[[quoteright:250:[[Film/YouOnlyLiveTwice http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/you_only_live_twice_naval_uniform.png]] ]]
[[caption-width-right:250:"Bond, ''Commander'' Film/JamesBond."]]

->''"You can fight like a krogan...''
->''Run like a leopard...''
->''But you'll never be better than Commander Shepard!"''
-->-- '''Music/MiracleOfSound''', [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiRDJLcYua0 referring to]] the PlayerCharacter of ''Franchise/MassEffect''.

[[RuleOfCool Maybe because it sounds really cool]], but ''Commander'' is a very popular rank in fiction.

In real life navies, "Commander" is the second-most senior field rank, right below the rank of Captain. A commander is usually the first officer (i.e. the NumberTwo) of a large ship, but can also be the commanding officer (a.k.a. TheCaptain) of a smaller ship. There is also a "Lieutenant Commander" rank directly below, who will be either an assistant to these officers or the captain of a smaller ship. Some air forces have a "Wing Commander" rank that is equivalent to a naval commander. In an army, the equivalent is either major or lieutenant colonel, depending on the country. When it's not used as a rank, it may still be used in a role title (e.g. "unit commander", "mission commander").

When using UsefulNotes/CommonRanks, is subordinate to ColonelBadass[[note]]although in many RealLife militaries they're actually equivalent[[/note]] and superior to MajorlyAwesome. When used as a General Staff Rank, is usually superior to TheBrigadier and subordinate only to the FourStarBadass. Outside of militaries, some large police forces have a commander rank for officers (e.g. London, Los Angeles and Chicago). This rank sits between the assistants of the chief and the local police station managers.

In science fiction, commanders usually have their traditional position as executive officer. Some works will have commander as the highest senior rank on a starship or a general staff rank, along with the title or rank (or both) of the supreme leader of military forces. A commander who is decidedly uncool may be a CommanderContrarian.



[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* In ''Manga/{{Berserk}}'', Griffith's trusted female lieutenant Casca is addressed as Commander. As the Band of the Hawk was a mercenary unit, not a lot of attention was paid to ranks in the band.
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', we have [[TheStrategist Shikaku Nara]], the Jounin Commander of Konoha, who acts as a right-hand man to Tsunade.
* In ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'', we have Captain-Commander Shigekuni Yamamoto-Genryusai.
* ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEED'' & ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEEDDestiny'': Due to it's status as a former militia, most of ZAFT's officers are addressed as "Commander". This includes the very cool [[CoolOldGuy Andrew Waldfeld]] and [[MagnificentBastard Rau Le Creuset]] in the first series, and former AcePilot turned ship captain, Yzak Joule in the sequel.
* Batou's rank in his military days, long a subject of debate in the [=GitS=] fandom, was finally stated in the Manga/GhostInTheShellArise to be Commander,[[note]]Yes, while [[ArtisticLicenseMilitary being a Ranger]].[[/note]] though how it translates into the franchise as a whole is unclear.

* The Director of SHIELD is referred to as Commander. ComicBook/NickFury, however, most often went by his prior Army rank of Colonel. [[ComicBook/CaptainAmerica Captain Steve Rogers]], a later director, went by Commander.
* [[BigBad Cobra Commander]] in GIJoe.
* Commander Dynamic of the book/comic book series ''ComicBook/LimekillerAtLarge''

* Rainbow Dash's CO in ''[[http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Fanfic/Legionnaire Legionnaire]]'' is not only one cool SoB, but he's also clever enough to keep up with masterminds like Diplomatic Incident and Prophet.

* ''Franchise/StarWars''
** This is perhaps the most common rank. By ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'', all the Imperial officers were commanders (even Admiral Piett) due to a costuming goof.
** In ''Film/TheForceAwakens'', Poe Dameron is a commander of the Resistance, making him one of the highest ranking officers (after [[FourStarBadass General Leia Organa]] and the admirals).
* Commander Rourke in ''Disney/AtlantisTheLostEmpire''.
* Commander Film/JamesBond, at your service.
** He's addressed as such in ''Film/OnHerMajestysSecretService'', ''Film/TheSpyWhoLovedMe'', while he banters with Xenia Onatopp in ''Film/GoldenEye'' and seen in uniform in ''Film/YouOnlyLiveTwice'', ''The Spy Who Loved Me'', and ''Film/TomorrowNeverDies''.
** Even more so in the ''Film/CasinoRoyale2006'' continuity. In the original, he was a member of the Royal Navy Reserve. Daniel Craig's Bond was a member of the Special Boat Service, which is the British equivalent of the Navy [=SEALs=]. Though Bond's [[AllThereInTheManual service record]] has him being one of those occasional Royal Navy officers who are deployed as Swimmer Canoeists.
* The ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' films have Riker. He logs plenty of command time while Picard is busy with the main plot. (Spock, a commander in [[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries the original TV series]], was promoted to the rank of Captain for the movies, though he still acted as Kirk's NumberTwo.)
* In ''Film/StarTrekIntoDarkness'', Kirk is briefly demoted to commander. He spends that time trying to shoot down a jumpship with a phaser rifle, before managing to bring it down by throwing the rifle (with a firehose tied around it) into its air intake.
* Jack Harper from ''Film/{{Oblivion 2013}}'' is this. [[spoiler: The real one, in any case. He was commander of the "Odyssey" mission.]] Beech takes some particular delight in saying "Welcome Back, Commander" when he decides to help them.
* Commander William Harper in ''Film/JackRyanShadowRecruit''. Given how proficient he is in a firefight, it's likely he was a Navy SEAL.
* The 2015 film adaption of [[Film/TheManFromUNCLE2015 The Man From U.N.C.L.E.]] mentions that (soon to be Chief of U.N.C.L.E.) Alexander Waverly is a Commander in British Naval Intelligence. This may be a direct ShoutOut to the ''Film/JamesBond'' movie series, since the [[Series/TheManFromUNCLE original TV series]] has described been described as "James Bond on television" by its lead actor, Robert Vaughn.

* ''Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse'':
** Luke Skywalker ends up a commander in the Rebellion not long after ''Film/ANewHope''.
** In most of the ''Literature/XWingSeries'', Rogue and Wraith Squadrons are headed by Commander Antilles. Then he accepts a promotion to General.
** The short story ''[[Literature/StarWarsBladeSquadron Blade Squadron]]'' has Rebel Wing Commander Adon Fox, leader of Blade Squadron.
* In the [[Literature/ThePentagonWar Human-Centauri Defense Force]], Commander is short for "Battle Commander", and is a temporary title bestowed on a spacecraft's C.O. for only as long as a RedAlert situation exists.
* Literature/JamesBond held the rank of Commander in the Royal Navy before he joined MI6, as also noted in Film above.
* Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch in Literature/{{Discworld}} - promoted from Captain at the end of ''Discworld/MenAtArms''.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' takes the coolness to the next level with the rank of ''Lord'' Commander, which seems to be the highest military rank in Westeros, as evidenced by the Kingsguard, the City Watch, and the Night Watch. (The commander of the Golden Company, widely regarded as the world's best mercenaries, goes by [[TheCaptain Captain]]-[[FourStarBadass General]], but part of the point of the Golden Company is that they tend to stay ''away'' from Westeros.)
* Commander Peter Raeder and Lieutenant Commander Sarah James, Commonwealth Space Command, from ''Literature/TheFlightEngineer''.
* The first ''Literature/HonorHarrington'' book features Commander Harrington, of the HMS ''Fearless'', a heavily-modified Light Cruiser. She would be promoted to Captain by the next book, and would eventually become an Admiral (in multiple navies), with such titles as Commander, Protector's Own Squadron, Commander, Eighth Fleet, and later Commander, [[spoiler: Home Fleet]].
* ''Literature/TheLostFleet'' has a number of commanders in command of ships. Most of them are fairly young due to the heavy attrition of the ForeverWar. In particular, Commander Jaylen Cresida (later promoted to Captain) of TheAlliance battlecruiser ''Furious'' is a young but brilliant commander whose knowledge of hypernet gates saves not only the fleet but humanity as a whole. She's also a capable ship commander.
* The highest rank in the Children of the Light in ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' is "Lord Captain Commander".

* Commander William Adama of the [[TheBattlestar Battlestar]] ''[[Series/BattlestarGalactica2003 Galactica]]''. Enough said.
* Comes up all the time in ''Franchise/StarTrek''
** Benjamin Sisko of ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' started off as a commander, as he was in charge of a station instead of a starship. He actually got his own ship at the beginning of season 3, but wasn't fully promoted until the end of the season. Lampshaded in-series when several of his crew remark that "it's about damn time", though he plays it cool and points out that the formal promotion doesn't change anything on a day-to-day level (he already had the command post and the ship that he wanted).
** Also on [=DS9=], Kira Nerys, who was already a ColonelBadass in Season 7, became a Commander in Starfleet to help anti-Dominion rebels.
** The first officers of every other ''Star Trek'' series have been of this rank.
** Commander Shran of the Andorian Imperial Guard on ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise''.
** Also with quite a few of the Lieutenant Commanders, especially Worf and Tuvok.
** Many of the villainous alien captains (Romulans, Klingons, Tholians, etc) are given the "Commander" title, presumably to avoid TheGoodCaptain trope while keeping the coolness. One notable aversion would be Koloth from the Original Series, whose rank was Captain.
*** Commander seems to be the Romulan equivalent to TheCaptain.
*** Their equivalent of the Starfleet rank of Commander would be Sub-Commander. This also applies to pre-Federation Vulcans (e.g. Sub-Commander T'pol).
* Commander Harmon Rabb, Jr. in ''Series/{{JAG}}''.
* Commander Taylor, leader of Series/TerraNova. Hell, he uses a ''crossbow'' as a fishing tool!
* Commander Anubis Cruger, of ''Series/PowerRangersSPD''; head of Earth's branch of the SpacePolice. A later ReunionShow reveals that he eventually gets promoted to ''Supreme'' Commander of the entire organization.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** In season one Commander Sinclair is in charge of the station with Lt. Commander Ivanova as his NumberTwo.
** Ivanova is promoted to full Commander at the start of season two when Captain Sheridan takes over. This is probably because Sinclair was never in command of a ship. The most he ever flew was a Starfury during the Battle of the Line. Sheridan actually had his own ship by the time he was re-assigned to B5.
* Commander John Crichton of ''Series/{{Farscape}}''. "Commander" is apparently the rank he achieved as an astronaut for IASA (international expy of NASA); his crew members continue to use this title for him throughout the show. Even though it's not really a military rank, it sometimes comes in handy during their many, many encounters with hostile military forces.
* ''[[InsistentTerminology Supreme]]'' Commander Thor, leader of the Asgard in ''Series/StargateSG1''.
* In season two of ''Series/StargateAtlantis'', Major John Sheppard is promoted to Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard. He is also the Commanding Military Officer throughout the majority of the series, apart from one episode where he doesn't receive the title until the end of the episode.
* ''Series/The100'' ''[[BuryYourGays had]]'' ''[[BadassGay Commander Lexa]]'', military leader and ruler of the twelve clans.
* John Koenig, Commander of Moonbase Alpha in ''Series/{{Space 1999}}''. Although, as Alpha is a civilian, scientific installation, it's not a military rank.

* Commander of Music/TheProtomen.
* "Commander" by Kelly Rowland.

* The rank of Lord Commander in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}''. None moreso than Lord Commander Dante, Chapter Master of the Blood Angels.
** For Space Marine Commanders, one presiding over a battlegroup of several chapters for an engagement is referred to by the even cooler "Force Commander"
** Imperial Guard Commanders appear to be junior flag officers, possibly somewhere around brigadier. Lord Commander of the Segmentum is a much higher combined arms rank, the five joint highest in the Imperium answerable directly to the council of High Lords.
** Noteworthy for being used inconsistently. Other sources use the title Commander like the actual NATO navies use it, being the second in command of a large warship. There is also a Lord Commander Militant, the leader of the entire Imperial conventional Guard and Stormtroopers, who ''is'' a High Lord, and the Lord Commander Solar, who is the Militant Commander's highest-ranking officer and usually also on the Senate of the High Lords. There is also, so long as a Primarch or their successor present to take the role, the Lord Commander of the Imperium, who is usually Primarch Roboute Guilliman, though this rank was disbanded after the coup called The Beheading. Guilliman reinstated it later, and holds it in the 'present time' of the 40K timeline.
** A Space Marine "Commander" is simply the highest ranked Space Marine in a force. If a Space Marine battlegroup takes ''really'' bad casualties, then the senior Battle-Brother would be "Commander". Force Commanders can also be younger Brothers in line for promotion, given command of a few squads or half-squads for the duration of a surgical strike, to demonstrate leadership skills.
* TabletopGame/BattleTech, the rank Galaxy Commander is very high rank among the Clans, its should be the equivalent of General in the Inner Sphere, as they command an entire regiment called a galaxy, and they have a big say in the Clans policies and decisions. One of the prerequisites of the rank is to be a real badass mechwarrior.

* In ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'''s latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor, this is the title given to the player character when he takes command of his garrison.
* As stated above, ''Franchise/MassEffect'''s protagonist, Commander Shepard, fits this trope.
** In VideoGame/MassEffect2, during Tali's loyalty mission, the Quarians refer to Shepard as "Captain". A dialogue option is available to give Shepard's actual rank, but the Quarians (mostly) stick with Captain, as it accurately reflects the cultural role the character is taking by speaking up for Tali, as well as being Commanding Officer of the ''Normandy'', meaning Shepard ''is'' TheCaptain in all-but-name.
** In the Russian version of the game, Shepard is referred to as "Captain". This has to do with the fact that Russian Navy equivalent of a "Commander" is a "Captain, 2nd Rank", the short form of which is just "Captain" (similar to the short form of "Lt. Commander" being "Commander").
** In the third game, assuming she survives the first, Ashley Williams will be promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
* ''Franchise/DragonAge''
** The highest-ranking Grey Warden in a nation is known as the Warden-Commander, their only superior being the "First Warden", who manages the order from Weisshaupt Fortress in the [[{{Mordor}} Anderfels]]. The first game's PlayerCharacter becomes Warden-Commander of Ferelden in the ''[[VideoGame/DragonAgeOriginsAwakening Awakening]]'' expansion (their predecessor Duncan also held this title, although he was never actually referred to as such.)
** Similarly, the highest-ranking Templar in any one place is the local Knight-Commander. Kirkwall's Knight-Commander [[IronLady Meredith]] is one of the major players in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII''. She does not officially order around the lord of the city, but nor does he dare do anything that would go against her wishes, making her the actual most powerful person.
** The Dwarf Noble Warden briefly held the title of "Commander of Orzammar's Armies" during their Origin.
** Your companion Sten is an Infantry Platoon Commander of the Qunari. Too bad he doesn't have his men with him any more. [[spoiler:Or his sword.]]
* The Space Marine's leader in ''VideoGame/DawnOfWar'' of the ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' universe is called Force Commander. 'Force Commander' actually refers to the senior Space Marine officer in charge of a campaign, regardless of how many Chapters are present. For example: Davian Thule is the Captain of the 4th Company, but in Dark Crusade, he was the Commander of the strike force, having authority over the other companies and their captains present.
* In the ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquer'' games, [[NonEntityGeneral the player]] is referred to as a "Commander" by subordinates and superiors alike. There are exceptions: in the ''[[VideoGame/CommandAndConquerGenerals Generals]]'' incarnations, the player holds the title of "General", while in ''[[VideoGame/CommandAndConquerRedAlertSeries Red Alert]]'''s USSR faction, the player is a "Comrade-General".
** Throughout the Soviet campaign in ''[[VideoGame/CommandAndConquerRedAlert Red Alert 1]]'', you are referred to as "Commander"... right until the very last sentence spoken, which calls you [[spoiler: Comrade Chairman]].
** The ending of ''[[VideoGame/CommandAndConquerRedAlert3 Red Alert 3]]'''s Soviet campaign implies that the player character is ''[[HisNameReallyIsBarkeep literally called 'Commander']]'' with the proposal to rename New York in your honor naming the city as 'Kommandersgrad'. How cool is that?!
* ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'' has several:
** On the Spartan side, we have Commander Carter-A259 and Lieutenant Commander Catherine-B320 from ''VideoGame/HaloReach''.
** On the spaceship commander side, we have Commander Miranda Keyes from the original trilogy and Commander Thomas Lasky from ''VideoGame/{{Halo 4}}'' (though he's a Captain in all subsequent appearances).
** The expanded universe also gives us Lieutenant Commander Kurt-051 (he was given the fake last name "Ambrose" as part of the promotion, but Halsey reveals that his real last name is "Trevelyan"), Lieutenant Commander Jameson Locke (before he [[EmpoweredBadassNormal became a Spartan]]), and Jacob Keyes (before he became TheCaptain).
* Seal Team Six Commander and [[LikeFatherLikeSon son]] of [[VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps Alex Mason]], [[VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps2 David Mason]] has to apply from what we've seen of him.
* In ''VideoGame/TheSimsMedieval'' when your Knight achieves level 10, his or her title is "Commander." And a level 10 Knight, particularly if they've bought or acquired good gear, is quite badass.
* The Terran's NonEntityGeneral in all ''VideoGame/{{Starcraft}}'' games is referred to as Commander by all units (including the Battlecruiser, who is supposed to be a Commodore).
** Storywise, in the first game, you start out as a Confederate Magistrate, until [[spoiler:you bust Raynor out of his court martial and join LaResistance]], at which point you are referred to Commander.
** In the ''Brood War'' expansion, you are instead TheCaptain, serving under the two [[FourStarBadass Admirals]] sent by the [[TheWarOfEarthlyAggression United Earth Directorate]].
* When Squall in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII'' is [[YouAreInCommandNow summarily put in charge]] of [[PrivateMilitaryContractors SeeD]], an official title for the position doesn't actually exist, Balamb Garden having operated more as a school than a military organization up to that point. Squall's friends sit down without him and decide on "Commander," presumably on the basis that it sounds appropriately martial and cool.
* ''VideoGame/WarhammerDarkOmen:'' Morgan Bernhardt, leader of the Grudgebringers, insists on "Commander" rather than going by "Captain" like most mercenary company leaders do. A lot of people he meets seem to consider his choice of title rather grandiose, though the Grudgebringers are large and well-equipped enough that not settling for "Captain" may be justified.

* ''Webcomic/ManlyGuysDoingManlyThings'' has Commander Badass.
* Commander Heroic in ''EvilInc'' may be geriatric, but he's [[BadassGrandpa still in the superhero business]]. He certainly ''used'' to be hot stuff.
* ''Webcomic/ElGoonishShive'' has [[http://www.egscomics.com/?date=2004-05-31 Commander Jaguar]].
* Clearly why ''Webcomic/CommanderKitty'' chose that as his [[OnlyKnownByTheirNickname nickname]]. Of course, [[http://www.commanderkitty.com/2009/07/12/just-us-spacers/ he hasn't exactly worked out the coolness part yet]].

* Cobra Commander in ''Franchise/GIJoe''.
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', [[SmugSnake Zhao]] is initially greeted as Captain Zhao by [[CoolOldGuy Iroh]], but smugly corrects him by pointing out he's been promoted to Commander (presumably promoted; "Captain" usually outranks "Commander" in the Navy, but he was definitely acting like it was a promotion...it's probably because [[RuleOfCool "Commander" sounds cooler]], plus that way there's a close equivalence in Fire Navy and Army ranks, with Lieutenants and Captains in both, Colonels and Generals in the Army, and Commanders and Admirals (of which Zhao becomes one of a few appearances later) in the Navy.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', there's Commander Bumi of the United Forces, Tenzin's brother.
* Commander Nebula in ''WesternAnimation/BuzzLightyearOfStarCommand'', who used to masquerade as a bounty hunter to help Zurg's minions escape and even has a laser in his peg leg.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated'', Ultra Magnus is ''Supreme'' Commander of the Autobots at large, with the Prime rank closer to TheCaptain. In ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'', he's again subordinate to Optimus but still referred to as "Commander".
* In ''WesternAnimation/ThunderCats2011'' Leo, a ReverseMole and RebelLeader for LaResistance, is the Lieutenant Commander for an EvilOverlord who holds the rank of Commander himself. Leo and his allies are plotting a revolution to overthrow him.
* In ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsTheCloneWars'', many clone officers including Commander Cody.
* And ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsRebels'' gives us Commander Jun Sato of the [[LaResistance Rebel Alliance]].