsurfer
    In one episode of Happy Days resident Bad Butt Fonzie meets his idol, the Lone Ranger. Fonzie is struck dumb, and all he can say is "wow."
  • August 18, 2015
    Koveras
    @Laevatein: It think it's relevant in two ways. The badass calling another character "sir" acknowledges the latter's superiority verbally, thus divesting himself of some authority. The badass being called "sir" is not seeking authority for himself, but is being voluntarily acknowledged as such by others.
  • August 18, 2015
    ChaoticNovelist
    There are several tropes like this one: Character Shilling, Knights Who Say Squee, Villain Cred etc. Also, "badass" is a horrible value to use. This is about authority, skill, toughness, experience or something else? Laevatein makes a good point.
  • August 18, 2015
    Koveras
    I already explained the difference to Character Shilling, while Villain Cred seems to be limited to just villainous characters. I do agree with you on the overuse of the term "badass", however, and don't have a better proposal yet.
  • August 18, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    "In one episode of Happy Days resident Bad Butt Fonzie meets his idol, the Lone Ranger. Fonzie is struck dumb, and all he can say is "wow." "

    This is out of respect, not admiration.

  • August 30, 2015
    Koveras
    • In He, Lover of Death, Senka watches the ineffectual dandy he robbed earlier casually grill the huge constable who is keeping the entire Wretched Hive of Khitrovka in terror, and realizes just how deep in trouble he is when the constable displays nothing but head-bowing humility in front of him. The "dandy", of course, turns out to be the series' overarching protagonist.
  • August 31, 2015
    randomsurfer
    ^^Admiration is a form of respect (or vice versa).
  • September 13, 2015
    WalterSmith
    Averted in Game Of Thrones. Since he's not a real knight, nor he loves being adressed as "sir", Sandor Clegane (a.k.a. "The Hound") nonchalantly ignores Loras Tyrrell's compliments after saving him from his infamous brother Gregor. For that matter, the Hound may be a badass, but he also does the dirty work when needed.

    Loras Tyrell: I owe you my life, ser.
    Sandor Clegane: I'm no ser.
  • September 13, 2015
    Koveras
    ^ I think Loras is just being polite to his savior there, not showing deferential respect for his combat prowess.
  • September 13, 2015
    WalterSmith
    ^ Well, the Hound was brave enough to face off the most feared man in Westeros. And he would have continued to fight if hadn't been for Robert's command of stop. In order to be that brave, you've got to have a courage fit for a knight. Loras didn't know Sandor was no knight, though.
  • September 13, 2015
    DragonQuestZ
    "Admiration is a form of respect (or vice versa). "

    But this is about a different kind of respect.
  • September 13, 2015
    TheWanderer
    • In a deleted scene from We Were Soldiers, a group of soldiers are discussing their new assignment when one of them mentions the Sergeant Major they'll be working under is Sergeant Plumley. One of them recognizes the name and launches into a story about when he was a new recruit he served under a badass Sergeant Rock that was Covered In Scars, a double Medal of Honor awardee, who effortlessly humiliated an Ensign Newbie who tried to dress him down. He then reveals that said sergeant wasn't Plumley but was a guy who worked under Plumley... and was scared absolutely shitless of Plumley. Scene.
  • September 14, 2015
    Koveras
    @WalterSmith: If Loras didn't know Sandor wasn't a knight, then his "sir" might have also been an honest mistake, as he assumed he was one and addressed him in a manner appropriate among knights.

    @randomsurfer, DragonQuestZ: I think Fonzie's case would fit better under The Knights Who Say Squee, since it is more about his personal admiration of his idol rather than public show of respect for the man.
  • September 14, 2015
    TBTabby
    During the Marineford arc of One Piece, Luffy earns the respect of the Whitebeard pirates when he strikes up a conversation with Whitebeard himself.
  • September 14, 2015
    StarSword
    Page quote:
    Lieutenant James Vega: (salutes Shepard) Commander.
    Commander Shepard: You're not supposed to call me that anymore, James.
    Vega: Yeah, I'm not supposed to salute you, either.

    Video Games:
    • In Mass Effect 3's tutorial, James Vega breaks regs by saluting Shepard and addressing him/her by rank as a show of respect, despite Shepard currently being suspended awaiting Court Martial and thus rating neither rank nor salute. This is lampshaded by Shepard.
  • September 14, 2015
    Koveras
    @TBTabby: Isn't that more about the lack of respect in Luffy's case?
  • September 15, 2015
    Rjinswand
    I still suggest changing the name to avoid a Badass snowclone.
  • September 15, 2015
    Koveras
    ^ I cannot find your alternative title suggestion... Can you re-post it?
  • September 15, 2015
    Rjinswand
    Maybe something like Respected By The Respected? Since we currently don't even quite know what Badass is (see the Forums), and this trope might not be about Badass at all.
  • September 15, 2015
    StarSword
    ^That's not bad.
  • September 16, 2015
    Koveras
    Works for me. As a personal aside, the term "badass" has never been consistently defined on this website, as far back as I can remember. :-)

    EDIT: I've rewritten the lead-in to remove most references to badass-ness. Also, the ME3 quote didn't really work with the new title and description, so I replaced it with The Undertaker example, which was pretty much all quote to begin with.
  • September 17, 2015
    Koveras
    I politely request the fellow tropers who pulled their hats earlier to re-examine the write-up and to inform me on their opinion about the changes.
  • September 23, 2015
    DAN004
    What about cases when someone (who already appears in the story) becomes respected by the respected?

    Like in Young Avengers, who modeled themselves after the regular Avengers and later gets their recognition as well.
  • September 23, 2015
    Koveras
    Well Done Son Guy or So Proud Of You should cover that.
  • September 23, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ Those tropes should be mentioned in the description, then?
  • October 26, 2015
    ChaoticNovelist
  • October 26, 2015
    Koveras
    ^ Indeed.
  • December 9, 2015
    dalek955
    For the Quotes page:
    Bill is the head of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, a group that gets a C in self-naming, but a solid A+ in murdering. Each member's personal history alone is monumentally badass, and each one of these face-smashing lords of awesome is shown to fear and respect Bill. That's right — he is so badass that he manages a group of other badasses like a fantasy baseball team. This bastard had to do something mind-blowing to prove he was fit to lead without question.
  • December 9, 2015
    DAN004
    How would this relate to The Dreaded?
  • December 10, 2015
    Koveras
    ^^ I like the quote, but it is IMO too wordy and too long to make a good intro. :(

    ^ The Dreaded is a character who is characterized by everyone else fearing them greatly. This trope is about characters who are characterized by respected members of the cast freely showing deference to them. They are thus both defined to the audience by how other characters treat them, but said treatment is different (fear vs. respect).
  • December 10, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • Captain Rex of the clone troopers in George Lucas' Star Wars The Clone Wars is a veteran warrior whose men follow him sharply. At first, he and his men regarded padawan Ahsoka Tano as a "youngling" too green for field duty. After she and Jedi Anakin Skywalker sunder a Separatist incursion, the doubters were silent. Later episodes show Captain Rex having zero qualms about following Tano's lead, as she seems almost invulnerable to "clankers."
  • December 10, 2015
    Koveras
    ^ Are there any more moments later on when someone doubts Tano's authority, only to see Rex taking orders from her?
  • December 10, 2015
    DAN004
    Um, Koveras, the One Piece example also involves someone becoming respected by the respected (Luffy starts as a nobody). Like what From Nobody To Nightmare is to The Dreaded.
  • December 11, 2015
    dalek955
    ^^^^Hence why I said "quotes page", not "page quote".

    • In Jingo, a general of the Klatchian Army is surrounded by D'regs and asks Carrot, who's leading them, why they haven't already attacked. Carrot explains that he asked them not to because Commander Vimes wouldn't like it. The general promptly surrenders, telling an aide who questions him that "This man can make water run uphill, and he has a commander!"
  • December 11, 2015
    DAN004
    Wait, where's the One Piece example?
  • December 11, 2015
    Lord-Jaric
    FanFiction
    • In the RWBY fanfic Hunting Monsters, after a I Know Youre In There Somewhere Fight in which Huntress-in-training Ruby allows a berserking Subject Alpha (or Frank as she called him) to blow off some steam by drawing his attention to her but doesn't fight back, even going so far as to allow herself to be beaten mercilessly until he snaps out of it, Theron, a Huntsman she had highly admired, who had been trying to kill what he saw as a monster, says she will be a great Huntress for being able to see beyond the surface of the situation.
  • December 12, 2015
    Koveras
    @dalek955: Oh, OK. Remind me about it before launch, because I don't normally think of the subpages when I launch tropes...

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable