[[quoteright:252:[[Film/YouOnlyLiveTwice http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/NavyYOLT-1_6347.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:252:"Bond, ''Commander'' Film/JamesBond."]]

->"You can fight a krogan...
->Run like a leopard...
->But you'll never be better than [[Characters/MassEffectCommanderShepard Commander Shepard]]!"
-->-- '''Music/MiracleOfSound''', [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiRDJLcYua0 referring to]] the PlayerCharacter of ''Franchise/MassEffect''.

[[RuleOfCool Maybe because it sounds really cool]], but ''Commander'' is a very popular rank in fiction.

In real life navies, commander is the second-most senior field rank, right below the rank of Captain. A commander can be the commanding officer of a ship (a.k.a. TheCaptain), but generally he is the first officer, or as TV Tropes puts it: the NumberTwo. The army equivalent is either major or lieutenant colonel, depending on the country; while there is no commander rank in any army, it is used as a title.

Someone who qualifies as commanding coolness can also be of the rank Lieutenant Commander. In the old days, lieutenants would be given command of ships that didn't necessitate the presence of a Captain or Commander. The rank itself was initially called "Lieutenant Commanding" or "Lieutenant in Command" before it was officially named by the US Navy in the 19th Century. This practice is continued today, with smaller ships like minesweepers and submarines being captained by Lieutenant Commanders.

In science fiction, commanders usually have their traditional position as executive officer. Some works will have commander as the highest senior rank on a starship or a general staff rank, along with the title or rank (or both) of the supreme leader of military forces. A commander who is decidedly uncool may be a CommanderContrarian.

When using CommonRanks, is subordinate to ColonelBadass[[note]]although in many RealLife militaries they're actually equivalent[[/note]] and superior to MajorlyAwesome. When used as a General Staff Rank, is usually superior to TheBrigadier and subordinate only to the FourStarBadass.
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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* In ''{{Berserk}}'', Guts was the commander of the Hawks' Raiders. As the Band of the Hawk was a mercenary unit, not a lot of attention was paid to ranks in the band.
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', we have [[TheStrategist Shikaku Nara]], the Jounin Commander of Konoha, who acts as a right-hand man to Tsunade.
* [[Manga/{{Bleach}} Captain-Commander Shigekuni Yamamoto-Genryusai]].
* ''MobileSuitGundamSEED'' & ''MobileSuitGundamSEEDDestiny'': Due to it's status as a former militia, most of ZAFT's officers are addressed as "Commander". This includes the very cool [[CoolOldGuy Andrew Waldfeld]] and [[MagnificentBastard Rau Le Creuset]] in the first series, and former AcePilot turned ship captain, Yzak Joule in the sequel.
* Batou's rank in his military days, long a subject of debate in the [=GitS=] fandom, was finally stated in the Manga/GhostInTheShellArise to be Commander,[[note]]Yes, while [[ArtisticLicenseMilitary being a Ranger]].[[/note]] though how it translates into the franchise as a whole is unclear.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comics ]]

* The Director of SHIELD is referred to as Commander. NickFury, however, most often went by his prior Army rank of Colonel. [[ComicBook/CaptainAmerica Captain Steve Rogers]], a later director, went by Commander.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* In the ''StarWars'' films, this is perhaps the most common rank. By ''ReturnOfTheJedi'', all the Imperial officers were commanders (even Admiral Piett) due to a costuming goof.
** It is a replacement of the rank Major.
* Commander Roarke in ''AtlantisTheLostEmpire''.
* Commander Film/JamesBond, at your service. Mentioned while he banters with Xenia Onatopp in ''Film/GoldenEye''.
** He's also repeatedly addressed as Commander Bond in ''Film/OnHerMajestysSecretService''.
** Even more so in the ''Film/CasinoRoyale'' continuity. In the original, he was a member of the Royal Navy Reserve. Daniel Craig's Bond was a member of the Special Boat Service, which is the British equivalent of the Navy [=SEALs=]. No wonder he's so brutal in hand-to-hand combat these days
* The ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' films have Riker. He logs plenty of command time while Picard is busy with the main plot. (Spock, a commander in [[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries the original TV series]], was promoted to the rank of Captain for the movies, though he still acted as Kirk's NumberTwo.)
* In ''Film/StarTrekIntoDarkness'', Kirk is briefly demoted to commander. He spends that time trying to shoot down a jumpship with a phaser rifle, before managing to bring it down by throwing the rifle (with a firehose tied around it) into its air intake.
* Jack Harper from ''Film/{{Oblivion 2013}}'' is this. [[spoiler: The real one, in any case. He was commander of the "Odyssey" mission.]] Beech takes some particular delight in saying "Welcome Back, Commander" when he decides to help them.
* Commander William Harper in ''Film/JackRyanShadowRecruit''. Given how proficient he is in a firefight, it's likely he was a Navy SEAL.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* [[StarWars Luke Skywalker]] ends up a commander in the Rebellion not long after ANewHope.
** In most of the XWingSeries, Rogue and Wraith Squadrons are headed by Commander Antilles. Then he accepts a promotion to General.
** The short story ''[[Literature/StarWarsBladeSquadron Blade Squadron]]'' has Rebel Wing Commander Adon Fox, leader of Blade Squadron.
* In the [[Literature/ThePentagonWar Human-Centauri Defense Force]], Commander is short for "Battle Commander", and is a temporary title bestowed on a spacecraft's C.O. for only as long as a RedAlert situation exists.
* Literature/JamesBond held the rank of Commander in the Royal Navy before he joined MI6, as also noted in Film above.
* Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch in Literature/{{Discworld}} - promoted from Captain at the end of ''Discworld/MenAtArms''.
* Commander Dynamic of the book/comic book series LimekillerAtLarge
* ''ASongOfIceAndFire'' takes the coolness to the next level with the rank of ''Lord'' Commander, which seems to be the highest military rank in Westeros, as evidenced by the Kingsguard, the City Watch and the Night Watch. (The commander of the Golden Company, widely regarded as the world's best mercenaries, goes by [[TheCaptain Captain]]-[[FourStarBadass General]], but part of the point of the Golden Company is that they tend to stay ''away'' from Westeros.)
* Commander Peter Raeder and Lieutenant Commander Sarah James, Commonwealth Space Command, from ''Literature/TheFlightEngineer''.
* The first ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' book features Commander Harrington, of the HMS ''Fearless'', a heavily-modified Light Cruiser. She would be promoted to Captain by the next book, and would eventually become an Admiral (in multiple navies), with such titles as Commander, Protector's Own Squadron, Commander, Eighth Fleet, and later Commander, [[spoiler: Home Fleet]].
* ''TheLostFleet'' has a number of commanders in command of ships. Most of them are fairly young due to the heavy attrition of the ForeverWar. In particular, Commander Jaylen Cresida (later promoted to Captain) of TheAlliance battlecruiser ''Furious'' is a young but brilliant commander whose knowledge of hypernet gates saves not only the fleet but humanity as a whole. She's also a capable ship commander.
* The highest rank in the Children of the Light in ''WheelOfTime'' is "Lord Captain Commander".

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* Commander William Adama of the [[Series/BattlestarGalacticaReimagined Battlestar]] ''[[Series/BattlestarGalacticaReimagined Galactica]]''. Enough said.
* Comes up all the time in ''Franchise/StarTrek''
** Benjamin Sisko of ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' started off as a commander, as he was in charge of a station instead of a starship. He actually got his own ship at the beginning of season 3, but wasn't fully promoted until the end of the season. Lampshaded in-series when several of his crew remark that "it's about damn time", though he plays it cool and points out that the formal promotion doesn't change anything on a day-to-day level (he already had the command post and the ship that he wanted).
** Also on [=DS9=], Kira Nerys, who was already a ColonelBadass in Season 7, became a Commander in Starfleet to help anti-Dominion rebels.
** The first officers of every other ''Star Trek'' series have been of this rank.
** Commander Shran of the Andorian Imperial Guard on ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise''.
** Also with quite a few of the Lieutenant Commanders, especially Worf and Tuvok.
** Many of the villainous alien captains (Romulans, Klingons, Tholians, etc) are given the "Commander" title, presumably to avoid TheGoodCaptain trope while keeping the coolness. One notable aversion would be Koloth from the Original Series, whose rank was Captain.
*** Commander seems to be the Klingon and Romulan equivalent to TheCaptain.
*** Their equivalent of the Starfleet rank of Commander would be Sub-Commander. This also applies to pre-Federation Vulcans (e.g. Sub-Commander T'pol).
* Commander Harmon Rabb, Jr. in ''Series/{{JAG}}''.
* Commander Taylor, leader of TerraNova. Hell, he uses a ''crossbow'' as a fishing tool!
* Commander Anubis Cruger, of ''Series/PowerRangersSPD''; head of Earth's branch of the SpacePolice. A later ReunionShow reveals that he eventually gets promoted to ''Supreme'' Commander of the entire organization.
* In season one of ''Series/BabylonFive'', Commander Sinclair is in charge of the station with Lt. Commander Ivanova as his NumberTwo.
** Ivanova is promoted to full Commander at the start of season two when Captain Sheridan takes over.
** This is probably because Sinclair was never in command of a ship. The most he ever flew was a Starfury during the Battle of the Line. Sheridan actually had his own ship by the time he was re-assigned to B5.
* Commander John Crichton of {{Farscape}}. "Commander" is apparently the rank he achieved as an astronaut for IASA (international expy of NASA); his crew members continue to use this title for him throughout the show.Even thouhg it's not really a military rank, it sometimes comes in handy during their many, many encounters with hostile military forces.
* ''[[InsistentTerminology Supreme]]'' Commander Thor, leader of the Asgard in ''Series/StargateSG1''.
* In season two of ''Series/StargateAtlantis'', Major John Sheppard is promoted to Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard. He is also the Commanding Military Officer throughout the majority of the series, apart from one episode where he doesn't receive the title until the end of the episode.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Music ]]

* Commander of Music/TheProtomen.
* "Commander" by Kelly Rowland.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* The rank of Lord Commander in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}''. None moreso than Lord Commander Dante, Chapter Master of the Blood Angels.
** For Space Marine Commanders, one presiding over a battlegroup of several chapters for an engagement is referred to by the even cooler "Force Commander"
** Imperial Guard Commanders appear to be junior flag officers, possibly somewhere around brigadier. Lord Commander of the Segmentum is a much higher combined arms rank, the five joint highest in the Imperium answerable directly to the council of High Lords.
** A Space Marine "Commander" is simply the highest ranked Space Marine in a force. If a Space Marine battlegroup to ''really'' bad casualties, then the senior Battle-Brother would be "Commander".
* BattleTech, the rank Galaxy Commander is very high rank among the Clans, its should be the equivalent of General in the Inner Sphere, as they command an entire regiment called a galaxy, and they have a big say in the Clans policies and decisions. One of the prerequisites of the rank is to be a real {{Badass}} mechwarrior.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* As stated above, ''Franchise/MassEffect'''s protagonist, Commander Shepard, fits this trope.
** In VideoGame/MassEffect2, during Tali's loyalty mission, the Quarians refer to Shepard as "Captain". A dialogue option is available to give Shepard's actual rank, but the Quarians (mostly) stick with Captain, as it accurately reflects the cultural role the character is taking by speaking up for Tali, as well as being Commanding Officer of the ''Normandy'', meaning Shepard ''is'' TheCaptain in all-but-name.
** In the Russian version of the game, Shepard is referred to as "Captain". This has to do with the fact that Russian Navy equivalent of a "Commander" is a "Captain, 2nd Rank", the short form of which is just "Captain" (similar to the short form of "Lt. Commander" being "Commander").
** In the third game, assuming she survives the first, Ashley Williams will be promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
* In ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'', the highest-ranking Grey Warden in a nation is known as the Warden-Commander, their only superior being the "First Warden", who manages the order from Weisshaupt Fortress in the [[{{Mordor}} Anderfels]]. The PlayerCharacter becomes Warden-Commander of Ferelden in the ''[[VideoGame/DragonAgeOriginsAwakening Awakening]]'' expansion (their predecessor Duncan also held this title, although he was never actually referred to as such.)
** Similarly, the highest-ranking Templar in any one place is the local Knight-Commander. Kirkwall's Knight-Commander [[IronLady Meredith]] is one of the major players in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII''. She does not answer to the lord of the city, but he doesn't do anything that would go against her wishes, making her the actual most powerful person.
** The Dwarf Noble Warden briefly held the title of "Commander of Orzammar's Armies" during their Origin.
** Your companion Sten is an Infantry Platoon Commander of the Qunari. Too bad he doesn't have his men with him any more. [[spoiler:Or his sword.]]
* The Space Marine's leader in ''DawnOfWar'' of the ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' universe is called Force Commander. The first game follows the rules for it by having the Blood Ravens work with Grey Knight infantry, but the second game does not involve other chapters, making the Blood Ravens' use of it either unique to their chapter (and likely RuleOfCool).
** 'Force Commander' actually refers to the senior Space Marine officer in charge of a campaign, regardless of how many Chapters are present.
** For example: Davian Thule is the Captain of the 4th Company, but in Dark Crusade, he was the Commander of the strike forc, having authority over the other companies and their captains present.
* In the ''CommandAndConquer'' games, [[NonEntityGeneral the player]] is referred to as a "Commander" by subordinates and superiors alike. There are exceptions: in the ''[[CommandAndConquerGenerals Generals]]'' incarnations, the player holds the title of "General", while in ''[[CommandAndConquerRedAlert Red Alert]]'''s USSR faction, the player is a "Comrade-General".
** Throughout the Soviet campaign in Red Alert 1, you are referred to as "Commander"... right until the very last sentence spoken, which calls you [[spoiler: Comrade Chairman]].
** The ending of Red Alert 3's Soviet campaign implies that the player character is ''[[HisNameReallyIsBarkeep literally called 'Commander']]'' with the proposal to rename New York in your honor naming the city as 'Kommandersgrad'. How cool is that?!
* VideoGame/{{Halo}} has several. On the Spartan side, we have Carter-A259 and Catherine-B320, who hold the ranks of Commander and Lieutenant Commander, respectively, and Commander Miranda Keyes from the Halo Trilogy. In the expanded universe, we have Lieutenant Commander Kurt-051 (he was given the fake last name "Ambrose" as part of the promotion, but Halsey reveals that his real last name is "Trevelyan"), and Jacob Keyes before he became TheCaptain.
* Seal Team Six Commander and [[LikeFatherLikeSon son]] of [[VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps Alex Mason]], [[VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps2 David Mason]] has to apply from what we've seen of him.
* In ''VideoGame/TheSimsMedieval'' when your Knight achieves level 10, his or her title is "Commander." And a level 10 Knight, particularly if they've bought or acquired good gear, is quite badass.
* The Terran's NonEntityGeneral in all {{Starcraft}} games is referred to as Commander by all units (including the Battlecruiser, who is supposed to be a Commodore).

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Webcomics ]]

* ''ManlyGuysDoingManlyThings'' has Commander Badass.
* Commander Heroic in ''EvilInc'' may be geriatric, but he's [[BadassGrandpa still in the superhero business]]. He certainly ''used'' to be hot stuff.
* ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'' has [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2004-05-31 Commander Jaguar]].
* Clearly why ''Webcomic/CommanderKitty'' chose that as his [[OnlyKnownByTheirNickname nickname]]. Of course, [[http://www.commanderkitty.com/2009/07/12/just-us-spacers/ he hasn't exactly worked out the coolness part yet]].

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* Cobra Commander in ''GIJoe''.
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', [[SmugSnake Zhao]] is initially greeted as Captain Zhao by [[CoolOldGuy Iroh]], but smugly corrects him by pointing out he's been promoted to Commander (presumably promoted; "Captain" usually outranks "Commander" in the Navy, but he was definitely acting like it was a promotion...it's probably because [[RuleOfCool "Commander" sounds cooler]], plus that way there's a close equivalence in Fire Navy and Army ranks, with Lieutenants and Captains in both, Colonels and Generals in the Army, and Commanders and Admirals (of which Zhao becomes one of a few appearances later) in the Navy.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', there's Commander Bumi of the United Forces, Tenzin's brother.
* Commander Nebula in ''WesternAnimation/BuzzLightyearOfStarCommand'', who used to masquerade as a bounty hunter to help Zurg's minions escape and even has a laser in his peg leg.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated'', Ultra Magnus is ''Supreme'' Commander of the Autobots at large, with the Prime rank closer to TheCaptain. In ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'', he's again subordinate to Optimus but still referred to as "Commander".
* In ''[[WesternAnimation/{{Thundercats 2011}} [=ThunderCats (2011)=]]]'' Leo, a ReverseMole and RebelLeader for LaResistance, is the Lieutenant Commander for an EvilOverlord who holds the rank of Commander himself. Leo and his allies are plotting a revolution to overthrow him.
* In ''StarWarsTheCloneWars'', many clone officers including Commander Cody.
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