"A soldier and a philosopher. Your intelligence file doesn't do you justice."
Many soldiers in fiction are rough, abrasive grunts
who wouldn't know a work of poetry if it hit them during an artillery barrage.
The Cultured Warrior is somewhat different. He (it's usually a he; if it's a she, she's usually also a Lady of War
) knows his history and culture. He'll happily quote Byron
during a battle. Often a Blue Blood
, he likes fine wines and opera music, and may have gone to a Boarding School
. Oftentimes, they simply believe that things like culture are what they are fighting for; without the fine things in life, there is nothing but more war to look forward to.
It does not need to be evident at first. This is a common form of Hidden Depths
Can be good or evil. Compare Officer and a Gentleman
and Warrior Poet
(usually positive), Wicked Cultured
(negative) and Cultured Badass
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Bloody thirsty and ruthless mercenary captain Askeladd in Vinland Saga likes to school fools in history and religion, usually right before he ends their lives in a spectacularly bloody fashion.
- The first thing Rider of Fate/Zero, Alexander, did after his summoning was visit a library to get an atlas (for planning his world conquest) and a copy of The Iliad, which he likes to read. In fact, he enjoys it so much he'll even have other people read it out loud to him during battle.
- The girls of Gunslinger Girl are exposed to various amounts of culture and actually take classes on them. We are also shown that Henrietta is actually a skilled violinist, Claes is very well-read and she and Triela are seen discussing Honoré de Balzac and Tosca. On the other hand, all of this culture has little effect on Rico (probably due to her handling) and Angelica can't remember anything anymore.
- The "cultured" in Henrietta's case was a side effect of a more pragmatic notion, though: if memory serves, Jose ordered her to play violin partly to improve the sensitivity of her fingers, which was lower than expected after the cybernitization surgery. He could, of course, have picked another, less cultural exercise for her, so it wasn't an entirely unexpected side effect, either. Triela, Claes, and Angelica on the other hand, have had very educated handlers who treated them like own daughters, hence the culture.
- Jet Black from Cowboy Bebop is an interstellar ex-cop turned Bounty Hunter who reads enlightenment-era literature, tends bonsai, and and is a jazz aficionado.
- In Maiden Rose, several members of the main cast are this, given how many of them are also Blue Blooded. Katsuragi is the one who really flaunts it but he's also more of a Desk Jockey than the others.
- Combining Mecha pilot and former prince Sirius in Genesis of Aquarion. He can fly a jet fighter, is a master swordsman, and keeps reciting that damn poem about roses.
- Steve Rogers' Captain America has generally been shown to be an artist before and after he was recruited and enhanced by Project Rebirth. He even drew for a comic book about his hero identity himself.
- Bait and Switch (STO): Lieutenant Dul'krah, Clan Korekh, security chief of the USS Bajor, competently plays the vodchakh, an instrument similar to a violin. In chapter eight he's managed to adapt for it a Bajoran harp concerto that's apparently already a challenging piece on the instrument it was written for.
- Patton in Patton
- This trope laid the foundation for an interesting conflict in the submarine thriller Crimson Tide. Colonel Badass -like Capt. Ramsey (Gene Hackman) points out that when he joined the Navy, they wanted basically "hard-ass grunts who only knew war" but now they seem to want people like his Executive Officer (Denzel Washington) who are more "cultured". He makes the remark "When I was at the Academy they taught us metallurgy and physics. Not 18th century philosophy".
- General Chang, in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, is shown to be the smart and sophisticated Klingon, because he tosses out Shakespeare quotes whilst trying to destroy everybody in his path.
- Star Trek likes to do this in general. Even proudly working-class SCPO Miles O'Brien has various intellectual interests, and plays cello at a near-professional level (an informed attribute we never get to witness, but it was his father's dream for him to be a professional musician before a young O'Brien ran off to join Starfleet).
- Khan Noonien Singh of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is this too. Even in his exile he has a copy of Moby Dick, Paradise Lost and King Lear on his bookshelf.
- It's true, Trek does like its heroes cultured. Note; at the beginning of Star Trek: First Contact, Riker (himself a trombonist) walks in on Picard who's listening to an opera. Riker asks if it's Bizet, Picard tells him it's Berlioz. Also, Picard came from a wine-making family, fenced (as in the modern Olympic sport) and played a wind instrument.
- Foes as well: A good number of Cardassian officers see themselves as defenders of Cardassian culture and will extol the virtues of their cuisine, arts, family values, etc. ad nauseam.
- See also Spock, with his Vulcan harp, not to mention all of the human high culture he seems to be an expert in. Like recognizing Johannes Brahms' musical handwriting and Leonardo da Vinci's painting technique on sight (neither of which is necessarily impossible or difficult; it just takes a serious fan)—and that the works he's witnessing weren't on the historical record (again, serious fan).
- Half the cast of The Proposition.
- Vin Diesel's character in The Pacifier is revealed to be one of these when he finds out that the rebellious son of the family he is protecting is secretly rehearsing for The Sound of Music and is impressed.
- Beast of X-Men is like this. His intro in the third film has him hanging by his feet from the ceiling... reading Scientific American. He spends the first half of the film or so in a suit.
- Colonel William Travis in The Alamo is a flawlessly dressed lawyer who uses impeccably proper English but impresses Davy Crockett (John Wayne) and his men. For example he shoots a charging cavalry soldier with a single-shot dueling pistol as the soldier charges him. This could also be an example of a "real life" Cultured Warrior (see below).
- Wehrmacht officer Friedrich von Hecht has some shades of this in Hornets' Nest. He is extremely well-spoken and urbane compared to his brutish SS colleagues. His uniform is more immaculately kept than the other Germans', and he also wears blue cloth gloves instead of black leather ones.
- In the Aubrey-Maturin series, Captain Jack Aubrey plays the Violin, Stephen Maturin the Cello. Maturin studies Nature and ponders on Evolution before Charles Darwin: Aubrey borrows from his studies to formulate naval strategies. Both of them are prime exemplars of Officers And Gentlemen.
- John Christian Falkenberg III, Colonel of Falkenberg's Legions.
- Grand Admiral Thrawn, of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. If it were not for his willingness to lie, cheat, express destructive hints of temper, and even destroy art if it would win him a battle, he might even qualify as an Officer and a Gentleman. (He certainly does in the Outbound Flight prequel.)
- In Death Star, we've got Nova Stihl, a trooper whose stash of illicit holos are all lectures on philosophy. Also Force-Sensitive.
- A great deal of the Jedi Order and quite a few Sith Lords would fit well into this trope. Count Dooku for instance was very well known for his cultured nature as a Jedi Master, and even later as a Sith Lord this was maintained in his speech and mannerisms. He was also the hereditary Count of the planet Serenno.
- In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Fulgrim, a concert is heavily attended by officers, and when the musician, prima donna, refuses to play for a noble in the audience, Fulgrim himself appears and asks her to play for him. Later, when other soldiers complain of the remembrancers tasked with commerating their work, Fulgrim speaks highly of the concert.
- More generally, this trope was the hat of Fulgrim's Emperor's Children legion before their corruption into sadistic Sense Freaks.
- In the Honor Harrington series, several senior Manticoran officers are known not only for their performance in battle, but also their scholarship. Similarly, several of the Mesans are shown to be rather cultured themselves, with one senior operative shown to be a fan of Manticoran classical music.
- Lord Suffolk from The English Patient: a learned aristocrat who contributes to the war effort by training and leading sappers in defusing Axis bombs.
- Glen Cook's novella "Soldier of an Empire Unacquainted with Defeat" mentions that all the soldiers of the Dread Empire, Shinsan, are required to be literate in at least two languages. The main character, a former senior NCO, remarks that to become a soldier in his country (he's not telling the locals he's from the Dread Empire) requires an education comparable to that of a priest elsewhere. The NCO is literate in six languages, prides himself on his cooking, shows that he's a skilled engineer, and is able to stitch up wounds as well.
- Chosen Man Harris from Sharpe series is well educated, has a deep knowledge of classical literature, is fluent in several modern and ancient languages and was even employed as a private teacher before joining the Rifles. He also masks it quite well under his mischievous and hedonistic persona.
- Kvothe of The Kingkiller Chronicle attends a magic uiversity, is a skilled craftsman of many magical items, is one of the best musicians in history, and has an extensive knowledge of literature, theater, and courtly manners. He's also a talented hand-to-hand fighter who took on a bandit camp nearly single-handed using Blood Magic.
- As of the most recent book in the Discworld series, Wee Mad Arthur is growing into this. Having discovered and embraced his Nac Mac Feegle heritage he remains as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than ever while calming his ever present rage at the world. However being raised by gnomes means that he has also acquired an appreciation for the finer things in life like a night out at the opera.
- Lord John of Diana gabaldon's Outlander series, not to mention his own.
- This is the hat of S.L. Viehl's Jorenians, a Proud Warrior Race (albeit one unlikely to start fights without plenty of provocation) who are also artsy.
- One McAuslan story focuses on a quiz show between two British infantry battalions in North Africa just after World War II. The eight contestants, two of them enlisted men, display incredible knowledge of trivia, whether current, historical, literary, or classical, though the contest is ultimately won by the battalion illiterate, who had overheard the answer to the final question years before in a pub.
- Temeraire is extremely well-read for a dragon, and speaks fluent French.
Live Action TV
- From Airwolf, lead character Stringfellow Hawke plays the cello.
- Brother Mouzone on The Wire reads Harper's Monthly, The Nation, and other intellectual magazines, in between performing Drug executions. Stringer Bell tries to put on this air, but never quite succeeds. The end of Stringer Bells character arch leaves this open, (McNulty picks up The Wealth Of Nation in Stringers apartment) "Who the fuck was I chasing?"
- "Fruity" Rudy Reyes from Generation Kill. He's extremely into East Asian spirituality/philosophy. Possibly subverted in that Rudy is also the most Macho. Seriously, the guy jogs around with a bag filled with rocks and a gas mask *faster* than the other marines in their PE's 
- Colbert also qualifies. Just before a battle he quotes Shakespeare. Then, just to contrast, Person talks about eating pussy.
- An example of the Hidden Depths version of this trope is Kara Thrace — the boozing, frakking, brawling Ace Pilot of the new series of Battlestar Galactica. In one episode someone has left a poetic death threat in Colonel Tigh's quarters, and Lee Adama says it couldn't possibly be Kara because "you wouldn't know poetry if it was hot-soldered across your helmet." Kara proceeds to quote the entire stanza from memory, as well as giving her critique. We later find out this is due to the influence of Kara's artistic father.
- Unlike many of his enlisted fellows in Easy Company, who are mostly farmboys and street kids, Private Webster was actually college educated when he enlisted, was a good writer and knew how to speak German.
- Faith of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel is a subversion: while definitely a warrior and often Waxing Lyrical or coming across as a (pop) Cultured Badass, she is rather Book Dumb, so she'll mess up a famous quote.
- Multiple examples from Babylon 5:
- Commander Jeffrey Sinclair, who was prone to quoting Alfred, Lord Tennyson so often that one of his girlfriends is able to quote it as well just from second-hand exposure.
- Sinclair's replacement, Captain John Sheridan, is a huge history buff and tends to borrow from various old speeches when making public addresses.
- Chief Micheal Garibaldi is more of a Pop Cultured Badass, being a big fan of 20th century Warner Bros. cartoons.note
- Ambassador G'Kar is a religious scholar (he is in fact the senior representative of his faith aboard the station, and becomes the senior representative of an entirely new faith later on), in addition to being an opera singer of much-disputed talent.
- Londo Mollari, much like his archnemesis G'Kar, is an enthusiastic opera singer and fan, as well as a skilled swordsman and pilot.
- Marcus Cole, a member of the secretive Anla'Shok, can reference Arthurian legend and William Shakespeare, as well as sing Gilbert and Sullivan songs to pass the time (and annoy his friends). This in addition to his nigh-unmatched talent in melee combat.
- Plato from Beetle Bailey is the intellectual one, who is well educated about anything in the humanities and sciences.
- The bogatyr Dobrynya Nikitich from the Russian Mythology and Tales exemplifies the Cultured Warrior archetype: he is both extremely educated (enough so to be treated as equal by nobility and royalty despite his commoner descent) and among the best fighters found in the lays (e.g. it is he who slays the biggest and meanest monster of Russian mythology, Zmey Gorynych). Incidentally, this makes him the best candidate for the Ambadassador role, and he is often employed as such by Prince Vladimir.
Role Playing Game
- Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt received a classical education with the Schola Progenium as a candidate to become a Commissar, and while he tries to lead and identify with his men above all else, his cultured background bleeds through on occasion.
- The Craftworld Eldar are an entire race of these, naturally. Many Eldar artists have experience as Aspect Warriors, and even ones who don't have to serve as Guardians when the Craftworld goes to war (which it does often).
Web Comic and Web Original
- In the webcomic Operator, Hpt. Jaeger randomly quotes Macbeth at one point.
- Nathan Hale and Alexander Hamilton in The Dreamer.
- Hakha from Killzone despite being a Helghan enjoys a bit of poetry and philosophy outside of combat despite growing up being in a Space Nazi country.
- Gunnery Sergeant Ashley Williams of Mass Effect happens to have a liking for classical poetry and makes a point to correct Shepard on his/her errors in military history.
- As of the the third game, she's quoted Henley, Tennyson, and Whitman at Shepard. She actually uses Whitman in an attempt to seduce him.
- Shepard is at least her equal in this, at least the ones she quotes.
- Genesis in Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. He spends half of his screentime quoting poetry, and the other half being a Bad Ass.
- Zidane Tribal of Final Fantasy IX: Warrior, thief and actor.
- Cyan Garamonde is not only a mighty swordsman, he's also remarkably gifted at creating hand-made silk flowers and writing poetry. He's rather embarrassed when the party discovers this, though it comes with the territory (he's a walking reference to the Tokugawa era).
- Alka Zolka, the Marauder that researches the Scholars in Final Fantasy XIV and helps you become one. He lampshades it himself.
- In The Regiment by John Dalmas, the Private Military Contractors from planet Tyss are all, even at the very lowest ranks, educated to a level that makes them sound to an offworlder like the best kind of college professors.
- According to Poker Night at the Inventory, Heavy Weapons Guy has a PHD in Russian literature. Apparently it's more useful than you'd think in his line of work.
- Wolf Bronsky, of all people, starts tending towards this after falling in love with the college-educated Resistance fighter Eve Hanley in the Exo Squad episode "Art of War".
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Sokka's swordsmanship instructor Piandao is quite like this.
- Really, all of the Order of the White Lotus people are this to some degree, being very old and experienced and belonging to an organization dedicated to preserving balance in the world, and they try to introduce their protégés to this philosophy and lifestyle as well. Piandao is just the most obvious about it.
- The sequel series, The Legend of Korra gives us borderline example Amon in the first season.. He knows his history well enough to draw parallels to Zuko and point out all the wars caused by bending, he maintains an air of dignity and intelligence even under high stress situations, makes eloquent speeches and is only violent towards benders. The Legend of Korra also has this for the second season's Big Bad, but it's hard to get into without massive spoilers.
- Beast Wars is loaded with these, Dinobot being the most evident example as he's a blood thirsty raptor with a passion for Shakespeare and history. But Megatron's a good example of Wicked Cultured. There's also the chain-gun wield, flower and science loving Rhinox.
- Transformers Animated Prowl is a skilled ninja-bot who takes his time to appreciate nature.