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The Anglophone stereotype that France sucks at war and surrenders at the drop of a hat... and needs the Anglophone countries to save them!
One would suspect this trope is a reflection of French military performance in all of its conflicts in the past two hundred years: The Napoleonic Wars,the Franco-Prussian War, the First World War, and Second World War. Funnily enough, this trope only came to prominence in 2003, following France's vociferous objections to the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. While it's true that there was an under-current of 'the French are cowards' before, the prior focus was mainly on their perceived lack of gratitude. The ensuing cultural backlash in the United States targeted anything that was remotely French; at its height, wine and cheese imports were boycotted, with some establishments going so far as to rename French fries (which originated from Belgium) as "Freedom fries". Though most of this mockery has since subsided, perceptions of French as being war-shy have spread into mainstream consciousness.
Regardless, the perception of France as a nation of cowards incapable of winning a war could not be further from the truth.
France is one of the largest and most powerful countries on the continent, and it didn't get that way because it was bad at conquering or holding territory. The only reason why France isn't a Europe-sized blob is simple: everybody has ganged up on the French at some point in time. Even then, their considerable resources and enormous populationnote approximately one in every five Europeans was French on the eve of the French Revolution up until the mid-19th century meant that they could recover from wars more quickly than their rivals, who sometimes nearly bankrupted themselves trying to keep up with French military spendingnote To defend its colonies during the Seven Years War, Great Britain's national debt was run up to 200% of its GDP, whereas France accrued a debt that amounted to only half of its GDP while defending its colonies and fighting a war on the continent. This disparity is even greater when you consider that at the time, non-agricultural sectors accounted for less than 20% of GDP; Great Britain could only afford to take on so much debt because they managed their expenditures through the Bank of England, which lowered borrowing costs. With that said, the financial strain of the war would eventually lead their original North American colonies to revolt.. By the time Napoleon Bonaparte was finally defeated and removed from power by the Seventh Coalition, the French had been at war with themselves and everyone else for over twenty years, during which they had managed to conquer most of Europe, fought countless battles, and generally left the continent in a giant mess.
Traditionally, France was the military terror of Europe, which still remains true to this day: in addition to maintaining Western Europe's largest military, the country also possesses the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world. Saying that the French have a considerable appetite for war is not an exaggeration: they invested much energy in developing new methods of waging war. They wrote many, many books on waging war. From armoured knights and castles, to muskets and cannon, much of what we associate with medieval and gunpowder warfare came from France. Their enthusiasm for fighting only became dampened by the end of World War I. Over the course of four years, roughly 1.4 million French soldiers died in combatnote by comparison, the grand total of American soldiers killed in all of the United States' military conflicts to date is about 1.3 million, with another 4 million physically (and mentally) scarred by the horrors of industrial-age warfare. France had lost so many men that, when World War II came around, the country had barely managed to recover: the population of France at the time was exactly the same as it was in 1914.
Even so, their infamous defeat to Nazi Germany had little to do with lack of courage. The French Army was unprepared for mechanized warfare, which was true for every other military at the time, except for the Wehrmacht. Serious strategic blunders resulted in their best forces being bottled up in northern Belgium fighting the German advance through Holland; when the Wehrmacht broke into France through the southern part of the country, organizational deficiencies made it difficult to mount any meaningful counterattack. Though France was overcome in just over a month, isolated elements of the military vowed to keep fighting, forming the Free French forces in opposition to the official French government. Despite the risks, resistance to German occupation was so substantial that, by the time of the D-Day landings, there were enough fighters in various resistance groups across the country to form their own army.
While some may draw certain conclusions out of the fact that the English word "surrender" is derived from French, words like "battle" and "victory", along with military terms like "artillery". Given the sacrifices made during the great wars of the 20th century, any (serious) insinuation of cowardice is both erroneous and disrespectful.
Contrast Gauls with Grenades, and see also La Résistance.
In some kind of unexpected subversion, Sonic himself seems to be French or of French descent, since his family all have French forenames: Bernadette (Mother), Jules (Father) and Charles (Uncle). That and his real name is Maurice.
In one Simpsons comic, Hank Scorpio was able to conquer France with nothing more than a cheese-melting laser. Note that the Laser was really only able to melt cheese and nothing else.
UltimateCaptain America's "SURRENDER??!! You think this letter on my head stands for France?" This is probably the single most well-known anything that ever occurred in the Ultimate universe.
Averted by the Captain America of main continuity during the Winter Soldier arc. While in Paris, he reminisces on fighting alongside the French Resistance, and expresses his deep respect for the French people who, while their government surrendered, never stopped fighting back. (It's been speculated that this was written as a small Take That to the Ultimate example above.)
Peter Milligan and Mike Allred's run on X-Force had the title team's former manager try and create a new superhero group based around various absurd Captain Ethnics including a French member who appeared to be an actual monkey whose mutant power was knowing exactly the right moment to surrender (and whose codename was actually Surrender Monkey). The team's backers actually call the manager out on what ridiculous stereotypes all the superheroes are. The French monkey showed up in a later story line and was revealed to be an American agent with the job of creating anti-French sentiment but he went native because of his love of cheese and wine.
In one Punisher storyline that involved, among other things, an illegal black-ops arms selling operation arms including nukes and the return of the Russian who has breasts now thanks to the hormonal treatments that were part of the process that revived him after Frank decapitated him, there is one French officer who is treated like crap throughout. Nearly everyone he meets says that they "hate the French" though they don't give any concrete reasons; they just hate them. To be fair, everyone who says this is a bad guy. Also, the French officer is the only other major character to survive other than Frank, and Frank even lets him leave with the credit for bringing down the operation. He ends up becoming known as a hero and gets promoted to general.
Pointed out in Warren Ellis' Crecy that the French at the time were the Badass Army and the English were this trope (speculated to be parsnip eating surrender monkeys). This comic is about The Heavily Outnumbered English Army giving France one of the most one-sided Curb Stomp Battles in History (guess who lost). With Annoying Arrows (annoying as they kill the fuck out of so many silly French kniggits that they eliminate the concept of knighthood).
Bucky of Get Fuzzy is known to give rants to this effect.
Other characters get their shots in too:
Rob: Off he ran, faster than a French border guard with new track shoes and a coupon for cigarettes.
An Arlo and Janis comic discussing the origins of Cinco de Mayo ended with a shot at the French. The next day, Jimmy Johnson apologized for it on his blog.
Janis: The French army? Arlo: I said it's a minor holiday.
The whole "Freedom Fries" debate is spoofed in a FoxTrot strip where Andy asks Paige how her French homework is coming along. Paige responds by just saying "Excuse me??" Andy repeats the question, and gets the same response again. Then she facepalms herself as she realizes what Paige meant:
Andy: Don't tell me you 've bought into this nonsense also... Paige: My Freedom homework is coming along just fine!
Don't mention this trope to The Frenchman. He'll point out the fact that you personally, even if you're American, did not in any way "save" France from the Germans, then school you on most of the meat of this article, and then he'll rip out your eyes and feed them to you.
From the pages of Batman Annual, when Bruce Wayne tells the head of the Police Nationale that he wants to set up a Batman in Paris, he responds thus:
Police Chief: An American billionaire wishes to set up a private franchise of masked vigilantes in the country of...What was the term? "Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys"?
Polnareff: I'm French! We NEVER surrender! Kakyoin: Yes, and I'm Japanese, we never attacked Pearl Harbor, now let's get outta here!
In author A.A. Pessimal's Discworld series, allusions are made to Discworld history and the sheer number of times "Quirm" has had to, er, arrive at understandings and accomodations with its larger and more martially expansive neighbours in "Überwald" and its allies. these have necessarily involved a certain collaborative component. Just to make the analogy clearer, the action of the Discworld, both in canon and in Pessimal's fanfiction, covers the years 1990-2010. The last time Quirm had to arrive at a mutual understanding with Uberwald was in the Discworld time period 1940-44....
In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer / The Avengers crossover Origin Story, after a diplomatic incident involving the illegal arrest of a French ambassador, President George W. Bush specifically points out that while they might joke about how the French are weak sisters, everyone knows that the truth is that a war between France and the United States would most likely end up in a Pyrrhic Victory for the US.
Samara had been told this particular breed of human a Frenchman — tended to cave in under threat of violence,so she attempted to threaten him into letting her through. What Samara didn't know was that Robert St-Germain, before getting involved in the restaurant business, was a member of the Foreign Legion, having served in the Algerian Wastes and Huffman island, and was neither impressed with her threats nor her tasteless cleavage (facts that he was more than happy to inform her about).
Also mentioned in chapter 34 from Taggart, a Scot.
But bloody hell if Taggart was going to surrender to an overgrown frog. It'd be worse then surrendering to the French, he thought.
Also mentioned during the space battle over Noveria. Everyone in orbit, save the Normandy, joined in to fight the geth attack. Emphasis was given to the fact that the French were up there fighting as well while the Alliance's Normandy was stuck following the AIA's blackout protocols.
Films — Animation
In Flushed Away, LeFrog calls his henchfrogs to action. They throw their arms up and yell, "We surrender!", to LeFrog's dismay.
Films — Live Action
Oceans Eleven: "They got enough armed personnel to occupy Paris!... OK, bad example."
Johnny English contains a fair amount of French bashing, because the main villain of the movie is French. At one point a British radio host asks his listeners to call him and say what they like about the French. He doesn't receive a single phone call.
"In my opinion, the only thing the French should be allowed to host is an invasion."
General in Hallway: We wouldn't be there if they hadn't already beaten the French Army.
Maj. General Henry Kinnard: French Army? What's that?
Notably averted in pretty much any movie starring Jean Reno that English-speaking audiences are likely to have seen. While in France he's know to have quite a large repertoire (from romantic comedy to psychological drama), when he's in an internationally-distributed movie he's almost guaranteed to be a stone-cold badass.
Technically averted in The Patriot with Major Jean Villeneuve (a composite character representing, among others, the Marquisde La Fayette) fighting alongside the Americans. That being said, the revolutionaries bemoan the lack of French assistance throughout the film, though French forces show up at the very end of the film.
In Mars Attacks!, the French President joyfully calls the American President to announce that he has signed a peace treaty to end the war. The American President is forced to listen to his dying screams.
In G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the President of the United States really Zartan in disguise forces the major world powers to abandon nuclear weaponry. When he triggers their missiles simultaneously, France's representative is first to disarm their warheads.
He's also the last to launch them. In this cas, we can argue he's just the less willing to have a nuclear disaster.
Keep in mind that this section just archives jokes related to this trope as other people tell them, and should NOT be used for arguing about how right or wrong they are.
The British often refer to the French army as "the finest army in the world in time of peace"
Sort of inverted (or maybe a double one?) by this one.
An old joke: "Why are there trees along the Champs-Elysees?" "Because the Nazis like walking in the shade."
Q: How many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris? —> A: We don't know, they've never tried.
Old joke: An ad for a French rifle in the paper. Never fired, once dropped.
Another joke: If you're British, raise your hand. If you're French, raise two hands.
French battle tanks have four gears: reverse, reverse, reverse, and forward in case they get attacked from behind.
Why do the French install mirrors in their tanks? So that they can watch the battle when they run away.
Disneyland Paris had to be shut down recently. Why? Because when the fireworks went off, all the French ran out in the streets and surrendered.
An elderly British gentleman visits France on holiday and is immediately asked to turn over his passport. He admits that he doesn't have it with him. Bemused, the French man behind the counter asks him: "Monsieur, have you been to France before?" "Yes," the old Brit replies. A smirk develops on the Frenchman's face. "And you did not bring your passport then?" He shakes his head "There was nobody around to give it to." "Impossible! The British have always had to show their passports when entering France!" The old man takes a long, hard look at the Frenchman before quietly telling him, "Well, the last time I was here, I came ashore on Gold Beach in June 1944, and I couldn't find any fucking Frenchmen to show it to."
A boy was upstairs playing on his computer when his granddad came in the room and sat down on the bed. "What are you doing?", Asked the grandad. "You're 18 years old and wasting your life! When I was 18 I went to Paris, I went to the Moulin Rouge, drank all night, had my way with the dancers, pissed on the barman and left without paying! Now that is how to have a good time!" A week later, the grandfather comes to visit again. He finds the boy still in his room, but with a broken arm in plaster, 2 black eyes and missing all his front teeth. "What happened?", he asked. "Oh Grandfather!", replied the boy. "I did what you did! I went to Paris, went to the Moulin Rouge, drank all night, had my way with the dancers, pissed all over the barman, and he beat the crap out of me!" "Oh dear!", replied the granddad. "Who did you go with?" "Just some friends, why? Who did you go with?" "Oh!" replied the granddad. "The Third Panzer Division."
Blackpool is targeting French tourists. The Elysee Palace has issued an unconditional surrender.
Parkour - The French art of running away.
Now that the French have started committing troops to Iraq, they can get on with the business of introducing their new flag. It's a white cross on a white background. (This references the Merchant Flag of the Kingdom of France, a white cross on a blue field.)note The French navy once used a plain white ensign.
A song sung to the tune of "Frère Jacques"note aka "Are You Sleeping?" by British military cadets invoking much older defeats than most of these:
Obligatory French joke: And the French champion has surrendered her egg right out from under the Welsh Green!
One of Dave Barry's books mentioned that his then-toddler son had somehow amassed enough toy guns to conquer a toy nation the size of France. "Come to think of it, he probably could have conquered the real France."
He stings both France and Italy in the WWII section of Dave Barry Slept Here, describing France's defeat at the end of an epic 35-minute battle, during which the Italian army "penetrated nearly two hundred feet into southern France before their truck broke down."
Complaints about the French were so common during the time United States troops were stationed there in World War II that this pamphlet was written.
In John Ringo works mentioning the French, at times he has kind words to say about their soldiers (like the ones that kicked ass in the expeditionary forces of the Legacy of the Aldenata), but never about their political leadership.
This trope is explicitly defied by the French in World War Z, with disastrous results. The French felt that, after nearly a century of military humiliations (World War II, Indochina, Algeria), they needed to win a triumphant victory against the zombies in order to restore the nation's honor, and sent waves of soldiers into the Parisian catacombs to kill the quarter-million zombies down there. The reclamation of Paris was one of the bloodiest battles of the Zombie War.
That doesn't do them enough justice. Not only were the Parisian catacombs full of shambling, biting dead, but conventional firearms could not be used in there - a single spark could ignite the flammable gas and blow the entire tunnel network sky-high. Only blades and air rifles could be used, and even then, there's little room to swing the former, and the latter were unreliable and dangerous to use because if they missed then the bullet would bounce off the stone and create a spark. They did it with no external help, and in supremely dangerous conditions: one misstep would send you plummeting into a horde of zombies in the water or drowning in sewage, and then there's the cave-ins as well. Oh, and as if it couldn't possibly get any worse, they had to fight zombies in the pitch black. The French soldier interviewed in the book was rather arrogantly dismissive of the American's efforts, but justifiably so; the conditions faced by American soldiers were nothing in comparison.
Invoked explicitly in Tucker Max's book I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
"You fucking cheese-eating surrender monkey. I thought someone stunk around here. So if I start speaking German can I push you around and take all your stuff? Those hairy fucking stink-bags would be speaking Kraut right now if it wasn’t for us, and they aren’t the least bit appreciative. I hope they all fucking die, and your frog-sympathizing ass with them.”
Downplayed in Horatio Hornblower. The French are often portrayed as less competent then British (which they were; too many of the officers of the old Bourbon navy were decapitated) but not as less brave.
Played with in the Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn. While the French intelligence service often is mentioned as a valuable ally to the main characters several times throughout the series, in Consent to Kill, a character (albeit a German villain) laments the decline of France and attributes this to the nation's supposedly withering martial abilities.
Live Action TV
One episode of Spin City focused on the Mayor trying to get Paris to be New York's sister city.
Paul: Sir, do you really think you can take Paris? Mayor: Why not? It's only been done by everyone who's ever tried.
Al Bundy liked to make jokes like these on Married... with Children, for instance noting how another character ran away "like a Frenchman from a cap gun."
When the actor Ed O'Neill later starred in the 2003 update of Dragnet, he was investigating a murder, and interviewing a latina maid. Her boss (who was having an affair with her) said, "You wouldn't be interviewing her if she was French!". Sgt. Friday replied, "Well, I have a thing about the French."
Jeremy Clarkson, one of the presenters of Top Gear is given to using the phrase "Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys" when he refers to the French. He'll also modify the phrase when appropriate; e.g., during the Val Thorens ice race the other drivers were "cheese-eating sideways monkeys."
Unhappily Ever After: Mr. Floppy lists all the countries he'd like to nuke. Jack asks, "Can we kaboom France?" Floppy: "We don't have to — France will surrender with a phone call."
In one episode from the final season of That '70s Show, Red and Kitty, having decided to move to Florida, are showing the house to a bunch of different families. Kitty mentions that a family with the last name Dubois is coming to view the house. Red, in his typical fashion, complains about it.
Red: Dubois? Kitty, I don't want Germans moving in here! Kitty: I think they're French. Red: Yes, and if they buy this house, they'll give it to the first German who knocks on the door!
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Captain Picard, despite Not Even Bothering with the Accent, tells Troi "Signal the following in all languages and on all frequencies: 'We surrender.'" In the pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint", no less. In fairness, this was his first encounter with Q. Picard is depicted as quite unwilling to surrender in virtually any reasonable circumstance.
Aggressively averted in Yesterday's Enterprise, where an alternate timeline version of Picard leaps over a railing in the middle of a losing battle to personally take control of the tactical station. Then he delivers one of the most badass lines in all of Star Trek:
Klingon Commander: Federation ship, surrender and prepare to be boarded.
Inverted in Star Trek: First Contact, where Captain Picard is the only member of Enterprise's crew who doesn't want to destroy his ship to prevent a Borg victory. He gives another of the most badass—if slightly delusional—lines in Trek:
Then, when he gets called on it by Lily, he comes down from his delusion, activates the self-destruct timer... and then stays on board while everyone else leaves so he can rescue Data.
'Allo 'Allo!, the legendary sitcom, is all about the French resistance and how cowardly Rene, the main "hero", is, and mentions the French surrendering approximately once per two episodes. A majority of the French cast, however, don't fit the trope.
The Black Adder series makes a few off-hand reference to this, but none quite as prominent as in Blackadder: Back & Forth when the titular character travels through time to the Battle of Waterloo and has Napoleon portrayed as being strategically-inept, with another French soldier essentially stating that all of England's stereotypes of the French are quite true. Though apparently without The Duke of Wellington leading the Brits, the French would have apparently won anyway, at least according to this picture.
Mike of Spaced once attempted a one-man invasion of Paris with a stolen Chieftain tank. He only failed because he decided to stop off at Euro Disney on the way.
Completely inverted in The Walking Dead. According to Dr. Jenner, the guy in the CDC bunker in the first season finale, France was not only the last country to fall to the zombies, but the French scientists kept working on a cure for The Virus until the end while the American CDC scientists abandoned their work and ran for the hills.
The Borgias subverts this to its fullest extent by presenting the French army as a pack of bloodthirsty, highly skilled warriors who've recently invented some extremely grisly war machines.
This is historically justified. The warfare among Italian cities, based largely on condottieri mercenaries, had an element of playacting as mercenary soldiers did their best to not suffer casualties so that they can collect their pay and go home to spend it. The French forces under Charles VIII that intervened in Italy at the end of 15th century, on the other hand, was a tough warlike, and hard-fighting army supported by revolutionary artillery equipment and tactics.
In 1990, Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" followed up the news that Germany was reunifying with the line, "Believe me, a lot of countries are very nervous about this. France, for example, offered to surrender."
Hilariously parodied by QI, in which a panelist calls Americans 'Burger eating invasion monkeys'.
Subverted in Father Ted. Father Jack who is undoubtedly not a coward, always stands for La Marseillaise and demands everyone else do so as well.
The West Wing had this in "Commencement", the penultimate episode of Season 4. Wes, a member of the Secret Service detail, is being transferred to France, and everyone teases him about how cushy the job will be; Admiral Fitzwallace even tells him to watch out for all of the dangerous mimes.
It goes without saying that the page is riddled with inaccuracies, misleading editorials, and quite a lot of selective editing.
In ventriloquist Jeff Dunham's Halloween Special, Minding the Monsters, this is invoked by Peanut, who is dressed as a Batman-type superhero for Halloween and who, at one point, mentions several other superheroes he either likes or dislikes:
Peanut: Sometimes he [Captain America] teams up with the fearsome fighter from France! Jeff: What does he do? Peanut: Just bitch, waits for help, then surrenders.
Ruddigore suggested an early Stealth Parody of this trope with Richard's sea shanty. The French were offended, but the British tars of the song exercise their Patriotic Fervour by retreating from a French frigate without firing back at it because "she's only a poor Parley-voo" and fighting it would be "like hittin' of a gal."
The Simpsons Game video game had a level where Bart and Homer have to collect white flags in a French village during World War II. The villagers, of course, do nothing but run away from them. Is also the Trope Namer.
Tink in Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories has a French accent (at least in the US dub). He is also a womanizing Dirty Coward... and a frog.note The French having acquired the nickname of "Frogs" for eating them.
Zig-zagged in Team Fortress 2. The Spy class is stereotypically French with an outrageous accent, and his "Meet The" video portrays the RED Spy as a Magnificent Bastard who seduced the BLU Scout's mother and single-handedly eliminated just about every member of the BLU team. Most of the other classes' domination and revenge taunts insult him for being a sneaky coward whose only skill is Chronic Backstabbing Disorder — which accurately, if insultingly, summarizes how you're supposed to play the Spy. However, only the Soldier invokes the trope directly: some of his lines refer to the Spy as a 'rifle dropping coward' and white flags.
Command and Conquer Red Alert 2 multiplayer plays with this trope. If a player hits the function keys F1-F10 while playing, a country-specific voiceover will ask allies for help or will taunt the enemy. F6 sends a taunt calling on the opposing player(s) to surrender. If playing as France, the voice-over says "Surrender! No, I don't mean I surrender, I mean you surrender!"
In Call of Duty 3, a Scottish officer remarks that the French are only good at "kissin' and surrenderin'."
There's a downloadable PS3 game called Pain - Exactly What It Says on the Tin, it's about launching a ragdoll into various urban and natural landscapes and watching him and his surroundings pay the price for your sadism. Firing your ragdoll at or even near the mime in the default city area prompts him to run away, arms raised, screaming, "I surrender! I surrender!"
Thiery Trantigne in Odium is a coward, to the point where he screams in panic how they're all going to die even when facing the most pathetic of monsters. He also once expresses disgust at the thought of risking his life for a teammate.
Which is kind of ironic since he has the highest starting value of the Courage stat out of any three main characters...
In The Sims 3, one of the books you can buy in the French holiday town is "The White Flag of Victory".
Serperior of the Pokémon Black and White games is confirmed by Word of God to be based off a snake and a French king. Its offensive stats are average, but it has high Speed and Defensive stats. In its normal form, it performs an adequate job providing support for the team and annoying the opponent. When it comes from the Dream World, however, it becomes amazing, turning into a nearly unstoppable Lightning Bruiser because its Special Attack doubles from using a 140-base power STAB move. Overall, Serperior is a subversion of this trope.
In World of Tanks expect a lot of jokes about this if French tanks are on the field in the beginning of the battle, that is before the actual battle happens. After this it's subverted to some degree: the later French tanks are some of the fastest on field and thus the first to engage enemies, often soon enough those didn't expect fire and are nowhere near cover, not to mention they can dish out a lot of damage in short time, killing you before you can even say cheese, but lacking armor for their speed and firepower, they will surrender fast if you so much as point your gun at them.
Averted in Wargame: European Escalation, where French AMX tanks and FAMAS-wielding infantry are some of the most useful units available to the NATO side.
Glass Joe of Punch-Out!! both plays this trope straight and inverts it. Plays straight because he has a record of one win and 99 losses. Inverted in that despite his record, he refuses to surrender (retire).
In the game Galactic Civilizations 2, you will be called this trope by name if you don't refuse another empires attempts to extort money from you.
Averted in Modern Warfare. France is merely one of the many European countries the US comes to the aid to. You fight alongside the GIGNnote France's elite counter-terrorist forces, who prove themselves to be very capable. Also while Delta ultimately take Volk down, the GIGN were the ones who found him. France is also one of the countries NATO manages to hold onto; Germany, meanwhile, is clearly falling. GIGN troops are also a support option in Survival, and are extremely durable and more than able to hold their own against anything short of a Juggernaut.
Averted strongly in Europa Universalis III, especially before the Heir To The Throne expansion, where France frequently becomes a major power, to the point that many consider France the Final Boss of EU 3.
Averted in Europa Universalis IV as well, wherein she has now acquired the moniker 'The Big (All-Consuming) Blue Blob Of Doom'. The 'Coalition' Game-mechanic does a good job of simulating the numerous massive alliances to contain French Aggression, but it's still not always enough.
Similarly, averted in Crusader Kings II. While it depends a bit on your start, France is usually the strongest catholic kingdom and a de jure modern France (i.e. a Frankish empire or kingdom containing the lands of of France, Bretonia, Aquitaine, and western Burgundy, Frisia and Middle Francia) is one of Europe's strongest power blocks.
Played straight in Hearts of Iron III. France is usually defeated by Germany within a few weeks, as they lack the industrial capacity, leadership, and manpower to stand up to Germany without a skilled player taking the reigns. In the 1940 start, they don't even have medium armor divisions.
And the same — more or less — is the earlier Hearts of Iron games. Just as with Europa Universalis, there is a justification in when it takes place — the Europa Universalis games cover the centuries in which France was a terror of Europe, while Hearts of Iron covers World War 2 (where, as noted in the trope description, France surrendered to the Germans early in the war).
Averted in Medieval: Total War when France is commanded by a human (France has one of the best unit rosters of all the Western European nations), but played straight when it is commanded by the AI, which loves to make huge armies out of nothing but unarmored pitchfork-wielding peasants with the occasional archer or urban militia - all of which turn tail and run at the first sign of an approaching enemy.
France is a member country in the Council of Nations, but are no more likely to panic and leave than the other countries are. Additionally, French-nationality soldiers are just as capable as those from different countries.
Averted a lot in Age of Empires II. The Joan of Arc campaign has you play as the French, who win against the English if you play the campaign well (although Joan is still caught and killed). Frenchmen are also formidable enemies in other campaigns, and the Franks are a well-balanced civilization to play as in normal games.
Frog from Sluggy Freelance: "We surrender! There! How's that? Does that take care of your hunger to disparage others for some 'larfs?'"
In Casey and Andy, Casey's secret persona of Dr. X is bent on conquering the world. None of his plans work and he sits dejected in his war room and sighs, then inspiration strikes, he calls up France and Declares war on them, they immediately surrender.
Later, France pesters Dr. X on every little detail of how the country should be run. He tells them to do what they would have done normally. The next day's newspaper has the headline "France surrenders to Germany", much to the surprise of the Germans.
Tiberium ecstasy is a C&C Tiberian Dawn parody. Nod takes over France. Counts of the stereotypes:
Guess what, they surrendered again (next mission location was France, and it was not under GDI territory)
The part where it shows videos of things, it shows an APC driver surrendering, and one of the GDI (suspected) soldiers saw that the apc had guns. They ran away after the APC driver surrendered.
The main team that was supposed to get money went to a town, and wanted to get money from a church building. The french person was lying about money, after one of them suggested to burn the french person, the final words for the unfortunate person was, "I SURRENDER."
Another french person went and shot the Nod soldiers, and ran after the flame trooper found out the person was shooting.
In the fanfiction Egg Belly, our favourite couple - Konoka and Setsuna - go out for dinner at Mahora Town's French restaurant. Ku Fei sneaks in to get a picture, steals the waiter's uniform and moustache, gets discovered, and - in the words of the author - "'Uh... Time for me to be French again... I surrender!'" wailed Ku Fei, turning about in the finest tradition of the French military and dashing for an alternate escape route- i.e. the window."
The Webcomic/Polandball series of comics, being full of National Stereotypes, has this as a Running Gag, though its level of historical accuracy means the trope is also often subverted.
The Trope Namer is Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons in 1995. Having been forced to sub as a French teacher, the brief snippet of his "lesson" plays out as follows:
"Bonjourrrrrrrrr, ya cheese-eating surrender monkeys!"
After the 9/11 attacks it was particularly popular among the USA's nationalists and the country's nationalist media.
Even though this trope is mainly about American and English attitudes towards the French, the phrase was originally uttered by a character from Scotland, a country with a c.1100-1603 tradition of allying with the French against the English (before they decided to form a country with them), and addressed to a class consisting of US of Americans.
In his appearance in the cartoon, Scorpio asks Homer whether he should use his massive Death Ray to wipe out France or Italy, and when Homer makes his decision, Scorpio quips, "Nobody ever says Italy."
In the story of Joan of Arc, Homer remarks "Victory? We're French! We don't even have a word for it!!" note Just a linguistic joke, though; the English word "victory" actually comes from the French "victoire."
Subverted in Treehouse of Horror VIII, when Mayor Quimby insults the French they declare war on Springfield, and destroy it with a neutron bomb.
The Sonic Sat AM animation series did not last long enough for Antoine to develop out of this trope.
South Park episode "Fatbeard": "They're French, so they surrendered immediately." The fact that they surrendered to a nine-year-old with a plastic lightsabre is damning even by the standards of this trope.
It was an "Un Lightsabre Terrible!"
Also, in Make Love, Not Warcraft (2006)
Eric Cartman: Clyde, Clyde, if you had the chance right now to go back in time and stop Hitler, wouldn't you do it? I mean, I personally wouldn't; however, because I think it was awesome, but you would, right?
Clyde: I'm just gonna stop playing.
Eric Cartman: When Hitler rose to power, a lot of people just stopped playing. And you know who those people were? The French. Are you French, Clyde?
The Fairly OddParents had a loving couple from France being hit by a water balloon due to Timmy's terrible aim. Their response? "We surrender!"