His name is Sharpe. Richard Sharpe, of the 95th Rifles. And Chuck Norris, Kratos, and Mr T. crap themselves in terror when this guy rolls into town.Sergeant Richard Sharpe saves the life of Sir Arthur Wellesley (from three Frenchmen on TV; from at least half-a-dozen Maratha warriors in the novels) and is rewarded with a Field Promotion, making him an officer in the King's Army. As a gutter-born bastard, Sharpe doesn't play well with regular officers, the rich gentlemen who bought their commissions and resent an upstart from "the ranks" being among their number. But Sharpe's field experience, rough nature and damn good fighting skills give him an advantage when it comes to commanding soldiers. He leads from the front with a Baker rifle and massive Heavy Cavalry sword, and never far from his side is longtime friendSgt. Patrick Harper and the "Chosen Men", a unit of elite riflemen. When not fighting some great bloody battle, Sharpe and his companions are often sent on missions vital to the war effort by Wellington himself or his intelligence officers. Despite being poor and lacking "gentlemanly conduct", Sharpe achieves further promotions on his merit alone, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel by the Battle of Waterloo.In publication since 1981, the series of novels by Bernard Cornwell chronicle Sharpe's adventures in India, Portugal, Spain and beyond, from the beginning of his career to the very end. Though a fictional character, he's portrayed as being in the thick of real battles that occured during the Napoleonic Wars, from the Siege of Seringapatam to the Battle of Waterloo; the novels are as much about the Duke of Wellington's campaigns shown from a new perspective as he fights the armies of Napoleon Bonaparte. Cornwell has been writing and publishing the novels out of chronological order: Sharpe's Eagle, published in 1981, is 8th in the series; Sharpe's Devil, chronologically the last in the series, was published in 1992, and Sharpe's Fury, the most recent novel published, is 11th in the series.The novels have been adapted into a series of television movies starring Sean Bean as Richard Sharpe, Daragh O'Malley as Patrick Harper and a slew of British talent in supporting roles (see Trivia), running regularly between 1993 and 1997, and with two additional miniseries in 2006 and 2008. The series was well-received and proved a breakout role for Bean, who went on to star in GoldenEye, The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. Much of the plot and backstory from the novels was compressed, modified or jettisoned, and several new stories were invented for the screen.How badass is Sharpe? Well, put it this way: he survived being played bySean Bean!
Action Girl: Teresa is a famous partisan leader called La Aguja - The Needle. She unwinds by killing Frenchmen.
America Saves the Day: In the novel Sharpe's Siege, Sharpe and the Chosen Men engineer their way out of a fort surrounded by the French by surrendering it to an American privateer who was fighting the War of 1812 - and trapped in the fort with them. This plot was discarded in the television episode in favor of Sharpe having to fight his way out.
Theresa Moreno is a Type IV, whilst La Marquesa is a Type V.
Affably Evil: Lord Pumphrey is charming, witty, erudite, possibly in love with Sharpe and has no morals except government interests. His personality is so infectious that Sharpe, even after everything Pumps has done, can't bear to kill him (though Pumphrey was armed and too influential to just kill.)
Arch-Enemy: Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill, the insane misanthrope and Manipulative Bastard who had Sharpe flogged while he was a private in India. He eventually kills Sharpe's wife in Sharpe's Enemy before being executed himself. Cornwell admitted that after Hakeswill's death he found it hard to supply Sharpe with an equally malevolent adversary - particularly glaring in Sharpe's Challenge, which is actually an adaptation of prequel books in which Hakeswill is the main villain, but was re-set after the Peninsular War for the TV series, so Sharpe is given a Hakeswill expy villain who isn't particularly convincing.
Major Pierre Ducos does a decent job of picking up the baton, repeatedly attempting to not only have Sharpe killed but have him die a dishonourable death in revenge for a relatively minor insult. In the books, he shares Hakeswill's fate of being executed by his own side, although it's disappointingly glossed over as an Off-Page Moment of Awesome. Cornwell seems fond enough of the character to make him The Man Behind the Man in stories written after but set before his and Sharpe's first meeting.
Aristocrats Are Evil: With a few exceptions, most aristocrats encountered in the novels and TV series - whether British or otherwise - are vile types, enemies of Sharpe, and often also Upper Class Twits.
A good example is the villain in Sharpe's Eagle, Henry Simmerson.
One particularly crowning subversion is Sharpe's Odd Couple friendship with the aristocratic William Lawford, which he explains to Leroy in Sharpe's Eagle:
Sharpe: We spent three months chained in a cell in India. He had a page of the Bible. In three months he taught me how to read and write. How can you pay back a man who teaches you how to write your own name, Captain?
Double-subverted in Sharpe's Regiment when Lawford "betrays" Sharpe after a fashion, because "gentlemen look out for themselves".
Artistic License - History: The TV series uses the term "Chosen Men" a lot more than the novels, where it's just the equivalent of "Lance Corporal" instead of a term for all Rifles.
Artistic License - Religion: In universe, this is Hakeswill's specialty. He uses the phrase "says so in the scriptures" as a sort of go-to argument to justify whatever he has to say or wants to do. Gloriously, Colonel McCandless calls him out on this in Sharpe's Tiger:
Hakeswill:...says so in the scriptures.
McCandless: [shouting for the only time in the series] It says nothing of the sort and the next time I hear you say that I will break you back to the ranks.
Autobots, Rock Out!: The series' opening theme tune is played on the electric guitar. Sean Bean's credit in the opening titles is announced by a distinctive single chord, and during the closing credits, John Tams' rendition of 'Over the Hills and Far Away' morphs into a full blown guitar solo.
Awesome McCoolname: In "Sharpe's Devil", Lord Cochrane complains that the Spanish don't know how to name their warships — warships ought to have names like Victory, Arse-kicker, or Revenge.
Bad Ass: There are probably fictional characters out there who are more badass than Richard Sharpe. But they are rare indeed. Sharpe is not the only Badass in the world though:
Patrick Harper is Sharpe's lancer and as bad a badass as ever stalked Spain.
Teresa Moreno is not to be messed with. Hakeswill finds this out the hard way in Sharpe's Company.
General Jean-Baptiste Calvet is a Four-Star Badass, whose various exploits include ripping his way out of Russia, serving as a kind of friendly enemy to Sharpe, eating his own corporal (they were running out of food) and impaling two Cossacks on his sword at the same time.
Chef Du Battalion Alexandre Dubreton has two Légions d'Honneur. He also proves his badassery when he actually manages to hold off Sharpe in a swordfight.
Major Blas Vivar is definitely Spain's answer to the Badasses that fill the British and French armies.
Major General David Baird - a Real Life character who was also a Badass, but especially in Sharpe's Tiger, when he hacks through everyone in Seringapatam (again, he did this in real life).
Wellington is another Real Life example: There's a reason he never lost a battle.
William Fredrickson. Took a cannonball in the face, and kept going. Stacks pretty well against Sharpe in the badassery league.
Colonel Leroux in Sharpe's Sword. His supremely-designed Kligenthal sword actually shatters Sharpe's original Heavy Cavalry blade, he knocks Harper down a flight of stairs and shoots Sharpe in the gut, bringing him closer to death than almost any other enemy.
Battle Couple: Sharpe and Teresa, particularly in some of the TV movies.
Bawdy Song: Permanently inebriated General Runcorn (played by Ian Mc Neice) sings a stunner in Sharpe's Battle-
Runcorn: So wrap your legs round me and dig in with your heels, 'cos the closer we get, the better it feels!
And Hagman singing a soft little ditty 'I watched a maid milk a bull'
Beast and Beauty: Invoked by one snobby officer about Sharpe and Jane Gibbons, leading to a duel.
Been There, Shaped History: Sharpe was involved in crucial moments in so many key historical events that - within his own fictional setting - if he'd never existed Britain would have probably lost the Napoleonic Wars.
Berserk Button: Sharpe's mother was a prostitute, which makes her son less than fond of pimps. Sharpe calling someone a pimp is not only an insult, its the worst insult he can think of.
Likewise, Obadiah Hakeswill goes crazy when you insult his mother.
BFG: Harper carries a Nock volley gun, a weapon that fires seven pistol bullets at once and was discontinued because the recoil had the tendency to smash the shoulders of anyone who tried to fire it. Harper is supposedly one of the few men who are big and powerful enough to use it, although Sharpe also uses one in a few of the prequel books because he's just that hard.
BFS: Sharpe's 1796 pattern heavy cavalry sword. Not big by anime standards, but definitely heavier than almost anything anyone would try to fence with. Except Sharpe, who is just that Bad Ass. (Cornwell owns one himself◊.)
The Big Guy: Harper. Though Sharpe himself is big enough to intimidate most people.
Blood Knight: Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane wants to free Napoleon from Elba and create a "United States of South America" from Spanish and Portugese colonies. Why? He just really loves killing people. This Truth in Television. The Siege of Sebastopol would have been much shorter had he been in charge. Why? His plan involved saturation bombardment and poison gas.
Boot Camp Episode: Sharpe's Regiment, where Sharpe and Harper have to infiltrate a corrupt recruitment scheme.
Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards: The King of Spain's Irish Companions of Honour in Sharpe's Battle. Subverted since they're utterly useless... before Sharpe starts training them.
Call to Agriculture: Sharpe often talks about becoming a farmer after he is done with war and he ends up as an apple farmer in France at the end.
Camp Gay: Lord Pumphrey, to what by the standards of the time is an outrageous degree. Still, he's (often) on Sharpe's side. To be more accurate, he is on the side of His Majesty's Government. As long as Sharpe is too, then Sharpe is safe.
Canon Immigrant: The characters of Harris and Perkins were created for the film series, but proved popular enough to find their way into many of the later books.
The Captain: Many, as well as another rank Sharpe holds as he climbs the ranks.
Cartwright Curse: Sharpe gets a new girlfriend frequently. They always leave, either by running away with his money, dying, or otherwise being written out.
Catch Phrase: Sharpe keeps drilling into his soldiers, almost to the point of being a Badass Creed, that the key to soldiering is being able to "fire three rounds a minute,"note Although three rounds a minute was merely passable for British troops in the Peninsular War - most units could manage four, and some five or even six (3 RPM is good for riflemen at the time - the Baker rifle is harder to load and takes longer to aim). and "stand".
Sharpe considers every "Proper Officer" a "Bastard!"
Harper's favourite exclamation: "God save Ireland!"
Hakeswill's "It says so in the scriptures", his justification for anything.
Expert marksman Daniel Hagman shouts "Got 'im!" when he hits his target, and recommends "brown paper and paraffin oil" for any injury.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Characters in early episodes like Captain Leroy and Rifleman Tongue disappear for no reason. In Tongue's case, his namesake died in the book of Sharpe's Gold though he didn't appear in its episode, while Leroy eventually becomes a Colonel. Gavin O'Herlihy, who played Captain Leroy, actually was Chuck Cunningham.
Leroy is actually one of many characters who only appears in one episode of the series despite being in several books. The various intelligence masters (Hogan, Nairn, Munro) are straighter examples, as is Rifleman Cooper, who actually disappears mid-season. (He is reported injured in his last episode but plays an active role throughout the rest of the story so it doesn't seem to have been serious.)
Cigar Fuse Lighting: Richard Sharpe borrows a cigar from another officer when he has no slow-match to light fuses with.
Clear My Name: The novels (and TV adaptations) Sharpe's Honour and Sharpe's Revenge. In both cases, Sharpe is framed by Major Ducos as part of a plan to derail Wellington's campaigns.
Cold Sniper: Firmly averted in the case of Hagman, who often acts as The Obi-Wan for the younger members of the Chosen Men, Perkins specifically. Hagman is a cheerful Northerner who loves folk songs, and is easily the best shot in the regiment.
Combat Pragmatist: Sharpe doesn't believe in fighting fair, so expect to see him use every dirty trick in the book in order to win. These include switching uniforms, ambushing enemy troops, frequent use of Groin Attacks, luring enemies into positions where they can be shot by the French. One specific example: While fighting a superior swordsman with a rapier, he allows his opponent to stab him in the thigh, lodging the rapier in place due to the wound's suction. His opponent is thus (in an extremely unorthodox fashion) disarmed.
Corrupt Church: If the Catholic Church shows up, it will either be in the form of a high-ranking prelate, who will be a scumbag, or an honest village priest, who will be a lovely person. Notably, the Inquisitor, Father Hacha, is a foul individual, as is the Cardinal of Naples, who seems to have read about Rodrigo Borgia and tried to imitate him as far as possible, only with more child abuse.
Cool Sword: Sharpe's 1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword. It's a real weapon, but so massive that they're only used by men on horseback. Only those as big and strong as Sharpe are capable of wielding it like an infantry sword.
Corporal Punishment: Flogging was common, Sharpe was on the receiving end of a particularly brutal one. In Sharpe's opinion, flogging only teaches a soldier one thing - "how to turn his back."
Arguably, Sharpe himself. He goes from lowly rifleman to great war hero and ends up able to quote Voltaire to boot. Of course, it helps to have a girlfriend who can speak French...
There is also Rifleman Harris, the only one crazy enough to lug around a small library in addition to his already sizeable kit, and reads Voltaire, William Wordsworth and dirty books by the Marquis de Sade.
Cunning Linguist: One of Sharpe's Riflemen was a former teacher, and often served as a translator. Later Sharpe himself became fluent in Spanish and French, mostly by falling in love with women of the appropriate nationalities.
Cute Mute: 'Lass' in Sharpe's Sword, played by Emily Mortimer.
Dangerous Deserter: A few, notably Obidiah Hakeswill, not that he was exactly a bundle of laughs before he deserted.
Played straight with Harry Price. Maybe. He's apparently killed in the adaptation of Sharpe's Company, but three years later a different actor plays "Harry Price" in the adaptation of ''Sharpe's Waterloo'. It's unclear whether he's meant to be The Other Darrin or a violation of the One Steve Limit. In the books, they're the same character and he also appears in most of the intervening novels.
Also played straight with Major Dunnett, Sally Clayton, Don Moreno, Father Hacha, Lieutenant Ayres, Guardsman O'Rourke and Colonel Ford. And Lucille, who's mentioned as being dead in Sharpe's Challenge even though she's alive in novels set later and Word of God states she and Sharpe lived Happily Ever After, with her ultimately outliving him.
Private Clayton is a type 2 example: He's killed in the adaptation of Sharpe's Company whereas in the books he survives until Waterloo.
Death Trap: Mostly inverted, especially during the India trilogy. Its usually Sharpe who keeps throwing the baddies, especially Hakeswill, into a villain's recently abandoned death traps and then leaving him to die. Of course, Hakeswill always survives. In Sharpe's Tiger, Sharpe throws Hakeswill into a pit of tigers. In Sharpe's Triumph, he leaves Hakeswill under the foot of an elephant trained for executions. In Sharpe's Fortress, Sharpe knocks Hakeswill into a pit of snakes. In Sharpe's Enemy, he leaves him to get shot by a firing squad, and that finally sticks.
Deliberate Injury Gambit: The villain in the novel Sharpe's Gold (and the TV episode Sharpe's Sword) is a far more skilled swordsman with a superior blade, so to defeat him Sharpe lets himself be stabbed in the leg and then kills his opponent while the guy is trying to pull his blade out.
Dirty Old Man: Simmerson is particularly lecherous towards Lass in Sharpe's Sword.
Dirty Old Monk: Captain Ardiles notes in Sharpe's Devil that the best whorehouses in Chile are the ones the priests use.
Disposable Woman: Mostly averted - while Sharpe gets through numerous girlfriends and wives, most of them leave him for reasons of their own. When Teresa and Lady Grace die, he spends half the next book feeling deeply depressed as a result. And then there's his reaction to Astrid's death...
"Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Although you perhaps wouldn't expect it to work, Hagman's folk rendition of the Rifles' marching song Over the Hills and Far Away (with altered lyrics to fit the particular episode's events) often comes close to Crowning Music of Awesome.
Dress-Coded for Your Convenience: And Truth in Television to boot. Sharpe, the Chosen Men and any other Riflemen (read: elite badasses) wear dark green, the rest of the British army wears red, the French wear blue and the Spanish wear a variety of browns.
Dude, Where's My Respect??: No matter how many times Sharpe saves Wellington's bacon or saves the army or defeats the bad guys or does something really freaking awesome, the rich, gentlemanly officers think he's just an arrogant upstart who needs to be taught his place. This becomes an increasing theme in the later TV adaptations, with Sharpe feeling increasingly betrayed on all sides except his closest friends, most of whom are in even worse circumstances than his own, as is often the case with soldiers after the war is done.
Duel to the Death: Sharpe duels in a couple of books/episodes, mostly against other Britons rather than the enemy. Cornwell successfully averts what the modern viewer/reader might expect, that Sharpe (having risen from the ranks and being contemptuous of aristocratic twits) does not dismiss dueling as a silly affectation, but takes it very seriously - despite Wellington having banned the practice.
Dwindling Party: When Sharpe first takes command of Riflemen in Sharpe's Rifles, they've just been decimated after a battle and he's the only officer left. Particularly in the TV series where six remain instead of around fifty. In the books, the number of original survivors besides Sharpe and Harper declines until years later at Waterloo, only Hagman is left, and he dies too. In the TV series, Cooper and Tongue just disappear, while Perkins, Harris and Hagman die, leaving only Sharpe and Harper.
Elites Are More Glamorous: Sharpe and his Chosen Men are members of the 95th Rifles, an elite unit using camouflage, skirmisher tactics and advanced (for the time) weaponry, hence, the closest thing to special forces in the Napoleonic Era. True to form, everyone seems completely incapable of getting anything done without them.
The Engineer: Major Hogan's other hat is that of combat engineer.
Ensign Newbie: Much like Fresh Meat below, the series has it's fair share. Some accept their lack of experience and defer to Sharpe and other more experienced officers, others are dyed in the wool Upper Class Twits usually with a healthy dose of snobbery.
Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Obadiah Hakeswill. Although it's more of an insane fixation. Sharpe, conversely, doesn't seem to care about who his mother was (she's never even named). In the books. The TV adaptation did name her, as Lily, and we learn that Gene Hunt is Sharpe's brother. Which explains a lot, really, coz if they aren't a Badass Family, who is?
Exiled to the Couch: Sharpe removes himself to the barn in Sharpe's Revenge to resist bedding Lucille while his wife's infidelity is still in doubt. This lasts until he finds Harper there, newly returned from London who confirms Jane has taken up with another man.
Extreme Melee Revenge: Sharpe's Company, when storming the breach Sharpe gets carried away and butchers a french soldier who was surrendering. He immediately realizes and regrets this.
Eyepatch of Power: Frederickson has one. He takes it off when going into battle, though.
Fake American: In-universe example, as Sharpe always pretends to be American to avoid anti-British prejudice when encountered alone by potential enemies. At this point in history American and British accents were similar enough for this to be plausible (and few Europeans would have ever heard a real American anyway).
Fake Defector: In the novel Sharpe's Tiger, Sharpe and Lt. Lawford infiltrate the fortress of Serignapatham to rescue an intelligence officer and scout for a British assault. In the TV episode Sharpe's Challenge, Sharpe and Harper infiltrate the fortress of Ferraghur to rescue a general's daughter and scout for a British assault.
Famed in Story: Sharpe (and to a lesser extent, Harper) are renowned throughout the army and even back home in England for their sheer badassery. South Essex recruiting Sergeants brag about how the pair are part of the Regiment, and Sharpe is well-received in the court of the Prince Regent.
Fatal Flaw: Sharpe's is beautiful women. He's never quite sure how to act around them. Granted, the fact that he usually ends up in bed with them is a point in his favour, but Sharpe also has a habit of believing anything a beautiful woman tells him.
Fourth Date Marriage: Frederickson suggests marriage to Lucille the day he meets her. Immediately after she has accidentally shot Sharpe. Of course, she prefers the charms of Sharpe, just like every woman in the Sharpeverse.
The General's Daughter: Sharpe ends up marrying Jane Gibbons, the niece of Henry Simmerson, one of the worst of the snobby aristocrats he has to deal with. While Simmerson doesn't have a great deal of power over impeding Sharpe's ascent through the ranks, he sure as hell isn't happy about the turn of events.
Genius Bruiser: Captain Frederickson is a tough war leader and fearsome fighter and marksman, with a deliberately horrifying appearance (to scare the enemy). He is also well-versed in such diverse fields as law, architecture and poetry, speaks three languages fluently, and spends his spare time making pencil sketches of Spanish landscapes and discussing politics with Americans.
Sharpe himself is borderline illiterate and ignorant but he is certainly not stupid. He pulls off some surprisingly complex gambits throughout the series, although he prefers to simply walk into his enemies' traps and then hack his way out of them.
Sharpe has a facial scar (taken in one of his first swordfights) which, pretty much every single book tells us, gives him a mocking, sardonic, look. Obadiah Hakeswill, on the other hand, has a scar round his neck which only adds to his freakish appearance.
Firmly averted, on the other hand, by William Frederickson, whose facial injuries make him truly hideous but is one of Sharpe's staunchest allies (at least until they find themselves competing for the same woman).
Hannibal Lecture: Many, many villains give this, usually in the form of a threat or boastful speech. It never takes.
He Knows Too Much: Sharpe's Peril. Sharpe and a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits are hunted across India after learning that a rogue cavalry squadron is running a secret drug trade using opium stolen from the East India Company.
Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each book/episode is named "Sharpe's ______". Also, all the books have more historically descriptive subtitles, e.g. "Sharpe's Company" is subtitled "Richard Sharpe and the Siege of Badajoz, 1812".
I Gave My Word: Lawford has to admit the truth when asked on his word of honor
Infant Immortality: Inverted, at least for older children. If a child officer shows up, you can bet he'll almost certainly die heartbreakingly right in front of Sharpe's eyes.
Inspired By: The character of Rifleman Harris is named after a real individual, Private Benjamin Harris of the 95th Rifles who fought in the Peninsular War and, upon returning home, dictated an account of his experiences to an acquaintance. Eventually published as "The Recollections of Rifleman Harris", it's one of the few accounts of life in the British Army as an enlisted soldier (since "rankers" were typically illiterate, most accounts of the period were written by officers), and was one of Bernard Cornwell's main sources when he researched and wrote the Sharpe novels. \In fact, Harper at one point suggests to Harris that when the war is over he should write a book about his experiences, "full of battles and death", and that would be sure to make his fortune. The audiobook of "Recollections" was narrated by Jason Salkey, the actor who played Harris in the TV series. However, unlike his novel counterpart, TV's Harris dies at Waterloo.
Ironic Echo: The use of "Chosen Men" as a mark of honor becomes a sort of long-running one. Sharpe mocks the term in the first movie by saying "Chosen men, eh? Well, I didn't choose ya." By the end of the movie it's clear he would indeed choose each and every one of them, so they wear the name with pride even if, as the Artistic License entry notes, it was really just a rank.
It's Personal: After Major Ducos gets a bloody nose (so to speak) from Sharpe early on in the series, every one of his "destabilise and destroy Wellington's army" schemes simply must involve the humiliation and total annihilation of Richard Sharpe.
I Want My Mommy: Type 2. There is a truly heartbreaking scene in Sharpe's Battle when young Rifleman Perkins is stabbed in the stomach and alternately begs for his mother and apologises to Sergeant Harper (not that he did anything wrong - he was bayoneted by a traitor in the ranks after heroically clearing a path for them through the enemy). Harper's there, at least, holding him as he dies, and tells him "Your mother's here, lad. Mothers never leave you!"
So much sin in him, thought Colonel Mc Candlass, and so much good.
Karma Houdini: Hakeswill, for about four books of near-continuous evil.
To a lesser extent, Sharpe himself - he's a thief and a murderer (although his victims are all bad people) who at one point deliberately blows up an entire fortress full of friendly troops and is never brought to book.
Hakeswill doesn't really count, given he dies in the second or third book he's in and the rest of his appearances are in India set before those. A better example thus far is Lord Pumphrey who has one of Sharpe's girlfriends murdered and skips out on it free and clear.
The Laws and Customs of War: In Sharpe's Battle, Sharpe executes two French prisoners of war who were caught raping a Spanish woman. This has huge political ramifications, almost ruining Wellington's relationship with the Spanish and getting Sharpe permanently demoted.
The proper treatment of captured officers is also touched upon. They are expected to give their 'parole', i.e. swear not to try to escape, and then they are treated well; if they do not give it, they are treated badly.
At one point Sharpe is captured and tortured by Ducos after intrigue had resulted in Sharpe's commission being suspended, so the French claim he is not an officer and does not deserve civilised treatment. Sharpe adopts the contemporary version of 'name, rank and serial number', saying nothing but repeating "I am an officer in His Britannic Majesty's Army, and I demand the treatment proper to my rank."
Military Maverick: Sharpe is described by Cornwell himself as being a loose cannon, and his proud, vengeful nature often gets him in trouble with his superiors and the upper-classes. Fortunately, there's usually a big battle around where he can redeem his honour.
Or murder his enemies.
Majorly Awesome: The title character notably who climbs to and beyond this rank, but there are others.
Major Incognito: In Sharpe's Regiment, Sharpe and Harper take on fake identities and enlist as recruits in order to find out what happened to the South Essex Regiment's 2nd Battalion, which doesn't seem to exist yet still draws pay and rations. It works as this trope because the recruiters, Sergeants and officers frequently bring up the great Major Richard Sharpe and his faithful lancer, Regimental Sergeant Major Patrick Harper, as examples of sheer balls-to-the-wall heroism and how far enlisted men can go in the South Essex. There's a great scene where the recruiting Sergeant goes on at length about how he taught Sharpe and Harper everything they know and now they're BFFs, completely unaware that he's talking to Sharpe and Harper.
The Man They Couldn't Hang: Sergeant Hakeswill, who is convinced he can't die because he survived being hanged as a child, and indeed does manage to escape several apparently fatal events. These include being thrown into a cage full of tigers, placed under the foot of an elephant, and tossed into a snake pit. As it turns out, however, he's not Immune to Bullets.
Mercy Kill: At the siege of Badajoz in Sharpe's Company, after the first assault has been repelled, Sharpe sees some poor nameless redcoat staggering about with a bloody ruin where his arm used to be. He shoots him dead on the spot.
The Musketeer: Sharpe carries a Baker rifle (i.e. an extremely accurate long gun) and a 1796 pattern Cavalry sword, a reminder of both his origin and his newfound status. And he is good with both, though a lot better with the gun.
Napoleon Bonaparte: The Big Bad (at least, from Sharpe's perspective). Sharpe eventually meets him in exile on St Helena in Sharpe's Devil, but despite having fought his armies for years, Sharpe takes quite a liking to l'Empereur. Lord Cochrane plans to bust him out of the island and set him up as Emperor of a "United States of South America", but Napoleon died before they could try. (The second sentence consists of real, historical events).
In the TV seres, Sharpe's Devil was never adapted, but instead Sharpe saw him briefly through the powder smoke at Waterloo.
Oh Crap: So many throughout the series. Usually from Sharpe's enemies, as their plans crumble into nothingness around them. Special mention to Andre Massena, who is rendered almost catatonic when he sees the Lines of Torres Vedras.
The look on Sgt. Lynch's face when he realises that the Irish recruit he's been bullying for the past weeks (as a Rifleman Sergeant-Major) outranks him...
Lt Col Lawford: Lieutenant Slingsby, tells me that you insulted him. That you invited him to a duel. That you called him illegitimate. That you swore at him.
Capt Sharpe: I doubt I called him illegitimate, sir, I wouldn't use that sort of language. I probably called him a bastard.
The Only One: No matter how large the armies or how complicated the situations, it inevitably falls to Sharpe, the Chosen Men and/or the South Essex Light Company to save the day and defeat the bad guys.
Harper: You and me, we're going to stop a rebellion? Just the two of us? Sharpe: I don't see no bugger else.
The Pornomancer: Richard Sharpe to an almost ridiculous degree in the series. Women, usually some Broken Bird or neglected officer's wife/mistress will (often literally) throw themselves at Sharpe, although being a good man he will frequently refuse rather than take advantage of them. Sharpe's Girl of the Week earned the Fan Nickname of 'Sharpe's Totty'. Among many miraculous effects of Sharpe's power of love (even unconsumated) include curing a convent girl of trauma-induced mutism.
Precision F-Strike: Sharpe gets an amusing one in Sharpe's Waterloo. When the Prince of Orange attempts to have Sharpe arrested for desertionnote The Prince of Orange got an entire regiment killed due to his terrible leadership and Glory Hound tendencies, and Sharpe wanted no more of it, Sharpe gives him the Reverse Peace Sign and says, "F*** you, ya orange twat", with the "Fuck" cut off by cannon fire.
Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The entire damn army. According to Wellington and Hogan, all the enlisted men in the British army are either gutter bastards, drunks, thieves, rapists or murderers—and at least three of those describe Sharpe himself.
Truth in Television, witness Wellington's famous quote "I don't know what effect they will have on the enemy, but by God they frighten me".
And even more appropriately, "Our army is the scum of the earth, the merest scum of the earth..." (and the usually forgotten second part) "...but by God, what have we made of them!"
The column of soldiers in Sharpe's Peril comprise of East India Company troops on maneouvres, an incredibly lazy unit of the King's soldiers transporting a prisoner under the command of a pre-pubsescant officer, an engineer and his mate, a pregnant woman, an Indian noble and a priest.
The villains of Sharpe's Enemy are the evil version of this trope, a group of deserters from the English, French, Spanish and Portugese armies who've organised into an army of their own.
Rape, Pillage, and Burn: The French Dragoons in Sharpe's Rifles freely go about brutalising and massacring the Spanish peasantry. Their commander is happy to let them do this. In fact, this seems to be the French Army's modus operandi (as it was in real life) during their campaigns in Spain and Portugal. The British do it as well at the Battle of Badajoz, which again was the standard procedure when an army captured a city - the stupid soldiers found women and drink, the clever ones found the nearest goldsmith and nicked the strongbox. The inhabitants barricaded themselves in rooms and stayed there until it died down.
Wellesley[at the top of his voice] : Major Lennox answered with his life, Sir! As you should have done if you had any sense of honour. [calmer] You lost the colours of the King of England. You disgraced us, Sir. You shamed us, Sir! You will answer. [coldly] The South Essex stood down in name. If I wipe the name, I may wipe the shame. I am making a battalion of detachments. You will fetch and carry. The Light Company put up a fight. So I will let it stand under the command of a new captain.
Simmerson: ...to be commanded by the newly gazetted Captain Gibbons?
Wellesley: To be commanded by the newly gazetted Captain Sharpe, sir.
Red Shirt Army / We Have Reserves: Most of Sharpe's aristocratic enemies take this attitude, and his mission is to convince the troops that they are more than that.
Bonus in that most of the British soldiers actually do wear Red Shirts.
Remember When You Captured That Eagle At Talavera?: Sharpe's crowning moments of awesome are acknowledged in-canon. The best example is Sharpe's capture of an Imperial Eagle at the Battle of Talavera (Sharpe's Eagle), which made him famous throughout the army and back in England for its sheer awesomeness. At least once in all the following novels, a character will say something along the lines of "Hey, you're Sharpe, the guy who captured the Eagle at Talavera! That was awesome!"
Ret Canon: Sharpe was originally a Londoner, but since Sean Bean had a Yorkshire accent Cornwell wrote in later novels that Sharpe moved to Yorkshire before being recruited. Sharpe's characterization in the later novels is tweaked to be more like Sean Bean's Sharpe.
The episode of Sharpe's Rifles reduced Sharpe's Rifles to a handful instead of around fifty, setting the tone for the series' stronger Squad feel (except for the episode of Sharpe's Gold, which followed the novels in having a lot more Riflemen but then caused a Continuity Snarl). The novels written during and after the TV series tend to isolate Sharpe, Harper and the TV Chosen Men (Hagman, Harris, etc.) from the army on their own adventures, eventually reuniting with the army for the Final Battle.
The show itself is responsible for Harris and Perkins entering the novels.
Ret Irony: Narrowly avoided by d'Alembord, who is due to retire and get married but stays on for one last battle — which happens to be Waterloo — and is convinced he is going to die. He loses a leg, but survives.
Rousing Speech: Sharpe gives one to nervous regulars a few times, most notably in Sharpe's Eagle:
Sharpe: You don't see a battle. You hear it. Black powder blasting by the ton on all sides. Black smoke blinding you and choking you and making you vomit. Then the French come out of the smoke - not in a line, but in a column. And they march towards our thin line, kettledrums hammering like hell and a golden eagle blazing overhead. They march slowly, and it takes them a long time to reach you, and you can't see them in smoke. But you can hear the drums. They march out of the smoke, and you fire a volley. And the front rank of the column falls, and the next rank steps over them, with drums hammering, and the column smashes your line like a hammer breaking glass... and Napoleon has won another battle. But if you don't run - if you stand until you can smell the garlic, and fire volley after volley, three rounds a minute - then they slow down. They stop. And then they run away. All you've got to do is stand, and fire three rounds a minute. Now, you and I know you can fire three rounds a minute. But can you stand?
Running Gag: Young and promising officers who gain Sharpe's grudging respect tend to die.
Sacred Hospitality: McCandless charges Pohlmann with this after his horses are stolen; the mere fact that they are enemies doesn't prevent Pohlmann from regarding this as just.
Shoot Your Mate: In Sharpe's Tiger, then-Sergeant Sharpe and Lt. Lawford are sent to infiltrate Serignapatham and rescue Colonel McCandless, an intelligence agent. To prove his loyalty to the Sultan of Tippo, Sharpe is given a loaded musket and told to kill McCandless. Naturally, the musket doesn't fire properly. Sharpe later tells Lawford that he knew the gunpowder used to prime the musket was bad, but its left ambiguous whether Sharpe knew about the bad powder before or after he fired the weapon.
Subverted later in the same novel: when British scouts are seen outside the fortress walls, Sharpe and Lawford are given rifles and told to shoot the scouts. Sharpe tries in earnest to kill one of the scouts but his shot goes wide; Lawford tries to shoot wide of his target but ends up killing the soldier by mistake.
Played extremely straight in Sharpe's Challenge, when Sharpe and Harper are the Fake Defectors. Sharpe is ordered to kill Harper using a musket he just loaded, but at the last moment he realises (from the smell) that the powder is bad and the shot won't fire, so he goes along with it.
Cornwell ties in his novel Sharpe's Escape into C.S. Forester's 1932 novel Death To The French by implying that Forester's protagonist, Rifleman Matthew Dodd, was part of Sharpe's Light Company during the Battle of Bussaco (Cornwell later confirmed that the Dodd in his novel is supposed to be the Dodd from Forester's). Death To The French, which follows the wartime adventures of a British rifleman who is separated from his Regiment during that battle, was likely one of the inspirations for the Sharpe novels.
George Wickham, a military officer and antagonist of the TV-only story Sharpe's Justice, shares a name with a character from Pride and Prejudice, who is also a military officer and an antagonist.
In the book Sharpe's Tiger, the Moonstone from Wilkie Collins' novel of the same name makes a brief cameo appearance. Sharpe steals it.
Rifleman Benjamin Harris was named after a soldier in the Real Life 95th Rifles, who dictated (he was illiterate) a story of his memories from the Peninsular Campaign, and whose book served as an inspiration for the Sharpe series.
Shot In The Ass: How Sharpe decides to end a duel in Sharpe's Revenge... Pity the guy he shot ended up presiding over a hearing for a crime Sharpe was alledged to have commited.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: Wellesley's aforementioned chewing out of Henry Simmerson is the best example. Sharpe delivers a truly memorable example when he interrupts someone's Hannibal Lecture by kicking them down a well (Leonidas is a hack). He also breaks Ducos's glasses. Wellesley still reigns supreme with these, though. Before his yelling at Simmerson, he has this exchange, which completely breaks the idiotic Colonel:
Wellesley: Major Hogan has written a report which differs substantially from your account, Sir Henry.
Sir Henry: Major Hogan is an engineer, sir.
Wellington: Major Hogan's coat buttons up tightly over a number of other duties, Sir Henry. (*Sir Henry has an Oh Crap moment when he realizes that Wellington is going to chew him out instead of letting it drop). Major Hogan's report details a number of losses, on your part. He says that you first lost your head, and that instead of destroying the bridge you marched over it. He then says that you lost your wits, and deployed skirmishing formations against cavalry, which resulted in the loss of those men. He says that you then lost your sense of honour and destroyed the bridge, cutting off a rescue party led by Lieutenant Sharpe. Major Hogan leaves the worst to the last: He says you lost the King's Colour!
Smug Snake: Most of the villains in the Sharpe-verse are aware of the Magnificent Bastard trope, but just can't quite make it there, ending up as this instead:
Sir Henry Simmerson thinks he can use his wealth (he privately raised a regiment) to wage a successful campaign in Spain and gather fame and power in Parliament. Unfortunately, he doesn't know the first thing about war and is a veryDirty Coward. Also has elements of the Know-Nothing Know-It-All.
Col. Christoper in Sharpe's Havoc comes up with a truly brilliant Xanatos Gambit, which either makes him the richest man in Europe or a British war hero. Unfortunately, he is too arrogant, sadistic, and incompetent to adapt his plan when Sharpe starts taking third options all over the place.
Manuel Batista is a sadistic profiteer too busy trying to make a pile of money off of his governorship of Chile to do anything about the fact that Spanish rule in South America is collapsing around him.
Pierre Ducos comes very close to being a Magnificent Bastard, but his arrogant dismissal of soldiers as "unthinking brutes" and hopeless cowardice, plus his wimpy failure to fight (in contrast to his British counterpart Lord Pumphrey, who is at least prepared to personally kill people, though he finds it distasteful) make him a Smug Snake who the audience is just waiting to be killed.
Obadiah Hakeswill is possibly one of these, given his overconfidence and (mistaken) belief that he can't be killed.
Lord William Hale suffers from the same utter failures of manliness and morality that plague Ducos. He is possibly the most pathetic example on this list, being cuckolded by Sharpe, drugged by his wife (to facilitate said cuckolding), mocked behind his back by everyone and belittled to his face by Sharpe. and is ultimately shot in the face by his wife when he confronts and tries to murder her over her infidelity. What places him squarely in this trope is that the audience does not feel one jot or iota of sympathy for him, even pre- murder attempt.
Cpt. John Lavisser so desperately wants to a Magnificent Bastard, even lampshading this in a speech. He really isn't, his only significant achievements being torturing a defenceless old man and threatening his daughter with same. This gets him nastily killed.
The Smart Guy: Harris. He is an excellent source of needed, as well as completely unsolicited, information, speaks French and Portugese and the go-to guy for anything that requires two brain-cells to rub together.
Sociopathic Soldier: Obidiah Hakeswill, although admittedly he has managed to climb the ranks a bit.
Spin-Offspring/Babies Ever After: Sharpe and Lucille's son, Patrick Lassan, is a minor character in The Starbuck Chronicles, another series by Cornwell set during the American Civil War. In that series, Patrick is a Chasseur Colonel of the French Imperial Guard and a French Military Observer attached to the Union Army. He carries and uses Sharpe's old sword, though his father was apparently a bit disappointed that his son joined the cavalry rather than the infantry. By 1862, when the novel was set, Sharpe had died of old age on the farm and Lucille was still alive.
Spot of Tea: This being the British Army, tea is never far away. At one point, whe Harper is absent, Sharpe complains about the other Chosen Men's inability to make a decent cup of tea.
The Starscream: Ducos turns out to be this to the French Empire, stealing part of the Imperial treasure then running away. Other examples include incompetent and scheming officers who try to take Wellington down. Sharpe is generally this to any useless superiors, and even tries to murder the very useless Prince of Orange at Waterloo.
Still Wearing The Old Colors: In Sharpe's Waterloo, Sharpe wears his usual uniform despite being repeatedly ordered to change into a newer one.
The Squad: Sharpe and the Chosen Men. More so in the TV series, where there's only four to six Chosen Men besides Sharpe and they get a lot of character development, compared to the books where there's a dozen or two Riflemen who are only named and mentioned specifically when needed.
Suicide Attack: An unusual Real Life example mentioned in the books. By the Napoleonic Wars, though cavalry charges were death on disorganised troops or those in line, they were incapable of breaking disciplined troops who had formed squares, because the horses would always veer off rather than impale themselves on the bayonets. The only exception was if a shot from the infantry killed one of the lead horses at just the right moment, causing the horse and rider to smash through the infantry from momentum and ripping a hole in the square for other cavalrymen to charge through and break up the formation.
It should be noted that after they smash one square, the Germans go on to utterly destroy several other nearby squares in quick succession by letting the fleeing french from the first square knock the others into disarray.
Suicide Mission: The Forlorn Hope (derived from Dutch verloren hoep, "lost troop"), who are the first men to charge through a breach opened in an enemy fortress' walls—nine times out of ten they naturally catch the brunt of the enemy defence and get killed, but if they survive, they get instant promotions. Sharpe ends up leading one in order to confirm his promotion to captain.
Took a Level in Badass: New officers serving under Sharpe tend to level up or die, in very short order. Of particular note is Jorge Vincente, first encountered as a young Portuguese student-turned-soldier with no real military experience, cut off from his army alongside Sharpe. By the next book he appears in he's basically become a Portuguese Sharpe (right down to carrying the same weapons as him).
Marshal Massena goes through a very pronounced one after seeing the Lines, and realizing just how screwed his army is.
John Lavisser is transformed from a Smug Snake to a weeping coward after Sharpe frees his hostage, steals his list of British informants and kills his men. His begging does not help.
Pierre Ducos goes through a long one, Sharpe now inhabiting his very nightmares.
Lord Fenner, when his former sex slave turns up with the evidence to ruin him, has a surprisingly brief one.
Colonel Girdwood has one on his first taste of battle.
Simmerson has many.
Hakeswill's final raging denial: "You can't kill ME!".
Villainous Valor: Notably, Calvet, Loup, the Comte de Moromuorto and De L'Eclin are not afraid of Sharpe and are more than capable of going toe-to-toe with him. The Tipoo Sultan is the ultimate example, being one of the few men who Sharpe truly respects.
Weapon of Choice: Sharpe's Baker rifle and heavy cavalry sabre. At the time, infantry soldiers fought with muskets (or rifles) and bayonets, while the officers used pistols and sabres (if they fought at all). Not only do the rifle and sword make an effective combo, but they aptly represent where Sharpe has come from and what he is now.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Teresa and Sharpe have a daughter about halfway through the first series. Sharpe does not get to see her often, but when he does he appears to dote on her. After Teresa's death we rarely hear of her again.
Word of God (in the foreword to a '94 printing of Sharpe's Enemy) says she lives happily ever after. So now we know.
Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: If Sharpe had just told Teresa to kill Hakeswill when she had a knife at his throat, there wouldn't have been any problem. They spend that entire series knowing that he's trouble and reacting to all the underhanded things he does and they never just kill him. This is likely, aside from narrative purposes, to be because it is made clear that Hakeswill is an absolute master at brown-nosing the officer class and is thought of as a superb Sergeant by them for that very reason.
Worthy Opponent: Sharpe regards Napoleon as one in the books. Not so much in the TV series, but he doesn't appear to have any particular animosity for l'Empereur either (in fact, they seem to get on pretty well when they meet in Sharpe's Devil).
Writer Revolt: An editor told Bernard Cornwell to change a scene where an Ensign died (they were generally very young, in their teens). He resented being told how to write, so he changed it... to be more depressing. And in a number of the books since, Cornwell has killed off Ensigns in increasingly worse ways.