Outscare The Enemy YKTTW Discussion

Outscare The Enemy
Make your underlings more afraid of you than of the enemy, to keep them on your side through fear.
(permanent link) added: 2011-03-17 14:05:39 sponsor: neoYTPism (last reply: 2011-05-19 14:13:51)

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"You want to be afraid of somebody, be afraid of ME!"
- Block Warlord from Judge Dredd (context viewable here)

Do We Have This One?? Oh, and I am open to title suggestions. (If anything, this is almost ready to launch except for the title.)

When you think someone on your side may give in to the other side out of fear, trying to outscare the enemy might be a way to counteract this.

This is essentially a competition between two sides for the title of The Dreaded.

It's a common leadership technique of Drill Sergeant Nasty and Sergeant Rock, and often times employed by the Anti-Hero who sees this as a means justified by a goal.


  • The way a crook in Judge Dredd deals with an underling considering surrendering to Dredd provides the page quotation.
  • In the movie Patton, Patton says something to the effect that he'll make his men unafraid of the Germans, but he hopes to God they never stop being afraid of him.
  • A major theme in 300.
    King Leonidas: You have many slaves, Xerxes, but few warriors. It won't be long before they fear my spears more than your whips.

  • Various Discworld novels deal with this theme.
    • There's a line in Jingo where Vimes pretty much says this to a less-than-loyal sailor regarding a dangerous beach.
    • In Lords and Ladies Nanny Ogg rallies the villagers against the invading elves by pointing out that when they march off to face them, she'll be following on behind a little...just in case.
    "Well," she said, "it's like this. If you go out there you may have to face elves. But if you stops here, you definitely have to face me. Now, elves is worse than me, I'll admit. But I'm persistent."
    [The Lord Chamberlain] risked looking up and found the point of Cohen's sword just in front of his eyes.
    "Yeah, but right now who're you more frightened of? Me or this Lord Hong?"
    "Uh... Lord Hong!"
    Cohen raised an eyebrow. "Really? I'm impressed."
  • In the Gaunt's Ghosts novel His Last Command, Gaunt tells some soldiers that he could tell them he was more frightening than the enemy.
  • Marauders of Gor. The alien Kurii have commandeered the Beautiful Slave Girls of the Torvalslanders along with other livestock. The slave girls are terrified of the Kurii, but are given orders by their masters, which they obey.
    We would soon see if such feared sleen and Kurii more, or Gorean males, their masters. If they did not obey, they would be slain. As slaves, they were commanded; as slaves, did they fail to comply, they would be put to death. They had no choice. They would obey.

Tabletop Games
  • Part of the Commissar's job in Warhammer40000 is to embody this. Possible death at the hands of of reality-defying abominations or a Horde of Alien Locusts may be terrifying, but certain death for cowardice is a big motivator.
    • Valhallan Ice Warriors in Warhammer 40K: "I don't know what effect they have on the enemy, but by the Emperor, they terrify me." Said by their commanding general no less.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, one version of "raging goblin" card(the Exodus one) had this in the flavour text: "Volrath has bred them to fear only him. Are they charging to battle or merely fleeing his wrath?"

Video Games
  • In Medieval Total War, you can try to counteract a dreaded general with a chivalrous one... or you could just use a ten-dread general yourself and make the enemy break first!
  • Iji: The unnamed author of a certain text log in Sector X seems to take this approach to leadership, ending his message to his troops with "If you're more afraid of [the title character] than ME, you're a TRAITOR."

Western Animation
  • From Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    Azula: Do the tides command this ship?
    Captain: Uh, no, Princess.
    Azula: And if I were to have you thrown overboard, would the tides think twice about smashing your body against the rocks?
    Captain: N-no, P-princess...
    Azula: So why don't you stop worrying about the tides, which have already made up their mind about killing you, and start worrying about me, who's still mulling it over.

Real Life
  • Truth in Television, but it can be inverted when one is afraid of one's underlings. There's a probably apocryphal quote attributed to the Duke of Wellington to the effect that the French would have to be terrified of his troops, since he certainly was.
  • Josef Stalin is quoted as saying that "in the Soviet Army it takes more courage to retreat than to advance."
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