"Broadsword calling Danny Boy, Broadsword calling Danny Boy..."When The Captain needs to contact Mission Control to talk to the Voice with an Internet Connection, he has a number of options. He could call him up on his Comm Link, or maybe even find a pay phone. But maybe this is a job for someone more specialized, or maybe The Captain needs someone to delegate this to while he deals with other things. He needs the Communications Officer. The Communications Officer need not be an officer, and in fact, will often be a lower ranking member tasked with maintaining and operating the complex radio equipment. On a sci-fi show, they will often have a workstation on the bridge of the ship, while in a war movie, you can expect to see this guy running around two steps behind The Captain with a cumbersome backpack radio with a huge whip antenna. Whenever we see Mission Control, expect to see an entire squad of these guys at work. More mundane examples include a secretary in an office, who has the job of screening calls to their boss and sending out messages for them. If he is properly trained, he can also be a disproportionately dangerous individual, using his radio equipment to call in artillery fire and air strikes, bringing tons of high explosives down on his enemies' heads. Against savvy enemies, he can expect to draw fire, especially if he has one of the bigger backpack radios. You can't call for help if nobody alive can use the communications equipment. If The Radio Dies First, they can be expected to be hard at work trying to fix it, or helplessly declaring that it can't be done. Overlaps with Mission Control. Will often be working as one of the Bridge Bunnies. A key member of the Command Roster.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- In Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh, the giant robot in question is so complex to operate that it needs two communications officers.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Fuery
- Lyrical Nanoha:
- Amy Limietta had this role in the first and second seasons. Once had the unfortunate luck of getting thrown in a situation where she had to take the role of commanding officer when an emergency occurred while everyone ranked higher than her was away.
- From Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS and beyond, Lucino, Alto, and Shari all have this role in addition to their other duties starship helmswoman, helicopter pilot, and device meister respectively.
- Kurogane Pukapuka Tai has Kushiku aboard the Unebi, a young woman with a great talent for decoding enemy transmissions and a rather reclusive personality. She can spend whole days in the radio room without speaking to anyone.
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- Down Periscope has Nitro, a skilled but very eccentric electrician who manages to coerce the aging ship's radio equipment to work via various short-circuits (including several passing through his own body).
- Fantastic Voyage has Charles Grant, a rare example of where the Communications Officer is also The Hero.
- Parodied in Galaxy Quest with Lt. Tawny Madison, Gwen's character from the Show Within The Show. All she did was relay orders to and from the computer.
I have one job on this lousy ship, it's stupid, but I'm gonna do it! Okay?
- In Saving Private Ryan a shore party radio man gets a brief appearance on Omaha Beach before he loses most of his face.
- In Small Soldiers, Link Static serves this role in the Commando Elite.
- Starship Troopers had a series of (often short-lived) characters fulfilling this role, with Dizzy and Ace each taking on the role towards the end of the film.
- Super Troopers has Farva given this job at the highway department as punishment after the school bus incident. Meanwhile, Ursula is tasked with the same job at the Spurbury Police Department because she's a woman.
- Actually, Ursula later reveals that they keep her on dispatch because the rest of them are Corrupt Cops who help Canadian drug lords move marijuana through Spurbury.
- Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961). The comm officer aboard the Seaview (a U.S. government vessel) was called Sparks.
- We Were Soldiers: A number of radio operators are mixed in amongst the soldiers, with several unnamed ones getting shot and killed during firefights. Another one, after proving himself particularly skilled by managing to tune in on radio transmissions from a battle happening on the other side of the Earthnote , is assigned as Colonel Moore's personal radioman.
- The movie also had a radioman whose primary responsibility was calling in fire support. According to the book the film was based on, he was actually a fighter pilot by trade. The idea of the military being that a pilot with experience delivering close air support would be better able to evaluate what would be best and call it in more efficiently.
- The Thing (1982) has a character who serves this role appropriately named "Windows" (possibly a nickname meaning "window to the outside world"), although a dead radio made it impossible for him to ever contact anybody.
- Though unnamed, Platoon featured a radio man alongside the commanding officer during the climatic battle, matching his commander's pacing so that the cord was never pulled tight. Given that the actor portraying the commander was the technical advisor and actual veteran commander, this was probably very close to Real Life.
- Robert A. Heinlein's The Number of the Beast. When Hildy Burroughs is captain of the Gay Deceiver, Zebadiah ("Zeb") Burroughs acts as her comm officer, especially when talking with the British colonists on Mars.
- Adele Mundy in the Republic of Cinnabar series.
- Cpl. Fife is this during his first battle in The Thin Red Line.
- Sten seems to like communications officers, as they figure prominently in his command staffs in multiple books, and he even promotes one to Captain.
- In the Wraith Squadron novels, this is Jesmin Ackbar's specialty. In addition to her experience with the actually communications gear, she is skilled at cryptography and codes, and is able to twice alert Wraith Squadron to forces attempting to ambush them by picking up supposedly encrypted low-power transmissions that the enemy thought were safe to use. After her death in Wraith Squadron, Runt begins cross-training to pick up the slack.
- In the Star Trek Expanded Universe, Uhura's skills led her to teach communications at Starfleet Academy. Later, thanks to her abilities with cryptography and languages, she eventually became head of Starfleet Intelligence.
- Babylon 5: On the station itself, this job would typically fall to Lieutenant Corwin (in the first season, it alternated between him and an un-named Bridge Bunny.) If Sheridan or Sinclair was in Command and Control, this job would instead go to Commander Ivanova. When traveling out and about aboard one ship or another, this job would fall to whichever character was serving as The Lancer for that mission (Lennier or Marcus, usually).
- Band of Brothers: T-4 George Luz, Easy Company's radioman who also doubles as the resident jokester / Pop-Cultured Badass.
- Battlestar Galactica originally had Commander Adama's daughter Athena in this role in the original series. In the reboot, the job was performed by Corporal (later Lieutenant) Dualla, as well as her replacement, Hoshi.
- Generation Kill: Cpl. Ray Person, the best RTO in Bravo Company. That said, since he was also Bravo 2-1's driver, Sgt Colbert ended up filling this role for the vehicles' occupants most of the time, communicating with Lt. Fick and relaying new information to the men riding with him.
- In M*A*S*H, Radar was usually called up on to operate the communications equipment
- Star Trek
- Star Trek: The Original Series brings us one of the most famous examples, Lieutenant Uhura. In the Star Trek Expanded Universe and the 2009 film she is also a xenolinguistics expert.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: This was the original duty for Worf, perhaps owing to his bicultural background.
- Star Trek: Voyager: Harry Kim got a battlefield promotion to chief communications officer, despite only being (perpetually) an ensign.
- Star Trek: Enterprise: Hoshi Sato handled communications. Her linguistics expertise also came into play because the Universal Translator was still a work-in-progress. She was also responsible for Subspace Ansible equipment, which allowed the Enterprise to communicate back to Earth.
- There is a clear evolution of the comm officer role over the chronology — in Enterprise it is a science officer position, with Sato being recruited because of her linguistics expertise in the sense of 'the scientific study of language' and her primary focus being in translation (and helping develop the nascent universal translator). By TOS/2009 film series it is an operations officer position, with Uhura's primary focus (even if she is an expert in languages) being in the handling of transmissions to and from the ship and the equipment for doing so. By TNG it isn't even a formal bridge officer position — neither Worf nor Harry Kim were actually called communications officers, they just handled the hailing frequencies open/being hailed bit as part of their general duties.
- Robert RO Dixon in Sea Patrol is a very snarky Communications officer. He does go on boarding parties and is the best person with software.
- In Warhammer 40,000, the Imperial Guard has "vox operators" with radio backpacks for battlefield-level communication. For the purposes of interstellar communication, the Imperium of Man actually uses specialized telepaths called Astropaths.
- One of the crew specialties in GURPS Traveller Starships.
- One of the standard Mandatory Bonus Duties in Paranoia. In practice, it mostly plays into the Commie Hunt dynamic.
- In BattleTech, a number of battlemechs have second seat for a communications officer, who takes control of the battlemech's radio and other communication equipment, and can have other tasks such as monitoring the Enemy-Detecting Radar. CP-10-Z Cyclops assault mech was purpose-built for Star League field officers and possesses an advanced tactical computer to coordinate an entire battalion. The AS 7-D Atlas is often retrofitted for the same purpose. These mechs are often the first target in an engagement, both to take out the commander and to take out the 90+ ton bipedal murder tank.
- G.I. Joe has had two communications officers. The first one, Breaker, was one of the first 3 3/4" G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero figures produced, and came with a helmet-mounted radio. The second, Dial-Tone, had a communications backpack and was introduced a few years later. Versions of both characters have been mainstays of the franchise; a Race Lifted Breaker was in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, while a Gender Flipped Dial-Tonenote appeared in G.I. Joe (IDW) comic books and G.I. Joe: Resolute.
- In every incarnation of Transformers, some version of Soundwave is the Decepticons' Communications Officer. And in many continuities, Blaster serves the same role for the Autobots. There are also some occasional secondary characters who also fill the role, such as Hubcap in Transformers: Generation 1 and Kup in Transformers: Wings of Honor.
- In the Mass Effect series, this role is typically filled by Joker, Yeoman Chambers, or Specialist Traynor. Unusually, both take steps to avert the "glorified secretary" aspects of this trope; Chambers is a psychologist (important when you have a crew like Shepard's), whereas Traynor, before being drafted as Shepard's adjutant, was actually in charge of a complete refit of Normandy's comms that allows it to coordinate an entire, galaxy-wide war effort involving thousands of ships on multiple fronts.
- In Wing Commander III, "Radio" Rollins is both this in the literal sense, being the TCS Victory's communication's officer, as well as in the informal sense, considering himself as the one person on the ship who will tell you exactly what's really going on. You have the option upon first meeting him to lay down the law and get him to stop hurting ship's morale with his rumors about Confed being on the ropes in their war with the Kilrathi (which, while largely true, are disastrous for morale to just come out and state them openly when there is still a fighting chance for them to recover).
- In Space Quest V: The Next Mutation, Flo performs this function. Given that the game is a clear parody of Star Trek, this is all she does. Since the SCS Eureka only has a crew of four (with the position of the Science Officer left open), the rest of the bridge duties are done by Droole who appears to be a tactical/pilot/navigation/garbage officer.
- The Vietcong series has the radioman. In the first game, you have to use his radio whenever the radio icon shows up. In tunnel-based missions, you're equipped with your own radio. In the second game, he uses the radio himself.
- In Noob, Ystos is in the unique position of being the only member of Justice guild that the Noob guild can contact without risking a Not Now, Kiddo response. In return, he has easy contact with the Noob guild should Justice find itself unable to spare its own members for a relatively simple task. This takes an important role in Season 3 finale and its novel equivalent as he ends up monitoring the Noob guild through a task that Justice had to abandon to take care of more urgent matters.
- In the early arcs of Schlock Mercenary a "communications slug" called Sergeant Sh'vuu filled this role for Tagon's Toughs. However, after they got a ship with an AI his role became less important, so he started piloting a tank part-time, until he was killed.
- An important position on the airships of Skies Unbroken, since comm officers handle the (equivalent of) sonar along with the communications proper, and this is essential in a World in the Sky. Nem, the Waif Prophet Kind Hearted Cat Lover of Kor's crew is also a cryptologist.
- Exo Squad features team member Alec DeLeon, with his specialized Communications E-Frame.
- In Sealab 2020 and its Gag Dub Sealab 2021, the com officer for the title installation was Lieutenant Sparks (apparently his real last name).
- Transformers Generation One: Blaster and Soundwave's official jobs. In Soundwave's case, it's a painfully blatant euphemism, especially given his everyday duties and his unofficial third-in-command status.