Armed Farces

"Then he used his fight money to buy two of every animal on earth, and then he herded them onto a boat... and then he beat the crap out of every single one!"

Simply put, military humor, Love It or Hate It. This particular brand of funny centers on stereotypically dim-witted military personnel, asshole officers, and naive recruits.

Comes in two flavors: Wartime and Peacetime. Expect a wartime military farce to turn Darker and Edgier in the penultimate act when the "real war" comes calling for the characters.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Swedish comic 91:an Karlsson has been going on this theme since 1932. Yes. It's still being published.
    • As is 91 Stomperud, its licensed Norwegian equivalent. It began in 1937.
    • Flygsoldat 113 Bom (the Air Force) and Flottans gossar, Frisk och Rask (the Navy) aren't, however, but they had a good long publishing history. Basically, up until very recently Sweden had a conscript army for a very long time, so almost all adult Swedish males could relate to military humour. Beetle Bailey is also absurdly popular in Sweden for the same reason.
  • Beetle Bailey is a peacetime variant to comic extremes, centering on a military camp located on the US which has somehow managed to remain uninvolved in armed conflict despite numerous wars over the strip's lifetime (Possibly because the Army has figured out that the best way the soldiers in that camp can aid the war effort is to stay as far away from it as possible).

  • The Carry On films visited this theme several times:
    • Carry On, Sergeant is set among National Service recruits in the British Army, who comprise an assortment of buffoons, snobs, hypochondriacs, and ne'er-do-wells.
    • Carry On Jack is set in the Navy during the Napoleonic Era, with a chronically seasick captain, his scheming first mate, and an accident-prone midshipman.
    • Carry On in the Legion is set in the French Foreign Legion, with the usual clueless officers and naive NCOs and privates who couldn't find their way out of a sandpit, much less find their way through the desert.
    • Carry On... Up the Khyber is set in the British Raj, and starts with the joke that the supposedly terrifying kilted soldiers of the local regiment (who include a motley group of cowards and clots) actually wear giant pairs of underwear beneath their kilts.note 
    • Carry On England is set in a gender-integrated military division on the Home Front in World War II, the members of which are far more interested in pursuing sexual escapades than in anything to do with the military, to the frustration of the incompetent CO and the buffoonish RSM.
  • No Time for Sergeants presents an Air Force take on the genre
  • Catch-22 is military farce turned Up to Eleven.

  • Modern readers of M*A*S*H may be surprised to find that the original book was more about military farce than social commentary. Later books in the series do include a lot of social commentary, but it's conservative social commentary.
  • Captain Fatso was just one a series of little remembered but once popular navy farces written by Rear Admiral Daniel V. Gallery.
  • The McAuslan series by George MacDonald Fraser consists of affectionate, semi-fictional Armed Farces stories. His Quartered Safe Out Here is a less farcical, less fictional (though still quite funny) memoir.
  • Fraser's Flashman series is a good example of the wartime kind, featuring a Dirty Coward Designated Hero as the protagonist and replete with Black Comedy throughout.
  • Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall by Spike Milligan. Based on a True Story, but no less farcical.
  • Hašek’s classic satire The Good Soldier Švejk is about the lunatic ineptitude of the Austro-Hungarian Army in WW1 seen through the eyes of the cunning soldier Švejk.
  • Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy is a story of a man who trains to be an elite commando in World War II... and spends almost the entire war dealing with pointless bureaucratic red tape and farcical incompetence. Only once in the entire war does he actually even see a German soldier with his own two eyes, and that is an indication that he has gotten hopelessly lost and accidentally gone too far toward enemy lines. This series was based on Waugh's own experience as a Royal Marine during the war, during which he participated in several military actions... all of which were incompetently-managed and utterly ineffective fiascoes.
  • A section specifically made for military humor has always been a tradition for Readers Digest magazine.
  • Discworld has some examples, such as Monstrous Regiment and portions of Jingo.
  • Mary Gentle's Grunts! has military joking aplenty. From the hapless recruits under Gunnery Sergeant Ashnak early in the evolution of the Orc Marines to the equally hapless elf recruits and their orc trainer Sgt. Dakashnit later on. Dakashnit's advice for her recruits on what to do if their parachute fails, in particular.
  • Rally Round the Flag, Boys!, about the establishment of a Nike base in the New England town of Putnam's Landing.

    Live Action TV 
  • Gary Tank Commander is a BBC Scotland sitcom about Corporal Gary McLintoch, who's a tank commander in the fictional 104th Royal Tank Regiment. The series is set back in Scotland, with Gary and his friends having just returned from the warzone (Iraq in the first season, Afghanistan in the second).
  • Get Some In! features a rare Royal Air Force-set example, with Upper-Class Twit officers, Drill Sergeant Nasty NCOs, almost animalistic career airmen, and gullible National Service recruits.
  • Major Dad inevitably included some miliary farce (as you would expect from the title) though the true focus was on Domestic Comedy.
  • The first couple seasons of M*A*S*H included a lot of military farce before they decided to concentrate more on general social commentary. However, at least some military humor was inevitable, given the setting.
  • NCIS and its parent series JAG this trope only happens Stateside and not when on the frontlines.
  • The Phil Silvers Show starred Silvers as Sergeant Ernest Bilko, a huckster running a US Army motor-pool, who frequently conned the base's colonel.

  • Tom Lehrer released a song called "It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier", which pokes fun at the military.
    Now, Ed flunked out of second grade, and never finished school
    He doesn't know a shelter half from an entrenching tool
    But, he's going to be a big success
    He heads his class at OCS
    It makes a fellow proud to be a soldier!

  • Deep Trouble, set on a British nuclear submarine. They inadvertently torpedo the USS Nimitz in the opener of the first episode.
  • Occasional parts of The Leopard In Autumn, set in Renaissance Italy.
  • The Ricky Gervais Show: Some of the stories involving Karl's brother Mark. He had an affair with his commanding officer's wife and was kicked out of the army for "going for a packet of fags in a tank".

    Video Games 
  • "Meet The Soldier" trailer for Team Fortress 2 is a perfect example.
    • Team Fortress 2 in general, really. As opposed to a typical realistic military First-Person Shooter, everything uses a cartoony style and the different playable classes are larger-than-life humorous personalities.
  • The first Battlefield: Bad Company, where three military screw-ups and their long-suffering sergeant go AWOL to hunt for mercenary gold.


    Web Original 
  • Red vs. Blue practically embodies this trope. It starts getting serious (somewhat) when actual soldiers start showing up.
    Church: (After the Blue Team is sent a tank that none of them can drive) Holy crap, who is running this army?!?
  • Spriggs: a Halo 3 Machinima unlike the Reds and Blues above, a lot of the characters are real Badasses, but they are stuck in Zambi 7 with nothing to do, and are placed there to rot.
  • Skippy's List has elements of this.
  • Batty Battalion Follows this trope to the tee, It has stupid military personnel, asshole military personnel and naive military personnel who spend more time bitching about each other and the Covenant than actually fighting them.
  • The "Shut The Fuck Up, Carl!" meme: What happens when one member of the squad is a Cloud Cuckoolander with no brain-to-mouth filter?
  • "You see Ivan": Similar to the above, except involving Russians, Reckless Gun Usage, and plenty of Insane Troll Logic.
    You see Ivan, when hold peestol like rifle, you shall never shoot the inaccurate for fear of shooting fingers.
    Observe Vladimir, when hold rifle like pistol, you stronger than recoil for fear of hitting face.

    Western Animation 
  • Private Snafu, a series of army "training" films made during WW2.
  • Donald Duck starred in a series of Wartime Cartoons in which he played a bumbling private under Sergeant Pete.
  • The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "In The Army".
  • The Futurama episodes "War Is The H-Word" and "When Aliens Attack". Indeed, any episode centered on Zapp Brannigan will have some elements of this.
    • Also "Roswell That Ends Well", with the antics of Private Enos, Fry's grandfather.note 
  • Looney Tunes short "Forward March Hare", in which Bugs Bunny joins the army and is treated like you'd expect an anthropomorphic rabbit to be treated if inducted into the army: with disbelief or thoughts of one losing one's mind. Make what you will of the fact that Bugs also once starred in a Wartime Cartoon/recruitment commercial for the US Marines. note  It is also one of the few cases where Bugs is as blind as everyone else and screws things accidentally.
  • The Simpsons Homer winds up joining the army and ends up in a squad of dimwits like him, they took part in an army exercise which involves using them as cannon fodder, they run off and hide in Springfield to which the army occupies the town to flush them out.
  • The Mask once joined the marines and somehow was put in charge of guarding a battleship, to which he traded to kid for baseball cards.
  • MK 22 is an Israeli animated comedy that is made entirely of this trope. It follows the increasingly zany happenings at a top secret nuclear missile silo deep in the Negev desert, as seen from the point of view of two enlisted men serving as quartermasters. Over its 10-episode run, the series manages to parody and hang lampshades on pretty much every aspect of service in the IDF, and still has time to laugh as Israeli society in general.