"If you ladies leave my island, if you survive recruit training, you will be a weapon. You will be a minister of death praying for war. But until that day you are pukes. You are the lowest form of life on Earth. You are not even human fucking beings! You are nothing but unorganized, grabastic pieces of amphibian shit! Because I am hard, you will not like me. But the more you hate me, the more you will learn."
His job is simple — turn the bunch of maggot recruits that are the regulars into lean, mean fighting machines. The more you hate him, the more you will learn! So he gives you Training from Hell
, and often seems to revel in it. In a way, he's the military trainee's equivalent of a Mean Boss
, but there's seldom any other type.
The only training method that Drill Sergeant Nasty knows is The Spartan Way
. He yells
. He carpet bombs your ears
. He makes you scrub floors with toothbrushes
. He will make you drop down and give him 20, 50, or whatever arbitrary number he comes up with
. He is usually played by R. Lee Ermey
(who actually was a Marine drill instructor
for two years) or a gruff black man
(see: Louis Gossett, Jr.).
On kids' TV, this same character is a gym teacher
, coach, or other authority figure. Often a veteran drill instructor who has trouble hanging up the chevrons.
The episode will often imply that Drill Sergeant Nasty is right
: that, abrasive though he may be, everything he does is for your own good
and everyone will come out the better for it. Of course, in the film Full Metal Jacket
, the original
Drill Sergeant Nasty drives one of the recruits into a mental breakdown, an outcome that you almost never see
in any other examples.
He will often address those under his command as "maggots"
or "ladies", or any other insults he can think of
to motivate the people under him
. He may also dish out (often derogatory) nicknames.
In Britain, the popular image is of the Sergeant Major, who is usually much less abusive, but no less demanding, and may or may not be marching up and down the square
. If a British work has Shown Their Work
, this role may well be filled by the Provost Sergeant, who is in charge of base discipline, and who the drill sergeants send recruits to go and see for their punishment.
In something of an ironic twist, the popularity of this character has impacted real military training. Recruits often enter with at least a passing familiarity with the trope, and don't take it (or the instructor) seriously.
This often spills into works that depict normal life in the military, more often than not, a higher ranking officer or NCO will randomly scream at the low private and punish him with push-ups or a random exercise. This tacticnote
is unrealistic as most of the US Armed Forces branches have banned this practice outside basic training and the Officer/NCO themselves would get a far worse punishment for having ordered the punishment.
A very specific example of The Neidermeyer
that, unlike that trope, will seldom lead his men into actual combat, because his job is to train them, then send them on to their next assignment. Compare Sergeant Rock
, the guy who leads them once Drill Sergeant Nasty is done training them.
The Drill Sergeant Nasty is one of the best examples of the Genghis Gambit
. It instantly provides 40 people who have nothing in common with one unifying dream, namely the sergeant's slow, painful and embarrassing death.
Compare Veteran Instructor
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- The British NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) ran a television advertisement that showed a Drill Sergeant Nasty ordering a woman to cook for him and read him stories, in imitation of a young child.
- A 2010 GEICO commercial, featuring R. Lee Ermey himself:
[ Cuts to a therapist's office]
Patient: ...and that's why yellow makes me sad, I think.
R. Lee Ermey: That's interesting. You know what makes me sad? YOU DO! MAYBE WE SHOULD CHUG ON OVER TO NAMBY-PAMBY LAND, WHERE MAYBE WE CAN FIND SOME SELF-CONFIDENCE FOR YOU, YA JACKWAGON!!!!! Tissue? [chucks a box of tissues at the patient before he can respond] Crybaby.
- Another R. Lee Ermey commercial was for Wonderful Pistachios.
- An old advertisement for the Seattle Mariners baseball team showed the "Lou Piniella school of therapy." (Piniella was the team manager at the time, and a very good manager was he.)
- Think being a TV sports-cameraman isn't tough (or awesome)? Sky Sport New Zealand and the US Marines demonstrate otherwise.
- One commercial for a Tide stain remover pen features one of these, berating a recruit who had an enormous stain on his uniform. His fellow recruits manage to pass him down the advertised stain remover pen and manage to erase it while the sergeant's too busy screaming his lungs off.
"What'd they send me, a daggone Houdini?!"
- A Halls cough drop commercial has one flying in on a gust of wind when someone takes a cough drop. Hartmann-style, he yells, "Let me see your war face!"
- That TV network ad with the Santa Claus variant. The drill sergeant is an homage to the Full Metal Jacket version.
Anime and Manga
- Downplayed in Macross Frontier: the main character's best friend puts said main through the wringer of tests for the Private Military Contractors but is doing so not because the main needs training but rather to instill some much-needed humility.
- Muta, The Stoic third-in-command of the group of thieves in The Daughter of Twenty Faces fills this role for series namesake Chiko in the early parts of the series, teaching her about the practical ins and outs of burglary and life on the edge of the law by drilling her when she least expects it.
- Sōsuke Sagara from Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu takes on a Drill Sergeant Nasty persona in order to whip his high school rugby team into ship shape before the big game. The reason why it's not in the Sergeant Coach section is because, in typical Sōsuke fashion, he Crosses the Line Twice and puts them through a training regimen fit for a U.S. Navy SEAL in a Shout-Out to Full Metal Jacket. The regimen comes complete with Hartman-style discipline (and not to mention cuss lines ripped directly from the movie), and the end result is a rugby team of Brainwashed and Crazy killers.
- He later subjects a Yakuza gang to this sort of training, so that they won't continue to be picked on by a rival gang (their training is a great deal more humane, however). Of course, his training later leads to them storming their rival gang's hideout, SWAT-team-style in Bonta-kun costumes.
- This actually gets carried over to Super Robot Wars W, counted as being awesome, where he puts that to good use by equipping them with Bonta-Kuns and siccing them on some Mazinger Z enemies.
- Melissa Mao is the actual drill sergeant in FMP, having formerly being a Marine. In the rugby episode, Sōsuke mentions he borrowed her notes, which come in a book titled How to Abuse a Trainee. It's implied that Mao copied Gunny Hartmann wholesale.
- Lal Mirch from Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, who is considered one of the harshest and toughest of trainers (at least, what Tsuna and Gokudera think — which probably means a lot, considering that they've been through Reborn's training...).
- Also, Colonello, who also wears an army outfit. Makes sense that both he and Lal Mirch would be extremely tough and strict drill sergeants, considering they hung out together ever since they were babies.
- Averted in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S, where Nanoha and Fate are kind, caring and understanding to their trainees. But when Teana goes too far in a mock match and puts lives at risk, Nanoha shows just why they call her the White Devil in coldly spectacular, brutal style. It was all for the best, but considering her usual sweet and gentle demeanor was very unexpected and quite jarring (which perhaps was her intention). Then again, the cadets remark that even their normal training menu is exhausting.
- Fan Work often Flanderizes Nanoha into this trope.
- The person who comes closest to being a Drill Sergeant Nasty is Vita, she doesn't yell at the new kids (except in extreme situations) but isn't as gentle or warm as Nanoha or Fate. She is actually playing this trope straight because while being cold and a bit unfriendly she really does have the kids best-interest on mind all the time. This trope is even discussed by her when she discuses with Nanoha why they are not stricter with the new cadets. Nanoha's reply is that the cadets are not unskilled amateurs but capable young soldiers who want to develop their abilities, and that if there is enough time to yell at them it means there is enough time to teach them a little more by beating them in the Mock Battles.
- In the last episode of StrikerS, she notes that she hasn't complimented them much, but that they have become quite strong (most of them are AA rank, two ranks below her), and is blinking back tears while telling them not to cry.
- Tenma's gun coach in Monster.
- Evangeline A.K. McDowell from Mahou Sensei Negima!! She can be convinced, with a lot of effort, to instruct someone in magecraft and/or combat. She cannot be convinced to be gentle about it. On the bright side, those who survive her training definitely gain the benefits.
- Axis Powers Hetalia gives us training-obsessed, serious neatfreak Germany to fill this role: while not exactly that awful, he does have his moments.
- Prussia even more so, as seen in his training of pre-independent America.
- Austria is this to the young Italy, too, after the Italian Wars. Not that it does anything.
- Hiruma from Eyeshield 21 can be like this to his team when he has to. It's later shown that he used to spend his free time at a military base as a child, so that may have had an influence on his "teaching" methods.
- Hiko Seijuro of the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu in Rurouni Kenshin, while a master of a sword-style which is taught only one-on-one, manages to deal such training to the young Kenshin Himura (who will grow up to be the most feared assassin in the Bakumatsu, Hitokiri Battousai). It doesn't help that his catch phrase is:
- SD Gundam Force gives us Gunbike, whose AI was Captain Gundam's original pre-deployment instructor. He's brought in to help the newly-formed Gundam Force learn to work as a team, and starts the training off with a long report on their various flaws.
- In Kamisama Kiss Tomoe is forced against his will into becoming a servant to Nanami. He is immediately disgusted by her lack of spiritual power and knowledge of the divine and supernatural worlds so he decides he is gonna shape her into a more worthy master. And considering Tomoe is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold at the best of times, you can imagine how he goes about doing that.
- Downplayed with Keith Shadis in Attack on Titan, who spares victims of Titan attacks from this routine. An observer comments that the point of this trope is to break recruits down so they can be built back up into soldiers, so heaping abuse on those who have already been broken would be pointless cruelty. Later, he's also willing to consider that Eren's problem may be faulty equipment, rather than incompetence. It is, however, noted that training is exceptionally unforgiving and instructors regularly do things like cut safety lines to gauge a recruit's reaction. Those killed during training are written off as having never had a chance to stand against the Titans anyway.
- Much like Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu, Haiyore! Nyarko-san goes whole-hog on this one in the short story and OVA episode "How to Defeat a Kind Enemy" by having Luhy Distone quote Full Metal Jacket and even don R. Lee Eremy's trademark Nice Hat as she trains Nyarko to become a Magical Girl. Of course, just like Hartman, the training goes horribly wrong and results in Nyarko going from Cute and Psycho to outright Axe Crazy, when the original intent was to make her less violent.
From now on you will speak only when spoken to, and the first and last words off of your bloody tongue will be "hanyaan
- In Saki, Coach Kubo, faculty advisor for the Kazekoshi team, is this, in contrast to the majority of the mahjong club advisors in the series being relatively laid-back. After her team wins the first round of the prefecturals, Kubo slaps Mihoko, the best player on the team, for a minor mistake, and is prepared to do the same to Kana, the second best, before Mihoko stops her and makes a heartfelt speech in defense of her. (It's indicated that this is not the first time Mihoko has done something like this, and her doing so is one reason her teammates adore her). However, when Kazekoshi ultimately loses the prefectural finals to the main characters, Kubo sees Kana coming in, desperately trying to hide her tears, and simply tells her to win the next time.
- Downplayed in Beetle Bailey, Sarge appears as a tough and mean jerk of a sergeant, but he doesn't succeed at whipping his men into shape. Also, Sarge has a variety of weaknesses himself that Beetle uses to get under his skin.
- Gauntlet in the Marvel comics series Avengers: The Initiative is a textbook example of this trope. He eventually gets beaten within an inch of his life by one of his own recruits.
- Battalion, actually nicknamed "the Drill Sergeant from Hell", from the Teen Titans spin-off Team Titans.
- This role was originally fulfilled by actual drill instructor Leatherneck in G.I. Joe, who was a moral absolutist who doesn't have time for your excuses, maggot!
- Beachhead, although little more than a background character in the Marvel comic series, became this in Devil's Due's G.I. Joe series, when assigned to train simple grunt Greenshirts. At one point, he made a recruit clean the barracks not with a toothbrush but with a POTATO. Now that's a new level of Drill Sergeant Nasty...
- An informaedAbility of Sgt. Slaughter; while his toy bio describes him as a Drill Sergeant Nasty, his comic book appearances were limited and avoided this trope. He plays the trope straight in his Western Animation appearances, as listed below.
- Sgt. Stomp in The Intimates, though he's severely emotionally damaged from his days as a superhero. Interestingly, during the Vietnam conflict, he was a conscientious objector and was stripped of his rank for three years. He also sees more value in yoga than most examples would.
- The Italian comic Sturmtruppen: the Sergeant is almost a straight example, except he's truly feared only by fresh recruits (the other soldiers always try to play him tricks when he isn't looking their way) and he's actually somewhat competent into managing Red Shirt lives in battle (less when there's an officer to please or if he really dislikes the designed "victim").
- In a flashback in Green Lantern, Kilowog's drill instructor from his days as a rookie, Lantern Ermey, who instilled within him the drive of a drill instructor and inspired him to push his own recruits as hard as possible so they'll have a better chance of simply surviving once they graduate to full Lantern. Kilowog's Sinestro Corps counterpart Arkillo fills a similar role, though he is even worse, and eats recruits that fail him.
- One appears in Pyramid training camp that Royal infiltrates in Astro City: The Dark Age. He even sports a Smokey the Bear hat.
- Sergeant Haldeman in The Draft warns that any recruit who messes with him "will get more grief than you can handle". Literally, as Pit Bull discovers; he is a projecting empath.
- Astérix and Obelix meet one when they're in Germania and disguised as Goths.
- The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy story "Scout's Dishonor" (Cartoon Network Block Party #35) features the leader of an Extreme Scouts troop that goes from mousy to Drill Sergeant Nasty in zero time after Billy signs up for it.
- Tomahawk: Cannonball served this role in training the Rangers, and even in the field he's always barking at them like mad.
- Mother Brainstorm in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series has traits of this. For one example, she commands her daughter Sheila to give her 20 and chastises her when she does so in only 27 seconds.
- Justice League of Equestria:
- Rainbow Dash's mother Firefly is this to the Wonderbolts (possibly where Spitfire got it from).
- Kilowag is this for the Green Lantern Corps, as per canon. Shining Armor isn't impressed.
- In Necessary To Win, Takako Kubo, of Saki, plays it straight as Black Forest's tankery coach, although it is revealed that she disagrees with her teacher, Shiho Nishizumi, over certain matters; while Shiho would let those who don't live up to her standards flunk out, Takako is willing to do what it takes to whip her students into shape, even corporeal punishment. Averted with the JGSDF instructor Ami, who teaches tankery to Oarai while taking their status as high school students into account, and has had a falling out with Takako over her methods of discipline.
- High Road To Giratina has Alfa the Staraptor. His tactics may or may not have inspired mutiny within his troops.
- The Wrong Reflection: Eleya, a former Bajoran Militia NCO, shuts up Dal Kanril by doing her best drill instructor Death Glare, "the look that says, I don't give a flying phekk if you're Shakaar Edon himself; as far as I'm concerned youï¿½re just another brainless boot who can't tell which end of a combat knife goes into the other guy." Dal Kanril automatically snaps to attention despite herself, and later mentions she felt like she was back in basic training.
- "Remembrance of the Fallen": Eleya again, this time to two of her underclassmen at Starfleet Academy that she's been assigned to tutor, when Tia complains that part of the problem is Sobaru can't sit still.
Eleya: Yes, well, I think I can handle it. (to Sobaru in a harsher voice) Sit down.
Sobaru: (drops into a chair immediately) Sitting down, sir.
Eleya: (snorts) Okay, you can get up. I was just checking to see if "Sergeant Kanril" worked on you.
- In A Taste Of The Good Life: Pinkie Pie takes on this persona towards the other restaurant staff, ignoring Main Course's efforts to tell her that she doesn't actually outrank anyone, and gives the following Rousing Speech:
Pinkie: Alright, listen up maggots and mag-ettes! When you walked through that door twenty minutes ago, you were strangers from different walks of life. All of you have your own reasons for being here, but for the rest of your shift, your plots belong to me! When those doors open, a horde of ravenously hungry ponies is going to come streaming in here, expecting to be seated and served food. It will be up to you, and you alone, to make sure that happens. Nopony is backing you up. Nopony is coming to help you. Unless, you know, if one of you happens to have fewer ponies in your assigned section and want to help the others out that would be the friendly thing to do. But other than that, you. Are. On. Your. Own. And do you know what will happen if you fail? They might only tip twelve percent.
(Most of the staff shudder. One mare chuckles.)
Pinkie: You! Is something about what I just said amusing? Do you think you’re here to have fun?
Mare: Ma’am, no ma’am!
Pinkie: Wrong answer! The Grassy Knoll supports a playful and relaxed atmosphere as long as the work gets done efficiently! You will have fun working here and you will like it!
Mare: Ma’am, yes ma’am!
Pinkie: Some of you might want to give up. You might think it’s all over when a table of twelve with three coliccy foals gets seated in your section. Or you may think it’s over when the customer who ordered the raw tofu chunks complains that they’re undercooked. Nothing is over until we decide it is! Or I guess until we close for the night. Or your shift ends. Or you have some sort of family emergency and have to leave after letting your supervisor know. But other than that stuff, it’s not over! Was it over when the gryphons bombed Yearling Harbor?
Pinkie: Then let’s feed some ponies!
- As the picture and page quote show, Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann from the film Full Metal Jacket (played, of course, by The Master himself, R. Lee Ermey). Deconstructed in the sense that Hartmann is a demonstrable failure as a drill sergeant: he entirely fails to notice one of his trainees is undergoing an obvious mental breakdown until it is too late, and then gets himself killed in a very stupid manner by trying to abuse and provoke even further the visibly twitching trainee fondling the loaded rifle... instead of simply turning around and leaving to fetch the MPs before the crazy man with the gun noticed he was there.
- R. Lee Ermey, the actor who played Hartmann, was a Drill Sergeant Nasty in real life. He was originally hired as a consultant for Full Metal Jacket, but Kubrick decided to use him instead of the actor they had hired after, the story goes, he put together a tape of himself demonstrating what sorts of tirades the character might be expected to dish out—fifteen minutes long, while being pelted with tennis balls and rotten oranges, one take, with no repetition (of complete phrases, anyway). However, Ermey noted that DIs aren't allowed to even touch the recruits anymore. If anyone tried half the crap that Hartmann did, they would be court martialed, even when Ermey was in the Marines.
- This is the character that gave us the phrase "unscrew your head and shit down your neck." Society owes the man a debt we may never repay. In fact, R. Lee Ermey is one of the only actors Kubrick ever let ad lib his lines—a lot of his iconic pieces of abuse were made up on the spot, or recycled from his real life Drill Sergeant Nasty days.
- Adolph Caesar earned an Academy Award nomination as Sgt. Waters in A Soldiers Story, whose murder drives the mystery plot.
- Hoo boy, Cadet Captain Stone goes beyond the call of duty with this in Cadet Kelly.
- A somewhat more sedate, erudite, but no less nasty version would be Viggo Mortensen's portrayal of Command Master Chief John James "Jack" Urgayle in G. I. Jane. Urgayle isn't a bully though, he's a man with a job to do. He is also possibly the least sexist character in the film.
- Sergeant Hulka in Stripes, of course.
- Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley (played by Louis Gossett Jr.) in An Officer and a Gentleman. "Only two things come from Texas, Steers and Queers. And I don't see no horns, boy."
- Which predates Full Metal Jacket, which had the same insult, along with a variant on the "... gouge out your eyes and skullfuck you" line, also present in both films.
- R Lee Ermey served as Louis Gossett's technical advisor for the film An Officer and a Gentleman.
- Gunnery Sergeant Tom Highway, Heartbreak Ridge. Clint Eastwood, for those of you who don't habla. At one point, he shoots at his recruits with an AK-47 — the preferred weapon of the enemy, which makes a distinctive sound when fired.
- Career Sergeant Zim in the movie version of Starship Troopers, arguably to the point of exaggeration. Nastier than most as during basic training he callously broke one recruit's arm and pinned another one's hand to a wall with a throwing knife. The reason he could get away with it is because the medics of the era are apparently capable of patching up such injuries completely without leaving so much as a scar. (The book version differs; see below.)
- However, Starship Troopers was intended to be a satire (and the director was very surprised at how many people failed to grasp that) and therefore Zim was a drill sergeant nasty taken up to eleven. However, there were also several scenes that showed Zim genuinely cared about the people he was training and would stick his neck out for them when necessary.
- Master Chief Billy Sunday, Navy Diving Instructor from Men of Honor. You may be thinking of a preacher by the same name, but that guy worked for God. He IS God! His student goes on to become a Sergeant Rock. The racist commanding officer in the film treats Brashear like dirt simply for being black. He goes out of his way to humiliate Brashear in front of the other divers, who get a kick out of it (they're all white, and it's 1948).
- The unnamed drill sergeant in Forrest Gump, who spends the entirety of his screen time shouting:
Drill Sergeant: GUUUMP! WHAT'S YOUR SOLE PURPOSE IN THIS ARMY?
Gump: To do whatever you tell me, Drill Sergeant?
Drill Sergeant: GODDAMMIT, GUMP! YOU'RE A GODDAMN GENIUS! THAT'S THE BEST OUTSTANDING ANSWER I'VE EVER HEARD! YOU MUST HAVE A GODDAMN I.Q. OF 160! YOU ARE GODDAMNED GIFTED, PRIVATE GUMP!
- Later, when Gump demonstrates unusual skill at field stripping his M-14:
Gump: DONE, DRILL SERGEANT!
Drill Sergeant: GUUUUUUMP! WHY DID YOU PUT THAT WEAPON TOGETHER SO QUICKLY, GUMP?
Gump: You told me to, Drill Sergeant?
Drill Sergeant: JESUS H. CHRIST! This is a new company record! If it wouldn't be a waste of such a damn fine enlisted man, I'd recommend you for OCS, Private Gump! YOU ARE GONNA BE A GENERAL SOMEDAY, GUMP, NOW DISASSEMBLE YOUR WEAPON AND CONTINUE!
- If this makes him appear less blatantly nasty than many examples, it's because Gump has quickly grasped that the most comfortable way to make it through boot camp is to simply do as you're told. The drill sergeant probably realizes that Gump is never likely to amount to more than a solid, dependable enlisted man, and that he makes a good example for the rest of the recruits ("If this idiot can do it why can't you", etc). It's also that drill sergeants typically know all about men who think they know better and try to do it their own way—when the army really does know the best way to train you (they've had over 200 years of practice). In this case the drill sergeant is telling the men that they must learn to follow orders, which is exactly what you must do in the army.
- Forrest might well have made it to be Corporal, but this would be based on how he would always follow his orders and simply make him the one to take charge of Privates with the loss of higher ranks, since he wouldn't try anything 'clever' and could be depended on to take orders.
- Forrest actually does become a Sergeant, but that was based off of earning the Medal of Honor, which generally comes with a meritorious promotion.
- Biloxi Blues makes the drill sergeant even more intimidating by sticking Christopher Walken in the role.
- He's also legitimately and dangerously insane, unlike most of the examples of this trope, who are just pretending to be a little nuts to intimidate their recruits.
- Col. Oates of Oates Military Academy in Alaska in the Bill & Ted movies. The central conflict of the first film is that Ted's authoritarian father will ship Ted to the Academy if he fails History, which would mean The End Of The Future As We Know It. Oates actually shows up in the sequel; in person he's somewhat personable (of course, he is off-duty at the time), but still insanely imposing; it's when he appears as part of Bill and Ted's joint Personal Hell that we see this trope come into play:
Oates: Drop and give me... infinity!
Ted: We're in real trouble Bill, there's no way I can do infinity pushups.
Bill: Maybe if he lets us do them girly style?
- Regimental Sergeant-Major Sandy Young in the movie The Wild Geese, who, as he is training mercenaries, is not tied down by regulation. In the middle of a demanding training session, he kicks the medic and yells, "You screaming faggot, move it before I sew up your arsehole!"
Young: On your feet, you fucking abortion!
Trooper: I tried, Sir, I'm dead.
(the RSM immediately draws his sidearm and fires into the ground a few inches from the trooper's head)
- Sergeant Major Plumley in We Were Soldiers, played by Sam Elliot. Sgt. Major Plumley didn't normally bother yelling at recruits, he kept his buttchewing to the many grades of sergeants below him, and wouldn't think twice about straightening out a young officer either. In once scene Lt. Colonel Hal Moore relates a story of the interconnectedness of a Native American group and how it strengthens the fighting men. Every older woman is termed mother, and every older man is termed grandfather with respect. After finishing this message, Sgt. Major Plumley stands up, looks the lieutenants and captains in the eyes and says, "If any one of you sons of bitches calls me Grandpa, I'll kill you."
- The movie's Crowning Moment of Funny is pretty much anything Plumley says. It's amplified by the fact that he doesn't talk much throughout the movie.
- A young sergeant happens to meet Sgt. Major Plumley each day as they both cross the parade grounds at roughly the same time in the morning. 
Sgt. Savage: Good morning, Sergeant Major.
Sgt. Major Plumley: How do you know what kind of goddamn day it is?
Sgt. Savage: Beautiful morning, Sergeant Major!
Sgt. Major Plumley: What are you, a fucking weatherman now?
Sgt. Savage: (puts his head down and says nothing)
Sgt. Major Plumley: (growls)
- And that't not even counting this deleted scene.
- Of course, Sgt. Major Plumley is extremely competent as both a leader and a fighting man. In one scene he draws his Colt 1911 .45 and headshots multiple NVA regulars charging their headquarters and casualty collection point, hence also Sergeant Rock.
- Around the same time in the film, he grabs Joe Galloway, who was hiding in the grass while trying to take photos, and parks him up against a tree (giving him some cover and a better vantage point to take photos from) before handing him a rifle to defend himself with. Plumley is a walking talking Moment of Badass, and pretty anyone in his proximity becomes badass themselves possibly because they're terrified of what he'll do to them if they don't.
- Staff Sergeant Bob Barnes in the film Platoon is initially presented as one of these. It turns out though that he is much worse.
- Sergeant Grimshaw in Carry On Sergeant.
- And Sergeant-Major "Tiger" Bloomer in Carry On England.
- "Tiger" Bloomer was played by Windsor Davies, who went on to play Battery Sergeant-Major "Shut Up" Williams in It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Sergeant-Major Zero (a robot head) in Terrahawks and the Sergeant-Major in the Marmalade Atkins episode "Private Marmalade". Much like Ermey in the States, when a British audience thinks of a Sergeant-Major bellowing orders at a raw recruit, they think of Windsor Davies.
- Major Reisman serves this role in The Dirty Dozen, "encouraging" one of his "recruits" up a rope with a submachine gun.
- Subverted in the TV movie Tribes, in which disgruntled Marine DI Tom Drake continually butts heads with drafted hippie Adrian, leading both men to learn about and gain respect for their "opponent".
- The Irish sergeant in Glory, Sgt. Major Mulcahy. Very well portrayed by John Finn. He is a racist, but a soldier more, and he doesn't want them to be killed because of unpreparedness.
- "This is your front!" (smacks soldier in the stomach) "This is your rear!" (smacks soldier on the back) "This is your right." (stomps on soldier's foot) "And this is..." (attempts to stomp on soldier's other foot, soldier pulls it away) "Now ye larnin', boyo."
- He is very much a "tough love" Drill Sergeant Nasty with nothing of the bully in him, and even convinces Shaw to not order him to loosen up with the (still) soft Pvt. Searles, Shaw's personal friend, whom Mulcahey had rather savagely beaten to the ground: (...)
Mulcahey: "The boy's your friend, is he?"
Shaw (nods): "We grew up together."
Mulcahey: "Mm. Let him grow up some more."
- This idea was spoofed in one scene of the Woody Allen movie Love and Death; the movie takes place in Russia during the Napoleonic wars, but when Woody's character Boris is forced to enlist he and his fellow recruits are trained by a black drill sergeant who fits this trope exactly.
- Sergeant L.C. Ross in Private Benjamin, both the film and subsequent TV sitcom. In both versions he fits the "gruff black man" type, being played by gruff black actor Hal Williams and all.
- Tech Sgt. Jim Moore (Jack Webb) in The D.I. (1957). A noteworthy example because he makes it a point to never physically assault or swear at his troops, despite being very tough and demanding. The film was produced in response to a scandal over a training mishap where several Marine recruits died, and was shown to Marine Drill Instructors to serve as an example of how they should behave.
- Perhaps the granddaddy of all film characterizations of this trope is Lon Chaney, Sr.'s Sergeant O'Hara in the silent film Tell It to the Marines (1927). Beneath his tough-as-nails exterior, however, lies a Hidden Heart of Gold.
- Jarhead features Staff Sergeant Sykes, the Marine who whips Swoff's squad into shape after he decides he wants to join a group of snipers. He's actually a very competent soldier, more of a Sergeant Rock, but is not afraid of dishing out extremely harsh punishments, and so qualifies. A better example would be Swoff's first drill sergeant, D.I. Fitch, shown briefly in the beginning of the movie, who smashes his head into a chalkboard when he talks back.
D.I. Fitch: What the fuck are you even doing here?!
Swoff: Sir! Because I took a wrong turn on the way to college, sir!
- In Fitch's case, it might be because — if he is in fact a sergeant — he's an NCO being addressed as sir. They hate that.
- In the USMC, Drill Instructors are addressed as "sir" until the last week of training.
- Sgt. Waters in A Soldier's Story is an extra-special case, a light-skinned black sergeant in the Deep South during WWII heaping abuse on his recruits, due to his own self-hatred.
- In the beginning of The Sound of Music, Captain Von Trapp was one of these towards his children and household, because too many things such as singing and dancing reminded him of his deceased wife. Fortunately, with the help of Maria and his children, he was able to get over it.
- Parodied in Hot Shots :
- The sergeant major from Monty Python's And Now For Something Completely Different is a subversion and a parody of this trope. After an initial dressing down he informs the soldiers that today they will be "marching up and down the square" and keeps threateningly asking them if they have anything better to do. When any of them states that they want to go do something else, he... gives them permission to go off and do it (while still shouting at them). After a few go off, he asks the remainder if they want to go to the pictures and then tells them to do so, before turning to the camera and saying "Bloody army, don't know what it's coming to!" before marching up and down the square by himself.
Democracy and humanitarianism have always been trademarks of the British Army. Sergeant Major: RUBBISH! Narrator: Ssssh!
- Billy Connolly (a former Parachute Regiment soldier, so he would know), does a brief but hilarious turn as a drill sergeant in The Last Samurai. Also notable because his character (Sergeant Gant) is not usually a drill sergeant but a Sergeant Rock who has adapted to doing this job out of circumstances.
Sergeant Gant: Alright you little bastards! You will stand up straight and get in formation, or I shall personally shit-kick every Far Eastern buttock that appears before my eyes!
(the Japanese soldiers line up perfectly despite the fact that Gant was shouting in English)
Algren: Well done, Sergeant.
Gant: Once you know the lingo, sir, everything falls into place.
- Sergeant Stone from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
- Kilowogg in Green Lantern.
- Victor Spinetti plays an overzealous, gibberish-spewing, proto-Pythonesque version in Magical Mystery Tour.
- The film version of Enders Game portrays Sergeant James Dap as a Scary Black Man with a British accent who constantly yells at Launchies and makes Ender "drop and give [him] 20" for doing what he previously claims to allow (i.e. ask legitimate questions). While Ender is doing push-ups, he continues to yell at him, telling Ender that he's never going to make commander and that Dap will never salute him. After Ender replies that Dap will, Dap adds 20 more push-ups (although he stops Ender after a few more). Finally, he yells for Ender to "shut it" when the boy continues to mouth off. Later, though, after Ender does make commander, Dap salutes him and treats him with respect.
- Fred Colon's reminiscing about his unnamed drill sergeant in the Discworld novel Men at Arms; he was a classic example of the trope. The "he was right" aspect is subverted; Colon seems to be headed there when he describes seeing the sergeant afterwards, but instead he fondly describes helping beat up the sergeant in an alley.
- Corporal Himmelstoss of All Quiet on the Western Front, possibly one of the earliest examples of the trope (it was written by a German veteran of World War I shortly after said war). A coward who dreads going to the front, his troops get their revenge.
- Himmelstoss is redeemed later in the book, when one character meets him again after he's been wounded and placed on light duty with supply. Himmelstoss is there as the supply sergeant, and has after seeing the elephant and realising what the characters go through, turned into Sergeant Friendly, getting the character good food and even sneaking him some goodies on the side.
- El Conquistador. Almost every teacher in the Calmécac (the aztec High School... actually a Deadly Training Area) behaves that way. It's only expected than the bravest and boldest of all people survives the school.
- Played straight in The Lords of Discipline.
- Played for drama in the novel series CHERUB, where the Drill Sergeant Nasty actually IS a bad example of a human being, later fired when he half-strangled Kyle and tried to extort a good report from Lauren. Oh, and he was going to kill Lauren's puppy.
- In Old Man's War by John Scalzi, the training sergeant is a heavily self-aware version of this trope. He says he actually does hate his recruits, as well.
"Ha, ha, ha," Master Sergeant Antonio Ruiz said, back at us. "Don't think I don't know what you're thinking, you dumb shits. I know you're enjoying my performance at the moment. How delightful! I'm just like all those drill instructors you've seen in the movies! Aren't I just the fucking quaint one!"
The amused chuckles had come to a stop. That last bit was not in the script.
- A truly psychotic version of Sergeant Grimshaw (see film examples above), seemingly based on Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann, appears in Kim Newman's Alternate History novella Teddy Bear's Picnic. After having the recruits peel potatoes as a punishment, he decides he's changed his mind and orders them to glue the potato skins back on.
- Sergeant Lejaune in Beau Geste. In his case he was a villain and indifferent to "doing it for their own good".
- Sargeant Lejaune positively pales in comparison to "Sergeant-Major Suicide-Maker" ("a half-mad bully whose monomania was driving men to suicide") from some of P.C. Wren's other Foreign Legion stories, and quite possibly the worst example here.
- Republic Commando Series: The training sergeants Kal Skirata and Walon Vau both seem this way at times. Kal actually has a soft spot for "his boys", and is much kinder to them whenever he can be, but he can put on the role when he has to. Walon Vau, on the other hand... when the clones trade stories, the ones involving Vau are not the kind that get laughter.
- Drill Sergeant Clubrush, a Salamandastron Hare from the Redwall series, tends to play with this trope. At the traditional ceremony welcoming Salamandastron's new recruits, for instance, Clubrush appears in a costume of a very own kind; roots are tied to his legs, to represent the recruits' guts, long leaves and round tubers attached to his belts, to represent the recruits' ears and bobtails.
- Bill the Galactic Hero by Harry Harrison has Deathwish Drang who plays this trope to the letter, with pronounced tusks no less. It is later revealed that Drang is a trained psychologist and that the act is a result of decades of research (and his tusks are fake).
- In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novel The Armor of Contempt, Dalin and Merrt are subjected to a truly nasty drill sergeant Kexie, who is indeed sadistic. When he interprets Dalin's high scores as evidence of cheating and attacks him, only Merrt's derision stops him — and only Merrt's explicit willingness to be beaten for having derided him stops him from beating Merrt. This makes his eventual willingness to recognise them as proper Guardsmen all the more touching.
- In the Sharpe series, Sharpe's enemy Sergeant Hakeswill is one, but does not have any of the positive aspects. Sharpe himself also sometimes acts like one, very easily forgetting he's an officer when training the men, as he was actually promoted from the ranks.
- Legion Of The Damned has one of these, but a bit worse than usual. As the "damned" in question are cyborgs with the brains of executed criminals, their drill sergeant can kill them if they piss him off, or he needs to make an example.
- Miles Vorkosigan is commanded by the psychotic Metzov early in his career in The Vor Game.
- Sergeant Adib Julian and Company Sergeant Major Eva Kosutic in the Prince Roger series. Julian terrorizes the alien sepoys he's trying to bring up to 30th-Century standards, and Kosutic terrorizes Prince Roger himself.
- Gunny Miles Arthur Rutherford, from John Ringo's Council Wars series.
- In the book Starship Troopers, Sergeant Zim appears at first to fit this trope. But unlike in the movie, it turns out that Zim is really the "Tough Love" variety, and trains his men hard only because he deeply worries and cares for them.note It is also stated that as soon as most of the recruits who couldn't hack it were gone, the DIs became even more demanding, but far less nasty.
- In fact, Zim later gets in trouble for being TOO soft on his recruits: one of them punches him in the face and is drummed out for striking a superior. All the officers and NCOs involved agree it was Zim's fault for letting his guard down in a stress situation, which he did because he liked the recruit and didn't think he was dangerous. Thus, it would have been less trouble for the recruit if Zim had just swatted him with the cane before he could get within arm's reach.
- The Narrator explains that drill sergeants in the M.I. aren't bullies, they're skilled craftsmen; charged with the solemn duty of turning a bunch of raw recruits into soldiers. The M.I. doesn't want bullies as drill sergeants, as bullies are in it for personal satisfaction, and tend to get bored easily and slack off.
- That said, another one of the instructors, Corporal Bronski, states bitterly that Zim has no parents, because Drill Sergeants reproduce by mitosis, like bacteria, implying that he's about as nice to his instructor subordinates as he is to the recruits.
- Considering that Zim is later told to have a word with Bronski due to his tendency to fraternize (a big no-no for a Drill Sergeant) after said incident there are good reasons for that.
- The Halo novels feature CPO Mendez, who acts as this for the Spartans. Mendez is also this done right. He clearly cares for the Spartans, and they all attribute their survival to him. He wound up being both a Parental Substitute and a Living Legend to them.
- This is even invoked in Ghost of Onyx. Kurt Ambrose knows that as Lt., he can't get involved in the Spartan-3's training, as they're supposed to respect him and hate CPO Mendez.
Kurt: Chief, I'm sorry that order had to come from you.
Mendez: I understand, sir. You're the CO. You have to inspire and command their respect. I'm their drill instructor. I get to be their worst nightmare.
- Subverted in Ender’s Game. Upon leaving for the military academy, the kids encounter a character like this, and Genre Savvy Ender assumes that it will be like in movies where the drill sergeant makes his life hell but they all become friends in the end. Instead, the sergeant character actually favors Ender tremendously, causing him to become alienated from the other cadets.
- Ender himself is said to be brutal when dealing with groups (thus fitting the trope) but not when working with individuals.
- Alliser Thorne, armsmaster of the Night's Watch in A Song of Ice and Fire. He's not shown as particularly effective, and Jon ends up teaching his fellow recruits himself, as Thorne's "have amateurs repeatedly beaten up by experts, while insulting them" method of training just left them bruised and resentful. Some of them he didn't even teach the proper way to hold a sword. His attempt to become Lord Commander was hopeless because no one who'd been taught by him—a fair amount, as he'd been on the Wall some sixteen years by that point—would ever support him.
- Roland's teacher, Cort in Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. He calls would-be gunslingers "maggots" and physically abuses them. However, his training made Roland what he is, an utter Badass, and Roland remembers him fondly.
- In the novels by Sven Hassel, the Wehrmacht drill sergeants are portrayed as sadistic loudmouths, more interested in breaking men than turning them into good soldiers.
- In Leo Kessler's pulp-fiction about SS-Batallion Wotan, Sergeant-Major Metzger (the Butcher) is the evil sadist charged with turning Waffen-SS recruits into fighting soldiers, supported by the sadistic gay Colonel (the Vulture) who sees his men only as a disposable means to getting medals. Metzger is an overbearing crude and ignorant bully with no redeeming features; a disgruntled recruit, Schulze, gains revenge in several satisfying ways, including seducing his bored and bovine wife, passing an STD on to her in the bargain. Appalled that he is going to war with the Batallion, Metzger disgraces himself with an act of craven cowardice and is busted to Private.
- Bigwig in Watership Down when he wants to be. Yes, that's right. He's a rabbit and he pulls this off.
"I'll just have a word with you three. Why don't you get washed, Hawkbit? You look like the end of a rat's tail left in a trap. And as for you Speedwell..." [Fade out. Hazel talks, fade back in.] "...And you, Acorn, you dog-eared, dung-faced disgrace to a gamekeepers gibbet: if only I had the time to tell you-" [Fade out. Hazel talks, fade back in.] In the hollow below, Bigwig seemed to be drawing to a close "And now, you bunch of mole-snouted, muck-raking, hutch-hearted sheep-ticks, get out of my sight sharp Other wise I'll-" He became inaudible again.
- Hazel actually criticises him here for going too far and making Hawkbit, Acorn and Speedwell feel threatened and biting one of them for arguing, but as Bigwig can also be a more kind-hearted Sergeant Rock when he wants to, he gets the job done one way or the other.
- Sergeant Major Robert De Longueville in the Serpentwar Saga. His favorite gig was to threaten recruits. Given that his recruits were taken exclusively from people who had been sentenced to death or several years hard labor, he really did have the authority to do it, too.
- Book nine of Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures series, M.Y.T.H. Inc. in Action, sees Guido and Nunzio infiltrating the army of Possiltum and finding themselves at the mercy of such a drill sergeant. Hilarity Ensues.
- The codeifier may well be "The Short-Timers" by Gustav Hasford. This novel was the basis for Full Metal Jacket. Sargent Gerheim had people getting private beatings and drinking piss as punishments for minor things. This guy is so twisted, he congratulates Private Pyle when he shoots him.
- In the short story "Sergeant Lacey Demonstrates" by Norman P. Kaufman, a private gets revenge on a Drill Sergeant Nasty by tying him up during a first-aid demonstration and then leaving him to drown on a beach.
- Light And Dark The Awakening Of The Mageknight: Sir Fredrick drills his 'sorry lot' of first year squires into the ground.
- The gamebook The Rings of Saturn: The astronaut academy has this in the form of sergeant Padgett. If you screw something up, he'll send you off to train in an underwater base under a uplifted telepathic dolphin who is even harsher, and not a playful nice dolphin.
- Subverted in The Adventures of Good Soldier Svejk in the World War I - when the protagonist is assigned an hour of rifle drill as a punishment, under supervision of Feldwebel (Sergeant-Major) Nasáklo, "the meanest tyrant in the regiment" - which he performs smartly while cheerfully chatting with the instructor, but the Sergeant-Major soon pass out and must be hospitalized with "either a sunstroke or acute brain fever". Played straight several other times in the novel, usually with a distinct tendency towards "nasty but incompetent and ineffective" drill instructors, sometimes employing physical violence towards recruits.
Live Action TV
- R. Lee Ermey played the same kind of character for Space: Above and Beyond for the lead characters, but they turned out well with a respectful salute from the Top Kick when they graduated.
- R Lee Ermey plays House's decorated armed forces father, who punished little Greg The Spartan Way.
- Ermey was also the... enthusiastic host of History Channel's Mail Call, a military-themed ask-tell show.
- He also hosts the new show Lock and Load in a overall more sedate style, but there's still enough hints at his DSN nature in there...
- In Band of Brothers, Captain Herbert Sobel is both played straight and something of a subversion. His training methods are so brutal that the entire company despises him and becomes motivated to go above and beyond to prove his insults wrong. For half of the first episode he's shown being extremely tough on his soldiers, revoking their passes for the slightest offenses, making them train longer and harder than the other companies. At one point his batallion commander tells him that his company has the finest performance in their division. However, he subverts the trope somewhat when it's discovered that he's an incompetent commander. While he's great at whipping soldiers into shape in a garrison environment and several acknowledge they would have died without his training, he's not so great when it comes to field work. He's unable to perform simple tasks, such as reading a map properly, resulting in a mutiny by his NCO's who refuse to go to war under his command. Ultimately he's reassigned to a training camp to keep him out of the field, and Easy Company gets a different captain before they mobilize.
- The real Sobel was apparently a bitter and deeply unhappy man who attempted suicide late in life.
- Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone plays this trope straight in The Pacific when sent back to Camp Pendleton (at his own request) to train new recruits. Unusual in that he subsequently joins his men in combat; moreso in that he gets KIA.
- Sergeant Silverback in Power Rangers S.P.D. is this and a gorilla.
- Although not a drill sergeant, Queeg from the Red Dwarf episode of the same name is exactly this sort of character.
- And Rimmer himself takes on the role with great relish (in "Meltdown") — mostly parodying Full Metal Jacket — when training various historical figures. Saint Francis of Assisi is told there's "only two kinds from Assisi" (you know the rest of the line), Jean-Paul Sartre gets "Well, Sartre, we don't like existentialists around here, and we certainly don't like French philosophers poncing around in their black polo necks filling everyone's heads with their theories about the bleakness of existence and absurdity of the cosmos, clear?", and there's an inevitable "Get on the floor and give me 50!" directed at Gandhi.
- Although not a drill sergeant, several episodes of Scrubs imply that Dr Kelso is as nasty as he is because if he was nice the hospital would fall apart.
- Similarly, Dr Cox's often vicious treatment of those he teaches is held as the only way he can teach.
- R. Lee Ermey even played a character in Scrubs (the Janitor's father) who sprang from the same cookie cutter as most of his other roles.
- In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Learning Curve", Lt. Tuvok is put in charge of a group of Maquis who won't integrate with the crew, and suddenly turns into Drill Sergeant Nasty (including expecting one of them to degauss the transporter pads with a hand-held device; the 24th century version of scrubbing the floor with a toothbrush).
- The real Drill Sergeant Nasty in the episode is actually Chakotay. The crewmen that Tuvok is training opt to leave mid-drill as Tuvok's logical Vulcan approach does little to enforce compliance. When one of them says to Chakotay that "There's the Starfleet way, and there's the Maquis way," Chakotay sucker punches him.
Chakotay: That's the Maquis way too, isn't it? And if you want to keep doing it the Maquis way, that's fine with me. We can do that tomorrow, the next day, and every day until you report to Lieutenant Tuvok. You understand me? [smacks crewman in the face] How does a Starfleet officer answer a question?
- Two Monty Python sketches features such a character doing this — to a bunch of self-defense students and seriously injured hospital patients.
Sergeant: (to casted and bandaged patient) You, you horrible little cripple! What's the matter with you?
Patient: Fractured tibia, sergeant.
Sergeant: (quietly and condescending) "Fractured tibia, sergeant?" "Fractured tibia, sergeant?" Ooh. (full volume) PROPER LITTLE MUMMY'S BOY, AREN'T WE?!!
- Complete subversion: the urbane, upper-class Sgt. Arthur Wilson of Dads Army, who is more inclined to politely ask his platoon if they'd "awfully mind forming three nice, neat rows, if you please." Eccentric and dreamy he may be, but not only is he well liked by his platoon, but it's frequently established that he's far more competent that his ultra-eager and aggressive superior Captain Mainwaring, whose own drill sergeant-like efforts frequently result in chaos.
- For a look at Mainwaring and Wilson in their traditional tropes, the episode "The Two and a Half Feathers" has a hilarious flashback to the war in the Sudan where Wilson plays the genteel officer and Mainwaring is his foul-mouthed sergeant.
- The show featured a couple of straight examples; Drill Sgt. Gordon in the episode "Room at the Bottom" and Captain Ramsay in "We Know Our Onions" being the most notable.
- "The Sergeant" on LOST episode 4.5 "The Constant": Drags Desmond Hume, the time-traveling Scotsman, from his bed, punishes the whole platoon for Des' tardiness in awaking by making them do push-ups in the rain, then punishes them further by forcing them to run laps around the muddy field.
- In an example of the British variant, Sergeant Major Williams in It Ain't Half Hot Mum.
- An episode in which Williams's will was read revealed that he too was only hard on the squad for their own good, and he thought they were all "grand lads, especially little Lofty".
- An episode of the Goosebumps TV series featured the main characters living next door to a retired Drill Sergeant Nasty, who in his post-army life has become obsessed with cultivating the perfect garden. He gets his comeuppance when he is turned into a lawn ornament at the end.
- Such a character features in an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, during the "Witch's Exam" arc. Sabrina does end up scrubbing the floor with a toothbrush, although she does use minor magical assistance in moving said toothbrush.
- R.T. Hines (played by Richard Roundtree) from the MacGyver episode "Tough Boys".
- Subverted (like everything else) in Arrested Development: when Buster joins Army, his drill sergeant is not allowed to "motivate" him over the climbing wall because there have been a variety of lawsuits. Fortunately, by the end of the episode, his older brother Gob is around to tell him "Now get over that wall, homo!"
- And then slugs him in the gut on the way down, saying: "Now when you do this without getting punched, you'll have more fun."
- In Family Ties, Skippy's recruiting officer also serves as his drill sergeant, with appropriate change in demeanour and volume. When Skippy goes AWOL due to his inability to cope with basic training, and the sergeant tracks him to (of course) the Keaton household, he tells Skippy that he could have him court martialled and jailed. Then he reverts back to "nice guy" mode and informs Skippy that he's merely discharged and goes on to commend him for at least having the guts to try.
- Sgt. Maj. Sixta in Generation Kill will take it personally if you don't agree with him on the grooming standard's importance and will talk at length about it in his very...unique vernacular. Subverted late in the miniseries adaptation, where it's implied that he knows exactly how ridiculous he is, and does it when morale falls because he would rather the Marines spend their time hating him than being depressed.
- CPO Sharky, played by Don Rickles as an equally-temperamental example.
- Subverted, of course, by Sgt. Carter in Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C..
- Just Shoot Me! had a Whole Plot Reference to An Officer and a Gentleman once, with Dennis Finch filling in the Emil Foley role towards a group of interns.
- In the Firefly episode, "Ariel," Simon Tam, of all people, shows that he can be as harsh and unforgiving as any Drill Sergeant Nasty when he takes over the operation of a patient who is dying due to incompetent treatment (an incredibly ballsy move since, you know, he's a fugitive from the Core in a Core-based hospital) and manages to save his life. And then gives the doctor who was treating the guy a serious dressing-down for his conduct. The whole scene in general is a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
- Parodied in Saturday Night Live by Will Ferrell. Despite maintaining his harsh tone of voice, he still talks about what to do about his failing marriage and other things. At the end, he tells his cadets that he loves them.
- In the season 7 Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Get It Done", Kennedy, the most senior of the potentials and who has received subtantial training from her watcher, has taken up this role with the others, shouting at one of them, Chloe, and calling her a "maggot" when she does her steps wrong; then as an aside she jokes to Buffy how cool it was that she got to call somebody a "maggot". The First drives Chloe to suicide that night, and then taunts Kennedy by implying that the "maggot" insult led to the suicide.
- Buffy herself fared little better. When a reformed Faith comes to town, she makes no effort to horn in on the gig but quickly demonstrates that Buffy is a failure as a leader. In fact her reaction to Chloe's suicide could have come right from the Full Metal Jacket script.
- The killer of the week in the Cold Case episode "Shore Leave".
- Jo Lupo to the Astraeus project cadets on Eureka.
- Colonal Tigh on Battlestar Galactica. It's implied that the Colonial militia, or at least Galactica, follows the classic XO/CO arrangement where everyone is terrified of the executive officer and loves the commanding officer.
- Inverted in the JAG episode "Boot", where the nasty sergeant, Staff Sergeant Carrington, is a woman (played by Julie Caitlin Brown) training female Marine recruits at Parris Island.
- When Harm went undercover as a Marine Gunnery Sergeant in "Force Recon", R. Lee Ermey once again played the role to whip him into shape.
- The knight preparing Crusaders for the monsters they are likely to meet on their way to the Holy Land on Horrible Histories.
- Temporary warden Miss Pinch in one episode of The Slammer.
- Inverted in M*A*S*H when a British officer Hawkeye berates for playing Drill Sergeant Nasty on his wounded men reveals he is deliberately using reverse psychology on them: Since no-one would ever yell at a badly wounded man, they can't be all that badly hurt now, can they? Hawkeye is forced to eat humble pie on that one, and later does the officer a favor in return.
- In The Rough Riders, one of these turns up at the camp, only to be promptly run out of town by The Good Captain (played by Sam Elliot).
- Gordon Ramsay in his various TV projects. Being trained by another Drill Sergeant Nasty character, famed British chef Marco Pierre White (who famously made the young chef Ramsay cry!), and immersed in the rough and tumble footballer culture almost from birth, he took the rough attitude he had as a child into the kitchens of Kitchen Nightmares where he was a Jerk with a Heart of Gold helping struggling restaurants. It would be turned Up to Eleven when he dealt with the chefs that argued and talked back on Hell's Kitchen, since it was his arse on the line.
- The Goodies: Tim becomes one after joining the Salvation Army (It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context) in "Scoutrageous!".
- Another whitelighter, Natalie, briefly serves as this in the Charmed episode; "Blinded by the Whitelighter" for the sisters when she prepares them for battle. Unlike Leo, she refuses to coddle them, leading them to half-jokingly suggest vanquishing her at one point.
- MI High: The M.I. 9 fitness instructor Jed Black in "Fit to Wurst".
- Get Some In! features Tony Selby as Corporal Marsh, a Royal Air Force drill instructor who takes considerable pleasure in the power he has over the National Service recruits under his command, and often goes beyond trying to whip them into good soldiers and torments them purely for his own amusement. In a series of Establishing Character Moments at the beginning of the first episode, he performs a "snap hygiene inspection" of a recruit's tea mug, which he drops to the ground and breaks after finding it unsatisfactory, and then orders a pair of recruits carrying a heavy pan of soup across the camp to pick up the pace until they drop the pan and spill its contents.
- Sergeant Morris, the Victim of the Week in the Whodunnit? (UK) episode "Goodbye Sarge", who becomes the victim of Unfriendly Fire. His C.O. describes him as the most unpopular sergeant in the British Army.
- Played with in Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It". While it is a song that rebels against authority, towards the end, Dee Snider starts doing a DSN impression while the chorus is repeated, complete with "now drop and give me 20!" It creates a kind of paradoxical humor - using authority to rebel against authority.
- Insofar as the Word Salad Lyrics of Paul McCartney and Wings' Jet can be deciphered, one of the reasons why the Band Is On The Run is that an old-time sergeant-major's daughter has absconded with them; father considers this such a disgrace that he will not relent in hunting down and slaying the degenerate hippie good-for-nuthin' rabble who have abducted his daughter.
Myths and Legends
- King Lycurgus the Lawgiver may be the Ur Example. Guess where his hometown was? And of course he was the inventor of the training method associated with that town.
- Most of the trainers in WWE Tough Enough adopt this persona during the show. But most notably "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in Season 5, Kurt Angle in Season 4, Bill De Mott in Seasons 3 and 5, Hardcore Holly in Season 2 and Tazz in the original season.
- Sgt Slaughter, apart from being a G.I. Joe action figure, plied his trade in WWE (where he was world champion in 1991), as well as the American Wrestling Association and the National Wrestling Alliance.
- WCW had Sgt. Craig "Pitbull" Pittman; while not actually billed as a drill sergeant like Slaughter was, his appearance and demeanor ("The beatings will continue until morale improves") fit the trope perfectly. However, he also was an inversion, since he ended up taking more beatings than he dished out.
- WCW also had Sgt. Buddy Lee Parker. The character was originally introduced as a police sergeant (in a tag team called The State Patrol), but was later repackaged as an army drill sergeant; this was a reference to his Real Life sideline as an instructor at the Power Plant, WCW's wrestling school. Like Pittman, he took more than he ever dished out.
- The treatment dished out to unlikely wrestling try-out Louis Theroux note when he went "undercover" at a military-style training school for would-be grapplers. His ex-Forces instructor had taken suggestions of match-fixing and choreographed pre-plotted fights as a huge insult. Theroux was made to pay for his boldness.
- C.P.O. Bull in The Navy Lark episode set during Phillip's naval training. Well, at least according to Phillip's recollection anyway..
Role Playing Games
- Parodied by the character of Sgt. Ronald E. Army, better known as Soldier, in Dino Attack RPG. As if it weren't obvious enough, his name is a pun on R. Lee Ermey. However, despite his constant shouting and calling everyone maggots, very few people take him seriously. He even got beat up over a few particularly sexist remarks at least twice.
- Alpha Team RPG: Ogel's Last Stand had an equally over-the-top example that served as both the military and coach variants. He shouts continuously regardless of whether he is actually addressing a new recruit (apparently he would address Dash Justice himself this way, though such a confrontation was never seen), and spends his time forcing people (both recruits and generally anyone else who just happens to be present) to march up and down the square. When not doing that, he's murdering and mutilating his own recruits trying to instruct them on how to defend themselves against fresh fruit.
Stand Up Comedy
- French comedian Guy Montagné has amongst his gallery of characters the "Général Buzard", a parody of Drill Sergeant Nasty whose favorite catchphrase is to call the soldiers "Bougre de petits salopards!" ("You bunch of little bastards!")
- The German comedian "Ausbilder Schmidt", whose whole shtick is this: "There are ten drill sergeants in my company, but only nine of them know about the human rights!"
- From Mage: The Awakening, the drill sergeant speech of the Adamantine Arrow order of warrior-mages is a... unique variant of this approach.
"YOU are maggots with the souls of gods! I will TEACH you to evolve from your PATHETIC maggot-dom into your TRUE potential! You WILL become enlightened warrior-poets
! When I am through with you, you will be able to kill a man with an ARTFUL HAIKU, by making that motherfucker CONTEMPLATE blossoming persimmons instead of defending himself from your deadly goddamn hands! DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME?"
- The Arrow drill instructor is said to have had his own Drill Sergeant Nasty when he joined the army, who constantly abused him and tried to goad him into quitting. This annoyed him so much that it caused him to Awaken just as the sergeant was asking if he could beat the lowest time on the obstacle course. The mage then proceeded to beat the best time... while dragging the drill sergeant along behind him.
- Oh so very many Armed Forces members in Paranoia.
- In "Trapped in Jedi Academy", one story of Al Bruno III's Binder of Shame, Psycho Dave, Killer Game Master extraordinaire, turns Yoda into one of these.
- In almost any game, a player who has minimal or no contact with actual members of the armed services who makes a character in the service will often make one of these. The remainder will be Mildly Military.
- BattleTech characters occasionally talked about having this type of instructor in their military training, but they rarely showed up. The strongest examples existed among the Clans, where the warriors who were put in charge of training new warrior groups (known as sybkos) had very few restrictions on what they were allowed to do to their charges. They could and frequently did attack cadets and in some cases, deaths would result, since the Clans did not believe in conducting firing practice without live ammunition or holding back in a fight.
- A now defunct EPCOT attraction, Cranium Commander, gives us General Knowledge.
- El Rey from ¡Mucha Lucha!.
- Hunter Gathers, Brock Sampson's trainer from The Venture Bros.. In flashback, it's shown that when Brock turned in an unsatisfactory performance in a swimming exercise, Gathers dropped a live grenade into the pool. With training like that, is it any wonder Brock became a Sociopathic Hero?
- Surpassed in the episode "Assassinanny", where the Russian femme-fatale Molotov Cocktease drills the Venture family by shooting at them with a pair of fully-loaded Uzi's — and insinuates that she's "going easy on them." No wonder she's the love of Brock's life. (Col. Gathers even later joins her ranks.)
- She trains them in combat using a GRU Spetznaz manual.
- Hank earns her approval during a drill when he impales Dean's foot with a pencil.
- The commander of a squad of security for Dr. Venture's yard sale invokes the trope - though he seems a bit obsessive about putting his men in dresses.
- "Two Ton" 21 took to this.
- Sgt. Slaughter on G.I. Joe and the old WWF shows. There is a variant in a flashback in GI Joe where Leatherneck serves as a drill sergeant, but when he sees one of his trainees seriously injure a comrade in training with sadistic glee, he immediately calls the offender to his office to punish him.
- Beachhead in GI Joe, who aside from being an Army Ranger Drill Sergeant Nasty, is, in the most recent revision of the universe, also called upon by the armed forces to train Marine, Delta Force, SEAL, and on special occasions Force Recon soldiers. This is before he joins GI Joe. Do not cross Beachhead. His toy is one of the few non-ninja good guys who comes with a mask that's not removable.
- In The Movie, Beachhead is put in charge of a squad of "Rawhides", new recruits still wet behind the ears. General Hawk even points out that he's not worried about the Rawhides surviving combat because "first they need to survive Beachhead." He bawls them out in full Drill Sergeant Nasty mode, wanting a "stone cold righteous attention!". Shockingly, he lets one of the recruits get away with calling him "sweetheart" with only a mild admonishing. He is also unimpressed with the Rawhides' creative ways of beating his tests (using a drainpipe to sneak past an obstacle course, using a dog to sniff out a practice bomb), calling them reckless and holding them back from battle (where such thinking could easily get them killed).
- Parodied in (what else?) The Simpsons, where Homer has a memorable encounter with one of these:
Drill Sergeant: Okay, Simpson — you don't like me, and I don't like you!
Homer: (brightly) I like you.
Drill Sergeant: (uncertain) Okay... you like me — but I don't like you!
Homer: (helpful) Maybe you'd like me if you got to know me?
- The graduation ceremony for Homer's bodyguard class featured the Sergeant telling them they were worthless maggots, but passed anyway because their cheques cleared.
- Homer met another one while in the Army ("G.I. D'oh"). The first one was in the Navy.
- R. Lee Ermey himself did the VA for a character that was a lot like this in "Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming" named Colonel Leslie Hapablap. (He even paraphrased a line from Full Metal Jacket, one of Ermey's films.) He played the Trope straight for the most part, except showing a slight weakness in showing that he was afraid of what the Smithsonian would do to him after Sideshow Bob stole the Wright Brother's plane.
- In Transformers Animated, established Jerkass Sentinel Prime is revealed to have been a drill sergeant back when he was Sentinel Minor. However, this was less because he wanted to make them stronger and more because he just hated being a drill sergeant.
- The Boondocks had this played out during an episode where after a bully stole Riley's chain, it was revealed one of his various feats was being unfazed to one of the DIs and then sending a chair in his direction.
- Sgt. Uniblab from The Jetsons. So tough and demanding, the recruits end up cross-wiring him and causing him to Self Destruct. Also George's commanding officer, his own boss Mr. Spacely.
- One of these runs the Smile Away Reformatory in the Phineas and Ferb episode "Phineas and Ferb Get Busted''. Unlike the common example, he is the episode's Big Bad and is evil even by the show's standards.
- According to The The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Mario and Luigi's instructor at the Plumbers' Academy was one of these. His name was Sergeant Kooperman, and judging from his voice, he's apparently the Earth version of Bowser.
- In the Classic Disney Shorts, Pete became this when Donald Duck joined the army during World War II.
- An episode of King of the Hill has Hank bring his old football coach in to teach Bobby's football team. He has them do push-ups in the mud... that he makes with a hose. Any and all injuries, pain, complaints, etc. are responded to with "take a salt tablet". Eventurally, he starts going really crazy. As in "chasing the kids through the field with his car crazy. Hank has to knock him out with a propane tank to stop the madness.
- In another episode, Cotton Hill also plays this trope straight when he takes over the military school that Bobby's been enrolled after he learns that the school isn't nearly as gritty and draconian as it was back when he was a student there.
- In "Peggy the Boggle Champ", Hank gives a despondent Peggy one of his coach's speeches to lift up her spirits. It starts with "Loser! You're a loser!" and goes south from there.
- General Molotov, Lucius' dragon on Jimmy Two-Shoes.
- Louis Gossett Jr. parodies his An Officer and a Gentleman role mentioned above, in an episode of Family Guy, right down to the "steers and queers" line.
- This happens in Generator Rex when Noah and Rex decided to stay a few days at the Providence training camp called Basic. Apparently, the drill instructor didn't like the way they brushed their teeth.
- Commander Hoo-Ha of the Tomato Scouts in Camp Lazlo.
- Sergeant DOG in The Problem Solverz episode "Problem Solverz Academy". He gives high school social ranks to the trainees, making Roba the cool kid who doesn't have to work, Alfe obsessed with the military, and Horace a super dork with giant glasses.
- The Proud Family features one such sergeant when Penny is sent to a juvenile boot camp for performing nasty deeds and falling in line with the school bullies to publish a tell-all.
- Invader Zim has an episode where he is sent to invader training on a planet full of pain and doom.
- Commander Hurricane in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic behaves/behaved this way towards Private Pansy, underlining the pegasi's warrior culture. Naturally, said commander is played by Rainbow Dash.
Twilight Sparkle as Clover the Clever: Look, perhaps if we all calmed down...
Applejack as Smart Cookie: I agree. Let's all calm down.
Fluttershy as Private Pansy: I vote for calm.
Rainbow Dash as Commander Hurricane: I'll have you court-martialled for insubordination, private!
- Spitfire acts one in the episode "Wonderbolt Academy".
- This is the focus of one of the comics, where she is called upon to train a bunch of kids and tries these tactics on them. They promptly burst into tears.
- In a nonsensical varient, Granny Smith acts this way toward jars that will soon be holding zap apple jam. One actually cracks under the abuse, to which she yells "Court-martialed!" and throws it in the trash. It turns out that this, along with other odd behavior she exhibits in the episode, is actually a necessary part of helping the magical jam taste better.
- Animaniacs: Yakko, Wakko and Dot run afoul of one after accidentally joining the army in "Boot Camping".
- Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog has recurring character Sergeant Doberman.
- On Looney Tunes, war-time cartoons will often sport a character of this type. Bugs Bunny himself has "played" a character on a few occasions, usually to dupe his mark, but he honestly thought himself as a 3-star general (with the personality of Patton) in a cartoon where Nice Hats were raining from the sky and a helmet fell on his head.
Bugs (to Elmer) All right, dog-face. Why is it that everyone in this man's army has a rifle and you've got a gun??!!
- Magister Hulka of the Plumber Academy in the Ben 10: Ultimate Alien episode "Basic Training".
- Yet again, Sergeant Zim in Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles, with his portrayal skewing closer towards the book than the movie (though Clancy Brown reprises the role). He trains his recruits hard, but only for their own benefit, and the men are better for it. At one point, Rico, completley exhausted, doesn't have the strength to make it over an obstacle and announces that he wants to quit. Zim replies that he won't let Rico quit, and helps him over the obstacle so he can complete his training.
- Daffy trains under one when he joins the Marines in The Looney Tunes Show episode "Semper Lie".
- Adventure Time: Invoked, then deconstructed. Jake and Finn's Dad constructed a giant dungeon with a Demon Blood Sword to train Finn, and plays this role in his pre-recorded messages to give him extra motivation. Unfortunately, Finn was already willing and able. So the result? Finn breaks completely.
- Would anyone care for a bon bon?
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Shaggy has one as an instructor (who refers to him as 'Private Hippy') when he is sent to military school in "The Night The Clown Cried".
- In a flashback scene in Celebrity Deathmatch, Jennifer Lopez has a guy like this as a personal trainer before her match with Dolly Parton. He plays the Trope straight until she actually thanks him for everything, and then he gets a little choked up.
- The Day My Butt Went Psycho: Zack's grandmother's butt turns into this when she is left to babysit Zack and Deuce.
- Rated "A" for Awesome: In "Never Judge A Mutant By Its Slobber", the team turns Captain Scar, the Drill Sergeant nasty protagonist of a video game, into a Refugee from TV Land.
- Dick Dastardly will waver into this frequently when his Vulture Squadron charges goof up, or in the case of "Fur Out Furlough," go against him.
Dastardly: (to Klunk and Zilly, who sabotaged his plane) I hope you realize that this is tantamount to treason!
- Before anyone continues on. It should be noted that it is the JOB of Drill Sgts. to be this way. Why? Because it will make you remember your training, which in turn will save your life once the bullets start flying. A soldier that does 20yrs of service may not remember what he did all the time (especially if he never saw combat), but he WILL remember his time in basic training specifically because of his Drill Sgts.
- U.S. Military:
- Truth in Television, obviously, with Marine and Army [no matter what they say, it's still a bitch] DSes. Here are some examples. And believe it or not, many of them are holding back due to the cameras.
- Those cameras mean that Officers are watching and an annoyed Officer is something no Drill Sergeant wants to deal with.
- The Chiefs and Petty Officers that make up the RDCs of the Navy make this Truth in Television for would-be sailors without a "sergeant" in sight.note Recruit Training Command at one point had signs posted that read "Profanity is Not Quality Leadership" in every divisions compartment. These signs were (mostly) taken down since all they actually did was confuse the recruits.
- In Air Force Basic Military Training, the Training Instructors (not Drill Instructors, clown!) aren't allowed to use profanity. So they develop a weird alternate vocabulary that lets them get the same ideas across without actually swearing. It's fairly common to hear a TI screaming "WHAT THE PISS, CLOWN?! IS THAT HOW WE DO IT NOW IN THE AIR FORCE?!!" Also, they aren't allowed to lay hands on the trainees, so instead they'll get as close as humanly possibly without touching, in order to try and get the trainee to flinch (which would, of course, give them another reason to get in your face). It's not a pleasant experience having some angry dude so far in your face that you can feel the heat off his skin.
- Real life Marine Corps Drill Instructors are trained to limit their use of profanity and often use euphemisms (though ones considerably less humorous than those described for the Air Force above, "doggone" (inexplicably pronounced as "dag-on") and "nasty" are common examples). It wouldn't behoove the newest of The Few and The Proud to curse a blue streak in front of Mom on leave. The volume, incomprehensibility, and generally insane affect of Marine DI's more than compensates.
- As Terry Pratchett notes in several Discworld books, it really is the case that Welsh soldiers have an aversion to swearing. In these post-Chapel days this is by no means universal and the ethnic peculiarity may be dying out; but Pratchett's creation of Sergeant Dai Dickins is a "Welsh" NCO who gets what he wants without swearing once. Although he has to invent a full lexicon of not-quite-swearwords to do it, such as "You sons of motherlovers!" This is not a bad portrayal of reality in Welsh regiments even today (where it is still the case that a marching platoon may elect to sing a hymn in preference to any other available military ditty).
- Subverted in the training of the Gurkha regiments, as trainee Ghurkhas apparently find Drill Sergeant Nasty behavior humorous rather than intimidating, so NCOs direct the men in firm but polite method during training. After what they have to go through to even get as far as training, this is hardly surprising.
- Non-American/British trainers tend to be loads more formal and quiet in general.
- Everybody in Australia either swears a blue streak or is unfazed by swearing (due to the swearing from others). Drill Sergeants get around it by being extremely calm, polite, and formal to recruits; if intimidation is required, shouting at the top of your voice without swearing two inches from a recruit's face will impress on how important the situation is.
- A surprising non-military example: the Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris includes among its shows a routine based on the changing of the Queen's Guard at Buckingham Palace. To train the nude dancers in the proper moves, the Saloon hired an authentic British drill instructor, who went all Drill Sergeant Nasty on the Girls during the repetitions.
- According to legend, one of the Chinese Emperors instructed a general (Sun Tzu himself according to some sources) to demonstrate his skill by teaching the imperial concubines to drill like soldiers. When the concubines didn't take the general seriously, he followed the normal Chinese boot camp procedure and killed several of them, and suddenly the concubines were performing drill with absolute precision...
- According to at least one Latin textbook, the Roman poet Horace was trained by a centurion known as "Give Me Another", because he broke so many sticks while beating recruits. If this is true it would make this...
- A centurion nicknamed "Old Give Me Another" also appears in the historian Tacitus's writings, as the first to be killed when the legion he was part of mutinied for better pay.
- One possible source for this is that for many years being a common Redshirt (as opposed to an Officer and a Gentleman) was the last job people would take, and armies were often effectively large workhouses. Drill Sergeants Nasty on this theory evolved from the need to teach vagrants and convicts how to fight.
- Not to mention teaching all the Redshirts that We Have Reserves.
- This would also help explain the reported difference in the Gurkha's. British are so rich, and Nepali are so poor that soldiering is a very attractive occupation. Furthermore it is a high-prestige one. Because of this the competition makes for very effective recruits.
- Baron von Steuben, the spiritual father of all American Drill Sergeants Nasty, was a mercenary officer advising the Continental Army. According to legend he had an interpreter walk along with him while he conducted inspections to ensure that he had a good enough supply of English profanity.
- Another legend has it that he didn't need an interpreter for that: he learned the curse words himself (the only words he knew in the English language).
- For every five Drill Sergeants who deliberately play it straight, there's one who'll use positive reinforcement and encouragement. Sometimes they're dotted amongst the "knee-deep-in-your-ass" Drills, to play Good Cop/Bad Cop. These guys are mellower because they tend to be older and/or don't expect to see combat action, whereas the Classic Drill Sergeant Nasty is younger who know there's a chance that he'll be joining the men he trained in the field, where his life may depend on their ability.
- That's deliberate. A Senior Drill Instructor/Sergeant who leads a platoon, and company- and higher-echelon staff, are expected to play A Father to His Men by contrast. It is in part Good Cop/Bad Cop, but also because the harshness enforced by the "Kill Hats" below them is more than enough already. Also, it really wouldn't do for a recruit to have absolutely no one they're not too scared to talk to if they're having suicidal thoughts, are running a 104-degree fever, etc.
- Author and explorer Michael Asher wrote about his experiences as a recruit in the elite Parachute Regiment and a real monster of a training NCO called Corporal Jekyll, who was a paragon of the "beasting" culture of the Paras in training, where if you were lucky it stopped on the acceptable side of bullying. He notes that he only once heard a word of encouragement and praise during his training, but that was enough to raise his morale to the point where he passed out as a Para. Asher also notes that later, when accepted for special forces, training was conducted largely in a more grown-up way that credited the SAS recruits with being sensible responsible adults - the shouting and screaming was a long way in their past, although the abuse was more psychological.
- Another reason for American DSN can be that not all of them are there voluntarily, at least in the Army. Getting DA-selected (chosen by the Department of the Army) rather than choosing to become a Drill Sergeant can have a drastic influence on ones behavior in that position.
- Rather than a nasty Drill Sergeant, how about a nasty Chief of General Staff? The Israeli Chief of General Staff (highest rank in the Israel Defence Force - the man/woman in control of the entire army) Rafael Eitan was known to be very, very strict - so much that in his days, a soldier could be sent to jail for having an open button in his uniform. He was also documented chasing around a private in a military base, after the private refused to wear his beret (which all Israeli soldiers have to wear, as part of the official uniformnote .)
- Author and ex-soldier George Mac Donald Fraser, commenting on Full Metal Jacket, was appalled by American training methods and asked if British recruits would put up with that for five minutes without mutinying. He said he'd never seen such methods used on British recruits and questioned the need and legitimacy of them. MacDonald Fraser was, however, a recruit during WW2 where it was accepted that civilians with no normal aptitude or taste for Army life had to be turned into soldiers very quickly, with accelerated training focusing on the important things of wartime soldiering that left out the nuances of peacetime. He recalls a training sergeant whose method of waking soldiers up in the morning involved walking into the barracks, accompanied by several corporals with dustbin lids and batons, who would then make a lot of noise very, very, loudly punctualted by swearing, shouting, and perhaps a bucket of water in the face of the last man to get out of bed. Later on, he also recalled a Scottish variant on this shock treatment involved the pipes and drums forming up underneath a selected barracks' window at six-thirty, to raise the regiment with a full-blooded reveille. Usually this was the junior officers' quarters... it must have worked, as MacDonald Fraser went on to fight the Japanese for a year in the Burmese jungle, reflecting nothing could ever be as bad as that, ever again.
- A technique popular with some British Drill Sergeants, especially on very rainy days, is to parade the recruits, and ask, politely: "Hands up, all of those who think that we should not do any training today because it is raining." Those who raise their hands are forced to keep them raised for the whole exercise, with the result that rain runs down the sleeve and soaks them, and their arms get very tired and sore.
- There are a few other British army traditions/common pranks which are employed, generally either as light hazing or occasionally punishment for unruly recruits:
- The Long Stand - "Atten-SHUN!" (*Private snaps to attention. Drill Sergeant walks off). This one is generally used as a punishment and a prank. Ordering a private to stand to attention, then leaving them there, can result in an annoying/gullible recruit ending up standing for hours on end, often in British Weather. If done as a prank, then the Sergeant will generally let them know on time. If done as punishment, the Sergeant will let the recruit sit there until he figures it out.
- Fetch me the [X] - "X" will be something that does not exist, such as the Tartan Paint, the Sawdust Fire Extinguisher, the Dehydrated Water, a Pack of Fallopian Tubes, or the Left-Handed Screwdriver.
- Fetch me the [Y] - Sometimes even more effective than the "X", the "Y" will be a piece of kit that does exist but that the British Army does not have (a sadly enormous category of things). Bonus points if you ask for it in ridiculous quantities: "Go to the armory and bring me five G36s", or "bring me the base EOD kit" (EOD kits aren't stored for recruits to just sign out and are so heavy that this task would require multiple trips by a very tired recruit). Bonus bonus points if it something other British services or Allies on the same base have, as this will usually entail the unfortunate recruit asking perplexed and irritated matelots, airmen, or, better yet, Gunnery Sergeants and Stabsunteroffizieren for an item they have precious little of themselves.
- Fetch me the [Z] - Another variant, used once you've graduated boot camp, is to order a subordinate to fetch something that sounds superficially plausible to a layman but, if you have paid sufficient attention in training, would know was entirely bogus. In this variant the response the instructor is hoping for is for the junior enlisted man to (politely!) point out that the task is impossible to fulfill. The point of the exercise is to get people to, while still showing prompt willing obedience to orders, also use their brains to know when an order has apparently gotten garbled in transmission and needs clarification. Examples include sending an artilleryman to fetch a copy of the cannon reportnote , or asking an aviation mechanic to fetch 100 feet of flight linenote note or a bucket of prop washnote , or asking a radioman for a can of squelchnote , etc, etc.
- Gas Mask Surprise - A particularly cruel prank/training method is to put something unpleasant such as rotten food, chilli powder, mayonnaise, or a spider into someone's respirator, then make them do CBRN drill. Another method, sometimes employed against very annoying officers (but which will entail serious charges if caught) is to poke a hot needle through the gas mask filter, which will cause it to let in gas when it comes to be used.
- The Provo Sergeant - Recruits are sent to the Provo sergeant for punishment, with the instruction, when he politely and respectfully asks why they are there, to tell him why. When he asks "well, why did you [insert transgression worthy of being sent to the Provo here] then?", the recruit is instructed by their Drill Sergeant Nasty to reply "squat on my fucking thumb Provo Sergeant" or some other equally offensive phrase. This presents a Morton's Fork to the recruit, as he cannot disobey a direct order, but following that order will bring the horrific fury of a Provo Sergeant upon his tender head. This became a semi-official means of justifying the Provo Sergeant imposing a bollocking and a severe physical punishment, generally heavy and/or degrading PT.
- Changing of the giggle pins - Needs a friend in the tank corps: Making new recruits hold a Challenger MBT's barrel up whilst the "giggle pin" is changed. The gunner and the Sergeant then sit in the turret and depress the barrel by hand whilst the poor recruits struggle, whilst the Sergeant makes dire threats about what he will do to the recruits if they don't hold the barrel up.
- Royal Marines training teams and drill instructors tend to have a different approach to this trope. They usually speak to recruits in a way that is firm but calm and matter-of-fact. Punishments tend to be delivered in the same way. Rather than shouts of "Get on the ground you maggots and give me fifty!" recruits learn to fear the simple command "Front support place. Arms bend. Stretch. Bend. Stretch..." Rebukes and dressings-down are rarely shouted, instead they tend to be delivered with cold contempt.
- Roman Centurions played this trope very straight. One made his century run around the walls of the camp, carrying packs full of rocks, whilst he was drawn behind them in a donkey cart, whipping any stragglers.
- Bob Ross. No, really. He found he wasn't comfortable with the "nasty" bit the job required back in his Air Force tenure days, and that's what led him to become the Nice Guy everyone knew him as.
- Played horribly straight in the Imperial Japanese military, to the point where some recruits and draftees committed suicide. Given that even officers could be physically beaten by their superiors (and it started in the academies) it's no wonder that the Japanese became known for suicidal obedience to orders, and it may also have contributed to their infamous savagery during the invasion of China. Indeed, Japanese who had been to military school were notable for being on average a good few inches shorter than the rest of their countrymen, so brutal was the regime.
- Averted and played straight in the Royal Italian Army during World War I: the actual drill sergeants avoided abuse and cussing as long as you learned how to fight fast enough, but aspiring officers posted on the front would mistreat, abuse and kill the soldiers at any chance. Unsurprisingly, the loss rate among aspiring officers was rather high during the retreat from Caporetto.
- Interestingly enough, this was part of the culture of the Argentinean Army and a cited reason for their poor performance in the Falklands war with Britain. A patrician officer class seeing itself as a higher order of creation, privileged with better accomodation and rations, shrugged off the fact the men they commanded were living in half-flooded foxholes on cold half-rations, as if it were none of their concern.
- Professionally nasty sergeants aren't a common occurence in the Russian Army, because it only recently started to break out of the Soviet "skeleton crew of professional NCOs, a lot of ersatz NCOs made from promoted conscripts" mold. Amateurishly and often harmfully nasty sergeants, on the other hand, were a common occurence not long ago. The real Soviet equvivalent of this trope was the warrant officer (praporschik), who was often put in a drill instructor role. A stock plot in Russian humor is dialogue between a Warrant Officer Nasty and a smart-ass conscripted student. In 50% of the jokes, the praporschik gets comically medieval on the ex-student; in the other half, the student outwits the preporschik.
Anime and Manga
- The gym teacher in Medabots is an classic example, as we find when he's trapped in a blizzard and starts hallucinating that all the kids are calling out to him, crying about how their bodies have grown weak and flabby in his absence. This gives him the strength to break through the snow and reach help, engaging in a long, heroic rant about the noble art of being a gym teacher as he does so.
- In a humorous subversion, Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu also includes a high school gym teacher who can't stand Sōsuke, berates him at every opportunity, and at one point tries to sabotage the Student Council's efforts to sell lunch. Sōsuke, wrongly assuming that the teacher is simply acting as a drill sergeant, holds him in great esteem.
- The team from the Republic of Militaria in Eyeshield 21, worm! American football is war, son, and don't you forget it! Now get out of my sight before I smack that smile off your face! Especially "Sgt." Gomery, who will knock your freaking teeth out if he thinks you aren't being serious enough.
- Hiruma has shades of this, as does Megu, the manager of the Chameleons.
- The Phys Ed teacher in Shakugan no Shana. Subverted: not only does his attempt to break Shana fail miserably, she ends up breaking him.
Films, Live Action
- The movie Major Payne, with a kill-happy Special Forces Major playing drill sergeant to a bunch of private military school misfits. The movie addresses the various tropes of him learning to be kind and somewhat tolerant of the limits of those under his command... without buying into them utterly and getting his class to shape up and show some discipline. He seems to have found the perfect balance by the beginning of the next semester, as shown at the end of the film when he has the respect of (and respects) the returning students, but gleefully tortures the newest kid to show up in his class, who apparently thinks being blind allows him to be a jackass to his teacher.
- The film Mr Woodcock is about what happens when one of these starts dating the mom of one of the students he used to harass in grade school.
- Coach Schneider from A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge. Adding the spicy new ingredient of "homophobia" to the already-potent Drill Sergeant Nasty recipe, Schneider is a frequenter of leather bars who likes nothing better than forcing adolescent boys to do endless push-ups and run laps around the gym in the dead of night. He's eventually tied up in the showers, whipped on his bare buttocks with towels, then clawed to death by Freddy Krueger.
- R. Lee Ermey plays an actual coach in Saving Silverman.
- The football coach played by Robert Patrick in The Faculty, at least before he gets mind-controlled by aliens. Afterwards, he's just plain creepy.
- Coach Dinklage (played by Vinnie Jones) in She's the Man starts out as one of these but turns out to be a pretty okay guy in the end, especially when he defends Viola's right to play soccer with the boys based on the fact that gender discrimination is wrong.
- Varsity Blues has Coach Kilmer, who takes this trope Up to Eleven in his pursuit of yet another championship season.
- In Remember the Titans, Coach Boone adopts this attitude to force his players to get over their prejudice.
- Alberich from Heralds of Valdemar has to put on the Drill Sergeant Nasty role on a regular basis, as part of his job as Weaponsmaster.
- Worth noting is that he's only like this when he's actively training people. He's fully capable of advising and counselling when needed.
- In Unseen Academicals, the late sports-master of Unseen University, Evans the Striped, was apparently like this, judging by the behavior of anyone blowing on his possessed whistle. Said behavior includes threatening to make anyone who didn't bring his uniform play in his underpants, or insisting that running about in the sleet and rain builds character.
- John Cleese in his role as the coach for the "Self-Defense Against Fresh Fruit" class in Monty Python's Flying Circus. Turns out to be not so much "nasty" as "openly psychotic" — one sort of wonders how many people were in that class to begin with, and where their bodies were buried.
- They were eaten by the tiger, obviously!
- The teen show California Dreams features a character named MacBride, Sergeant MacBride. United States Marine Corps. A slight subversion in that she's female and teaching a cooking class "the way we do it in the corps", but she was black so I guess it's a wash.
- A rather amusing example from Frasier. Frasier starts dating a gym teacher, which causes him to reminisce about his own Drill Sergeant Nasty gym teacher (played by Bob Hoskins). Frasier then finds out, to his horror, his girlfriend is one as well, when he sees her pushing an overweight girl to climb a rope. He spends most of the rest of the episode imagining her as his gym teacher. Eventually, he talks to her about his problem, and she admits that she can be hard sometimes but that she has the best intentions. Frasier then tells her about his gym teacher and the fact that he could never do a single push up. She then starts picturing him as the girl who couldn't climb the rope.
- Shortland Street did this with a psychotic rugby coach in 2009.note
- Played with in Freaks and Geeks — to the athletically-inept geeks, the Coach seems like one of these, but what we see of him in his off-time or when he's not on the field indicates that he's actually a reasonably nice guy.
- In That '70s Show, Red Foreman is a variant in that he's not a gym coach. Rather, he embodies this attitude both as a father to his son Eric and as a supervisor at Price-Mart. Rather than serving in the Army, Red was a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy during World War II and applies many of the same attitudes to civilian life. When Red announces that he's gotten the job, Hyde congratulates him by saying "God help the poor bastards who work for you!", which Red takes as a compliment. As for his parenting style, suffice it to say that Eric is a "Well Done, Son!" Guy...
- Glee: Sue Sylvester, cheerleading coach from hell. "You think ''this'' is hard? Try being waterboarded! That's hard!"
- In the fourth season, her expy, the NYADA dance instructor Cassandra July. "Welcome to Dance 101, freshmen. Maybe two people in this class have what it takes to make it on Broadway. To the rest of you, thank you for paying for my loft in Soho. And if you don't have body dysmorphic disorder in a month, you're not trying hard enough."
- On How I Met Your Mother, Marshall rather unexpectedly becomes this after agreeing to coach the basketball team at Lily's school. At one point, he's actually throwing the basketball at kindergarteners.
- In the Eureka episode "Up in the Air", Jo gleefully takes on this role.
- The gym teacher in Naturally Sadie seems to be this.
- Coach Tugnut in Even Stevens.
- Pixelface: Kiki becomes the coach version of this when she starts teaching the other characters aerobics in "Bling My Droid".
- Bad Education: the school ends up with a South African PE master, Mr du Plessis. Among other things he devises an assault course along South African Defence Forces lines. And wants to bring in Rottweiler and Ridgeback attack dogs to encourage the fat kids to move more quickly.
- Douglas Diggleby, PE master in The Seventies nostalgia-fest comedy-drama, The Grimleys. He is all too familiar to anyone who attended a British school, of any kind, in the 1970's. A PE master with favourites among the sporty and who despises "the fat, sick, lame and lazy." (ie, everyone else).
- Miss Rockbottom from FoxTrot.
- In October 2013, Curtis gets a new gym coach named Coach Otlowski who seems like this. His language seems to be a PG-rated parody of actual cussing, saying things like, "I've been hired to sweat some chubbery off you oversized junior couch potatoes!". ("Good thing he wasn't hired to be the new English teacher!" muses Curtis.)
- Coach Oleander of Psychonauts follows this trope to a T. He yells at the students, he tells Raz to "drop and give me [number]", and his "basic braining" course is set up like a WW2 battlefield. If you go into his mind again after picking up the Cobweb Duster, you can find out that he was never actually in the military: he was turned away from the army, air force, navy, and military cooks(?) due to being too short. This memory is especially interesting as it's in such direct contrast with the "memory" he showed you earlier.
- Hayato from Rival Schools, who has a tendency to physically punish his students to unlock their true potential. Hilariously, he'll also make you drop and give him several push-ups right in the middle of a heated battle.
- His team-up attack, the Nekketsu Guts Cannon, has him turn the other half of the team into a makeshift energy cannon... by pummelling them in the back with his shinai (bamboo training sword) until they relent and fire. They even bow to him afterwards!
- Mr. Burton in Bully.
- Ken has taken up this role in some No Need for Bushido strips.
- "You in the back! You're not kicking enough ass!"
- Another female example: The dance team coach (even wearing a T-shirt with the words "Coach Hartman") in this Loserz strip.
- Jim Beard Sprynter, the gym teacher for the All-Ghouls School in Eerie Cuties, is this (besides being a Ghost Pirate).
- In later episodes of ''Noob, Saphir is seen asking her guild's new recruit do menial tasks that include the inventory of the guild's vault, but also training him. It's however a little hard to tell is it's a milder version of the trope or because the guy not only skipped the guild's drastic recruitement procedure (that is basically Saphir deciding who can enter or not), but happens to be someone she hates.
- Mr. Barkin from Kim Possible, though Barkin was actually a Lieutenant.
- R. Lee Ermey played against type as a helpful soldier at Area 51 in one episode.
- In the episode where Kim coaches the soccer team, she acts like this as her perfectionism gets the better of her.
- Gunnery Sergeant Ermey himself doing a guest voice on any given cartoon, notably Rugrats.
- He also did this bit on Family Guy, as a jousting trainer for Renaissance Fair knights. His dialogue is given an appropriate medieval twist.
- Also in My Life as a Teenage Robot, where he's a Drill Sergeant in the paperwork-heavy Skyway Patrol.
- Sponge Bob Square Pants has him as a prison warden version of Drill Sergeant Nasty, but Spongebob and Patrick actually enjoy his treatment.
- King of the Hill. After a skydiving accident, WWII veteran Cotton Hill is a coach version of this for Peggy's rehabilitation. As expected, he does his job above and beyond expectation, putting his legendary horrible attitude to good use in doing so.
- Mr. Buzzcut, the gym/health class teacher in Beavis And Butthead.
- Mr. Midcarda from ¡Mucha Lucha!.
- Jim Moralès from Code Lyoko (but he doesn't want to talk about it).
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Toph, when training Aang in earthbending in "Bitter Work". Zuko has traces of it as well.
Remember, firebending in and of itself is not something to fear. But if you don't respect it, IT WILL CHEW YOU UP AND SPIT YOU OUT LIKE AN ANGRY KOMODO RHINO
- The Legend of Korra:
- Jorgen from The Fairly OddParents trains new recruits at the Fairy Academy. His methods are often brutal.
- Dexter's Laboratory: The Teacher With No Name in episode 32: Dexter Detention.
- "You make me sick, criminal!"
- The Dexter's Lab spinoff The Justice Friends also featured Major Glory's uncle Uncle Sam as this when he was young. He meets him again as an adult and finds he became a New-Age Retro Hippie.
- Hey Arnold!!: After Mr. Simmons leaves due to Arnold's class being cruel to him on his first day as a teacher, he is replaced by a "Lt. Major" note Goose, who was a drill sergeant in the Vietnam War era note .
- X-Men: Evolution's take on Wolverine had him act as one of these types, complete with students actively dreading his Danger Room sessions.
- A humourous scene in the Tie-in comic series had Xavier announce that Logan is stepping down so Beast may teach them. Their reactions?
Kitty: Are you serious!?
Kurt: Our prayers have been answered!
- One episode also has an actual Drill Sergeant Nasty teach them Survival training who forced them (by them, we mean the teenaged X-Men, Brotherhood, and their Human student friends) to do inhumane courses designed for Military training. They chose him over Logan's sessions, leading to many one-liner jokes by the Professor.
- Rainbow Dash acts like one in the "May the Best Pet Win" episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and combines this with Jerk with a Heart of Gold. While she does have a commanding voice and shoves Tank to the side, she doesn't want to put the pets through any serious danger and eventually comes around.
- She also has shades of one when training the pegasi in "Hurricane Fluttershy" complete with the same whistle and cap she wore in "May The Best Pet Win" but she's a lot more lenient here. Particularly to Fluttershy. Her voice is also quite booming when she's trying to get Fluttershy to cheer for her. Then again, this is Rainbow Dash we're talking about. Inverted in another two episodes with Dash as a coach, however, she does not act like this at all when coaching Apple Bloom through various activities in an attempt to earn her cutie mark. Or when she's coaching the young foals of Ponyville to carry the flag in Flight to the Finish, she's more of a Genki Girl in this one. Maybe it's because she's good with kids.
- Spitfire acts like one in Wonderbolt's Academy where she constantly yells at the trainees. She's portrayed as more fallible than most examples of this trope, as Spitfire shows poor judgement when she makes Lightning Dust the lead pony and fails to notice when she endangers her teammates, as well as Lightning Dust's apathy towards what could have happened. It's only after Rainbow Dash outlines Lighting Dust's actions and nearly drops out of the training program that she takes the lead pony badge away from Lightning Dust and gives it to Rainbow Dash at Rainbow's suggestion.
- Shining Armor also has shades of one in "Games Ponies Play" where he's the Crystal Empire's Sports Coach.
- Spongebob in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants where he's training Gary for the snail olympics is probably worse than most examples here, (at least for this episode) often pushing him too hard and being an outright Jerkass to him. He does come around and apologizes for everything he did and Status Quo returns to normal.
- Sandy also counts somewhat in Prehibernation Week when she's trying to get as much "fun" done as quickly as possible. She's completely oblivious to how Spongebob feels about her idea of fun, but by the end she realizes the error of her ways and apologizes for it. She even makes Spongebob play Extreme Jacks, which is basically collecting the jacks and catching the ball on your head.
- Parodied in the Daria episode "Fat Like Me". Sandi is swimming to try to lose weight and Quinn is helping her:
Quinn: Did Cleopatra rest when she was inventing mascara? Did Neferiti rest when she was posing for statues? Did Helen of Troy rest when she was doing whatever it was she did? Beauty never rests! Now, swim, you cow, swim!
Quinn: Sorry — Coach talk.
- Miss Kisskillya from Detention.
- Uniblab in The Jetsons in one episode.
- Psycrow was one once in an episode of the Earthworm Jim cartoon. He got his students to run laps by chasing after them firing his raygun. He was fired for being too nice.
- Chuck tries to be one to the Blues in an episode of Angry Birds Toons, but they trick him into tying himself up so they can go back to sleep.
- Some driving instructors tend to be that way, turning into Backseat Drivers from hell as the student gets the hang of it. When you learned driving under such conditions, you can concentrate on driving even in situations of high stress and distractions.
- British Football (soccer) legend Sir Alex Ferguson is known for the "hairdryer treatment", which consists of yelling at useless players mere inches from their face. In the words of Jaap Stam "it might sound like a beauty salon...it really really ain't."
- In one infamous incident, Ferguson kicked a loose football boot right across the dressing room, in a towering rage. It hit golden boy David Beckham full in the face, casing cuts and bruising. While Beckham shrugged it off as one of those things - at least in public - he left the club soon afterwards "by mutual consent".
- Before the era of Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council, which modernized Roman Catholicism and made it more accessible to the people, Catholic priests were notorious for being hard asses who almost took pleasure out of terrorizing their congregations, even/especially small children. The idea of Catholic schools being spartan, dark, and tough halls of terror, on the other hand, is merely a ridiculous stereotype; most nuns even pre-Vatican II were tough but loving authorities who commanded both respect and adoration from their students.
and give me 20!