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[[quoteright:350:[[Film/StarTrekGenerations http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/captain_picard2.jpg]]]]
[-[[caption-width-right:350:"Both parties of the Edit War are within weapons range, sir."\\
"Very good, Mr. Worf. Attack pattern Banhammer--''engage''!"]]-]
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->''"O Captain my Captain! our fearful trip is done;\\
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won;\\
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,\\
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring..."''
-->-- "O Captain! My Captain!" by Creator/WaltWhitman

The Captain -- from the Latin ''caput'', meaning "head" -- is [[{{Leader}} in charge]]. The Commanding Officer of TheSquad or the CommandRoster. [[Film/HistoryOfTheWorldPartI It's good to be the Captain]]. Whether they're the MissionControl or actually working in the field, they're clearly the one running things. Any CoolShip must have The Captain -- no matter whether it's a CoolBoat, a CoolStarship, or a CoolAirship. He is expected to [[GoingDownWithTheShip stay with that ship no matter what]]. And any Captain must have a CaptainsLog.

They will almost always hold said actual rank, even if their performance would allow them to move up the chain of command. (Also true in non-naval branches of the armed forces (Army, Marines, etc.), since Captain is the highest of the Company Grade ranks, i.e. the officer ranks that participate in actual combat. From Major onward, officer ranks are more administrative.) This is sometimes confused by the naval convention that anyone in command of a given ship is referred to as "captain", no matter their rank (for most vessels smaller than a cruiser, they're [[CommandingCoolness Commanders]], and smaller vessels like minesweepers can be commanded by a Lieutenant) -- and all other "captains" receive a promotion for the duration of their stay. HoratioHornblower becomes a captain while still a Midshipman.

Regardless of actual rank held, however, under most modern and historical laws the captain of a naval vessel is the [[{{God}} Omnipotent Being]] on it when out in sea, since it is ''his'' [[TheChainsOfCommanding personal responsibility]] to return to land with [[AFatherToHisMen his crew complete]] and his ship in one piece. And not even the God-Emperor of the Universe can give orders past him in this case. To this extent, portrayal of The Captain as a ReasonableAuthorityFigure, an OfficerAndAGentleman (sometimes in contrast with officers from other military branches) is undoubtedly TruthInTelevision.

Assuming he is a part of the main cast, The Captain (often along with his senior officers) is often depicted [[TheMainCharactersDoEverything doing things that really should be delegated out to lower-ranked, more expendable personnel]] in order to have some tangible things to do (unlike in real life where officers are often doing lots of important but boring "office work"). However, since there's no drama in conferences, meetings, and paperwork, most writers would rather have him not behave like a real captain and [[ArtisticLicenseMilitary hope no one notices]]. Often his participation in minor issues serves as CharacterDevelopment, so that when [[MoralDilemma a grave decision has to be made]], he will be able to say "IDidWhatIHadToDo" without alienating the audience in the process.

Sometimes, however, The Captain is instead a background ReasonableAuthorityFigure, while the narrative focuses on people under his command. It's a road less taken because it's dramatically tricky to carry off, at least in a visual medium. ''Star Trek: The Next Generation'' tried a form of it in the early days, leaving Picard on the bridge and having Riker be the 'field guy'. While it made sense, it just didn't work in regards to drama. Indeed, this approach works best when The Captain is considerably older and noticeably unsuitable to physical action for reasons such as age or infirmity. This leaves a younger, less mature character to act as the "deputy" who is allowed to run around, get in and out of trouble, make mistakes, get involved romantically, learn valuable lessons, discover new things about himself, and do all sorts of things that The Captain would have already done to be where he is today, the general perception being that by the time a character reaches the point of becoming The Captain, his character has little room left for development. This approach is occasionally taken in anime but in many such cases, The Captain is often fated to die sometime before story's end so that the younger character may truly develop into a mature character and live up to the hope his mentor had for him.

A median approach between the two is to imply that available personnel are in a relatively small number, thus forcing and justifying the presence of the Captain and senior officers in field situations, or to outright establish that The Captain's skill and experience are just that indispensable due to AuthorityEqualsAsskicking, thus making him the best one to handle the MonsterOfTheWeek.

Compare TheHero, TheGoodCaptain, SupportingLeader, CommandingCoolness, ColonelBadass, MajorlyAwesome, CaptainSuperhero. Contrast DaChief. Do not confuse this with the Captain in CommediaDellArte, who's a MilesGloriosus.

This trope concerns captains of ships and vessels of all kind and is almost exclusively a Navy trope. A Captain in the army is a lower-level officer who might at most command an infantry company of 120-160 men, or a tank squadron, or an artillery troop. He is higher than a lieutenant, but lower than a major, and the rank equates to a Navy lieutenant (a few grades below a Navy captain). An Army captain might be viewed as a Rupert with five or six years practical experience, and it is the highest level to which a British Army officer is automatically promoted: promotion to higher ranks is by competitive selection.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* The Kings in ''{{Anime/K}}'' tend to be this sort of leader, but only Munakata, the Blue King, is referred to as Captain, considering that his clan is the military-styled one.
* Tatemiya Saiji, the substitute supreme pontiff of the Amakusa-style church in ''LightNovel/ACertainMagicalIndex'' is essentially the captain of the group of Amakusa that work "in the field" so to speak. he is also often the leader of the group's jokes and attempts to help Itsuwa get Touma's affection...whether she wants the help or not at times.
* Lelouch, of ''Anime/CodeGeass'', founded and rescued the Japanese resistance movement from near-inevitable defeat and obscurity by transforming them into "The Order of Black Knights" and using his abilities and natural strategic talent to enable daring and dramatic displays of resistance and victory over the oppressors (motivated at least in part by his personal desire for revenge, given that Lelouch is an AntiHero).
* ''Anime/EurekaSeven'' has Holland, who at first rules his crew with an iron fist, frequently beating on Renton and others for stepping out of line. He becomes a competent (as well as compassionate!) captain by the end.
* [[DevilInPlainSight Hiruma Youichi]] of ''Manga/{{Eyeshield 21}}''. The [[ClusterFBomb Foul-mouthed]], [[HyperspaceArsenal Gun-toting]], JerkAss and [[CrazyAwesome genius]] MagnificentBastard who can get practically anything he wants through [[{{Blackmail}} his book of threats]], [[SmartGuy his brains]] or [[TeamPet Cerberus, his dog]]. Oh, and he leads the ultra rookie football team [[spoiler: to winning the most important match of high school football in Japan within 6 months of assembling the players]].
* The ''Franchise/{{Gundam}}'' metaverse, with its love for {{Cool Ship}}s, has a large share of Captains.
** Captain Bright Noa from the original ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam'' [[AnyoneCanDie survived]] so many of its sequels, he got dubbed "The Eternal Captain" by the fandom. In a series filled with GreyAndGreyMorality, Bright tends to be the one authority figure the fans count as truly uncorrupt and an upstanding force for good, despite his occasional personality flaws.
** Murrue Ramius is The Captain of the [[Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEED Cosmic Era]], though Talia Gladys from ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEEDDestiny'' also makes a good showing (and indeed the two women have quite a bit in common). Ramius' gradual acceptance of her duties and responsibilities as The Captain is an important subplot of SEED.
*** As is Talia's carrying hers out to the bitter end in Destiny.
*** Also in SEED/SEED Destiny are Captain Natarle Badgiruel, who captains the ''Archangel'''s rival, the ''Dominion'', and Captain Neo Roanoke of the ''Girty Lue'', a bonafide villain and ManipulativeBastard who causes loads of problems for the heroes in the first part of Destiny.
** Sumeragi Lee Noriega and Kati Mannequin in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundam00''.
** Jamil Neate in ''[[Anime/AfterWarGundamX Gundam X]]''
** Berah Ronah in ''Manga/MobileSuitCrossboneGundam''
** ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamAGE'' has three, befitting its generational nature: the first is Grodek Ainoa (who actually stole the ship to pursue a personal agenda, but is otherwise a pretty decent guy), the second is former BridgeBunny Millais Alloy, and the third is the young, timid, and woefully unprepared Natola Einus (though, to her credit, she gives her best effort at being a good commander and starts coming into her own near the end of the series).
* [[TheBrigadier Sir Penwood]] from ''Manga/{{Hellsing}}'' is revealed to strive for this ideal despite his admitted incompetence. And his staff acknowledges it.
** [[TheGoodCaptain Captain]] Pip Bernadotte plays this straight with demonstrating NoOneGetsLeftBehind and TheMenFirst to his troops [[spoiler:before and after his death]].
* The eponymous ''Anime/IrresponsibleCaptainTylor'' is a subversion of this insofar as even his closest friends, subordinates and enemies cannot decide if he is an ungodly talented commander or a lazy bum with extraordinary luck. Sometimes he even manages to pull off the impression that he is both at the same time....
* Alex Row, the indomitable brain behind the Silvana (aka "Kill-em-all Silvana") in ''Anime/LastExile''. When Alex is captured, his XO Sophia Forrester also rises up to the challenge, competently skippering the ship during the final battle.
* The ''Anime/{{Leijiverse}}'' gives us a whole space force worth of examples:
** Captain Okita from ''Anime/UchuuSenkanYamato'' (a.k.a. Captain Avatar from ''Anime/StarBlazers'').
** Anime/CaptainHarlock.
** Captain Zero of CosmoWarriorZero
** Anime/QueenEmeraldas, although not referred to as 'Captain', is quite capable of managing a starship.
** The various captains of ''Anime/TheGalaxyRailways''.
* ''Anime/{{Macross}}'':
** Bruno J. Global in ''Anime/SuperDimensionFortressMacross'' (aka Henry Gloval in ''Anime/{{Robotech}}''). With his calm demeanor (and, in America, his Russian accent) he kept the ''Macross'' together and got them home. Humorously, his animation design was later used for Captain Nemo in ''Anime/NadiaTheSecretOfBlueWater''.
** ''SDF''[='s=] Maximilian Jenius has become this by the start of ''Anime/Macross7''.
** Jeffery Wilder of ''Anime/MacrossFrontier'', though he's technically a colonel.
** Ernest Johnson of ''Anime/MacrossDelta''.
* ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaStrikers'' has Hayate as the commanding officer of Riot Force 6.
* ''Anime/MartianSuccessorNadesico'' goes a long way in exploring... let's face it, [[DeconstructedTrope deconstructing]] the function of a vessel's captain during its fifth episode. The conclusion reached by the MagicalComputer is that the primary function, in an age of centralized command, is projecting an aura of confidence and collected calm, so that his subordinates can keep a cool head in critical situations. The analysis even notes that older, dignified captains (read: Captain Okita) have been increasingly replaced by young and attractive men and women who could [[LeaningOnTheFourthWall motivate contemporary audiences...excuse me, crews]]. The Captain of the show, Yurika Misumaru, is a [[GeniusDitz blatant]] and [[LampshadeHanging probably deliberate]] subversion of that analysis, since she is an actual tactical genius ''as well as'' a charismatic figurehead.
** In the same chapter, they do a lot of funerals for each religion of the people that died in the previous chapter.
* Being about pirates, ''OnePiece'' has a lot of them. Hero Captain Monkey D. Luffy deserves special mention for appearing to be a complete IdiotHero and LeeroyJenkins, but eventually shows that he is actually a talented and inspiring leader with a very firm grasp on whether or not he and his crew can win a battle. His authority over his team is also absolute, regardless of his bouts of idiocy -- when you have a loyal swordsman like Roronoa Zoro to ensure that his authority is respected, well, it's a good thing ThePowerOfFriendship is the more prominent motivation.
* ''Anime/SuperAtragon'' features Captain Hayate, who rarely leaves TheBridge, has his own CatchPhrase and NoIndoorVoice, [[ErmineCapeEffect always wears his full dress uniform]], and sports a BadassBeard.
* Sport anime, based on real life, usually has an extremely talented captain that is so valuable he can change the game's pace simply by just being there.
** Tsubasa Ozora from ''Manga/CaptainTsubasa''
** Mamoru Endou from ''Anime/InazumaEleven'' and his successor, Tenma Matsukaze.
* ''Manga/KurokoNoBasket'': The team captains are most of the time someone different than TheAce, being older and more mature than them and have actual leading qualities to keep their teammates in check. As such, they are most often designated with the number 4. Akashi and Hanamiya are the only aces who function as the team captain as they are able to coordinate, instruct and command their teammates.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Steve Rogers, AKA ''ComicBook/CaptainAmerica'' as of the aftermath of SHIELD is officially a Captain, in charge of National Security, with his own team of shadow ops super-agents, no less.
** Captain/director ComicBook/NickFury, the former top dog of SHIELD.
* ''ComicBook/CaptainAtom'': Nathaniel Adam is a former Captain in the United States Air Force.
* Hal Jordan from ''Franchise/GreenLantern'' holds the rank of Captain in the United States Air Force.
* Gabriel Cole of ''ComicBook/TheMighty'' is in charge of Section Omega.
* ''ComicBook/MsMarvel'': Carol Danvers now goes by Captain Marvel, which is actually a downgrade since she left the Air Force with the rank of Colonel. In the ''Secret Wars'' alternate universe comic ''Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps'', she is the leader of Banshee Squadron, who defend their homeland Hala Field. She's also set to be in charge of defending the Earth from threats from space in the new Marvel universe.
* ComicBook/ThePunisher: Frank Castle is a retired Marine Corps Captain in the [[ComicBook/ThePunisherMAX MAX continuity]].
* ''ComicBook/TransformersMoreThanMeetsTheEye'': Rodimus commands the Autobot starship ''Lost Light'' in the search for the legendary Knights of Cybertron. As of the ''Dawn of the Autobots'' arc, he's relegated to co-captain alongside [[ItMakesSenseInContext Megatron]].
* In some of the ''ComicBook/XWingSeries'' comics, the leader of Rogue Squadron, Wedge Antilles, is the Captain.

* ''Fanfic/ACrownOfStars'': Although her actual rank is Junior First Lieutenant Asuka is in charge of the army tasked with freeing her world of the bunch of dictators running it, and she is responsible for her troops and for the success of the mission.
* ''Manga/{{Evangelion 303}}'': Misato is the commanding officer of the "Evangelion" squad. She leads and trains the Children and chews them off when it is needed.
* ''Fanfic/{{HERZ}}'': After the battle of 2015 Asuka got promoted to Captain. She often leads the Evangelion and HERZ troops in the battlefield.
* In ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10286919/1/Recoil Recoil]]'', Taylor [[ShoutOut Snow]] joins the PRT and is promoted fairly rapidly to the rank of Captain.
* In ''Fanfic/XCOMRWBYWithin'', Ruby is promoted to captain after [[spoiler: Jaune is promoted to lieutenant]].

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''Disney/{{Mulan}}'''s Captain Shang, who also happens to be TeamDad of his division.
* Captain B. [=McCrea=] of the [=BnL=] ship ''Axiom'', from ''WesternAnimation/WallE'', is a true blue hero in every sense of the word, and very much The Captain.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/{{Apollo 13}}''
** Flight Director Gene Kranz at MissionControl is a model leader who commands respect. Unassuming but firm, he's cool on many levels; he's calm and collected, exactly what is required when time is at the essence, makes critical, unprecedented and right decisions on his feet and never fails to be assertive but polite. When the occasion requires it he's stingy without being smug and proudly shoots down any defeatism. [[AFatherToHisMen His empathy]] solidifies him as the perfect captain.
** Jim Lovell, the savvy, competent and balanced commander of the Apollo 13.
* Colonel Sharpe in ''Film/{{Armageddon}}''.
* Captains Murrell (destroyer escort) and Von Stolberg (U-boat), ''Film/TheEnemyBelow''.
* BaldBlackLeaderGuy Captain Miller of the ''Film/EventHorizon'', portrayed by Creator/LaurenceFishburne.
* The 80's Disney movie ''Film/FlightOfTheNavigator'' features a kind-of-coming-of-age story about a boy learning to become the captain of a semi-sentient automated alien spaceship.
* ''Film/GalaxyQuest'' plays it straight in a ShowWithinAShow of the same name with Commander Peter Quincy Taggart of the NSEA ''Protector'' (an obvious {{Expy}} of [[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries Kirk]]). The film, however, is about the RealLife actors playing them. Jason Nesmith, the actor playing Taggart on the show, definitely does ''not'' qualify as this trope, although he tries to be, when a bunch of naive aliens show up expecting Nesmith to be their hero Taggart (they have no concept of fiction and assume all Earth transmissions are documentaries).
* Captain Robert Gould Shaw from ''Film/{{Glory}}'', later promoted to Colonel.
* Captain Mallory, played by Creator/GregoryPeck, in ''Film/TheGunsOfNavarone''.
* ''Film/TheHuntForRedOctober'':
** Captain First Rank Marko Ramius, , and his "nemesis" Commander Bart Mancuso of the USS ''Dallas''.
** And his former student Captain Tupolev.
** Ramius's NumberTwo Vasily Borodin also technically qualifies, by rank (Captain 2nd Class) if not by post.
* United States Marines aviator Captain Steven Hiller. Played by Creator/WillSmith in ''Film/IndependenceDay''
* Captain Jack Aubrey of ''Film/MasterAndCommander''.
* Captain Ramsey and Lieutenant Commander Hunter in ''Film/CrimsonTide''.
* The [[NoNameGiven oddly unnamed]] Captain of the Nillian starship Dave in ''Film/MeetDave''.
* Lt. Commander Matt Sherman in ''Film/OperationPetticoat''.
* ''Franchise/PiratesOfTheCaribbean''
** Captain Jack Sparrow is either the greatest or worst pirate captain ever. Maybe both. Funny enough, for most of the time, he's not the one in charge, though he'd like to be (and he does manage to get a lot of characters, even enemies to do his bidding).
** We also have the FourStarBadass version, Commodore Norrington, commander of the HMS ''Dauntless''. He, perhaps, fits this trope best (during the first movie, anyway).
*** The villains give us a ton of LargeHam captains. Captain Barbossa, sometime commander of the ''Black Pearl''. Davy Jones, commander of the ''Flying Dutchman''.
** Then we got Captain Blackbeard in the [[Film/PiratesOfTheCaribbeanOnStrangerTides fourth movie]]. Complete with CoolSword and CoolShip.
* Captain Janek of the USCSS ''Film/{{Prometheus}}''. Complete with HeroicSacrifice.
* Captain Miller, played by Creator/TomHanks in ''Film/SavingPrivateRyan'' (not the same Cpt. Miller from ''Event Horizon'').
* The USS ''Enterprise'' from ''Film/StarTrek'' goes through no less than three commanders; in order, Captain Christopher Pike, Commander Spock, and cadet James T. Kirk. Kirk even fulfills his BadassBoast when he becomes [[CrowningMomentofAwesome Captain of the]] ''[[CrowningMomentofAwesome Enterprise]]'' [[CrowningMomentofAwesome in]] '''[[CrowningMomentofAwesome three years]]''', something Pike said would be possible in '''eight'''.
** And our favorite AxCrazy, Captain Nero of the ''Narada''.
** By the beginning of ''Film/StarTrekBeyond'', Kirk is beginning to feel TheChainsOfCommanding, but he's also become AFatherToHisMen as something of compensation.
* ''Franchise/StarWars'':
** Captain (later General) Solo and Commander Skywalker of the [[LaResistance Rebel Alliance]].
** Former ''Millennium Falcon'' captain Lando Calrissian, who becomes [[FourStarBadass general]], and commands the ship one last time in its [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome mission to nuke the heart]] of the second [[KillSat Death Star]].
** Captain Phasma of the [[ANaziByAnyOtherName First Order]] is [[AlmightyJanitor captain in name only]], she is the commander of all First Order Stormtroopers.
* Will Smith went on to play a post-Civil War Army Captain, James West, in ''Film/WildWildWest''.

* Creator/PoulAnderson, telling many star-ship stories, has many:
** There are three in ''Literature/AfterDoomsday'' -- the first captain of the men's ship loses his grip and is replaced by Donnan; on the women's ship, she maintains command.
** In "Break", the captain must first deal with TheMutiny and then save the survivors on a badly damaged ship.
** In "The Burning Bridge", the captain must keep his fleet united despite a message from Earth that could disrupt their mission.
* OlderThanRadio: ''[[Literature/TwentyThousandLeaguesUnderTheSea 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea]]'' (1870) has the unforgettable Captain Nemo. However, this trope is deconstructed with Nemo: He is so charismatic a captain that his crew doesn't notice that he is going a VillainousBreakdown and placed the Nautilus in the Maelstrom.
* {{Deconstructed}} in Kenneth Oppel's ''Literature/{{Airborn}}'' series. Two [[TheCaptain men used to being in charge]] are forced to work together, one just beneath the other. It very nearly ends in mutiny.
* Captain Holly Short of the ''Literature/ArtemisFowl'' series, [[spoiler:who refused at first the promotion to Major and then never got it anyway]].
* Jack Aubrey of the ''Literature/AubreyMaturin'' series, as well as many other main characters.
* ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'' Captain Tern. Very capable captain of the royal guard.
* Jerry Pournelle's ''Literature/CoDominium'' universe:
** Commander Blaine of the Imperial battlecruiser [=MacArthur=] in ''Literature/TheMoteInGodsEye''.
** Colonel John Christian Falkenberg in ''Literature/FalkenbergsLegion''.
* Tavi in the ''Literature/CodexAlera'' books. [[spoiler:He begins his service in the legions as a cursor--a spy--in an experimental legion made up of volunteers from different parts of Alera. The First Aleran, as this legion is called, would never attack any one city because there would be officers in the ranks who would not stand for it, and would theoretically be useful as a highly mobile force that could put down trouble as it happened around the realm; in reality, it was pushed through the Senate and came to fruition to serve as an espionage hotbed. This "show and pony" legion was thought of as the ''one'' that would ''not'' see combat in the incipient civil war, but it just happened to be in the way of an invading Canim armada. Ritualists in the aforementioned armada brought down a wall on lightning onto the command tent during a meeting, effectively wiping out the upper echelons of officers and leaving Tavi in charge. He's very good at it, given that he has a functional grasp of the Canish language, society and tactical ability, and that he's a ''very'' flexible thinker and tactician, and ends up being in charge of the most [[BadassArmy battle-ready]] legion in Alera. His ''legionnaires'' adore him and will willingly follow him to their deaths]].
** There's also Captain Demos, captain of the ''Slive''. He serves as absolute master on his ship [[spoiler: because he can control the whole ship with his ''mind''. He also tells Tavi that while he was the Princeps, ''Demos'' gives the orders on the ship; Tavi, regardless of his rank on land, would merely be a passenger at sea]].
* Subverted in ''Literature/TheCulture'' short story "The State of the Art". A member of the crew dresses up as [[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries Kirk]] and tries to get the crew to elect him captain. As the ship is run by its Mind (a [[DeusEstMachina vastly superior artificial intelligence]]) no-one takes him seriously.
* "Der Alte" (German for "The Old Man"),or more formally "Herr Kaleun" (short for Herr Kapitanleutnent, or Lieutenant-Commander), commander of the ''U-96'' from ''Film/DasBoot''.
* In Taylor Anderson's ''Literature/{{Destroyermen}}'' series, although his official rank is Lt. Commander, Matthew Reddy is the commanding officer of the USS ''Walker''. Even after he becomes effectively an admiral, with other captains and at least one admiral under his authority, he objects to being called by any rank higher than "captain."
* Quetza in ''Literature/ElConquistador''. He is both captain of soldiers and a sea captain, so clever than he even discovers Europe several years before Colombus even ships the three Caravels.
* Gerswin, protagonist of Creator/LEModesittJr's ''The Forever Hero'', is widely known as 'the captain', and serves as a captain for a large portion of the first novel; He is later promoted, and eventually leaves service, but he is still referred to as 'the captain'.
* Tons of 'em in ''Literature/HonorHarrington'', including main character Honor Harrington. This is slightly subverted in that Harrington only commands "one ship" in the first book; afterwards, she acts as CO to task groups and fleets.
** Well, in ''Honor Among Enemies'' she plays single captain again, and in both ''The Honor of the Queen'' and ''The Short Victorious War'' she's technically the captain of a ship but also has responsibilities to a larger task group. It's not until her reinstatement in ''In Enemy Hands'' that she's promoted past the point of responsibility for a single ship.
* ''Literature/HoratioHornblower'' in C.S. Forester's novels. [[spoiler:His lieutenant Bush is promoted in ''Flying Colors'' as a compliment to Hornblower (as it's not like they could promote ''him'')]].
* ''Literature/{{Ramage}}'': Dudley Pope's Captain Ramage regularly leads boarding parties, espionage missions, and anything else that's going, and has several times been picked up wounded (white patch in his hair from being creased across the scalp; kayoed by a giant wood splinter kicked up by a cannon shot; nearly bled to death from a cutlass wound...).
* ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'': Captain Vimes [[spoiler:before he's promoted to commander]].
-->"[[Discworld/GuardsGuards There's something so dashing about the rank of Captain]]."
** Following Vimes' promotion to Commander, the position of Captain is filled by Carrot Ironfoundersson, which he holds for the rest of the series. Angua eventually gets promoted to this as well.
* Roman praetors in ''Literature/TheHeroesOfOlympus''.
* Whoever's in charge of the ship ''{{Literature/Kydd}}'' is serving aboard at the moment during his early years in the Navy.
** What Kydd becomes in ''Command'', though at that point, he's technically only a commander.
*** In ''Victory'', Kydd finally "makes post" and becomes captain of the {{Cool Boat}}, ''L'Aurore''.
* The captain in RickCook's ''Literature/LimboSystem'' finds it disconcerting to deal with making first contact when he is completely out of touch with any superiors. Another character urges him to remember that he is the "master under God" of the ship, and suggests that he consider how captains of old acted with such authority.
* William [=McTavish=] of the SS ''Longhope'' in ''{{Literature/Passage To November}}'', a 40-ish, decorated veteran of the Royal Navy who came to America at the request of Cleveland Transport to run their sole "salty."
** Also doubles as {{Badass In Charge}}. Retired Royal Navy Commander? Check. Brawny Scotsman with a hair-trigger temper? Check. Shades of {{Crazy Jealous Guy}} who will stop at nothing to protect the young woman in his care? Check and check mate!
** Having survived many a storm on the open seas, it takes a lot to scare him. But the Great Lakes are prone to sudden gales, particularly in the autumn -- the worst being called the November Witch, the sort of gale so vicious they're known to rip steel hulls to shreds and take entire ships to the bottom of the lake. His greatest fear is realized in November 1913 when the worst storm ever to strike the Great Lakes tears a swath of destruction from Duluth to Buffalo. Before it's over, more than 20 ships will have been forever lost and nearly 300 souls will have perished [[spoiler: including most of the ''Longhope'''s crew]].
* Captain Ahab of ''Literature/MobyDick'' fame, distilled Captain essence.
* Bunovsky in ''Literature/OneDayInTheLifeOfIvanDenisovich'' is no longer really a captain, being in the gulag, but he keeps up the act.
* Sarah Collins in ''{{Literature/The Osmerian Conflict}}'' is Captain of the {{Cool Starship}}.
* Captain John Brannigan, in the ''Literature/RevelationSpace'' series by Creator/AlastairReynolds. In addition to being over 700 years old, Captain Brannigan is a mostly cybernetic member of the Ultranauts, a cybernized interstellar space-faring faction. Near the end of ''Revelation Space'', [[spoiler:Captain Brannigan, who has a variant of the Melding Plague (a virus that distorts nanotech machinery, and turns it malignant), is unfrozen, and his nanotech virus takes over the ship, rendering the Captain also his own Cool Ship]]. In Absolution Gap, [[spoiler: he uses as a sort of avatar a 21st-century mechanical spacesuit, and kills invaders of himself by turning walls into spikes, and setting up similar traps]].
* ''Literature/TheReynardCycle'': Roenel, captain of the Quicksilver. Call him anything other than "captain" at your own peril.
* Nicholas Seafort in David Feintuch's ''Seafort Sage'' series (Midshipman's Hope, etc). A boy/man tortured by the heavy responsibilities that fall upon his shoulders.
* ''Literature/{{Sharpe}}'': Richard Sharpe is made The Captain of the South Essex light company in the first novel (well, the first one in writing order). He ends up as acting battalion commander on several occasions (the closest equivalent to commanding a ship) and briefly acting brigade commander (roughly equivalent to a commodore), although much of his time in senior ranks (he rises to lieutenant-colonel) is spent in staff posts. It probably helps that the South Essex gets through a lot of colonels (two killed, one injured, three relieved of command).
* In ''Literature/TheSilmarillion'', Eärendil is the captain of the [[CoolShip Vin]][[CoolAirship gi]][[CoolStarship lot]].
* The captain in the ''Literature/StoriesOfNypre'' series is literally called the captain. He is a somewhat minor character who takes his crew consisting of more important characters on their various journeys in the second book.
* Kaladin Stormblessed from ''Literature/TheStormlightArchive''. When he was injured and likely to die, Gaz tried to assign his crew a new bridgeleader. His men just started calling Kaladin Captain instead. Later he got that title officially, [[spoiler: when he became the head of Highprince Dalinar's bodyguards]].
* Captain Francis Crozier, captain of Terror, in Creator/DanSimmons' ''Literature/TheTerror''. Captain Sir John Franklin is also present as a much less badass version of the trope.
* Captain Vincent Lorimar of the ''Literature/UndaVosari'' novel actually has two {{Cool Boat}}s but still only refers to himself as the Captain.
* Captain Azarcon from the ''Literature/WarchildSeries'' is the captain of a naval carrier InSpace.
* The ''VideoGame/WingCommander'' series has more than a few, in all its incarnations, but the split between the title of Captain and the rank is made most clear in the first part of the novel ''[[Literature/WingCommander End Run]]'', titled "Milk Run". The corvette sent on the reconnaissance mission is commanded by a Lt. Commander who, in the course of a mission, clashes with a mission specialist that holds a higher rank.
* In ''Literature/CaptainFrenchOrTheQuestForParadise'', the titular protagonist is a space trader, who owns a merchant ship. However, he doesn't really have a crew (the ship's computer is smart enough to do everything with the help of the robots). Most of the time, he travels alone, although he gets married (again) at the start of the novel.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/TwentyFour'': Although it's never mentioned on-screen, off-screen media has Jack Bauer as a former Captain in Delta Force.
* Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith of ''Series/TheATeam'' definitely belongs here.
* ''Series/AreYouBeingServed'': Captain Stephen Peacock. [[spoiler:Subverted because he was really only a corporal]].
* ''Series/AscensionMiniseries'': William Denniger, the commanding officer of the titular ColonyShip.
* Sheldon Cooper in ''Series/{{The Big Bang Theory}}'' appoints himself captain of the paintball team:
-->'''Sheldon''': ''"Gentlemen, if I may interject, Iíve decided my rank will be captain. If itís good enough for [[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries Kirk]], Crunch and [[Series/CaptainKangaroo Kangaroo]], itís good enough for me."''
** Leonard fits the role when it comes to the group's general dynamics, with even Sheldon equating him to Kirk at least once.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** Jeffrey Sinclair serves the role in the first season, a rare Commander instead of a Captain). The fact that Sinclair holds a greater position than his rank would normally warrant becomes a major plot point, as we learn that [[spoiler:he was specifically requested to command Babylon 5 by the Minbari]]. In "Eyes" we meet a higher-ranking officer who resents this fact and attempts a coup.
** John Sheridan, second through fourth seasons -- [[spoiler:he has to resign at the end of the fourth season and becomes the President of the new Interstellar Alliance instead]].)
** Elizabeth Lochley steps into the figurative Captain's chair (B5 doesn't have a CoolChair) for the fifth season and beyond. Susan Ivanova, the XO, gets promoted and takes command of a new Earth ''Warlock''-class destroyer, due to [[RealLifeWritesThePlot the actress not returning for Season 5]].
** The SpinOff ''Series/{{Crusade}}'' gives us Captain [[Creator/GaryCole Matthew Gideon]] of the IAS ''Excalibur''.
* Commander Adama (''Series/{{Battlestar Galactica|2003}}''), commanding officer of the titular warship in [[Series/BattlestarGalactica1978 both versions]]. The peculiarities of the Colonial rank system make him a Commander rather than a Captain. [[spoiler:Later in the re-imagined series, after Admiral Cain's death, Roslin promotes him to Admiral]].
** Also Admiral Cain and Lee Adama, neither of whom held the rank of captain at the time (Lee was promoted for the purpose): both filled this role when they were each in charge of the Pegasus.
** Lee Adama (call-sign "Apollo") was the re-imagining of ''Captain'' Apollo from the original ''Galactica'' series, holding the rank of Captain from the Miniseries to Season 2. Becomes a MythologyGag when Laura Roslin nicknames him "Captain Apollo" after initially mistaking his call-sign for his actual name, but continues to do so afterwards as it has a nice ring to it.
** Deconstructed when the fleet decides to replace their obsolete planetary-based system of government with one based on their spaceships. The politicians are used to negotiation and compromise, but as each captain is used to running their ship their own way, the government quickly devolves into a NotSoOmniscientCouncilOfBickering.
* Downplayed in ''Series/BlakesSeven'' as the crew of the ''Liberator'' (and in Season D, ''Scorpio'') are [[RagtagBunchOfMisfits criminals, rebels and mercenaries]] who by their very nature tend to reject authority. They generally accept Blake (and later Avon) as their leader, but have been known to outvote them on occasion (this is why Blake and sometimes Avon are {{Manipulative Bastard}}s). Avon was a SourSupporter to Blake, and when he becomes TheCaptain finds himself in a running dispute with cocky newcomer Tarrant over who should be in charge of the ship.
* Captain William Anthony ''ComicStrip/BuckRogers''.
* ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'': Xander Harris. Come Season 8, he's the ''de facto'' leader of the international Slayers' organization because of his uncanny ability to bring out the best in his girls.
* Captain Brass from ''Series/{{CSI}}'', although as a kind of subversion, since the actual team leaders were Grissom and now DB. Brass *was* the team leader, until Ecklie got mad and put Grissom in charge in the first episode.
* The makers of the TV drama ''Series/{{Colditz}}'' wrote the token Royal Navy officer, Lt. Dick Player, as an amalgam of several famous, or perhaps notorious, British submarine commanders who saw German captivity. In reality, there is a story of submariner Tommy Catlow getting onto the roof -- disregarding an artillery barrage from the nearby Americans -- to set out a large Union Jack where it could be seen, so as to advise the Yanks they were approaching a POW camp.
* Captain Hammer (first season) and Captain Stanley on ''{{Series/Emergency}}''. Captain Hochrader was a character of,the week, and Gage and Desoto become captains in one of the films. Various other captains pop up when other stations are assisting on fires, and they are identified by the white stripe on the helmet.
* ''Series/{{Firefly}}'': Mal Reynolds -- Was a Platoon Sergeant, but held a brevet rank of Captain in wartime before becoming the master of a merchant ship.
* ''Series/HillStreetBlues'': The [[DaChief police chief]] variety, Captain Francis Furillo of the Hill Street Precinct.
* ''Series/HogansHeroes'': Colonel Robert E. Hogan, despite being a ColonelBadass.
* The fictionalized version of Edward Pellew, Captain of HMS ''Indefatigable'' (which he commanded for a time in real life) in the ''HoratioHornblower'' novels and television miniseries (where he was played by Robert Lindsay).
* The Captain in season 6 of ''Series/HowIMetYourMother''.
* ''Series/KaizokuSentaiGokaiger'': Captain Marvelous.
* Captain Marcus Chaplin, USN, commander of the attack submarine ''Colorado'' in ''Series/LastResort''.
* From a military standpoint, ''Series/{{MASH}}'''s captains, Hawkeye and Trapper may be two ranks below Lt. Colonel, but they'll show their authority when needed. In "Deluge," Hawkeye sees a soldier smoking beyond the doors of the O.R.:
-->'''Hawkeye:''' Hey, put that out. There's a lot of ether in here.\\
'''Soldier:''' Hey, I'm a sergeant, fella.\\
'''Hawkeye:''' And I'm a captain, fella. Which means if this place blows up, I'll go higher than you. Now ''put it out!!''\\
'''Soldier:''' (''grudgingly'') Sorry, sir. (''extinguishes his cigarette'')
* [[Creator/SethMacFarlane Ed Mercer]] of the USS ''[[Series/TheOrville Orville]]''. While being a DeadpanSnarker, he is nevertheless one of the best ship commanders in the [[TheFederation Union]] fleet and was on the fast-track to command until he caught his wife in bed with an alien. The resulting year-long rough patch nearly ruined his career, until [[spoiler:his ex-wife (feeling guilty) uses her connections with an admiral to get Mercer his own ship]]. Under Mercer's command, the ''Orville'' resolves several crises and manages to defeat a number of powerful warships in one-to-one fights.
* Adam Quark from ''Series/{{Quark}}''.
* ''Series/SeaQuestDSV'', first through second seasons: Nathan Hale Bridger (though he left), and Oliver Hudson (seaQuest 2032).
* ''Series/SeaPatrol: Lt Commander/Commander Mike Flynn of the [[UsefulNotes/AussiesWithArtillery HMAS Hammersley]].
* The KoreanDrama ''Series/{{Sign}}'' has Dr Lee Myung Han, who takes the helm of Bureau Chief after he forces the incumbent to retire.
* James T. Kirk (''[[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries Star Trek]]''), promoted to Admiral in ''Film/StarTrekTheMotionPicture'', is the real, true, one-and-only classic example of this trope in fictional media. However, the writers conspire to trap him in command of the ''Enterprise'' and its crew for the duration of that four-movie plot arc, and at the end of ''Film/StarTrekIVTheVoyageHome'', he is [[{{Unishment}} permanently reduced in rank to Captain]]. This seems to satisfy him, as he feels his proper place in the world is in the Captain's chair; in ''Generations'', he tells Picard never to let himself be promoted out of it. (Though that might be due to the prevalence of [[InsaneAdmiral Insane Admirals]] in ''Trek'').
** Spock would agree that Kirk belongs in the captain's chair.
--->"If I may be so bold, it was a mistake for you to accept promotion. Commanding a starship is your first, best destiny; anything else is a waste of material."
*** So would Bones, in fact, and those two never agree about anything.
---->"Get back your command. Before you become a part of this collection. Before you really do grow old."
** Spock becomes a Captain sometime between ''[[Film/StarTrekTheMotionPicture The Motion Picture]]'' and ''[[Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan The Wrath Of Khan]]''; Scotty is promoted during ''[[Film/StarTrekIIITheSearchForSpock The Search For Spock]]'', and is named "Captain of Engineering" for good measure; Sulu becomes a Captain between ''[[Film/StarTrekVTheFinalFrontier The Final Frontier]]'' and ''[[Film/StarTrekVITheUndiscoveredCountry The Undiscovered Country]]''; and [=McCoy=] must be promoted to Captain at some point between the TOS movies and TNG, in order to become Admiral of Starfleet Medical.
*** Out of all those promotions, the only one who becomes ''The'' Captain, rather than just ''a'' Captain, is Sulu. "[[CrowningMomentOfAwesome Fly her apart, then]]" indeed.
* Jean-Luc Picard (''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'') To the series' credit, Picard is often shown in his ready room (The captain's personal office with access to the bridge), presumably working on the mundane administrative duties of his rank.
** Will Riker temporarily took the rank and position of captain in the two-part episode "The Best of Both Worlds", and would later permanently move on and become TheCaptain of the USS ''Titan'' at the end of ''Film/StarTrekNemesis''.
*** In ''Countdown'', Data (BackFromTheDead), is shown to succeed Picard as TheCaptain of the ''Enterprise''.
* Benjamin Sisko (''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine''; though originally he was a Commander, he would get promoted).
** Major Kira gets promoted to {{Colonel|Badass}}, and takes over when Sisko [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence joins the Prophets]]. In [[Literature/StarTrekDeepSpaceNineRelaunch the relaunch novels]], new character Elias Vaughn takes over her position as XO. (Vaughn himself later succeeds Kira as The Captain, although as a result of a TimeSkip this period has yet to be chronicled.)
** Eddington lampshades this when Sisko is promoted. People don't join Starfleet to be admirals or [[RedShirt security officers]] or any other rank; they do it for [[CoolChair the captain's chair]].
* Kathryn Janeway (''Series/StarTrekVoyager''; [[FutureBadass eventually promoted]] to vice-admiral).
* Jonathan Archer (''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'')
** In the MirrorUniverse double episode "In a Mirror, Darkly", Archer is a Commander to Captain Forrest (Admiral in "our" 'verse). He leads a mutiny and takes command by force. While crewmembers loyal to Forrest end up freeing Forrest, who takes the ship back from Archer, Forrest is later killed (along with the ISS ''Enterprise''), while Archer becomes captain of the USS ''Defiant''. It's only a temporary step, though, as his goal is not the captain's chair but TheEmperor's throne.
* [[Creator/MichelleYeoh Philippa Georgiou]] of the USS ''Shenzhou'' and [[Creator/JasonIsaacs Gabriel Lorca]] of the USS ''Discovery'' (''Series/StarTrekDiscovery''). Notably, Lorca is later revealed to be a [[spoiler:ShellShockedVeteran from the loss of his previous ship USS ''Buran'', being forced to kill his own crew to spare them from Klingon captivity]]. And then even later revealed to be [[spoiler: ''pretending'' to be a ShellShockedVeteran to cover the fact that he's really the Lorca from the MirrorUniverse, having switched places around the time of the ''Buran''[='s=] destruction.]] By the end of Season 1, [[spoiler:[[Creator/DougJones Saru]] becomes acting captain of the ''Discovery'', having grown from a coward to a leader]]. In the MirrorUniverse, Sylvia "Killy" Tilly is the captain of the ISS ''Discovery'' ([[spoiler:well, she was, but the Mirror!''Discovery'' was destroyed by Prime!Klingons after swapping with the USS ''Discovery'']]), while Michael Burnham is the captain of the ISS ''Shenzhou''. In addition, [[spoiler:Emperor Phillipa Georgiou]] is in command of the flagship ISS ''Charon'', before briefly taking command of the [[spoiler:USS ''Discovery'' while impersonating Prime!Georgiou]].
* ''Series/StargateUniverse'': As the ranking officer present, Col. Everett Young is effectively TheCaptain of the ''Destiny'', but the politics surrounding that situation make his standing very, very tenuous.
** Command of the ''Destiny'', may be up for grabs, but there ain't no question that Colonel Samantha Carter calls the shots as captain of the USAF ''[[FourStarBadass General]]'' ''George Hammond''.
* Jack O'Neill, ''Series/StargateSG1''. Though he started off as a Colonel and ended up a two-star General (in ''Series/StargateUniverse'' he's been given a third star) -- Colonel is the closest rank in the Air Force to what people think of when they think "Captain" anyways.
** Carter becomes the Captain of SG-1 in season 8 (when O'Neill isn't with them), and Mitchel takes over the role in seasons 9 and 10.
** In fact, in ''SG-1'' and ''Atlantis'', the Captains of most of the Air Force ships like the ''Prometheus'' or the ''Odyssey'' are ranked as Colonel. [[ShownTheirWork This is accurate]], considering that in the U.S. Military, all aerospace operations (presumably including space fleets) are operated by the Air Force.
** John Sheppard of ''Series/StargateAtlantis'', too. Although he started a Major and became a Lieutenant Colonel, he has remarked that "a lot of people never thought I'd make it past Captain"...
** The Navy rank of "Captain" corresponds to the Air Force/Army/Marine rank of "Colonel". Both are Officer Grade Six (O-6) with rank insignia being a silver eagle. The Air Force/Army/Marine rank of "Captain" corresponds to the Navy rank of "Lieutenant". Both are Officer Grade Three (O-3) with rank insignia of two silver bars.
*** However... (you knew there was going to be a "however"). In the Navy, the commanding officer of a vessel underway is always referred to as "Captain", regardless of his or her actual rank. A visiting Navy officer with the actual rank of Captain is referred to as "Commodore"; a visiting or assigned ground/air forces officer with the rank of Captain is referred to as "Major". There can be only one Captain on a ship. (This is a combination/expansion of several previous entries.)
* Captain Darien Lambert of the Fugitive Retrieval Section in ''Series/TimeTrax''. It appears to be a police rank, although modern police captains don't normally go into the field.
* Jeremy Clarkson on ''Series/TopGearUK'' since its 2002 revival. His status as the unofficial leader of the other presenters is lampshaded by the visiting German presenters of ''D-Motor'', who refer to him as "Top Gear Boss."
** James May's most commonly used nickname is "Captain Slow."
* Jack Harkness (''Series/{{Torchwood}}'', but not ''Series/DoctorWho''; ironically, it's mostly in the latter that he's referred to as "Captain Jack").
** Technically, his greatcoat bears the insignia of "Group Captain", which is a full title, is never referred to as "Captain", and has the equivalent rank of "Colonel" in the armed forces. And in his first appearance, his uniform bears the insignia of "Squadron Leader", which has the equivalent rank of "Major."
** The Doctor is technically the captain of the TARDIS, though he's never referred to as such, and is usually also [[CrewOfOne the entire crew]].
* Almost every entry in the ''Franchise/UltraSeries'' has a captain as the leader of the defense team, usually a man about 10-20 years older than the rest of the team. Depending on the show, he either heads out with the rest of the team on field missions or he stays at base to give commands most of the time. Notable examples include: Toshio Muramatsu from the original ''Series/{{Ultraman}}'' (who paved the way for the rest to come), Kaoru Kiriyama from ''Series/UltraSeven'' (his title was "Commander", but he served the same role), Megmumi Iruma from ''Series/UltramanTiga'' (the first female example in the franchise), Gousuke Hibiki from ''Series/UltramanDyna'' (much more of a BoisterousBruiser than most), Shingo Sakomizu from ''Series/UltramanMebius'' (who acted as TheMentor for GUYS), and Hiroshi Hyuuga from ''Series/UltraGalaxyMegaMonsterBattle'' (a more literal example as he's a spaceship captain and a badass at that).
** A rare crossover example: Dan Moroboshi, protagonist and human form of ''Series/UltraSeven'', served this role in ''Series/UltramanLeo'', being also Gen/Leo's mentor.
* ''Series/LegendsOfTomorrow'' has [[Creator/ArthurDarvill Rip Hunter]] as the captain of the timeship ''Waverider''. In Season 2, the position is briefly passed to Martin Stein, before he voluntarily gives it up in favor of the much more capable Sara Lance. Even after coming back, Rip doesn't take the position back.

* Leonard Cohen's song "The Captain".
* [[Music/AbneyPark Captain Robert Brown]].
* Music/BiffyClyro's song "The Captain."
* One half of The Captain & Tennille. Guess which. [[spoiler: [[SarcasmMode It's Tennille]]]].
* Music/TheyMightBeGiants's "The Cap'm".

[[folder:Puppet Shows]]
* In ''Series/CaptainScarletAndTheMysterons'', the main character is a captain, but The Captain is Colonel White.

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Valkur, the god of naval warfare in the ''TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms'' setting. Among his titles is "Captain of the Waves".
* The Imperial Navy in ''TabletopGame/Warhammer40000'' obviously has captains, but it also has the even more awesome title of Lord-Captain (also sometimes known as flag captain, but that doesn't sound quite as cool), which is reserved for the captain in command of a detachment of vessels. It is a title so awesome even in-universe, that most Rogue Traders refer themselves as lord-captain despite most of them not qualifying on the title(while large Rogue Trader dynasties do have fleets of ships, most of the time they operate independently), and technically since it's a rank in the Navy, which Rogue Traders aren't part of, they wouldn't be able to use it even them. [[{{ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney}} Not that any of them gives a damn]].
** The individuals in charge of large SpaceMarine ships are referred to as "shipmaster", since they often have SpaceMarine Brother-Captains on the bridge at the same time and using the same rank would cause confusion. The shipmaster himself is not a SpaceMarine, but a Chapter serf: an individual selected for (and not being up to par for) SpaceMarine training, and serving the Chapter otherwise.

* The unofficial in-field leader of a team is called a captain. The role is frequently honorary, but most times given to TheAce or TheSmartGuy of the team. In some cases the captain may be given the responsibility of interacting with game officials regarding application and interpretation of the rules.
* Notable captains include:
** UsefulNotes/MichaelJordan.
** Bill Russell, the main gear behind the Boston Celtics dynasty. He led them to 11 titles in 13 years, whereas before his coming the Celtics had never won a single title.
** New York Yankees star shortstop Derek Jeter, who at 12 seasons was the longest-serving captain in Yankees history.
*** The position had previously been retired in honor of Lou Gehrig, who served for four and a half seasons before he was forced to retire due to his illness. George Steinbrenner unretired the title for Thurmon Munson, and it was awarded intermittently after Munson's death.
** National Hockey League Hall-of-Famer Mark Messier. In 1994, the New York Rangers were trailing the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in the best of seven Eastern Conference final, with the sixth game in New Jersey, where the Devils had proven nearly unbeatable. Many writers were saying that there was little to no chance of the Rangers winning. In his personal CrowningMomentOfAwesome, team captain Messier emphatically stated that the Rangers were going to win Game 6, no matter what. On the ice, he scored a hat-trick (three goals, kinda like a baseball player going 5-6 with 2 home runs) and Rangers won the game in overtime. They eventually beat the Devils and went on to win the Stanley Cup.
*** And before the Rangers, he was captain of Oilers, following no other than Wayne Gretzky.
** Fellow Hall-of-Famer Steve Yzerman. He was the captain of the Detroit Red Wings for 20 years (a record), led them to 3 Stanley Cup championships and his jersey was retired [[http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/90/Red_Wings_retired_Banners.jpg with the captain's C on it]].
** Often compared to Yzerman is Joe Sakic, who captained the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche franchise from 1992 to his retirement in 2009, winning the Cup twice along the way to the Hall of Fame. Like Yzerman, his retired-number banner bears a captain's C (though [[http://s3.photobucket.com/user/hall11pa/media/SakicBanner.jpg.html it only bears his years of service in Colorado]]).
** The UsefulNotes/FIFAWorldCup [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:FIFA_World_Cup_Winning_Captain world champion captains]], including Diego Maradona.

* Captain Corcoran, the captain of the ''Theatre/HMSPinafore''. And a right good captain, too!

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/CompanyOfHeroes'', the British Troops refer to you as "The Captain". There is also a unit called "Captain" which must be built unlock the M3 Stuart Light Tank and the Next Tier, however he is not a HeroUnit (he's actually pretty weak) and does not represent the player in any way.
* [[EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep The Captain]] in ''VideoGame/{{Crusader}}'' is a minor subversion of the trope. He's definitely the lead character, but he doesn't make any decisions except ''how'' to accomplish his mission. He uncomplainingly takes mission directives from his superiors and seems to be content in his given role "Dude Who Blasts the Shit Out of Entire Civilizations of {{Mooks}}."
* Brother Captains Gabriel Angelos, Davian Thule, Indrick Boreale and Apollo Diomedes from ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar'', all from the Literature/BloodRavens chapter.
** From ''VideoGame/Warhammer40000Spacemarine'', there's Captain Titus from the Ultramarines' 2nd Company.
** It's, at least, justified in this 'verse why a battle barge commander personally goes down in a drop-pod to battle hordes of Tyranids. That's what a SpaceMarine ought to do, no matter the rank.
* Captain Falcon from ''VideoGame/FZero'' fights like a [[OneManArmy few dozen people in one]] and apparently has the title of Captain because he was once a Captain in the Galaxy Police, which means he actually had men at his disposal, once.
* ''Series/FinalFantasy'': [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyTacticsAdvance Most]] [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyTacticsA2 Ivalice]] [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII Games]] feature clans, and all clans has clan leaders, right? Montblanc seems to be the most known clan leader, which he leads Clan Nutsy from ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTacticsAdvance'' and Clan Centurio from the two other games.
* Captain Juno Eclipse in ''VideoGame/TheForceUnleashed II'' where she gets her own frigate to command.
** The novelization reveals that she is a pretty competent commander, although she is heavily criticized by some of the Rebel Alliance leaders (it's all political). In the past, she was in command of an elite bomber wing and convinced Vader to amend his order to kill civilians.
* Tact Mayers (''VideoGame/GalaxyAngel'' gameverse; refuses to take on a higher authority, and was even reluctant to become Captain of the Elsior, because he believes authority distances people and makes them more unfeeling.)
* ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'':
** Captain Jacob Keyes of the cruiser UNSC ''Pillar Of Autumn'' in ''VideoGame/HaloCombatEvolved'' and later his daughter, Commander Miranda Keyes of the frigate UNSC ''In Amber Clad'' in ''VideoGame/{{Halo 2}}'' and ''[[VideoGame/{{Halo3}}''.
** Fleet Admiral Sir Terrance Hood in ''Halo 2'' and ''3'' probably qualifies as well.
** Captain Veronica Dare from ''VideoGame/Halo3ODST'', leader of the squad of Helljumpers that [[FeaturelessProtagonist the Rookie]] is part of, ''would'' count, if not for the presence of Gunnery Sergeant Eddie Buck. Despite not actually holding the rank, he's a far better fit for the role. In large part due to him being played by [[{{Series/Firefly}} Captain Reynolds]]. There's also the little fact that Dare's not ODST. While she does hold the rank of captain in the UNSC Navy, she's primarily an [[StateSec ONI]] spook. Naturally, your typical ground-pounder will resent that.
** Rtas 'Vadum(ee) (AKA Half-Jaw), who became Shipmaster (captain) of the ''Shadow of Intent'' and Fleetmaster (admiral) of the ''Fleet of Retribution''.
** From ''VideoGame/{{Halo 4}}'' onward, Thomas Lasky takes on this role. The previous captain of his ship, Andrew Del Rio, is a subversion; he turns out to be incompetent and loses the respect of both his subordinates and superiors when he tries to arrest the main character.
* Captain Jason Narville of the ISA from the ''VideoGame/{{Killzone}}'' series. Not the most creative of leaders, but he's a rock solid superior who looks out for his men.
* Despite having no actual rank, the player in ''KnightsOfTheOldRepublic'' is definitely the Captain of the ''[[CoolShip Ebon Hawk]]''
** And the Exile in the sequel too, although Bao-dur [[InsistentTerminology insists]] on calling him/her [[FourStarBadass General]], due to it being their rank during the Mandalorian Wars.
* Tetra from ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker'' became Pirate Captain around the age of ''10'', because her mother died and left no heir but her. The leadership qualities she got this way are probably what later helped her [[spoiler:founding a whole Kingdom with her as the Queen]].
* ''Franchise/MassEffect'':
** In [[VideoGame/MassEffect1 the first game]], Lieutenant-Commander Shepard is TheCaptain of the ''[[CoolStarship Normandy SR-1]]'' after being promoted from NumberTwo. [[ShownTheirWork This is consistent with the rest of the game]]; in reality, most modern warships are actually commanded by a Lt. Commander/Commander, rather than an actual Captain.
** Shepard fulfills the role again in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2'', despite no longer technically being in the Alliance (though s/he probably received an offscreen promotion to full Commander in between, [[SavingTheWorld given what happened in the first game]]).
** The quarians of the Migrant Fleet refer to Shepard as ''Captain'' Shepard, despite Shepard pointing out that s/he only ever reached the rank of [[CommandingCoolness Commander]]. It's explained that because s/he commands a ship and is responsible for the lives of their crew, this is Shepard's legal status under quarian law, allowing them the authority to speak as an advocate for their crew in legal matters.
** The Russian version of the game has Shepard referred to as "Captain", as the Russian equivalent of "Commander" is "Captain 2nd Class" or "Captain" for short. The translators just figured that transliterating "Commander" would be too awkward for Russian gamers.
* In ''VideoGame/ModernWarfare'' Captain Price and later Captain [=MacTavish=] fit this trope to the T. [[BackToBackBadasses When they start fighting together]], nothing stops them.
* None of the ''VideoGame/{{Pikmin}}'' were able to defend themselves from the various wildlife of their native planet were it not for the leadership of Captain Olimar.
* Ichiro Ogami from ''VideoGame/SakuraWars'' is a partial subversion: while a natural leader, he was given command of an elite fighting team as his ''first'' assignment.
** His nephew Shinjiro Taiga from ''VideoGame/SakuraWarsSoLongMyLove'' is in a similar boat; in fact, Rachet Altair technically remains the captain for most of the game.
* Explicitly namedropped in ''VideoGame/StarControl 2: The Ur-Quan Masters'' with the player character, and he only has the role because the leader of the original mission, Captain Burton, performs a HeroicSacrifice to keep the Precursor vessel from being captured/destroyed en route back to Earth, and only the player character can easily interface with the vessel's computers.
* Captain Raynor of ''VideoGame/StarCraft''. Doesn't really look like one, but besides that, he fits the trope to the letter.
* In ''VideoGame/StarTrekOnline'', much like in the movies and series, you will be "The Captain" of a ship. Although you start out as Ensign in the Tutorial Missions, then you get promoted to Lieutenant and get your own Ship, because Starfleet lacks Captains for all the ships with so many threats around them, later you rank up to eventually become Captain in rank too. But only for short as you will fairly soon be a Fleet Admiral, but still be in control of a ship (because of the beforementioned lack of Captains).
** The game also points out in its loading screens, quite correctly, that naval tradition holds that any person in command of a ship is addressed as "Captain," even if they don't hold that rank.
** The situation is much the same for Klingon and Romulan characters, although in the Romulan case there isn't actually any ''rank'' called captain (Romulans refer to the analogous rank as [[CommandingCoolness Commander]] instead).
* In ''VisualNovel/{{Sunrider}}'', this duty is split between Kayto Shields and Ava Crescentia due to the nature of the Sunrider as a carrier vessel. Kayto is the one who holds the rank of Captain, is addressed as such, and commands the Sunrider's carrier group (including its [[HumongousMecha ryders]] and any attached ships), as well as ordering any use of the [[WaveMotionGun Vanguard Cannon]]. Ava (the XO) serves as flag captain for the Sunrider itself during battle.
* ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'': The titular Mario becomes the captain of the [[{{Faceship}} Starship Mario]] in ''VideoGame/SuperMarioGalaxy2''.
* ''VideoGame/SuperRobotWars'', being a huge mecha crossover, naturally has a couple of their own, including:
** Lt. Colonel Daitetsu Minase. CoolOldGuy. Captain of the Hagane, which has a {{BFG}} attached to the front. Occasionally commands the Kurogane, which has a [[ThisIsADrill DRILL]] instead.
** Tetsuya. Starts as Daitetsu's sidekick, but eventually inherits the Kurogane and comes into his own after [[spoiler:Daitetsu is killed]].
** Lt. Lee Linjun. JerkAss. Turns on the heroes. Trys to ram the Kurogane, which as mentioned before, has a drill on the front; not his brightest moment.
** Lefina Enfield. Captain of the Hiryuu Custom and considered a TeenGenius (youngest person to ever pilot a battleship), and the only female captain. She and the Hiryuu Custom could be considered [[ShoutOut Shot Outs]] to Yurika Misumaru and the [[Anime/MartianSuccessorNadesico Nadesico]].
** And sometimes, Elzam von Branstein takes this role and rides the Kurogane, after Tetsuya takes over Hagane.
** Blessfield Ardygun, patriarch of the Ardygun family [[spoiler:and is succeeded by his daughter Shihomi after a certain incident]] the captains the [[TransformingMecha transformable]] and [[CombiningMecha combining]] battleship Valstork.
* ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}} Project 12: Undefined Fantastic Object'' brings us Captain Murasa Minamitsu, who is best known for [[AnchorsAway flinging giant anchors]] at you.
* Captain Viridian from ''VideoGame/{{VVVVVV}}''.
* Falric better known as "The Captain" in ''VideoGame/WarcraftIII''. He was Arthas's loyal sidekick, but when in Northrend he did not hesitate to temporarily take command and try to get the army back home against Arthas's wishes. Just a shame Arthas went and sunk his ship first, so the Captain's glory moment as a true Captain was short lived. In fact, he ended up making a FaceHeelTurn alongside Arthas, and can be seen in the campaign's ending cinematic accompanying his master into the capital city, where he helps murder the aristocracy and watches Arthas kill his father. In effect, he became that which he hated most.
** In the new ''Wrath of the Lich King'' instance, Halls of Reflection, Falric returns as the first boss, engaging the players during the fifth wave of a gruelling gauntlet of undead foes.
** A few years later we have the ''Skybreaker'', commanded by High Captain Justin Bartlett, and ''Orgrim's Hammer'', commanded by Sky-Reaver Korm Blackscar. Both captains send adventurers on missions throughout Icecrown, and are a source of [[PlayerVersusPlayer PvP]] daily quests. During the ships' most important action, however, they are commanded by Muradin Bronzebeard and [[MemeticBadass Varok Saurfang]].

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Captain Crunch is naturally played as a heroic leader figure in ''Webcomic/BreakfastOfTheGods''.
* The Captain from ''Webcomic/{{Cloudscratcher}}''.
* Parodied in ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', when Vriska declares herself the Captain of the expedition to find Lord English's weakness. She later learns that the "naval nicknames" she gave several other characters, such as "Commodore" and "Admiral", actually means they ''outrank'' her. (The characters given the names already knew this, and had been silently laughing at her misunderstanding the whole time.)
* Captain from ''Webcomic/IWasKidnappedByLesbianPiratesFromOuterSpace'', though it is revealed at the end of the first arc that her name is [[spoiler:Janet]].
* In ''{{Operator}}'', three of the protagonists [including the main character] hold the rank of Captain. The only two named German characters so far both hold the rank of Hauptmann, which is roughly analogous.
* The Captain (actual name unknown) from ''Webcomic/RomanticallyApocalyptic'' leads his squad through the comic's post-apocalyptic setting.
* Captain Kaff Tagon from ''Webcomic/SchlockMercenary''.
** And (briefly, due to TimeTravel shenanigans) Captain [[spoiler: Kevin Andreysan]].
* Captain Bailey from ''Webcomic/WhispersInTheWind'', a former military man who has turned to piracy.

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Captain Nemo in ''Podcast/TheEndlessNight'' is one obvious example.
* In ''Roleplay/TheGamersAlliance'', several characters hold the rank of captain. Some examples are [[TheLadette Ax]] (leader of the Blades of Vigilance), [[AntiVillain Kaizoku]] (pirate captain and commander of the Black Hunters), [[LadyOfWar Varalia]] (captain of the Myridian palace guards) and [[SourSupporter Razoul]] (captain of the Black Guard) among others.
* ''Literature/TheJenkinsverse'' has Captain Owen Powell of the Special Boat Service, the UK's naval special forces unit, which draws from the Royal Marines, making him not just an officer and a leader, but also a card-carrying badass.
* ''Roleplay/OpenBlue'': Though they might have fancy titles like "Pirate Lord", The Captain is your basic character class choice (unless you prefer to be a marine/crewman/street urchin/whatever), seeing as it's a {{pirate}} RP set in the [[WoodenShipsAndIronMen age of sail]].
* ''Church'' in ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'', while the de-facto leader of the titular Blues, is the only one to actually consider himself a Captain, despite their previous Captain's death occurring prior to the start of the series.
** Subverted in an odd way as he's tied for the second lowest rank of either army; he's only a standard Private (along with Donut and Caboose), compared to Minor Junior Private Negative First Class Grif (although he might technically still be a sergeant) and Privates First Class Simmons and Tucker.
* ''TabletopGame/TechInfantry'' has several, from Erich Von Shrakenberg (until he gets promoted to Commodore and then Admiral) to James Welthammer (who technically is a rankless civilian, but commands a space freighter). Xinjao O'Reilly eventually gets his own ship to command as well.
* ''WebAnimation/IfTheEmperorHadATextToSpeechDevice'': Karstodes of the Fab Custodes is actually the rank of Shield-Captain and not only that, he's also one of the Tribunes, the elite of the already elite Adeptus Custodes. As for commanding anyone he ''was'' the leader of his small group but spending ''actual time'' with The Emperor [[spoiler: and meeting Cegorach]] has led his two fellows to become more independent and even oppose him at times.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/BuzzLightyearOfStarCommand'' is a Captain. Like he could be anything but. For whatever reason, in the Toy Story movies Buzz assumes more of a futuristic KnightInShiningArmor role and the role of the Captain is assumed by Woody. While Woody and Buzz are equals, it is Woody who is the commander in chief of the green army men and who coordinates missions and projects.
* ''WesternAnimation/AdventuresOfTheGalaxyRangers'': Another literal example is Captain Zachary Foxx, the Galaxy Rangers' leader.
* Captain Simian of ''WesternAnimation/CaptainSimianAndTheSpaceMonkeys'' qualifies. Though he's very open to suggestions from his crew, he's always the team leader. He gets rebuked all the time by his second-in-command for jumping in headfirst without a plan, but it usually works out; his crew is confident in his ability to get them out of any situation.
* Goodness knows how this page could get to 2010 without mention of ''WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}}'s'' Captain Zapp Brannigan, not-at-all-erstwhile hero of the Democratic Order of Planets, and apparently its entire general staff. Definitely a subversion of the trope, and a gigantic send-up of the mythology around Captain James Kirk. Brannigan's portrayal was actually intended to be less Kirk specifically, and more what the real (and now rather doughy and loopy) Creator/WilliamShatner would be like as a starship captain. Turns out, not a very good one.
* Goliath in ''WesternAnimation/{{Gargoyles}}'', although his position as clan leader seems to be more one of responsibility than of privilege.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'': Shining Armor, older brother to Twilight Sparkle, is the captain of the Canterlot Royal Guard. Considering that it is the only military force seen in Equestria (as of the end of season 3), his position is equivalent of a real life '''General'''.
* Barnacles Bear is the Captain of the ''WesternAnimation/TheOctonauts''. [[CutenessProximity And he is so cute]]!
* Much like [[Series/StargateSG1 Col. Jack O'Neill]], Skipper from ''ThePenguinsOfMadagascar'' fits this role as the head of his [[strike:Five]] four man band. In one episode, he becomes a literal ship captain when they build the ''Penguin One'' spaceship.
* Robin of ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' qualifies.
* ''[[WesternAnimation/{{Thundercats 2011}} [=ThunderCats (2011)=]]]'' has a few
** In "Old Friends" achieving this rank rapidly is a {{Downplayed}} element of the {{Backstory}} of Grune and Panthro, who both see it as a stepping stone to becoming a FourStarBadass in Thundera's army.
** In "Ramlak Rising" it is {{Deconstructed}} with Captain Koinelius Tunar, who's fixation on AnimalNemesis the Ramlak has made him prioritize RevengeBeforeReason and steadily eroded the relationship between himself and his crew.
** In "Journey To The Tower of Omens," the hands-on, field-leader type is exemplified in Captain Tygus, who conducts a one-man assault on a heavily guarded tower powered by a MacGuffin he's {{Plunder}}ing for his Commander.
* Optimus Prime (or [[WesternAnimation/BeastWars Primal]]), any ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'' series. In ''[[Franchise/TransformersGeneration1 Generation 1]]'', he was eventually replaced by Rodimus Prime, who passed the mantle onto Fortress Maximus in ''Headmasters''.
** The Optimus Prime of ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated'' is more TheHero than The Captain. Technically, Ultra Magnus fills that role.
** Ultra Magnus commands the entire Autobot Defense Force, while Optimus Prime was captain of a Space Bridge repair force, and now commands a single unit of Autobots on Earth (which are the same 'bots really). The rank of Prime is thus equivalent to the rank of Captain, while the rank of Magnus better matches that of Admiral, or Grand Admiral.
** Optimus Primal actually ''was'' a ship captain until the events of the show. The Maximals' base is their crashed ship, the ''Axalon'', in the first few seasons. Then they relocate to [[spoiler:the ''Ark'']]. Megatron (not the original one) is also, technically, captain of the ''Darksyde'', even though his allies stole it from the Maximals. Likewise, the crashed hulk of the ''Darksyde'' is the Predacons' base. Near the end of the series, they relocate to [[spoiler:the ''Nemesis'']].

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Lieutenant UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy, commander of ''PT-109''.
* You know all that stuff that Literature/HoratioHornblower and [[Film/MasterAndCommander Jack Aubrey]] did in the movies? Captain Thomas Cochrane did it all first; and did it ''for real''.
* John Paul Jones. Badass quotes include; when being asked by a British officer if he was ready to surrender, he responded, "I have not yet ''begun'' to fight." And upon being asked if he'd strike his colors for surrender, "I may sink. But I'll be damned if I strike!", and lastly his DareToBeBadass speech: "I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; [[BadassBoast for I intend to go in harm's way]]."
* Lieutenant-Commander Malcolm Wanklyn VC DSO**, British submarine ace, who sank a truly massive amount of shipping in the dangerous, shallow and exposed waters of the Mediterranean as the CO of HMS ''Upholder''. See the other wiki: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_David_Wanklyn]].
** The British seemed to have a cottage industry of these in WWII. Consider Lt. Commander.[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerard_Broadmead_Roope Gerard Roope]] of HMS ''[[FluffyTheTerrible Glowworm]]'' was such a badass, [[WorthyOpponent the German captain who defeated him told the British government "you need to give this guy a medal."]] And they did, specifically the Victoria Cross.
** Captain [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Baker-Cresswell Addison "Joe" Baker-Cresswell]]. His escort group was responsible for capturing a German U-Boat and, more importantly, its Enigma coder.
** Also [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Launders Lieutenant James Launders DSO* DSC*]] commanding His Majesty's Submarine ''Venturer''. Not only did he sink the ''U-864'', he did so using a [[ImprobableAimingSkills three dimensional firing solution he worked out on paper]], as both submarines were submerged at the time, the only time in history [[HotSubOnSubAction such an attack]] was ever made.
** Lieutenant-Commander Tommy Catlow, who escaped from a pre-war submarine disaster (HMS ''Thetes'' sank with a full crew in the Mersey Estuary in 1937. Catlow, then a junior officer, tested an untried and unreliable escape system, and got out to deliver messages to the rescue team). He spent the early part of his war sinking Axis shipping in the Med. Captured by the Italians[[note]]After escaping from a sinking submarine for the ''second'' time[[/note]], he attempted escape so frequently that he was handed over to the Germans and incarcerated at Colditz. At war's end, he was on the short-list for a place in the famous glider... the makers of the TV drama ''Colditz'' wrote him in as the token Royal Navy officer, Lt. Dick Player.

* Captain James A. Lovell USN, Flight Commander of ''Apollo 13''.
** Perhaps moreso, Gene Kranz, the NASA Flight Director who served as the primary authority figure during not only the Apollo 13 crisis, but also the first manned lunar landing during the Apollo 11 mission. The American space program designates a Flight Director for every manned space mission. While confined to the Mission Control center, standing policy dictates that "Flight" has ultimate authority in all decisions regarding the mission; not even the President of the United States can supersede a call made by the Flight Director.
*** And on that note, Christopher Kraft, who essentially created the position of Flight Director, served as Flight Director through many of the most important moments of the Mercury and Gemini programs, and, in the wake of John Glenn's problematic Mercury-Atlas 6 flight, was the one who decreed that Flight has the final say in Mission Control. As ThatOtherWiki states, "More than any other person, Kraft was responsible for shaping the organization and culture of NASA's Mission Control."
* Lovell is hardly the only Captain to command a NASA mission:
** Captain Wally Schirra USN (Apollo 7)
** Captain Pete Conrad USN (Apollo 12)
** Captain Alan Shepard USN (Apollo 14)
** Captain John Young USN (Apollo 16)
** Captain Gene Cernan USN (Apollo 17)
** Captain Alan Bean USN (Skylab 3)
*** Suffice to say that when the US determined to set sail among the stars, we had Captains to lead us.
* Captain Michel Bacos of Air France flight 139. When it was hijacked by terrorists in June of 1976, they freed all non-Jewish passengers. Captain Bacos emphatically stated that '''all''' the passengers were his responsibility, including the Jews, and he flat-out refused to leave if they weren't going to either. His act of badass inspired the flight crew to follow suit. Whatever the French term for badass is, he's it.
* In case of airships (that is, anything that flies, from balloons and blimps to Space Shuttle), once an emergency happens, the commander of the airship (no matter of actual credentials, as long as he/she is not usurping the command without valid reason) is operating under "prevention of catastrophe" as the '''only law concerning him'''. It is said that the crew of the famous Concorde crash sacrificed themselves and their passengers in order not to crash into housing area, which would bring many more deaths. So when an aircraft makes an emergency landing on your property destroying it, expect a long talk with your insurance agent, as any court will send you packing in first hearing, probably with verbal whipping.
** You will find in every air emergency that the crew always considers where the plane might crash and will do what is necessary to avoid hitting a populated area.
** Speaking of airships, one of the coolest Captains in history was Hugo Eckener, commander of the ''Graf Zeppelin'', the Zeppelin that ''invented'' the CoolAirship trope. Captain Eckener himself was a [[RenaissanceMan reporter, editor, airship captain, doctor of psychology, president of the Zeppelin Company, engineer, political rival and bitter enemy of Adolph Hitler, explorer and international diplomat]]. His airship was the most successful airship of '''all time''', having circumnavigated the globe faster than any airplane before it, went on voyages and expeditions to the far corners of the world, explored unknown regions of the North Pole, and eventually became the first transatlantic airliner ever, flying from Rio to Berlin, transporting tens of thousands of passengers in luxury, speed and perfect safety. It served for over a decade and flew ''over a million miles''. Captain Eckener's ''Graf Zeppelin'' also happened to be... A [[SuperPrototype mere prototype]], which had never been designed to do half of those things.
* Likewise, the US Coast Guard/International Navigation Rules for seagoing vessels essentially state in the very second rule that any of the rules in the whole book can be broken if breaking them was necessary to avoid danger such as collision or grounding.
* Most US nuclear submarine commanders hold the actual rank of Commander. Most Soviet/Russian nuclear sub commanders are two ranks higher up the list.
** Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson, the first commanding officer of the first nuclear submarine the USS ''Nautilus''.
** Commander William R. Anderson, who took the ''Nautilus'' on its famous voyage under the North Pole in 1958.
* Captain Chesley Sullenberger of US Airways Flight 1549, the plane that made a [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome successful emergency landing in the Hudson River]] after its engines failed in early 2009. Everyone was safely evacuated off the plane. Badass.
* Captain Anna Ivanovna Shchetinina, the world's first woman to serve as a captain of an ocean-going vessel, evacuated people from Tallinn during UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo and smuggled war cargo supplies during enemy bombardment.
* Captain Isaac Hull of the USS ''Constitution''. During the War of 1812, the ''Constitution'' was confronted by the British ship HMS ''Guerriere''. The ''Constitution'' warred the other ship to scraps, an action that served notice that Britain's feared Navy now had a contender.
** This is a main reason (combined with Jackson's victory at New Orleans) why Parliament ratified the treaty ending the War of 1812. If Hull and Jackson hadn't convinced them that the American military deserved to be taken seriously, that would have been unpleasant for both sides.
*** ...Sort of. The British had already had serious problems with other American armies and ships before. On land, the problem was that the British knew from experience that they couldn't actually occupy the colonies, and raiding the coast had proven expensive. On the sea, the actual damage caused by the Americans was a pinprick, but the mere fact that they ''could'' deliver that pinprick was sobering.
** You hardly need to be a Captain Badass when the ship you're sailing, despite being about as seaworthy as a haystack, is immune to the enemy's guns and massively outmatches her in firepower; that goes double when the other ship is overdue for refit and repairs. Hull never commanded in battle again, as he learned his brother had died while he was at sea and left a widow and children that he now needed to care for.
* Captain Tom Parham. First African-American to reach rank of Captain, and beloved Navy chaplain.
* Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the man who survived a Mandela-like incarceration in the Siberian gulags, was formerly a Captain in the Red Army.
** And because surviving Soviet work camps isn't impressive enough, he found time to survive undiagnosed cancer.
* Badass of The Week was kind enough to profile Captain Jonathan Davis, who was ambushed along with two of his friends in California in the mid 1800's. They killed one of his friends, and mortally wounded the other, leaving Captain Davis outnumbered 14 to 1. The result; [[ConservationOfNinjitsu Davis guns down 6 and then engages in a knife-duel to the death with the remaining kills their leader plus three others and the last four flee]].
* From the era of WoodenShipsAndIronMen we have [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Drake Captain Francis Drake]]
** That era probably provided the archetype of what TheCaptain is.
* The famous [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Trafalgar Battle of Trafalgar]] had more of these than you can shake a stick at. Notably, the two [[TheCaptain captains/hereos]] of that engagement were actually [[FourStarBadass admirals]]; Horatio Nelson of the (aptly) named ''Victory'' and Cuthbert Collingwood of the ''Royal Sovereign''.
* Two particularly notable examples emerged in the attack on Pearl Harbor:
** Captain Mervyn S. Bennion of the battleship USS ''West Virginia'' (BB-48). A devout Mormon, Bennion had a well-deserved reputation as AFatherToHisMen. Bennion's chest was torn open by shrapnel from the first bomb to hit ''West Virginia'' on December 7th. Though grievously wounded and in blinding pain, Captain Bennion refused attempts by his steward, Cook 3rd Class Doris Miller, to move him to sickbay and remained at his post. When Miller tried to bring a corpsman to the bridge instead, Bennion stopped him and said that too many other men needed help more than he did. Bennion maintained command, ordering counterflooding to prevent the battleship from capsizing, organizing firefighting crews, and keeping the antiaircraft guns in action until he bled to death. His last words before losing consciousness were ordering Miller to "Tell the XO he's in charge." For saving his ship at the cost of his own life, Bennion was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Miller found the XO and advised him of the situation, then replaced a wounded gunner on an antiaircraft mount, shooting down a Japanese bomber. He would be the first black man to receive the Navy Cross.
** Commander Cassin Young was captain of the fleet repair ship USS ''Vestal'' (AR-4), which was moored alongside the battleship ''Arizona'' on the morning of December 7th. Young was a firm-but-fair leader who drilled his crew to a high standard, even if ''Vestal'' was a lightly-armed support ship not intended for combat. That high standard payed off that morning, when ''Vestal'' was one of the first ships to return fire on the attacking aircraft, with Gunner's Mates bringing her antiaircraft guns into action, while the snipes immediately lit the boilers and got steam up at the first sign of trouble. She was also one of the first to be hit, taking two bombs probably meant for ''Arizona''. One started a fire in the repair ship's magazine, while the Other punched through the ship's bottom and detonated on the shallow harbor bed beneath, miraculously failing to break her keel. Young was on the bridge when ''Arizona'' was sundered by an apocalyptic explosion of her forward magazine alongside his own ship. ''Vestal'' took severe blast damage, her superstructure Swiss-cheesed by shrapnel, and dozens of men topside--including Young himself--were blown overboard. Thoroughly pissed off at having been thrown off his own ship, Young swam back to ''Vestal'', climbed back aboard, and started channeling John Paul Jones. A junior watch officer had panicked and ordered the ship abandoned, the crew were in confusion, though some of the Bosun's Mates were pulling badly-wounded men off of the mortal remains of ''Arizona'', the guns were out of action, and the ship was on fire and taking water. Young countermanded the order to abandon, got the guns firing again, and gave the order to cast off and get underway. With the flooding and fires out of control, Young conned ''Vestal'' two miles northeast and beached her in Aiea Bay. He then sent every man not essential to his own firefighting effort, including all of his divers, to assist other stricken ships in the harbor. Over the next few weeks, Young's crew refloated their own ship, refloated ''California'' and ''West Virginia'', cut through ''Oklahoma'''s hull to pull trapped survivors to safety, and got ''Raleigh'', ''Tennessee'', ''Maryland'', and ''Pennsylvania'' ready to fight again. ''Vestal'' herself never saw the inside of a drydock. Cassin Young was awarded the Medal of Honor, promoted to Captain, and given command of the heavy cruiser USS ''San Francisco''. He would later be killed in action against a Japanese battleship off Guadalcanal. The Navy further honored him after his death by naming a ''Fletcher''-class destroyer after him, which is still afloat and can be visited at the Boston Navy Yard, along with the USS ''Constitution''.
* Captain Thomas Gatch of the fast battleship USS ''South Dakota'' (BB-57) was an avid student of history who found inspiration from the accounts of British Admiral Horatio Nelson. He often quoted Nelson's words that "No captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy" and also firmly believed that a warship's captain must never show fear in front of his crew. [[HonorBeforeReason This attitude nearly cost Gatch his life]] during an attack by Japanese bombers in the summer of 1942. Gatch was on the flying bridge when a bomb fell on the #1 turret. Gatch refused to duck behind the armored splinter shield and took shrapnel to the chest. Gatch was taken to sickbay in critical condition, nearly dying, but he had inspired such loyalty from his crew that they threatened to jump ship if the Navy tried to give Thomas Gatch's command to anyone else while he was alive. Gatch recovered against all odds and kept command during his convalescence. During the Battleship Night Action off Guadalcanal that November, ''South Dakota'' suffered a freak electrical fault that silenced her 16-inch guns and disabled her fire control. Despite multiple hits from Japanese cruisers and the battleship ''Kirishima'', the secondary 5-inch guns were brought back online in local control. Gatch skillfully conned his ship through the battle, raking the enemy with his secondary battery, dodging multiple torpedoes, and drawing enemy fire away from the battleship USS ''Washington'', whose 16-inch guns left ''Kirishima'' burning and dead in the water. ''South Dakota'' survived despite serious damage, and was repaired and back in the fight within a year.
* Lieutenant Commander Ernest E. Evans -- captain of USS ''Johnston'' (DD-557) of Taffy 3. This completely badass [[BadassNative Cherokee Indian]] who commanded ''Johnston'' from the moment her keel first hit the water to her DyingMomentOfAwesome at the [[DavidVersusGoliath Battle Off Samar]]. When the Japanese fleet during the Battle off Samar was first sighted, Evans did not hesitate, and his ship [[LeeroyJenkins immediately]] headed directly towards the far superior enemy without waiting for the other destroyers with them, while simultaneously laying smoke to obscure the escort carriers they were assigned to protect. He is reported to have told his crew over the ship's [=1MC=]: "A large Japanese fleet has been contacted. They are fifteen miles away and headed in our direction. They are believed to have [[BigBad four battleships]], eight cruisers, and a number of destroyers. This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can." In his attack run he managed to take out of the battle two Japanese heavy cruisers in moments with highly-accurate fire from ''Johnston'''s 5-inch guns, while forcing the rest to dodge his torpedoes. Evans's ship took critical damage from Japanese gunfire during this first attack, so much that men aboard the other ships of Taffy-3 were only able to recognize her by the "557" painted on her bow, and retreated towards the other American destroyers and destroyer escorts. A shell from a Japanese battleship wrecked his bridge, killed several of the bridge watch, and wounded the rest, including Evans himself (and also [[FullFrontalAssault blew off all of Evans's clothes, skivvies included]]). Naked, bleeding, and ''pissed of'', Evans moved aft, finding the Auxiliary Conn also destroyed, so he continued to the fantail and shouted orders down an open hatch to Sailors who were cranking the rudder by hand. At this point, ''Johnston'' passed the other destroyers, who were beginning their own torpedo runs. Evans ordered his ship to turn around and join them, with every gun they had left blazing. USS ''Johnston'' fought to the bitter end, out of ammo and dead in the water. She has caused so much damage that a Japanese destroyer was ordered to shell her foundering wreck at point-blank range, just to make sure. [[WorthyOpponent That ship's captain mustered his crew at the rail and saluted the burning American destroyer as she went under]]. While he abandoned ship with the rest of his crew when ''Johnston'' sank, Captain Evans was not rescued. Maybe his [[BrassBalls brass balls]] took him to the ocean floor on his way to Valhalla. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
* The sinking of ''UsefulNotes/RMSTitanic'' had three civilian sea captains who would go down in history in three very different ways.
** Edward J. Smith of ''Titanic'', an old school sea captain with an exemplary performance record with a good relationship with his crew. However, he would be forever stained, fairly or unfairly, as a reckless bungler who drove his ship into danger, resulting in a horrific end for over 1500 people on board, including himself. That said, his direction of the evacuation - such as trying to prevent panic, firing constant orders, comforting crew members - brought him eternal respect from many survivors.
** Stanley Lord of SS ''Californian'', who was a callous tyrant of a captain who intimidated his crew into fearful complacency. Furthermore, he is definitely guilty at the very least of failing to respond to an obvious distress signal rocket pattern from a ship nearby on the night of ''Titanic'''s sinking, while likely being a sociopath selfishly responsible for not lifting a finger to assist ''Titanic'' in its desperate hour of need and then doing everything he can to cover up his misdeed. Thus he would go down as a scoundrel of modern maritime history no matter how much he bellowed for the rest of his life [[NeverMyFault that he did nothing wrong]].
** Arthur Rostron of RMS ''Carpathia'', who was by comparison the ideal British captain. He was firm, on amiable with his crew and passengers as well as being decisive, courageous and efficient in his command. Those were qualities dearly needed as the Captain who was the first to race to ''Titanic'' on that horrible night of April 14-15, 1912.
*** Upon receiving notification of a passenger liner in distress, Captain Rostron gave the following orders: wake all off-watch personnel, sailors and hospitality staff alike; Navigator, plot ''Titanic'''s position and best course to reach her; boiler rooms light everything and put up all the steam they possibly can; Engineers shut off nonessential systems and divert all steam power to the screws for maximum speed; deckhands rig additional lighting outside the ship, run out the boats, rig lifelines, and post an extra watch to look out for hazards and survivors in the water; stewards and maids gather every available blanket and heat them in the ship's laundry, and set up the ship's parlors, lounges, and dining areas as emergency shelters; cooks prepare hot soup and brandy in large quantities to help treat hypothermia. Only after these orders were issued did Rostron tell his radioman to get confirmation of the distress call. This is how Sir Arthur Rostron handled an emergency.
* Ruben de Cloux, the legendary windjammer captain of Gustaf Eriksson Line. He won several times the Great Grain Race, and set several records for voyage from Australia to Britain. He mastered the winds skilfully and could actually outrun steamships.