->''"The Imperial Guard. It's a thankless job, but if you're willing to stand your ground and give it your all... you just might be able to buy enough time for the Space Marines to take all the credit."''
-->-- '''A common sardonic joke''', ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}''

Military fiction will generally focus on units considered elite in some fashion, even if it is obvious that the regular units found in the same battle are just as much in the thick of it. Even in non-military fiction, if a film follows a character who is ex-military, 9 times out of 10 he'll have been "a marine" rather than army infantry or anything else.

This is particularly common in fiction set in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII: If it is a US unit that is in focus, it is more likely to be Airborne, [[SemperFi Marine Corps]] or {{Ranger}}s than standard Army. British units are more likely to be SAS or Paras (though curiously enough, the similarly exclusive - and more relatable to US audiences - Royal Marines don't get much love). German foes, even late in the war when their quality units were mostly destroyed, are more likely to be SS Panzer divisions rather than poorly trained and equipped Volkssturm.

Presumably happens because of the RuleOfCool: famous units and battles are simply more "[[UsefulNotes/TheModernDayRambo special]]". Also, since special forces units consists of [[TheSpartanWay better trained]] soldiers with high qualifications and (usually) superior equipment, it's generally [[WillingSuspensionOfDisbelief more believable]] for them to succeed. For works based on RealLife, this focus can simply reflect historical TruthInTelevision, as is the case with ''Film/BlackHawkDown'' and ''Series/BandOfBrothers''. Insofar as elite forces have a smaller average unit size and this is a desirable situation in a fictional work, that's another reason for this trope.

Interestingly, the writers often have no idea what the unit designations actually refer to. "Army {{Ranger}}," "Navy [=SEALs=]," "Special Forces," and "Green Berets" are all conflated into generic commandos (most often referred to as 'operators' or 'shooters') with overlapping roles. Of course there is a certain amount of overlap, but in general terms these kinds of units are divided into two camps: Elite regular formations (Rangers and Royal Marines for example) who are highly trained regular soldiers; and Special Forces (SEALS, Green Berets, SAS etc) who operate in small teams and are brought in for specific missions.

The same is applicable to ''entire branches'' of the armed forces: in past, chariots were more glamorous than everyone else, then cavalry, especially heavy [[KnightInShiningArmor knights]], hussars and cuirassiers. With the introduction of aerial warfare, the saddle of glory promptly turned into [[AcePilot fighter pilot's seat.]]

For when the elites of ''society'' are more glamorous, see TheBeautifulElite. If the ''whole army'' is more glamorous than their assumed adversaries, see EliteArmy.



[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* Most of the principal ZAFT pilots in ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEED'' and ''Anime/MobileSuitGundamSEEDDestiny'' are "Reds", top military academy graduates.
* Invoked in ''Anime/MagicalGirlLyricalNanohaStrikers'' by [[ColonelBadass Lt. Colonel Hayate]] who initiated the Riot Force Six at the beginning of the season. They're not just a branch in the [[TheFederation Time-Space Administration Bureau]], they're a [[TheSpartanWay highly trained]] special force filled with prodigies and living legends from top to bottom, created specifically to prevent the Bureau's destruction which was [[VaguenessIsComing ominously predicted]] by Carim's annual prophecies.
* ''Anime/MacrossFrontier'' is an odd case. The main protagonist is a pilot of SMS, a PrivateMilitaryContractors, which is outside of the regular NUNS. However, the SMS is equipped with the some of the [[SuperPrototype best weapons, vehicles and equipment]] available in the Macross Frontier Fleet and [[AcePilot their pilots are regarded as better]] due to the high standard. Also, they mostly do missions considered to difficult for the NUNS. So, is it played straight or subverted?
* Averted in ''Manga/DeadmanWonderland''. A JGSDF commando unit ends up getting ''massacred'' by Toto when they were securing DW Wonderland after the premises were abandoned.
* Section 9 in ''Franchise/GhostInTheShell'' could be seen as an elite counter-terror police unit (the name itself is speculated to be a homage to the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GSG-9 GSG-9]]). When top-ranking government officials involved in the conspiracy wants them neutralized, they have to send the JMSDF's Umibozu commandos to covertly kill them.
* The main character of ''LightNovel/FullMetalPanic'' is part of the Special Response Team, a special forces branch of Mithril, itself an elite worldwide military anti-terrorist [[PrivateMilitaryContractors PMC]] organization armed with [[BiggerStick advanced technologies and weapon systems]] superior to that of any national armed forces.
* All the named and important characters that are shown fighting in ''Anime/CodeGeass'' are elite soldiers of some kind. The Black Knights consists of the Zero Squad, led by [[ActionGirl Ace Pilot Kallen]], the Four Holy Swords, led by Todoh, and former resistance members who've been promoted due to seniority. Britannia, meanwhile, has the bulk of its military power seemingly consisting of Suzaku and the Lancelot, Cornelia and her Glaston Knights, Schneizel's faction and his cool toys, and the Knights of Rounds. Regular soldiers are usually just cannon-fodder, unless they're used for an important strategic plot. Even the China arc focuses mainly on Li Xingke and those loyal to him.
* In ''Manga/RoseOfVersailles'' the military units that receive the most screentime are literally the elite of the elite: the Garde du Corps du Roi is the elite regiment of the French cavalry and Oscar serves in their first company (that is considered even more elite than the rest of the regiment), and in the French Guards (''the'' elite regiment of the French Army: they may be infantry, but they're considered more prestigious than any cavalry due being a BadassArmy) she commanded a grenatier company (grenatiers being infantry), identified as such by the uniforms. Even the named units that received screentime are elite: the La Fere (manga only, thanks to UsefulNotes/NapoleonBonaparte showing up to provide a SequelHook) had earned the fame as elite artillery (and taught recruits how to fire cannons), the Royal-Suédois (thanks to Fersen being their commander) was elite Swedish infantry, and the Royal Allemand (that got [[TheWorfEffect Worfed]] by the rebelling French Guards even when supported by an unidentified grenadier regiment) was elite German cavalry.
** [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] by Oscar's father using his political clout to get her into the Garde du Corps, Marie Antoinette, upon receiving Oscar's request for a demotion, choosing specifically the French Guards due them being part of the Royal Household, Napoleon being just that good to be assigned to that regiment, and the foreign regiments being raised specifically to be elite troops and more loyal than non-Household French-raised regiments.
* The Strikers from ''LightNovel/SeikenTsukaiNoWorldBreak'' are this. They've collectively killed more metaphysical monsters than the regular military.


[[folder: Comic Books]]

* Deconstructed ''heavily'' in many works by Creator/GarthEnnis, notably ''ComicBook/FuryMyWarGoneBy'', ''ComicBook/TheBoys'', and ''ComicBook/FuryMax''. Elite formations such as the SAS, Green Berets, Delta Force and Spetsnaz ''are'' more glamorous to civilians and rank-and-file soldiers, and they're certainly trained and equipped to make spectacular splashes... but ultimately, they're too few in number to actually win wars. That's the job of the great masses of the regular armies, navies and air forces, who endure horror, boredom and vastly more casualties (and for much longer) to assure a lasting victory. So, they may be ''glamorous'', but they're not as ''effective'' as many would believe.
** Taken even ''further'' in his characterization of ComicBook/NickFury, where long-term Special Operations officers really do believe they can do anything, and as a result keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Worse than that, they get so addicted to the action - fighting a war how they want to, without the restraint of too much army discipline - that ''winning'' wars is no longer their goal; they just want to ''[[BloodKnight keep fighting them]]''.
--> ''"Too many of us had started out in Special Operations. The way we told the story, it was guys like us that had beat the Krauts and the Japs by stealth alone... When, really, the war was won by the grunt in his foxhole, sitting in a foot of water for a month. The navy gunner who keeps on firing, even when the fucking kamikaze crashes down his throat. The kid who climbs into his B-17 for one more mission, pissing his pants to UsefulNotes/{{Berlin}} and back, coming home with the co-pilot's intestines slopping in his lap. Again and again and again. For what seems like forever. But we saw it differently. So we found the evidence we needed and ignored the rest, just to sell the notion that the special forces - the little units that could do '''so much''' - were the future. And somewhere along the way, we got the idea there was nothing we couldn't do."''
* Hilariously Averted in the character of Kev Hawkins from ''ComicBook/TheAuthority'', another Ennis creation. A veteran of the British Army and the Special Air Service, Kev has seen combat on every continent and is a truly formidable soldier... who is also narrow-minded, slovenly, foul-mouthed, often manipulated, somewhat bigoted and perpetually broke. He's by no means an exception: throughout his own miniseries, most of his SAS friends are shown to be similarly low-class and cash-strapped, doing what they do because that life is ''all they're good at''. So, yes, they may be horrifyingly lethal, but they're certainly not glamorous.
--> ''"Look, you know as well as I do: being in special forces doesn't make you bulletproof, and it doesn't mean you're some kind of fucking superman. Half the time somebody fucks up and it all goes to ratshit, anyway. '''That's''' what's true. Everything else is just a load of shit some cunt made up for a film - but you try '''telling people''' that... All they want is fucking Rambo, mate."''


[[folder: Fanfiction ]]

* The ''Halo'' fan fiction ''Fanfic/TheLife'' is practically built around this trope.
* Extensively played with in ''Fanfic/TheUniversiad''; while the main plotline has Applejack being inducted into the elite of the elite that is [[StateSec OSR]], some Originals are members of elite groups and others are not. In fact, at least one group, the Close Air/Orbital Support Task Force, explicitly takes pride in being the regular joe schmoes who unglamorously play A-10 INSPACE.


[[folder: Film ]]

* ''StarWars''. This is what the stormtroopers are. In-universe, they are the feared, elite shocktroops of [[TheEmpire the Galactic Empire]]. The soldiers wearing dark greenish-grey uniforms with the open-faced helmets are actually the regular Imperial Army troops. But because the stormtroopers look and act far more menacing (ImperialStormtrooperMarksmanshipAcademy not withstanding), and have the reputation to match, they will often be the first into battle. So in any StarWars medium, it's a fair bet the they will be the ones showcased, although the regular Army usually appears operating all the Empire's ground vehicles.
* ''Film/SavingPrivateRyan'' follows a squad of Rangers from D-Day onwards, while the titular Private Ryan is a paratrooper.[[note]]In fact, all of the American troops the squad encounters on its mission to find Ryan are from airborne units - either parachute or glider infantry.[[/note]] On the German side, the unit the heroes face during the climactic battle is part of the Waffen SS.
* ''Film/HeartbreakRidge''. Few marines fought at the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge, so the backstory of Creator/ClintEastwood's character was changed to having first served in the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea, and joining the USMC afterwards. However it was the US Army Rangers who rescued American medical students in Grenada, not the Recon marines as portrayed in the film.
* ''Film/TheEliteSquad'' - a movie about Rio de Janeiro's [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin elite squad]] of military police special forces.
* ''Film/ApocalypseNow'' follows the journey of Captain Willard (505th of 173rd Airborne Brigade and assigned to MACV-SOG, a classified United States Special Operations Forces unit which conducted ops in Vietnam) on a military-sanctioned assassination mission (and not his first). He does depend on a group of enlisted Navy sailors to get the job done however, and is escorted up the Nung River by ColonelKilgore of the 1st Squadron of the 9th Air Cavalry.
* In Sergey Bondarchuk's ''Film/{{Waterloo}}'' a disproportionate amount of screen time is devoted to the Polish Lancers of the Imperial Guard, who in actual fact were just one squadron strong in 1815 and thus much too small a unit to make a significant contribution. In the film it is they who throw back the charge of the Union Brigade (Royal Dragoons, Royal Scots Greys and Inniskillin Dragoons), in actual fact it was two regiments of French line lancers, who wore a very different uniform (green jackets, brass helmets). Also not untypically the only British cavalry regiment shown in that charge is the Scots Greys, who were the only dragoons one to wear bearskin caps instead of helmets.
* TheSquad in the ''Film/{{Doom}}'' film is made out to be an elite team, which was not the case in the game itself. Them being military regulars rather than elites would actually have helped the plot, as it would have made the presence of Portman and The Kid (both of whom had absolutely no business being in an elite military squad)at least somewhat less egregious.
* ''Film/TopGun'' follows a squadron of navy aviators through their training in the prestigious "Top Gun" elite school for aerial combat. The real TOPGUN (and its Air Force equivalent, Red Flag) is more along the lines of "learn this shit, then go teach it to your home squadron."
* Partially averted in ''Film/ThreeKings''. Though Major Gates is a former Delta operator and a Special Forces/Ranger qualified Soldier, the warriors he leads are simple Civil Affairs Soldiers.
* ''Film/BlackHawkDown'' follows a significant portion of Task Force Ranger, which is made of several Ranger companies as well as a squadron of Delta Force operators.
* John Rambo from the ''Franchise/{{Rambo}}'' films was a former Green Beret.
* Averted in ''Film/DogSoldiers'' -- an SAS squad are discovered dead at the start of the film, and serve as a sort of off-screen SacrificialLion. The rest of the film focuses on regular troops.
* ''Film/RedDawn2012'' stars Creator/ChrisHemsworth as a marine, and the main characters are later attacked by Russian Spetsnaz.
* ''Film/{{Elysium}}'':
** Kruger himself is Ex-Special Forces turned chief enforcer for the Civil Cooperation Bureau.
** John Carlyle's security droids are pretty standard, aside from the fact that they're ''gold''. Yeah, subtle.
* In ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'', [[ComicBook/TheFalcon Sam Wilson]] is introduced as a former member of an elite Air Force unit that outfitted its members with advanced suits of flying body armor.
* Averted in ''Film/{{Yamato}}''. Kamio is an ordinary enlisted sailor and Uchida a petty officer.
* ''Film/HaloNightfall'': Locke's ONI teammates, who certainly aren't shy about it, complaining that the Sedrans will only slow them down with all their equipment being "200 years" behind the regular UNSC's.
* ''Film/BattleOfTheBulge:'' The German tanks are depicted as all being the famous Tiger. Tigers were very rare in the real battle - they were too wide for the narrow roads and too heavy for the bridges. Panzer [=IVs=] were much more common.
* In ''Film/RedScorpion'', Creator/DolphLundgren stars as Nikolai Radchenko, a Spetsnaz Lieutenant.
* Deconstructed in ''Film/PlayDirty'', which highlights the brutal nature of commando missions, and the way the covert nature of such missions is often treated by officers as a license to squander the lives of the soldiers sent on them.

[[folder: Literature ]]

* The ''{{Sharpe}}'' books by Bernard Cornwell are focused on a [[TheSquad small group]] of skirmisher riflemen on detached duty from the 95th Rifles (previously Prince Consort's Own), a reconnaissance unit using skirmisher tactics, camouflage and advanced weaponry, hence, the closest thing to special forces in the Napoleonic Era. They are generally portrayed as highly superior to regular rank-and-file infantrymen of the British Army, who are hardly able to achieve anything without the help of the protagonists.
** It's worth noting that no one considers the 95th a particularly glamorous posting, the unit being a young unit mainly composed of conscripted poachers with jumped-up rankers for officers. The true glamorous elites are units like the Blues and Royals, the Scottish Grenadiers and the Royal American Rifles. Sharpe is at one point offered a transfer to the RAR, and it is clear that the offerer considers this a considerable step up, even without an accompanying promotion.
* According to the narrator of ''Literature/StarshipTroopers'' the ''entire'' military consist of [[SuperSoldiers elite members]]. At least by the standards of armies past.
** This is at least true of the Mobile Infantry, the service branch the narrator is in. Also, there are ''no'' desk jobs for active service members in the MI. If a job can be done by a civilian, it is (those requiring military experience are done by retired/disabled veterans). About the closest an MI can get to a non-combat position is Drill Instructor (and the one of these we hear the most about quietly complains a couple of times about not being in combat, and by the end of the novel he's allowed to return to the front).
* In his political treatise ''Literature/ThePrince'', Creator/NiccoloMachiavelli complains bitterly about the Italian system of relying on mercenaries for war. One of his specific criticisms was that your average Italian mercenary group was almost entirely cavalry, because mounted soldiers were perceived as more elite. The fact that they could charge more for cavalry probably helped too.
* While Navy SEAL Chris Kyle's autobiography ''American Sniper'' is an example, it ''contains'' an example too. He writes glowingly about "The Elite Elite" of the [=SEALs=], the famed SEAL Team Six.
* Carver of ''Literature/TheAccidentMan'' is a former member of the British Royal Marines.
* {{Subverted}} in ''Literature/OldMansWar'' with The Ghost Brigades, the Colonial Defense Force's secretive (but not technically ''secret'') Special Forces branch. Nobody in the rank-and-file CDF seems to know much about them, nor know of anyone from the CDF who was able to join them. It is eventually revealed that they are [[spoiler: {{Artificial Human}}s who are trained from birth to be soldiers, and are ChildSoldiers in every way that matters.]] The sequel, ''The Ghost Brigades'', proceeds to further explore the ethical and spiritual implications of this, giving the explicit interpretation that they are [[spoiler: a slave race, bred only to fight and die for humanity.]]
* There is a subtle example in ''Salvation Reach'', a part of the [[Literature/GauntsGhosts Gaunt's Ghosts series]]. When Rawne's team gets assigned to protect the Chaos defector, he has special badges made which distinguish his troopers from other Ghosts, even the elite scouts and snipers. Also, the team has its own name, the Suicide King, which reflects their extraordinary status.
* ''Literature/KingsOfTheWyld'': Unlike most settings, mercenaries are considered elite forces who earn glory and fame by protecting people from monsters. It's explained that part of the reason for this is because there hasn't been a large scale human-vs-human war in decades, so the normal army units don't have much to do besides parade and guard things. Mercenaries, on the other hand, are constantly testing themselves against monsters, so one mercenary is easily a match for a dozen normal soldiers.

[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* In a SpeculativeFiction example, most ''Franchise/StarTrek'' series (and all the movies) follow a ship (always named ''Enterprise'' or ''USS Enterprise'') that is often referred to as the "flagship of Starfleet" or "the best in the fleet". Those that didn't either followed one of the most strategically positioned bases in the Galaxy (''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]''), or a brand-spanking-new ship that is often referred to as one of the most advanced ships in the fleet (''Series/StarTrekVoyager'').
** Even in situations where the ''Enterprise'' is neither the flagship nor the most technically-superior ship in the fleet, it has always the best crew by far.
** Deconstructed on the ''[[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Deep Space Nine]]'' episode "Valiant" which centers around the "Red Squad" elite cadets of Starfleet Academy. Red Squad's belief that they are the best of the best in Starfleet leads them to massively overestimate their own capabilities and causes them to try and take on a Dominion Warship ''by themselves'' [[spoiler: which ends with their deaths.]] At the end of the day, an elite cadet is still just a cadet.
** The USS ''[[Series/StarTrekDiscovery Discovery]]'' is built using ''all'' of Starfleet's shiniest new toys, including a unique OrganicTechnology "spore drive".
* ''Series/BandOfBrothers'' covers the story of Easy Company of the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne. Several of the company members, such as Carwood Lipton, cite this trope as the reason they joined the Airborne in the first place.


[[folder: Tabletop Games ]]

* In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'', [[SuperSoldier Space Marines]] get most of the glory for any battle that they participate in, while the [[RedshirtArmy Imperial Guard]] really does most of the actual fighting; if the Space Marines were the tip of the spear of the Imperial military, the Imperial Guard would be the rest of the spear head, the shaft, and ''the person holding it''. This is mostly because of the fact that Creator/GamesWorkshop has [[SpotlightStealingSquad a crush]] on the Space Marines when it isn't putting them through TheWorfEffect, though. Literally every second army released is some form of Space Marine army with its own special rules.
** Somewhat justified, Space Marines are central to their religion. Plus, there are so few of them that there is ALWAYS a more important target they need to get to.
** On the other hand, the Imperial Guard get [[Literature/GauntsGhosts the best]] [[Literature/CiaphasCain books]]. And this actually happens in-universe with the Guard's [[EliteMooks Stormtroopers]] ([[Franchise/StarWars little relation]]) who get mocked by the grunts as 'toy soldiers' and 'glory boys'. And the Imperial Guard has plenty of fans, subverting this trope - the Space Marines are superhumans with training and equipment the Imperial Guard will never compare to, with enemies just as or even more dangerous. Regardless, the Imperial Guard fight those same enemies. Even so, it's not uncommon, in the books, for a tiny number of Marines to accomplish what a quarter million guardsmen couldn't, as in Creator/DanAbnett's ''Literature/BrothersOfTheSnake'', in which six squads (60 Marines) capture a city that 300,000 guardsmen couldn't take. Then again, the Marines in question are Iron Snakes, one of the Marine chapters least inundated with the general Space Marine ProudWarriorRaceGuy culture that tends get tons of them killed in pointless {{last stand}}s and sends them straight into the teeth of massively superior forces.
*** In the table top game, it's a good general rule that an army's elite units are more ornate and fancy than the rank and file. Elites usually have more grandiose fluff. Headquarters units tend to have more BlingOfWar than a convention of militant pimps and fluff that goes UpToEleven. Compare the already superhuman rank and file [[http://www.games-workshop.com/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m1252454_99120101024_SMCombatsquadmain_873x627.jpg tactical marine]] with an elite [[http://www.games-workshop.com/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m1251575_99110101332_SMveteransmk2main_873x627.jpg veteran marine]] and finally a [[http://www.games-workshop.com/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m1000385a_99120101032_BACommander_873x627.jpg captain]]. This same pattern holds for pretty much every army.
** Played with for Dark Eldar [[WingedHumanoid Scourges]], elite soldiers who paid a [[MadScientist Haemonculus]] obscene amounts to graft wings onto their backs (plus [[RequiredSecondaryPowers adding extra chest muscles, hollowing bones, that sort of thing]]). They are presented as vain, preening, arrogant pansies who mostly hang out in the sky above Commoragh and don't do a lot, then the Codex goes on to explain that they can afford this because they're so badass that other Dark Eldar will pay them obscene amounts to show up and help out whenever there's a fight, so they don't have to do a lot to be obscenely rich.
** The Imperial Guard themselves have their own elites with stormtroopers, the best of the best who're often requisitioned by Inquisitors who need a lot of firepower. The grunts tend to think of them as overrated ("chocolate soldiers" is one term).
** Another ''40K'' example (possible subversion/inversion): Chaos Raptors generally see themselves as elites and act as such; most other Chaos Marines see them as preening weaklings.
** 4Chan's fan-chapter [[http://1d4chan.org/wiki/Galactic_Partridges the Galactic Partridges]] tend to swoop in, make the last blow on the enemy, and take the credit from the people who actually did the work. They even spy on other chapters so they can better know when to take the credit. They have special drop pod that release a butt of doves, Creator/JohnWoo style, in order to make more dramatic entrances. They are more of a parody of "elite" teams than anything else.
** The Fall of Medusa V was a 2006 worldwide campaign where the results of various matches played around the world would determine the course of an ongoing plot. The Space Marines and Imperial Guard - lumped into one "Imperium" faction for the campaign - lost the majority of their battles due to the Space Marines being the go-to army for novice players and kids, and the Imperial Guard [[TierInducedScrappy being consistently low-tier for most of their history before 6th Edition]]. Statistically, the [[OurElvesAreBetter Eldar]] won. However, seeing this as a blow to the brand's image, the Eldar were listed as a PyrrhicVictory and the Space Marines were put down as the DoomedMoralVictor of the campaign [[note]]They won most of the off-screen and out-of-scope space battles, and managed to evacuate the civilian populace before leaving the planet to heresy[[/note]]. Many players on the other sides were... [[DudeWheresMyRespect less than pleased]].
** ''TabletopGame/DarkHeresy'' casts you as the servant of the Inquisition, which should in the 40k Universe come with great power and authority. TabletopGame/RogueTrader moves you even higher up the totem pole, putting you in a role which would be analogous to being Hernan Cortez while everyone else is a muck-farming peasant. ''TabletopGame/{{Deathwatch}}'' promotes you all the way to a SuperSoldier who is an object of reverence to common people. In each case, your station is far beyond that of normal human beings.
* In ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}} Fantasy'' many elite units receive a lot more glory than the rest. Knights in particular are are best remembered for their bravery and skills in turning the tide of battle in their favor. The best example is Crusades of Araby, where a combined army of Empire and Bretonnian knights fought against the armies of the Araby sultan Jaffar, who's army out number theirs 20 to 1, the knights fought them off all the way back to Araby, and their deeds are greatly glorified to this day.
* Invoked by ''TabletopGame/AT43'''s UNA subfaction [=CentCom=]. Their motto is "Better is better!", and their whole military doctrine is founded on the principle of deploying small groups of elite soldiers, usually without armor support. It's noted in the UNA army book that this hasn't proven effective against the Red Blok's opposite strategy of [[ZergRush fielding hordes of mass-trained, comparatively less well-equipped soldiers]].
** Generally speaking, being that every army has three to four subgroups with different tactics and make-ups, there's usually one group that fields fewer but more formidable soldiers than the others. The Red Blok itself, for instance, has Frontline, which is understaffed compared to the other Red Blok subgroups and makes up for this with its well-trained soldiers and state-of-the-art [[WalkingTank combat striders]].
* In ''TabletopGame/TheWorldOfDarkness'' games, you will almost always be able to easily create a new character who is an elite member of modern society even if they are just a new member of their supernatural society. They will generally be one of TheBeautifulElite or this trope. This tends to make sense as either the character's latent supernatural powers aided them or their elite status was what attracted the supernatural to them. Starting characters can easily be world famous pro athletes, gifted, acclaimed scientists, or commandos in the modern world.
* Star Wars {{RPG}}s will always have a great number of Jedi player characters if they are allowed.
* This tendency is subverted in ''TabletopGame/{{Paranoia}}'': the elites are insanely glamorous, but you will never ever get to be one. [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial No Red-clearance Troubleshooter has ever accidentally been given Ultraviolet clearance]] by a KillerGameMaster [[HilarityEnsues just to see what kind of sheer havoc would occur]].
** The new editions of ''Paranoia'' feature rules for high-clearance player characters. The action of the game revolves around the political scheming of the elite.
* One of the options in the ''TabletopGame/StarsWithoutNumber'' military sourcebook "Skyward Steel" is for the players to be a Deep Black team - an elite, covert-insertion team where unless you want to roleplay through recruitment as well, you have to start at level 3. Of course, this is strictly intended as a form of military-focused game style; default SWN PC groups start as, at best, "a bunch of guys who have a ship and a few guns".

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* The ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty'' series of games is a particularly good example:
** In the first game the various characters you play are in the 101st Airborne, 6th Airborne and SAS, and the 13th Guards Rifle Division.
** In the second your characters are from the 13th Guards again, 7th Armoured "Desert Rats" (historically distinguished itself in North Africa) and US Army Rangers.
** ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty3'' zigzags this trope. The SAS is featured, fighting alongside the [[LaResistance French Resistance]], but they play a relatively small role in comparison with the US 29th and 90th Infantry, the Canadian 4th Armoured, and the Free Polish 1st Armoured division. The plot of the game concerns closing the Falaise Pocket, which is accomplished by the conventional units, while the SAS missions are largely unconnected to that objective.
** ''[[VideoGame/CallOfDuty4ModernWarfare Modern Warfare]]'' (''[=CoD=] 4'') has your characters being in the USMC Force Recon and SAS. The SAS ''are'' conducting the special operations for which they are famous; the USMC Force Recon, however, are largely playing the role of much more standard Marines or even regular army, so, oddly enough, ''they'' are the out of place unit.
** ''[[VideoGame/CallOfDutyModernWarfare2 Modern Warfare 2]]'' now gives us the U.S. Army Rangers, and the international special ops unit Task Force 141. Again, though, both are largely doing the correct missions for their sorts of units.
** ''[[VideoGame/CallOfDutyWorldAtWar World at War]]: Marine Raiders/1st Marine Division'' and ''150th Rifle Division'' (Historically the formation whose soldiers raised the Soviet flag on the Reichstag). However, the 150th Rifle Division might not exactly be considered elite, but Wiki/ThatOtherWiki states that the 3rd Shock Army they were in, all Shock Armies in fact, received more artillery and armour support than other armies in Russia.
** ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps'' is continuing this trend. You play as a member of the CIA's Special Activities Division, that performs, well, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin black ops]].
** In ''[[VideoGame/CallOfDutyModernWarfare3 Modern Warfare 3]]'', you play a large part of the game as Frost, member of the Delta Force squad "Metal"; as WorldWarIII has started, their missions are sometimes real special forces work and sometimes they are just called in to help for more conventional tasks. Also, Yuri, the other main playable character, is former Spetsnaz and [[spoiler:Captain Price, as whom you play during the last mission, is former SAS and Task Force 141.]]
*** NPC allies also include other elites, such as the French GIGN, US Navy [=SEALs=], and more British SAS.
** Most of your allies in ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps2'' are part of the U.S. Navy's SEAL Team Six, the elite of the already-elite Navy [=SEALs=]. Not only that, David Mason, the player character, commands said team.
* In ''VideoGame/StarWarsRepublicCommando'' you play as the leader of a squad of elite Commandos that are in turn part of a larger army of elite troopers. Literally making you the best of the best of the best.
** Although in the hierarchy as detailed in other ''Franchise/StarWarsLegends'' media, ARC Troopers are even more elite than Commandos. 'If you want the job done, send [[RedShirtArmy 100 Clone Troopers]], [[TheSquad 4 Commandos]], or [[OneManArmy 1 ARC Trooper]].'
* ''Franchise/{{Halo}}'':
** You normally play as the Master Chief, a super-elite, semi-secret, power-armoured, and surgically-enhanced SPARTAN-II SuperSoldier.
** In ''VideoGame/{{Halo 2}}'', you also play as the Arbiter, a member of the Covenant species colloquially called "Elites" for their prowess in battle (all of them are physically a match for the aforementioned Spartan-[=IIs=]). He is deployed alongside the Covenant's own special forces on various {{Suicide Mission}}s to atone for not being able to stop the Chief in the first game, and he happens to be the former Supreme Commander of a massive fleet who earned his position through AsskickingEqualsAuthority.
** In ''VideoGame/{{Halo 3}}'''s co-op mode, players 3 and 4 get to play as two Elites from the ''Fleet of Retribution''[='s=] Special Warfare Group; N'tho 'Sraom is the youngest member of his Special Operations unit, and Usze 'Taham is a highly distinguished Fleet Security operative. Players 1 and 2? The Chief and Arbiter.
** ''VideoGame/Halo3ODST'', the "gaiden" game of the series where you get to play as a regular human instead of a Spartan SuperSoldier, still has you play as various [=ODSTs=] (the UNSC's most elite non-Spartan units) sent in by [[StateSec the Office of Naval Intelligence]], rather than basic marines. In fact, the [=ODSTs=] you play as are specifically "Helljumpers" from the 105th Shock Troops Division, making them badass even by ODST standards.
** ''VideoGame/HaloReach'' maintains the tradition as well. For one thing, NOBLE Team is fairly elite for a traditionally expendable SPARTAN-III team, to the point that one of their members is a much more valuable Spartan-II. For another, the player character, Noble 6, is a black ops assassin who is the only other person with the same lethality rating as Master Chief, which is more impressive given that Noble 6 him/herself is a Spartan-III.
** ''VideoGame/{{Halo 4}}'' also continues the tradition, with Spartan-[=IVs=] as the stars of both the multiplayer and the ''Spartan Ops'' co-op campaign.
** ''VideoGame/Halo5Guardians'' goes even further; the campaign is split between the [=Spartan-IIs=] of Blue Team (including the Chief) and the [=Spartan-IVs=] of Fireteam Osiris (which includes both Jameson Locke of ''[[Film/HaloNightfall Nightfall]]'' and Edward Buck from ''ODST'').
* ''VideoGame/{{Geist}}'' begins with the main character as a member of a suspicious paramilitary unit.
* ''VideoGame/{{Battlefield}}''
** ''VideoGame/{{Battlefield 2}}'' has a Special Forces class for each of the playable factions, and even a Special Forces expansion pack which features the [[UsefulNotes/YanksWithTanks US Navy SEALs]], [[UsefulNotes/RussiansWithRustingRockets Russian Spetznaz]], [[UsefulNotes/BritsWithBattleships British SAS]], and [[MiddleEasternCoalition MEC]] Special Forces.
** Hilariously averted in ''VideoGame/BattlefieldBadCompany'', where the cast is part of the RedshirtArmy and knows it, once [[LampshadeHanging lampshading]] that they're going into an important but dangerous mission first just to see ''how'' dangerous it is, because the elites cost more money to train and are thus "too expensive to waste." Subverted in ''Bad Company 2'' when Sweetwater insists the squad be the ones to tackle the villain's scheme, not trusting the spec-ops guys and their "[[TakeThat pussy-ass]] [[VideoGame/ModernWarfare heartbeat monitors]]" to get the job done. [[BadassNormal The boys of B-Company succeed.]]
* In ''VideoGame/RiseOfNations'', the main infantry unit for the Americans is the Marine. This appears in a slightly different form elsewhere. As unique units of civilizations are upgraded past their historical ages, the game usually "elites" them. Sometimes, it's not so bad like companion cavalry -> cataphracts. Some are pushing it like Roman legions -> Praetorian Guard. But [[UsefulNotes/SouthKorea Hwarang]] -> Elite Hwarang -> Royal Hwarang -> Elite Royal Hwarang is just silly.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Civilization}} 4'', the unique unit for America is the Navy SEAL. (Which, in-game, is mechanically a buffed version of the ''Marine''.)
* ''Valkyria Chronicles''
** Averted in the beginning of ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChronicles'' where your unit, Squad 7, is made up out of a bunch of civilian militia recruits and local police forces with the only exceptional item being your main characters father's tank. However, not only do your units gain 'elite' status when leveled high enough, by the end of the game your unit is taking on all the truly epic missions anyway. Hell, Squad 7 is the only reason Gallia doesn't fall, as the entire army-- the ''entire main army''-- gets completely obliterated towards the end of the game. Absolutely ''nothing changes'', because the army was useless anyway. That said, Squad 7 is actually treated by the rest of the army as mere {{cannon fodder}}; they were [[SurprisinglyEliteCannonFodder just too awesome to die]]. But while they might not have been officially named elites, that's what they really were.
** Played with in ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChroniclesII''; while your team members are all cadets from Gallia's most elite military academy, the actual class they're in is a dumping ground for said academy's [[RagtagBunchOfMisfits underachievers, eccentrics, and social undesirables]]. That said, they still end up proving themselves to be some of Gallia's best soldiers.
** Also played with in ''VideoGame/ValkyriaChroniclesIII'', where your unit is a black-ops penal legion. However, their exploits (though [[TheGreatestStoryNeverTold not their fame]]) go on to rival those of Squad 7 itself.
* ''VideoGame/MedalOfHonor: Allied Assault'', ''MOHAA Spearhead'' and ''MOHAA Breakthrough''.
** The relaunch specifically noted that you were playing as Tier 1 operators (the elite of the elite of special forces). For the short period of time when you're ''not'', you're still playing as Army Rangers, which are the elite of the Army.
* The Americans at your disposal in ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquerGenerals'' is made up of mostly elites and high-tech regulars. The Army Rangers are the basic U.S. Army infantry.
* The Americans yet again; this time, in ''VideoGame/ActOfWar'', although this is more towards a specific BadassArmy branch known as "Task Force Talon". They get the so-called bleeding edge technology that no one else can get. Your basic grunt is the Task Force Commando. [[RankInflation Tech up and you get the Future Force Warrior.]]
* In ''VideoGame/FirstEncounterAssaultRecon'' and its sequels, you're either a [[OneManArmy F.E.A.R. Agent]], a [[SuperSoldier Replica]], an [[PrivateMilitaryContractors ATC Black Ops]] or a [[PrivateMilitaryContractors Nightcrawler]]. Otherwise, you're minced meat, and yes, that category includes ''Delta Force''.
* ''VideoGame/OperationFlashpoint''
** Partially averted in ''Dragon Rising''. While there are plenty of missions where you play as a Force Recon unit named Saber, performing stealth and infiltration tasks...most of the ''really'' epic battles in the game have you in the role of a unit of standard frontline infantry named Dagger. [[spoiler:And they're who you play as in the final, war-winning mission of the game.]]
** In the original ''Operation Flashpoint'', you play as four different people. One is an SF operator, yes, and playing as him involves frankly hair-raising crawls through enemy camps to sabotage tanks, and so forth. But the others are: a Pilot, flying a variety of missions which though important are nothing elite; a tank commander on the front line; and an infantryman in the thick of the fighting as part of a large unit with no special tasking or characteristics. So a massive aversion for the most part here.
*** Additionally, missions featuring the special forces operative are usually stealth-based and include very little to no actual fighting.
* ''Operation Flashpoint''[='s=] SpiritualSuccessor ''VideoGame/{{ARMA}}'' and its sequel carry on in the same vein; although ''ARMA II'' has you playing as a [[SemperFi US Marine Corps Force Recon]], the expansion ''Operation Arrowhead'',and its DLC has you playing as an ordinary line infantryman, helicopter pilot or tank commander. The final DLC even allows you to play as someone in the [[BohemiansWithBombers Army of the Czech Republic]], who haven't even invaded anyone by themselves recently.
** ''ARMA III'' again [[AvertedTrope averts]] this trope, you play Ben Kerry, a common infantryman from an almost-disbanded NATO task force in the small Mediterranean island of Altis, that finds himself in a middle of an hostile invasion and has to survive. ''ARMA III'' also [[SubvertedTrope subverts]] this trope as the local special forces group, the CTRG, are portrayed as very shady, untrustworthy,[[spoiler: using and betraying both your NATO task force and the local allied guerilla group, the FIA and are revealed to actually have caused the invasion that you are trying to survive in the first place.]]
*** ''ARMA III'''s expansion, Apex, reconstructs and run this straight, as you play as a member of the CTRG, fighting against local guerilla and cartel group, Syndikat, in the pacific island of Tanoa.
* ''VideoGame/RainbowSix'' comprises the Elites of the Elites. It's a multinational unit comprised of the best from each nation's commando teams.
* The ''VideoGame/{{SWAT}}'' series; it's right there in the title really. Though in this case the franchise is actually a spin-off of the ''VideoGame/PoliceQuest'' games, which are a complete aversion.
* Each of the major Council species in ''Franchise/MassEffect'' has famed InUniverse special forces:
** The Council itself has Special Tactics and Reconnaissance, or "Spectres", top-tier agents selected from the very best of the Council species to serve as black ops operatives that answer directly to the members of the Council. They are entrusted with extraordinary amounts of power and are '''legally allowed''' to violate virtually every law in Council space in service of their missions. [[PlayerCharacter Commander Shepard]] is selected to become the first human Spectre at the start of the series.
** Humanity: The N7 special forces, which represent the very best of the best of the [[TheFederation Systems Alliance military.]] The N7 are just the highest tier of soldiers who have completed every level of [[TrainingFromHell Interplanetary Combatives Training]], which is so grueling and intense that even soldiers who wash out at the first level (N1) are greatly respected by their comrades for simply being ''selected'' in the first place. Shepard is also an N7 Naval Special Warfare officer [[OneManArmy in addition to]] being a Spectre.
** Asari: The asari commandos, who form the elite of their military. They're all extremely talented in biotics and guerrilla tactics, and InUniverse are considered the deadliest individual warriors in the galaxy. In ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'', FlavorText for their War Assets entry mentions an incident in which a group of '''five''' commandos managed to whittle down a group of over a hundred Blood Pack mercenaries over the course of several days before finally forcing the survivors to surrender with ''[[CurbStompBattle zero casualties]].''
** Salarians: The Special Tasks Group, or STG, who are easily the most skilled espionage operatives in the entire galaxy. Of the various elites in the ''Mass Effect'' universe, the STG receive the least amount of public attention or fanfare, but that's probably because they win all of their battles before anyone even knows what happened. The aforementioned Spectres were modeled after STG, and the earliest Spectre operatives were drawn from their ranks.
** Turians: Blackwatch, which is mobilized only in response to situations that directly threaten the safety of the turian homeworld itself. They are said to have the highest success rate of any unit in the turian military, already the most feared fighting force in the galaxy. Ironically, despite the turians being the ProudWarriorRaceGuys of the ''Mass Effect'' universe, Blackwatch receives the least amount of attention and is only mentioned in FlavorText. Nonetheless, some of the most respected and badass turians in the series were said to have served or rumored to have served in Blackwatch, including the first game's BigBad Saren Arterius.
** While not a Council race, Krogan Battlemasters are generally treated as the most dangerous people in the galaxy, being extremely powerful biotics from a species of walking tanks. The only one we see, teammate Urdnot Wrex, mentions that he once had a week-long battle with an Asari commando that ended when they ''blew up the station they were on''.
** Your teammates also demonstrate this, especially in ''2'' - a retired member of the Salarian elite force who inspired the Spectres, one of the galaxy's most talented assassins, a tank-bred perfect [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy krogan]], an asari with 400 years' experience as [[KnightErrant a Justicar]], one of humanity's most powerful biotics, and one of Cerberus's most trusted Operatives are all recruitable, and most of them are inescapable. Justified because unlike the first game, where your squad is pretty much scrounged together from whoever's most willing to tag along, you're specifically recruiting the most badass team you can to deal with a major enemy.
** The multiplayer mode in ''VideoGame/MassEffect3'' centers around a squad of elite operatives with access to abilities and equipment comparable to Shepard's. The Illusive Man's [[TheDragon Dragon]] Kai Leng was, like Shepard, an N7 operative.
* In the ''VideoGame/{{Crusader}}'' games, you are already one of the most elite soldiers in the world...and then you defect and join the underfunded, undermanned, underequipped, undertrained Resistance and [[OneManArmy single-handedly take on missions]] it would normally take entire assault teams of rebels to complete.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII'' does this in-universe with a fictional elite unit, SOLDIER, that are highly respected and feared by everyone. Being a member of SOLDIER is seen as cool - in one particular scene, it's established that [=SOLDIERs=] are expected to spend a lot of time striking poses and demanding admirers. Cloud was dead set on becoming a member and [[spoiler: didn't, but between medical experimentation, magic and self-delusion managed to convince others he was one anyway]].
* The protagonist duo of the ''VideoGame/ArmyOfTwo'' series began their careers as US Army Rangers who decided to become private military contractors (which tend to be Elites who get paid more and don't have to worry about a government defense budget and NATO "lowest bidder" equipment standardization).
* ''Videogame/StarWarsTheOldRepublic'' has the Trooper character, the newest addition to the Republic's elite Havoc Squad, with a starting rank of Sergeant, and regarded as the 'best of the best'. Subverted, though, in that their starting equipment is a t-shirt and weapons worse than the rest of his squad and piddling starter weapons that are worse than the Separatists they'll be fighting, their own squadmates in Havoc, and even the local militia.
** Of course, in later parts of the game you gain appropriately awesome gear, and a reputation to match it (judging by the number of Republic [=NPC=]s who are starstruck on seeing you.
* The two protagonists of ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil1'' were both elites in their previous careers (Jill was Delta Force and Chris was a USAF Fighter Pilot), and in-game are members of S.T.A.R.S., itself an elite squad in the Raccoon Police Department.
* Averted in the ''VideoGame/GearsOfWar'' series, where all the main characters are their world's equivalent of regular enlisted men who keep stumbling into critical situations. The Onyx Guard, the actual elite of the [=COG=] military, only appear a couple times in the expanded universe, and get utterly slaughtered every time they do.
* ''Franchise/MortalKombat'': Lt. Sonya Blade and Maj. Jackson Briggs are both Special Forces, though the games don't explicitly say what type. Sonya's attire in some games implies Green Beret.
* The ''VideoGame/{{Commandos}}'' series is one of the rare example of fictional representation of the British Commandos.
* The ''Franchise/MetalGear'' series has one of its major characters Big Boss be a career veteran of the United States Military who was involved in various Special Forces. He served as a Green Beret for 10 years until he was recruited by the CIA to be part of a fictional group known as FOX. Later on he served in Vietnam doing the CIA's top secret black ops working such groups as MAC-V SOG and the Navy Seals. According to the fiction of the universe Big Boss was also the man that helped found the Delta Force and his own personal black ops organization under his command called FOXHOUND, a successor to FOX.
** Solid Snake himself was a former Green Beret before joining FOXHOUND.
* ''VideoGame/BatenKaitosOrigins'' has an InUniverse example with the imperial soldiers. They can either choose to wield a [[http://batenkaitos.wikia.com/wiki/Imperial_Swordsman sword]] or [[http://batenkaitos.wikia.com/wiki/Empire_Grunt gun]], and the only incentive for the former is "the sword is a status symbol within the military".
* Captain Martin Walker, the PlayerCharacter of ''VideoGame/SpecOpsTheLine'' is a Delta Force operative. However, the game quickly subverts this trope as Walker and his squad prove to be ''way'' out of their depth.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Crysis}}'' you wear a nanosuit that costs $1 billion. Needless to say, they don't hand that out to the common enlisted man. You encounter marines who lack it and view you as a OneManArmy, which is indeed how your operational capacities are treated despite the fact that you are part of a small squad, each member of which is shown (especially in sequels/gaiden games) to undertake missions of equal importance.
* In ''VideoGame/CounterStrike'', the Counter-Terrorist team is made up of the US SEAL Team, the British SAS, the French GIGN, the German GSG-9, and the Russian Spetznaz.
* ''VideoGame/{{Titanfall}}'' and its [[VideoGame/{{TitanFall 2}} sequel]] has the Pilots, an elite squad of soldiers who went through extensive and often perilous training regiments for both physical and mental preparation so they could fight as well on foot as when piloting a Titan. They're so renowned, you'd often catch allied NPC grunts pointing you out, remarking how amazing you are, and openly claiming the enemy stands no chance now.
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls'' series' spin-off DungeonCrawl game, ''Battlespire'', takes place in the titular Battlespire, an [[WizardingSchool extra-dimensional magical training facility]] for the [[MilitaryMage Imperial]] [[MagicKnight Battlemages]]. The PlayerCharacter is an apprentice looking to join the Shadow Legion, an elite division within the Imperial Battlemages.

[[folder: Web Original ]]

* Many stories in the AlternateHistory ''Literature/DecadesOfDarkness'' are about members of the Jaguars, the *American elite troops / jungle fighters.
* Most of the stories in the ''Roleplay/VastEmpire'' setting are about the elite stormtroopers of Phoenix Company.
* ''The Tough Guide to the Known Galaxy'' claims that the [[http://www.rocketpunk-observatory.com/spaceguideS-Z.htm#space_fighters entire point]] of having SpaceFighter is to have RecycledInSpace fighter pilots, that is "To give prominent roles to young males in their early twenties, so they can display their swagger, coolness, and [[BoldlyComing fast moves on any attractive female of an interbreedable species]]."


[[folder: Real Life ]]

* In real life, elitism among military formations has much to do with morale. Soldiers assigned to an ancient regiment or to a special formation can be expected to feel a sense of elevation over their less favored comrades, and hence to fight more stubbornly. By the same token, troops are also very sensitive to the reputation of their adversaries. To use examples from World War II: in the British and US armies, the approach of a SS panzer division instilled a special thrill of fear and excitement. To the German army on the Eastern Front the Soviet deployment of a Red Guards Army, or still more a Red Guards [[TankGoodness Tank]] Army, was a sure sign that the Ivans meant business.
* The Airborne and the Marines. In any military. ''Ever''.
** Exemplified by the tagline of [[UsefulNotes/BritsWithBattleships the Royal Marines]] recruitment.
--> 99.9% need not apply.
* Traditionally, elite military units really were more glamorous, receiving special uniforms that made them stand out on the battlefield so that the enemy could immediately know that they were going up against the best. Cavalry units, particularly hussars, were especially fashionable, with troopers wearing uniforms that were especially ornate and riding horses that were bred for their looks as much for strength and speed. This tradition has carried into the modern day, with military personnel with certain qualifications being allowed to customize their uniforms to make them stand out from the rest.
* The SAS, still considered to be some of the best (if not ''the'' best) Special Forces on the planet and undoubtedly the most glamorous (and most mysterious, because very little is actually known about them, and they prefer it that way - which rather adds to the glamour) regiment in the British Army. Consideration for entrance requires at least three years of good service in another regiment, then taking part in the absurdly gruelling 'Selection'. [[TheSpartanWay The Hill phase, only the very beginning, which has ''killed'' people in the past]] and only 15-20% candidates remain after undergoing it. And these are young professional soldiers in tip-top condition. Then follows the jungle phase (the same, but in a jungle), the combat survival exercise including a week-long 'escape and evasion' and finally, a 36 hour 'resistance to interrogation' test, [[ColdBloodedTorture which is exactly what it sounds like.]] All those who survive this absurdly brutal process are apparently rewarded with operational deployments.
** This might contribute to their description by extremely experienced BBC War Correspondent Kate Adie: "They were a lot like Martians: silent, watchful and festooned with strange weaponry." Adie had first brought the SAS into the public eye with her live coverage of the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iranian_Embassy_siege 1980 Iran embassy siege]], until which point most civilians weren't actually sure if they existed.
** The Parachute regiment, meanwhile, is invitation only. Paras wear maroon berets with highly distinctive badges worn conspicuously far to the sides of their faces. It is somewhat less glamorous, however, thanks to a nasty reputation earned by the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, to the point that they're sometimes considered the TokenEvilTeamMate of the British Army. In reality, they're usually no better or worse than the rest of the army (morally speaking, that is - in terms of their actual competence, they're the next best thing to the SAS, and a significant chunk of the SAS is composed of ex Paras).
* The Brigade of Gurkhas, respected and feared around the world. [[note]] During the Falklands War, the Argentine conscript armies fought against the Royal Marines and other British regiments. When they faced the Gurkhas, they just ran or surrendered. One Gurkha fought and killed ''30'' Taliban fighters, beating the last one to death with a machine gun tripod. Another Gurkha on leave, armed only with [[KnifeNut his Kukri knife]], took on 40 train robbers, killed several, wounded others and sent the rest running for their lives. You do ''not'' fuck with these guys. [[/note]] Tens of thousands of Nepalis apply to join the regiment and obsessively train to meet its selection criteria, partly because of this reputation and partly because Nepal is an extremely poor country and even the below average wage (c. £18,000 per year) for a private is a great deal of money in that part of the world.
* During World War II the so-called "Chindits" were British special forces who performed operations of great heroism and derring-do and was widely publicized... But they suffered such heavy casualties and were so expensive to supply and train that their effectiveness was questionable. Field Marshall William Slim was probably speaking of the Chindits when he made the below quote. The Chindits spent 1942 and 43 playing hide-and-seek behind the Japanese lines in Burma to little effect. Slim took over the 14th Army in late 1943 and turned the entire force into highly mobile light infantry. Over the next two years he kicked the Japanese entirely out of Burma; his key tactic was to let his units be surrounded and rely on airdropped supplies to outlast the enemy offensives. He taught the 14th not to rely on conventional supply lines and make frequent offensive patrols - he refused to let his men think the Japanese were superior jungle fighters. In 1945 Slim's army was, man for man, the toughest fighting force in the world.
** Slim insisted that regular infantry, well-trained, equipped and acclimatized, could accomplish any mission just as well as special forces, and pretty much proved his point with 14th Army. Mountbatten even suggested that the Chindits were disbanded because "we are all Chindits now."
** The former page quote by Slim sums up his thoughts: "This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier, who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree".
** Creation of special forces was resisted during UsefulNotes/WorldWarII in several countries for this very reason. Furthermore, transfering the most skilled soldiers in a certain art made it difficult to train the more conventional troops in the same as the soldiers being transfered would have been the natural instructors and leaders.
* It is precisely because of this trope that the US Marine Corps resisted adding Force Recon to the newly-created Special Operations Command (the fabled SOCOM). "There are no special Marines."
** The cultural attitude regarding all Marines being "elite" was only part of the Corps' reasoning behind the resistance. There were more practical considerations, namely the fact that if the USMC allowed the transfer, then operational control of Force Recon would, in practice, lie with SOCOM. Force Recon at the time occupied a very important niche in the USMC's overall expeditionary combat scheme and the Corps (understandably) wasn't willing to risk having their deep recon experts being used by SOCOM to carry out objectives unrelated to their own during wartime. However, following the invasion of Afghanistan and many of the Marines' best units being sidelined while special operations personnel largely ran the show, the Corps relented and stood up their own contribution to SOCOM.
** Who are now officially called Raiders, after a WWII USMC special-ops unit provided with specialized weaponry. It made several (not particularly effective) raids, also operated as standard amphibious infantry and was disbanded in 1944 and the men transferred to regular units. Paramarines, also issued specialized weapons such as the Johnson rifle and machine gun, were similarly sidelined; they never jumped into combat because the Marines didn't have enough planes to drop more than a sixth of them at once and would have had to use ''every single one'' just to do that. They also didn't see why the Marines would need their own paratroops anyway.
* Saddam-era Iraq's elites were the Republican Guard on the ground. In the air, it was the Iraqi Air Force, considered one of the best-trained and best-equipped air forces in the Arab world. The bulk of the Iraqi military, however, were made up of largely conscripted forces that were held together almost completely by the intimidation of their commanding officers, whose morale tactics could best be compared to Commissars from ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}''. When both the Airforce and the Republican Guard fell apart, [[SubvertedTrope the bulk of Saddam's military simply]] ''[[SubvertedTrope surrendered en mass]]''. Thus illustrating an often forgotten but important lesson: never focus on your elites to the detriment of the rest of your military.
** It didn't help that even so-called elites were in many cases [[TooDumbToLive mindboggingly inept]], to the point that a typical Iraqi pilot failed to react to the radar lock and/or missile warning - assuming he even had radar and missile warning devices in the first place.
** This applied in the Falklands War of 1982; the very hardest land fighting was against elite Marine units of the Argentinian Army, who fought on to the last bullet, despite the fact the conscript army around them was collapsing and surrendering en masse. Since the war ended, Argentina appears to have learnt this lesson and is now developing more elite units along British lines of training and organisation.
* Many raised around the US Navy are often surprised and eventually annoyed at how many people think the only ships in the Navy are Aircraft Carriers and battleships.
** Speaking of the Navy, they had commandos dating back as far as UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, who were involved in underwater demolitions and deep sea recovery. Then came the UsefulNotes/NavySeals, then the Navy Special Warfare Development Group, then [[UsefulNotes/NavySEALS SEAL Team Six]]. Today, anything Navy or special forces related would, odds are, center on Team Six.
* Pilots in just about any military tend to get this treatment, much to the annoyance of the ground crews who work on the planes the pilots actually fly. The main exception to this are "Mustangs", who are enlisted men who became officers, and ultimately, pilots themselves, and thus, guys who actually know what their planes can do, without having to turn back because of a warning light they aren't sure of.
** Finnish Air Force [[AcePilot top ace]], Ilmari Juutilainen (94 victories) was a Mustang. He had served as an airplane mechanic as conscript, and volunteered in the flight school after his first tour of duty. He had excellent understanding of various airplanes in theory and practise, what they could do and what they couldn't, and how to maximize one's own assets and minimize those of the enemy. He never was shot down nor did he ever lose a wingman. He scored two kills on Fokker D.XXI, 36 on Brewster 239 and 62 on Messerschmitt Bf 109.
* During the UsefulNotes/PolishSovietWar, the Blue Army, led by General Józef Haller, which had previously fought on the Western Front as a part of the French army, distinguished itself from other Polish units with excellent equipment and training, high morale and the iconic light-blue uniforms.
* The Nazis usually called units "elite" for propaganda purposes, such as the ''Afrika Korps''. Other branches, including the ''Fallschirmjäger'' and the U-Boat Service, were considered elite. The Waffen-SS zig-zagged this, as their actual combat prowess often paled in comparison to the rest of the Wehrmacht, but their elitism was rooted in their fanaticism to the Nazi cause. Generally though, being a member of the SS did move you up socially. And their units did often get a higher priority of replacement vehicles and guns when there was a shortage, contributing to the elite perception of the formations, even though the troops didn't receive any higher quality training.
* UsefulNotes/{{Israel}} has the Golani Brigade (Army paratroopers), Shatyelet 13 (Navy commandos), and the Air Force in general.