->''""The [[CannonFodder Imperial Guard]]. [[ButtMonkey It's a thankless job]], but if you're willing to stand your ground and give it your all... you just might be able to buy enough time for the [[SuperSoldier Space]] [[CreatorsPet Marines]] [[SpotlightStealingSquad to take all the credit]]."''
-->-- '''A common sardonic joke''', ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}''

Military fiction will generally focus on units considered elite in some fashion, even if it is obvious that the regular units found in the same battle are just as much in the thick of it.

This is particularly common in fiction set in WorldWarII: If it is a US unit that is in focus, it is more likely to be Airborne, [[SemperFi Marine Corps]] or Rangers than standard Army. British units are more likely to be SAS or Paras, though curiously enough rarely Royal Marines, SBS or even the vaunted Commando raiders. Soviets are more likely to be Guards than regular. Germans in this era are more likely to be Waffen-SS with camouflage uniforms; even in late-war scenarios where German territory is being invaded you are more likely to face proper infantry with decent weapons and gear rather than teenage and elderly Volkssturm troops armed with crude "emergency weapons" or older captured stuff.

Presumably happens because of the RuleOfCool: famous units and battles are simply more "special". Also, since special forces units consists of [[TheSpartanWay better trained]] soldiers with high qualifications and (usually) superior equipment, it's generally [[WillingSuspensionOfDisbelief more believable]] for them to succeed. For works based on RealLife, this focus can simply reflect historical TruthInTelevision, as is the case with ''Film/BlackHawkDown'' and ''Series/BandOfBrothers''. Insofar as elite forces have a smaller average unit size and this is a desirable situation in a fictional work, that's another reason for this trope.

Interestingly, the writers often have no idea what the unit designations actually refer to. "Army {{Ranger}}," "Navy [=SEALs=]," "Special Forces," and "Green Berets" are all conflated into generic commandos (most often referred to as 'operators' or 'shooters') with overlapping roles. Of course there is a certain amount of overlap, but in general terms these kinds of units are divided into two camps: Elite regular formations (Rangers and Royal Marines for example) who are highly trained regular soldiers; and Special Forces (SEALS, Green Berets, SAS etc) who operate in small teams and are brought in for specific missions.

The same is applicable to ''entire branches'' of the armed forces: in past, chariots were more glamorous than everyone else, then cavalry, especially heavy [[KnightInShiningArmor knights]], hussars and cuirassiers. With the introduction of aerial warfare, the saddle of glory promptly turned into fighter pilot's seat.

For when the elites of ''society'' are more glamorous, see TheBeautifulElite.

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* Most of the princibal ZAFT pilots in ''GundamSEED'' and ''GundamSEEDDestiny'' are "Reds", top military academy graduates.
* Invoked in ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaStrikerS'' by [[ColonelBadass Lt. Colonel Hayate]] who initiated the Riot Force Six at the beginning of the series. They're not just a branch in the [[TheFederation Time-Space Administration Bureau]], they're a [[TheSpartanWay highly trained]] special force filled with prodigies and living legends from top to bottom, created specifically to prevent the Bureau's destruction which was [[VaguenessIsComing ominously predicted]] by Carim's annual prophecies.
* ''MacrossFrontier'' is an odd case. The main protagonist is a pilot of SMS, a PrivateMilitaryContractors, which is outside of the regular NUNS. However, the SMS is equipped with the some of the [[SuperPrototype best weapons, vehicles and equipment]] available in the Macross Frontier Fleet and [[AcePilot their pilots are regarded as better]] due to the high standard. Also, they mostly do missions considered to difficult for the NUNS. So, is it played straight or subverted?
* Section 9 in ''GhostInTheShell'' could be seen as an elite counter-terror police unit (the name itself is speculated to be a homage to the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GSG-9 GSG-9]]). When top-ranking government officials involved in the conspiracy wants them neutralized, they have to send the JMSDF's Umibozu commandos to covertly kill them.
* The main character of ''LightNovel/FullMetalPanic'' is part of the Special Response Team, a special forces branch of Mithril, itself an elite worldwide military anti-terrorist [[PrivateMilitaryContractors PMC]] organization armed with [[BiggerStick advanced technologies and weapon systems]] superior to that of any national armed forces.
* All the named and important characters that are shown fighting in ''Anime/CodeGeass'' are elite soldiers of some kind. The Black Knights consists of the Zero Squad, led by [[ActionGirl Ace Pilot Kallen]], the Four Holy Swords, led by Todoh, and former resistance members who've been promoted due to seniority. Britannia, meanwhile, has the bulk of its military power seemingly consisting of Suzaku and the Lancelot, Cornelia and her Glaston Knights, Schneizel's faction and his cool toys, and the Knights of Rounds. Regular soldiers are usually just cannon-fodder, unless they're used for an important strategic plot. Even the China arc focuses mainly on Li Xingke and those loyal to him.
* In ''Manga/RoseOfVersailles'' the military units that receive the most screentime are literally the elite of the elite: the Garde du Corps du Roi is the elite regiment of the French cavalry and Oscar serves in their first company (that is considered even more elite than the rest of the regiment), and in the French Guards (''the'' elite regiment of the French Army: they may be infantry, but they're considered more prestigious than any cavalry due being a BadassArmy) she commanded a grenatier company (grenatiers being infantry), identified as such by the uniforms. Even the named units that received screentime are elite: the La Fere (manga only, thanks to NapoleonBonaparte showing up to provide a SequelHook) had earned the fame as elite artillery (and taught recruits how to fire cannons), the Royal-Suédois (thanks to Fersen being their commander) was elite Swedish infantry, and the Royal Allemand (that got [[TheWorfEffect Worfed]] by the rebelling French Guards even when supported by an unidentified grenatier regiment) was elite German cavalry.
** [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] by Oscar's father using his political clout to get her into the Garde du Corps, Marie Antoinette, upon receiving Oscar's request for a demotion, choosing specifically the French Guards due them being part of the Royal Household, Napoleon being just that good to be assigned to that regiment, and the foreign regiments being raised specifically to be elite troops and more loyal than non-Household French-raised regiments.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Fanfiction ]]

* The Halo fan fiction Fanfic/TheLife is practically built around this trope.
* Extensively played with in ''Fanfic/TheUniversiad'' where some Originals are members of elite groups and others are not. In fact, at least one group, the Close Air/Orbital Support Task Force, explicitly takes pride in being the regular joe schmoes who unglamorously play A-10 INSPACE.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* ''SavingPrivateRyan'' follows a squad of Rangers from D-Day onwards.
* ''HeartbreakRidge''. Few marines fought at the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, so the backstory of Creator/ClintEastwood's character was changed to having first served in the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea, and joining the USMC afterwards. However it was the US Army Rangers who rescued American medical students in Grenada, not the Recon marines as portrayed in the film.
* ''TheEliteSquad'' - a movie about Rio de Janeiro's [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin elite squad]].
* ''Film/ApocalypseNow'' follows the journey of Captain Willard (505th of 173rd Airborne Brigade and assigned to MACV-SOG, a classified United States Special Operations Forces unit which conducted ops in Vietnam) on a military-sanctioned assassination mission (and not his first). He does depend on a group of enlisted Navy sailors to get the job done however, and is escorted up the Nung River by ColonelKilgore of the 1st Squadron of the 9th Air Cavalry.
* In Sergey Bondarchuk's ''{{Waterloo}}'' a disproportionate amount of screen time is devoted to the Polish Lancers of the Imperial Guard, who in actual fact were just one squadron strong in 1815 and thus much too small a unit to make a significant contribution. In the film it is they who throw back the charge of the Union Brigade (Royal Dragoons, Royal Scots Greys and Inniskillin Dragoons), in actual fact it was two regiments of French line lancers, who wore a very different uniform (green jackets, brass helmets). Also not untypically the only British cavalry regiment shown in that charge is the Scots Greys, who were the only dragoons one to wear bearskin caps instead of helmets.
* TheSquad in the ''Film/{{Doom}}'' film is made out to be an elite team, which was not the case in the game itself. Them being military regulars rather than elites would actually have helped the plot, as it would have made the presence of Portman and The Kid (both of whom had absolutely no business being in an elite military squad)at least somewhat less egregious.
* ''Film/TopGun'' follows a squadron of navy aviators through their training in the prestigious "Top Gun" elite school for aerial combat. The real TOPGUN (and its Air Force equivalent, Red Flag) is more along the lines of "learn this shit, then go teach it to your home squadron."
* Partially averted in ''Film/ThreeKings''. Though Major Gates is a former Delta operator and a Special Forces/Ranger qualified Soldier, the warriors he leads are simple Civil Affairs Soldiers.
* ''Film/BlackHawkDown'' follows a significant portion of Task Force Ranger, which is made of several Ranger companies as well as a squadron of Delta Force operators.
* Averted in ''Film/DogSoldiers'' -- an SAS squad are discovered dead at the start of the film, and serve as a sort of off-screen SacrificialLion. The rest of the film focuses on regular troops.
* ''Film/{{Elysium}}'':
** Kruger himself is Ex-Special Forces turned chief enforcer for the Civil Cooperation Bureau.
** John Carlyle's security droids are pretty standard, aside from the fact that they're ''gold''. Yeah, subtle.
* In ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'', [[TheFalcon Sam Wilson]] is introduced as a former member of an elite Air Force unit that outfitted its members with advanced suits of flying body armor.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* The ''{{Sharpe}}'' books by Bernard Cornwell are focused on a [[TheSquad small group]] of skirmisher riflemen on detached duty from the 95th Rifles (previously Prince Consort's Own), a reconnaissance unit using skirmisher tactics, camouflage and advanced weaponry and the closest thing to special forces in the Napoleonic Era. They are generally portrayed as highly superior to regular rank-and-file infantrymen of the British Army, who are hardly able to achieve anything without the help of the protagonists.
* According to the narrator of ''Literature/StarshipTroopers'' the ''entire'' military consist of [[SuperSoldiers elite members]]. At least by the standards of armies past.
** This is at least true of the Mobile Infantry, the service branch the narrator is in. Also, there are ''no'' desk jobs for active service members in the MI. If a job can be done by a civilian, it is (those requiring military experience are done by retired/disabled veterans). About the closest an MI can get to a non-combat position is Drill Instructor (and the one of these we hear the most about quietly complains a couple of times about not being in combat, and by the end of the novel he's allowed to return to the front).
* In his political treatise ''ThePrince'', Creator/NiccoloMachiavelli complains bitterly about the Italian system of relying on mercenaries for war. One of his specific criticisms was that your average Italian mercenary group was almost entirely cavalry, because mounted soldiers were perceived as more elite. The fact that they could charge more for cavalry probably helped too.
* While Navy SEAL Chris Kyle's autobiography ''American Sniper'' is an example, it ''contains'' an example too. He writes glowingly about "The Elite Elite" of the [=SEALs=], the famed SEAL Team Six.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* In a SpeculativeFiction example, most ''Franchise/StarTrek'' series (and all the movies) follow a ship (always named ''Enterprise'' or ''USS Enterprise'') that is often referred to as the "flagship of Starfleet" or "the best in the fleet". Those that didn't either followed one of the most strategically positioned bases in the Galaxy (''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]''), or a brand-spanking-new ship that is often referred to as one of the most advanced ships in the fleet (''Series/StarTrekVoyager'').
** Even in situations where the ''Enterprise'' is neither the flagship nor the most technically-superior ship in the fleet, it has always the best crew by far.
** The ''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]'' episode "Valiant" centers around the "Red Squad" elite cadets of Starfleet Academy. Of course, they're still cadets...[[spoiler:it ends really badly.]]
* ''Series/BandOfBrothers'' covers the story of Easy Company of the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', [[SuperSoldier Space Marines]] get most of the glory for any battle that they participate in, while the [[RedshirtArmy Imperial Guard]] really does most of the actual fighting; if the Space Marines were the tip of the spear of the Imperial military, the Imperial Guard would be the rest of the spear head, the shaft, and ''the person holding it''. This is mostly because of the fact that Creator/GamesWorkshop has [[SpotlightStealingSquad a crush]] on the Space Marines when it isn't putting them through TheWorfEffect, though. Literally every second army released is some form of Space Marine army with its own special rules.
** Somewhat justified, Space Marines are central to their religion. Plus, there are so few of them that there is ALWAYS a more important target they need to get to.
** On the other hand, the Imperial Guard get [[Literature/GauntsGhosts the best]] [[Literature/CiaphasCain books]]. And this actually happens in-universe with the Guard's [[EliteMooks Stormtroopers]] ([[Franchise/StarWars little relation]]) who get mocked by the grunts as 'toy soldiers' and 'glory boys'. And the Imperial Guard has plenty of fans, subverting this trope - the Space Marines are superhumans with training and equipment the Imperial Guard will never compare to, with enemies just as or even more dangerous. Regardless, the Imperial Guard fight those same enemies. Even so, it's not uncommon, in the books, for a tiny number of Marines to accomplish what a quarter million guardsmen couldn't, as in Creator/DanAbnett's ''Literature/BrothersOfTheSnake'', in which six squads (60 Marines) capture a city that 300,000 guardsmen couldn't take. Then again, the Marines in question are Iron Snakes, one of the Marine chapters least inundated with the general Space Marine ProudWarriorRaceGuy culture that tends get tons of them killed in pointless {{last stand}}s and sends them straight into the teeth of massively superior forces.
*** Although the Storm Troopers recently got a ''massive'' boost - [=AP3=] hellguns that tear through Chaos Marines like a knife through butter, anyone? To be fair, the hellgun used to be crappy for an allegedly "elite" unit - Str 3, like a normal lasgun, with the "bonus" of [=AP5=]. To put that in perspective, that means that it had the ability to ignore the armour of incredibly basic mooks. You know, like ''most other guns in the game.''
*** As of 6th edition, Storm Troopers have been removed from the Imperial Guard and the range altogether to be replaced by their own sub-faction, the Militarum Tempestus.
*** In the table top game, it's a good general rule that an army's elite units are more ornate and fancy than the rank and file. Elites usually have more grandiose fluff. Headquarters units tend to have more BlingOfWar than a convention of militant pimps and fluff that goes UpToEleven. Compare the already superhuman rank and file [[http://www.games-workshop.com/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m1252454_99120101024_SMCombatsquadmain_873x627.jpg tactical marine]] with an elite [[http://www.games-workshop.com/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m1251575_99110101332_SMveteransmk2main_873x627.jpg veteran marine]] and finally a [[http://www.games-workshop.com/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m1000385a_99120101032_BACommander_873x627.jpg captain]]. This same pattern holds for pretty much every army.
** Played with for Dark Eldar [[WingedHumanoid Scourges]], elite soldiers who paid a [[MadScientist Haemonculus]] obscene amounts to graft wings onto their backs (plus [[RequiredSecondaryPowers adding extra chest muscles, hollowing bones, that sort of thing]]). They are presented as vain, preening, arrogant pansies who mostly hang out in the sky above Commoragh and don't do a lot, then the Codex goes on to explain that they can afford this because they're so badass that other Dark Eldar will pay them obscene amounts to show up and help out whenever there's a fight, so they don't have to do a lot to be obscenely rich.
** Another ''40K'' example (possible subversion/inversion): Chaos Raptors generally see themselves as elites and act as such; most other Chaos Marines see them as preening weaklings.
** 4Chan's fan-chapter [[http://1d4chan.org/wiki/Galactic_Partridges the Galactic Partridges]] tend to swoop in, make the last blow on the enemy, and take the credit from the people who actually did the work. They even spy on other chapters so they can better know when to take the credit. They have special drop pod that release a cloud of doves, JohnWoo style, in order to make more dramatic entrances. They are more of a parody of "elite" teams than anything else.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}} Fantasy'' many elite units receive a lot more glory than the rest. Knights in particular are are best remembered for their bravery and skills in turning the tide of battle in their favor. The best example is Crusades of Araby, where a combined army of Empire and Bretonnian knights fought against the armies of the Araby sultan Jaffar, who's army out number theirs 20 to 1, the knights fought them off all the way back to Araby, and their deeds are greatly glorified to this day.
* Invoked by ''TabletopGame/AT43'''s UNA subfaction [=CentCom=]. Their motto is "Better is better!", and their whole military doctrine is founded on the principle of deploying small groups of elite soldiers, usually without armor support. It's noted in the UNA army book that this hasn't proven effective against the Red Blok's opposite strategy of [[ZergRush fielding hordes of mass-trained, comparatively less well-equipped soldiers]].
** Generally speaking, being that every army has three to four subgroups with different tactics and make-ups, there's usually one group that fields fewer but more formidable soldiers than the others. The Red Blok itself, for instance, has Frontline, which is understaffed compared to the other Red Blok subgroups and makes up for this with its well-trained soldiers and state-of-the-art [[WalkingTank combat striders]].
** In ''TabletopGame/TheWorldOfDarkness'' games, you will almost always be able to easily create a new character who is an elite member of modern society even if they are just a new member of their supernatural society. They will generally be one of TheBeautifulElite or this trope. This tends to make sense as either the character's latent supernatural powers aided them or their elite status was what attracted the supernatural to them. Starting characters can easily be world famous pro athletes, gifted, acclaimed scientists, or commandos in the modern world.
** Star Wars {{RPG}}s will always have a great number of Jedi player characters if they are allowed.
** This tendency is subverted in ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'': the elites are insanely glamorous, but you will never ever get to be one. [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial No Red-clearance Troubleshooter has ever accidentally been given Ultraviolet clearance]] by a KillerGameMaster [[HilarityEnsues just to see what kind of sheer havoc would occur]].
*** The new editions of ''Paranoia'' feature rules for high-clearance player characters. The action of the game revolves around the political scheming of the elite.
** ''DarkHeresy'' casts you as the servant of the Inquisition, which should in the 40k Universe come with great power and authority. RogueTrader moves you even higher up the totem pole, putting you in a role which would be analogous to being Hernan Cortez while everyone else is a muck-farming peasant. ''TabletopGame/{{Deathwatch}}'' promotes you all the way to a SuperSoldier who is an object of reverence to common people. In each case, your station is far beyond that of normal human beings.
* One of the options in the ''TabletopGame/StarsWithoutNumber'' military sourcebook "Skyward Steel" is for the players to be a Deep Black team - an elite, covert-insertion team where unless you want to roleplay through recruitment as well, you have to start at level 3. Of course, this is strictly intended as a form of military-focused game style; default SWN PC groups start as, at best, "a bunch of guys who have a ship and a few guns".
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Original ]]

* Many stories in the AlternateHistory ''DecadesOfDarkness'' are about members of the Jaguars, the * American elite troops / jungle fighters.
* Most of the stories in the Roleplay/VastEmpire setting are about the elite stormtroopers of Phoenix Company.
* ''The Tough Guide to the Known Galaxy'' claims that the [[http://www.rocketpunk-observatory.com/spaceguideS-Z.htm#space_fighters entire point]] of having SpaceFighter is to have RecycledInSpace fighter pilots, that is "To give prominent roles to young males in their early twenties, so they can display their swagger, coolness, and [[BoldlyComing fast moves on any attractive female of an interbreedable species]]."

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* The ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty'' series of games is a particularly good example:
** In the first game the various characters you play are in the 101st Airborne, 6th Airborne and SAS, and the 13th Guards Rifle Division.
** In the second your characters are from the 13th Guards again, 7th Armoured "Desert Rats" (historically distinguished itself in North Africa) and US Army Rangers.
** ''Call of Duty 3'' zigzags this trope. The SAS is featured, fighting alongside the [[LaResistance French Resistance]], but they play a relatively small role in comparison with the US 29th and 90th Infantry, the Canadian 4th Armoured, and the Free Polish 1st Armoured division. The plot of the game concerns closing the Falaise Pocket, which is accomplished by the conventional units, while the SAS missions are largely unconnected to that objective.
** ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare'' ([=CoD=] 4) has your characters being in the USMC Force Recon and SAS. The SAS ''are'' conducting the special operations for which they are famous; the USMC Force Recon, however, are largely playing the role of much more standard Marines or even regular army, so, oddly enough, ''they'' are the out of place unit.
** ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare 2'' now gives us the U.S. Army Rangers, and the international special ops unit Task Force 141. Again, though, both are largely doing the correct missions for their sorts of units.
** ''[=CoD=] World at War: Marine Raiders/1st Marine Division'' and ''150th Rifle Division'' (Historically the formation whose soldiers raised the Soviet flag on the Reichstag). However, the 150th Rifle Division might not exactly be considered elite, but ThatOtherWiki states that the 3rd Shock Army they were in, all Shock Armies in fact, received more artillery and armour support than other armies in Russia.
** ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps'' is continuing this trend. You play as a member of the CIA's Special Activities Division, that performs, well, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin black ops]].
** In ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare 3'', you play a large part of the game as Frost, member of the Delta Force squad "Metal"; as WorldWarIII has started, their missions are sometimes real special forces work and sometimes they are just called in to help for more conventional tasks. Also, Yuri, the other main playable character, is former Spetsnaz and [[spoiler:Captain Price, as whom you play during the last mission, is former SAS and Task Force 141.]]
*** NPC allies also include other elites, such as the French GIGN, US Navy [=SEALs=], and more British SAS.
** Most of your allies in ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps2'' are part of the U.S. Navy's SEAL Team Six, the elite of the already-elite Navy [=SEALs=]. Not only that, David Mason, the player character, commands said team.
* In ''VideoGame/StarWarsRepublicCommando'' you play as the leader of a squad of elite Commandos that are in turn part of a larger army of elite troopers. Literally making you the best of the best of the best.
** Although in the hierarchy as detailed in the ExpandedUniverse, ARC Troopers are even more elite than Commandos. 'If you want the job done, send [[RedShirtArmy 100 Clone Troopers]], [[TheSquad 4 Commandos]], or [[OneManArmy 1 ARC Trooper]].'
* In ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'' you normally play as the Master Chief, a super-elite, semi-secret, power-armoured, and surgically-enhanced SPARTAN-II SuperSoldier. In the second game, you play as the Arbiter, a member of the Covenant species colloquially called "Elites" for their prowess in battle (all of them are physically a match for the aforementioned Spartan-[=IIs=]). He is deployed alongside the Covenant's own special forces on various {{Suicide Mission}}s to atone for not being able to stop the Chief in the previous game, and he happens to be the former Supreme Commander of a massive fleet who earned his position through AsskickingEqualsAuthority.
** In the third game's co-op mode, players 3 and 4 get to play as two Elites from the ''Fleet of Retribution''[='s=] Special Warfare Group; N'tho 'Sraom is the youngest member of his Special Operations unit, and Usze 'Taham is a highly distinguished Fleet Security operative.
** ''VideoGame/Halo3ODST'', the "gaiden" game of the series where you get to play as a regular human instead of a Spartan SuperSoldier, still has you take the role of an ODST (the UNSC's most elite non-Spartan unit) sent in by [[TheSpook Naval Intelligence]], rather than a basic marine.
** ''VideoGame/HaloReach'' maintains the tradition as well. For one thing, NOBLE Team is fairly elite for a traditionally expendable SPARTAN-III team, to the point that one of their members is a much more valuable Spartan-II. For another, the player character, Noble 6, is a black ops assassin who is the only other person with the same lethality rating as Master Chief, which is more impressive given that Noble 6 is also a Spartan-III.
** ''{{Halo 4}}'' also continues the tradition, with Spartan-[=IVs=] as the stars of both the multiplayer and the "Spartan Ops" co-op campaign.
* ''VideoGame/{{Geist}}'' begins with the main character as a member of a suspicious paramilitary unit.
* ''[[VideoGame/{{Battlefield}} Battlefield 2]]'' has a Special Forces class for each of the playable factions, and even a Special Forces expansion pack which features the [[YanksWithTanks US Navy SEALs]], [[RussiansWithRustingRockets Russian Spetznaz]], [[BritsWithBattleships British SAS]], and [[MiddleEasternCoalition MEC]] Special Forces.
* In ''RiseOfNations'', the main infantry unit for the Americans is the Marine. This appears in a slightly different form elsewhere. As unique units of civilizations are upgraded past their historical ages, the game usually "elites" them. Sometimes, it's not so bad like companion cavalry -> cataphracts. Some are pushing it like Roman legions -> Praetorian Guard. But [[UsefulNotes/SouthKorea Hwarang]] -> Elite Hwarang -> Royal Hwarang -> Elite Royal Hwarang is just silly.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}} 4'', the unique unit for America is the Navy SEAL. (Which, in-game, is mechanically a buffed version of the ''Marine''.)
* Averted in the beginning of ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChronicles'' where your unit is made up out of a bunch of civilian militia recruits and local police forces with the only exceptional item being your main characters father's tank. However not only do your units gain 'elite' status when leveled high enough, by the end of the game your unit is taking on all the truly epic missions anyway. Hell, Squad 7 is the only reason Gallia doesn't fall. The entire army-- the ''entire main army''-- gets completely obliterated in one mission. Absolutely ''nothing changes'', because the army was useless anyway and their general was specifically sending your squad out to die as {{cannon fodder}}; Squad 7 was [[SurprisinglyEliteCannonFodder just too awesome to die]]. They might not have been officially named elites, but that's the only reason they weren't.
* ''MedalOfHonor: Allied Assault'', ''MOHAA Spearhead'' and ''MOHAA Breakthrough''.
** The relaunch specifically noted that you were playing as Tier 1 operators (the elite of the elite of special forces). For the short period of time when you're ''not'', you're still playing as Army Rangers, which are the elite of the Army.
* The Americans at your disposal in ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquer: [[CommandAndConquerGenerals Generals]]'' is made up of mostly elites and high-tech regulars. The Army Rangers are the basic U.S. Army infantry.
* The Americans yet again; this time, in ''ActOfWar'', although this is more towards a specific BadassArmy branch known as "Task Force Talon". They get the so-called bleeding edge technology that no one else can get. Your basic grunt is the Task Force Commando. [[RankInflation Tech up and you get the Future Force Warrior.]]
* In ''VideoGame/FirstEncounterAssaultRecon'' and its sequels, you're either a [[OneManArmy F.E.A.R. Agent]], a [[RedShirt Delta Force Soldier]], a [[SuperSoldier Replica]], an [[PrivateMilitaryContractors ATC Black Op]] or a [[PrivateMilitaryContractors Nightcrawler]]. Otherwise, you're minced meat.
* Partially averted in ''OperationFlashpoint: Dragon Rising''. While there are plenty of missions where you play as a Force Recon unit named Saber, performing stealth and infiltration tasks...most of the ''really'' epic battles in the game have you in the role of a unit of standard frontline infantry named Dagger. [[spoiler:And they're who you play as in the final, war-winning mission of the game.]]
* In the original ''OperationFlashpoint'', you play as four different people. One is an SF operator, yes, and playing as him involves frankly hair-raising crawls through enemy camps to sabotage tanks, and so forth. But the others are: a Pilot, flying a variety of missions which though important are nothing elite; a tank commander on the front line; and an infantryman in the thick of the fighting as part of a large unit with no special tasking or characteristics. So a massive aversion for the most part here. SpiritualSuccessor ''{{ARMA}}'' and its sequel carry on in the same vein; the final DLC for ''ArmA II'' lets you play as an ordinary line infantryman, helicopter pilot or tank commander in the Army of the Czech Republic, who haven't even invaded anyone by themselves recently.
** Additionally, missions featuring special forces operative are usually stealth-based and include very little to no actual fighting.
* ''VideoGame/RainbowSix'' comprises the Elites of the Elites. It's a multinational unit comprised of the best soldiers from each nation's commando teams.
* The ''VideoGame/{{SWAT}}'' series; it's right there in the title really. Though in this case the franchise is actually a spin-off of the PoliceQuest games, which are a complete aversion.
* Hilariously averted in ''[[VideoGame/BattlefieldBadCompany Bad Company]]'', where the cast is part of the RedshirtArmy and knows it, once [[LampshadeHanging lampshading]] that they're going into an important but dangerous mission first just to see ''how'' dangerous it is, because the elites cost more money to train and are thus "too expensive to waste." Subverted in ''Bad Company 2'' when Sweetwater insists the squad be the ones to tackle the villain's scheme, not trusting the spec-ops guys and their "[[TakeThat pussy-ass]] [[ModernWarfare heartbeat monitors]]" to get the job done. [[BadassNormal The boys of B-Company succeed.]]
* Shepard of ''Franchise/MassEffect'' starts out as top-tier Special Forces (indicated by the "N7" logo) before joining the Citadel's Spectre program. The N7 program is so elite that merely being selected, even if one washes out of the first tier of training (N1), is good for one's career and gets one massive respect from their peers. The Spectres themselves are so elite that they are ''legally'' allowed to '''ignore laws'''.
** The multiplayer mode in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' centers around a squad of elite operatives with access to abilities and equipment comparable to Shepard's. The Illusive Man's [[TheDragon Dragon]] Kai Leng was, like Shepard, an N7 operative.
** Your teammates also demonstrate this, especially in ''2'' - a retired member of the Salarian elite force who inspired the Spectres, one of the galaxy's most talented assassins, a tank-bred perfect [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy krogan]], an asari with 400 years' experience as [[KnightErrant a Justicar]], one of humanity's most powerful biotics, and one of Cerberus's most trusted Operatives are all recruitable, and most of them are inescapable. Justified because unlike the first game, where your squad is pretty much scrounged together from whoever's most willing to tag along, you're specifically recruiting the most badass team you can to deal with a major enemy.
* In the ''VideoGame/{{Crusader}}'' games, you are already one of the most elite soldiers in the world...and then you defect and join the underfunded, undermanned, underequipped, undertrained Resistance and [[OneManArmy single-handedly take on missions]] it would normally take entire assault teams of rebels to complete.
* The protagonist duo of the ArmyOfTwo series began their careers as US Army Rangers who decided to become private military contractors (which tend to be Elites who get paid more and don't have to worry about a government defense budget and NATO "lowest bidder" equipment standardization).
* StarWarsTheOldRepublic has the Trooper character, the newest addition to the Republic's elite Havoc Squad, with a starting rank of Sergeant, and regarded as the 'best of the best'. Subverted, though, in that their starting equipment is a t-shirt and weapons worse than the rest of his squad and piddling starter weapons that are worse than the Separatists they'll be fighting, their own squadmates in Havoc, and even the local militia.
** Of course, in later parts of the game you gain appropriately awesome gear, and a reputation to match it (judging by the number of Republic [=NPC=]s who are starstruck on seeing you.
* The two protagonists of ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil'' were both elites in their previous careers (Jill was Delta Force and Chris was a USAF Fighter Pilot), and in-game are members of S.T.A.R.S., itself an elite squad in the Raccoon Police Department.
* Averted in the ''GearsOfWar'' series, where all the main characters are their world's equivalent of regular enlisted men who keep stumbling into critical situations. The Onyx Guard, the actual elite of the [=COG=] military, only appear a couple times in the expanded universe, and get utterly slaughtered every time they do.
* [[MortalKombat Lt. Sonya Blade and Maj. Jackson Briggs]] are both Special Forces, though the games don't explicitly say what type. Sonya's attire in some games implies Green Beret.
* The VideoGame/{{Commandos}} series is one of the rare example of fictional representation of the British Commandos.
* The ''[[Franchise/MetalGear Metal Gear Solid]]'' series has one of its major characters Big Boss be a career veteran of the United States Military who was involved in various Special Forces. He served as a Green Beret for 10 years until he was recruited by the CIA to be part of a fictional group known as FOX. Later on he served in Vietnam doing the CIA's top secret black ops working such groups as MAC-V SOG and the Navy Seals. According to the fiction of the universe Big Boss was also the man that helped found the Delta Force and his own personal black ops organization under his command called FOXHOUND, a successor to FOX.
* ''VideoGame/BatenKaitosOrigins'' has an InUniverse example with the imperial soldiers. They can either choose to wield a [[http://batenkaitos.wikia.com/wiki/Imperial_Swordsman sword]] or [[http://batenkaitos.wikia.com/wiki/Empire_Grunt gun]], and the only incentive for the former is "the sword is a status symbol within the military".

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Life ]]

* During World War II the so-called "Chindits" were British special forces who performed operations of great heroism and derring-do and was widely publicized... But they suffered such heavy casualties and were so expensive to supply and train that their effectiveness was questionable. Field Marshall William Slim was probably speaking of the Chindits when he made following quote. The Chindits spent 1942 and 43 playing hide-and-seek behind the Japanese lines in Burma to little effect. Slim took over the 14th Army in late 1943 and turned the entire force into highly mobile light infantry. Over the next two years he kicked the Japanese entirely out of Burma; his key tactic was to let his units be surrounded and rely on airdropped supplies to outlast the enemy offensives. He taught the 14th not to rely on conventional supply lines and make frequent offensive patrols - he refused to let his men think the Japanese were superior jungle fighters. In 1945 Slim's army was, man for man, the toughest fighting force in the world.
** Slim insisted that regular infantry, well-trained, equipped and acclimatized, could accomplish any mission just as well as special forces, and pretty much proved his point with 14th Army. Mountbatten even suggested that the Chindits were disbanded because "we are all Chindits now."
** There is a rather infamous quote from him that well summarizes his thoughts on the subject: "This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier, who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree".
* It is precisely because of this trope that the US Marine Corps resisted adding Force Recon to the newly-created Special Operations Command (the fabled SOCOM). "There are no special Marines."
* Saddam-era Iraq's elites were the Republican Guard on the ground. In the air, it was the Iraqi Air Force, considered one of the best-trained and best-equipped air forces in the Arab world. The bulk of the Iraqi military, however, were made up of largely conscripted forces that were held together almost completely by the intimidation of their commanding officers, whose morale tactics could best be compared to Commissars from ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}''. When both the Airforce and the Republican Guard fell apart, the bulk of Saddam's military simply surrendered en mass. Thus illustrating an often forgotten but important lesson: never focus on your elites to the detriment of the rest of your military.
** It didn't help that even so-called elites were in many cases mindboggingly inept, to the point that a typical Iraqi pilot failed to react to the radar lock and/or missile warning - assuming he even had radar and missile warning devices in the first place.
* Many raised around the US Navy are often surprised and eventually annoyed at how many people think the only ships in the Navy are Aircraft Carriers and battleships.
** Speaking of the Navy, they had commandos dating back as far as WorldWarTwo, who were involved in underwater demolitions and deep sea recovery. Then came the UsefulNotes/NavySeals, then the Navy Special Warfare Development Group, then SEAL Team Six. Today, anything Navy or special forces related would, odds are, center on Team Six.

[[/folder]]