In any military series, there's always that one guy. No matter how long he's been in the service, he's never progressed above a certain point that he should have, by dint of seniority if nothing else. This may be because he likes it where he is, because he doesn't want authority, because of the Peter Principle, or because he's a discipline problem. May bounce up and down the ranks, with constant Insignia Rip Off Rituals
. May be caused by Status Quo Is God
- Occurs in any Wooden Ships and Iron Men series - the lieutenant without the luck to command a prize, or the midshipman who never passed his officer's exam; usually thirty years older than the other characters. Mr. Simpson in Mr. Midshipman Hornblower is an example.
- Wee Wullie in the McAuslan stories, who has been in the army 33 years and never risen above private due to his proclivity for drunken violence. McAuslan incredibly gets promoted to lance-corporal briefly. Lt. MacNeill recalls being a lance-corporal four times - and being demoted back to private on three of them, for losing, on separate occasions, a tea-urn, a member of his squad, and a guard-room.
- Averted by Klinger of MASH, who is promoted to Sergeant despite his various attempts to get out on a Section 8.
- Played with by a Bill Mauldin cartoon with the caption "Of course I got seniority! I got busted a week before you did!"
- Billy Beddingfield in Guns Of The South, who Harry Turtledove characterized as a hothead on the basis of his regular promotions and demotions in real life.